by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
May 8, 2003
THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF DR. SOUP
SEATTLE, Wash. -- Dr. Soup was happily signing copies of his latest book "How to Get Credit for Writing Ink Soup Without Actually Writing It," when a woman whom he vaguely recognized as one of his former wives took a Colt .45 out of her purse, smiled briefly, and shot him through the forehead.
The bookstore could hardly decide whom to call first, the medics or the cleaning ladies. They called the cleaning ladies.
Eventually someone called 911 to have the body removed, and the remains of Dr. Soup were taken to the coroner's office, where it was determined that, sure enough, the man had reacted negatively to being shot through the head and was, in layman's terms, dead.
Who was he? The cards in his wallet told them little: a member of AA, AAA, and of course AAAA (American Assoc. of Alcoholic Automobilists). His DNA revealed that he had only reluctantly branched off from the greater apes and had asked someone to hold his place on the tree.
Meanwhile, Dr. Soup (for it was indeed he) had been keeping close watch on all these proceedings. We know this how? Because he came back to tell us.
The morticians were on the point of salvaging the gold fillings from his teeth when Dr. Soup bit an intern mortician and almost severed her pinky. She reported that the subject had come back to life and that she needed a Band-Aid badly.
No one believed her, of course. A Band-Aid in a mortuary? But the stream of invective from beneath the sheet covering the face of the soi-disant corpse convinced the most skeptical that a) a miracle had occurred and b) someone owed them for their now pointless outlay of mortuary skill.
Sure enough, Dr. Soup had disappointed the embalmers by coming back to life.
He was shortly to wish that he'd finished the job of dying, for his resumed life was made hideous by the near-death groupies (or the Moodies, as they are sometimes called) who began to camp out on his doorstep. Their questions were predictable. Had he felt drawn down a dark tunnel? Was there a Figure of Light at the end? Had he experienced a panoramic review of his life? And so on.
Dr. Soup: "If you will all kindly shut up, I have a statement to make. I will make it only once, so have your tape recorders on from the start.
"No dark tunnel. I hailed a cab, which turned out to be driven by Bob De Niro. I told him to drive around while I got used to being dead. In the next block, before I could object, he stopped for another rider, Henry Luce, who got in and immediately began explaining the rules to me.
"If I wanted to stay dead, I could apply for the post of embedded columnist. To whom would I report? I asked. To no one said he. This is the afterlife, it is all just for fun.
"And the pay? I asked. Luce looked at me with a pained face. 'Ernie Pyle did this for nothing for 50 years. Does that tell you anything?'
"It told me plenty. I told De Niro to let Luce out at the next corner, or cloud, or whatever, and get me back to the hospital. What did I owe him? 'Nothing,' said he. Keep the change, said I."
"The next thing I knew, the doctor was saying, 'Keep the change?' From what? Medicaid?" Clarence Brown is a cartoonist, writer, and Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.