After Grandma died, I sought answers to my questions regarding death in the little prayer books we were each given at Catholic school. Unfortunately, those few words I was able to sound out I didn’t understand, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.
“Sir, what happens when we die?” I asked my teacher, Mr. Detleif.
He pushed a withered hand through what hair he had left, saying, “Why don’t you ask him yourself, Walter?”
The thought had never occurred to me, that I could interview God myself.
I imagined sitting in front of a TV camera, God across from me in cool jeans and a sweater, casually taking a drag from a cigarette, saying something like, “You know, Walter, when I made you…”
That evening, after an unwanted bath, I sat on my bed in my favorite T-Rex pajamas with my hair combed and raised my hand above my head. “Sir,” I said. “If you have time, I’d like to set up an interview. I have some questions about death.”
I waited patiently for a reply, but He didn’t answer that night, or any night that week. In fact, it wasn’t until a weekend camping trip with my Dad that summer that I finally met God.
The figurines of an emaciated, bleeding man on a cross were the only real references I had as to what He looked like. So when I saw a broad-chested biker standing at a picnic table in between the pines, it caught me off guard.
He was staring up at the sun, dark glasses covering His eyes. There was a Harley nearby, propped up at an angle, the kickstand pressed into the dirt.
The engine roared to life as he swung his leg over and turned the key. Heat wavered like a mirage off the sheen of the metal.
“Are we still on for that interview?” I shouted over the jug-jug-jug of the motorcycle.
He smiled through His beard.
“Oh, I can’t leave my Dad,” I said, ashamed.
He seemed a little disappointed. “Well, just let me know when.”
I nodded and waved lightly as his back tire shredded pine needles and dirt, kicking up spirits of dust that twisted lazily in the heat between the pines.
Life continued, high school passed, college came, and as a young man, I found myself seeking answers at the bottoms of shot glasses and in dark corners of smoky rooms with girls I didn’t know. None of them called me Walter.
The second time I saw God was at a rave on Third Street, in an abandoned warehouse on the waterfront.
It was hard to see through the chaos of the crowd, but as far as I could tell, He had lost the beard and several pounds to boot. He still had the dark glasses, but was wearing a polo shirt and shorts, laughing with some sorority girls.
Among us sinners, God stuck out like a lion among the lambs.
Masses of writhing bodies blinked into existence underneath pulsing strobe lights as I pushed my way over to where God was.
“You still owe me that interview,” I shouted in His ear.
“When’s a good time?” He shouted back.
“After this song?”
God was already dancing.
I went home that night with a skinny girl who had a nose ring and an oversized shirt that perpetually slipped off one shoulder. She called me Walter and I called her Jess. We spent the remainder of college together and got married a month after graduation.
I got a job working as a reporter for a local newspaper, which I thought fitting. Jess told me she was pregnant three weeks after I started work.
I still don’t know where God went after that rave, but the third time I saw Him was in the hospital, a little over nine months of pregnancy later.
Jess was propped up in bed, hidden somewhere in the folds of her blue hospital gown, and I was standing, staring into the eyes of my little boy, sleeping in my arms.
“What’ll we call him?” I said.
“I like Max,” she said.
There was a knock on the door, and I looked up to see God peering through the entrance, a wrapped package in His hand. I motioned Him to come in.
“Jess, this is God,” I said softly.
They shook hands and He talked with her about childbirth and the price of sin and all that. Then He looked over at my son and me.
“He’s beautiful,” God whispered. “I think Max is a good name.”
“Do I finally get that interview?” I asked, grinning.
God sat in a chair at the foot of the bed and set the package on a nurse’s table.
“What do you want to know?” He said.
I opened my mouth to ask about death, and all of a sudden it seemed silly to interview Jesus’ Father about death while holding my newborn son.
God eyed me as if He knew what I was thinking.
I looked at Max and felt a rush of emotion ripple through me like waves, each one bigger than the last.
God stared at me, and I think I understood.
I thought He would go then, but He stayed, smiling and laughing with us, sharing in the beauty of life and the immeasurable joy found in love.
JT is a 21-year-old college student in Virginia who lives and writes in worlds of his own. His work has appeared in Nanoism, 365Tomorrows, thickjam, and 50 Word Stories, and soon there will be many more worth mentioning [here]. JT is a man of concision, and if he could extend this bio any more in good conscience, he would.
Lead image: “A girl winter portrait” (via Flickr user frestocks.org)
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