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It’s That Season Already

It’s That Season Already

Rays of sunshine peaked around fluffy white clouds as another day dawned at the gates. Herbert was on duty at the arrival desk providing for more vacation relief. Apparently St Peter was trying to get an afterlife.

The first shuttle of the day pulled up and a full compliment of arrivals disembarked. Herbert wasn’t sure but given that they all were wearing the same clothes, almost costumes really, he surmised they knew each other. Looking at the manifest he confirmed his suspicion.

“Yep, they’re all political consultants. That explains the plain grey suits and ties in what I assume is this years power color.”

The first person of the group stepped up to the podium.

“Hello I have been asked to be the spokesperson of the group.”

“Of course you have, What’s on your mind?”

“So, Are we correct in assuming these are the gates to heaven?”

“You are correct in assuming so sir.”
Herbert felt strange. He normally was not so formal. Perhaps it was the suits.

“Well, we are quite confused as to how we made it here?”

“Oh, why is that?”

“Aside from the fact that we are all political consultants, we also all basically committed suicide.”

“Well, as to the first part I can only say that is not immediate grounds for relocation to the basement so to speak. Unless you worked for Hitler, Mussolini or various other despots. I have a list here if you would like to check.”

“No, that won’t be necessary. We were not employed by any of those.”

“And as for the second part of your claim, I am quite certain you are mistaken. The shuttle would have taken you to a holding area to adjudicate the circumstances. Are you sure you all ended your lives?”

“Well not physically as such but we all gave up the will to live.”

“That’s not grounds for adjudication. But really; All of you? What possessed you to do that.”

“Well, it was quite a lot of things but mostly we were all tired of not being listened to.”

“Yes, that’s right,” the group shouted in unison.

At this point individuals began stepping forth to add their own voices to the discussion.

“It wasn’t like our advice was hard to understand,” said the average looking one in a suit.

“Yea, it was in plain language,” said another indistinguishable one in a suit.

“Yes,” said another one looking like, well you know the drill.

“We even put it on a flash card around their neck so they could consult it whenever they were asked a question,” added the spokesperson.

“Sounds like a good idea,” replied Herbert. “What did it say?”

“It says and I quote “Whatever you’re are thinking, don’t say it.”

“And that didn’t work?”

“Oh no, They just laughed and proceeded to insult every voting demographic that exists. Some of them we didn’t know existed until they expressed their rage.”

“Yea, And we had to clean up the mess,” shouted another, uh, nondescript arrival.

“Sorry to hear that but that is no longer your concern so you can all relax. I do have one question if you don’t mind?”

“Oh sure, you’re the gatekeeper by all means.”

“There is one gentlemen that kinds of stands out over there in the back.”

“Oh, Harry?”

“Is he the naked one covered in rather large bandages?”

“Yes and those are bumper stickers. He lost his mind before he lost the will to live.”

“You don’t say. What caused that?”

“Oh, the bumper stickers I supposed. Those were his clients last request before he just lost it.”

“What do they say?”

“The candidate apologizes in advance for anything offensive he will say soon”

“That would do it.”

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The Further Adventures of Herbert the Celestial Assistant: Death Is a Card

The Further Adventures of Herbert the Celestial Assistant: Death Is a Card

     Herbert was flying solo today. St. Peter was convinced that Herbert could handle
the gates while he was away so he left for vacation while the getting was good.

With the exception of a guy who died while eating kielbasa, the job had been pretty standard so far. Herbert was perplexed as to how the man could actually bring his sausage with him. He was going to have to ask St. Peter about that when he returned.

Fortunately he was able to convince the man he did not need food in heaven. The waste management issue would be a nightmare.

He promised him they could give a coat of lacquer to what was left of his kielbasa so he could have fond memories of that special day…that he died.

     At the moment there was no action at the gates so he got back to the crossword puzzle that had been taunting him ever since he picked it up off the greeting lectern. St Peter had said it was left on the shuttle by someone newly departed. He regretted he had not bothered to ask how someone could take anything with them. It would have solved the whole kielbasa mystery.

Herbert was stuck on the same clue that had stumped the previous owner.

Across

13.      A four letter verb meaning to harvest, garner, gather or bring in.

He knew the answer lay somewhere in the recesses of his mind. He just needed to ruminate and let it come to him.

     Ahem. Excuse me.

“Hmm , that was strange,” thought Herbert. He could have sworn that italic words had just flashed across his vision. He looked up and saw a familiar figure standing in front of him. He looked like death with a capitol D. Death. The grim reaper. Um, sorry I did not hear you coming.”

     Oh, they never do.

“That’s funny. There go those strange italic words dancing across my eyes again. Wait, was that you?”

     Unless you truly experienced the 60’s that was probably me.

“Wow, that’s pretty cool. Um, you’re not here for me are you.”

     I get that a lot.

“What, the cool bit or the “your not here for me” part?”

     Yes

“Oh, ok. So what brings you here? Is this a customer service followup to see how your victims, um, customers have been treated at this end?”

     No, I am here for me.

“I don’t understand. Are you dead? Are you saying that Death has met its maker, or that Death is here for the final round up or in modern terms his warranty has expired and did not see the cost effectiveness of spending money to extend it?”

     Well, yes but I am not sure that last analogy works. It’s a bit wordy.

“Yea, I just came up with it so it’s bound to have a few kinks. I didn’t know that Death itself/(himself/herself ?) had a limited run. I thought your stage lights were never dark so to speak.”

     That analogy is not bad. Yes, well this is new to me also. I was looking for the nearest Starbucks and got lost. The next thing you know I’m here.

“You got lost looking for the nearest Starbucks? Come on no matter where you are there is Starbucks just around the corner.”

Not in Topeka Kansas.

“Oh. You have me there. This is awkward. Who replaces you?
Where do you go? Which shuttle do I call? You’re not even on my list. I have no idea how to handle this.”

     You mean St Peter left you in charge during his vacation and you can’t even handle this?

“To be fair this is an anomaly and … wait I didn’t mention he was on vacation. Are you winding me up?”

     I must confess I was have a bit of a laugh at your expense.

“What? You mean you don’t have anything better to do? Are you telling me that the Grim Reaper, Death, God’s Cleaner has nothing better to do than have a few grins at the expense of some heavenly flunky?”

     Ooh. I like that God’s Cleaner thing. Can I use it?

“What, oh, yea knock yourself out but lets not get off the subject. You must have better things to do while waiting for your next, um, service call.”

     No. This is it. I am trying to inject some humor into my life. Do you know what its
like to constantly be greeted by the words “Oh No Not You”.

“Well, there was this one girl…”

     That’s not the same.

“Ok, I’ll give you that. That is all they ever say?”

No. Every once in a while you get a blood curdling scream and let me tell you that’s not any better. I’m beginning to get a complex.

“What about comedians? They must be a little more original. Do they give you anything different?”

     For the most part, no. Certainly nothing to laugh at. They usually think going out on a high note is stating “this is the worst I’ve ever bombed,” but I see that coming a mile away.

“Yea, I can see that. So what’s next for you?”

     Oh, I go on doing what I do and wait for the next time St. Peter takes a vacation.

“You need some more material. Hang in there and try to keep your, uh, sickle up.”

     Ha. Now that made me smile. Thank you.

“No problem. My sense of humor grows on people.”

    Yes, kind of like mold. Well, I must be going. Good Bye.

“Good bye. Take care.”

“Hmm, let’s see, where was I? Oh yeah a four letter word for harvest or gather? Oh, “reap”. That works. Go figure.”

Dogs and Cats Living Together (Downtime for St. Peter Part 2)

Dogs and Cats Living Together (Downtime for St. Peter Part 2)

The hours had passed slowly at the Pearly Gates as Herbert tried to absorb as much information as possible from St. Peter before he took his vacation leave.

“Is it always this slow,” asked Herbert.

“It comes an goes. Sometimes the list is short and other times the list contains a gaggle of souls.”

“Kind of like a rush to judgement.”

“Cute. Keep your day job”

“I’m an acquired taste.”

“Yea, so is Sushi”.

Just then a shuttle arrived with a lone passenger.

Peter checked the list and prepared to greet a Mr. Acme. Hmm, that’s an unusual name. “Welcome Mr. Acme.”

“Mr?” queried the man.

“Having no surname what do you prefer,” asked Peter.

“I have always gone by The Acme Company,” replied Mr. Acme.

“The Acme Company. That seems a bit unusual. Are you an artist or a musician,” asked Peter.

“No. I can’t say that I am. What else would you call a global
conglomerate that provides a full spectrum of products ranging from Shampoo to Talcum Powder.”

“Top to Bottom,” injected Herbert. Peter gave him a look that said silence would have been a better option.

“Oh Oh. I knew this day would come,” said Peter.

“What day is that,” asked Herbert.

“The day that would bring a corporeal crisis of existential proportions.”

“What, dogs and cats living together?” asked Herbert.

“Nice movie reference. I’ll give you that one,” replied a slightly grinning Peter.

“See, I’m growing on you. What did you mean “you knew this day would come”,” asked Herbert.

“I have been waiting for this day ever since the citizens united decision,” groaned Peter.

“I still don’t get what’s going on,” replied Herbert.

“What we have here is a corporation that thinks it is a person,” answered Peter.

“Oh Oh,” uttered Herbert.

“But I am a person. The Supreme Court Says so,” replied Mr. Acme.

“Sorry Acme, the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction here and making big campaign contributions does not give you a soul,” explained Peter.

“Oh, so where should I go?” asked Mr Acme.

I am thinking bankruptcy court,” replied Peter writing something on an official looking card. “There seems to have been a major corporeal catastrophe. This requires a higher power. Give this to the shuttle driver and he’ll take you to the proper station.”

“What shuttle driver,” asked Acme as a shuttle arrived.

“You have a very short sighted approach to existence. Now that you have plenty of time on your hands you need to be more patient. Good luck.”

“Ok, Thanks for the advice,” replied Mr. Acme as the shuttle whisked him away.

“Wow. Was that the strangest arrival you have had here,” asked Herbert.

“There was one that came close.”

“Yeah. How so?”

“Some guy who showed up with a ‘nutter-butter sandwich.”

“That doesn’t sound weird.”

“He was half naked and called himself the king.”

“Yea, that qualifies.”

Downtime for St. Peter (The Further Adventures of Herbert the Celestial Assistant)

Downtime for St. Peter  (The Further Adventures of Herbert the Celestial Assistant)

Herbert was relaxing in the layover lounge (aka The Between Assignments Cubicle) and pondering the possibilities for his next assignment. He was a bit nervous as to what the future held for him. During his career as heavenly assistant he had worn many hats. Some had looked good on him and some had put him on Mr. Blackwell’s list.

He had been thinking about his very first task. It began as building hills but he was elevated* to head mountain builder. It seemed like yesterday but in heaven there really was no concept of time. His revery was interrupted by Solomon, no not that Solomon.

The truth was this Solomon was at the end of the line when the bucket of brains had run out. Rumor has it that tomato soup was substituted. Too bad a grilled cheese sandwich didn’t come with it.

“Time for your next assignment Herb,” announced Solomon.

“Could you call me Herbert? Only the big guy calls me Herb,” said Herbert.

“You mean God?”, asked Solomon.

“Yes of course. Is there another big guy?”

“Well no, but no one calls him big guy.”

“Oh, you don’t say. He doesn’t seem to mind.”

“Never mind that. You have your new assignment. It is only temporary though. You are vacation relief for Peter. “

“The heavenly gates Peter?”

“Yes of course. Is there any other?”

“Well there has to be. He can’t be the only Peter in heaven can he?”

“Probably not but lets not get exi, existen, uh deep. You are pulling relief duty at the heavenly gates”

“So Peter is taking a vacation?”

“Yep. He hasn’t had one since disco was popular.”

“Oh really. Did he have anything to do with that?”

“No and if he had any say it wouldn’t have ever happened. Don’t bring up leisure suits either. It will really get him started.”

“Um, Ok. So where does one go when you take a vacation from Heaven?”

“Colorado of course.”

“Makes sense, I did my best work there.”

“Here we are.”

“St. Peter this is Herbert”

“Nice to meet you Herbert. I’ll take it from here Solomon.”

“Right. Good luck Herbert”

“Thanks.”

“Ok Herbert. The job is pretty simple really. Here is the master list for today,” said Peter handing him a clipboard.

“A clipboard really? I was expecting something cooler.”

“This is heaven we don’t throw away what works. Pay attention Herbert.
Everyone on the list gets in. You will get a new list each day.”

“Everyone on the list gets in?”

“Yes of course. You were expecting that only the cool people got in ?
This isn’t a trendy New York nightclub.”

“I was looking forward to some judging.”

“Sorry to disappoint you but that has already take place.”

“Bummer. Must be depressing for you.”

“Not at all. Too much responsibility comes with that whole judging thing. So
back to the training part if you don’t mind. The enrollees will show up
periodically during your shift. You will ask them their name and check it
against the list.”

“What’s the point of a list if they all get in,” asked Herbert.

“Because from time to time there will be an error in routing.”

“Oh, kind of like an airline losing your luggage.”

“No, it’s nothing like that. So, are you always a smart ass?”

“Yea, it’s kind of my thing.”

“Oh, ok. Well try to tone it down a bit. These folks have just departed
their corporeal existence and may not appreciate your brand of
smart-assery.”

“Sorry, I’ll work on it. What happens if they are not on the list?”

“You apologize profusely for the mixup and you ring this bell. Someone will
respond immediately to take them to their final destination.”

“You’re right, it’s nothing like an airline losing your luggage.”

“If they are on the list you give them this pamphlet,” said Peter handing
him a sheet of parchment.

“Parchment?”

“It still works.”

“Oh, yea,” replied Herbert as he read the pamphlet.”

So Your Dead. Now What?

“Catchy Title”

“Thanks. I came up with that myself.”

“Keep your day job.”

“What.”

“Nothing. Continue”

“Well. You give them a chance to read the pamphlet and then answer any
questions they may have.”

“I’m not sure I can answer any questions they have. “

“Don’t worry. As I said they are kind of numb when they get here and do not
tend to ask too many questions. Most of their questions will crop up at the
next weigh station. Those folks will handle it. Besides, I will be with
you the entire day and by the end you’ll be a pro. Don’t worry.”

“Ok, lets get to greeting.”

“Pardon?”

“You know. It’s kind of like being a Walmart greeter.”

“No, no it’s not. What did I tell you?”

“Knock off the smart-assery?”

“Yes. Please”.

The story continues.

*pun intended

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