Maybe it’s the hours and hours of time spent alone in my apartment, but I’ve been thinking a lot about death. Probably too much. Most people seem content to throw off the mortal coil in quiet obscurity: they die in hospitals, retirement homes, or bedrooms. Then their corpses are packed up in boxes and deposited underground like radioactive material—out of sight, out of mind. They leave behind their accumulated stockpile of possessions, all of which evoke little about the owner other than a love of dishes and ceramic ponies. Their funerals are cookie cutter events where family members express their sadness, and then gorge themselves on finger sandwiches and cocktail sausages. They are gone, gone, gone. No ghosts. No emails from heaven. Nothing. Just vague memories that trickle away until one day, no one, not even their descendents, remembers their names.
Which is why I plan on recording hundreds if not thousands of hours of video messages to be viewed by my family after my demise. There will be videos for every occasion: birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve 2026, even a Get Well Soon message for if a deadly airborne virus kills off most of mankind. Upon my death (I’m guessing from diabetes or accidentally strolling into an airplane propeller), my lawyer will disclose a 100 terabyte hard drive containing the vast video archive. My son will say, “The fuck is this bullshit?” because I will have raised him to be an amoral iconoclast, and my lawyer will say, “It’s your father’s archive of video messages. They must be viewed by all available family members on the dates indicated.” He will say, “Goddammit, old man, why can’t you just die,” because his childhood was an exercise in callous austerity.
Every Christmas, before anyone can open presents, the family will be forced by my lawyer to sit around the television and watch a “Video from Grandpa’s Ghost.” These videos will be up to 3 hours in length and cover a wide range of topics including: how things were back in my day, liberal propaganda, rambling improvised poetry, weird stories I read on the internet, and terrified ravings concerning my upcoming death. I imagine one grandchild will cry out, “Please, mom! Please don’t make us watch Grandpa’s Ghost! He’s boring and ugly and we just want to open our presents!” But their pleas will fall on deaf ears for I will have somehow made their inheritance money conditional on whether or not my descendents view these videos. I will wear a wide range of costumes, wigs, and make-up. On Thanksgiving, I’ll be dressed as a Native American and on Christmas, I’ll be dressed as Santa. I will slip death scenes from Dario Argento films and brief clips of Japanese tentacle porn into the videos to make sure everyone’s paying attention.
Years will pass—centuries even. The sheer volume of videos I’ve produced will flabbergast my descendents in the distant future. In the videos, I will say things like, “In my day, we listened to music on matchbox-sized devices we kept in our pockets. We didn’t have microchips implanted in our brains that spontaneously generated the most neurologically stimulating music for that precise moment.” I’ll say, “In my day, we drove around in greenhouse gas machines even though we knew it’d destroy the environment for future generations because in my day, we were all borderline sociopaths.” I’ll say, “In my day, we read books. We didn’t have carefully selected information feeds continuously streaming into our brains from a giant Apple-EDU satellite floating in geosynchronous orbit.” My great great great grandchildren will look upon me with awed contempt through eyes glazed over with a thick lens of nanobots.
I’ll stash envelopes throughout my relatives’ homes where they’ll be discovered long after I’m dead. The envelopes will contain pages that, when combined, yield an epic three volume manuscript about clowns who kidnap children from a small town in Arizona and whisk them away to a Torture Circus hidden in the woods. The envelopes will also contain non sequiturs, riddles, animal drawings, and confessions to a myriad of violent/ nonviolent crimes.
Even my headstone will have an LCD screen embedded at the top. The screen will show me standing in the middle of an empty white room, and I will say: “Welcome to my grave. Below your feet, under dirt, concrete, and wood, lies my rotting corpse. Fingers that once held a girl’s hand are now bits of dried bones. Eyes that saw thousands upon thousands of YouTube videos are now empty sockets. Brains that once stored decades of memories are nothing more than flakes of half eaten residue caked on the inside of my skull.” Then I’ll read Bukowski’s poem “Death of an Idiot” which will transition seamlessly into a big budget musical adaptation of Of Montreal’s “It’s Easy to Sleep When You’re Dead” in which I am dancing naked and surrounded by every species of bear while fireworks spray out of the stage and an ominous murder of crows erupts out of an opening in the ceiling. Then it will repeat. Again and again. Forever.