Steve, a professional stuntman, and his manager Desmond were driving through the city in Desmond’s 2011 four-door-extended Jeep Wrangler en route to Shepherd’s Cross Medical Center. A regional charity foundation which would grant and then arraign last wishes for terminally-ill children had granted and then arraigned a meeting between a young boy named George, who was a patient in the Zelda Berthalese Memorial Children’s Care Center Complex of Shepherd’s Cross Medical Center, and his hero and idol Steve, a professional stuntman. George’s last wish was to meet Steve.

“Bah! What the hell do you know?” Desmond said, swiping his hand in rogue dismissal at Steve.

“I know they make them better at the Library than they do at the Laundromat.”

Desmond shook his head in bewilderment and disgust—in response to both Steve’s assertion and the congested city traffic—while slowing his Jeep down as rows of brake lights illuminated all ahead. The canvas soft top of the Jeep was down and the sun blazed onto them. Steve could feel his back sweating and his black T-shirt becoming soaked and sealing itself to his sweaty skin. A chuckle snorted out from him.

“Something funny?” Desmond asked him.

“Just all these cars stopped in front of us reminded me of a time I was going through a McDonald’s drive-thru. The line was backed up, cars weren’t moving…” Steve’s phone began to vibrate but he ignored it. “…and then I see one of the workers, some kid, shooing a mama duck and her baby ducks out of the drive-thru lane. He was waving his arms all around crazy trying to get them to move.”

Desmond laughed, imagining the scene. “The kid working was probably like, ‘Hey, beat it, ducks!  You see that line of cars. Get to the end of it. You just can’t come up to the front! Got people in this line who just want to buy a shake and they can’t because of you!’”

“Probably was saying, ‘Hey, you can’t walk through the drive-thru! You must be in a vehicle!’”

They had a good laugh at that. Steve reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to see who had called. He didn’t recognize the number but saw whoever it was left a voicemail. He listened to the message. Desmond threw his hands in the air in frustration and made demonstrative unhinged gestures, the inexplicable traffic snarl getting the better of him. Steve put his phone back in his pocket. The cars ahead of them began to move again.

“Huh,” Steve gasped out.

“What is it?”

“That was the foundation that called. That kid died this morning.”

“What kid?”


“The one we’re going to see?”


“Shit,” Desmond said with genuine profound astonishment, elongating and emphasizing the “i.” “Well, if that don’t beat it.”

He reached up to the GPS unit on the top of his dashboard, turned it off and then flicked on his right turn signal. Desmond looked over his right shoulder and aggressively merged into the right lane, cutting off a tiny silver sedan, and then without abandon took the immediate right hand turn.

“Where are you going?”

“Back to the office.”


“You said the kid is dead. We don’t need to go see him anymore because there isn’t someone to go see. Shit, if he died this morning, I wish they would have let us know earlier so we didn’t have to drive into downtown. I could have taken the afternoon off.”

“I think I should still go to the hospital.”

“For what reason?”

“To pay my respects.”

“To him?”



“He was a fan of mine. When I talked to him on the phone he said he’s seen all the films I did stunts in. Even the R-rated ones. His parents wouldn’t normally have let him watch those, but since I was in them, he begged them, so they let him. He said he’d throw himself down stairs or jump off his roof all the time. I told him we have all manner of safety precautions we use for our stunts: air mattresses, padding, and whatnot. Every time, I told him, he saw me tumbling down stairs, I was padded up. But to him, he didn’t care. He did everything because he wanted to be a stuntman, like me. Thankfully, he never tried setting himself on fire. That would have probably killed him before whatever he had killed him today. So going to see him and his family is the least I could do. Well, the least I could is nothing, so I’m doing one better and honoring the wish.”

“So you just want to show up at the hospital, go to the room, look at the parents, and say ‘Hey, just wanted to come by still and look at your son’s corpse?’”

Steve and Desmond both abruptly silenced themselves and held their breath as a massive green garbage truck passed by the open air Jeep. Once it was sufficiently passed, they exhaled through their noses to expel any residual waste-scented air, and then without a beat missed, resumed their discourse.

“I said, to honor the commitment I made and pay my respects to his family,” Steve said with some bugged force and irascibility in his voice.

“There is no commitment to him anymore! He’s dead. Death ends commitments.”

“Aristotle believed you could still do harm to someone even after he is dead. That is in part where ‘rolling around in his grave’ comes from. Because he believed you could still vex someone’s spirit even after he has died.”

“I’ll give your face a vexing,” Desmond said, raising and shaking a fist at Steve. “Besides, were his family even fans of you?”

“I’d imagine. They knew what I meant to their son so by some degree that has to make them fans. Or at least supporters.”

“This is a bunch of bullshit.”

Desmond was slowly snaking through traffic, asserting the Jeep into the smallest of gaps, pinballing back and forth between the right and left lanes; though as soon as he merged into the right lane again, the cars in front and next to him all slowed to a dead halt. All the other drivers around him could hear him swear, his profanity echoing off the buildings and carrying down the avenues. Sporadically, the cars in front would creep an inch or two and then stop again. Desmond leaned out of his window to see if he could determine a reason for the snarl; Steve de-suctioned his back from the seat and did the same on his side. All each could see was an endless line of stopped cars and red traffic lights. After many minutes had passed, the traffic began to move again and Desmond took a right hand turn. He was now on the street that would take him out of the city center area and back to the office where he wanted to go; but he also knew well that Steve still wanted to go to the hospital; and the bottom line was Steve, a professional stuntman, was his client and he worked for Steve. The sun continued to beat down on the topless Jeep and heat radiated into it from everything around. Desmond was pouring sweat. His grip on the wheel tightened. His sweaty knuckles were white. Beads of sweat were rolling down his stomach and sides. Car horns were honking. He felt the skin on his forehead beginning to burn. He gritted his teeth, swore unabashedly to himself, and as soon as the next street he could turn right on came up, he flung the Jeep around the corner.

“Now we’re back heading south on Fillmore Street where we were originally. We just drove in a circle, except we’re back further than we were when you turned off. We could have been at the hospital by now, have seen him and the family, and maybe even have left by now,” Steve bluntly said.

“Are we going to the goddamn hospital to see the goddamn dead kid or not?”

Steve’s phone rang again and he answered it. Desmond was mumbling a mural of expletives.  “Hello. Yes…yeah, that’s too bad…okay…okay…thanks for letting me know…alright…anytime…bye.”

Desmond didn’t even ask anything. He just let out an exasperated and frustrated breath of air.

“Well, that was the foundation,” Steve began to say. “They wanted to make sure I got the message that George died.”

“We sure got it.” Desmond said curtly and with full-festered asperity.

“And the lady who called wanted to apologize for not leaving this in the message earlier: we don’t have to go to the hospital. The parents thank me and they wish to be with just the family right now.”

“Well, shit. So we could have headed home if some jackass had just given the entire proper message in the first fuckin’ place.”

“I’ll still put out a video and send something to the family. I do feel bad.”

Desmond made a sharp left turn.

“This isn’t the way back to your office,” Steve flatly noted.

“Nope. There is a top shelf gyro joint around here,” Desmond replied.


“They have the lamb meat right there on one of those rotating things. That’s how you know the place is good: they have one of those rotating things. You watch them just slice the meat right off.”

“A gyro does sound good.”

“Hell yes, it does. We’ll have a couple gyros for George.”