He could see, ahead in the distance, the white luminescent glow of the Pearly Gates . “She didn’t need to get that mad,” he said to himself, “I could have cleared it all up in a second if she had just given me the chance,” He remembered hearing that ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ but he wasn’t scorning Candace, he was just teaching her maid, a pitifully naive and innocent nineteen year old, how to make full use of her birthright. It wasn’t as if he were in love with her or anything. He certainly had no intention of dropping an affluent mistress for a poor maid. As for the maid, she was only being hospitable in the temporary absence of her mistress. “Still,” he thought philosophically, “these things happen and it’s the innocent who get hurt”.
Almost immediately, he found himself standing before a desk. He had expected that the first person he would see would be St. Peter, but this person, although clearly an angel judging from the pale pink wings, was also clearly of the female persuasion, and gorgeously so. The thought flashed through his mind that heaven might offer more scope than just choir singing although he suspected that he wouldn’t get to spend much time here. His plan had been to have a really good time and, to repent of his sins just before the guy in the black cowl collected him. But, the best laid plans of mice and men. . . The angel looked up from a computer screen and said, “I’m Clarice, welcome to heaven.”
“You’re a girl.”
“Yes, more correctly, if you don’t mind, I’m an angelette in the Intake Department.”
“ Of course, there are angels and angelettes. You guys. What do you think happens when your mother and your aunts get here?
“I really hadn’t thought about it, to tell you the truth.”
“I bet you hadn’t. Just so you’ll know, heaven has guy angels and girl angelettes. Some prefer to take a line through duchess and countess to angeless. I prefer to go through rockette and majorette to angelette. I think it sounds better, besides rockettes and majorettes are cuter than duchesses.”
“Oh. I see. Where’s St. Peter?”
“He’s in charge of the department but with thousands of souls streaming in every day he can’t see everybody personally. I’m sure you understand.”
“I can understand that, but I’m having a little trouble with the angelette idea. Not that I’m complaining, of course, just surprised. By the way, you’re a babe. I bet the angels are fluttering after you all the time.”
“Thank you, Herbert, but let’s get on with it, shall we?”
“You’re a little early. When you were born we put you down for seventy, seventy five and you’re not quite thirty five.”
“Yes, cut down in my prime.”
“I suppose so. Now tell me what happened today.”
“Well, I knew that Candy, Candace, actually, but I called her Candy because she was so sweet, was going to be out for a little while but since Charles, her husband was going to be out of town for the week I thought I’d just surprise her when she got home. Which I did, but not in the way I intended. Anyway, when I got to Candy’s house, Andrea, her maid, let me in and took me to the den to wait. Just to be hospitable, Andy sat down with me and we chatted, making small talk to pass the time. Andy couldn’t help noticing that I was admiring her endowments. I wasn’t looking at her in a lascivious way but more like an art lover admiring a statue by Michelangelo. I had no more intention of doing anything with her than a museum patron has of fondling the Venus de Milo.”
“Why are you looking at me that way?” she asked.
“I was just thinking that you’re a very attractive young lady and that you must have a string of boyfriends calling you all the time.”
Clarice smiled faintly. She’d heard that line herself any number of times.
“I wish,” Andy said. “I don’t have any boyfriends. They ask me out, but I don’t know what to do with a boy so I always refuse. People say I’m stuck up, but it’s not that at all. I just don’t know what to do.”
“You poor girl. We can fix that. Sit over here by me and let me show you what to do with a boy.” I spoke entirely in the spirit of a helpful boy scout doing his daily good deed.
“Oh, would you?”
“She sat down next to me and the instruction began, something like teaching a child the ABC’s, if you know what I mean. Well, Clarice, Andy was a gifted student and the instruction was progressing nicely when Candy came through the door and completely misunderstood. She ran screaming into her bedroom and came back firing her pistol. And here I am, an innocent victim of misunderstanding.”
“I see,” said Clarice.
“I’ve been a victim all my life. People just don’t understand. It’s not my fault. Every one of my glands works flat out all the time, making gallons of hormones. You can’t win against hormones. Now, I’m not going to point fingers and name names, but who gave me those hormones? And did I have anything to do with my glands all being supercharged? No, I was born that way. If I’d been born with some crippling birth defect people would have said, ‘The poor boy, he must have a hard life.’ Well, I’ve had a hard life too. Ever since eighth grade moms have been calling my mom and telling her stories about me and their daughters. But did any of those moms reach out and offer a helping hand? Not a one. Of course, girls will be girls and not all daughters listened to their moms. When the daughters didn’t listen the moms blamed me. I’ve been a helpless victim of forces beyond my control, all my life.”
“So it seems. What do you think will happen to you now?”
“I guess you’re going to send me to hell.”
“There is no hell, Herbert. “
”That’s a relief. I was sure that Satan would be poking me with his pitchfork. But I can’t believe you’re just letting me off.”
“ Almost. You’ll just go to rehab and learn to think about something else.”
“Oh, that again. My mom’s youngest sister, Aunt Alice, was an exuberantly female doll with all the right parts in the right places. I’d admired her forever and when I was a teenager I’d go to her house every chance I got. One day I was talking to her and she said, ‘Herbert, you’ve got to think about something else.’ I just looked at her and asked her a simple question. She didn’t have an answer. Well, Miss Angelette Clarice, I’ll ask you the same question: Why? I was born with a gift for making girls happy. If I'd been born with a gift for piano playing, people would think it was wonderful if I practiced the piano every chance I got. But that wasn't my gift. As it was, I practiced making girls happy every chance I got. They liked it and I liked it. That was my special gift. So I ask you again, Miss Angelette Clarice why should I think about something else?”
“I can’t answer that question for you Herbert, but in rehab you’ll learn to answer it for yourself.”
“I thought you said there was no hell, but rehab sounds like hell to me. And just how long am I supposed to be there?”
“You’ll be there until you can answer the question.”
“That sounds like hell for a hell of a long time.”
At that moment, a large, imposing figure appeared beside Clarice. “Herbert, I’d like you to meet Satan. He runs our rehab."
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