“NOW I AM BECOME DEATH” • by Izzy David

That’s what I used to tell myself: I am Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.

The smell of blood… a bitter, warm smell… not unlike cooking smells. Kitchen smells, you know? My grandmother cooked a delicious pot roast… It’s not that remarkable I make the connection between baking and blood. Us and the animals, I read once, genetically-speaking we’re not all that different.

Is this boring you, Father?

No? Good.

Anyway I’d tell myself I was the destroyer, the end. I felt that way, too. Because I was. I had a neighbor once, this Indian art-dealer. A funny guy. He used to make his sales that way — you can take on the characteristics of a god. He’d sell pictures like hotcakes. Got a lot of ’em over in India. Gods, not role models. Anyway, that’s where I got the idea.

Can I smoke in here? I know that’s not the usual practice, so before you say “no”… it would really make me happy.

Oh. I can?

Smells get me. I smoke Parliament Lights, what, twenty years. Memories…

Oh, that’s good. That’s better. I got chronic anxiety, my doctor says. I think that’s what he said. I wasn’t paying attention too good. I don’t listen. I could call him up, he said. If I ever needed anything. He was a good doctor.

Not ‘was’. Probably still is. I moved, that’s all. That’s the problem with my line of work. People find out and they assume. I have to be careful with my words.

I’m more of an action guy. You know the movie star I truly admire? Jason Statham. Not DeNiro. No. He was just getting kicks in Taxi. Statham has method. When it comes down to it, we choose our line of work.

I enjoyed playing Death.

It gave my life a certain atmosphere. I used to feel kind of… yeah, regal when I was doing it. I liked to watch.

No, Father. I don’t mean that. Not while they were dying. I’m a career guy. Not like that serial killer, what’s his name, Bundy. I read about him. He liked to watch the light in their eyes going out, sucking in their last breath for himself…

I meant before then. In the wings, so to speak. I’d watch them living. Only I knew how alive they were. Only I knew the supporting actor who was about to come out… They thought they had the spotlight. They thought they were writing the script. Free will, ha.

I’m glad you have a sense of humor, Father. I never figured you guys for being a barrel of laughs. I like when people laugh at my jokes.

I always figured I’d come for me, too. You know, not me per se but someone like me. I imagined him watching me the way I watched them. Picking up their kids from school… not that that happened a lot with the types I deleted.

I was expensive. I worked for expensive people. I deleted expensive people.

There was one time… a woman. A high-powered type. They all were, though. I don’t know what made her so special. She wasn’t beautiful. I watched her for three days. They were bawling me out about it. She used to go pick her kid up at school every day. She’d wait in the car. One of those town cars with tinted windows but I could kinda see her in there, making calls. Then like clockwork she’d get out, stand there, nervous. Like she was waiting for a date. For a lover.

Ha. You’re right, Father. She had a son. I didn’t go to college, but even I’ve heard of that complex.

Her son would come out with all his pals. Good-looking kid. Always wearing this little red sweater, red bookbag, red sneakers. That kid really had it for the color red.

When I shot her, Father, and I saw the blood… It got me, Father. It was different somehow. I imagined the kid finding her. Seeing his mother covered in his favorite color. Smelling that cooking smell on his own mother. I never thought that way before, see. It was always… I was a function almost.

We all die, after all. In the end.

I hurried the end up a little. I chose the end.

Maybe she was a bad person. Maybe they were all bad people.

But you don’t really believe that, Father.

I think you’re telling me what you think I want to hear.

Not that I know a lot about… doctrine, is it called? Theory or something?

I’m not even Catholic. Well, my Pops was. He was very Catholic. But my mother’s a Jew. Was a Jew. Yeah, she’s dead. I told you. Words, I’m not so good with. I get confused. Past, present. Living, dead.

You know what’s funny? Not haha funny. But strange. I feel dead now. Death is dead. Did someone say that once? Oh, God is dead. Ha, that’s kinda funny. Ever since that woman… I know Death will come. I know I’m not Him anymore.

So I took that body with me. The woman. It felt different, that part. Like I was holding someone I loved. It gave me the creeps. She wasn’t beautiful. She was kind of dumpy, middle-aged. But I didn’t want the kid to… I cared. It was weird. I mean, I didn’t usually dispose of the bodies. That’s part of the deal. Death doesn’t have to do that. He gets to come in, do the deed, move on… doesn’t have to clean up.

I don’t have a lot of friends.

Oh, Jesus, Father. Ha. That’s funny. I took the Lord’s name in vain right in church. As I’m confessing. This is a real confession? I feel sorry about that woman. The others, not so much…

Oh, him? By the front. All in black. That’s Harry, I think he’s called.

I told you he’d come.

I hope he doesn’t take you, too.

I’d be sorry about that, too, Father.

Izzy David is an actor and writer living in New York. Izzy studied comparative literature and drama at the University of Virginia, before moving to the city to teach and perform off-Broadway and in film. She recently wrote, starred in and directed a play for Centerstage’s Friend Me Festival. Her poetry, essays and short stories have been published in Apollo’s Lyre, The First Line Magazine, and Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture among others. Izzy has completed her first novel and is seeking a publisher.

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Every Day Fiction

  • Interesting story. I find myself slightly torn on this one.

    On one hand, I like the scattered, seemingly lighthearted dialogue of the main character. Many people ramble like this, and given the severity of the topic, it effectively accentuates his dissociation at something of a casual pace.

    On the other hand, I found myself easily distracted and at a couple points somewhat bored. What begins as amusing and necessary becomes a mote superfluous. While I did see a nice progression of information hidden in these rambles, I think it might have held my attention better if cut just a bit short.

    That said, I do like the overall story. I like how it carefully hides itself, offering a slight misdirection without being dishonest. I like the character and his nonchalance about the topic. Second person is a tricky business, and it often turns many readers off. I’m not one of them, and I think you did it well.

  • Rose Gardener

    I find this chillingly psychotic, scarily realistic. Nice work. Well done.

  • fishlovesca

    Exactly echo @1, I felt bored and distracted through the story. I think right from the beginning the character was not believable — the comparison of smells was off, and off-putting, and misplaced. Nonchalant tone, trite cliches, psych references, predictable ending — straight out of a bad movie. The writer here was watching, not internalizing, understanding his character.

  • Andrew Waters

    I liked the concept of this story but the narrative felt a little schizophrenic to me. Something about the characterization just never jelled, due in part, I think, to the sarcasm. I wanted the tone to be more somber and even. The concept of a hit man taking on the persona of Shiva was very compelling to me, however.

  • ajcap

    I’m lazy. I don’t want to have to work at reading. I want the story to sweep me up and take me away; not bog me down and confuse me. Not sure where the MC was or who he was talking to, at first. I thought he was talking to his father. Not even sure the MC was a he.

    Take this line; “Got a lot of ‘em over in India. Gods, not role models.” Who mentioned role models? Why would the MC think the Father would be confused between the two?

    Three stars. I appreciate when a writer tries something new and the voice was interesting but the story (what there was of it) didn’t work for me.

  • The voice on this was hard to get into, but once I got there it seemed very effective (it’s like you have to read Shakespeare for awhile before you get into the groove).

    Anyway, once there, I was swept along, trying to figure out what exactly was happening. No set-up, no “place”, no names, it engaged me in trying to make sense of it…and that’s not always a good thing. However, it worked because it was flash (if I needed much more time, I think I would have chucked it).

    So, in the end, I liked this chilling tale of a remorseless gun-for-hire who’s confession we get to eavesdrop on before he meets his own maker. The only thing I didn’t get was why he confessed in the first place. He didn’t repent, except for the one woman, but maybe that’s what it was. Don’t know.

    I’m sure others’ opinions will be all over the map on this one. For me, it’s somewhere north of three stars…+

  • I liked this character. He’s totally barkers. Whether he started out crazy as a child or whether his career path twisted him, who knows? But it’s a compelling question and I enjoy stories that make me wonder. An awesome and chilling tale – and awesomely chilling.

    The only place I stumbled has already been mentioned by Ms. AJ (#5): “Got a lot of ‘em over in India. Gods, not role models.” That line caused me to falter because the reference to role models seemed apropos of nothing.

  • Paul Friesen

    Echoing 7 and 5, I too was lost and confused why role models was mentioned and why the MC would think the priest would confuse the two.

  • Ryan McCaffrey

    I thought the impending sense of inevitability was elegantly understated throughout the story. Also, being able to capture reflection of a killer who does not think linearly was extraordinary. A great piece overall.

  • JenM

    I enjoyed this story a lot. I liked the narrator’s spech pattern and found it easy to follow. At first I thought he was a woman, though, because I thought Shiva was a female name.
    I really liked the ida of the new God of Death coming for him. Very cute ending.

  • kathy k

    Too jumbled and confusing.

  • The story, its pace and dialog fascinates and draws one in. Absolutely great writing, convincing of truth to witnessing or to experience.

    I am not a Christian, but I believe Christians are taught to accept Christ’s concern for other people and his self discipline as a role model. Most other “gods” cannot be imitated.

    For some reason the story seems to be asking for comment on the smell of blood. Actually, fresh blood smells metallic, like iron – more like a gun than a cooked goose.

  • an intriguing soliloquy

  • Thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments. That was great feedback! I agree with some of the criticisms and feel bashful about some of the compliments. The character’s story was (at first) just as indecipherable and as much a surprise to me appearing as it did in my non-violent, female head as it was to some of the readers. I think I didn’t fully develop it past this issue since I do so much theater and envisioned it as having the context a character on stage would give it. I need to work on making sure I separate my theatrical and fiction writing. I’m glad people seemed willing to do the work I accidentally didn’t do! I would definitely be interested to revisit this character and this piece based on the feedback, so thank you all very much!

  • Pingback: Podcast EDF075: Now I Am Become Death • by Izzy David • read by Izzy David | Every Day Fiction - The once a day flash fiction magazine.()

  • MPmcgurty

    I loved this. Could it have used some pruning? Yes, but I thought the meandering was very natural. One thing I appreciated very much was that the author didn’t repeat every question the priest asked. That’s a pet peeve of mine. It sometimes took a few seconds to realize what the priest’s question most likely was, but I didn’t mind working through them.

    Very nice.

  • MPmcgurty

    I loved this. Could it have used some pruning? Yes, but I thought the meandering was very natural. One thing I appreciated very much was that the author didn’t repeat every question the priest asked. That’s a pet peeve of mine. It sometimes took a few seconds to realize what the priest’s question most likely was, but I didn’t mind working through them.

    Very nice.