“So, yeah, my parents had a messed up sense of humor…” the young man stated as he moved into the yellow oval on the sidewalk, produced by the streetlight above. “I mean, who the hell names their kid Apollyon? ‘But, it’s a great name- it’s in the Bible!’ My poor Greek mother never quite understood English, and only shortly before her death several years ago could she even clearly pronounce the language.
“Anyways, getting to my point… Revelations chapter nine, verse eleven: And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.” Lowering his head, the white stripe of hair down the middle of his head reflected the light from above. “Like I said, screwed up… but somehow, with our family, it was fitting. And not in that quirky ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ way either. You see, we are direct descendants- don’t ask how many generations… I tried mapping out a family tree a few years before Mom passed away, and gave up somewhere between AD & BC.”
As he leaned back up, the smoke rising from the burning cigarette at the corner of his mouth enveloped his face, his eerie red eyes glared brightly in the dark night. “What I’m getting at is that my family is… I am directly descended from Charon, the original ferryman of the River Styx in the Underworld. What? Fuck no, it’s not a myth… As sure as I stand before you now, he was real.”
He took another step forward, then kneeled down to the corpse on the ground, and scooped up the two gold coins from their resting place on the victim’s eyelids. The elderly man now lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, had ended up an easy target for a group of gang members, who stabbed him to death as part of their initiation rites. Apollyon tucked the coins into his coat pocket, then tapped the old man on his forehead, “C’mon pops, I ain’t got all night.”
The old man’s eyes popped open, all color gone from his once bright blue eyes. He was now just a shell, waiting to be transported to the afterlife. As he slowly pulled himself up to his feet, he glanced down to the gaping wounds on his torso, then locked eyes with the young man in black. “It is true, then. You will take me on your boat?”
“Please…” the young man retorted as he pulled a small key fob from his pocket, and pressed one of the buttons. In the distance, a high-pitched chirp broke the silence, followed by the sound of a monstrous V-8 roaring to life. The old man followed slowly behind him as they crossed the dark street towards a black 1964 Lincoln Continental, it’s chrome exhaust pipes reverberating throughout the cool night air. “Get in.”
As the two cruised down the dark street, the old man gazed out the window. The people and buildings they passed were nothing more than fading shadows. “Why can’t I focus on anything?” he asked.
Apollyon cocked his head to the side, “You’re no longer in their realm.” He reached underneath his coat, drawing a cigarette from a pocket the old man couldn’t see, and slipped it between his dry, cracked lips. “Smoke?”
“No… though I don’t guess it’d hurt now,” the old man replied, with a chuckle. “I’ve been trying to quit for the last few months.”
Pulling another cigarette out, he offered it to his passenger. “What’s the worst that could happen?” He chuckled. “Go ahead, it’s on the house…”
The old man took the cigarette, and tucked it into his shirt pocket. “Maybe later. I’ve got a feeling I might need it.”
“So what’s your name, old man? Or should I just call you ‘old man’?”
“Roderick.” He paused, thinking for a moment as if he were having a hard time remembering. “Roderick Hayes.”
“Anyone ever tell you ya look like Johnny Cash?”
“I, uh… I dunno. Can’t really remember,” he replied.
“Yeah, it’ll come to ya eventually. Takes a while for the memories to catch up sometimes. Something about being murdered. Screws up how you’re supposed to die.”
Roderick looked at the driver intently as he spoke in a somber tone. “What do you mean? How was I supposed to die?”
“Can’t really tell you that, pops. I’m just the delivery man…” Reaching down towards the center of the dash, Apollyon turned the dial on the radio.