One Puff of a Pipe
Why JP called his whippet “En-soi” was never known. He explained why he, an amateur, pollarded his own ash trees into terrified stumps, why he broke up with the woman in the gypsy skirt and, more recently, why he shaved off his eyebrows (a dream admonished him to do so)—but never that. An arborist came to his door, admonishing JP for butchering his tree allée, but JP never relented in his belief that all things benefit from a regular scalping, an occasional knock-down.
It had been a week of admonishments. The Grim Reaper had called and demanded JP stop smoking that pipe.
"What? You don’t even do house calls anymore?" JP said. The Reaper just laughed and said he was too booked up to get to all his clients, half of whom are never home any more.
"No one does door-to-door these days. I had you scheduled for a year from now and here you are sucking tobacco fumes like it’s doomsday," he said.
"That’s precious coming from you," said JP, adding, "I’d invite you over, but it’d be the death of me."
"I’ve heard that line billions of times but—good delivery."
They spoke for another hour on the phone. JP reclined on the couch. En-soi curled up in his lap as the two callers discussed genetic modification (GR against), euthanasia (GR against), and free will (GR against).
"My grim friend, I find it pretty ironic that you of all “people” have an opinion on free will, given that you rob people of it every day."
"Listen," said the Reaper. "Can I call you every so often to chat? We could make a trade. The dog for another 10 years. "
En-soi bared his teeth in his sleep.