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The International Writers Magazine: Life's a Steal - From Our Archives

Let's Make A Deal
• Oswaldo Jimenez
I’m supposed to be dead. The deal was that when I reached the age of fifty I would be dead.  Of course, it wasn’t exactly specified, I guess, how it would happen or when. But I think it was just supposed to happen when I reached the age of fifty.

Granted there was no actual “signing” of any papers, or sealing the deal with blood, or writing my name in any document. I guess it was just decided. It was decided that I would reach the age of fifty and would, what? drop dead?  That’s is the question.  What I mean is: if all the stipulations of the deal had taken place, meaning of course, if all the wishes, or should I say, all my side of the bargain was met, fully met, I would be dead.

When is it supposed to happen? me dying, that is. How is it supposed to happen? That was not really discussed. In fact, I don’t recall even thinking about it then, what the cause of death or the time of death would be. I did not make any stipulations about that, I supposed I felt that was not for me to decide. All I know is that  I knew, somehow, that when I reached the age of fifty---after all my requests specified in the deal were met; a deal that was not written in stone, or paper, or skin, or even spoke, but that somehow it was sealed without words or signs or letters--I would die.

But I am not dead. I am, in fact, mystified by this: by the fact that I am writing about this deal and am not rotting away under six feet of dirt; or that my ashes are not being sprinkled on some solitary beach, or river, or mountain, or carried by the wind, as I made sure to tell my wife to do with my remains. Nope. My wife is in the other room and my child is in her room, upstairs; and here I am, writing and wondering what went wrong. Or right?  I’m not sure. It is a mystery.  There is that, the mystery of it, and also the suspense. Suspense, basically because it is very possible, and likely, that I might drop dead in the middle of a sentence, here, and not be able to finish off this ............. sentence.

I’m supposed to be dead. The deal was that when I reached the age of fifty I would be dead. It obviously has not happened, yet. But it will. Well, on the other hand, I’ll be dead, we’ll all be dead, at one point or other. Mind you, there is really no deal made, we just drop dead. Nevertheless, since I had made this deal-- so that I could get all the things I wanted in life-- for by making the deal, it would be a sure thing-- I clearly, made a sweet deal. Why I’m not dead is not within my grasp. I don’t know what went wrong. 

Should I be asking what went wrong, though? or should I just feel lucky? Lucky that, not only did I get all the things I wanted, but I also kept my life. Well, at least for a while longer? Perhaps I’m getting too far ahead-of-myself here, after all, I’m not fifty-one, I’m still fifty. There are at least, let’s see:  January, February, March...  nine more months to go before I turn fifty-one; and who knows, perhaps the deal is that I have to live out the rest  of my fiftieth year, so that the moment reach the 364th day of my fiftieth year, I drop dead, thus fulfilling the contract.

That has to be it. It must be that I have to live another nine months in order for the contract to be fulfilled, otherwise, it would be considered a breach of contract on their part, and the contract would be null and void, and I would have gotten away with getting all that I wanted for nothing. Aha! that has to be it. Otherwise I would have died the moment I blew the candles on the cake the morning I turned fifty. That has to be it.

I don’t see another reason for being alive. I was supposed to be dead at fifty.

What’s weird is that I expected to be gone by now, and I’m still here. I got the things I so desperately wanted in my life, and knew I would not be able to get them without making a deal. I mean, I suffered long enough wanting all my wishes to be fulfilled, without success, until the night when I made the deal.  Soon after, things started to happen. I mean, it wasn’t like in the movies: I didn’t meet Mr. Joe Black in a nice tuxedo and blue eyes, blond hair, in the shape of  Mr. Brad Pitt. I did not hear voices in the dark saying “YES, the answer is YES”  and certainly, the things that I wished for did not happen overnight or appear without some work or sacrifice on my part, but the fact that they happened at an alarming rate is what puzzles me. Like there was a deadline of some kind.

My wishes came true. Not without some logical explanation, of course, but I know for a fact that there is no way in hell I would have been able to accomplish all I have accomplished, had I not made the deal that night after the concert. I know, it sounds weird, and unreal when I start to dwell on it, but it must have happened. A deal must have been struck. I do remember vividly the night when I stood in the middle of that field where the concert had just ended, and I cried up at the stars and made the deal, in the dark. But there were no papers to sign, there was no seal, there was nothing put in writing, but how else can I explain all the things I have accomplished, without some kind of deal being struck?

The deal is--now that I think about it--that, had I not stood in the middle of that open field and cried out to the stars, that night,  that I wanted to exchange my life for the things I so desperately wanted, I would not be here writing. I would very likely be really dead. I mean I would be dead, not to fulfill my side of the contract, but the truth is that at that age, I had no way out: I was in a situation where the only path was, in fact, death. But an untimely death, the death of a teenage hoodlum: under a bridge, or by gunshot,or by knifepoint, or drunk behind the wheel. So I guess the fact that I’ve survived until the age of fifty, really mystifies me, and it must have something to do with this deal I struck that spring night. Then again, should I be looking back and thinking that, perhaps I should have not made this deal?  But if without having made the deal, the outcome would have been pretty much the same. 

Perhaps I’m just realizing now, that I have accomplished too much to just... die? 

That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the essence of the deal. I was given the opportunity to achieve more than I would have ever, had I not made this deal, and now that I’ve given myself a clear reason to be alive, I will die in nine months. Come to think of it, nine months! that’s a rather serendipitous amount of time. Think about it: nine months! That’s how much time I spent inside my mother’s womb waiting to be born. Nine months. So, I have nine months to live. That is the deal!  How clever, and how absurdly simple. I will be reborn, into a new reality in exactly nine months! What a sweet deal!
© Oswaldo Jimenez March 19th 2012

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