Death at Costco (another installment)

Part Three: The Commissary

I wondered what exactly had finished me off? Was it the sample? But no, dozens if not hundreds of others had consumed the same nuked snack stuff and hadn't kicked it. Not yet anyhow. Maybe I had a fast metabolism. Perhaps I was allergic to some rare ingredient in the tiny Hot Dog on a Stick morsel. I wracked my spirit mind to see if I could remember any such allergies, of which I had many.

If anyone could have succumbed to an allergic reaction, I was definitely a prime candidate. I was allergic to all manner of substances, many of them universally harmless to the vast majority of mankind. For instance, I was allergic to toothpaste. Regular Colgate or Crest will make my gums swell and my teeth itch. You don't know discomfort until you've experienced itchy gums and teeth. It does not seem possible. How can something so solid be itchy? How does one scratch that itch? The mystery may never be solved, suffice to say that I brush with Arm & Hammer baking powder. It is not minty and refreshing but I have grown used to it.

I continued walking through the crowd, and I mean through the crowd. I realized that I truly enjoyed this feeling of weightlessness and the tingly sensation of walking right down the middle of someone else's material body and coming out the other side. There was another sensation as well and I struggled to put a name to it, then I immediately knew: Relief with a capital R.

Relief from pain (I always had a nagging pain somewhere in my arthritic joints), Relief from stress (I was and have always been the bread winner in our family), Relief from bills, Relief from bosses, Relief from war, Relief from having to relieve myself, Relief from grief, Relief from hunger, and God damn it, Relief from religion.

Now that I was dead and had solved the mystery of What Happens After We Die? I felt a tremendous sense of indignation. Indeed I felt cheated of thousands of hours (that felt like millions) seated and kneeling and standing and singing and chanting and breathing in incense and trying not to fall asleep and all the rest of the bullshit that my ridiculous religious fanaticism had forced upon me since I was indoctrinated at an early age.

I wanted to blame my parents but they were from a simpler, more ignorant time. In their day they did not question their religious beliefs, having had it beaten into them at an early age by sadistic nuns and psychopathic priests. To have rebelled during grammar school would have brought down the wrath of the local ruling clergy mafia and one would have been subjected to Inquisition-like treatment I am sure. Corporal punishment was not only not frowned upon, it was openly encouraged.

I saw the commissary up ahead. There were several translucent individuals grouped around the equally see-through counter. All were naked and I felt like I had wandered into a Clothing Optional resort, an afterlife Hedonism III without the hot tubs.

I took a seat at the counter next to a dwarfy guy. I glanced his way and was about to offer a positive salutation when he snapped at me, "Go ahead, stare at the midget. Why not? Everyone else does it. Look at the cute little midget. Isn't he cute. You make me sick!"

"Wait a minute, guy, you got me all wrong!" I protested in self-defense.

"Oh, do I? Do I really?" he sneered at me. I was getting tired of ghosts sneering at me. I was angry.

"As a matter of fact, yes you do. I am not bigoted and by the way, the proper term is not midget. Little person or dwarf is more socially acceptable." I lectured him and immediately regretted the decision.

He shook his head, "Oh, really. So that's what I am. Thanks for letting me know. I never would have figured it out. Thanks a lot."

"You are a rude little man. Has anyone ever told you that? Wait, don't answer that question. I'm sure you spent most of your adult life being a contrarian." I turned to the ghost behind the counter, a tall man in a white apron and little white peaked cap, but nothing else.

"What's good here?" I inquired, suddenly famished. The Hot Dog on a Stick sample had literally passed right through me. The notion that I was dead and should not be hungry suddenly occurred to me but I shrugged it off, thinking that nothing else made sense around here, why should this suddenly surprise me.

"We specialize in Light Cooking, you could say," he laughed at his own humor. "Uh, Light Cooking, get it? Get it?"

"Yeah, I get it. It's not that funny. Seriously, I'm really hungry. What you got back there?" I saw a plate of bacon and eggs with some crunchy looking hash browns and I swear to God I drooled. The man picked it up and placed it on the counter in front of my diminutive friend.

"How about some of that? That looks pretty good. I'll have that." I pointed at the steaming plate.

"Oh, you don't want that, it doesn't taste nearly half as good as it looks. In fact, now that you really think about it, you're not even hungry, are you?" He leaned over the counter and I could smell his rancid breath. I recoiled and immediately realized that the sour smelling creature was right. All of a sudden I had zero appetite. This frustrated the hell out of me.

"Damn it. Look, just a few seconds ago, I was hungry. Look, I don't know what the heck you did to me, I don't care. Just give me some food. Why can't I have what he's having?" I pointed at the little guy next to me but he wasn't there. Startled, I looked around and realized there was no one there.

Everyone was gone.

Everything had disappeared.

I was all alone and standing on something that looked and felt like cotton. Waves and waves of cotton. Miles and miles of white cotton.

"This is total and complete horseshit." I said, but regretted it immediately.

A voice came out of the clouds. "Are you ready to enter?"

"Uh, I...I uh, I guess. Enter what exactly? Is this Heaven?" I asked.

The mist parted and the Naked Norwegian stepped out again, bent over laughing. "You really fell for it that time. Jesus Harry Nillson Christ you are easily duped. Look, I told you before, get all that Heaven and Hell nonsense out of your noggin. If you don't, I swear to God I'll beat it out of you." She clenched her huge fists.

I believed her then and I kept quiet. I understood that she was not someone that I should antagonize. She seemed to have special powers of some kind, and although I believed it was worthless, she had money or something that she purported to be money. Plus,evidently, she was insane.

"Well, what's the matter? No wise ass remarks? You're learning. That's a good thing." added the psycho Angel in yellow braids. I looked down and noticed that the carpet did not match the, uh, curtains.

"You're staring at my cooch again. Quit it!" she screamed.

Her passive/aggressive mood swings were seriously bending me out of shape. I just looked away in red-faced shame.

She punched me on the arm, "Oh, alright, you can look. But only for a little while, alright?"

I shook my head in disbelief. I was stuck in the afterlife with some sort of psycho ex-girlfriend type. Next she would be stalking me. I had to get out of there but had no idea how I would manage the thing.

to be continued maybe

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