The Big O

Oblivion is a place. No one knows where it is, which is strange because so many people go there. They go there not knowing where it is. But there’s no element of surprise when they get there because they don’t know they’re there. Or more accurately, they never arrive. They disappear along the way, or rather, they disappear the very moment they depart. It’s a huge mystery. Even for the likes of Agatha Christie or Raymond Chandler. They would be stumped.

I have a certain semi-proprietorship over that nowhere of non-existence. Most people do, survivors who have said goodbye to family members and friends as they departed for a destination at which they may never arrive. We are all shareholders in the Great Holding Company of Nowhere.

Now, I said that many people go there. Many but not all, because I have it on unproven but historically consistent authority that a good deal many others go somewhere. The actual where is open to debate, as it has been for thousands of years and as it will be for the remainder of human existence.


There is one pre-requisite for the people who end up going somewhere — going, not arriving — and that is faith. If you have faith that you are going somewhere, if you really believe you are going somewhere, chances are that you do go there, or to be precise, you set out on that road. Whether you actually arrive is another matter. And once again, neither an Agatha Christie nor a Raymond Chandler know the ending.

But — and I think this is the point, or at least the point of no return — arriving is not the issue. What’s important, what really matters is that travelers who board the Death Express, carrying a good sturdy suitcase of faith, set out on the journey with courage and peace of mind and actually look forward to the trip.

What, if anything happens along the way does not concern them. They are confident and brave travelers. I really don’t think it crosses their minds that the Death Express may be hijacked and forced to go to Oblivion.

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To Hell With Time

At the wobbly age of seventy-five, Horace McMorris decided to get off the Death Express.

He jumped out at 1979th Street and proceeded to walk with a brisker step and a straighter back toward the last known address of Bella Nippleberry.

She came to the door. He doffed his hat. “How are you, Bella?”

She stared at him and blinked. “You?!” is all she said.

”You look good,” he said.

”I thought you were dead,” she said.

”I decided it was a bad idea.”

”You mean we have a choice?”

“If you push your luck.”

She looked at him through the half-open door.

“How long has it been?” she asked. “Twenty, thirty years?”

”Seems like two or three to me,” he said.

”If you think you’re going to con me with bullshit lines like that and screw me over again you’ve got another think coming, you old bastard.” 

“I’ve always regretted that, Bella — I was a first-class ass.”

”Is that what you came to tell me?”

”That, and that I want to make it up to you.”

She didn’t say anything, just looked at him, a bittersweet look. ”I loved you, you bastard.” She shook her head, pulled herself together. “But, no, no, I’m too old to start down that road again.”

”Who said anything about starting again? Let’s finish what we already started.”

She wasn’t falling for that line either. ”I’m too old for that, too,” she told him.

”Hey, we’re both old and we’re both young. Time is a killer. Forget time. The years all come together — 1979, 2019, it’s all the same. We’re both on our own again — I heard about Harry.”

She looked at him for five seconds. Five seconds is a long time when you’re dying for a leap backwards.

She opened the door.