“He said I wasn’t being honest. He said I was self-deceived! Same rubbish I heard from my ex-wife back in the day. I’m quite sure there has been a mistake…But he wouldn’t even listen to me!
‘Your name doesn’t appear in the books’, he said matter-of-factly. Then he got loud: ‘I never knew you; Depart from Me!’ Can you imagine? And with that, here I am.
I’m not all together sure where ‘here’ is though. I’ve been sitting on this bench, in this park of sorts, for what seems like forever. I can’t tell what time it is; my watch doesn’t work anymore and does the sun ever make an appearance here? Everything is so grey… as far as I can see…colorless, lifeless almost, except for me and you and a few other loners milling about. And everyone…almost everyone… excuse me, is so unfriendly here. Not to mention that bloody awful stench that fills the air. I’m getting really sick of this place.”
“You are new here, aren’t you, old friend?"
He spoke in a slow cadence, his voice disturbingly coarse as if he had once torn his throat to pieces swallowing shards of glass. I knew it was Donny Briscoe right away but his face was gaunt and drab with hollow eyes and pupils black as tar that seemed to look right through me. Despite the ghoulish hue, I was delighted to see a recognizable face.
“It’s good to see you again Donny. What happened to your voice?”
“Wrong place at the wrong time I guess, Jack. I got in with a pretty bad crowd, see. They roughed me up good - never could talk straight since. And you? You are one chap I never expected to find here. I mean, I got what I deserved. But you? You were always teacher’s pet, goody two shoes if I remember right. Never would play football with us on Sunday’s – always at church with your mum.”
“Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s what I tried to tell him. I did my best, my whole life. I did enjoy the pub, perhaps a bit too much, but I was a respectable man - a pillar of the community, if I do say so myself. I attended church regularly; I knew the Holy Scriptures better than most. In fact, I could still recite all 66 books in the Bible – I think.”
“That’s good Jack. Last I saw you was back in Bedfordshire, right? You marry that little tart you were with in school? What was her name?”
“Lily…We were together for years but she really never met my needs. I broke it off after the kids got a bit older. I was tired of pretending. Water under the bridge though, Donny. My second wife got too tangled up in the church, even for me. I think it might have actually been a cult. She offered our pool, one time, for people to get baptized in! She did that without ever asking my permission – can you believe that? And well, that was just about all I could take. Not long after that she got overly angry at my youngest son for nothing, really. She took him into his room, made him shed his trousers and took a switch to his bare bum! Humiliating. That was the last straw, I tell you. After that, I decided to go it alone. But even after we split, I went to church – a different church, albeit. The one I went to after that never asked for money. I almost never missed a service, it was the best. I loved that church.”
“That’s quite a story. I’m afraid I must be going now, Jack.”
“Okay, I’m sure you have better things to do than to sit around and listen to me moan and groan.”
“I’m sure you will find your way here, Jack - seems like you fit right in.”
“Oh, I don’t plan to stay…I just got to figure out how to get another audience with ‘The Big Guy’ and I am sure this will all be straightened out. Hey Donny, perhaps you would be kind enough to come with me – a witness, of sorts!”
“So sorry, Jack...as far as I can tell, there are no second chances.”
And with that he vanished.
1 John 2:4 (NKJV) “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”