Rumor has it

that for a real long time


had Death

tied up in a sack

way in the top of a tree

and ain’t nobody died

in that whole long time


an ol’ lady come by a’weepin’.


Now Jack

he’d done enough weepin’ in his own life

that he hated to see people cry

unless they was cryin’ fer joy,

so he ask’t th’ ol’ lady what she’s weepin’ about

and she said she’d lived long enough,

‘n all her parts hurt,

‘n her legs barely worked,

‘n she thought it was time that she died.

Jack said he un’erstood that’n t’wouldn’ be long

before he felt like that hisself

‘n he ast’er why

she dint jes roll over’n die.

And that’s when the old lady lost it,

“Cause some blame fool’s got Death up a tree

‘n ain’t nobody died fer decades!”


When Jack stopped blushin’

he looked her right in her tear-filled eye

‘n he gently’n quietly said,

“I’m sorry t’tell ya this, ma’am,

but that fool that you’re talkin’ ‘bout’s me”

an’ he started in climbin’ the tree.


Same rumor has it

Jack came down with the sack,

opened it,

and to prove She’s as vindictive as some people think

Death went back to work first on Jack

‘n then to prove She can also be kind

She took away the old lady

an’ She ain’t never stopped workin’

not never nohow not since—

I mean we all know what happened last year.

(‘N rumor has it She ain’t skippin’ no-one

‘ceptin’ maybe that writer Neil Gaiman.)


Which brings us back to Kevin.

My wife,

the one who brought him to our house,

took me to see his memorial.

There’s a shiny white cross across the road from his place

and we went there to pay our respects.

“No,” a voice said, “not that one—

That’s for that lawyer that got killed on his bike.

Kevin’s that one down there.”

And they pointed.


Kevin’s cross is quite a bit rougher and has bricks as decorations.

I brought a paintbrush he left on our porch

‘n I wedged it between two bricks.

“They said he was shot,” I said out loud

‘n one’a th’voices said, “Yeah.”

“What happened?”

I think it was me who asked it

but it coulda just as well been my wife.

‘N the voice I couldn’ bear look at

‘cause it mighta been Kevin’s brother’s


“The lawyer got killed by a hit’n’run

‘n rumor has it

it coulda been Kevin turned that driver in

‘n it turns out

the driver’s Amanda’s son.”


Got the rest of the story in fits an’ starts.


an’ i don’ think this is rumor,

Amanda came by n’started yellin’ at Kevin

an’ then she headed on home.

An’ look,

I’m gonna tell you the truth here,

I don’t know for certain

whether Death was disguised as Amanda

or Amanda came back

with Death disguised

as her boyfriend who was drivin’ the car,

but when she came back she had her gun with her

and she pointed that gun at Kevin.

‘N Kevin, well, he did what boy-men so often do,

at least that’s how rumor has it.

Hell, they even do it on tv

so you’d prob’ly do it, too.

He said, “You ain’t gonna use it so put it away”

‘n then he turned his back.


Ok, maybe this is the point,

maybe this is why

I’ve been writin’—Please, my frien’,

if it ever comes up,

don’ turn your back on Death,

‘cause Amanda shot him

a bunch a times

right in the back

‘n later that night

he died.


An’ the boyfriend ‘n Death

or Amanda ‘n Death,


they up ‘n drove away.


But that’s jes’ what’s what, y’know?


I mean I’m gettin’ old now

and I imagine one day pretty soon

ol’ Death’ll come for me.

‘N me?

I dunno.

Mostly I’m hopin’

She waits awhile

before She up ‘n comes for you.