I was sitting in a “coffee shop”. It was a warm day and I’d decided on an “ice coffee”. It was underwhelming. I was awaiting one of my friends, who arrived promptly at 5.05pm. He was 5 minutes late. He looked dejected. His sullen face belied a grimace. I enquired as to the nature of his predicament.
“I found God, man” he said in a hushed voice.
I said, Isn’t that usually a reason to be raptures?
“I don’t think you understand. I actually found him. He was hidden away at the back of the video store…”
I stared in disbelief. He had clearly lost his mind.
“Don’t look at me like that man. Seriously, I’m not taking the piss here…”
The very first question I asked, and I have no idea why I asked this, was does he look anything like Jesus?
“No man, he doesn’t. Well, he does. And he doesn’t. It’s hard to explain… anyway, he was watching ‘Stigmata’ and-“
I scoffed at this, Stigmata? I interjected. Surely such divinity would watch a good movie?
“Well, that’s what I asked him. I just straight up asked him. I said ‘Man, why are you watching that? It’s pretty shitty…’”
You swore at God? I said, slightly bemused.
“Well, yeah. I did. I mean, I didn’t mean too. I sort of said it casually. Off the cuff, you know, the way you sort of do in general conversation?”
I asked him if he had bumped his head, because the whole story sounded mad. In response, he offered to show me. He said to me that he was eating popcorn. Apparently it was the toffee stuff…
“… and it was stuck in his beard man. Like he hadn’t washed it in a few days.”
I said that God wouldn’t have to wash. I’m sure he could think himself clean. I said it with a slight sarcastic tone. He chided me, said that it wasn’t funny. To this day, I still think it is.
We arrived at my colleague’s work place at 5.55pm. It was rush hour, thus extending our half hour journey slightly. We greeted his fellow work mates and I was lead to the back of the store. I’d never been behind the counter in the video store. It was slightly musty-smelling and contained shelves of DVDs and video games, all in plain cases with hand written labels on them. I was taken through a door on which there was a Tron poster, into a room which was lined from floor to ceiling with VHS. Clearly this is where they stored the obsolete media. At the back was a worn grey couch, a television (an old CRT number), and a DVD/VHS combo. I glanced in the corner and there was a man with a white beard, wearing a Journey t-shirt, a pair of khakis, and some sandals. His face was ageless. Old and wise, but free of any imperfections. He had kind eyes, which seemed to simultaneously echo your thoughts, and appear forgiving. What made them even more striking was that they were emerald green, and contained what seemed like a fountain of knowledge, eons deep. It was both everything I expected, and nothing that I expected.
“Hey man, how you doin’?” said the supposed deity.
I was stunned. Here was a man who had told my friend he was God. He might very well have been God, but I didn’t believe it. Surely his voice would boom? A Journey t-shirt? Khakis? Stigmata on VHS? It was a great paradox.
“Ah, a doubter, I see? I am afraid I cannot impress like my most well-known of sons. I have no ‘Stigmata’ for you to see and touch. I merely stand before you in a Journey t-shirt. Puzzling, yes? I know you are confused. Perhaps my voice should ECHO?”
The last part of the sentence echoed. Like a special effect in a movie.
Stigmata, really? I responded.
The man chuckled.
“Well, I see the future, you know. I chose the movie on the TV for a reason. Coincidence? There is no such thing…”
I was speechless. There was literally not a single word I could think of to say to this man. I was left with only my disbelief at the situation and my slight amusement.
He also had no popcorn in his beard.
“Ah yes, I ‘thought my self clean…’”
That floored me. I was convinced in an instant. I turned to my friend, who had a grin on his face a mile wide. The sort of shit-eating grin, that said nothing but “I told you so”.
We sat and talked for hours. We spoke about everything. Literally everything. My curiously was never satisfied, however, and I eventually had to ask the question of why he was here, and not doing this thing, up on high.
“Well, first of all, it is not ‘up’ or even on ‘high’. It is simply elsewhere. The place you call ‘heaven’ cannot be described, nor can it be above or below. It simply is. It is outside the very bounds of the universe in which you reside. It is really as glorious as you imagine. However, everyone needs a break. I decided to put on the slacks and come chill with a few movies and beers…”
This baffled me – couldn’t he do this in ‘heaven’?
“I know what you are thinking: why here? Well… why not? As one of your religious texts says ‘The Lord moves in mysterious ways,’ and I guess I do. You guys move through time, I just move around it. I came here because it has been ever so long since I experienced this ‘Earth,’ and this, your human realm. It is as fun as I remember. Where I come from, I cannot replicate it exactly because of all the, what you humans call, ‘joy,’ and ‘happiness.’ Here, everything is neutral and it was nice to come and experience that. Plus, your friend was right – Stigmata is rubbish, but I had seen it already. I just wanted to speak to a few people without guiding them, so to speak.”
This answered the question without actually answering it. Now I’d be the first to say that’s a strange statement to make, but it’s true. It was satisfying. I finished the last of my beer and decided it was time to go home.
“Hey, you guys want to see a cool trick?” said the deity.
Before I could even think of the answer I was at home, entirely sober and falling asleep. I realised I should go to bed before I passed out and collapsed on the floor and that’s exactly what I did.