When a guy like Czesko says he wants to get baptized, you know it's going to be a weird night.
What, you get religion? I says. Never mind, he says, just find me a priest and meet me at the bar. So I meet him here, right over there in that booth. I sit down and look at him, and I swear half his face is gone. Blown off or something. And it's like nobody realizes it, just me. The bartender, he's wiping a glass. People talking, people drinking. Nobody sees him, but there he is. Jeez, Czesko, I says, what happened to your face? Never mind that, he says. You find me a priest? Czesko, I says, are you dead? Czesko says, maybe.
published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 2006 ~
Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: 24th Annual Collection
"Like David Gerrold's tour-de-force novelette thirteen oclock, which appeared in last months F&SF, Czesko is driven by its urgent, casual, and utterly unique narrative voice. In this case, its a small-time drug dealer who must figure out how to kill his already-dead friend. The fantastical blurring of life and death seems entirely believable when told in the unintentionally deadpan (pun intended) tone of a blue-collar criminal. Hearkening back to all those folk tales about deals with the Devil, Deal puts a modern, intelligent, compulsively readable spin on the story with an exquisitely mordant punchline for an ending." ~
F&SF March 2006
"I was really drawn into the story simply by the voice of the narrator." ~ Paul Abbamondi
" 'Czesko' by Ef Deal is a wild tale of a man who wants to be baptized even though he's dead. Then, the story gets very strange." ~ SFRevu Review