Thursday, March 08, 2012

Waking Up Dead

George was fairly certain he was dead now.  The last time his eyes were open, they were looking down an empty subway tunnel under lower Manhattan.  George was a track checker and close to retirement.  It was his last full week at work and as he had done for 35 years previously, he trudged his section of tunnel looking for problems on the line, around the line, down the line.

Now George noticed he was walking on a dirt road.  Up high, the Sun sat on one side of noon or the other.  Trees swayed slightly under a kind and gentle breeze.  Outside woodsy smells assaulted his nostrils replacing the stench of the subway he had huffed 5 days a week for the last too many years.  He had a walking stick in his hand and he no longer limped.

George stopped walking.  He looked down at his feet.  Instead of the crusty well worn steel toed boots he wore everyday, he saw his feet stuffed into a pair of brand new Nike all terrain hiking sneakers. No longer draped in his oil and grease stained coveralls, he was now wearing light weight camo shorts and a long sleeve tee shirt with a picture of Che Guevara on the front.  George did what he always did when faced with perplexing issues, he brought his hand up to stroke his beard.  No beard.  George was clean shaven.  He stroked his chin instead.

"Hmm", George spoke out loud, "Yep, I must be dead. Never saw that coming."

And because George was a simple man, a man who accepted what came his way, he continued his walk with no more thought about death and why he was on a dirt road far from the subway tunnels.

Some miles later George happened upon a bridge.  Sitting on the rail of the bridge was an old man fishing with a cane pole.  As George approached, the old man pulled hard on the pole and hauled up a fine fat fish.

"Uh Hey there", George began,  "What's biting today?"

The old man sitting on the rail jumped, almost toppling into the stream.  "Jesus H Christ fella, give a man some warning."  The old man looked at George.  His bright eyes bore into George causing intense discomfort deep in George's soul.  "Seems today, we're catching catfish.  Good eatin, catfish are."  The old man dislodged the hook and plopped the fish into the beat steel bucket that sat on the dusty wood planks of the bridge.

George looked at the old man, the pole, and then his eyes settled on the fish still thrashing in the bucket.  " I like to fish.  Matter of fact, I can't think of anything I enjoy more."

The old man looked at George.  And again his gaze caused George extreme discomfort in body parts he did not know existed. George looked down at his feet.  The old man continued, " Yeah, I know that about you."

"You know I like to fish?"

"Yes George, I do.  I know quite a bit about you.  Would you like to fish now?"

George raised his head and looked the old man in the eyes.  He did not feel ill, but he suddenly knew he was at a cross roads. He had no reason to believe this, but still he knew.

"You're God aren't you?"  George knew this without asking, but felt he had to voice the question anyway.

Again the old man's eyes sparkled and he grinned.  "Yes George, guilty as charged."

"But I don't believe in you."

"Yeah, a lot of people don't.  So what?"

George felt anger rising.  He dropped his eyes, fixing them on the bucket where the fish was still flopping.  He clinched his hands.  He took a few hard breaths.  He looked up again and stared  at God with hard eyes. "Okay, you exist.  So what does that mean now..........for me that is?"

"Means nothing George.  Just answering your questions is all."

George began to relax.  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly and fully.  "Well, I got a feeling this conversation we're having is probably important.  Isn't that right?"

"You could say that, Yes you could."  God tilted his head and looked up at the sky.  "Or you could just take the pole and I'll be on my way."

George squinted.  He was not going to be taken in by anyone.  Hell, he was from New York.  He had a life time of rubbing shoulders with scammers.  But he began to reach out for the pole.  God started to hand it to him and then quickly pulled it back. "Or George, you can continue your walk.  There's a lot to see here you know."

George stroked his chin.  He turned his back to God and contemplated his situation.  To walk or to fish?  He knew he was here for eternity and he understood his time here came down to these two choices.  He turned back to face God.  " You punishing me for not believing in you?"

"No.  Punishment is a human failing George.  I only offer choices.  And believe me when I say you not believing in my existence has nothing to do with it."

George looked at God. and then dropped his eyes to gaze at his brand new Nike hiking sneakers.  He smiled and held up his hand in refusal to the offered fishing pole.

"No thanks God, think I'll walk a spell.  That's what I did my whole life.  No sense changing things now."

God grinned again and turned his attention back to his fishing pole.  George passed by God and continued his walk.  Just as George came to the end of the bridge, he heard God say, "You have a nice walk now, ya hear?"

Not sure where this came from or why it turned out like it did.  My only premise was a guy wakes up dead and meets God fishing from a bridge. In my true flash fiction mentality, this took about an hour to write.


BBC said...

Assuming that god doesn't need a fish does this mean that god just likes to fuck with fish?

Randal Graves said...

Fire, brimstone, & giant beard would surely get in the way of a good catch.