On Appeal

Bob approaches the Pearly Gates through billowing clouds, cerulean skies radiating blue. He stops in front of the lectern of the Recording Angel. To the left of the Recording Angel, to the right as Bob sees it, the guy ahead of him enters Heaven, bent over in a black suit, carrying a briefcase.

Bob is starving, nearly naked in his Jockey shorts. He’s stood in line for centuries (“six feet apart, please”) waiting for his interview with the Recording Angel, who will determine whether Bob will be admitted to Heaven.

(Art by Carlos Ayala)

This is Bob’s Last Chance, and he knows it.

Recording Angel: So, I see here that in your brief life on Earth, you were a city editor.

Bob: Fuck! What is wrong with you people?

Recording Angel: I beg your pardon?

Bob: I been standing here till I got corns on my bunions, man! My feets hoit! How you expect me to pass a Heaven Test when I got corns on my bunions? Standing on my two feet for 1,000 … no (looks at his watch) … 1,200 years … because of your Goddam Heavenly bureaucracy.

Recording Angel: Sir, I must ask you to …

Bob: Ask me what? Ask me now, motherfucker, or forever hold your piece.

Recording Angel: Sir, that should be “forever hold your peace.”

Bob: Whatever. Who made you a copy editor? What’s your question?

Recording Angel (a bit flustered): Umm … I … I’m not sure what my last question was.

(A shimmering, multicolored Angel, something like a trout, rises from a cloud and shows the Recording Angel a transcript. The Recording Angel flips through it. Sighs. The Angelfish floats away.)

Bob: So waddaya got, god?

Recording Angel: Sir. Bob. I am not God. I am the Recording Angel.

Bob: You say.

Recording Angel: Sir, you are applying for entrance to Heaven. It does not behoove you to …

Bob: I ain’t applying for shit, mothefrucker.

Recording Angel: Sir, that should be motherfucker.

Bob: Oh, yeah. Thanks.

Recording Angel: Look, Bob …

Bob: Mr. Kahn.

Recording Angel: Excuse me?

Bob: My name is Bob Kahn. You shall address me as Mr. Kahn. As I address you as Mr. Angel.

Recording Angel: Sir. I beg your pardon, but this is your last chance to enter Heaven. You’ve had many chances throughout your life, but I see from your resumé that … (the Recording Angel flips through the pages of Bob’s life …)

Recording Angel: Shit.

Bob: What?

Recording Angel: (Snaps his fingers. Two more peculiar angels — more like sharks — arise from a cloud, bearing drinks in enormous margarita glasses, each on its own silver tray. The Recording Angel and Bob toast each other. Bob chugs it.)

Bob: Aahhh …

Recording Angel: Listen, Bob … Mr. Kahn.

Bob: How come the silver tray?

Recording Angel: (B-u-u-r-r-p) Sir?

Bob: How come silver and not gold?

Recording Angel: Budget cutbacks. You’ll see it in the fluffiness of clouds.  (Looks around, furtively. Drains the remains of his heavenly martini. Sighs.) Bob, when I was a young angel, the clouds were so fluffy … it seemed that … (the Recording Angel loses himself in reflection)

Bob: Yeah, yeah, OK. So do I get into Heaven or not?

Recording Angel: Which would you prefer?

Bob: You mean Hell or this place?

Recording Angel: It’s a customary option.

Bob: Cool! You mean I get to choose?

Recording Angel: Sir, Heaven is not a democracy.

Bob: Yeah, yeah. But you mean I can take a trip across the River Styx?

Recording Angel: Sir, we do not say those words in …

Bob: So I can see Hell before deciding whether I wanna move there?

Recording Angel: Sir, as I told you …

Bob: Yeah, but how come really?

Recording Angel: We have a contract with Carnival Cruise Lines.

Bob: So can I see it?

Recording Angel: See what, Sir?

Bob: Can I get a tour of Hell, to see if I want to go there or to Heaven?

Recording Angel: Of course, Sir. It’s a customary option.

Bob: Well, goddam, let’s go see Hell, then. I always wanted to see It.

Recording Angel: Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir. Now, will that be MasterCard or Visa?

%d bloggers like this: