Death, when it came, was a far less intimidating process than Aaron had imagined that it was going to be. That was perhaps in no small part attributable to the nature of his death -- he passed in his sleep, the result of an undiagnosed heart condition. He had gone to bed, fallen asleep and at some point in the night began to dream. In the dream, it was late in the evening on a cold winter night, and Aaron was being carried by his father to the car. Aaron and his parents had been visiting relatives, and the adult conversation had lasted long past Aaron’s bedtime. He had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room, but now was being carried to the car for the ride home. He had his arms loosely around his father’s neck and had buried his face into his father’s shoulder against the cold night air. At the car, the rear door was open and Aaron’s father leaned into the car, cradling Aaron’s head in one hand, the other hand firmly supporting his back, and prepared to lay him on the back seat.
It was at this point in the dream that Aaron sensed something was amiss. His father lowered him into the car, but there was no contact with the back seat, only a sense of receding farther and farther from his father and the cold winter night. The reassuring grip of the older man’s hands dissolved, and he was left untethered, adrift in a formless, silent, disorienting darkness. He might have expected to be afraid, yet was not -- wary, perhaps, curious, certainly, but not afraid. How long he remained in this state Aaron could not really say, but by and by a woman appeared, a tall, exquisite black woman dressed in a striking green flowing dress made of the most delicate gossamer fabric, the long train of which wafted ethereally behind her. Aaron stared at her, in part taken by her beauty, in part because she was the only thing visible in the void in which he found himself. She extended a hand and pointed at Aaron. Her hand was slender and smooth, and even though it was finely sculpted and immaculately clean, it was not delicate, so that when the woman turned the hand palm side up and, with a several quick flicks of her finger summoned Aaron, he knew he had to obey. As he drew near the woman, the train of her dress swirled around him, engulfing him, and turning the darkness green, then after a moment, everything was ablaze in light and the noise of hundreds of conversations.
When his senses accustomed themselves to the surroundings, Aaron found himself in one of the queues in front of an array of what could have been teller windows at a bank, but there were windows as far as he could see in either direction. He was second in line. A white-haired man with a white beard wearing a white tunic and white sandals approached and handed Aaron a clipboard and a pencil.
“Here you go,” the man said cheerfully. “Fill this out, please.”
“Just a little background information that will allow us to process you a little more quickly.”
“Process me for what?”
“Oh,” the man chuckled. “Your Particular Judgment.”
“You know,” the man in white smiled. “The Naughty and Nice lists, the Good and Evil Ledgers?” Aaron must have looked confused because the man continued. “You are Catholic, aren’t you?”
Aaron grimaced and nodded very tentatively.
“And you paid attention in your catechism class, didn’t you?”
“Well, um ...”
“Okay, fine. So paring away the layers and layers of wisdom and nuanced meaning in the phrase ‘Particular Judgment,’ this is the place you come to when you die for a review of your life.”
“Next,” said a voice from behind the teller’s window.
“Go ahead move up, then fill out the form,” said the white-haired man.
Aaron glanced at the paper. He was being asked to provide his name, first, middle and last, father’s name, first, middle and last, mother’s name, first, middle, last and maiden if different from last, siblings’ names, first only, listed oldest to youngest, and the nickname of the catcher for the 1969 World Champion New York Mets.
“What the hell?” Aaron said out loud.
“Problem?” the man in white asked.
“How am I supposed to know, and why in the world would I be expected to know the nickname of some obscure baseball player?”
“Oh, that. I put that there. It’s one of the clues in today’s crossword puzzle -- five letters, ends in ‘y’.”
“You? Don’t you guys like ‘know all, see all’?”
“Who told you that?”
“I don’t know,” Aaron said, but then he paused to think about that. “I just remember somebody saying something like you all knew everything.”
“No, we don’t know everything. We do have ‘infused knowledge,’ which you would remember from your catechism class had you listened at all, and that is the gift of knowing everything we need to know without stumbling around and having to learn everything for ourselves the hard way, but ‘infused knowledge’ would be pretty pointless in solving a crossword puzzle, wouldn’t it? I mean, why would I even ask the question if I knew the answer?”
“Why do you even have a crossword puzzle?”
“Two reasons: first, it helps pass the time; second, the first person to solve it gets pizza from the pizzaria of their choice.”
“Wait, wait, wait, wait ...” Aaron said, but before he could go on, he was distracted by banging noises behind him. He turned, and there in the vending area was the beautiful woman in the green dress vehemently rocking a vending machine back and forth. A man with blue hair, blue coveralls, blue shoes and a blue tool caddy came running in and waved his hands signaling her to stop. She put those beautiful hands on her hips and glared at him. He put his ear to the machine and listened intently for a moment, got a wrench from the tool caddy, then reached around behind the machine, grunted for a moment or two as if trying to loosen something that was stuck or tighten something that was loose, then came back to the front of the machine and pressed a button. A cup dropped into the windowed compartment on the machine, there was some hissing, and then a hot, steaming liquid was dispensed into the cup. When it was full, the man opened the compartment, pulled the cup out and presented it to the woman in green. At first she stared sternly at the man, as if considering whether or not to take the cup, but then took it, brought it to her nose and sniffed. Her stern countenance softened, the train of her dress began once again to flow, and she wandered slowly off out of sight.
“What was that all about?” asked Aaron. “Don’t know. Like I said, I know what I need to know, but I don’t know everything.”
“Duffy.” Both Aaron and the man in white turned to look at the older woman who had joined the queue behind Aaron. Her head was down as she filled out the form on her clipboard.
“Duffy,” she repeated without looking up. “Duffy Dyer, catcher on the ‘69 Mets championship team. It’s a bit of a trick question since Dyer was the backup to Jerry Grote. In the Series, he had only one appearance, as a pinch-hitter, not as a catcher, and he grounded out to the shortstop.” She looked up from her clip board and grinned. “But he was cuter than a bug.” She looked back down at her clipboard. “Got traded to Pittsburgh in ‘74.”
“‘Duffy’ is perfect,” the man in white said. “I can taste the pizza now.”
“Look,” said Aaron.” “Help me out here.”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, to begin with, you’re dead.”
“Okay. So, this is heaven?”
“Oh no, no, no,” the man in white laughed. “Heaven is ...” He squinted with one eye and considered his answer, then started to slowly wave his hand and let it drift up and away. “... not here. It’s ...” he repeated the hand gesture. “... around. This ...” said with a nod to the left and then to the right, “this is probably best understood as the Accounting Department.”
“You know, even though I readily admit to being a little less than attentive in Sunday school, I don’t ever remember hearing anything about an accounting department.”
“It is a bit metaphorical, and I’ve had an occasional accountant take exception to it, but it works for me.”
“Most of the accountants I knew were crooks,” the woman behind Aaron said.
“How unfortunate for you,” the man in white replied. “However, you will find this process to be thorough and eminently fair and accurate.” He smiled broadly. “Usually.”
“Well, there can be areas where interpretation can be problematic.”
“Well, take for instance ignorance. Let’s say you buy a 1974 Pontiac Firebird very similar to the one you were so taken with that was driven by Jim Rockford in the television show The Rockford Files, but it turned out to be such a lemon that you traded it in on a Mustang (even though your initial thought had been to simply take it to a junkyard and sell it for scrap). That Firebird is bought by a thug who uses it as the getaway car in a botched bank robbery that ends in a high-speed chase, a shootout, and three people dead.”
“I’m sure it happens all the time,” the woman behind Aaron said quietly enough that no one but he heard it.
“That is ‘invincible ignorance’ on your part -- there was no way of knowing that your action would lead to all the chaos that followed, so you would bear no responsibility for it.”
“So, ignorance of the law is an excuse, eh?” Aaron said.
“In that instance, yes. Now let’s say that you buy a 1974 Firebird, and after several years, you notice that when you apply the brakes, the pedal goes further toward the floor than it used to, but you don’t really give it much thought. Someone offers you a good price for the car, more than you know you will get on a trade, but asks if you know of any problems with the car. Without thinking, you say ‘no,’ and the buyer drives off only to have the brakes fail and the car careen off a mountain road, crashing down the mountain into a nuclear power plant, damaging the cooling system which malfunctions causing the reactor core to meltdown leading to an explosion that results in a nuclear exclusion zone the size of Rhode Island.”
“Hate when that happens,” mumbled the old woman.
“So, as you see, in this case, you could, had you taken some time to consider it, taken the high road and been responsible enough to share the information you had about the brakes on the car, or if you truly didn’t realize the significance of that information, you still might have opted for some kind of inspection to ensure the safety of the vehicle.”
“Yeah, but ...” Aaron began.
“And yet,” the man in white interrupted, “and yet you did nothing to obtain information that was easily within your reach, preferring to cling to the ‘vincible ignorance’ that once the car was out of your hands, it was no longer your responsibility.
“‘Invincible ignorance’ is something you can not do anything about, but ‘vincible ignorance’ is something you ought to be able to change, you just don’t.”
“And this is all relevant how?”
“Well, in the compiling of the Naughty and Nice lists, the determination of vincible and invincible ignorance in any given case can become complicated, especially in the area of human sexuality where it can be argued that nobody is ever in their right mind and therefore are incapable ...”
“Oh, that’s you. Move on up, and good luck.”
Aaron watched the man in white as he walked off to hand clipboards to those in various queues and starting conversations with other confused-looking individuals.
“Come on, young man,” the older woman said. “Get on with it. I don’t want to spend eternity standing in a line.”
“Sorry,” Aaron said. He turned and approached the window.
To this point, the Afterlife bore little resemblance to the images of people and cherubs floating about the clouds, staring off into the ether with expressions that were meant to convey either a state of a holy rapture, or as Aaron thought more likely, a portrayal of exasperation at having once again stepped in dog shit.
Shit. Aaron wondered if shit was something you were allowed to say here, and wondered if not knowing meant that he was invincibly ignorant of the rules (after all, he had never been here before), or if this was one of those cases where he ought to have known what the rules were. Perhaps the whole subject of the propriety of the word ‘shit’ in the Afterlife was covered in one of the Sunday school classes where he had snuck outside for a smoke.
“Clipboard.” There was a woman on the other side of the counter from Aaron who took the clipboard from him. She had white hair and was wearing a white tunic. Aaron could not see her feet but presumed she had white sandals as well. Despite her white hair, she did not look to be more than thirty-five, and she was quite attractive. “You didn’t fill this out,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Didn’t have time.”
The woman sighed. “Fine. Name.”
“I thought you all were supposed to have uh, whatever you call it, the thing where you know what you need to know.”
“Yeah. So why did you ask for my name?”
“I didn’t. It was a command sentence, not a question. I told you to state your name.”
“So do you know my name?”
“No, of course not. Why would I know your name?”
“But you do indeed need to know my name.”
“I need your name to retrieve your file so that we can process you.”
“Well, if you need my name, why don’t you know it?”
“Because you know it, and so there is no need for me to know it.”
“But you had just said you needed to know my name.”
“I need your name to find your file.”
“What if I don’t give you my name?”
“Then you can go to hell.”
“I can make those arrangements.”
“Aaron. Geez,” he said. “Am I not allowed to ask a few questions? I mean this is a pretty big step for me.”
The woman behind the window was quiet while she flipped through the folders contained in a cardboard bankers’ box. “I’m not finding it,” she said. “Is your last name spelled g-e-e-z or j-e-e-z?”
“It’s spelled p-i-e-t-r-a-s-z-k-i-e-w-i-c-z.”
There was a long moment where the woman behind the window stared at Aaron with an expression that would never be mistaken for charity, then she turned back to the bankers’ box and was able to quickly pull out a folder which she placed unopened in front of her. She folded her hands on top of the folder and looked again at Aaron.
“You know,” she said. “There are broadly speaking three kinds of people who approach this window. Most of them are salt-of-the-earth type: good neighbors, took care of their families, never kicked a dog that didn’t deserve it. They approach this whole process with patience and a sense of humor, and after minimal processing, they’re on their way. Then there are a few, maybe one in fifty, who are a different lot -- they are angry, arrogant, bitter, resentful, confrontational. They are as contrary in death as they were in life. In life they chose chaos, in death they choose perdition.
“About a quarter of the people who show up here are of the third kind. These are the people who in life left their soul in an airport locker while they flew off on a junket to the islands. They are at best only vaguely aware that Creation is an ongoing act of will on the part of the Creator and they have a part in it, and instead prefer to see life as primarily a scavenger hunt. They are usually genuinely surprised that their actions had consequences. They are neither good nor evil. They are simply stupid.
“I won’t know for sure which group you fall into until I open this folder, but I’ve gotten to be pretty good at guessing.”
The woman in green suddenly passed directly in back of the woman behind the window and with her train billowing majestically about her flowed past the man seated at the next window, the woman after that, and finally stopped behind the man at the third window. That man put everything he was holding down on the counter, slowly turned and with a very anxious expression on his face looked at the woman who simply smiled and gave one nod of her head. The man threw his arms into the air, shouted for joy and threw himself into the arms of the woman in green, and the two of them vanished.
“Who is she?” Aaron asked.
“She is an Escort. She makes sure that those who have died make it here, those going to hell find their way, and she takes those who have served their time here to the other side.”
“The ‘other side?’”
“To the place not here,” the woman behind the window said. “It has many names, but you know it as heaven.”
“Oh,” Aaron said. “You don’t happen to know if she’s seeing anybody at the moment, do you?”
“Don’t go there,” the woman behind the window said. “She’s definitely not your type.”
“Shall we begin?” It was posed as a question, but apparently there was only one acceptable answer, for the woman behind the window had already opened the file in front of her and was leafing through the pages. “Well,” she said when she had seen enough. “You are neither good nor evil, nor are you as stupid as I thought.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You are not going to hell, but you are one dollar and forty-nine cents short of passing on.”
Aaron blinked and stared, and if he had seen himself at that moment, he might have agreed that he blinked and stared stupidly, but he would have also been of the opinion that his expression was warranted. Being “one dollar and forty-nine cents short of passing on” was a nonsensical and irrelevant utterance. The fact that he was dead was inconvenient and a bit disorienting but not particularly surprising -- everybody knows that everybody dies. His experience of death to this point -- standing in line awaiting his Particular Judgement -- was not something he might have imagined if had ever given it any thought, but on the other hand, it was not really unpleasant. He had had far more dehumanizing experiences anytime he had to try to submit claims to his health insurance provider, and yet there was just simply no way to construe “one dollar and forty-nine cents short of passing on,” so Aaron blinked some more.
“You know, I admit that I skipped a few Sunday school sessions,” Aaron said after time. “And I never was very much good at going to church on Sunday, but I don’t recall ever hearing anything about heaven, hell or life after death that would allow me to make sense of what you just said.”
“Understandable, Mr. Pietraskiewicz. I will answer any questions you may have.”
“Okay, but there’s going to be a lot of them.”
“First question: what’s your name?”
Naturally Aaron paused. Dot seemed more like a Heather, or Christine, or even perhaps a Grace. She was very pretty, and the name Dot just didn’t seem a proper complement to her looks.
“Okay, Dot, was there really a Loch Ness monster?”
“That’s it? That’s what you want to know? You’re dead, you’re facing Eternity, and the first thing you want to know is if there was a Loch Ness monster?” It would have been understandable if the expression on Dot’s face had indicated disdain, but it was much more the expression of astonished aversion that one has upon seeing for the first time a dung beetle rolling a dung ball. Aaron took no offense. In fact, he thought that it cast a very cute and playful light on her countenance.
“So you never asked that question?”
“Well ...” Dot averted her eyes and her lips pursed as she tried to mask her embarrassment. “I didn’t lead with that question,” she said regaining her composure. “There were like ninety-nine other more important things I wanted to know first?”
“Like how did they come up with me being two hundred and eighty-seven dollars short of passing on.”
“What ‘damn’? Don’t say ‘damn’ unless you really mean ‘damn,’ and then don’t say it anyway because you don’t really have the authorization to use that word. But anyway, what do you mean ‘damn?’”
“Damn, like you’re almost two hundred times worse than me.”
“No, no I am not. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t just go multiplying things and jump to conclusions like that.”
“So how does it work?”
Dot squared her shoulders and assumed a proper bureaucratic demeanor. “All transactions regarding the Ledgers are conducted following the strict guidelines of the Uniform Monetized Moral Equivalency Act of the Fourth Age, a copy of which is available for your inspection, although it is unlikely that you would be able to make any sense of it.”
“Because I’m stupid?”
“In part, I suppose. It’s just that it is such an enormous document written in a very technical style that is really only understood by a very few.”
“When was the Fourth Age?”
“It fell between the Third and Fifth Ages.”
“That’s not very specific.”
“Who cares? I mean, does it really matter?”
“Well it doesn’t. What you need to know is that before the Uniform Monetized Equivalency Act, all Ledger transactions were conducted under the supervision of a twelve-member judicial panel that had exclusive authority to assess the value of the actions in anyone’s life, and they were also the final arbiter for any challenge to those assessments. By the end of the Second Age, there were so many challenges and complaints that a decision was made “on high” to revise the whole system. The Third Age was devoted to the compiling of the Book of Standards, an exhaustive work that took every conceivable human action, inaction and interaction and assigned a monetary value to it. Each action is valued in a local currency, be that ruble, peso or potato, and then using the appropriate exchange rate, recorded in the Ledgers in 1948 U.S. dollars.”
“Why 1948 U.S. dollars?”
“Why not? Can you think of any reason to use any other currency?”
“Why not Polish zꬷoty?”
“If you had designed the system, would you have used zꬷoty?”
“Probably not, but could have.”
Dot squinted at Aaron. “In point of fact, Mr. Pietraskiewicz, it is a moot point since neither you nor I were consulted on the matter, and those who were chose 1948 U.S. dollars as the currency of record.”
“What if I simply don’t want to use 1948 U.S. dollars?”
“What did you do about mosquitoes?”
“Mosquitoes. Neither you nor I were consulted about whether to include mosquitoes in Creation, were we? But there they were, and I don’t recall anyone ever having the option to say, ‘Oh, I just simply don’t want to deal with mosquitoes.’”
“Fine,” Aaron said conceding that Dot had a point. “So what do I do about the dollar forty-nine?”
“You stay here until you can balance your account. While you are here, you will be assigned work to which you are suited.”
“And I’ll be paid for my work?”
“Of course not. What would be the point?”
“To get the dollar forty-nine that I need.”
Dot shook her head. “You’re looking at it wrong. The dollar forty-nine is not a currency, a medium of exchange, a quid pro quo. In this context, it is more a measure, a scale of the relative magnitude of what you need to accomplish.”
“And just what is it that I am expected to accomplish?”
“You must come to grips with the reality of being created and the meaning of your creation, and you must ready yourself to enter into the presence of the Creator.”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“No offense, Mr. Pietraskiewicz, but that is why you have one foot firmly planted in the ‘stupid’ group.” Dot smiled at Aaron. “This whole process would have been much easier for you had you taken time to consider those things while you were alive.”
“You will attend both group and individual sessions in which you will review your life, day by day if necessary, to confront those issue which you need to confront.”
“So what, I have to go back and correct the things I did wrong?”
“No. For better or worse, what’s done is done. Now you must see the damage you’ve done to yourself and shed any reservation about what you are truly meant to be.”
“And then what?”
“When you have performed your due diligence, and you have prepared yourself so that you are ready to proceed unencumbered by the past, you pass into the presence of the Creator, into what you have always called heaven.”
There was a commotion behind Aaron. He turned and saw a crowd of people surrounding the man in white who had initially greeted him and who had handed him the survey. Instead of handing out clipboards, the man in white was supervising the passing out of boxes of pizza, one which he grabbed and hurriedly brought over to the older woman waiting in line behind Aaron. He gave the woman a big kiss.
“It was indeed ‘Duffy’,” he said with a big smile on his face. “The catcher for the ’69 Mets.”
Aaron really wanted a piece of that pizza, having never in his life found a pizza that he didn’t like, and hoped that there would still be some available later, but he judged that his conversation with Dot was a priority, so he turned back to her.
“Is this all going to take a long time?”
“Hard to say,” said Dot.
“It’s not anything like what I expected, you know?”
“And what did you expect?”
“I don’t really know. As you pointed out, I didn’t spend much time thinking about it.”
“Then it can’t really be too different than what you expected, can it?”
“I mean seriously, what was I supposed to think? There were like thousands of different ideas of what this was all supposed to be about, and everybody thought their idea was the right one, and all of them were a little flawed, you know? I grew up with the heaven-hell thing, and you were supposed to be good or you went to hell, except that nobody, it seemed, went to hell. I had an uncle, a real bastard of a guy, never knew him to be sober, he treated his family like they were rats in his pantry, and his brother, my father, told me stay away from him, yet when he died, all I heard the priest say was that he was at peace, that he would looking down on his family from heaven, and someday we would all be re-united.”
“Would you rather that he was eternally tormented in hell?”
Aaron had to think about that for a moment. “Not my call,” he concluded. “I guess I personally don’t really have anything against him.”
“You will learn to weep for your uncle. He was fashioned as a thing of beauty, but was blinded by his own ego, and was marred by cruelty and lies of others.”
“So he’s in hell?”
“He’s not here, is he?”
“Don’t tell me he’s in heaven.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Can’t and won’t, but I wouldn’t if I could because I shouldn’t so I don’t.”
“You don’t really want to talk about it, do you?”
“So why are you here?”
“You seem like a nice person and everything, why are you still here?”
Dot stayed quiet for a while, seemingly measuring her response, or perhaps deciding whether to respond at all. Her brow furrowed, and her lips twitched.
“My sister,” she said after a bit.
Aaron said nothing, allowing Dot to decide where the conversation should go.
“I was engaged to a man with whom I had fallen deeply in love,” Dot said. “I thought my younger sister’s offering to entertain my fiancé while I attended to the maelstrom of details in the weeks leading up to the wedding was a kindness. A week before the wedding, I was devastated to find that they had boarded a ship together and sailed to Europe. A letter from my sister said she was sorry but that it couldn’t be helped, and she expressed the hope that someday we would all be friends again.”
“Yeah. It was the shits.”
Aaron raised an eyebrow. “That is one of my questions, by the way. Can you say ‘shits’ here?”
“Well, no. Unless of course it is the appropriate word for the situation, and that particular situation was the shits.”
“People don’t appreciate the power of words. A guy walks into a deli looking for pastrami and there’s no pastrami and he says ‘Boy, that’s the shits,’ but it’s not even close. No pastrami? So what? Move on to the corned beef or be bold and try some head cheese -- it’s not the end of the world. Saying it’s the shits when the deli is out of pastrami weakens the word, robs it of it power to elicit the gravity of a situation, turns a saber into a pool noodle.”
“And that would be the shits.”
Dot’s eyes met Aaron’s and her expression brightened. “Exactly,” she said, and smiled. For the first time in their conversation, Aaron did not feel the practiced bureaucratic condescension of a church secretary but rather a moment of genuine connection, like when you find out that the woman you’re having dinner with hates kale as much as you do.
“So you still haven’t forgiven her?”
“Actually I did. It took a while, but I got to the point where I wished her no harm and hoped that she was doing well. We never did become friends again, and the fact that they lived in Europe made it easy to avoid having to test the depth of my forgiveness, but in as much as I was capable, I forgave her, yet I was never able to shed the anger I felt at the injustice I perceived was done to me.”
“You’re still mad at her?”
“I’m still mad at God,” Dot said quietly. “I have spent my time here coming to grips with how that anger robbed me of so many opportunities in my life, and it is that anger that prevents me from passing on. I must learn to release its hold on me.”
“How do you do that?”
“Don’t know yet,” Dot smiled sadly, then sighed and closed Aaron’s folder and put it back in the bankers’ box from which it had come. “Perhaps I’ll discover a way in my next group session. As for you, you need to report to Room 6 where you will meet the counselor in charge of your case and be given your orientation.”
“Where is Room ... oh cool, I suddenly just knew how to get there. It just popped into my head. Is that the inspired knowledge thing?”
“Infused, not inspired, knowledge, yes.”
“So why doesn’t the word ‘infused’ infuse itself into my head?”
“Well,” Dot folded her hands in front of her on the counter assuming a more formal demeanor again. “First, technically there is no need for you to know the right term, so it’s not given to you, and second, you’re stupid, and there’s not much you can do about that.”
“Geez, are you ever nice to people?”
Dot shook her head no. “Meet me in the breakroom after your orientation and I’ll buy you a coffee.”
“Hey,” the older woman in line behind Aaron called out. “You two ever gonna wrap it up? My pizza’s cold and I could use something to drink.”
“A drink is on its way as we speak,” Dot answered, then turned her attention back to Aaron. “They are waiting for you in Room 6. Hurry along and I’ll see you later.”
“So if you’re never nice to people, why are you being nice to me?”
“I’m not. In fact, I lied to you -- the coffee is free.”
“You still gonna meet me?”
“Don’t know. Maybe it’s all part of the plan.”
“I hope so.”
“Move along,” Dot said sternly, but Aaron was sure he saw just a hint of a smile. He backed away from Dot’s window smiling, keeping his eyes on Dot, waving if he thought she looked his way. His reverie was interrupted when he back into someone. He turned and found himself in the towering presence of the woman in green, her hands on her hips, the tails of her dress flowing about her seemingly like menacing serpents. Her left arm shot to out to her side and a sharp finger pointed in the direction of Room 6. Immediately, Aaron was given to know that he was late for his orientation session.
Author’s Note: This work is a highly speculative and whimsical imagining of eschatological matters. The reader should not believe a word of it. If, however, it gives one pause and raises any question about what we Catholics do believe about the afterlife, The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a less silly explanation here.