I had been recklessly apathetic because the place where I lived is evil. These churning crowds of the blind smiling on their way to another meaningless day flooded with routine and law made me retch. I can taste what I ate last night still. It is the bitter taste of acid reflux. I think my death was the last bitter and poignant joke of a dying atheist – a disbeliever flipping his final, shivering, scared shitless finger at the rest of the madly religious world before he closed his eyes and saw the fires of Hell instead of an unflinching blackness.
Imagine his dismay. Better yet, imagine his jaw dropping in regret for the moral sum of his sinner’s life. He couldn’t believe it.
Ah, St. Peter has a nose for denial. It is the quintessential emotion of the defeated human spirit. I’m sure he smells exactly what everyone is feeling on that long, lonely march beneath the moss-covered Pearly Gates. The line splits there. A thin group of people streamed through, and the rest of them saw smiling rejection in the Saint’s eyes, and turn around before they fall through the clouds and ground, only to find themselves on a disturbing walk through perdition. You could hear St. Peter ticking sins off in increments of one before proclaiming the eagerly awaited decision – and then you could watch people scream as they were sucked down into the clouds – and through. Soon enough, I found myself at the head of the queue.
“I’m sorry, son. Four million, three hundred thousand, four hundred and sixty two sins. Down.”
I wondered later if he counted in English. Maybe it was Latin. Maybe this whole thing is a personalized system, speaking whatever language the poor soul is most comfortable with. That being said, why did he have to bark the number into that ancient public address system? Firstly, I would think that heaven could afford better – look at the Vatican’s coffers. Secondly, I couldn’t possibly be embarrassed right then. I was flabbergasted with the entire concept. However, the emaciated girl behind me looked like she might have had a larger number. She was blushing like a maiden on her wedding day.
“Yeah, three hundred thousand, two hundred and twenty cigarettes. Looks like you finished that last pack.”
“Ouch. That must be the worst of it.”
“Five hundred thousand, six hundred and twenty beers. Two hundred thousand, four hundred and twelve retarded kids made fun of. Seven hundred thousand times you took my Lord’s name in vain. Two million times you convinced yourself that you wouldn’t find yourself here. Oh dear, you’ve been a bad, bad boy.”
Thoughtcrime? Oh, so you have a sense of humor now, eh? Funny, I don’t see you in Hell for poking fun at my eternal damnation. What’s it called? Yeah, cruel mirth? That’s got to be large red mark in your sinbook. Let’s see you tally that up, ye robed hypocrite. You’re one of those endlessly ironic Philistines. The parasites that most of the world like to call, “Roman Catholics.” If Heaven is filled with those, I’m glad I’m going someplace else. I’d identify with my own. I felt like spitting in his face, felt like telling him of all my excuses for my godless life – of how I thought God was the direct rational solution to Man trying to explain the unexplainable. However, I also felt like prodding that steel will one last time, just for prudency’s sake.
“Does my uncertainty credit me some good boy points? I mean, I was fairly uncertain when I pulled out that last bird.”
“No one is uncertain at their last breath. No one wavers while they sigh for the last time. You resign yourself to your fate, heaven or pitch black notwithstanding. Besides, those last few thoughts weren’t very nice.”
“Oh, that’s perfect. I need to write about that before my brain explodes. Does Hell have a typewriter?”
“Oh yes. Most writers rack up ridiculously high totals. Disordered livers, bleeding brains, blasphemous thoughts and even worse actions. And Selfishness, of course. Unfortunately, there is only one typewriter in Hell. Good luck.”
Evil, I tell you. That sense of humor is black as the abyss I expected to find. I had thought I’d fit in Heaven well. I’m not a bad person. I was wrong, apparently. So was St. Peter. Hell isn’t so bad. The Devil is rather personable, and boy, can he outdrink everybody – even George Thorogood and his Destroyers. It’s a health spa on a nude beach where I met some old friends. Some of my heroes. I even met some bands I used to listen to in my amphetamine fueled marijauana tempered youth. They’ve not very good musicians anymore, though. There is, after all, only one guitar in Hell. The only record I found was an old Rod Stewart one. This time, I really retched.
All things considered, this place is a lot better than living in that bed, chained to a machine that breathed, ate and pissed for me. I feel young again. My friends here tell me that many of the people I love are coming in soon. I guess I’d better get to finding some beer. I feel at home. It feels like I’ve never left.