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Death By Napkin

written by: Mark Kuglin



For weeks, I desperately tried to remember his name but to no avail. Two months prior, I had received word— from a lawyer— that I stood to inherit a sizable amount of money from a relative I didn't even know I had. In the lawyer’s email, I was informed that there was a time limit on making my claim. I had to do so by my next birthday. If I missed the deadline, my share— per stipulations of the will— would go to charity.

I was so overjoyed with the news, it didn't occur to me to respond right away. Visions of newfound wealth— and everything it would buy— clouded my thinking. I had been broke and down on my luck for so long, I found myself swept away by wave after wave of glitz and glamour filled adventures to come.

Several weeks before my birthday, I finally got around to responding. However, a few seconds after I turned my computer on, it crashed. “No!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

For the next several hours, I did everything I could to try to reboot my computer. All of my efforts were in vain. I even tried to find the email on other computers—no such luck. It was as if it never existed in the first place. The email was irretrievably lost.


Late in the evening—of my birthday, I sat dejectedly on a stool in Harry’s bar. I had less than an hour to come up with the lawyer’s name but I was still drawing blanks. I had an untouched pitcher of beer sitting in front of me and I desperately wanted to drink it and drown my sorrows.

I was about to reach for it but I got distracted by an extremely drunk, elderly woman who suddenly sat on the stool beside me. “If you're not gonna drink that,” she slurred. “Can I have some?” For a moment,  I didn't know how to respond. A split second later, the lawyer's name popped in my head.

Overjoyed by the unexpected revelation, I reached into my pocket, grabbed the pen I always carried and happily wrote his name on a cocktail napkin. I then turned to the woman and nodded my approval to her request. However, she was in such a hurry to taste the amber liquid, she picked up the pitcher and took a huge gulp.

The moment she did, she started to choke and gasp for air. Instantly panicked, she dropped the pitcher on the bar and— a split second later— a river of beer engulfed my napkin. "No!" I screamed, but it was too late.

In the ensuing chaos, I missed my deadline. And for the next hour or so, I’m very ashamed to admit, I was torn. I didn't know which drowning was worse, all my hopes and dreams or her near fatal one in a gallon of beer.

Mark Kuglin

Mark Kuglin

JULY 2018 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Mark Kuglin is an American expat currently living and working near Ensenada, Mexico. He writes fiction, poetry and the occasional essay. Samples of his work can be found on his website 'Mark Kuglin'.
Mark Kuglin

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