A Cold Day…

“Duuude!  Welcome to Heh-vehn!”  

Simon hadn’t heard the word “dude” yelled with such guttural enthusiasm since college.  The Stranger in front of him looked like Skoon, the frat boy that had greeted him similarly during his first and last fraternity party.  Polo shirt, cargo shorts, sunglasses held around his neck by a lanyard.

“Is that Skoon”, thought Simon.  “It can’t be, Skoon would be forty by now.”   

The Stranger looked no older than 24.  Simon had no idea where he was or how he got onto this black leather couch.  The room smelled of spilled Nattie-Light and dank weed, and it was furnished with what appeared to be Wal-Mart furniture.  There was nothing on the walls, but there were random discarded bags of snacks on the ground.  The only impressive feature was the gaming console and TV to the far wall facing his couch and the duct-taped recliner the Stranger was sitting in.  Simon tried to think of the last thing he could remember before being trapped in this hellhole.  

“I was at the new sushi restaurant, the place cityeats.com had been raving about.  I know I ordered the blowfish sashimi, and it was delicious.  The wasabi was not a round dollop, it had been smeared onto the plate haphazardly.  I was already typing up my yelp review criticizing the place for its shitty service, accordingly.  My mouth started to tingle, and…”  

Simon’s heart pounded when the stranger’s hand shook him out of his daze.  “Chill out, man.  You’re in fuckin heaven.  Better news, you were fuckin kick-ass down there so you get GOD.” The Stranger smiled as if there was nothing concerning about that statement.  

Simon’s heart was racing now.  In the abstract, the statement would be insane.  “There is no God, and even if there was, he sure as hell would be nothing like Skoon.”  Simon tried to take solace in this rationale, but there was no conviction in it.  Somehow, he knew unequivocally that the Stranger was not lying.  Simon’s stomach dropped the way it does when a relative dies or your favorite bar tender quits.  

“If this is God, everything is fucked”, he thought.  He took one look at the Vineyard-Vines-clad asshole in front of him, and Simon knew everything about him.  “This guy is definitely homophobic.  He plays lacrosse and thinks, “boys will be boys” when it comes to date rape.  He’s one-hundred percent racist, and swears his morning bouts of cross-fit make him a good Christian.”  The anger was boiling up inside Simon.  ”Look at this cheap furniture, he has no taste.  I don’t see any books on the walls, does he even read?”  The outrage, the injustice of a universe ruled by this simpleton was becoming too much for him.  “Am I supposed to drink Nattie-Light for all eternity, playing the Halo series with this ass-clown?  How can any sort of functioning framework of reality have been built by this guy?  No WONDER everything was fucked.”  Simon was spinning out, and he knew it.  He tried to calm himself so that he could see how dire his situation was. 

“You’re God right?  So what the fuck was up with Christians?”  

“Yeah, they’re hit-or-miss,” said the Stranger, while he maneuvered his Halo character through crossfire.    

“What do you mean “hit or miss”?  They’re all fucking self-righteous racist homophobes”, said Simon, aware that his emotions were starting to outwardly show.  He composed himself.  Even in his indignation, Simon was aware enough to know that triggering God was probably not in his best interests.    

“All of them?” The Stranger was mostly focused on the game and appeared to just be humoring Simon with this conversation.  

“Yeah, pretty much.”  

“Well,” said the Stranger “you would know I guess, it seemed from all your memes like you spent a lot of time really talking to them.  I don’t know man.  In the beginning, people died so often, I was just trying to get people to procreate.  After that…I don’t know, it is what it is.”

Simon sat silently for a few minutes trying to gather his thoughts.  The Stranger’s nonchalant response to his question confirmed everything Simon knew about him.  “He’s fucking ignorant.  At least in the real world, uneducated people get relegated to their place.  Somehow, in the cosmic scheme, these yahoos control everything with seemingly no qualification to do so.”  

Resigned to his fate, Simon finally felt blunt.  “So, what now?  We just hang out and play video games all the time?  This seems like a lame-ass heaven.” 

“Whatever you want to do man?  Just let me know.  We can go anywhere, do anything.  I am just along for the ride with whatever you want or whatever you want to ask me.”

None of this news gave Simon solace.  “It doesn’t matter if I can go anywhere,” he thought, “if I am forced to go there with this turd.”  

Simon was not sure he could ever get past the disappointment of the afterlife he had never imagined existed.

* * *


Ryan had no idea where he was.  He remembered very clearly being at the rally, discussing the merits of conversion therapy.  It was hot…so hot.  He had no idea how he ended up in this bathhouse with this flamboyant man in colorful speedos…

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