"Say what?" I said in an inexplicably British accent.
"Your death," he repeated softly.
"I do not feel dead. I feel, well, great!"
"Yes. Regardless, you are, in fact, dead…at least for now. Technically." He smiled again.
"You're playing with my head," I accused, starting to feel petulant.
"I am telling you the truth, one layer at a time, because I know you. I know you very well."
"How's that? Granted you look familiar, but I can't quite place the voice or the face. Or the teeth."
"Patience, my friend. Trust me."
"Is this Heaven, then?" I asked.
"Why do you ask? I mean specifically, not generally. I tell you you're dead and you ask if this is Heaven, which makes sense, of course. But what specific detail caused you to ask now?"
I thought about it for a bit, inclined to answer flippantly because petulance demands either flippancy. Or pouting, and I was too old to pout.
"No glasses," I said. But as I answered, so did he, exactly in unison. The same response, in the same tone. He even pointed at my eyes, just like I was.
"Told you I knew you," he said. "And, no. I am not 'playing you.'" Which is exactly what I was thinking.
"Your back doesn't hurt, either, which is the second reason you asked about Heaven," he continued.
"My back always hurts," I replied, pouting.
"But it doesn't now, because you're dead. And you would have said something about it, but now you won't because I just did, and you hate to play into people's expectations. It makes you feel like a puppet."
"I don't think I like you," I said.
"But you do!"
Damn that smile! Could you even say damn in Heaven?
"It's not exactly a common exclamation, but it's been heard on occasion."
"Now you're answering my thoughts, too? That's not polite."
"No. I suppose not. But it continues to make my point, so you can begin to trust me. Because you'll need to."
"What point? That you know me."