Grant Vang shot around the corner on his ten-speed, jumped the curb,
then veered sharply to miss a group of university students clustered on
the sidewalk. Frat boys. Dinkytown was famous for frat boys and Bob
Dylan. And more recently the University of Minnesota student who'd been
killed in a hazing.
Watch it, freak! one of the cluster shouted.
Grant threw the finger over his shoulder. He turned into a narrow
alley, jumped off the bike, and ran beside it before it stopped. A
quick lock, then he stepped into his uncle's shop.
The old man didnt
look up from his dark corner. You're late.
Grant waited for his
eyes to adjust. The scent of unburned incense barely covered the
sweet-sour stench of decay. It was an old building. I've been busy.
Have you found someone to take your place?
I'm working on it.
You have to get a replacement. You'll be leaving soon.
Replacements aren't easy to come by.
His uncle made a
clicking sound with his tongue. You're too picky.
I'm not going to use just anybody.
The bell above the
door rang, announcing a customer. The university student. The one Grant
had almost hit. He glanced at Grant, then strolled to a shelf and
feigned interest in the jars and candles. He picked up a carved wooden
box. What's this?
A reanimation kit.
The kid made a
ho-ho-ho face. To bring somebody back to life? People pay you for
this crap? Looks like it's been opened. Like it's been used.
Nothing here is new.
You sell old stuff? What kind of place is this?
My uncle is a doctor.
The kid snorted. Whatever
Grant heard his uncle
humming behind him. Even though he didn't turn around, he knew the old
mans eyes would be closed, his hands folded on the top of his cane.
The hum? Sign on the Window. Sometimes it was Lay Lady Lay,
but he tended to go with Dylan's more obscure work. Occasionally he'd
toss in a Springsteen number. He liked his Springsteen.
You tell him what's wrong and he puts together ingredients that
will cure you, Grant said. He can cure anything. Got STDs? If
you do, he can get rid of them.
He can also create a spell that will bring about your heart's
Whatever you want. Grant took the wooden box from him and
replaced it on the shelf.
Now that they stood
face to face, the frat boy's eyes narrowed. You look familiar. Have
we met before? I mean before you almost ran over me out there.
We all look alike to you, don't we?
The visitor shrugged.
What are you? Japanese?
Grant's uncle jotted
something down on a piece of paper. Scratch, scratch, scratch. He
folded it three times, and handed it to Grant. Grant passed it to the
Jesus Christ. Your fingers are like ice. And your skin
uncle's so great, why doesn't he do something about that?
Grant felt his cheek.
Peeling. It just started.
The kid held up the
paper. What's this?
Memorize the words, then eat them. After the sun sets below the
horizon and the moon is a sliver in the night sky, stand with your back
to the foot of a freshly-dug grave, close your eyes, and repeat what it
says three times. Grant held out his hand. Twenty bucks.
Twenty bucks? For some words on a piece of paper?
That's cheap for your heart's desire, wouldn't you say?
Here are some words: Screw you!
The kid turned and
left. Grant turned to his uncle and smiled.
frat boy's heels sank in the soft dirt. He closed his eyes and repeated
the words from the paper. Dead man, dead man, when will you arise?
Cobwebs in your mind, Dust upon your eyes.
Before he reached the
third dust upon your eyes, Grant stepped out from behind a tree
trunk and shoved. The kid crashed through the grave blanket of woven
fronds and flowers to the empty coffin below. Grant jumped into the
hole and slammed the lid on the box. He climbed out, grabbed a shovel,
and filled as fast as he could, ignoring the screaming and pounding.
The dirt was soft, and it didn't take long. Pretty soon he was patting
the soil into a smooth mound. He smiled and ran his fingers across the
headstone. Grant Vang. Death three days ago. He'd been pissed when his
uncle had used the reanimation kit on him, but it looked like things
were going to work out.
When he got home to
the apartment above the shop, his uncle said, I see you found a
Grant kicked off his
dirty shoes and plopped into a chair. He was the kid who killed me.
Did you know that?
I had my suspicions. Glad the Dylan lyrics worked out.
Well, this is Dinkytown. No way was I using Springsteen.
'Dead man, dead man,
when will you arise? Cobwebs in your mind, Dust upon your eyes'
from Dead Man, Dead Man (Words and Music by Bob Dylan) 1981
Special Rider Music