He knew it was going to be a strange day from the moment he woke up. He could feel it in his gut. At first he thought it might have been the anchovies and the extra glass of wine the night before, but by the time he had showered and dressed he knew that wasn’t it.
Confirmation of his hunch came in the doctor’s waiting room as he waited to hear some test results. He had been vaguely unwell for some time and was hoping the battery of tests he had endured earlier in the week would shed some light.
An oddly dressed little man came in not long after he sat down. The man scanned the room, zeroed in on Greg and sat down next to him. For a moment he sat there fidgeting and staring at the office door and then he leaned over and whispered to Greg.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but…well, there are cowboys out in the hallway.”
Greg lowered the two-year-old copy of Time magazine he had been reading and looked at the little man.
The little man nodded his head. Greg was perplexed for a moment, and then the light came on.
“Ah, you mean the painting on the wall just outside.”
The little man looked at him sternly and nodded.
“That’s how it starts,” he said with finality, and looked towards the door leading to the outside hall. He turned back to Greg.
“I love dancing with black cats. Do you?”
Greg frowned and put his nose back in the magazine. Some of the other patients were looking at him oddly. Today of all days he really didn’t need this sort of thing. New York always had its share of weirdoes, but they seemed to be multiplying of late. He turned away slightly hoping the odd little man would get the hint.
The silence was reassuring, but then he looked up and there the little man was, sitting across the room from him on the edge of his seat with this hands tucked under each leg, staring intently at Greg. Greg stared at him for a few moments, and the little man started grinning. He hadn’t noticed him get up and move across the room, and though he had been looking down at the magazine he was rather certain he would have noticed the move. He held the magazine up in front of his face and leaned back.
After a few minutes his arms got tired and he lowered the magazine, only to find the little man now sitting on the other side of where he had originally been. He cocked his head at Greg.
“It happens to everyone eventually, you know,” he stated with an air of certainty.
Greg was getting very annoyed, but couldn’t resist rising to the bait.
“What happens to everyone? What do you want with me?”
The other patients were back to staring again. He ignored it as best he could.
The little man was staring straight ahead now, but grinning maniacally.
“I’m a messenger. Death, Greg. The thing that happens to everyone.”
Greg went pale as his breathing became short.
“How…how do you know my name? Who are you?”
He could feel his heart beating in his throat now.
The little man turned to him and stopped grinning, fixing him with a piercing stare.
“I told you, I’m the messenger. The doctor will see you now Greg.”
Just then the receptionist’s phone buzzed and she answered it and then put the phone down and looked at Greg.
“Doctor Thompson will see you now.”
Greg got up stiffly and walked to the doctor’s open door, a numbness had overtaken him, but he turned back to look at the little man. He was no where to be seen. Somehow it came as no surprise. He walked into the office and the doctor looked at him grimly and nodded for him to sit.
“Your test results are back, Greg. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”