by Joe Buonfiglio
It’s the proverbial “end of the line,” folks. So long and thanks for all the beer (with apologies to Douglas Adams).
My self-destructive personality is killing me … quite literally. The “Day of Reckoning” for yours truly apparently comes courtesy of spoiled cocktail weenies wrapped in crescent rolls left over from my Super Bowl party. When I consumed these mini “pigs in a blanket,” I didn’t realize they were the official finger-food of the Grim Reaper himself. The damn things are loaded with so many chemicals that I assumed they came with a post-cooked shelf life of infinity.
I assumed wrong.
Okay, that’s a lie. I KNEW they had gone bad and I ate them anyway. Don’t ask me why.
They were there … and then they weren’t.
Thus, my inability to engage in any act of self-preservation finally caught up with me. And this? This is…
JUDGMENT DAY FOR JOE
“Where am I? Is this Heaven?”
“What?!” blurts out the bearded man in the flowing, white robe just before he laughs quite loudly. “No, Joe, that’s Heaven just beyond this pearly gate behind me. This is—”
“Heaven is a gated community? I thought God was all about ‘the least of you’ and flipping over the tables of the moneychangers and shit. Are you saying He’s just another member of the cosmic 1%?”
“Don’t blaspheme here. Now is certainly not the time to—”
“I’m not blaspheming. What are the HOA dues like in a place like that? Is the Big Guy all ‘Cough up the frankincense and myrrh’ every month?”
The old man stares at me for a moment before he coldly asserts, “You really are a dumbass, aren’t you?”
He has me dead to rights.
“No, Joe, this is your Judgment Day; where we shall analyze the plus and minus columns in the Book of Life to determine whether you shall join the choir of angels in never-ending bliss … or spend Eternity tormented in the Lake of Fire.”
I stand here thinking. The old man looks puzzled.
“You know this isn’t a choice you make, right?” he queries.
“Can I get in on some of that 72 virgins action?”
“Damn!” My disappointment is impossible to conceal.
“I thought the same damn thing!” comes a voice from beyond the massive gate. “When I found out that it didn’t apply to me, I screamed ‘What fuckery be thiseth?!'”
“Sorry about this,” the old man says to me before he whips around to abruptly address the soul interjecting itself into our conversation. “Keep out of this, Shakespeare! You’re still on probation, you know. I can burn your ass any time I like!”
“Oh, bullocks!” the great Bard of Avon exclaimed before buggering off in a wispy fit of pique.
“For such a brilliant writer, he’s a bit of a twat, don’t you think?” the old man asks. “Oh well. Now, let’s get back to your fate, shall we?”
I shrug my shoulders and we get down to business. The old dude explains to me that he will first read the things working against me, and then he’ll counter this with all the good things I did while air still entered my lungs.
Seems simple enough.
“So, let’s begin. Now, there was the time you genetically modified endangered Venus flytraps transforming them into organic sex toys—”
“Whoa-whoa-whoa! You know about that?”
“— and then you sold these hideous abominations to the perverts who hang around the fringes of park playgrounds.”
“Well, I— uh … um…”
“Yes,” the old man says with a scowl on his face and in his tone. “I’m waiting. If you have any justification or clarification, now would be the time to voice such things.”
“You see, it’s like this …”
“Yes? … Well?”
“I got nuthin’.”
“All right,” he continues. “How about the time you cashed out your kid’s college fund and spent the entire thing on peanut butter-filled chocolate bunnies bought at a discount-warehouse store’s after-Easter sale?”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“What about when you drank away the rent money?”
“I have to admit that was a little fucked up. But—”
“… as well as the grocery money, the gas money, the money for the utility bills, not to mention the money for the family vacation. Your wife and child saved pennies for years just to—”
“Okay already!” I blurt out. “Again, it would appear completely reprehensible on the surface. However, in my defense, how many trips to Disneyland do you need in one lifetime? Do you know what I’m sayin’? That fucking It’s a Small World song over and over and over and over!”
“And you drank away the money for your wife’s surgery.”
“Granted, that was a bit selfish on my pa—”
“And the money entrusted to you to cover funeral expenses in the event of—”
“All right-all right-all right already! … What can I say? I get thirsty.”
The old man puts down the Book of Life.
“Do I really need to go on,” he says. “I think we both know where this is all heading.”
“Don’t be so melodramatic. It’s not like I’m Hitler or something.”
“Why does everyone in your circumstance always bring up Hitler?! That’s setting the bar pretty damn low, don’t you think? If you’re Hitler, there is no question that you get in the E-ZPass lane to Hell. That’s a given. But just because you’re not a mass murderer on an unfathomable scale, it does not mean you get a “Get Out of Jail Free” card if you’re still a major douchebag to your fellow travelers upon the Earth while you walked said aforementioned planet.”
“Jesus! It can’t be as bad as all that.”
“Oh really?” he declares as he again looks in the Book of Life. “The rest your activities involve such noble pursuits as unnatural experimentation with barnyard animals and infecting your employer’s entire East Coast computer network due to your incessant need for Internet porn during working hours.”
“I can’t help it. I can’t afford the Internet at home. Remember how I drank away all the utility money?”
“You stole a car.”
“I was young.”
“It was last week.”
“—er. I was young-er.”
“The car belonged to an orphanage.”
The old man pauses to glare at me in a manner that clearly expresses his disdain toward me.
“What? Don’t look at me like that. Why does an orphanage need a car anyway? It’s not like the little bastards can drive. They’re kids, for Christ’s sake. Kids without parents to boot. Who the fuck is going to teach them to drive, right? Am I right? … I’m right.”
The old man shakes his head in disgust.
“Come on,” I plead. “What about all the good stuff? There has to be some good things, too. Try breaking out that side of the celestial ledger book, okay?’
The old man inhales deeply, and then exhales abruptly. He opens the Book of Life once more and examines it closely.
“No,” he announces. “No redeeming qualities or acts of kindness whatsoever. Nothing.”
“Nothing at all? Not one damn positive?”
“Nope. ‘fraid not…. … … Weeeeeeeeell, almost nothing.”
“See! I knew it! Come on. Out with it, you old bastard.”
Okay,” he says as he draws the Book in closer to his eyes. “It appears that once — once, mind you — you served food in the soup kitchen of a homeless shelter.”
“SEE! I KNEW IT! I’m not such a bad guy.”
“What? What wait? Wait for what?”
“No, sorry. My bad,” he says almost smiling. “I misread that. It appears you once stole food from the soup kitchen of a homeless shelter.”
Oh well, it could be worse; I could be a Hindu. Then I’d probably be reincarnated as a cocktail weenie … that’s gone bad.
© 2015 Joseph P. Buonfiglio All Rights Reserved.