"No! I already said no! Look, I told you! You're not on here! Now, get back!"
Saint Peter slammed his right hand into his pocket. Where was his cell phone?
Oh, that's right. He had given it to his cousin, Marcus, not five minutes earlier.
His hand felt around his pockets again; darn! He must have left his rolaids
back in the other robe. Oy, vey. Those enchiladas from lunch were coming up
on him. Great! How long was this shift going to be, anyhow?
"Peter, calm down. Here, is this what you were looking for, friend?"
God handed Saint Peter his cell, and his zip lock of rolaids.
"Thank you, Lord. I was just trying to call a sub, for today. What's her name?"
Saint Peter quickly opened the zip loc, tearing the plastic a little. Oh, well.
Rolaids didn't go stale, did they? He popped a couple of them into his dry mouth.
Ech! These tasted awful! Why did folks in this new century waste their silver pieces
on these things? He'd never understand modern man: he sat for hours entranced
by boxes that flashed lights and noises at him; he spent the rest of his precious time
sitting in front of other boxes that beeped and burped in his face. All of this
new technology, and he still hadn't gotten The Message.
"Peter, here. Have some water. I told you those new fangled medicines didn't taste
very good. Do you mean Julie, our newest member of the family?" The Lord shook His Head.
"No, I don't think that she could sub for you, today, anyway. She's got some errands to
run for her mother. "
"Lord, I don't want to complain or anything, but could You please have her moved to the
other side of my development? I can smell her cats from upstairs on my balcony!
That woman must have reeked havoc on earth!"
"Peter, I'm sorry. But, Julie wanted to be near her mother and father. They live
just down the road from you; you know them - Elaine and Mike? A very nice couple."
The Lord peered over Saint Peter's dog-eared list. The staples had come loose, and
several pages had fallen to the ground. All of the pages had been scribbled on, in
Peter's surly hand; big red lines, circles, and exclamation marks dotted the pages.
"Lord" Saint Peter brought his head down to whisper, "I can't be sure, but I do
believe that over 60 felines, including at least one rather fat canine, live in the
cottage with that woman. She doesn't let them go outside, either. Oy! The smell!"
"Yes. I know about Julie's entourage. It was one of her many demands, before
she came here. She had typed up a whole list of them, in that zany font style
of hers. I can't recall all of them, right now. One of her demands was that
Walmart had to be within walking distance; another was that that her favorite
veterinarian had to have ample farm room for all his stray goats, deer, and dogs."
"Lord, that woman is driving me meshugunah. Are you sure she's Saved?"
The Lord burst out laughing. "Yes, Peter. Yes. I'm positive. Once I delivered
her out of that uchen vey marriage of hers, she did some very fine work."
Saint Peter rolled his eyes. "That meshugunah woman was married? Vey es mir!"
The Lord shook His Head, again. "Yes, well. That was unfortunate. Look, friend,
I have to go check on Joach, again. He's very sensitive, and doesn't like
standing at the Eastern gate alone, all day. If I'm out of his sight for more
than five minutes, he starts whining."
"Oh, Joach really lucked out! How would he like to put up with this commotion that
I've got? There's nobody at his watch, except for the odd snake. And, anyhow, if
he's got some trouble, all he has to do is call out for Michael. Aren't they like second
cousins, or something?"
The Lord tasted another rolaid. It was cherry-flavored, and extremely bitter.
He couldn't believe that His children wasted their shekels on this stuff.
"Who, Michael? No, they're in-laws. Michael's oldest sister is married to Joach's
third step-nephew, Stuart. It's a long story."
"Lord, I thought there weren't supposed to be marriages, up here." Saint Peter
checked the batteries on his cell. He frowned, and punched out some numbers,
trying to get a connection. He was still learning how to use this thing, and
so far, he wasn't enamored with it.
"Peter, let's not start that, again, please! I've had enough kvetching, for one
day!" The Lord shuffled through more of His friend's scribbled-on papers.
"Where's page 28? Peter, you've got to try to be more organized! What
happened to that angel temp I sent you?"
"Who, Lenzela? Oy, gah veld! I wish I could fire her!"
The Lord took His friend's cell phone, and fixed the battery. It was a
camera style. Folks, at least those allowed inside, always insisted on a
picture for their scrapbooks. They usually wanted to pose with Saint Peter,
and would make rabbit ears behind Peter's head. "What's wrong with
Lenzela, now? I thought I had talked to her about chewing gum, and smacking
bubbles at the Unsaved."
Saint Peter sighed heavily, and loudly. "Lord, I know that she's an angel
and all, but she's just an adolescent! One needs to be pretty mature to
handle this kind of job. Her typing is atrocious, her manner uncouth, and she's
got these weird friends that are always hanging around. Plus, she's always late!
I tell her to be here, at 6:30 sharp. You know what? I'm lucky if she pops in
at 10 A.M.! Then, five minutes later, her friends show up, giggling and playing
with their cell phones, demanding that it's lunch time!"
"Peter, don't worry. I'll have another talk with her. She got tossed out of
Glee Club, and I'm trying to get her to develop some responsibility. She's
going to be okay; some of us just take more time, that's all." The Lord patted
His friend's shoulder. "Listen, friend, I have to go. Joach's probably crying
for Me, now, as it is. I gave him a bassett hound for company. Joach
named him Schnuppy, and feeds him too many dried pig ears."
Saint Peter stopped flipping through his second stack of papers. "Pig ears?
But, they're not kosher, Lord!"
The Lord turned around for a moment. He had already begun walking away
from the Pearly Gates. "Peter, don't get started with Me, again, please. I've got
enough kvetching to deal with, right now. So, are we going to meet later, at the Feast?
There's some wonderful music planned, for tonight."
Saint Peter snapped his fingers, and frowned. "Oh! I forgot that it was
pushed up to 6 P.M., tonight! Yes, Lord. I'll be there on time, tonight. But,
you know how difficult it is, when the Gates are just about to close. The
Unsaved will try to do anything, to sneak by. One time, this guy dressed up
like an angel, but he forgot that wings had to be made of real feathers, and
not that silk flower material they sell at Hobby Lobby."
The Lord was silent, for a moment. "Yes, I know. We do everything we can,
to get the Word out, but some people just refuse to take Me seriously. And,
sometimes, they believe Me in their hearts, but they simply procrastinate, thinking
they've got all the time in the world. It's very sad."
"Yes, my Lord. It is. Well, say hello to Joach, for me. He's a sweet angel,
even though he's a bit too portly for his occupation. Maybe, I can get Lenzela
to teach him some aerobics, this afternoon. You never know; he might even
stop snacking on those Tootsie Rolls, that are always hidden in his socks."
The Lord laughed, again. "Now, that would be a miracle! See you later, My
friend!" But before turning to go, He looked back at the Gates, once more.
Another crowd was already beginning to line up, behind the Unsaved sign. One
of His largest angels, Humongo, was standing in front of the sign; his giant arms
were folded in rippling muscles, across his powerful chest. The grim look on the
angel's face was enough; he never said a word.
The Lord stared, in ominous silence, for what seemed to be an eternity. Then,
He looked down at earth, sighed, and walked away.
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