The Death of Samuel
A Short Story By: Peter Thomson
Last Thursday evening, Death came knocking at Samuel's door. Okay, so it wasn't actually Death, and he didn't bother knocking. It was more like the paranoid schizophrenic who lived across the way had marched purposefully across the street, clad only in a pair of thick woolen socks and had kicked down Samuel's front door. Samuel, who had been watching How I met your Mother in his boxers in the adjacent living room, had rushed into the front hall to see what all the fuss was about. He had received six bullets to the chest for his effort. His last thought before his soul slipped into the black void of death was that he should have put on pants first. It would be very unseemly to be caught romping about in the nude with another man in his front hallway. What would his dear old grandmamma say? Samuel groaned inwardly and urged death to take him quickly. He did not want to have to live this down.
Samuel awoke only to be blinded by an intense flash of bright light. He let out a violent swear and sat up sharply. He blinked furiously and looked about. He was in what appeared to the foyer of an ornate hotel lobby. Everything was made completely of pure white marble. In front of him, a squat, red-faced man with a thick white beard was sitting at a desk eating a bowl of French-fries like they were going out of style. Samuel felt a slight breeze around his nether regions and looked down at himself. He was dressed in a long flowing white robe that clung unflatteringly to his flabby man-curves. Samuel sat there, wondering how he had gotten there and why he was wearing these ridiculous cloths. It was then he looked up and noticed the faint golden halo above the other man's head.
"Oh Christ. Those crazy fuckers where right." He took a moment to make sure his scanty robes where covering all the necessary places, no point in being exposed in the afterlife as well was there? Samuel walked over to the desk, his bare feet slapping on the cold marble. He placed his hands on the desk. The other man didn't even look at him. He just chewed his fries more vigorously. "Excuse me." Samuel said. The pudgy man gave one final exaggerated chew then swallowed.
"Need something?" the portly man asked, throwing back another handful of the golden-brown sticks.
"I… I think so," Samuel stammered, tugging at the hem of his robe. The man let out a heft sigh and disappeared under his desk. He emerged a few moments later with a hefty tome. He threw it onto the desk with a thump. He pulled it open and a cloud of dust came spilling out, causing both men to cough.
"Samuel Brachman?" The man asked, coughing.
"Yup," Samuel replied, "What's it to you?" The man coughed again and puffed out his chest importantly.
"I'm Saint Peter. It's my job to know these things."
"Mhm." Samuel said, scratching his buttocks. Saint Peter rolled his eyes.
"Oh, another doubting Thomas, huh?" Saint Peter closed the tome and looked Samuel directly in the eyes. "Name: Samuel Brachman, Born December 1st, 1962. Died August 3, 2012. Cause of death, six bullets through the chest from a homicidal streaker."
"Okay, I get it. You're omnipotent and shit," Samuel said, going scarlet. Peter treated him to a wicked grin.
"Basically. You're in heaven now, champ."
"No shit," Samuel muttered. Peter gave a dry laugh,
"What gave it away? The color scheme?" he sighed, "The Almighty doesn't even let me decorate my own office. Luckily, my personal angelic choir is on break today." He covered his face with his hands. "I swear if I hear Dona Nobis Pacem one more time, I'm going to kill a cherub."
"Angels go on break?" Samuel asked. Peter looked at him indignantly.
"Of course we go on break," the archangel spluttered "what do you think this is? China?" Samuel grunted in amusement.
"Okay, so I'm dead," Peter nodded, popping another fry into his mouth, "and I'm in, what, the waiting room of the damned?"
"If you were damned, you'd be a hell of a lot more uncomfortable," Peter chuckled at his own bad pun. "Anyway, enough of the chitchat, I'm a busy man, and we need to get your immortal soul sorted out," he flipped through his ledger, "well, you have enough mass attendance, so you dint have to sit through purgatory-"
"Enough mass attendance?" Samuel blurted out "I was a CEO kind of guy. Christmas and Easter only." Peter shot him a look that would cause a cherub to slink away to his rainbow and cry bitter tears for the rest of the night, and if the Heavenly Gatekeeper's reputation was anything to go by, he probably had. In fact, there was one cherub, Shelby, who had spilled a bowl of Peter's prized French fries. The scowl she had received transcended any that had been seen before, in heaven, hell, or any of the countless realms between. This glare had been pure art, with the muscles in the archangel's face contorting in order to convey his utter contempt and loathing of the unfortunate being that had been unlucky enough to choose that night to break into her personal brandy store and thus impairing her balance, take a spill at Peter's feet. Poor dear can still take liquids, I'm told.
"As I was saying," he continued his voice as cold as the breeze that played about Samuel's manhood, "you, boyo, get to pick out of the crystal jar." He reached down under his desk and pulled out what appeared to be an ordinary china teapot filled to the brim with folded slips of paper.
"Wasn't the jar supposed to be crystal?" Samuel asked as he eyed the vessel.
"Budget cuts. Paul got elected to accounting. He's an asshole." Peter shook the jar at Samuel. "Now, pick!" Samuel reached into the jar. He felt around for a minute, the paper rough against his hand as he wormed it about the pot's innards. His digits closed around one of the scraps and he withdrew it. Unfolding it, he beheld the word "Reincarnation" scribbled in red crayon on the surface of the parchment. He held it out for Peter to see. The archangel roared with laughter, his sides heaving with the force of his lusty guffaws.
"Oh this is perfect!" He managed to gasp between laughs, "I have just the family for you." He flipped open his book and began to read aloud; "Martha and Tidus Biddle, fifty-two and twenty-one respectively. There due for a boy any day now. Possible names include, Keith, Jamaal, or Betty-Sue."
"Betty-Sue?" Samuel squeaked, "Who on Earth would consider the name Betty-Sue for their own daughter, let alone their son?" Peter treated him to a grin that brought to mind a wolf beholding a particularly lame rabbit, who had been stricken with narcolepsy, swine-flu and just as one more big "fuck you" from the universe, spontaneous erectile dysfunction.
"The Biddle's apparently. They're rather eccentric, as I'm sure your about to discover."
"Oh this is just a great, steaming pile of horsesh-" Samuel's final utterance was cut off abruptly as his essence was sucked into the nether, and stuck in the womb of a laboring woman who didn't believe in hospitals or doctors, or really hygiene in general for that matter, ready to undergo that messy process that is birth.