Yung Lich and the Dance of Death
By Alex Fox
My Christian name was Thomas Kanfor but ever since that bastard wizard rose me from the grave I go by Yung Lich. On that moonless night he spoke some words from a tattered grimoire over my naked, somewhat-recently-dead corpse and voila, here I am. He called me a “Young Lich”. When you’re newly risen you don’t remember much else (other than the maggots), so I took that as my new name. I changed “Young” to “Yung” because I think it reads a bit fresher, and when you’re trying to break into the hip-hop scene, you gotta be fresh (though my body is not).
People can’t tell I’m dead unless I remove the mask. They think it’s part of my act. I stand outside of Times Square with my whole getup — long, black, hooded cloak, a ghastly off-brand Scream mask, an old gnarled branch. I lean and spookily sway and try to hand out my mixtapes. I mean, shoot. If there’s one cool thing about being given a second chance it’s that you know what’s important and what’s not. I never had the gall to pursue a career in music while living. Nah. Wouldn’t pay the bills, wouldn’t make my mom proud. But now? I’m free to be me . . .
“Want my mixtape?” I wheeze in my dry-as-sawdust voice to a small group waiting for the crosswalk. I extend a robed arm, a white CD in my hand. Across the front is the Sharpie-scrawled label Yung Lich — The Dance of Death. They hardly look my way, and don’t seem to appreciate my pestering.
A man shoves my arm aside and fingers an earbud out of his ear. “Ain’t no one got CD players anymore, pal. Try Soundcloud.”
The crosswalk changes and the folk quickly scramble across the street. My arm falls, dejected. Even though in this “life” I can pursue my true interests, that doesn’t mean anyone is interested in what I have to say. Been standing here for weeks on end and only four people have taken my mixtape, and I think only to be nice, as I saw two of them toss the CDs in the garbage once they crossed.
And what that man said rings true: not that many people have CD players these days. Guess I’m slow to accept change, but I know I need to adapt if I want to get my music out there. I’ve got an old laptop. I can look into Soundcloud — it’s something to go on, at least.
I gather my things and hobble to the Corner Café. They know me there. They let me use the Wi-Fi even though I never buy coffee. I don’t need to eat or drink much, or at all, really — tends to leak out of my swiss-cheesed stomach.
A few people idle in the café, and they look up as I open the glass door, a small bell tinkering to announce my arrival. I keep my head down, my hands well within my long sleeves, even as I hold the obnoxiously tall wooden staff. The staff double-bangs the bell as I amble through, loud as a cymbal crash, and I shrink into myself.
“Sorry, sorry,” I mutter. Wooden chairs creak as the patrons turn to watch me, this weirdo in the horror getup. I try not to pay attention to them. I mosey on to my usual corner, sit, and pull out my laptop. Soon I’m forgotten, like all the other freaks of the city.
On my laptop screen glows a text file with the lyrics of my finest work, “The Dance of Death.” I read it once, twice. (Continue Reading…)