Memento Mori

For none know when Death will knock on their door, wherefore live today as though ‘twas your last.

My friend Abel was fearless as the eagle and brave as the lion. He once jumped from the first floor to save a kitten from being run over by a speeding truck. Another time, he sent packing four goons who were harassing a homeless man, all by himself. Abel had the guts few of us have and a sense of honor that was set in stone.

One evening we got together at our usual haunt, an obscure tavern on the outskirts of town. The wind was gathering speed and dark clouds hung low in the sky portending a fierce storm later.

Abel, Rodney and I, best buddies since childhood, settled in a cozy corner and rattled away. Our electrified voices echoed through the silent walls of the tavern. The place rarely had visitors, and the owner was happy to allow us regulars our full freedom.

“Violence isn’t inherent in guns. It’s the hand that wields the gun that I fear, not the bullets.” Abel was pouring forth his ideas on firearms.

It was then that Rodney pulled out a revolver from his jacket and placed it on the table. There was a sudden hush in the room as everyone fell silent.

“I found it lying on the road on my way here,” said Rodney.

“Is it loaded?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” said Rodney. “But there’s a way to confirm without opening the cylinder!”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“We can play Russian roulette! After all, Abel says he doesn’t fear bullets, but the hand that holds the gun. And I don’t think he fears his own hands!”

Rodney stared at Abel and roared with laughter.

“God! You must have had one too many drinks tonight!” I said, trying to figure out if he was serious about his crazy idea.

But Rodney kept staring at Abel and pushed the revolver towards him. “Take it, Abel, show us you aren’t afraid of your own hands!”

Before we could do anything, Abel had picked up the revolver and raised it to his forehead. He pulled the trigger six times in rapid succession. We sat gawking in a helpless state of shock.

Then Abel lowered his hand and placed the revolver on the table in his usual gentle manner. Rodney grabbed it and pushed open the cylinder. The chambers were empty!

It was a dark, stormy night. We walked home in silence, holding each other’s hands. When we arrived at the corner of Providence Alley, a man came running. I heard a gunshot follow and saw him collapse on the road. Then I felt Abel’s hand go limp as he slumped down on the wet street. A one in a million event had unfolded before us. The bullet that killed the fleeing man had driven through him and pierced my dear Abel’s heart.

Oh, cruel Death! Oh, laughing Reaper! Thine is the final victory!

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Beryl Zephyr

An occasional writer but a regular thinker, Beryl sometimes fiddles in speculative fiction. He sees both humour and tragedy in everyday events and is extremely concerned with the fate of other creatures trapped in the monstrous march of 21st-century human civilization.

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