THE AL GILKES COLUMN – Day of the dead
I can’t prove it, but I would swear it was Smokey Burke on the phone, because only somebody like him would do something like this.
I answered a call and got into a weird conversation that went along these lines:
“Hello, good morning.”
“Who am I talking to?”
“Yes, I am sure.”
“Wait, Al Gilkes, that is really you?”
“Yes, it is. Why?”
“But you supposed to be dead.”
“Me? Where did you get that from?”
“A friend of mine just called me saying somebody BBM she from Barbados telling she they hear you dead and she want to know if I hear ’bout it.”
“So who are you and where you calling from?”
“You don’t know me but I originally from Britton’s Hill and living in Pennsylvania now for nuff years. I used to read you back when you used to write a column named the Grapevine and I still reading you now online. I did so concerned when the person tell me you dead that I look up your number in the phone book and call to see if it really true.”
“So now you know that I not dead and I can tell you that I am not dying either.”
“But you sure this is the Al Gilkes from THE NATION that I talking to?”
“I no longer work at THE NATION, but this is the same Al Gilkes.”
“And you not dead?”
“If I was dead, how could I be talking to you?”
“Because I can’t see you, so I can’t prove it is you talking to me. And to besides, you didn’t write something recently that you was in hospital?”
“That was nearly two months ago.”
“Man, this thing got me confused because the woman also say that she also hear that something ’bout it was on the Internet too.”
“What was on the Internet?”
“The same thing. That you dead.”
“Listen, skipper. This conversation going nowhere, so thanks for your concern and I gone.”
Not long afterwards, a voice in my head kept telling me to Google ‘Al Gilkes dead’ and see what came up. Well, if you doubt me check it yourself, but the first item that appeared carried the headline: Al Gilkes, Ex-Newsday Manager, Dies.
It was surreal. An ex-newspaper man like myself with my name. But he died in March and I am still here writing today.
So it definitely was not me.
Apart from that, he was 92 years old and, as Peter Boyce would argue, for that Al Gilkes to be this Al Gilkes he would have to be 102.
Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm. Email email@example.com