Joel M. Andre, author of the wickedly funny A Death at the North Pole, has the type of twisted, sarcastic sense of humor I love. Given that, I went into his short story Tea With Death with high expectations and Andre did not disappoint.
Tea With Death finds the unnamed host/narrator welcoming Death for what he hopes will be an enlightening conversation. Getting on in years himself and having lost his youngest son to suicide born of depression, the host has many questions about how death actually occurs and what happens after. He also has a secret agenda he plans to spring on Death if the opportunity presents itself.
The concept of man sitting down for a conversation with the Grim Reaper is certainly not new in book or film, but it usually comes with either a boatload of pretentiousness or too much slapstick irreverence. Andre, however, strikes just the right balance.
Death and his host indeed reflect upon the process of dying, and along the way Death shares many of the secrets of his profession. He does so, however, with a wicked sense of humor and more than a dash of sarcasm, as evidenced from very the moment he shows up for his tea date:
“Won’t you welcome me in?” Death inquired. “I am here at your invitation, after all.”
Dumbfounded, I found it strikingly odd that he couldn’t enter my home without my welcoming him. I paused for just a second to consider what this meant for me.
“Are you like a vampire and are only welcome in buildings if a human lets you in?”
“No, dumbass,” Death replied with an icy tone. “You’re standing in the middle of the doorway giving me a stupid look and blocking me from coming in. If you would just move, I’ll come inside.”
The host may well come to regret inviting Death inside, but Andre’s cleverly constructed philosophical reflections on death peppered with sarcasm and one-liners makes it a guarantee you won’t regret making a date for Tea With Death.
Tea with Death is available at Amazon.