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Suicide and Beer in the Choir Eternal.
Michael sat pensively sipping his beer. Technically he was on the job, but he wasn’t scheduled to work. Peter was busy today, so Michael agreed to cover his shift. Pete had done the same for him in the past, although Michael wasn’t sure if he owed Peter. They had known each other forever and had covered one another’s asses too many times to count.
Just as he thought that his beer was getting warm, yet another [client] stepped through the door. Michael sighed and pulled a blank form from under his desk. “If you would please sit down and answer a few questions, we can get through this process as fast as possible,” Mike said with a warm and reassuring smile. The man in turn smiled back, a little too widely for Michael’s taste.
The man sauntered over to the chair in front of the desk and sat down slowly. That’s strange, Michael thought to himself, he’s enjoying himself. You see, Mike was used to terror, confusion, and denial. Seldom did he see entertainment in his [clients’] eyes. Gratefulness, relief, and pious glee, sure. But not entertainment.
The gatekeeper decided to ignore this and continue on following the script that had been used for a millennium. “Name, please.”
“Liam McCoy,” the man replied to Michael’s query.
“Well, Liam, what exactly were the circumstances of your passing?” They had learned a few centuries ago that the term “death” was a little too traumatic. It had the tendency to launch already fragile people into hysterics.
Liam chuckled and pointed to the Michael’s beverage. “I wasn’t aware that angles could drink.” Michael blushed angrily and snatched the bottle away, hiding it beneath the desk. He closed his eyes tightly, made a mental note to tell Peter that he owed him a big one, and sighed. He repeated his question to the nuisance of a man that was increasingly a waste of his time. He could’ve been at Wild Bill’s for 3 hours by now, and had more to drink than a lukewarm, low-calorie beer.
“What were the circumstances of your passing?”
“Oh, I offed myself. Quite a show, really. You should’ve been there for the fireworks. Oh, and the doves at the end! Really, a spectacular production. Cost a s*** ton, though.” Oh lovely, one of those, the unfortunate archangel thought impatiently. Attention seekers, the lot of them. It was one thing to forcibly remove yourself from the mortal coil because of true suffering, it was quite another because you felt you weren’t the center of attention anymore.
He looked at Liam with thinly disguised distaste, the distinctive taste of disgust filling his mouth. He pulled another form from a special folder at the corner of his desk. He clicked his pen and posed as if to start writing. “May I ask why you took your own life?”
Liam looked up in surprise, as if the reason for suicide wasn’t particularly important. “Well, to put it simply, I was bored. Life just wasn’t very interesting anymore. I had done everything and seen everyone interesting. It wasn’t that I was depressed, I just didn’t have anything to do. Life lost that patina of new experiences that made it so novel. So I decided to see firsthand if there was an afterlife or not.”
Mike took a deep breath to calm himself. There were seven billion people in the world. A lot of them were starving, abused, or fatally ill. And here was this perfectly healthy brat complaining because he thought of his life as a toy that wasn’t fun anymore. But he had an eternity to perfect his ability to act calm and professional, even when unbelievably furious. That being said, he did have a vindictive streak.
He surveyed Liam McCoy, his half empty beer, the forms he didn’t fill out. A plan began to take shape in his mind. “I assume you know your options, Mr. McCoy.”
Liam smirked and said, “Well, since the nameplate on your desk identifies you as St. Peter, I’m going to assume that it follows in the Judo- Christian tradition as Heaven, Hell, or Purgatory.”
“Which do you suppose is your fate?”
“Hell. Isn’t that the penalty for the sin of despair?”
“It depends on the circumstance. Usually, no. If a person takes their own life, then they usually have a chemical imbalance in their brain that exempts them from blame. That or their lives are so heinous, that they see no other escape. Both are plausible reasons. You, however, seem to have been both stable and comfortable. Am I incorrect?”
Liam smiled bemusedly. “No, you’re right. Go on.”
Michael stared at him gravely for a time before continuing. “You have squandered a perfectly good existence and most likely caused the people around you great pain. Since you feel no remorse, I will prevent you from entering Heaven. On the other hand, you did none of this out of malice. You are not an inherently evil person, so I will not condemn you to Hell. I feel that Purgatory would be useless in teaching you a lesson. Besides these three, there is another option not typically thought of in this religion. Can you guess what it is?”
“Precisely. It is not done often, but I feel your situation warrants it. Have you heard of Angola?”
McCoy stared confusedly, “No, I haven’t.”
“It is a war torn, politically corrupt African country. The quality of life for most is horrible and its citizens have some of the shortest life expectancies in the world. To be sure, it is anything but boring. For the next thirty or so years, it will be your earthly home. I’ll see you in a few decades.”
And before the shocked suicide victim could object, he was gone.
Michael sat back, satisfied that he pulled off that dramatic ordeal flawlessly. He reached down for his beer and accidentally knocked over the can. After saying something that probably wasn’t very holy, he tossed down the blank forms to soak up the alcohol and then headed off to Wild Bill’s.