He killed the engine as the gravel he'd kicked up settled into little eddies by his front tire. Standing astride his bike, he lit a cigarette. He offered me one.
"Those things kill," I said, but took him up on his offer anyway.
He smirked at the sort of irony only he could enjoy. Death never spoke, unless it was your time to die. It was one of those cosmic secrets no one knew, but I'd only come to know from having him visit so often. Everyone needs a mechanic, even Death.
Death set the kickstand down and slung himself over the side of his bike.
"You came just in time," I said. "I was just closing up shop."
He paid me no mind as he crouched beside his bike and pointed to the front tire.
"That brake still giving you trouble?" I asked.
He nodded with arms crossed. Death was anal about these things. He had been around long enough to know you could never be too careful. Even so, I could never convince him to wear his helmet.
He jabbed his finger at the front brake, and again, to show how frustrated he was at having to come back after I'd told him the problem was fixed.
"Yeah, well, you shouldn't have bought such a beat-up old bike," I said.
Palms up, Death shrugged. As his arms came down, he gave a sigh that bowed his shoulders. He'd had a hard day's work, and it was clear that he was too exhausted to argue. He was almost pitiable, looking like a reject from biker gang tryouts.
I couldn't say I envied him his job. The hours were long and the budget was lean. His horse, skinny for centuries, was little more than a skeleton nowadays due to funding cuts. Still, the motorcycle was not much of an upgrade. If he turned in his horse in exchange for the bike, Death probably got a few dollars back in the trade.
"Fine," I said, uncrossing my arms. "I'll have a look at it. Pay me when you can, we'll just add the bill to your tab. Deal?"
He nodded several times to show his gratitude.
"You'll be the death of me," I said out of habit.
He froze, cocked his head to one side. We both knew I was right.
"All right," I went on, turning back around to yank open the roll-up door. "You'll have it on Wednesday."
I froze in place at the sound of my name.