I looked around an old dingy office, the strip lights buzzing like a string of angry bees and the smell of dust combed my nostrils. There was a door on one side of a desk, and I could just make out the sign ‘Heaven’. I marched over to the door; it was locked. “Where the He…”,
“I suggest you do not finish that sentence”, a voice cut me off. The grubby notice above the desk read ‘Pearly Gates’.
“What the He…”,
“I will not caution you again Mr … erm, I’m so sorry I don’t seem to have a name here. I don’t seem to have any record of you at all”, I stood and watched as he thumbed the pages of an enormous blue book, peering over little gold-rimmed spectacles. I notice the name badge on his ill-fitting suit ‘Peter’. “Oh, give me a break”, I laughed “Nice try Steve”, I shouted into the air, looking around for the cameras. Peter’s eyes were fixed on me. He pointed at his badge “It’s Peter – not Steve”, I roared with laughter “Oh you’re good! Where is this place? How much are they paying you?”
“I’m afraid this is not a joke Sir. You are dead.”
“Don’t be ridiculous – I’m not dead”, I laughed “I was just brushing my teeth and then there was a power cut and when the lights came back on, I was…” come to think of it this is a bit odd.
“Yes, the power cut you experienced was, in fact, a heart attack. I’m sorry but if we could get back to business, I really do need to find your record so if you could give me your name?”
“Where does that door really go?” I asked.
“Heaven of course.”
“Can I go in?”
Peter stifled a smirk, “Go right ahead”, he grinned. I walked over, turned the handle and Peter erupted with hilarity, “It’s locked”, he roared, “Gets me every time”. Dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief, he composed himself and asked, once more, for my name. I sulked back over to the faded leather couch; I can’t believe I’m dead! “I thought the Pearly Gates were shiny and magnificent?” I asked.
“I’ve been moved here for now”, he replied, “Budgeting issues would you believe. It’s hard to find a decent finance manager up here you know, down there they won’t have that problem!”
“Nope, I once waited three weeks for a cheque to clear” I retorted,
“No, you idiot, down THERE”, he pointed, it clicked,
“Oh, you mean He…” I stopped, noticing Peter’s eyes widen like a scolding mother, “I see. Why is that then?”
“Just their general morality, I’m not here to question the entry requirements but usually if a finance manager shows up here, I have to send them through the other door,” it was only then I noticed the door behind me, ‘Hell’ it read. I could feel a knot tightening in my stomach, the sting of bile touching my throat. “Now we really do need to get on Sir so if I could have your name please”,
“Jeffrey. I once rescued a cat you know”, trying to steer him away from the subject of finance managers.
“He was tiny – he’d been abandoned.” I walked over to the door – still locked.
“I’m afraid it’s not that easy Jeffrey now your surname I beg you”. I racked my brains there must be some amazing, honourable deeds I have forgotten that will open that door before he finds my record. I did nothing with my life, I went to work, I got takeout food on my way home, I watched Frasier, then I went to sleep. “Let’s just start a fresh”, Peter said, and he laid a blank questionnaire on his desk. “Religion?”,
“Christian”, I lied. I heard the lock behind me CLICK, Peter raised an eyebrow, “okay okay, I’m agnostic”. I heard the door lock again; this was going to be trickier than I thought. The interrogation went on with some boring questions that would have gained me nothing by evading the truth. “What’s been your greatest achievement?” Peter asked me, peering over those spectacles. Think Jeff, think, “Well have I already said about the kitten?” I asked hopefully,
“Yes, I believe we have covered that”,
“I cared for my grandparents when they were old and frail, so there’s that, and I’ve never hurt anyone, I mean I went all my life without ever punching my boss, which has to count for something?”, I was clutching at straws now, Peter smirked and rolled his eyes, “What do you think got me this demoted position? Ok, Jeffrey, everything appears to be in order here, I would say it’s time to open that door.” I walked, almost ran to the door labelled ‘Heaven’, “Just one last question here Jeff, what was your occupation?”, I turned to face him, horror clear on my face, the bile returning to silence me, he gently removed his glasses, it was like the room knew my answer before I muttered it. From back across the room, I heard a familiar CLICK…
I’m just a mum, desperately trying to prepare my children for life when they grow up. I live in the west of Scotland and love nothing more than a good debate. I have some controversial views on many things and discussing them with people of opposing views can be great fun as it often gives everything another point of view. I work in our local high school which is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had and I am currently studying to be an English teacher. I enjoy spending time trying to grow my own veg or looking after my chickens. We have quite a quiet way of life up here.