Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Alley Gory

Through a divine computer foul-up, I was briefly dispatched to heaven when my heart monitor flatlined. I was there perhaps an hour, just being shown around by an angel who was sort of like a real estate agent. Upon discovering I had loudly and frequently expressed profound doubt that any such place as heaven existed, St Peter shoved me into the first express elevator down.
I then spent about an hour in hell shuttled between a series of clerks who searched their records in vain to see which rung and precisely which torment was destined to be my eternal repayment for 50-odd years of screwing up.

Then POP! I was back in the hospital bed, the orderly who plugged the electrodes into the wrong connection was being marched off for retraining and the priest who had been summoned to perform last rites was asking whether I'd experienced any "near death" phenomenon. I had to say yes, I'd accidentally gotten the grand tour. The priest begged for my fullest recollection.

Well, it was strange I must say. Both places were physically identical. The weather was a little warm and their were palm trees. The skies were a cloudless blue. It reminded me of Los Angeles on good smog day. "WHAT?" exclaimed the priest, "How can they be exactly the same?"

No, they were not, I assured him. It was most decidedly south central LA in both cases, but in heaven, no one pulled the trigger, they just looked at me and shook their heads with a smile. In hell, nobody dies before the ambulance gets there despite gallons of spilt blood and shattered limbs. Doctors, being punished for being too good at hiring lawyers when they were alive, work out their eternal damnation in permanently busy ERs and never lose a patient. But many are discharged with amputations and disfiguring wounds. Even those with hideous head wounds are not allowed to become unaware of where they are and how much they owe the hospital. And then they go on about their business until they get shot again. But I didn't get assigned a rung of hell, that was just the waiting room of hell's bureaucracy. Under presumption that you belong in hell, you are made to read newspapers while you wait as a foretaste of your final punishment.

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