Only God Knows

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 ONLY GOD KNOWS — “Hey, clean this clutter up!” John playfully kicked his roommate as he passed by a crumpled wad of paper, an errant sock and an uneaten half sandwich on a paper plate, right in the middle of the apartment floor. “God is coming over, and he told me he’d kick your ass if he sees the place in a mess.”

   Harry burst out laughing. “Who’s coming over?”

  “God.” I forgot to tell you. I met him at the Ferry last week. We got to talking, and now we’re bffs. At first I didn’t believe him when he said he was God, but when a pigeon actually landed right in his hand, I was convinced.”

  Harry looked at him with a mixture of disdain and pity. “So, when did you start snorting coke?” he asked. 

  “I don’t snort coke. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”

  Harry’s expression changed to one of alarm. “You don’t mean to tell me you invited a bum to our apartment?”

  “No, I didn’t invite a bum to our apartment. I invited God to our apartment. And you better help me clean the place up. In fact, you should clean yourself up, too. He’ll be here in less than an hour.”

   Harry sprang up. “John, you won’t have to be embarrassed by me when “God” comes. I’m leaving! Just make sure he doesn’t steal any of my stuff. And spray the place with Lysol when he leaves!” At that, he stormed out the door.  

  John grumbled as he realized that he would have to clean the place by himself, once again. It was unfair, since God knows Harry made most of the mess. He didn’t mind too much though, since he was excited by the prospect of having such a celebrity friend in his very own apartment! How many people could claim to be friends with God? John thought. He was sure it couldn’t be many. 

  About three quarters of an hour later, the doorbell rang. This is it, he thought.  He was momentarily disappointed that Harry wouldn’t be there to see his auspicious visitor, but then he shrugged his shoulders. Nothing he could do about the fact that his roommate was so stubborn. 

  John breathed in and out nervously before answering the door. There, in all his glory, was God! Well, admittedly, not so much glory. Jeans and a tee-shirt. No halo. But still. 

  “Hello, Father.”

  God gave John a hug. “You don’t have to call me that.  Just call me Greg.”

  “O- Kay. Greg it is.”

  God looked around. “ Where’s Harry?

  Harry had to… go somewhere.”

Greg looked disappointed. “ That’s too bad. I was looking forward to meeting him.”

  “Well, Greg, maybe he’ll be back later,” said John, but he didn’t feel confident in that possibility. 

  John and Greg sat on the sofa, clear of clutter, no thanks to Harry. They talked about this and that, ordinary things, and John felt more relaxed as they spoke. It almost felt as if he were speaking with an old friend, instead of the creator of the Universe . Or was it “Multiverse”? He’d have to ask, if he found the time. 

  “Hey, wanna see a trick?”Greg asked. 

  “Sure!”

   Suddenly, he floated in midair, and even flipped upside down before bouncing back down onto the floor. John gasped. 

   God laughed. “Sorry to scare you, John. I just wanted to prove I am who I said I am.”

  “I- I believe you, God. Greg. Your trick just startled me. A little.”

   Greg smiled wanly. Then he sighed. “The truth is, son, I’ve been feeling discouraged lately.  I don’t know how much longer I can go on.” 

 “No, please no, Father-God-Greg. If you’re discouraged, there’s no hope for any of us!”

  “I’ve tried so hard! It’s just not working. 

Think of how poorly people still treat each other.”

  “But where will you go? What will happen to us?”

  “I guess I’ll just dissolve into Nothingness, and the Earth will, too.”Greg shrugged. “Oh, well, I’ve given it more than the ol’ college try.” He paused. “Unless…

  “Unless what?”

  “Now, don’t rush me, John. I’m still thinking.” Greg screwed up his face in multiple contortions. Finally, he snapped his fingers. “I know! I’ll pass the baton to you!”

  “What!” Are you cra…I mean, I’m not worthy of such a distinction.”

  “Harry, then?”

  John started to laugh, but stopped when he realized God wasn’t kidding. 

  “Look, son. If you do this, I won’t be gone forever. I just want to take a much- needed vacation. Where on earth do you recommend I could stay and relax a couple hundred years?”

  “it would depend. Do you prefer beaches or mountains?” He paused, and stared at God. “Actually, what I really mean to say is: wait- what?”

   God chuckled. “I realize it seems odd for me to want a vacation,but why not? Keeping the Multiverse going for billions of years can sure take it out of a supernatural being. And by the way, I’ve befriended you as a man, but I can be a woman, too. I can be a cat, dog, frog…

  “Please, Greg, one shock to my system at a time.” Well, at least I know it’s a Multiverse,he thought.

  “But why are you  shocked, John? You didn’t seem so when we met at the Ferry Terminal.”

  “I don’t think I was fully aware how momentous this was when we first met. And now you’re asking me to fill In for you? How could anyone do that?”

  “I’m really not asking for much, son. Look, we’ll go to the heavens together. I’ll get you a temporary cloud, and you can sit there until I get back. When a prayer comes in, just answer it. The answers will come to you, believe me.”

  “How could I be sure the answers will come to me?”

  “Because my assistant Infanta will be whispering them in your ear.”

   “You have an assistant?”

  “Of course. A few, in fact. Couldn’t exist  without them.”

   John didn’t know what to do. He wished he had left with Harry. He thought he must be going insane. The idea that God wanted him to be his stand in, sitting on a cloud and answering people’s prayers, was overwhelming, even with an assistant or two. Also, too much of a stretch of the imagination. 

   He remembered how all this began. The day they met. He hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before, and felt grumpy the entire day. He admittedly made a huge mathematical error that could have cost the company millions if it wasn’t caught, and got chewed out by the boss. He bumped into people on the sidewalk, and got the stink eye. All in all, not the best day of his life. Then, at the Ferry Terminal, this guy sat next to him as they were waiting for the next boat to come in, and smiled. They got to talking, and John felt better. More energized, mysteriously happier And, yes, the pigeon really did fly into the man’s hand. But that was no reason to believe the man when he told John he was God! Nor was it a reason to invite what amounted to a total stranger to his apartment. John was sure there was a logical explanation for the “trick” Greg showed him earlier. Smoke and mirrors, most likely. Or something computer driven. 

   Greg interrupted John’s reverie. I’m sorry, John.”

 “What have you got to be sorry for?” 

  God looked sad. “I realize it was too much to ask of you to stand in for me for a couple of hundred years. I was forgetting that’s an awfully long time for you mortals. Besides, I had a mortal substitute for me once before.” He shook his head. “It didn’t go as well as I’d expected.” He made a face as if thinking hard, and suddenly brightened. “I have an idea! How about we go camping for a few days. I’ll protect you from snakes, bugs and other drawbacks, and you can bring the food.” Greg’s eyes lit up in anticipation. “It’ll be fun!”

  To John’s own surprise, he actually considered Greg’s proposal. Whoever   Greg really was, he seemed like a nice guy, harmless, if self- deluded. 

  “Would it be just the two of us?”

  “Well, I was hoping Harry might want to come along.”

  “I’ll ask him.”

  “Good!” Greg said. 

   As if on cue, the key turned, and Harry walked in. He looked awful.  

  “I thought you’d be out the rest of the day” said John. 

  “I thought so, too, but I started to feel sick. I think I have a fever.”

  “Well, don’t give it to me.” He paused. “Say ‘hello’ to Greg.”

  Harry looked at Greg, mumbled a half- hearted “hello,” and called John over to talk to his roommate privately. 

  John excused himself. He and Harry went to a corner to speak. “This the guy you say is God?” Harry snickered. 

   “Shh! Actually, I don’t really think he’s God anymore, but he is a nice, lonely old man.”

  “Well, I’m glad you’re finally coming to your senses. Now, excuse me. I’ve got to lie down.” Harry went to the sofa and stretched himself out. He covered himself with an afghan that was on the back of it. Greg walked over to him. “Sorry you’re not feeling well.”

   “Thanks.”

   “John and I are thinking of going on a camping trip for a few days. Maybe next week. Like to come with us?”

  “Thanks for asking. I don’t think so, though. I’m feeling pretty sick.”

  “Well, if you feel better by then, why don’t you come along?”

  “Ok. I’ll think about it.”

  Greg  patted Harry on the hand. “Feel better soon,” he said. 

  Harry fell asleep. He woke up about an hour later. John and Greg were talking and laughing. They were eating soup. 

  “Greg made it. Vegetable soup. It’s delicious; want some?”

  Harry was about to reply in the negative, but when he sat up, he felt a lot better. No longer feverish or queasy. He joined them.

  “You know, Greg, I think I will go with

you,” decided Harry. “Camping sounds like a good idea after all.” Greg smiled. So did John and Harry. John was glad he met God the week before at the Ferry. Or maybe not God. Maybe just  a nice old man. But since Greg made them feel this happy, did it really matter?

165 thoughts on “Only God Knows

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