It was odd, thought Bender, for him to be waking up so early. Had it been twenty years ago, he would be rushing out the front door with an overflowing briefcase in tow, silently swearing that one day, he would gladly shoot the bastard parked outside his house. The damn carpool driver never stopped honking. Not when Bender came running outside, not while they sped down fourth avenue, not even after they pulled into the law firm’s parking lot. “Biggest asshole I’ve ever met,” Bender liked to say.
Bender liked to say a lot of things.
On the average day, breakfast was a marvelous event. Bender danced into the kitchen, humming his wife’s new favorite song as he threw open the fridge door and produced a beautiful piece of cake. He snatched a plastic fork from the cupboards, dashed to the table, and began to eat ravenously. Unfortunately, today’s breakfast had taken a turn for the worse.
During his mad dash to the dining room table, his fork had flown from his hand. Thinking nothing of it, Bender sat down to eat his cake with his hands. Unfortunately, the fork did not approve of such barbaric table manners. It slammed into the windowsill, whirled around, and impaled Bender’s thumb.
After a good deal of swearing and cursing plastic cutlery to an eternity in a cubicle, Bender decided it would be best to carry on with his breakfast. “Cake and vodka,” Bender often told Nina whenever they gave into their old people stereotypes. “That’s all I remember about the good old days.”
“By good old days, do you mean college?” asked Nina, cocking her eyebrow. “I seem to remember you having a mental breakdown about college.”
“Damn it!” cried Bender. “Just when I’d repressed all of that shit!”
They rarely reminisced for long. Bender and Nina preferred to focus on the present. With four murders, two tragic romances, four grandchildren, and two children between them, it was necessary to omit their past from daily conversation.
“WHO THE FUCK TURNED UP THE DISHWASHER!?”
“I apologize,” shouted the dishwasher, “but I’m afraid I haven’t got an inside voice.”
Pandora entered the kitchen, presumably for a piece of cake. Despite having nearly lost his thumb and discovering that the dishwasher was louder than a barrel full of apes, Bender was glad to see that his legacy would be carried on by someone with similar tastes. He was unsure of this, however, and decided it would be prudent to check. “Are you here for cake?”
“Glad to see that you’re my daughter,” grinned Bender.
“Have you chatted with Vods lately?” asked Pandora. “I think she’s your daughter, too, even though she’s, er, dead and gone and all that sad stuff.”
“No, and I don’t plan to,” said Bender. “I’ve got bigger fish to vaporize.”
“Like the dish washing thing? It’s whizzer loud.”
“I’ll handle that later,” growled Bender, whose mood had snapped back to its usual sourness. “I’m going to head outside.”
Bender stomped outside without bothering to change out of his pajamas. His robot plan was hardly past the planning stage, his thumb was still bleeding, his eldest daughter was a depressed alien, a vampire was taking up the couch, and there was something odd on his front lawn.
“‘The fuck is that?” grumbled Bender. Whatever it was, it did not answer.
He descended the porch’s stairs and arrived into the front lawn in a timely manner. His gaze swept the area; his bushy brows furrowed over his narrowed eyes. There was only one of them.
There was nothing Bender hated more than security gnomes.
“You’re not sending me to prison today,” he hissed, kicking down the pest in a kingly fashion, “bitch.”
“Profanity is not tolerated in this district!” squeaked the gnome, who could not stand up on its own.
“Shut your fucking mouth.” He stomped on the gnome once again and set off to work. It wasn’t so bad, he supposed, if they only wanted him for his foul mouth. There were much worse things he could be arrested for, such as his unorthodox methods of earning a living. Or murder, but that seemed much farther down the Sunset Valley Police Deparment’s priority list.
Ignoring the cries of his numerous and hungry grandchildren, Bender walked into his neighbor’s garage. It was strangely empty, aside from an expensive car. This bothered Bender greatly. “They don’t even leave out a wrench?” grumbled Bender. “Or some firecrackers?”
Thankfully, he had remembered to bring his own explosives.
He rigged them under the car, grinning wildly. With the rewards from this, his robot would surely be underway within the week.
This was not to be the case.
Bender dashed to the side of the street. He held his hands over his ears, so as to avoid another common stereotype. He would not, under any circumstances, allow himself to wear a hearing aid. They were nearly as pitiable as walkers.
After a few minutes, nothing had happened. Not a wheel had flown, not a dashboard misplaced. Bewildered, Bender returned to the car’s side. He laid on the ground, and squinted into the darkness.
It was then that the bomb went off.
The entire car was blown off the face of the planet. Gorbodians cruising overhead swore that they saw an axel spinning wildly past their spaceship’s windshield. Miraculously, Bender survived with only a layer of grease and a singed mustache to show for his work.
“Vodka,” grumbled Bender. He wondered if his mustache would ever grow back, or if its sudden sprouting was a birthday exclusive event. “I need some fucking vodka.”
He returned home, opened a bottle, and was still finishing it as he dozed off to sleep.
As Bender slept, his grandchildren began to develop into their own, glorious personas. At the ripe old age of two, Scarlett was teaching herself how to kiss.
Rose discovered a deep love for sheep, which would soon develop into a full blown obsession. For the moment, however, the green child was content with simple pretend.
Watson, the youngest of the red haired triplets, was unamused by the day’s proceedings. He wished desperately for a puzzle, but with his limited vocabulary, was unable to procure one.
It was the middle triplet, Daisy, who was to begin her life with an end.
Her crib, nestled between the nightstand and her brother’s crib, overlooked her grandparent’s bed. Her grandfather slept there, a bottle of vodka dangling from his wrinkled hands. Daisy found this to be quite strange. Bottles, she figured, were for drinking only when one was awake, and were to be tossed to the floor unceremoniously when one felt like sleeping. It was imperative that she let her grandfather know this.
“OOGEDY BOOGEDY!” groaned the zombie, who Bender swore was nothing but a drunken man who’d escaped from the circus after a nasty body paint incident. “YOUR BRAINS ARE MINE!”
“Hold your fucking tongue,” snapped Bender. “I’ve had a lot to drink tonight, and if I might say so, I’ve had enough of your disingenuous assertions.”
Bender held up his hand. “I will slap you in your motherfucking face.”
“I NEED A DICTIONARY,” groaned the zombie.
Bender pondered this for a moment. “I think,” he said slowly, “I’m beginning to understand your situation.”
“I NEED YOUR BRAINS.”
“What you need is a glass of rum. I’ll fix you a drink-can you just sit tight in that chair?”
A terrible wail rose over the scene. Bender threw his hands over his ears, and squeezed his eyes shut. The zombies shuddered and moaned before opening their gaping mouthes and howling along. Up, up, up the sound soared. As if every loudspeaker in town had been turned on for this horrendous occasion, it began to shriek from each crevice in the sidewalk, each space between leaves.
Bender awoke with a gasp. His heart had stopped beating.
It would never start again.
Nina and Pandora, who had a sixth sense for death, sprinted into the room. “Whizzer, Dad!” cried Pandora. “Don’t go yet! We’ve still got a six pack in the fridge! Please, Dad, don’t go!”
Nina held her head in her hands and began to sob. The walls crumbled around her, her bed melted into the floor. The ring on her finger seemed to be but an illusion, a bitter memory of a man now dead. “Bender?” she whispered. “Where are you going?”
“Away from Miss Fucking Tornado Siren, I hope,” said Bender sourly.
“BAWTLE AWN TE FLAWH!” screamed Daisy.
“Shut the fuck up,” snapped Bender. “I didn’t have the time to make my robot, and it’s all your damn fault. They better have booze in hell.”
More tenderly, he turned to face his wife.
“Why do you have to leave me?” said Nina.
“I wish I didn’t.”
“So why go?” She began to cry harder.
Bender did not know the answer to this question. Something dark, something unearthly beckoned him, sending its forlorn song through the beaten floorboards. He returned his gaze to Nina. “Just,” he said softly, “remember that I love you.”
With a sad glance behind him, Bender then floated through the wall and into the kitchen to face Death herself.
“Listen,” said Bender, “don’t make me go down there. I’ve got a big ass robot to make and booze to drink and a wife to love and a mustache to prune. Are you really going to take that away from an old man?”
“Listen, honey,” said Grim. “You’ve caused your fair share of death. The NYPD should’ve been crashing your party, if you ask me.”
“Just don’t send me to the same place as my parents,” groaned Bender, who had come to realize that he hadn’t much of a chance at arguing with Death this time.
“I can’t make any promises,” said Grim. “Hooooey! This house smells like one big ass dirty diaper. I’d hate to be any of those poor cats left with those damn kids. Now would you be a dear and hop into your grave? It’s fabulous.”
“It’s also under the stove,” grumbled Bender.
“The way you’re carrying on,” huffed Grim, “Mama and Papa are going to be your welcoming committee.”
Bender leapt into the stove without a second thought.
And so the life of Bender Belue perished in a filthy stovetop, which many said was a fitting end. To those closest to the deceased, however, it was often repeated that he deserved much better. A funeral, perhaps, lavish and brimming with alcohol and festivities. “Beneath the booze,” said Pandora Belue many years later, “my dad was a whizzer guy.”
So he was.