4 of 5 stars.
Included in Chronology published by Curiosity Quills Press, this tale feels like an urban legend come to life. Joe Russo leads a necessary and yet grim life–he cleans up after the dead for the sake of the living. Not unlike a mortician, he faces the smells, gore and general unpleasantness at locations of death and erases their imprint with his cleaning services. And he’s good at his job. But his life is joyless.
Joe’s wife was a nurse that eventually died after a long struggle with cancer. Since then, he’s joined a good friend, Frankie, at the pub on occasion, but he doesn’t live. Despite having enough to retire let alone take a vacation, Joe has for years refused Frankie’s offer to get away to a lakehouse for a little R & R. Joe’s neighbor, Dee Dee, has also been trying to get Joe out of his shell by dropping off cookies and trying to engage him in conversation, all to no avail.
Then one day, Joe starts to see the specter of death at work, on the street, in the pub, even at his house. Joe has seen many scenes of death, but never felt the fear of being tailed by Death himself. But Death is not here on business, but rather to issue a warning that he needs to be acknowledged and not merely numbly ignored and taken for granted. The ball is in Joe’s court as he gets a say in his next scene . . .
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