Halloween is here, and in that spirit I thought I'd put out another piece from Carnival of Vulgarities, one that has its origins planted firmly in the holiday. You see, several years ago, I had a great idea to go out on Halloween as Death. All black, black cape, black faceless hood, Y'know, Death. It wasn't the most original costume on the surface but, in this case, it's what I did with it that made it special. Instead of a scythe I carried around a bag of skulls, thirty of them, the kind you put candy in. Inside each one was a piece of paper printed on one side with the image of a tarot card (Death, the thirteenth card) and written on the other with a message from the Grim Reaper himself. I took these fortune skulls out on the street on Halloween night and passed them out randomly to anyone that wanted one. I never stopped to watch anyone read them; it would have spoiled the effect and ruined the privacy of their moment. Death Sees Your Fortune is an assemblage of all of the messages that were in those skulls. Every one of them found someone, or someone found them. As you read them I hope you'll remember the holiday, that it's not just about the costumes, the candy, the parties, and the pranks; it's about the skull beneath the skin, the end before the beginning, and that one thing that we all do alone. Trick 'r Treat!
DEATH SEES YOUR FORTUNE
by the Santa Monica Vending Machine Co.
of Detroit, Michigan
One fortune, two pennies
13. You who read this, tonight I have passed you by. Did you feel
the cold wind on your spine? Do not think you
have escaped, do not think it. All come to me in time,
none get by.
13. Do not behave as if tomorrow is yours. Tomorrow you will be
13. I am the water that filled Shelley’s lungs. I am the gutter that
held Poe like a cradle. I am the little metal pellets of Hemingway’s
most desperate hour.
13. One man, when I came for him, sought to run away. When he
found he could not escape he said, “Take my brother instead. He is
old and sick and life gives him no joy.” “I will take him tomorrow,”
I replied. “Today is your day.”
13. From the moment you are born you belong to me.
13. How many books have I interrupted half done? How many
paintings sit incomplete? How many songs have I stilled in mid
13. A man offered up his wife to me that he might not die. “For she
is young and passionate and more beautiful than any who has yet
lived,” he said. “What you say is true,” I answered, “but I will take
her when she is old and tired and a wrinkled-up hag. It is the same
13. My house is of bone. My kingdom a mountain of skulls.
13. I am a blessing to the sick, a curse to the healthy, and a terror
to those in fear of hell.
13. Drink up, drink up, from my poisoned cup.
13. Those who do not fear me still cannot deny me.
13. Many have gone before you. The rest will surely follow in your
13. There is no sleep for me. There is no escape for you.
13. Your future is this: For certain you will die.
13. Do not occupy yourself with banal concerns. In the end you
will rot like a discarded piece of fruit.
13. None are so important that they may refuse my invitation to
13. My voice is a rattle deep inside your own body.
13. If you see my face, your time is come.
13. Your ancestors knew me well, for I visited them often.
13. Once I came for a miserly old woman who cared for nothing
but collecting money. Though in the end she offered it all, she
could not buy even one more minute, and her fortune was left for
her heirs to plunder.
13. Your unfinished business is nothing to me.
13. There was a woman who pretended I didn’t exist. She did it so
well that she fooled herself in time. When I came for her at last she
asked, “Who are you?” “An old lost friend,” I said. “Good,” she
replied as we went away. “I am tired and lonely and a friend is
what I need.”
13. While you race against the clock, look over your shoulder and
see me catching up.
13. Know me by the company I keep: Crows and Jackals and
Vultures and Hyenas.
13. I hold the keys to the world beyond.
13. I am the edge that breaks the last thread, the final exhalation of
the spoken word, the cold ash of the spent fire.
13. Warfare is my bread and butter.
13. I often wonder, when my work is done, who will come for me?
13. Your fear does not profit me, nor cause me sadness.
13. There is always time to die.