Abe Vigoda is Still Alive

by Doug Sovern

Photo by George HodanPeople think I died ten years ago. Hell, even my own agent thinks that. I called there the other day.

“Abe Vigoda for Mort Bloomstein,” I say.

The gal on the phone goes, “Oh, I’m sorry, Mr. Vigoda is no longer with us.” And by “us,” she didn’t mean the agency. No wonder Mort never returns my calls.

Then I’m at the airport going to a friend’s funeral and I catch these two gals staring at me. One of them whispers to the other and says, “Hey, isn’t that…”

And the other one says, “No, he died a long time ago.”

“You sure?” asks the first one.

“On a stack of Bibles,” says the second. “He doesn’t even really look like him.”

“Yeah, you’re right, he doesn’t even,” the first one finally agrees.

You know you’re getting old when there’s sworn testimony that you don’t even look like you.

I happen to keep very good track of who’s alive and who isn’t. I’ve got a big chart on my wall. Eli Wallach, check. Dick Van Dyke, check. Zsa Zsa, still with us. Klugman and Hagman, had to take them down last year. Ernie Borgnine, now that was a huge blow. I didn’t see that coming at all and it cost me big time.

I’ve won my dead pool six years running. You think Barney Miller residuals pay the mah-jongg tab at the club? Not anymore. And no one invites you to those nostalgia conventions when they think you’re already dead. It got so bad, my grandson, sharp little kid, set me up one of those websites. All it says on there is “Abe Vigoda Is Alive.” You click on it and that’s all there is. He says he’ll change it the day I die, but I’m trying to bribe him not to.

I got a hot young girlfriend. She just turned 75. I know, I know, robbing the cradle. It’s tough to keep up. And she ain’t cheap, let me tell you. I’ve been making side bets with Ed Asner to keep the cash flowing.

We’ve got scruples, mind you. We never bet against anyone we worked with. That’s the first rule. That makes it tough on Asner and some of the others because they did a lot of summer stock, and by the time you’re done with that you’ve worked with pretty much everyone. I did lose out on Brando because I was in that damn Godfather with him. And you could see that coming from a mile away. What a self-destructive son of a bitch.

This year my money is on Kirk Douglas and Carl Reiner. I actually have a daily double with those two. How the hell are they still alive, anyway? Carl must be like a thousand. He’s still going strong, God bless him, but the girlfriend really wants a new Ferrari.

I learned the hard way a few years ago not to bet on Betty White. That woman is an unstoppable force. I did a TV spot with her a while back and she drank me under the craft service table.

I think I’ll know when it’s my time. I may try to put some money down on myself, if I can find someone willing to take the action. I’ll put my grandson as the beneficiary. If the payout’s big enough, maybe the kid’ll keep me alive forever.


Category: Fiction, Short Story