Judge Santiago Burdon

Don’t Want To Die In Jersey

It was an unusually hot day for November in Boston. Father Murphy had just finished mass and was on the church steps bidding a good day to members of the congregation as they left.

Just then, Sean McLaughlin came running up the steps in a frenzy, asking Father Murphy for his help with a serious matter. Without pause, he escorted Sean inside to the safety of the church.

“What is it my son? What has got you so terrified? You’re trembling.”

“Father, I was at the Farmer’s Market, and there I saw the Grim Reaper searching for a soul to take. He looked directly at me. I’m sure he’s here to take me. I ignored his stare, turned and ran away. What should I do Father? Please help me, I’m not ready to die.”

“I think you should probably get out of town. Find a place to lie low for a while and let this incident blow over.”

“Where do I go so the Reaper won’t find me? I can’t think of anywhere.”

“I’ve got it! New Jersey! Yep that’s it, New Jersey is where you’ll find refuge.”

“Are you sure Father? New Jersey? Maybe I should stay here in Boston and find a place to hide. New Jersey seems a bit extreme.”

“No Sean, Jersey. Not even God would set foot in there. I feel certain the Grim Reaper won’t follow you into Jersey. I have a close friend at Saint Francis Church in Hackensack, Father Thompson. I’ll give him a call and fill him in on your situation. He’s a good man and will take care of you.” 

“Yes but New Jersey is a fate I consider worse than death.”

“Well that’s all I’ve got. You should take a bus, don’t drive your car and stay out of Atlantic City. The casinos breed an atmosphere of sin and you don’t want to give him an excuse to confront you. Now hurry to the Bus station and get outta Boston . I’ll pray for you my son.” 

“Thanks Father, I’ll leave right away.”

Sean caught the next bus to New Jersey and seemed to have eluded the Grim Reaper. Meanwhile, Father Murphy took it upon himself to investigate Sean’s claim of the Reaper in the neighborhood and proceeded to the Farmer’s Market. 

The outdoor event was crowded with Sunday afternoon shoppers enjoying the warm weather. Standing next to the organic vegetable booth Father Murphy saw the figure draped in black with his trademark scythe. Clutching his Rosary in  hand he walked toward the ominous creature to confront him about stalking Sean.

“Good afternoon Mr. Grim Reaper, I’m Father Murphy from Saint Peter’s Church and would like to ask you a question.”

‘Yes Father Murphy I’m familiar with your work. I’ve attended some of your funeral services. You’ve got a nice touch in your eulogies, very sincere. Go ahead fire away, what do you want to ask?”

“Earlier today one of my congregation was here at the Farmer’s Market and noticed you on the prowl to collect his soul. He was naturally upset about his impending death and ran to the church to escape your wrath.”

“Really? I don’t remember confronting anyone earlier. I am here to collect the soul of Catherine Mcbride, she’s about to suffer a massive aneurysm.  Let me check my schedule. What is his name?”

“Sean McLaughlin, he’s maybe thirty-five years old and a good Catholic.”

“No, no, no, I don’t see him on the schedule. Wait, here he is…” The Reaper chuckles while turning pages. “Listen to this. He’s not scheduled for Soul Collection until tomorrow night in of all places, Hackensack, New Jersey.  New Jersey, now that’s some bad luck. Damn, I hate having to visit New Jersey!”

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