by Solomon Tate
Farberman died on the table. It was just a routine appendectomy, but something went wrong. By the time they brought him back he had been dead for almost five minutes, well five minutes in this world. On the other side of the bright light there was no time. He said that he had met his maker. I wasn’t sure if I believed him at first, but he was convinced that he had spoken to God.
He said that he had floated down a long hallway into a white light and arriving on the other side, found himself standing in a conference room. There were four angels seated at a table mulling over the contents of a pile of file folders. “Name?”, one of them asked.
“Martin Farberman.”, he answered. A bell chimed, and the angels stood as the door opened. An older man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. He was dressed in a tie dyed tee shirt with a peace symbol emblazoned on it, faded blue jeans, and sandals. He sat at the head of the table.
“Martin Farberman, sir.”, one of the angels announced.
“Farberman, eh?”, the man repeated as he flipped through a folder handed to him by one of the angels. “Sit down, Mr. Farberman.”
“Where am I?”, Farberman asked as he sat across from the old man.
“Funny story.”, the man began. “It seems there has been some sort of mix up on our end.”
“It was Julius’ mistake.”, one of the angels shouted out.
“Yes.”, the man continued. “A mistake has been made. Who made it is irrelevant. What is important is how we are going to correct it.”
“A mistake?”, Farberman asked.
“Yes.”, the old man repeated, “a mistake has been made. We were expecting Marvin Faberman, and well to our surprise, we got Martin Farberman. Pretty funny, don’t you think?”
“I’m not so sure.”, Farberman replied. “You still haven’t told me where I am.”
“Oh?”, the old man questioned. “Haven’t you figured that out?”
“I’m not sure.”, Farberman responded.
“Well, let’s see.”, the man said. “You came via the tunnel. There was a bright light. You’re in a room with angels, and then there’s me. Where do you think you are?”
“Who are you?”, Farberman asked.
“I am God.”, the old man said. “Now to our problem.”
“Hold on a minute.”, Farberman interjected. “God is supposed to be wearing a long, flowing white robe.”
“Says who?”, God asked.
“But it’s so 1960s!”, Farberman exclaimed.
“Ya”, God explained. “The 1960s. That was some of my best work. Peace, love, great music, and some wonderful drugs. Not a bad decade at all. I thought you would have kept it going, but you threw it away on discos balls and cocaine.”
“Am I dead, then.”, Farberman asked.
“Well”, God replied, “that’s precisely the problem. “You are, but you are not supposed to be. You’re not quite deceased. You’re preceased. A premature passing. Sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes death arrives at the wrong address and sometimes an angel gets a little over zealous and poof, we have a problem. But I’m pretty sure we can correct it.”
“I hope so.”, Farberman said. “I didn’t know God made mistakes.”
“Really?”, God replied. “And why not? It gets pretty intense around here. The 1980s was a mistake. The banjo and kale, also mistakes. I don’t know what I was thinking, but we’ll have your problem fixed up in a jiffy. In the meantime”, God continued, “if you’re hungry the Ten Disciples Diner makes an exceptional spinach and feta omelet.”
“Aren’t there twelve disciples?”, Farberman commented.
“Well.”, God answered, “There was an incident some years ago, and we lost two. Bartholomew and Phillip, I think. We traded them to Asgard for Thor. We had to beef up our Rugby team for the playoffs.”
” And we needed an Allen key.”, Julius said.
“Right.”, God continued. “We had just received the new desks, and needed an Allen key to assemble them. There’s another mistake, the Allen key. Anyway, the two disciples are no longer with us.”
“Can I ask you something?”, Farberman queried.
“Of course.”, God answered. “Anything.”
“So many people are so unhappy.”, Farberman asked. “Is there some kind of secret to being happy?”
“You are a very confused species.”, God told him. “You spend so much time and energy moving around, looking for something that might make you happy, and all the while you just keep moving farther and farther away from it. You want to know the secret, its very simple. Do what makes you happy. Stop living your life with pretense and lies. Be the kind of person you want to be, but be kind and generous to others. And be nice to animals. All animals. And maybe get yourself a dog.”
“That’s it?”, Farberman asked. “That’s all there is to it?”
“Its never easy for your species to do. As simple as it is, you always seem to want to complicate everything. Its no wonder the other species want nothing to do with you?”
“Are there really other life forms out there?”, Farberman asked.
“Everywhere,”, God replied. “But you’re not ready for them.”
“Almost ready here, sir.”, Julius called out.
“Good. Good.”, God said. “Ok Martin, are you ready?”
“I guess so.”, Farberman said. “Is there anything I should do to make life better?”
“Listen to Motown and The Beatles.”, God said. “And spend time at the beach sitting in the sun and listening to the waves.”
The next thing Farberman saw were the faces of the surgical team leaning over him and looking quite relieved that he was back. He would tell that story over and over again, right up until the day he disappeared in the Portlands. I have no idea if he really saw what he said he saw, but I would like to believe it. Since he first told the story, I have consistently listened to Motown and The Beatles, and regularly headed down to the beach. I am hoping to prolong my trip to the other side of the bright light but when I do arrive I think I would like to try out for the rugby team.