A Terrible Waste

I knew it was over when he told me he’d been killed. I received the email at work, the Monday after Thanksgiving, a day usually reserved for catch-up and slowly easing into the week. I grabbed my coffee from the break room like I always did first thing and settled at my PC, ready to attack the hundreds of emails that had piled up over five days. The subject line — “Sad News” – caught my eye first, nestled between “Editorial Request” and “Revisions Requested.”


I opened “Sad News” straightaway.


The email came from his wife and recounted in painful detail how my close friend had spent Thanksgiving at a shelter serving meals to hungry people. Toward the end of my pal’s shift, an angry homeless man pulled out a knife and stabbed my friend to death.


She went on to write that he always put himself before others and what a terrible waste this death was and how she’d miss him.


I sat in shock for several minutes. I’d known Dave for years, he’d been a good, good friend and confidant. Although he was married, he’d once confessed a crush, and I pulled back. Then I moved 2,000 miles away and we resumed our talks and friendship at a safe distance.


His death hit me hard, for about five minutes. At which point, something nagged. His wife sounded so…distant and somewhat unaffected by her husband’s bloody demise. So I did what shocked people might do when refusing to believe someone they care for is gone — I picked up the phone and called him.


He answered.




The whole thing had been a joke.


See, I can take jokes like any other person. Better maybe because I’m always ready for a laugh. This, however, felt evil. I couldn’t get past it, how he let me believe he was dead, even for a second, for a joke.


Some might argue he wanted to see how much I cared for him, to put a test before me, to know I’d miss him if he were gone. Yet I felt manipulated by his lie. It was invasive and cut to the soul of me.


I’m forgiving too, sometimes to a fault.


But there are some things I can’t get past.


So on that day, the Monday after Thanksgiving, he really did die.


(This is for PROMPTuesday.)

(And it’s true.)


21 thoughts on “A Terrible Waste”

  1. The opposite of this is a call I received at work from an aunt I never talk to. She was telling me that my uncle (not her husband, her brother-in-law) had just died of an aneurysm. I didn’t believe her. I made her say his whole name, just to make sure, you know, that she had the right person. I was really close with my uncle and could not process this information for hours. This is so not something to joke about — ever!

  2. What kind of man wants to get that kind of reaction out of a woman? I’m glad you didn’t have a crush on him because that would be bad.

  3. The first thing I thought of as I read this (because I’m weird like that) are those f’ed up people who make fake winning lottery tickets then film their family members thinking they won the damn lottery.

    I always think it’s so very sick.

    And this? Is even worse.

    You got me.
    (Enough to say Yowsa. Which I dole out selectively. Because…well…obviously.)

  4. That is a dick move,but I read that last line “…he really did die” to mean that you killed him for being a jerk. Then I read the part about it being true and felt bad.

  5. That was horrible (the “joke” – not how you wrote about it, which was gripping). That’s not funny or clever or interesting, ever. What a d-bag. And the wife is no better.

  6. Hi, my first time here, and w.o.w. what a post! I’m still reeling from it all .. and worse, that little sentence in prentheses at the end. Really? OMG. That’s f-ed up!

    On another note, I’ve also not heard of PROMPTuesday, my writer person will have to check it out, perhaps to kickstart her long-cold creative writing blog! :))

  7. Terrible, just terrible. It’s a good thing you called. Ugh imagine moarning the loss of this friend for longer period of time only to discover it was a lie. Ridiculous. Ugh. I know that would have been me. And the disconnect of the wife in the email would have had me believing that she was just being strong and that we should be strong for her. UGH just terrible.

  8. I know, all true. I’m glad you’ve supported my decision to never talk to him again (this all happened about 13 years ago).

    Thanks for your comments you love balls you!


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