After a rapid transit on the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel express, I found myself at the gates of Heaven, which were indeed pearly.
(Actually, I kind of wondered why Heaven needed a gate, since there were no fences that I could see. I figured the structure was mostly ceremonial, like the Arc de Triomphe or something.)
But anyway, here I was. I expected to see a heavily-bearded St. Peter scrolling through a member's only register, or at the very least, checking off names in a logbook.
|Saint Peter with the keys to Heaven|
Instead, there was a notice hanging on the gate:
"Due to economic cutbacks following the recent acquisition of a competing divinity, the property formerly known as Heaven had laid off its senior level staff of seraphs and cherubs. We hope this is not an inconvenience as we continue to strive for perfection."
It was signed, "HeavenWorld, Inc."
Uh-oh. What a time to die, I thought. Mergers and layoffs are everywhere, and usually it's not for the better. I mean, c'mon. HeavenWorld?
I took a step toward the gate, but another placard materialized, out of thin cloud, right in front of me.
"Instructions for self-admittance to HeavenWorld, a gated community."
But there was only one question:
"Have you followed the Golden Rule?"
Then, in small lawyer print, there was this:
"You can not lie. We will know."
I wasn't sure if I had, indeed, lived my threescore and ten by the Golden Rule, since there is so much grey area involved: white lies, red herrings, green envies, blue language — a rainbow of underachievement. All I knew was that I had tried my best. I hadn't killed anyone, I always honored my parents, and about the only thing I ever coveted was my neighbor's XKE Jaguar.
My life must have been good enough, though, as the gates swung open. I moved forward again.
But once more, a materialization occurred. This time it was a figure. I thought I recognized him by the farm implement in his hand, and he surprised me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Got laid off," he replied. "But it's all right. I'll manage. Job wasn't too hot anyway."