Loser at St. Petra's Gate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Maybe in other worlds or dimensions, our actions are viewed in a very different way than we view them here...

Submitted: September 08, 2019

A A A | A A A

Submitted: September 08, 2019



Loser at St. Petra’s Gate 

by Colleen Jiron

“I’m going to disappoint you. But you know that already. So just find my account and let’s get this over with.” I scowl at the placid old crone across the white fence. “Where’s St. Peter, anyway? Isn’t he supposed to meet me here?” 

She tilts her head, regarding me with exasperating patience. “Business is booming, what with all the wars and hate crimes. I’m helping my brother out.” 

Great. Just my luck. A feminist at the Pearly Gate. “Whoa, do you have any experience at this? Do you understand I got tossed into this muck of a life with way more expected than I could possibly deliver?”

 “Who says you didn’t deliver?”

I flinch. “Just one obstacle after another. I could never win.”

“You think you never won?”

“A string of wild goose chases after sawed-off dreams and false prophets.”

“Perhaps you had no need of prophets.”

“I… wait. Huh?”

“I’m just saying. Perhaps prophets had need of you.”

“Very funny. Ha ha. Maybe you should consider doing stand-up comedy.”

“Or we could both sit down.”

What the Hell. I am tired. Beyond tired. Utterly drained. How can I feel so damn tired from just being dead? I groan and sink to the ground. 

Petra kneels down beside me. “Death is tiring. Dying takes more energy than you know. Metamorphosis and all that.” 

I drop my head to my hands and sigh. I am prepared for some reckoning, but not by this old grandmother. She makes me feel embarrassed. And worse. Defeated.

“And yet, you are Beloved.”

A grandmother mind-reader? It's all too much. Adding to my humiliation, I break down and start to sob, “Oh, for God’s sake!” 

“Yes, exactly. Who else would it be for?”

“You know I don’t believe in any of that religious hype! A bunch of crap, peddled to miserable suckers who got the short stick,” I sneer. “Jesus? Buddha? Mohammed? Where are they when we need them? Have you SEEN what’s been going on the last few eons?”

“Right, well, I see things a little differently. So…how have you disappointed me?”

I cough and wipe my face on my sleeve. “It’s all in your paperwork. Couldn’t hold onto a job, wife left me for a rich guy, my kids think I’m a nobody, no real success to speak of. My lousy father called me a ‘waste of oxygen.’ Maybe he was right.”

“Actually, there are more credits in your account than you might think.”

I cross my arms and scoff, “Uh huh. Care to enlighten me?”

“Well, yes, now that you mention it…but first let’s look at the list.” She reaches down and picks up a pair of those hippie eyeglasses that just appeared and sets them across her nose. Then she pulls a clipboard out of thin air and begins leafing through a tall stack of papers. “Here’s what I have, just to start off.”

I sigh again and brace myself for the worst. Years of failure have taught me well. This might go easier if I just start confessing.

“I know, I know. I had trouble keeping up in school after I caught pneumonia as a kid.”

“I see that – yes – you walked the neighborhood in pouring rain until you found your brother’s stolen bicycle.”

I’m thinking back through my “transgressions.” “And I helped my buddies cut a teacher’s brake line.”

“I see that, too, uh huh…Warned the snarky reading teacher about that cut brake line and got beat up for being a snitch.”

Might as well spill all of it. Actually, confessing feels kind of good. “My dad was a drunk who figured my mom and sis shouldn’t eat too much, so he always gave me extra.”

“Right. Says here you split your share of meals with your mother and kid sister when your drunk father wasn’t looking.”

Nothing seems to shock her. “I never finished high school. Became a drug dealer.”

“Um hmm, you dropped out of school to start dealing drugs to help your mom pay the rent.”

“Best job I ever got I just didn’t show up.”

“According to the record, you gave that job to your best friend whose girlfriend was pregnant.”

Getting to the big stuff now. “I’m a thief, too. Stole meds from the VA.”

“Check. Stole painkillers from the hospital and gave them away for free to Vietnam vets whose claims fell into the VA’s paperwork abyss.”

“I used to get underage girls to give me their real names and phone numbers, then I ratted them out.”

“Says here you discovered teen runaways’ real names and got the social worker to hook up with them.”

What is going on here? I wonder. She really does have a weird perspective on things.

Petra continues. “Let your ex-wife keep everything when she moved to – hmm, I see you cradled an injured dog in a snowstorm until he died after the hit-and-run driver took off. Animal kindness is bonus credits.”

A blank white screen appears in my mind’s eye, and I see all those vignettes, and lots of others. The clips stream by like a YouTube review. Sure enough, there I am. Dirty, disheveled, cold and hungry much of the time. 

“I was a no-count,” I tell her. “A loser. Upstanding citizens would cross the street to avoid me. A low-life.”

“Hmm,” she peers at me over the glasses with the brightest eyes you could ever imagine. “More like a Real-Life. Here’s how my report will read:

“A man who never hid behind denial. Check.

“A man who never shied away from harsh realities. Check.

“A man who never grabbed all he could for himself. Check.

“A man who never lied if he could help it. Check.

“A man who never skipped a chance to be kind and generous, even to weaklings or jerks. Check.” 

I admit I am a little surprised to hear her say, “jerks.” 

She goes on. “A man who continued fighting for people even when they were ungrateful or even cruel in return. Check.”

Her hand reaches into the air again and comes back with a Bible, which she opens to a dog-eared page titled “New Testament” and then holds out to me. “Does all of that remind you of anyone?”

I’m a little dumbfounded. Is this a test? I didn’t think there would be a test. How could I have studied? Maybe Hell is just one dumb test after another. Kinda like life, I laugh to myself, feeling stupid and a little bitter.

Then she smiles. Man, I can’t even describe that smile. It was like all the suns in all the universes flared and blazed. So I smile back, and the energy scorches through me. I feel my old shell of a self crack and melt and fall away like old paint. Then a burst of joy as wings sprout out of my shoulders and my heels. Every part of my being is singing with bliss. 

“There are lots of us wanting to welcome you,” Petra says. She reaches out a hand, and leads me through the Gate, up the path toward Home.

© Copyright 2020 Colleen Jiron. All rights reserved.

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