Ethan walked into the kitchen where Chris was sitting at the table reading the newspaper and eating a bowl of ice cream. He cocked his finger and Chris and said in a mock authoritative voice, “Yo, Evans. Step away from the ice cream.” When Chris didn’t respond, Ethan walked over to stand next to him. Waving his hand in front of Chris’s face, he called out, “Hello? The lights are on, is anybody home.”
Wordlessly Chris slid the paper over to Ethan and pointed to an obituary that had shocked him into silence.
July 17th. Ethan Evans, a popular resident of Portsmouth died yesterday at County Memorial due to complications stemming from an unanticipated medication interaction. Evans, 26, was well known as an antique furniture restorer. He is survived by his parents Glenn and Barbara, and his brother, Christopher. Funeral arrangements are being made by Woodlawn Funeral Home.
“What the hell? What is this bullshit? I’ve got to call the newspaper. Oh, shit. What if mom and dad see this? I’ve got to call them.” He grabbed for the phone just as it rang. “Hello? Mom, mom, settle down. It’s me, Ethan. I’m fine, better than fine actually. No, I don’t know what’s going on but I intend to find out. Believe me, I’m okay. Actually, for some strange reason that I’m not going to question, I’m HIV-free. No, I’m not kidding. Mom, let me talk to you later. I have a lot of calls to make. I have to call all of my customers and let them know that I’m still alive and first thing tomorrow morning I have to call the newspaper and get them to print a retraction. Yes, I will. Love to dad. Bye mom.”
Duncan was sitting at his desk, idly tapping a pen against a pad of paper lost in thought just as Connor burst through the door. “There’s no death certificate.”
“No death certificate? Anywhere?”
“Nope, and it gets better. I have here a retraction of the obituary from the same newspaper, and I’ve personally seen Ethan Evans working in his shop. I’ve got dated pictures of him. He’s alive and well.” He handed a copy of the entire newspaper to Duncan, along with date- and time-stamped 3D holographic photos of Ethan happily at work in his shop.
Duncan could hardly contain his excitement. “Yes!” he cried as he jumped up. “Connor, if you were a woman, I’d kiss you.”
“Don’t let that stop you,” Connor replied, tongue-in-cheek.
“Joyce” Duncan yelled for his assistant.
“Joyce” Duncan yelled for his assistant.
“Yes Duncan?” She queried as she poked her head around the door.
“I need a meeting with the tribunal. I have proof here that the Ethan Evans obituary was falsified. That means that Ryan won’t be put to death once I go back and stop the attack on him.”
She clapped her hands. “That’s so wonderful. I call them right away.” It was no secret that she had fallen in love with Ryan the minute she set eyes on his 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound bronzed frame. It was also no secret that nothing would ever happen between them being as Ryan was openly gay.
The next morning Ethan decided to go to the newspaper office rather than call. This way he could show them his driver’s license to prove he was still alive. He walked into the building and up to the receptionist. “Hi, I’m Ethan Evans. I’d like to speak with whoever handles the obituaries.”
“Let me see if he’s in.” The receptionist dialed an extension. “Gus, this is Sally in the lobby. I have an Ethan Evans here who would like to speak with you.”
“Ethan Evans. Wait a minute,” Gus replied. “He can’t be here. We ran his obituary yesterday. Do I need to call security for you to get rid of this clown?”
“Hang on a sec.” She put the call on hold. “May I see some form of photo ID please?”
I’m glad I came in person. I had a feeling that I was going to have to prove I’m still alive.
“Certainly,” he said reassuringly as he showed her his drivers’ license.
“Thank you, Mr. Evans,” she replied smiling. He’s so cute. I’m glad he’s still alive. I see a retraction coming! She picked up the phone again. “He showed me his license. It is Mr. Evans.”
Oh, shit! This is the third time this year we’ve gotten wrong death information from the hospital. I need to definitely look into this. God I hope we haven’t caused too many people heartache. Gus was a definite throwback from a time when reporters believed in reporting the absolute truth and didn’t sensationalize the news to sell papers. “I’ll be right down.”
A few moments later he introduced himself and shook hands with Ethan. “I’m terribly, terribly sorry, Mr. Evans. Of course, we will print not only a retraction, but an apology to you and your family for any pain we caused you and yours.”
“Who told you that I died?”
“We get birth and death information from the registrar’s office at the hospital on a daily basis. However, this is not the first time they’ve given us erroneous death information and I assure you that as soon as the retraction and apology are submitted, I intend to call the hospital administrator and get this matter looked into. I assure you that the retraction and apology will appear in today’s edition. If there’s anything we can do to make this up to you, please don’t hesitate to let us know.” I hope he doesn’t file a lawsuit against us, but it would be his right to do so.
“Thank you, sir. The retraction and apology is more than enough. Have a great day.”
Later that afternoon Ethan and Chris stopped playing their video game and poured over the newspaper. At the very top of the obituary page they found the retraction and apology, just as Ethan was promised.