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By Larry Stephens
Everyone knew a real crap-storm was imminent, but the real question in the mind of Greedy O’Shamlin was when.
Because when mattered to Greedy.
Greedy played the odds, always, and since he was a perpetual betting man, he was betting that the raw unbridled fury of nature would take its sweet time making landfall, thereby screwing up all sorts of stuff with limitless tons of dirty water. Whether the water fell from the sky or washed up from the sea, well, it was still dirty, and Greedy really had no affinity for dirty water.
But still …
Because while Greedy loved playing against the Fates, he hated filth more. It’s why he lived alone and it’s why he was quite happy living alone. Simply put, people were filthy.
And so Greedy reveled in the steaming pellets of clean water that pummeled his skin, and yet, a tiny niggle of doubt squirmed around in the reptilian part of his calculating brain.
That doubt had a little but persistent voice that kept repeating stuff like, ‘you need to get outta here, dumb-ass,’ and ‘it’s a freaking Category-5 hurricane, dumb-ass.’
Greedy decided to respond to that small, annoying seed of doubt by lathering his long, blond hair in a wonderful, enriching, lavender shampoo. Tea-tree oils evoked a tingle on his scalp that was quite pleasant.
Alas, the hot-water tank had reached its limit and the streaming shower began to grow tepid in temperature, and so Greedy rinsed his tresses until they squeaked between his pressing fingers.
He tapped the shower control to OFF, slid the opaque glass door open soundlessly, and stepped onto heated marble flooring, eschewing a bath sheet in favor of air drying, and waited for the fog to clear from the vanity mirrors on two walls of his custom bathroom. He really hit a hard workout earlier in the morning with great focus on his triceps, shoulders and quads, and he wanted to see the fruits of his labor.
In the interim, Greedy decided to brush his teeth for the fourth time on this day—a bit excessive, but filth had a way of hanging on stubbornly between one’s teeth. It was when he shut down his sonic toothbrush that he heard a very jarring noise from the exterior of his home, one that certainly warranted further investigation.
He pulled a pair of boxer-briefs from a hook over the door, stepped first his right foot through and—
The jarring noise again! Sounded like parts were being ripped off the house itself, and there was some kind of outrageous roaring going on out there, and right at that second Greedy felt that it was time to stop playing the odds and maybe expedite matters to the point of a rapidly-ensuing personal evacuation.
The grubby cat can fend for itself.
He hoisted that left knee up to jam his left foot through the briefs and the big toe somehow got stuck and then Greedy wobbled, losing his balance, and he reached his hand out to halt his fall but missed the granite vanity completely and saw the unyielding vanity surface rushing up toward his view and then…
Wake up already!
“Huh?” Greedy opened his eyes with the memory of what he saw last vivid in his brain, and he completely expected to be in a hospital or something, or at the least, lying sprawled out on his bathroom floor, thankful for the warm tiled floor.
But that’s not what Greedy saw, not at all. What greeted Greedy’s view was … gray. Like everything was gray. He looked around—absently noting that he had full movement of his neck, which meant that his neck was not broken, and saw gray.
No floor, no ground, no walls, no outside or inside, no ceiling, no sun. Nothing. Just gray. What the—
So, you were doing something pretty stupid there.
“What? Who’s talking?”
Allow me to answer your question with a question. Do you know your name?
“What kind of stupid question is that? Am I paralyzed or something?”
Or something. Now, your name please.
“It’s Greedy O’Sh … wait a minute; hold on a sec.”
Take your time, I’ve got all the time you can imagine.
“Something’s off. I remember my name being ‘Greedy,’ but I remember something else too, something … older?”
Now you’re getting there. Keep working at it.
“Why the fu—”
Don’t allow yourself to get distracted by your circumstance. Your name? WHAT IS YOUR NAME?
“Okay, okay, don’t get your panties all in a bunch—”
When you figure out WHO you are, you’ll realize just how inappropriate that comment is, Child.
And yes, there! Just a tiny little thread right at the edge of Greedy’s memory, an old thing that he didn’t really understand (like quantum physics or women), but he found that little niggling thing and latched onto it tenaciously.
“It’s Jrgshddl.” He shook his head, or at least it felt like he shook his head. “Did I just say that?”
Welcome home, Jrgshddl.
“Wait. Am I … dead?”
Your physical shell is lifeless and will be returned to the earth by fire.
“Oh shi … er, crap! So what is this … place, and who the heck are you?”
You already know the answers to those questions, Jrgshddl.
“Are you … God?”
You know I am.
Greedy/Jrgshddl’s mind reeled. He struggled to absorb and understand everything that happened and that was now happening, but … so many questions! “Okay, God. So what is this place and what’s the plan for me now?”
You should remember that this is just a holding place for you. It’s a place for you to rest and reflect and to understand your place and remember your progression.
“So, like Purgatory.”
You would do well to not ascribe your silly Catholic rituals and fantasies to me, Child.
“Well, I’ve just had my pee-pee slapped by God Himself.”
You no longer have a pee-pee. In fact, you no longer have a physical body.
“I was being figurative, not literal.”
Yes, Jrgshddl, you’ve been like that since I gave you your first spark of life.
“So, um, God? Do you mind if I take some time here to try to get my head wrapped around all this?”
Listen to me now, Child. Your physical shell is gone. Dead. Reduced to ash. You have to let go and do so as soon as you can. Once you let go of your physical trappings, you’ll trigger the ancient memories you’re supposed to trigger, and then we can move on to the next phase for you.
Without a physical environment, Greedy was at a bit of a loss as to what exactly he should do. Pace? That seemed to work for him when he was … alive. Sit down? On what, and where? There’s nothing—
That’s correct, Jrgshddl, there’s nothing. I designed this place like that to make it easier to let go.
“Well you certainly did a fine job.” No response. As Jrgshddl attempted to look around and be confronted by nothingness, he tried to push, or project his mind out from himself and into the nothingness.
Why not? There was nothing else to do. But the odd thing—as if any of this wasn’t odd anyway, was that as Jrgshddl tried to expand his consciousness, the memories of his life as Greedy O’Shamlin seemed to flit away. This was a gradual thing and it continued until Jrgshddl’s mind was soothed and integrated with the surroundings, the surroundings of nothingness.
That’s much better, Jrgshddl. Now we can talk.
“I’m all ears, God.”
I always did enjoy your humor, Child. But now we must be serious. In your life as Greedy O’Shamlin, well, you left a bit to be desired.
“In my defense, nobody’s perfect. Well, nobody, except for you and Jesus.”
Child, there is no need to defend. I know all and I see all. I knew what was in your heart from its first throb until you rejoined me here. I’ve known it for ages, Jrgshddl, and I will know it when you finally pass to the next stage in your evolution.
“Which is what?”
Which is not for you to know yet. But I will say that I gave you an illustration of what’s next for Mankind in my Word, which you call the Bible.
“Riddles! Why not just come out and give up the deets?”
Because you are not yet ready and you have to return.
“Well, I don’t see the problem because I won’t remember all this anyway.”
No, Child, that’s not accurate at all. Allowing a slight bit of remembrance is what helps Mankind to elevate themselves to their next phase. So yes, you will remember just a bit more than last time, and you’ll be that much closer.
“This seems like a colossal time-suck to me. I mean, why all the back and forth, why all the life and then death? Why not just bump us up to that next stage without all this … stuff?”
Jrgshddl, in the world of the living, there is a metal that you pull from the earth. It is beautiful and pure and clean, and Mankind treasures it. It is called ‘silver.’
“Okay, sure. I’ve had some silver.”
Do you think it comes from the earth shiny and beautiful? It does not. To create the beautiful metal, the impurities have to be removed from the ore. That is done through fire, which is called ‘refiner’s fire.’
“Okay, so I’m not really getting all this yet—”
Truly refining that metal takes more than one pass through the refiner’s fire, Child. You, and all of Mankind, are like that ore that’s pulled from the earth—full of wonderful potential and beauty as well as impurities.
“So going back and forth like this will remove impurities?”
Absolutely. So if this ‘pass’ cleanses you of all your impurities, no further refining will be needed and you can move on.
God’s thoughts echoed in Jrgshddl’s mind with the impact of a gong on a distant mountain just as a blast of shockingly cold seawater engulfed him and he sank below the surface of an extremely angry sea.
He kicked his legs and feet frantically and finally broke free of the riotous surf and opened his eyes in shock and then wonder. A raging deluge of rain hammered the ocean, which protested by heaving gigantic surges and surf back at the sky, which responded with insanely powerful winds and jagged bolts of lightning.
And Jrgshddl was right in the middle of it.
He kicked himself in a circle, feeling like a microbe against the heaving vastness of the seas, amazed that he was able to keep his head above water, and spied a red lifeboat with lights flashing fore and aft, bouncing around on surf determined to crush the small craft.
It was durable though—built to withstand a hurricane! He struck out toward the boat, no more than one hundred feet from it and closing in, when he heard voices.
He looked toward the boat, seeing the door ajar; long hair whipping around, and a familiar face etched with frantic worry screaming his name, and he longed to go to her.
“Come on, Jordon, COME ON!”
He knifed through the pounding storm surge, fighting crisscrossing undercurrents that strove to yank him under as exhaustion began stealing over him and then …
Small hands snagged the collar of his shirt and pulled him toward the craft and he pushed and clawed and climbed to be free of the angry hands of the sea until he fell forward on top of the woman who held him violently, clinging with every ounce of desperate strength.
He gasped, shaking saltwater from his mouth that was causing his belly to rumble. “You saved me. You saved my life.”
She kissed him. Deeply with frantic passion. “No way was I letting you go, Jordy. It wasn’t your time, my love.”
Together the two kicked the hatch door shut and held each other as the Category-5 storm raged.
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