I must say I feel pretty good this morning, considering I’ve been dead for six months.
How I came to pass is an unlikely story. It began a few days ago, when I received a note from a reader named Theda Everett. She wrote:
“What is going on here? I just saw the movie ‘The Rosary Murders’ and in one scene your name is listed in the obituary column. I was horrified and upset . . . Can you share a story about it please?”
Now, I had not seen “The Rosary Murders.” But, as far as I knew, I had not missed my own funeral. Someone would have called me. Or sent me a bill. So I showed the letter to a few friends and we all laughed. I figured Theda Everett was a nice woman with bad eyesight.
Then I went to see “The Rosary Murders.” It was filmed here in Detroit. In one scene, a priest, played by Donald Sutherland, searches through the obituaries for clues to a murder. The camera closes in on the page. I watched carefully.
And suddenly, there it was! In a little box.ALBOM, Mitch, February 23, beloved hu–
And then it was gone. Sympathy from a friend
Now, I know some movies try to be as realistic as possible. I read once where the set for “All The President’s Men” duplicated the newsroom of the Washington Post right down to the trash cans. So seeing my name in the obituaries made me wonder. Maybe “The Rosary Murders” people knew something I didn’t.
I called my friend, Ken Droz, who works for Robert Solomon & Assoc., which handled the movie’s publicity.
“I’m dead,” I told him.
“Can I have your stereo system?” he asked.
“I’m serious. Check the film. February 23d. I’ve been dead since hockey season.”
“Impossible. Only the good die young. Think back. What happened that day?”
“I . . . I . . . can’t remember.”
So I went to see “The Rosary Murders” again. This time I brought a pen and paper. I jotted down as much of my obit as I could catch — in the three seconds it was on the screen. At that speed, I hadto sit through the movie a few times. Howmany times? Let’s just say I can now tell youwho did it, and how many teeth he’s had capped.
I can also tell you this: According to my “obituary,” I was “beloved” by a wife named Carol, “adored” by two children named John and Martha (What was the dog’s name? George Washington?) and my funeral was somewhere on the east side.
And that was that. I had . . . expired.
Now, this was a little upsetting, considering I paid for dinner last night. How did it happen? Where did it happen? Obviously, I have been working too hard. My marriage? I don’t even remember it. And my kids, John and Martha? Poor things. I am certain I forgot their birthdays. I forgot their births. Carol will kill me. Maybe she did. Everything is so fuzzy.
I decided I needed more information about my demise. So I called New Line Cinema, in New York, which distributed the film. The man who answered sounded confused, and asked if this matter could wait. I said I had waited long enough. Six months? I could start to smell pretty soon.
“According to your movie, I’m dead,” I said.
“Oh,” he said. “I see. Hold on.”
He came back a few minutes later.
“I’m sorry. No one here can help with that.” At least he apologized
A few more phone calls yielded nothing. Just as a test, I tried to walk through my office wall. As I was applying the ice bag to my nose, the phone rang. It was the film’s producer, Bobby Laurel, who comes from Detroit.
“According to you, I’m dead!” I said.
“I know,” he answered.
“You know? But why me? I was so . . . young!”
He apologized for not telling me sooner. He said when he and the crew were putting together the mock obituaries, they needed more “A’s,” and somebody suggested my name, because they were all sports buffs, and had been reading the Free Press sports section since they arrived in Detroit.
“Was it something I wrote?” I asked Laurel.
“No, no. They liked your column. That’s why they suggested you.”
Great. What do they do to guys they don’t like?
“What did me in?” I asked Laurel. “Car crash? Bad ticker? And what about John and Martha? They adored me, you know.”
Laurel said he wasn’t sure. The man who came up with that stuff was a set designer in Los Angeles. I called his number several times. No answer. Just as well. Can you imagine his shock at hearing my voice? It could kill him.
So anyhow, Theda, there is your story. Pretty weird, huh? And I would like to tell you more, but I must go. I have to watch my friend Ken bring the stereo back to my house. He could use some help, but carrying heavy equipment is such a strain.
Especially for a man in my condition.