Dr. Gloom is an ancient fellow. He looks like Moses probably did in the moment he smite the original set of Commandments into eternal dust upon coming down the mountainside to see his people in a party mood.
Always angry. Perpetually wincing.
He taps his teeth with the back of a pencil while seated in his practice room. Across his expansive table sits Death, an energetic young man with a grave look on his face. Most folks are rather surprised to learn death is a newcomer to the universe.
“You’ve lost weight since your last session,” the doctor announces.
“Um, yeah, I’ve been working real hard,” Death explains.
The doctor taps his teeth faster with the pencil. He eyeballs Death, waiting for more, but the lad has finished speaking.
“So how you been?”
Even though the doc tries to sound upbeat, he manages to make the question sound like a threat.
Death opens the book he brought with and slides a piece of paper from it across the table, face down.
Dr. Gloom stops tapping his teeth and raises an eyebrow.
“I started drawing,” Death says.
Dr. Gloom winces.
“It’s not very good, I know. But I wanted to share it with you.”
The doctor does not touch the paper. Instead, he tries an ominous smile, but it has been an age since his mouth moved in that way and so he winds up looking like he has been paralysed.
“Something the matter, Doctor Gloom?” Death asks, worried.
“As a matter of fact, yes. What on earth possessed you to draw a picture?”
As naïve as he is, Death knows the question is rhetorical. He stares at his shoes.
“I’m going to ignore this little episode,” the doc continues. “Write it off as a bad week. I see it all the time around here, you know?”
Doctor Gloom gets up from his seat and makes toward the door.
“Come with me,” he commands. “Let’s go to the pharmacy and get a little something for you.”
Dr. Gloom is hypnotized by the ceiling fan. He taps his teeth with the end of a pencil. The cell phone in his pocket beeps to signal the end of another day. He stands up and starts packing files from his desktop into his briefcase when he notices Death’s paper.
He stares, then reaches for it to crumple and throw it in the dustbin. Against his better sense and in a moment of weakness, he turns the page over to look at the drawing. He breaks into a cold sweat and curses Death.