DEAL: GONE SOUR
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
They liked to sit in the old sleigh with the broken runner, snow frosting the farm and the countryside beyond, and listen to Don Ho songs. Richard held Marta's mitten in his and made a silent deal with death: that if the reaper wanted to take him right this very moment, he wouldn't struggle. These moments, when everything was perfect, were the only times he would go willingly.
Old Red, their Irish Setter came out from behind the barn. He stopped right in front of them, hunched over with his rear end pointed in their direction and experienced one of the most supreme bowel movements of his thirteen year old life. The results lay steaming in the snow, marring the entire Currier and Ives landscape.
Now, a hooded black shroud seemed to hold itself empty and upright off to his left. Its great, billowing sleeves wrapped themselves about the very scythe that usually hung from the barn's rafters with the other antique tools they'd collected over the years. Richard strained his aching knees until he stood upright in the sleigh, shucked off his mittens and rolled up his sleeves.
"Sixty seconds earlier," he said, shaking his head, "And you wouldn't have had this ass-kicking to worry about."