Post-Spring Break Short Story Recommendation: “Dave’s Last Choice”

At one point or another we’ve all experienced the situation where we’ve seen or heard some new idea, word, or concept, and suddenly, we see it everywhere.  When I bought my car in 2020, I suddenly began seeing Nissan Versa Notes constantly.

Similarly, there seems to be a certain synchronicity to events.  Right as I released The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard, Rachel Fulton Brown and the Dragon Common Room poets published Centrism Games.  After a week of reviewing short stories—and then contemplating writing my own collection of short stories—my buddy Jeremy Miles announced that he is working on a new short story project.  Indeed, last week’s TBT, “TBT: The Creation of Culture,” looked back at Jeremy’s excellent collection of poetry, A Year of Thursday Nights (now in a more affordable “Shades of Grey” edition).

So it was with great delight that I read not only Jeremy’s plans to compile a collection of short stories, but that he also included a draft of one of them, “Dave’s Last Choice.”

The titular character, Dave, is heading out to take his dog for a walk one evening when he opens the door to a shotgun blast at point-blank range.  Naturally, Dave finds himself dead—and speaking with Death, who constantly (and humorously) morphs from one archetype to the next, eventually morphing through different people Dave has known in life.

Death—“Azzy,” as he is later called—tells Dave he will soon face a choice:  two angels will appear to him, each presenting their arguments for why Dave should choose to go with them.

The story is amusing and insightful.  Dave asks Death if he can simply choose not to decide; Death indicates that he can, but he’ll just be wandering around, unseen other than some occasional jump scares, for Eternity.  Death and Dave share some banter back and forth, and it’s established that Death does not much care for puns, which, naturally, play a prominent role in the story.

A major theme of the story is perception.  Death warns Dave that the angels won’t outright lie, but that he has to parse their words carefully, and consider the implications of them without letting his preconceived notions get in the way.  It’s an important point about thoughtfulness and cool-headed decision-making, and how easily appearances can be deceiving.

All in all, “Dave’s Last Choice” is an endearing and fun little fable, and gets me excited for the rest of Jeremy’s collection.  Also, I would be remiss if I did not point out that “Dave” is clearly a stand-in for Jeremy, down to the wearing of long-sleeved black clothes year-round.

As Dave/Jeremy would put it:  “Never let the weather dictate fashion.”  And never let cool-looking angels lead you astray.

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