Saturday, March 26, 2011
He shook his head and looked around again.
"You alright, buddy?" said the guy in the white uniform. A janitor or something.
"I think so." said Malcolm. "How did I get here?"
"Same way most people do." said the janitor. "What do you remember?"
"Driving late at night. Headlights. Blurring."
"Yep. Heard that one a million times." said the janitor. "Actually, a million two hundred and seventeen, counting you. I do this a lot."
Malcolm looked more closely at the man. Just a guy. Janitor. "What's this that you do?" he asked.
"Greet new arrivals." said the janitor. "I'm Amos. The prophet Amos, to be exact. I wrote one of the books of the Bible. Did you read it, by any chance? The Book of Amos, Old Testament?"
"Not that I recall." said Malcolm. "I mostly read the New Testament. Not as often as I felt I should have, but I was kind of busy."
"Figures." said Amos with a sigh. "Doesn't matter that much, I guess. You got here. That's what is important."
"Where is here?"
"Oh, yeah." said Amos. "This is Heaven. You died. Traffic accident. Driving tired is dangerous, you know."
"Apparently so." said Malcolm, looking around again. "It doesn't look like Heaven."
"Been here before, have you?" asked Amos, smiling.
"Well, no." admitted Malcolm. "But you know. Pearly gates, streets of gold."
"Oh, we got those." said Amos. "Different section. It was a very popular arrival point for the Victorians. No, the Boss likes to ease some of the post-moderns into the program. I use this alley, since I do a lot of my work in this area."
"The prophet Amos. Janitor?" asked Malcolm.
"What can I say? I like to keep the place clean." said Amos. "Come on, let me show you around."
He guided Malcolm out of the alley into a busy street. It looked a lot like most streets Malcolm had seen before on Earth. He mentioned that as Amos got him seated in a little utility vehicle parked near the alley.
"Well, people bring bits of their old lives with them when they come to Heaven." said Amos. "Some people feel especially comfortable in this section. They spend a lot of time here. A lot of time. Eternity and all of that."
Quite a few questions came to Malcolm's mind, but they got all bunched up and he decided to just wait and see what Amos had to show him. They drove down the street and turned left. Malcolm noticed a large hotel complex on the right and commented on it. "Looks restful."
"Yes, it is quite restful." said Amos. "That section is reserved for the folks that believed in the doctrine of the Sleep of the Dead. They believed that they would remain asleep in the grave until Christ's return. That's not the actual case, but the Boss had that place set up to receive them. They snooze away, awaiting the trumpet and all of that."
They turned down another road and Malcolm could see the streets of gold to his left. The Pearly Gates were just down at the end. There were quite a few people wandering around the street, admiring the gems and the glitter of the gold. "Victorians and some of the folk that got all into bling and such." said Amos, driving on by.
They drove past a huge theater. "That looks like an IMAX theater." said Malcolm.
"Yep. Story of Creation playing twenty four hours a day." said Amos. "Funny. Nobody got it right, so the Boss put that up to save time explaining. There is a coffee house around the corner where a lot of people gather to discuss the movie and their own theories they had while on Earth. Fun place, but I prefer it in small doses."
They rolled on down a road that led to what looked like Beverley Hills only far better. Mansions, huge mansions, stood by the thousands along tree lined roads running off into the distance. The architecture ran the gamut of styles. It was magnificent and overwhelming.
"Lot's of people expected those." said Amos. "The Boss actually meant 'rooms,' as in places to stay and do things, but the whole mansion as an edifice caught on and got so lodged in the minds of millions that the Boss ran with it. Of course, He foreknew all of that, but we don't want to open that particular can of worms right now. There's another coffee house dedicated to that whole 'predestination' thing."
"Quite a few coffee houses here, I suppose?" asked Malcolm, thinking about the vast history of religious and philosophical discussion that attended human culture on Earth.
"For sure." said Amos. "Of course if you are a serious scholar there is the Celestial Library. That's it down there. The big building made of crystal and other stuff. Shiny stuff. Lots of stone and wood and other materials, finely crafted by the best hands throughout history. Lot's of love in that building. I go there a lot. I even do some lectures now and then. That, and a lot of dusting."
"If it's Heaven why is there any dust?"
"Some people enjoy cleaning. Enough people cleaning so that the dust doesn't bother anyone who doesn't like it." said Amos.
He pulled the little vehicle over to the side of the road, in front of a pleasant looking structure. "Here you go, Malcolm. Orientation center. I would love to stay and chat, but I have a concert I want to attend." He offered his hand and Malcolm shook it.
"Will I see you again?" asked Malcolm.
"Sure. As often as you like." said Amos. "They will explain how, inside. Don't worry about the forms. You only have to fill those out if you like that kind of thing. Gotta go, kid. See you around!"
He pulled away into the light traffic. Malcolm looked around. All sorts of buildings, but it didn't seem crowded. Lots of people, too, but again no hurrying and no real crowds. A great many groups here and there, laughing and talking and often singing. The place seemed to go on forever.
He turned toward the open door of the orientation center. The bunched up questions in his mind began to fall in line. There would be time to answer them all, Malcolm realized.
Plenty of time for everything.