Clouds and linoleum.
I died. I’m not sure how, but I know I’m dead. There’s little recollection actually; I don’t remember a trauma, or if I went to sleep and didn’t wake up. I actually don’t even care, as strange as that seems.
But here’s the twist: I was wrong. There is a fucking God.
As I was walking towards a gate with a long line, it occurred to me: what was I walking on? Clouds?
I looked down and there were clouds but with linoleum underneath.
I got to the front of the line and the guy says “Hello. I’m Saint Peter”, although it came out more like “Omsapeer”. I’m sure he was sick of saying it.
”Derek A. Dempsey.”
“Ah yes”, the stage incident.”
”Never mind. It’s not important”, said Peter the superfluous Saint.
“Well you’re clear to go in. Next.”
I paused and said,
“Clear, how come?
”You don’t ask questions. Move along,” said Pete.
“I don’t want to go in; I want to talk to the god fella.”
“Hah, he’s busy, move.”
“I’m not moving and I’m not going in.”
I folded my arms and planted myself ever more firmly on cloud and linoleum.
“I’m not moving till I talk to the god lad.”
“Well you’ll have to wait, he’s answering a lot of prayers. It’s football season and first day at college and there’s a vote to make David Bowie God; god’s losing in the polls. Busy busy busy.”
I was about to speak, but was cut off abruptly with:
“Oh, there was also a mass shooting somewhere, so thoughts and prayers are badly needed. Overtime tonight, I’m sure.”
He rolled his eyes up at this, but where I’m not exactly sure.
I waited to the side for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually I was called.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“You wanted to see me?”
He dropped an almost finished cigarette and crushed it with his bare foot. Show off.
“Ok, so I didn’t believe in you, and now you’re real, and you smoke. That’s a lot to take in.”
He chuckled and said,
“Christopher Hitchens and Bertrand Russell are still denying my existence. Actually, I bummed this fag from the Hitch.”
“You call him Hitch?” I asked.
“Yes, he punched me when I called him Chris.”
I thought about smoking at that point. This was just too much.
“Ok so what do you want? I’m busy”
“I’m not coming in.”
I looked him right in the eye, so as to let him know I was serious.
“You lived a good life, no murder, no rape, nor thievery, mass murder, coveting, no graven images or likenesses, you honored your mother and father, you were even a great friend of the fairer sex and the twin spirits.”
My eyebrows rising on the word spirits rendered this an obvious question to the great I am.
“The gays, lesbians, LGBT.”
“Oh, so you’re not against them?”
“Nooooooo, I created them, they are my special children, I’m part gay myself.”
Now this explains the fabulousness of the decor, the half naked Angels and the amazing deep bass techno music I can hear behind the gates.
“Women? Why did you allow them to be treated so badly?” I demanded to know.
“Well, that was a design flaw”
What was that? I wondered.
“I made them 32 percent too loving and 87 percent too forgiving, I couldn’t get the balance right with the child rearing instincts. It’s a science.”
He winked at this last sentence.
“So have you made it up to them?”
“Oh Yes, they are up a level with all the babies who didn’t make it past infancy and every winery that ever was.”
So that was where Peter the ponce was rolling his eyes up to, blessed are women on high.
“Anyway, I’m busy, you have to come into my kingdom, nobody on the list stays out and nobody off the list gets in, simple.”
“I’m not coming in.”
“Well, the other place for the non listed names, what’s that called?”
(I was just checking)
“Ah yes, I was just checking.”
“Well I’m not going to be happy being up here with all those suffering souls below.”
Again I locked his crystal clear blue eyes with mine.
“They made their choices; free will, my son.”
“Ok, I’ve waited decades to put you straight about this, who gave them free will?”
“I did”, he responded while nonchalantly examining a nail.
I think I saw blood under it, there was definitely blood.
“So if you gave them free will then it’s not free, right?”
“It was up to them to use it.”
His eyes narrowed at this, the sign of a lie.
“So it was not free will then, if you’d have said ”I can leave it out if you’d like”, then that would be free will. It’s like that fucking U2 album on Apple iPhones, not a free choice. Same with ”free will”, Mr. God.”
“Touché”, said God.
“Don’t get me started on Bono, he tries to sit in my seat every dinner time, it’s become a bore.”
We had a moment there, me and the God man.
“Ok, you’re coming in, end of story.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No free will?”
“Don’t start this again, Dempsey.”
“I thought as much.”
I mumbled “coward” under my breath.
“What was that?” God asked.
“You know what I said”, I challenged.
“I’ll let it slide”, he replied.
“Yeah, like you have a choice.”
He glared at me. I just smiled.
“Ok, well here’s my warning, boss.”
“If you make me come in I’ll wreak havoc in a way that’ll make the ‘bearer of light’ look like he was having a bad day; as a matter of fact, I’ll stick a corkscrew in your neck when you’re not looking.”
The line to the gate was now stopped and every one was listening intently.
Petey the gatekeeper had his head in his hands.
God sighed and spoke in a heaven-shattering bellow as he rose to twice his size.
“I know everything.
“I see everything.
“I am every where”
“Look, you didn’t see that, did you?”
He look in the direction I was pointing and said:
“Nothing,” I said, “except you didn’t see that I was going to pull that trick, did you? So watch your back, fucker.”
He shrunk back to his size and wearily asked, “What do you want from me?”
I began, “Answers.”
He nodded once in compliance.
I proceeded with a lifetime of questions. No answer was satisfactory.
Especially cancer, Alzheimers, wars, religion, slavery, and infant mortality.
Interestingly, it turns out dogs are on the level all to themselves with no vacuum cleaners no baths and an endless supply of tennis balls.
All mass murderers were on hold with automated voices for eternity.
Lenny Bruce didn’t commit suicide.
I was right after all; there is no such thing as beginning or end. We just are.
Sinatra is not the greatest singer. He’s actually number two. But he’d become great pals with my Father.
God was tired.
We remained in silence.
A stand off. A stalemate.
I noticed a face in the crowd, there was no mistaking those generous lips, huge eyes and oval face presented on top of a swans neck.
I hugged tightly my friend Jackie.
“See, we never know: I got here before you.”
“I know, I’m going to get to see my imp”, she beamed.
“He’s waiting”, I said.
I walked back to God and said:
“So what’s your poison?”
He sized me up and said,
“Let me decide.”
“Ok, but remember, you have free will.”
I winked at this last line.