Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Evidence for the Defense #2

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" I'm your host for today. My name's Mr. Applegate. Please don't call me Satan. I'm a victim of circumstance.

Anne's off judging goats, and she's kindly allowed me use of her space. Well, I didn't exactly ask her permission. What a devil I am!

Today I'm going to tell you how I got this job. If you were here yesterday, you'll know that I signed a 10,000 year contract that is now in year 6005, and I don't plan to renew.

I was freelancing with a nice group of gods at a little, rocky planet in the Pinwheel Galaxy. We had a nice gig there. The natives looked something like your koala bears, but they made a sound something like your whipporwills -- only a little more complicated, since it had to be a whole language. I was their god of song and dance. As I say, it was a nice placement. But freelance.

Up comes this volcanic eruption and wipes out our whole praise and worship population, down to the last fuzzy little member. Put six of us gods out of work. And since I was freelance, I didn't get any unemployment or severance pay. Couldn't even collect unused vacation days, because when you're freelance you don't accrue paid vacation.

We were all really sorry to see those dear little critters go, but it only took one god to manage their heaven. One of my colleagues said his cousin was working in the Milky Way Galaxy on a planet near a star named Sirius. (And yes, folks, the inhabitants of that planet are watching you.)

I'd never been in the Milky Way. Heard it was nice. About that time I checked a trade paper and saw a classified for contract work, in the Milky Way. I thought that was a good sign, so I sent in my resume.

I got called for an interview. The planet was hard to find, but once I got good directions, and got close enough to see it, I could tell it was first-rate. Lots and lots of water, pretty cloud banks floating past, and no neighboring planets with inhabitants. Appealing.

I was somewhat surprised to find the little god-group that had placed the ad was actually offering a contract. Because there were only three of them: a Father, a Son, and a wholly awesome fellow called the Holy Spirit. I liked the Son and the Holy Spirit right away, even though they didn't seem to be taking an active role in the proceedings. Looked like the Father was holding them in the reserve unit. But that was okay. They were, well, just straight-up dudes with the kind of sweetness you look for in co-workers.

So the boss of the outfit shows me what he's done in six days, and I'm impressed. He's set up this gorgeous garden, like the biggest indoor flower show you've ever seen, on steroids, and he's got a cunning barrier around it that keeps out biting insects and man-eating beasts and even such pests as houseflies. I thought he was running some sort of eco-tourist experiment, to see how long something that stunning could sustain itself. I figured a 10,000 year contract is a safe bet, because in celestial terms that's not a long time at all. I've seen it take longer than that for some gods to fix their hair for a party.

I signed the contract and heaved a sigh of relief.

If you've ever been a freelancer, you know what an uncertain lifestyle it is. Always seems like you're either working way too hard or not at all. One or the other. And you never get paid as much as you should, and you keep telling yourself that the gods ought to get organized and form a union. But I digress.

My first morning at work, the boss says he's tired and tells me to go down into his creation and stroll around a bit, tweak it here or there if need be. He did give me express instructions not to monkey with the creatures that looked like him -- the six-foot-four-inch, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Man, and his five-foot-eight-inch, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Woman. Otherwise I was free to tootle.

So off to the garden I go. Yes sir, I was a happy camper. No rocks in this garden, and the food was luscious. Every creature was topping happy. And so was I. Until I saw the ones that I wasn't supposed to monkey with. (Please pardon the double entendre.)

The one named Adam, the Man, was sprawled in the grass, sniffing his armpits. He did that for about three hours, took a nap, woke up, pulled a few handfuls of grass, ate it, and commenced sniffing his armpits again.

The woman just sat against a verdant vine, staring off into space. I kid you not, she drooled. When she got hungry, she ate some vine. For about two hours she scratched the bottom of her feet. The sun went down and she fell asleep. She'd never moved from her spot.

The next morning, when I reported for duty, I said, "Um, boss, I know I'm new here, but. Um. Are you gonna do anything about the ones made in your image? Because they're dull as paste. They don't seem to appreciate what you've made for them."

That's when he laid out his Plan of Salvation for Mankind, and I knew right then and there I'd signed on with an amateur, someone who'd gotten some seed money somewhere without really qualifying for the task at hand. I mean, they've been using inclusive language in the god schools in the Pinwheel Galaxy for about 317 million years, and here he's talking about Mankind!

When he got to my specific role in the Plan, I asked politely if I couldn't just tear up the contract, seeing as how I'd only been on the job for a day. I said I wouldn't even ask for a day's pay, just release from the contract. Reasonable, don't you think?

Nope. I signed. I had to serve. That's how the boss is. Everything's black and white. No gray about this guy at all.

The boss pointed out the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil down in his garden and told me exactly what to do. I had to see that the Woman ate from it first, so that everything that went wrong after that could be blamed on her. (Of course, no small amount of blame has accrued to me over the millennia, but it was never my plan.)

So down I went, taking some solace in the shortness of the contract. I got the Woman's attention, no small task, and kindly suggested she try some of the fruit. She must have been tired of vines, because she ate three pieces. And of course, just that fast she became not only intelligent and discerning, but concerned about the vacant-eyed dude nearby who was smelling his armpits.

She took the poor cretin some fruit. He ate less than she did, but then he leaped up and announced that he had a taste for a fatted calf, he was off to find one! He fashioned a spear, girded his loins, and went hunting.

The Woman kindled a fire, wove some sleeping mats, gathered a nice bounty of plant matter for side dishes, threw some pottery so she'd have cooking vessels, cooked the side dishes, erected a shelter, and made herself an attractive little outfit. When the Man brought back a wildebeest, she skinned it, gutted it, cut it into manageable portions, cooked some, and dried the rest. In the meantime he'd returned to sniffing his armpits, but now he had the good taste to do it where she couldn't see him.

They invited me to stay, but I'd seen enough. I knew that a day or two later, the boss would come tearing down, accusing them of going against his wishes, and throwing them out into the regular ecosystem, which I found to be populated by tribes of people more or less like these two, being guided with various degrees of success by other gods.

Of course I took the fall for "The Fall."

The worst part of it was that I had to leave the HQ for a satellite office, and so I hardly ever get to see the Son and the Holy Spirit. I was looking forward to their company. They do drop by now and then, but they get so swamped by people who want to know why they're with me, that I hardly even get in an uninterrupted game of checkers.

Just in case you missed yesterday, only two sects of Christians actually get into heaven. One is the Russian Orthodox, the other the Black Bumper Mennonites. So you can imagine what happens when the Son shows up at my office. He gets exhausted from the crowd control.

If Anne isn't back tomorrow, I'll continue my saga of being under contract to the boss from heaven. Have you ever seen 6005 calendars with each day crossed out with a red X? Freelancing never looked so good.
Mr. Applegate

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