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As A
As Told By
Dorothy Truth
Douglass Truth
Teahouse of Danger 2008
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Death As A Salesman
Text and illustrations by Douglass Truth
ISBN 978-0-9801054-2-1
published by
The Teahouse of Danger
PO Box 342 Grass Valley, CA 95945
This work is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No
Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
To view a copy of this license, visit http://cre-
ativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/ or
send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second
Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California,
94105, USA.
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“Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is
transformation! And everything science has taught
me--and continues to teach me--strengthens my
belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence
after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.”
Werner Von Braun
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1 • Dorothy
“This doesn’t make any sense.”
I guess not everybody has a story about how they met Death, Himself
in a bar one morning, and how they helped turn him into the World’s
Greatest Salesman while revolutionizing the whole Death business, but
I do.
My name’s Dorothy Truth, and this is that story. I’m sitting here
comfortably in my little kitchen telling all this to a little tape recorder.
Maybe I’ll need a ghost writer. Unless I’ve already got one and don’t
know it. That could happen.
Anyway, I’m not embarrassed to say I need the help; it’s a complicated
story, and it’s hard to even fnd the beginning. I get mixed up almost
every time I try to tell the story. So bear with me if you fnd yourself
thinking, “This doesn’t make any sense.” I know it doesn’t make any
sense—it never did—but still, it happened.
And even though this story is about me and Death, oddly enough my
twin brother Douglass Truth is an integral part of the story, even if only
because his abuse and neglect over the years drove me over the edge,
to the despair that led to my meeting with Mr. Death. My guess is that’s
the way it works: some things, maybe most, we just won’t do until we
absolutely have to. That’s what happened to me: they made me do it.
That’s the Universe’s job, in a way, maybe its only job: to become our
unavoidable lessons. Like a teaching machine.
My brother and I have quite a different history, which you wouldn’t
think, I guess, seeing how we’re twins and all. But we do. Have differ-
ent histories. Mine is the strange one. I mean, I wasn’t even seen—liter-
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ally—till I was 9 or 10 years old. Nobody could see me even though
I was standing right there next to Douglass. Really. I know you won’t
believe this but what can I do but just tell the whole truth and hope for
the best? So yeah—until I was 8 or so, I was completely invisible.
Until then, I would just crash in the house in whatever corner I could
fnd, try to stay warm, and steal some of Douglass’ clothes when I
needed them. I could get food from the kitchen or pantry, though I had
to watch out for the traps. They knew something or someone was tak-
ing the food, they just couldn’t fgure out who. So they set traps. I got
some really sore fngers before I learned to be extra careful when I was
going for the cookies. One of the only pleasures I had in those days was
watching Douglass fervently denying that he had stolen the cookies.
They just didn’t believe him—and he hated that.
So I wasn’t starving or cold or anything—except for those times when
I managed to get locked out in the winter—but it was still a pretty
fucked-up way to be brought up.
So then, one day, for whatever reason, Mom suddenly notices me
standing there in the kitchen, right next to Douglass, and asks, “Who
are you?” She looked around, like she was not sure of her sanity for a
second. “Who is that? And why does she look so much like Douglass?
Who are you!? This is so weird!” And it was weird, she got that right;
and without even talking about it, they just let me continue to live there.
Nobody ever said a word about it. I was just kind of quietly part of the
family all of the sudden.
It was still really weird, though. That’s kind of a Midwestern response:
not too much talking about anything, just incorporate the new reality
and keep moving. I mean they couldn’t deny my reality any more, but
they still kind of resisted the notion. But now I had my own corner to
call my own and even some real girl’s clothes now and then. But it took
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many, many years* for the family to fnally formally recognize me as
Douglass’ twin. It hurts, yes, but such pain makes us stronger and more
self-reliant. I needed to tell myself that to get through the hard times.
And look what happened: now I’m a big star!
*And the lawsuits.
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2 • Douglass
“I’m just sharing.”
Hi there. I’m Douglass Truth and I’m going to insert myself into the
narrative here; as author I have a responsibility to maintain some small
element of control over the proceedings. I don’t want to squelch Doro-
thy’s story telling inclinations, but some kind of rudder or governor is
necessary. In this instance it is me and the tremendous power I wield as
the writer of this book.
It’s odd but I sometimes I feel the need to apologize to people for Doro-
thy; I know it’s wrong but I can’t help it. I know it’s wrong because
when I do it, people are quick to tell me—too quick—that they like
Dorothy just fne. It’s me they have doubts about.
I think you’ll agree: having a fctional creation score higher than you
socially is a bit awkward. But you know us Truths: awkward is what we
Dorothy insists to one and all that she is most defnitely not a fctional
“No more than you are,” she tells me. And she has a point.
I am therefore at a loss—in what way can I corroborate my own exis-
tence without doing the same for her? It’s a rhetorical question; I don’t
really expect an answer. I’m just sharing.
Well, I’m going to try to “let it go” as the saying goes. But still I can’t
let stand some of the distortions and outright lies that Dorothy has
promulgated, not without at least trying to let the world know that as
sweet as she is, she prevaricates. That is, she doesn’t always tell the
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whole truth. A nice way of saying it is “she tells stories,”that is, lies. I
would know.
First of all the “not-seeing-her-at-all” story dates until she was 7 and
not 9 years old. And yes it was, and still is, exceedingly strange. Grant-
ed. Dad would never even talk about it. He didn’t just studiously ignore
it; no, he ignored it the way a mason lays block. It was heavy work; he
could do it all day. And then at the end of the day there’s another wall.
Isn’t that poetic?
Mom would just cry, and I’d always think it was my fault. After years
of trying to expiate the guilt, I learned that it actually was all my fault.
Now, I don’t want to intrude unduly on my sister’s story—and it is
defnitely her story—but when there’s a serious untruth or defamation
of character, especially mine, I will use my inherent authority to correct
the matter. Set the record straight.
Now and then I might have the urge to join the conversation, so to
speak. I know Dorothy is going to leave a lot of important stuff out.
Thanks for being here.
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3 • Dorothy
“The real story.”
I keep trying to remind myself that this is my story, not Douglass’. But
we’re so intertwined—inter-twined, twinned, you might say—that I
can’t really tell the story without Douglass being in it. Much as it pains
me. Believe me, I’d love to leave him out of the story. Serve him right.
I feel I must say, in the interest of fairness, that Douglass’s own Near
Death Experience back in 1998 really does qualify him to get a word
in. Like he’s part of the team. In the club.
But he always takes it too far. Even though it’s my story, he’ll prob-
ably claim that he wrote it, when all he really did was write down what
happened. Just watch: that’s what he’ll do. Go ahead, check the cover.
I bet it says, “By Douglass Truth.” Am I right? Always claiming credit
for everything. He’s just that way. And, mark my words, he’ll even say
that he “made the whole thing up.” Or even worse, the most hurtful of
all, the thing that I remember so vividly from our childhood: when he
would deny that I even existed!
“Oh, it’s just a joke,” he’ say. “She’s just a character I made up. There’s
no twin sister. Are you kiddin’?”
Really. I felt so so, so, so, betrayed and I vowed to get even; more
than even, no matter how long it took. And now, now that my career in
entertainment is taking off, and his is going fat (at least that’s what I
hear), and more people want to interview me than him, well, it’s simple
I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself here. The only reason I bring it
up is to give you some understanding of my state of mind at the time
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our story begins. I was a smart girl; smart enough to survive, if not
exactly thrive, under such wretched conditions. But I just couldn’t seem
to fgure out the game of life like most people seemed able to do. It was
like I didn’t know—actually couldn’t know—the rules of the game. I
was lost, and there was no map to be found.
Years go by.
I’m working as a server in a high school cafeteria. One of those jobs
you take—thinking that you’ll fnd something more in tune with your
talents and proclivities, pretty soon. But the years pass and nothing
comes along. And you start to get the night terrors, waking up in the
inky darkness thinking that well, maybe everything is not going to
work out fne; I had always thought they would. But I started to won-
der: what if they don’t? What if I’m just a failed person, a girl who for
whatever reason fnds it impossible to live up to her potential? “She
tried,” they might say. “Happens every day, doesn’t it?”
Yesterday I saw an old man, small frame, battered, dirty, confused, beat
up by life. And I saw him, too, as a baby, a happy baby, in someone’s
lap, growing up somewhere, a child. Someone must have liked him at
some time. But now all that’s over and he’s alone in the world. I hoped
and thought that things would work out for me. But maybe not. Maybe
things don’t always work out in the end. It’s a possibility to consider. I
did; I was terrifed.
And if all this wasn’t bad enough, it was made so much the worse by
the constant odious comparisons, in my own mind, to Douglass, Mom’s
perrenial favorite and teacher’s pet all the way.
Oh, yeah, the Douglass Truth Institute. I know, I know: Enough with
the Douglass stuff. But it’s important! I have to set the record straight.
If not now, when? This is called Back Story, and you need it to get the
nuance and so forth. The complications. Establishing the state of mind,
like in a criminal trial.
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But Douglass, with the interviews, the books, the art. It drove me and
my hairnet crazy. I could go on, but why am I telling you? Of course I
don’t need to tell you anything: you can fnd out everything Douglass
Truth wants you want to know about Douglass Truth without coming to
me. Just Google him or pick up a brochure somewhere. But if you want
the real story—warts, fungal infections and everything else—you might
want to stick around to hear it.
I remember when I was younger and they were trying different thera-
pies to try to get a handle on me, so to speak, they—the doctors and
Mom and Dad—would always take Douglass’ side: “Don’t try to com-
pete with your brother, Dorothy: you’ll lose. What’s the point, dear?”
They actually thought they were being helpful, sympathetic. I thought it
was annoying as hell.
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4 • Douglass
“It’s too late for that.”
When I created the Dorothy character, it was meant to be a joke. I
didn’t think anyone would take it, (or her I guess you could say,) seri-
ously. But things can quickly get out of hand, as one funny little mouse
found out in that old Disney cartoon.
Sometimes I wish that I could put Dorothy back in the bottle—especial-
ly when I am publicly shamed by her antics. But alas, and obviously,
it’s too late for that. And seriously, the sacrifce of my dignity is not too
high a price to pay if there’s any beneft at all from Dorothy’s strange
and heartfelt efforts. Time will tell.
The fact that she has been so successful and has, in a limited way,
eclipsed my own achievements does leave me kind of confused about
the way things work, but I take what I think is a justifable pride in her
success. No matter what happens, we’ll always be brother and sister.
When you started on this journey with Dorothy and me, just a few
pages ago, I wasn’t sure if you’d be able to stick with us. It’s a strange
story, to be sure, and not for everyone. But for some reason I’m feeling
a bit more confdent about that now, even a few pages into this journey.
And though we’re hours away not from dawn, but from midnight, I
hope you’ll stay with us to the end—whatever that might turn out to be.
I can’t promise anything—who can, really?—but we’ll do our best to
make it all worth your while.
But before I let Dorothy continue, I feel like there’s one thing I
shouldn’t leave in doubt: historically, attempts to defne the exact
moment of a human’s death have been problematic. Death was once de-
fned as the cessation of heartbeat (aka cardiac arrest) and of breathing,
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but the development of CPR and prompt defbrillation have rendered
that defnition inadequate because breathing and heartbeat can some-
times be restarted. Events which were causally linked to death in the
past no longer kill in all circumstances; and remember, without a func-
tioning heart or lungs, life can sometimes be sustained with a combina-
tion of life support devices, organ transplants and artifcial pacemakers.
If that’s your thing. So if you notice that you, or someone you know,
has no electrical brain activity, don’t jump to any conclusions.