Seymour Hersh|Enters Heaven

     (Seymour Hersh emerges from a long line of creatures of every description and elbows his way to a podium. Behind the lectern is a thin, white-haired man emanating a bluish-white glow. He is dressed in a toga. Hanging at his side, on a golden rope, is an enormous key. Behind him, floating on a pure-white cloud, is a giant gate of pearl. The old man holds a quill in his right hand, with which he is entering names in an enormous book. He looks up.)
     Hersh: “Who’s in charge here? Are you in charge?”
     St. Peter: “No, I’m …”
     “Are you God? I want to talk to God.”
     “Peter: No, I’m …”
     “You’re Peter, right?”
     “It’s quite irregular …”
     “Listen, Pete, I’ve been dead for an hour now, and you’ve got me waiting in line.”
     “We have …”
     “Look. Pete. I want you to look back there, over my shoulder. You see that?”
     “Yes, it’s …”
     “Pete, I’ve been dead for an hour here. You had me stashed over at that fourth cloud back. Now, I’m on deadline, man. Pete, can you see these people waiting in line?”
     “Please, we’re trying …”
     “You’re trying the patience of a lot of folks, among them, me. Now I’ve got some questions I want answered. If you can’t answer my questions, I want to talk to God.”
     “God does not give interviews.”
     “Not yet he hasn’t.”
     “Sir …”
     “Pete, there are old people here, and babies, standing in line after they’re dead. What kind of system are you running here?”
     “Well, our computer is running an old Word Office program, if you must know. They’ve got me stuck here with this quill …”
     “OK. Now we’re getting somewhere.”
     “You think this job is easy? Do you know how many people die every day? On how many planets?”
     (Hersh whips out a notebook and starts jotting notes.)
     “How many planets, Pete?”
     “Well, there’s the fourth one from Aldebaran, and … wait a minute …”
     “You’ve got a thankless job, Pete. And how many people thank you after you open the pearly gates for them? That’s what the key’s for, right?”
     “Yes. Not one in a thousand.”
     (Head down, jotting notes.) “Tips? You get any tips?”
     “Not since the 1950s.”
     (Hersh lets his notebook drop to his side. Establishes eye contact with St. Peter.) “Aah, it’s a hell of a life, ain’t it, Pete?”
     “I should say so.”
     (The many-colored creatures in the growing line behind Hersh grumble and press forward.)
     “Will you pipe down? There’s people trying to work here.”
     “The computer system crashes on the hour, the tech guys talk to me as though I’m an idiot, and they’ve got me stuck here with this quill.”
     “But I’ll bet God ain’t running no Microsoft Office …”
     (St. Peter leans over the podium.) “God’s got a tablet you wouldn’t believe …”
     “So God’s running a tenth-generation tablet, and you’re stuck here with poor folks from Aldebaran waiting in line with sore … What are those things, Pete?”
     “With sore pseudopods, and a fucking quill.”
     “He’s promised us new computers.”
     “He’s promised you.”
     “Listen, Pete, lemme tell you about promises …”
     (A tremendous bolt of lightning smites Hersh. The terrible clap of thunder rumbles on and on. Blue fades to black, to red, cut through with sickly green and yellow. The smell of sulphur. In the distance, a boiling lake. Flesh-eating birds circle overhead. Human screams. Hersh emerges from a line of white men in suits and elbows his way to the front, where a man in a black tuxedo is entering names in a tablet computer. Sitting by the man is a black dog with three lion heads, its fangs dripping blood. The man is totally red, glowing like lava. He looks up.)
     Hersh: “Who’s in charge here?”
     Beelzebub: “And who might you be?”
     “Listen, pal, I’ll ask the questions. I want to know who’s in charge here? And what’s with that dog? That’s the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen.”
     “See here …”
     “Don’t try to pull rank on me, Bub, now I want some answers …”

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