Fritz and Death were old friends.
The acquaintance began when Fritz was a child. Fritz’s father, a quiet man working as a mid-level bureaucrat, was felled by a heart attack. It was two hours before someone in the office noticed, too late to do any good. Death was slow; it was a quiet day.
As a teenager, Fritz’s mother had had enough, knew that Fritz could look out for himself, and swallowed enough pills to finish it all. Death was slower, dragging on.
Fritz’s first love was killed in a car accident, when her boyfriend in university was driving down the wrong road too late and too fast, hitting a moose and offing them both. Death was quick, then. It was a full day, but time was still made to say hello and have a cup of tea.
At twenty-five, Fritz had a house – with mortgage – and two friends. One friend was killed slipping on a rock near a cliff. Death was sad, but comforting. The second friend was killed by a shooter. Death brought a candle for Fritz, to better hold a vigil.
At thirty-five, Death came for Fritz’s cat. At forty, Death collected Fritz’s dog. Each time they met, they shook hands, then hugged. They spoke, then shook hands again, before parting ways, for Death had much to do.
At fifty-two, Death came for Fritz himself. Fritz was very alone then, never replacing those he lost. While he was happy to have a friend in Death, he was sad to lose his friends in life, and the one did not balance the other. Still, when Death made the last visit to Fritz, Fritz was glad of it. They shook hands, smiled, and had a tea before continuing on their way.