“Sorry, I’ll be dead that week. Can we do the week after?”

Carson frowned at me, his glass of scotch halfway to his mouth. “What?”

“I said, I’m sorry, but I’ll be dead that week,” I repeated. “So I can’t make the golf course. Can we do it the week after?”

He set the glass back down, shaking his head. “You’re going to be dead,” he stated.

“That’s right.”

“Like, dead? Really dead?”

I shrugged. “For all intents and purposes, yeah. So no golfing, no fancy dinners out, nothing like that.”

“But you’re coming back next week.”

“Right. I’m only dead for a week.”

Again, Carson shook his head. “You know, Dane, you say some strange things sometimes,” he sighed. “But this one takes the cake. What the hell are you talking about?”

Looking over at me, he finally saw the smile dancing around the edges of my lips. “You’re pulling my leg!” he realized, balling up his fist and slugging me in the shoulder. I knew that it was friendly, but it nearly knocked me off the country club’s bar stool.

“I’m not, really!” I insisted, even though, now that I’d let the grin slip out, I couldn’t recapture my serious expression. “I really am going to be dead for a week, at least according to my accountants.”

“Your accountants?” Carson repeated. He once again picked up his glass, taking a gulp of scotch. “So what, you’re going to be legally dead? Financially dead? What’s that get you?”

“To be honest, I still don’t really follow it,” I confessed. “But it’s what they say. Apparently it’s the hot new thing, being dead for a week or so. All the celebrities are doing it. Saving them millions, they say.”

Carson waved a hand to the bartender, summoning him over. “A drink for my friend, here,” he told the younger man. “He’s about to be dead.”

“For a week,” I clarified. “For financial reasons.”

After the young man scurried off to bring back my order (Glenlivet 21, neat, splash of water), Carson turned back to me. “So wait, if it’s just for financial reasons,” he asked, “why can’t we go golfing?”

This was actually a little embarrassing, and I swallowed before answering. “Well, to be honest, I kind of thought that I’d embrace the spiritual aspect,” I answered. I saw him start to roll his eyes. “Not like that, man! But take a week to myself, stay home, reflect on life a bit, maybe try to get through some of those books that I always said I’d read someday. Do a bit of soul-searching.”

He snorted. “All sounds like a load of New Age hogwash to me, but whatever floats your boat. What’s Helen think about this?”

“Helen doesn’t hear half of what I tell her, these days, unless it pertains to the credit cards,” I sighed. “As long as there’s money, she’s happy frittering it away. Wives.”

“Can’t live with them, can’t join the best country clubs without them,” Carson finished, and we clinked our glasses together.

“So,” he added, a few minutes later. “Any funeral, casket, memorial service, anything like that?”

“It’s just financial,” I reminded him. “So no. I did pick up a bottle of Black Label, though. Toast to my own death, all of that.”

“Cheers,” he nodded, and we sat back to finish our drinks in companionable silence.

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