Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On "The Last Call" by R. A. Keenan (4593 words) ***

In this story from the Guest Quarters series on the Edge of Propinquity, a man somehow finds himself transformed into the grim reaper--and this not by his own will. Nor does he get to decide who dies. He's just someone's minion, out to harvest bodies for the dead. The situation of this story is really quite unique. I could see this as a movie somewhere, some kind of M. Night Shyamalan piece. Read the story here at Edge of Propinquity.


Cheryl said...

Not so unique. Ray Bradbury's "The Scythe" is basically the same story, written decades earlier.


Short Story Reader said...

Obviously, Bradbury's story is not one I was familiar with. Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl said...

Thank you, too, for sharing this story. I always like to read stories based on a theme, to kind of compare and contrast.

R. A. Keenan said...

Hello SSR & Cheryl,

Thanks folks for your comments regarding my tale of a reluctant Grim Reaper.

I love Bradbury and feel a bit embarrassed that the 'Scythe" and "Last Call" share a similar theme. "Great minds (not so great in my case) think alike?

The tale first popped into my mind as a strange telephone call gone wrong though not necessarily from the direct source of the threat itself but from the unaware victims to be gathered, which struck me as an interesting twist.

I intended poor René initially to be a sort of condemned witness to the gathering of souls, and not the "gatherer" or Grim Reaper him/her/itself.

The first draft was not spooky enough but it did set the scenes, the relationship between René and Barbara, his wife, etc. His unwillingly inheriting the job, hit me after the first draft.

A bit of rewriting here and there and...Voila!

BTW, my real-life model for René was Leonard Lopate of WNYC, one of Public Radio's most erudite talk show hosts. I'm a big fan of his wit and perspective and enjoy the wide range of talented people he interviews.

I've other published short stories, as well, if you'd like to read more of my work, much of it urban fantasy/horror or Magical Realism, some of the stories non-fiction. Just drop by:



Bob Keenan

Short Story Reader said...

Great to hear the story behind the story . . .