Finis, the muscular Santa Claus type, sat on the bench enjoying the life and activity in the public park.
Death chose to take an afternoon off, relaxing in the shade of the trees, he listened to children playing in the sandbox — a good sound, full of life and a balm to the soul.
He was closing his eyes and inhaling the blessed perfumes of pine, elm and grass when a jewish carpenter tapped him on the shoulder and offered snow-maned occupant of the bench a cup of wine from his bottle of “Never Empty” brand of Merlot.
“You know, drinking of alcohol in the public park is illegal here.” He gratefully accepted the cup.
“Are you going to talk or drink?”
“You only filled it half-way.” Finis said, his companion laughing and topping up his glass. “And we can visit at the same time.”
The sharing of illegal drinking of wine with the scandal in sandals was always enjoyable. Finis tore off a large peice of a baguette he carried in a bag and handed it to the long-haired friend and good-natured rival, fishing out a bar of dark chocolate, he broke it in half and balanced it on top of the broken bread.
“Humans here relish this.” He said and both men nodded. One of the discoveries of man that was enjoyable on many levels.
The two men chatted for a while, a good rivalry had developed between the two years before. This crazy carpenter held the unique position of defeating him in the universal contest that everyone, everywhere struggles with, and against walking with the Angel of Death.
Finis never held it against the wandering rabbi, they both walked a path that was similar and shared some laughs. But where the carpenter enjoyed his position, Finis hated his job.
No one ran towards Finis with peace in their hearts. If and when they did, it was always a darkness that drove them.
It was depressing.
They were talking peacefully when a drug dealer and his entourage walked into the area and spread out to the different areas, staring at the families.
Terrified and intimidated mothers gathered their children and vacated the area in abject fear, ending the joyous sound like a cold rain.
The descending silence drew the attention of the two solitary gentlemen sitting on the bench who frowned as they discussed the change in the air.
The gang leader looked at the two men, they seemed clueless to where they were. They sat in a dangerous part of town and a lesson was about to be taught.
This was HIS park.
One, a white-haired man with a long silver-handled cane, and the other who wore a peasant shirt, well-worn but clean denim shorts and sandals. They were openly sharing wine and bread while the park changed from one of family fun to one of the business of crime.
They two friends commented to each other that it seemed colder and more unwelcoming than before, when a five-year-old girl raced ahead of her mom to climb and take her turn at the slide.
The drug dealer could hear them discussing his crew as he walked up.
“This is our park, you need to pay to stay.” The tattoo of tears on the face of the bald leader in contrast to the sparkling hatred of his eyes.
The two benchwarmers looked first at each other, then the white-haired one with the cane looked back at him with a slight smile.
“We were here first and we are just enjoying the shade.”
“You want a piece of me?” The dealer hissed drawing a sidearm. “I said you had to pay to stay, now you just have to pay.”
“Roberto, I don’t get to see you for another three-years, four months, twelve days.” White-hair said matter-of-factly, no anger, but the old man’s tone was even.
“Finis.” The smaller carpenter cautioned. “No messing with him. But, if you …”
“Fuckit. You go to the hospital with holes.” Roberto aimed his pistol at the face of the carpenter. White-hair grabbed the hand and weapon with cat-like speed.
“You have no idea how close to death you are right now, young man.” Finis stared into the eyes of the thug. “And that gent right there is your only saving grace.”
The fear burning at the soul of the human as the Angel of Death invaded his mind with images that changed his life.
“This carpenter right here will lead you back, but of it were me? I will just take you away. Talk to him, open your heart. If you talk to me, it will be with your last breath, and you would suffer in the most biblical of ways.”
In the following minutes, the two men, a white-haired Santa Claus type and a jewish carpenter sat and talked of everything they could think of with the shaven and tattoo leader and dealer of drugs. Roberto the gangster known as “The Bull” discovered a change in his life, he had met death that day and found Jesus.
Roberto “The Bull” Roman was lucky, Death was off duty.