Craig left his German Shepherd in the back of the patrol car as he shined his flashlight around Central Park. As he turned a corner, he was startled to see a girl, stark naked, staring up at the sky in delight as a light drizzle splashed on her face.
“The rain is upside down,” she laughed.
Craig shook his head. After this, nothing would surprise him. He tried to keep his eyes on her face as he approached. “Ma’am, where are you clothes?”
She stared at him curiously and then started giggling at his uniform.
Craig shined his flashlight in her eyes. Her pupils dilated normally. That’s odd, he thought. She must be stoned, yet even her voice isn’t slurred.
“Ma’am, come with me,” he said. He led her to his patrol car and opened the rear door. “Stay,” he commanded the dog as he fished around for a blanket.
“Ooo, a dog,” she cried in delight.
“Don’t! He’ll bite you!”
“Dogs don’t bite,” she laughed.
Craig watched in horror as the dog chomped down on her hand. Yanking her away, he stared in amazement. There wasn’t a scratch on her.
“Where are you from?” he asked, handing her the blanket.
She wrapped herself in the blanket and after he’d gotten her situated in the back seat, he started for the station.
“Where’s Eden, upstate?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I fell though the vines.”
Craig wondered what new drug “vines” was slang for. “How old are you?”
“3,642,” she said, staring out the window in fascination.
Craig rolled his eyes. His line of questioning was getting no where.
A few blocks from the station, as they passed St. Michael’s Cathedral, the girl started screaming. Craig screeched to a halt. Her drug-induced trip was obviously taking a turn for the worse.
She was staring up at the crucifix, tears streaming down her face. “What happened to him?”
Stunned, Craig watched her in disbelief. Somehow he no longer thought she was on drugs. “Calm down,” he said. “I’m going to take you back to my place.”
They reached his house, and Craig led her into the living room.
She stopped abruptly in front of the small aquarium containing his garter snake. “Satan!” she cried. “In your house!”
“Um, that’s not Satan,” he said. “That’s Fred.”
The girl eyed Fred with distrust.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
He returned with a cup of milk but after one sip, she spit it out. “It’s cold.”
“It’s supposed to be cold,” he said. “How do you drink it?”
“Warm, of course. What kind of cow do you have?”
“I don’t have a cow.”
“Where do you get your milk?”
“From the refrigerator.”
“What kind of animal is that?”
“The kind that makes it cold.”
He motioned her to sit on the couch. “Why did the cross upset you so much?”
“I asked him what happened, but he wouldn’t tell me,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “For about 35 years he didn’t come visit us like he had every night. And when he did come back, he had…holes…in his hands and feet. All he would say is that it was something he had to do.”
Craig began to pace, trying to sort out everything she’d said. It was too weird. Finally, he stopped and turned to her. “By any chance, in your Eden, is there a tree…that is forbidden?”
“How did you know that?”
“And let me guess, no one’s ever eaten from it?”
“Of course not!”
He shook his head. “This is insane.”
“So why did he die?”
Craig sighed. “I guess because we ate from the tree.”
Muggings, rapes, murders, poverty - the normal things he saw every day - none of it had to be. As well as cancer, AIDS, heart disease. The list was endless.
“Come on,” he said. “I’m taking you back. You don’t belong here.”
He drove her back to Central Park and followed her to a vine covered wall.
“There must have been a reason,” she said.
Craig nodded. “Trust me, I’ll find out what it is.”
She disappeared through the vines leaving only the blanket behind.
Craig stared up into the sky. Millions of people in NYC alone and yet most either denied his existence or questioned his goodness in allowing pain and suffering; adamantly rejecting the notion that God became human and dismissing his death as nothing more than misfortune.
“I need to get a Bible,” he thought.
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