“What will?  Who the hell are we?”  Exasperated, Ben pinched the bridge of his nose, made one final attempt.  “Don’t tell me you’re here from the state about my state income tax?”


Retourer, his I. D. in hand, extended it toward Ben.


Ben took it, flipped it over, the information hitting him like a cold, hard punch to the stomach:

Mr. Reginald Ty Retourer

Special Field Agent

Impoundment and Repossession

Department One . . . Branch Five



Ben was livid.  “All right, who the fuck put you up to this!  It has to be Jenkins, that douche bag!  It’s a joke, right!  Wait until I get my hands on that son-of-a-bitch!”


Retourer, ignoring Ben’s tirade, reached into his other suit pocket and removed a neatly folded newspaper clipping.  He held his left hand to his mouth, coughed twice and with his right hand gave Ben the clipping.


Ben unfolded the clipping and began reading it.


To Retourer’s surprise, anger chiseled Ben’s face.  “I’m going to kill Jenkins, I swear to Christ I will!”


Retourer spoke:”you won’t have the opportunity ever, Mr. Willard.  What you hold in your hands happened days ago.  I am so very sorry.”


Ben’s anger slowly drained from his face, the realization of his situation hitting like a lightning bolt.  “Is . . . there anything I can do to change . . . this?” said Ben weakly, handing the I.D. and obituary back to Retourer.


Retourer shook his head solemnly.  “I’m quite sorry, Mr. Willard, but no.”


Then since Thursdays all was a . . . ?”

“Yes, a mistake,” Retourer said unapologetically.  “Your type is not exactly our first priority.  We had a nasty monsoon season in India, typhoons in the Pacific, cartel murders in Mexico, tribal disputes in Africa, plus just the normal day-to-day routines, Mr. Willard.”


Ben’s confusion was tainted by the words ’your type’, but he let it slide.  “You’re absolutely sure there’s no chance?” he pleaded.


“No, none whatsoever, Mister Willard.”


Retourer motioned they should go.


“But what about my cats?”


“Not to worry, Mr. Willard; they’ll end up in good homes.”


“Well, always wondered what the Pearly Gates looked like,” Ben said trying to boost his sagging morale.

Retourer shook his head in a bemused manner.  “You’ve watched one too many Twilight Zone episodes, Mr. Willard.


Ben’s expression mirrored panic.  “You mean I’m going to . . . .?”


“Hell, Mr. Willard?  Oh no, neither hell or heaven for your type.”


Confusion covered Ben’s face.  “What do you mean my type, Retourer?”


“Ah ignorance is bliss, is it not, Mr. Willard?  You are an ATHIEST.  You believe neither in heaven or hell, nor whom I work for do you Mr. Willard?”


“Yeah, kinda”, was Ben’s only defense.


“Oh come, Mr. Willard, do you think you’re the first atheist I’ve had to retrieve?  Really now.”


“Look, Retourer, it’s not like I die every Goddamned day now, is it?”

“True,” Retourer replied.  “Please except my apology.  I’ve had to explain it so many times that I’m afraid I’ve become a bit jaded.”


Ben looked at him, opened his hands.  “Well?”


Retourer pretended to straighten his tie.  “The Adjudication Coterie will maintain your essence excuse me, your soul, until a final decision is made.”  He glanced up then down.


Ben ran his fingers through his thinning gray hair.  I know you don’t mean heaven or hell, so what are we talking about?”


Retourer raised his left hand toward the sky.  “Stardust, Mr. Willard, the infinite cosmos, non-existence if you will.”



Ben felt a lump in his throat, gulped hard.  He spoke nervously: “But what if they decide against that?”

“That would depend on your religious persuasion, Mister Willard – oh that’s right, you’re an ATHEIST,” Retourer grinned, “which I dare wager you are now having serious reservations about it, no?”


Ben let a weak smile form on his lips.  “I thought angels were supposed to be compassionate?”


“I thought I was, Mr. Willard?  Now if there are no more questions, shall we go?”  Again, he motioned Ben to follow.


“PLEASE,” Ben blurted.  “Two quick questions please Mister Retourer.”


Retourer chewed on his lower lip.  “Very well, we angels are as magnanimous as we are compassionate.”


“Am I to become stardust and if not, what?”


Retourer laughed softly, as if privy to a private conversation.  His expression showed amusement.  “I’m not at liberty to say, but . . . unofficially I did take a quick look at your docket file . . . just out of curiosity, you understand.  Anyway, based on your lack of belief, along with the astronomical rate your species is currently destroying the planet’s living beard . . .”


“Living beard…?”


Retourer shook his head, narrowed his eyes.  “Forests, Mr. Willard, forests.  Humans are cutting down trees at an alarming rate.  Now, where was I before you rudely interrupted?  Ah yes…I hope you can eventually adapt to a sedentary life in a warm, wet humid climate, Mister Willard.  I hope you can for your sake.”


God!  How I hate those pea-brained furry bastards


Author Notes

8 Comments for “ADAPTATION PART 3”



Brilliant! Haha! I can’t even begin to tell you how much i enjoyed this, Ray. The dialogue so clever, and the ending totally got me by surprise. I called it in second part of this when I said Twilightish…Great work, here, Ray.

Raymond Tobaygo


Good afternoon, Riss

Very sorry for the delayed reply. I have not been active for a bit due due to health circumstances.

Thank you for reading the post as it’s deeply appreciated. I’m glad you got the ending.

Take care and stay safe,


charles stone


Hmm. Okay, Ben is dead, I figured that in part 2 but I don’t get the last line. I ‘ll have to read this again. Probably the 180 proof rum.

Raymond Tobaygo


Good morning, Charles

Thank you for the input as it’s appreciated. It wasn’t your rum, but the way I presented Ben’s final resting place. Ben has been changed into a tree. The opening in part one hopefully suggests this, (Monkeys eating his fruit and crapping all over him) while the very last line reaffirms this.

Take care and stay safe,


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