I met death when I was a young man. 18 years old and obviously invincible. You’re probably thinking I am about to tell you a story of a near death experience, yes but no… I met death incarnate, the Grim Reaper, Mot, Angel of death, Thanatos, a dullahan, Hel, King Yama, Azreil, or any number of other names given to the one who collects/reaps souls for the crossover. At the time my knowledge of the incarnation of death was very limited to the stereotypical Grim Reaper.
Friday and Saturday nights in this Wyoming town, where I spent my formative years, were spent driving a car around a loop downtown smoking pot and stopping in various parking lots and talking to other hormonal teenagers. The object was always to find out who was having a party and invite ourselves, or if you were a male, find some attractive females to spend some time with. At any rate this was what we did on weekends after we scored a driver’s license. Insert typical weekend night and my friend (I will call him Blue to protect the innocent) and I were cruising around stopping here or there trying to find the ever-elusive raging party. We stopped in a parking lot at one end of the Strip. It was a Small strip mall parking lot who’s owners were kind enough not to run the local teen riff raff off when we were congregating/loitering.
As we sit in the lot shooting the shit, I hear a loud exhaust note, definingly a hot rod. In pulls this Flat black 1971 Plymouth Barracuda with flat black wheels and a Hemi in it. It was the type of car we called a death mobile, today you might hear them described as murdered out. The below image is about as close as I can come to the vehicle. The wheels were different, but this picture is a somewhat less scary but relitively accurate depiction.
It was loud, it sounded nasty, like a rather large snarling Rottweiler sounds nasty, like a mountain lion, menacing but beautiful at the same time.
The Cuda parked. The driver’s door opened and a man exited the vehicle. He was very tall. I would estimate he was perhaps 6’6 and skinny. Wearing dark jeans and a dark wife beater he might have weighed in at 140 or 150 soaking wet. Skeletal would be an apt description of the man, his face was gaunt with sunken cheek bones and black rings around his eyes. This should have given me pause but I really like nice cars, and well, I was young, stupid and nigh-invulnerable. The Cuda was most definitely a nice car, so being the confident/ignorant teen that I was I approached him and started to ask him about his car, Blue followed me. I asked questions, he answered. He opened the hood and showed me the Hemi and I was a googly eyed fan boy. We spent maybe 10 minutes talking about cars before he looks at Blue and myself and says “you boys want to go for a ride” of course we’re not turning that down.
To this day I am not sure why but both Blue and I got in the back seat of the Cuda. As we pulled out of the parking lot our chauffeur flicked his bick and lit up a joint, passing it back after a couple drags. Blue and I took a few and passed it back. Couple rounds and it was extinguished, Blue and I were seriously lit. Our chauffer then turned around and gave us a frightening, wide, shit eating grin, while saying in a flat tone “could you boys hold those speakers behind you for me?”. There were speaker boxes behind our heads with 6X9 speakers in them on the package tray, not anchored. Blue and I looked at each other and shrugged putting our hands behind us on the speaker boxes. Ozzy Ozborn suicide solution began playing from the tape deck and he proceeded to turn it up to 11…
Our chauffeur hammered the gas and smoke rolled off the back wheels, you could smell the smoking rubber wafting in from the open windows. We were thrown back in our seats with our hands behind our heads trying to make sure the speaker boxes stayed put. After a few seconds I strained my neck to get a look between the front seats at the speedometer, it read 90 mph. 90 mph in a 35 mph zone, in a downtown small town, with plenty of traffic. We came to a near 90 degree turn at 2nd street and he hammered the brakes spun the steering wheel to the left and stomped on the gas, we drifted through the corner with smoke rolling from the wheel wells and the engine sounding like Satans spawn screaming to meet its enemy. With no seatbelts It was everything Blue and I could do to not be bludgeoned to death by each other or the speakers we were attempting to hold behind our heads. It was then that I looked up under the glare of the street light and saw his bare right arm which I hadn’t noticed before. His entire upper arm was a damn near 3D tattoo of the Grim Reaper. At that moment I realized I was in the presence of death, it became frighteningly clear to me that I may not see another sunrise. Death punched it again reaching near 100 mph passing people on the wrong side of the road, laughing loudly like this was the best amusement park ride ever. Death hammered the brakes and drifted around another corner. I was thrown to the right and caught a glimpse of the ignition and the keys. I shit you not the key chain had a little Scythe attached to it. Death laughed a laugh that brought goose bumps to my flesh and continued at impossible speed back the way we came, passing vehicles, middle fingers and blowing horns. We returned the mile or so back to the original parking lot where we had started our journey, Death slowed to a crawl and turned back into the parking lot. The cammed engine loping like a dragster. Death pulled over to let Blue and I out of the car. We were breathing hard and speechless. My heart was pounding, my ears were ringing as I stumbled out of the back of the Cuda. I bent down and looked through the passenger side window at Death, I swear his eyes flashed a green yellow color as he said “see ya around boys” he laughed again and slowly drove away. I spent the next 20 minutes shaking from the adrenalin come down… I never saw him again.