Morbidus Joe / by Matthew Marchitto

I can't quite remember how the idea for this story started. It might have been with the image of Morbidus Joe, and the question of why is he so morbid all the time. Or, it might have been with the idea of someone being so focused on one thing, like it could fix all their problems, when really they were looking for the wrong thing the whole time.


Every Thursday Morbidus Joe cried himself to sleep.

On Friday he’d trudge through his office in a stupor, blaming and hating himself for his melancholy mind.

On Saturday he’d stay indoors curled up in a blanket.

On Sunday he’d resolve to get over himself and stop making excuses.

On Monday he’d rev his Brimstone Squealer down Hellfire Highway, feeling like he could take over the whole underworld.

On Tuesday he’d finally do it, he’d ask Gluttonous Gal to go on a date.

Morbidus Joe had met Gluttonous Gal in an eatery, and every day since then they’d meet for lunch and spend an hour talking. Gal would order an eye of newt, and Joe would have a cup of lamentations. She told him about her job devouring the dammed, and he told her about his job tallying sins.

Morbidus learned that Gluttonous wanted to visit the Styx and maybe see Charon in person. If she was lucky she’d get to see him dump a penny pincher into the river. Morbidus Joe had never thought of travelling before, but it sounded like fun.

Tuesday came, but it didn’t feel right. “Tomorrow,” Morbidus Joe thought.

On Wednesday Morbidus Joe lost his nerve.

On Thursday he decided it was a bad idea and cried himself to sleep because nothing was ever going to change.

Morbidus Joe didn’t hate his life, but he didn’t like it either. Every day was the same, and it was the sameness that Joe hated. If he could ask Gal out, then maybe it would make things better.

The next three days passed Joe by. He trudged around in a stupor that lasted longer than normal. He felt wrong, like something inside was twisted.

On Monday Gluttonous Gal was telling him about a screamer she’d devoured, and when she was done Joe blurted out—

“Do you want to go on a date?”

Gal’s face contorted from shock, to flattery, to sadness.

Joe regretted asking.

“Morbidus, I like you, but not in that way.”

He wanted to walk out onto Hellfire Highway and let himself be crushed into dust. Why couldn’t he just keep his mouth shut?

Gal looked nervous. “But we can still be friends, right?”

Friends? Morbidus hadn’t even thought of it, but a friend was better than a date. And Morbidus needed a friend right now.

“Yes, I’d like that very much.”

On Tuesday Morbidus Joe tallied the vacation time he’d never used.

On Wednesday he bought two tickets to the Styx and told Gal they could go this very weekend.

On Thursday Morbidus Joe fell asleep thinking about everything he needed to pack for the trip.