Dad’s D-13

Man claims his obituary is premature


I wait as my phone call is transferred.  Finally, a voice at the other end of the line identifies itself as Felix Martin.

“Are you the obituary reporter for the newspaper?” I ask.

“I am,” Felix says.  “Do you have an obituary to report?”

“No.  I have a correction to make.  Your paper yesterday reported my death.”


“I’m not dead.  I feel fine.”

“That’s good.”

“I know it’s good. I’d like you to print a retraction.”

“What would the retraction say?”

“What do you mean it would say?  It would say that I’m not dead.”

“That’s not my department.  I only report when people are dead.”

“Technically, that isn’t true.  You reported that I’m dead and that doesn’t appear to be true, does it?”

“Apparently not.”

“Then print a retraction.  Print that I’m alive.”

“As I said, my department doesn’t print life notices; only death notices.”

“Then connect me to the life-notices department.”

“As far as I know, the paper doesn’t have such a department.”

“You can’t seriously be telling me that your paper won’t print a retraction.”

“I think that’s exactly what I’m telling you.”

“I’ll sue you.”

“As long as you’re dead, it seems unlikely that you can carry out any legal functions, like filing a lawsuit.  On the other hand, your heirs could sue on your behalf, if you were really dead.”

I hold my phone out from me and stare at it for a moment, waiting for reality to catch up with the person at the other end of the line.  Finally, I say, “May I speak with your editor?”

“He’s dead.”

“Your editor is dead?”

“His obituary was in last week’s paper.”

“Is he dead, dead, or just dead like me?”

“Dead is dead.”

“No, it appears that there is real dead and then there is newspaper dead, and you seem to blurring the two.”

“Perhaps there is another explanation.”


“Perhaps the obituary is right and you are wrong.”

“You mean I am dead and don’t know it?”

“It’s possible.”

“No, it’s not.  If I were dead, I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you?”

“What if purgatory actually does exist, and it alternates being put on hold and having  phone conversations that don’t appear to get anywhere?”

“That’s ridiculous.  I insist that you transfer me to someone who can help me.”

“Hold on please,” Felix Martin says, and music begins to play from his end of the line–ethereal music, not quite heavenly, but not quite earthly either.







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