People Just Die, Jim

People Just Die, Jim is not a graphic or overly violent story, but it does handle very mature matters such as the loss of a child and parent in a way that may be triggering for some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

It should have been a cloudy day, full of rain, and thunderstorms. Rain should have beat down on Jimmy’s head, but it was sunny. There’s not always a reason to things.

Not everyone knows that.

Jimmy… one day just… it was a bad day. Jimmy walked out the back door of his lawn and he just went to work. He started work on his fence, just to work on something. Didn’t need a yard, the dog was gone and the cat would climb over it, but a fence was something to work on.

“Didn’t…” he muttered to himself, “didn’t even get to meet her,” all while he started digging the holes for his fence. “Waited 9 fucking months, and you make sure I don’t get to meet her. Well, stay out of my house then.”

Jimmy worked on the fence, he toiled away until his hands cracked. It took a long time to dig all the holes as deep as they should be, and as deep as the next one and the next one. Jimmy fucked up a lot.

Jimmy fucked up a lot before he got perfect, but that was okay to everyone but him.

Eventually, Jimmy just stopped, he just calmed down with the fence and let the holes fill back up with the rain and mud. Never got around to buying the wood. Time got away, time sealed over the wound.

The wound didn’t heal, time doesn’t heal wounds, it seals them over. Time heals all wounds with love, people always miss that. Jimmy missed that.

Then, another sunshiny day, one almost insultingly so, Jimmy came out again. This time, he knew how to dig the holes. Jimmy took the day to dig the holes, and then he drove to the store or the home depot, it didn’t matter. 

He got the wood. 

He got the wood for the fence, but it wasn’t painted or anything, or cut to size, or even enough for the small yard he had. 

But he got the wood.

“You came for Mama, but you ain’t gonna come for nobody else. You ain’t gonna come into my house no more. I ain’t gonna fail, I’m gonna keep you out. You hear me?” 

Nobody heard him. Nobody hears Jimmy, ever.

Jimmy went out, he started plugging away, beating the fences in with all of his failing strength. To a fool, he would have looked strong. He would have looked like a Hercules batting at the Hydra to a fool. 

He wasn’t surrounded by fools. He wasn’t surrounded by anyone, just the sunny sun that bore down on him and made him smell so bad that he needed to wash the flies off him. 

When the wood didn’t match up, and there wasn’t enough, he left it the way it was. Eventually, it died down, and he got tired, and he went back inside, and time did not heal his wounds. No, time did not heal his wounds.

Time made them scab over, just in time for them to re-open, because another sunny day, Jimmy was out there again.

Jimmy came out and he placed his hands on his half-made fence, and he ripped the goddamn piece of shit out of the ground. It wasn’t glorious, it was no fit of strength. It was weakness, recognizing how he hadn’t made it right the first time.

This time, he re-dug the holes right on the first try. He counted and he measured, and when he went to the store he got all the wood he need, with nice white paint on it. He got this real nice wood for his fence. This opaque white should have kept out everything, even that which could not be seen.

And Jimmy, he planted the fence into the dirt. He took his time, he was careful, he put in the work, day after day, after goddamn day. He put in the work, he got his white fence, and he planted his hands on it. It completed his yard, and no one was getting in without his permission.

He looked up at the bright sun that mocked him day after day. The sun that would not die until everything Jimmy knew was dead and forgotten.

Jimmy looked up at that sun and said, “You’ll die someday too.”

But he came to talk it, to the scythe and the sickle that kept coming into his house, eating his food, breaking his bread, and leaving him nothing but funerals and caskets and empty holes in his chest.

He talked to death. 

“Now,” Jimmy said, “you don’t come into my house no more, you need my permission to come in here. You want to come into my house, you don’t come through the back, I ain’t your common whore. 

“You come through the front door. You knock on that door, and you greet me first like a man. You extend your hand, then if I choose to shake it, you may come it, and only if I choose.

“You will come in only if you take me first when I am good and ready. I will see to it that the son you have left me is good and fine. That is the only way you may come into my house from now on. 

That… that is the only way.

And then Jimmy walked inside, and the next day it rained.

But the fence stayed up. The paint did not chip, the sun did not waver, and Jimmy stood tall.

Life went on without making another hole, and there were few sunny days, but that’s not how Jimmy preferred it. The rain was a-okay to Jimmy.

It was… a-okay.

Then a sunny day came.

Jimmy… he… walked out to his back step but he did not make it to the fence. The fence stood still and tall and it meant nothing.

It meant absolutely nothing.

“Goddamn it,” Jimmy said, “goddamn it, goddamn you, and goddamn me, just… nobody should be cursed with my health as you have cursed me.”

The door swung open, and a man who Jimmy once called brother came, looked around, and saw no one to go with the words he heard his brother speaking.

He sat down next to Jimmy, and he asked him,  “Jimmy, what are you… who do you think you’re talking to?”

“No one…” Jimmy admits, “nobody at all. 

“You can’t talk to what I want to talk to. It’s not a thing, it isn’t real. Death doesn’t really have a sickle and it don’t wear no black shawl. 

“I wish it did, I wish it were something I could shoot, beat with a bat, something I could fucking strangle for everything it takes. 

“Death should be something that has to walk up to me… and explain itself. It should explain to me, why it has the right to come and tell us when it’s time to go. We should decide that, not it, not Death. Us. 

Us goddamn it.

Jimmy’s brother looks away from him for a moment, away from his grand words that pass over his head, and over Jimmy’s head too.

Jimmy’s brother tells him the truth.

“People just die, Jim.”

Hope you enjoyed People Just Die, Jim, and read our other short stories, or check out the YouTube Channel! If you ever find yourself grieving a heavy loss that you just can’t handle, don’t do it alone, reach out to the friends and family you have, because that’s why they’re there.

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