17. Heaven and Hell

As I got off the elevator, I saw the name on the door: Godliness.

Looked to the next door on the left, and yep, there it was. The name on that door: Cleanliness.

The Godliness door opened as I reached for the knob. Expectantly, “Well?”.

“A definite improvement. Hardly seems a desperate joke at all.”

The Almighty seemed unsure if that was a compliment.

As we sat on our couches, he said, “I can tell you have a big question today. Throw it at me, brother.”

“Okay, Jeff. This is a big one: Is there a Hell?”

Mr. Godliness smiled. “Heavens, no.”

“That’s a relief. So there is no place for the ‘bad’ people to go? Everyone goes to the same place?”

“Why yes, they do. There is no punishment for the evil when they die. My Department of Karmatic Retribution tries to handle them right here in their lifetime. That’s when you still have a hope of turning them around and having them become the good people they were created to be.”

There was something a little suspicious about the way The Creator was answering this line of questioning. He seemed smug. Something seemed to be left hanging. I continued. “But sometimes bad people seem to go through their whole life without being hit by the Karma Bus. What’s that about?”

“Well there’s always a bit of a backlog, of course. There are a lot of bad people out there, and I’m afraid that Petbe, the Manager of that department, really isn’t all that imaginative. For example, they only had time to give Bernie Madoff a really bad ingrown toenail. Not their best work, but the prick does suffer with it.”

“Have you ever thought of assigning more help to the department? If there were ever a department that needs more help, that would be it – especially if there isn’t a …”

Then it occurred to me. The question I hadn’t asked. “Jeff.”

“YE-ESS?”

“Is there a Heaven?”

“Hell, no.”

“Holy shit! This is going to blow a lot of minds. I mean, this is the central tenet of most religions. You’re good, and you go to heaven. Think of all the people who will just stop being nice!”

The Almighty’s face clouded a little. “Just the assholes.”

“But this is what everyone is always brought up to believe. You’re a good person, you say your prayers, you give money to the church, you think holy thoughts. The ultimate reward is going to this place where you never have to work, feel pain, you’re reunited with old family members, old pets…”

“Hang on there, Paul. I should have made it clear. There is no heaven for people. There is one for dogs. I love dogs. I don’t call it Heaven though. I prefer ‘The Happy Hunting Ground’. Fields, hydrants, frisbees … as far as the eye can see. It’s a great place.”

I was in shock. “So dogs get eternal life, but people get … ”

“Eaten by creepy bugs, slugs and larvae. But that doesn’t happen until after you’re dead. I’m not a monster.”

The Bishop wasn’t going to like this.