I was clipping my toenails when God called.
"Hey John, this is God, how ya doing?" He said.
"I'm sorry... um... this isn't John, this is Jason. I think you've got the wrong number."
"Wait, this isn't the pope?" He asked. There was a noticeable element of surprise in His voice.
"No. This is Jason. What number are you trying to call?" Giving the creator of the universe telephone assistance seemed like the least I could do.
"Well, the pope's obviously. You're not the sharpest pencil in the box, are ya, Jason?" I saw no reason for God to get snippy with me. After all, I was just trying to help.
"You know, it's that kind of attitude that made me lose faith in you in the first place," I responded, foolishly letting the first thing that popped into my head exit via my mouth.
Was I pushing my luck? I quickly scanned the sky for incoming lightning bolts.
"Oh no, Jason doesn't believe in me. I'm fuckin' shaking," He said sarcastically. "Do you know who I am? Do you have any idea? I'm God, baby. I'm the God. Not some bleeding statue, not some eight-armed elephant, but the actual Big Man Himself. I ain't some fad on its way out, pal. Not by a long shot. I've stood the test of time, and I'm still standing. All these David Koresh types come and go, but I refuse to budge. That's why I'm the King of Kings, the Real McCoy. I mean think about it, I'm bigger than John Lennon."
"Am I supposed to be impressed?" I asked.
"Let me put it this way -- millions of women worship me everyday. How about you? How many women literally get on their knees and beg for your forgiveness?"
"Well, uh... not many," I stammered. "In fact, it seems like it's always me that's apologizing and doing the begging."
"OK, there ya go. That's what makes you you, and me God."
I took a second to think this over.
"It can't be all that great being God," I stated.
"Oh? Why do you say that?"
"There's quite a bit of responsibility that goes along with that job title. I mean, you must have a lot of things on your mind. I would imagine you have very little free time."
"For someone who doesn't believe in me, you sure do talk about me like I'm real."
"Look, this all strictly for the sake of argument. Don't get excited -- it's not like I'm letting you into my heart or anything."
"Hey, don't worry. It's all good," God said. I think He meant it, too.
"Anyway, don't avoid the subject."
"The responsibility that goes along with your job," I replied.
"Oh, yeah. Well, to be honest it's really not as bad as you might imagine. Nature pretty much takes care of itself. Sure, there's always people blaming me for pestilence and famine and so on, but I don't let get it to me."
"So you don't take responsibility for the world's suffering?" I asked.
"No way. I'm God, the Benevolent Ruler. Pestilence and famine ain't my bag."
"You should tell that to the pharaoh and everyone else you fucked up with those plagues," I said quickly. Those two years at Whittier Christian Elementary School were coming in handy.
"Wow, I totally forgot about those," He said, chuckling under His breath. "Man, that really takes me back."
"So you admit that you might have something to do with the tragedies of history?"
"Yeah, sure, whatever," He replied casually. "It's all part of my plan."
"I'm not sure yet. Something pretty cool, though."
"Well, let's hope it involves dead babies and sick mothers, because they seem to be attributed to your plan quite frequently."
Suddenly, a bolt of lightning shot through my roof, striking my computer and rendering it completely useless.
"Sorry," I said quietly. "But you've got to admit, bad things do happen to good people."
"I'm not denying that for a second," He replied.
"And you've got to admit that the bible has been responsible for a lot of needless death and destruction," I added.
A few moments of awkward silence passed. It was God who ended up speaking first.
"Sorry about the computer, but it's about time someone smote that fuckin' thing. I see what you do on that Internet -- that really can't be good for you."
"Uh oh, God thinks I'm being naughty. I hope He doesn't put me on His list."
"You're thinking of Santa Claus," God said.
"Oh, yeah," I said, slightly embarrassed.
"Anyway, like I was saying -- that Internet isn't good for you. Between those BBS folks, and the IRC people, and all that pornography, you can get screwed up pretty damn quickly."
"Perhaps you're right," I said. "Say, as long as we're on this topic, is there anything you can do about spammers?"
"Don't worry, I've got something all worked out for them."
"Can you give me any details?" I asked.
"Oh, let's just say it involves rusty scissors, tobasco sauce, and some rubbing alcohol."
The excitement in His voice was almost frightening.
"Any Bactine?" I asked
We both chuckled softly.
"Look, I should really let ya go, Jason. I've got some stuff I got to do and I'm sure you're probably busy."
"Yeah, you're right. But hey, one last quick question, all right?"
"What would you say are my chances of getting into Heaven?"
"Assuming Heaven exists, right? For the sake of argument and all that?" God asked.
"Of course," I responded.
"Well, Jason, I'll tell ya. You just keep doing what you're doing and you'll be moving in the right direction. Just don't let anyone try to mess with your head. There's a lot of people out there who misinterpret what I have to say, so be sure to avoid them at all costs. They've got nothing positive to contribute to your life, regardless of what they might tell you. You'll also probably run into people who claim that they speak for me. They'll try to judge you and show you where you've gone wrong. Don't let them, Jason. Remember -- there's only one judge in the world, and that's me, and as far as I'm concerned you're doing just fine. You don't need to believe in me or to be afraid of me to have a sense of morality. You've clearly proven that. So, lighten up, because when it gets right down to it, I'll take a good atheist over a bad Christian any day."
I was stunned. What could I say to this?
"Thank you," I managed.
"No problem. I'll see you later, Jason."
And with that, He was gone.
Almost immediately after I had hung up, the phone began ringing again. Cautiously I lifted the receiver to my ear.
"Hi there Jason, this is Satan, how have you been?" asked the voice on the other end.
"I'm sorry, you've got the wrong number," I replied.
"Oh, is this 683-"
His question was cut short as I turned off the phone and returned to my toenail clipping.
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