[By order of the Powers That Be, Etta May Shoemaker has been granted an interview with St. Peter.]
"Etta, we had a, a rough start and I apologize for my part in that unfortunate episode, but this is your official interview for the record --"
"Pete, what record? You got a whole bureaucracy up here? A bunch of angel clerks and shit?"
St. Peter takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, bites his lip, "Etta, it's just a saying. We should keep on topic here."
"Shit, Pete, you brought it up. Is there a record or not?"
St. Peter feels his first headache in fifteen hundred years creeping up the back of his skull. "I, I don't know for sure. I just know we need to get this over with. Your first question is, why do you think you should gain admission to Heaven?"
"How long you been up here Pete? Forever, I guess, and you still don't know basic shit about your job? Sounds fucked up to me. What does the boss say about this --"
St. Peter cracks his knuckles as he responds. "This - is - not - about - me. Answer the question --"
"Slow your roll, man. Damn, look, I done run three cat houses and a bar and a gambling den and I knew my job and everybody else's."
St. Peter responds between clenched jaws. "Etta, I just need you to answer the question."
"Pete, I need you to shut up, so I can answer the question. The way it looks to me, you need me more than I need you. You got some ragged unorganized shit gone on up here."
Red-faced St. Peter moves on to the next question. "Do you truly repent of your sins and seek Holy forgiveness?"
St. Peter feels a growing discomfort in his chest. "Etta, how many times have you taken his name in vain and said, goddamn or for God's sake or --"
"Are you serious? You must be kiddin,' for God's sake brother."
St. Peter wipes his forehead and concentrates on his response, "A sin is a sin and --"
"Shit, Pete, Heaven must be damn near empty --"
"And you worked on the Sabbath, repeatedly!"
"Pete, Pete, you need help if this is --"
"And you fought with your mother, broke her jaw and showed contempt and hatred for her."
"She pimped me out when I was ten. I broke her jaw when she came at me with a kitchen knife. Look it up. It's all in the record. The record you don't know about, remember?"
St. Peter has a brief coughing fit before he returns to his accusations, pointing at Etta. "You, Etta May Shoemaker, committed murder."
Etta steps up to Peter's desk, "I did. I would do it again. That fool was trying to kill me. I got him first, thank God."
"Etta, Etta, I will not let you provoke me. And, and you stole."
"I did. There was a time I did a bunch of stealing, of course, I was no Donald Trump. I never got near that good. I stole when I needed to and, and some times out of spite or jealousy, but I cleaned up my act. I don't do that much stealing anymore."
"Do you seek forgiveness?"
Etta shakes her head no, "No, no, I don't. I did wrong, a bunch of it. None of that bullshit you talkin about. Ain't nobody can forgive me, but me."
There's a moment of silence as Etta wipes tears from her cheeks and St. Pete massages the back of his neck.
"Etta, do you have anything else to add."
"I neglected my kids, left them on their own too much too soon. I betrayed my best friend. I cut a woman up real bad for no good reason. I hindered where I could have helped. I was a coward when it counted. That's me. Me to a tee."
Etta steps back wipes her eyes, sniffles, "You runnin' a con game here, man. I got better things to do."
Etta walks away.
St. Peter, knows he should be glad to see her go to Hell, but he ain't.
Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2018-03-19
Image(s) © Patrick Hicks. All rights reserved.