Sammy

Oh, to be nineteen again and work in the A & P and ring up a queen of a girl in her bathing suit for a can of I-can’t-remember-what and quit my job and leave my co-worker, Stokesie, and the manager of the store, Lengel, behind and walk out into a whole new life. Sometimes you get a chance and you take that one chance and everything changes. It was such a good spring day to be alive and the air was sweeter than any I have breathed before or since. It was a good day to go out and see the world.

The girl and her two friends were gone when I got outside, but that didn’t matter. I was a man now because I had made a man’s decision. I had said goodbye to all the things I hated when I walked out of that store, and there was no going back. I walked over to the blue ’54 Chevy my dad gave me for my eighteenth birthday, got into it, checked my gas gauge and decided I had enough fuel to get me to the beach five miles away and back. I knew I had see that girl again, and there was no better time than then to see her.

I drove to the beach and parked my car, then ambled over to the food stand. “Where does a guy go around here if he needs a job?” I asked the man inside the stand, improvising my way through this part of the day.

“What kind of job you looking for?” he wanted to know.

“Lifeguard,” I said, continuing to make things up. Surprised that things were going in the direction they were going in.

“You a good swimmer?”

“The best.”

“Better’n me?” He pulled off his apron.

I gave him a good up-and-down and decided just maybe. “I didn’t bring a set of trunks.”

He reached down and pulled a pair out from under the counter and threw them at me.

“You can change over yonder.” He pointed toward a men’s room several yards away.

I took the swim trunks and ran to change. Several minutes later I walked back to the stand. I handed him my jeans and shirt and shoes. He put them under the counter. “They’ll be safe here,” he said and locked the stand up.

We raced down to the water and I was first in. The water, cold but not too cold, came up to my waist. I dived in and headed for the platform floating in the ocean. About halfway there, the guy pulled ahead of me. I was a good swimmer but this guy was a fish. He got to the platform and crawled out of the water and stood watching me. Grabbing the edge of the wood, I pulled myself up onto it. I steadied myself. He hauled off and hit me hard with his fist. I hit the water. What the–?

I swam under the wooden floor, came up on the other side, crawled up on the platform and rammed into him. He fell back into the ocean. I watched him go under the water and then his head appeared again and now he was trying to get his breath. I jumped in and grabbed him. He fought me hard, real hard. But soon I had him up on the platform and I was breathing mouth-to-mouth, scared as all get-out. He was not moving. Then water shot out of his mouth.

Slowly he sat up. Then he looked at me with that look that made me think I was lucky knowing him. “You got the job,” he said.

On the beach, the queen waved to me.

God is not dead. He’s moved to Phoenix, Arizona instead.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, then he moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He didn’t have any choice. It was doctor’s orders.

“Look,” Dr. Job said. “You have to get out of Florida. The humidity and the mold and the pollen are killing you.”

“I can’t leave. I can’t sell the house.” God tucked his shirt back into his pants. “This is the worst market I’ve seen since the Romans tried to sell a lot of bad real estate to Attila and the Huns. We all know how that turned out.”

Recently God bought way more house than he could afford. Had financed it with an adjustable rate mortgage, hoping to flip the house and make a killing. At the time, it seemed like a good play. Then the market crashed.

“Then,” Dr. J said. “you’re going to have to find a renter. Maybe your Son can rent it.”

“All he wants to do is go fishing. Him and his buddies. His disciples he calls them. Disciples, hah! Lazy bums more like it. Besides I don’t think I can trust him. Pretty soon he’ll move the homeless in and start a shelter. Don’t know what’s happened to him. I raised him to be a good capitalist and he’s turned into a socialist. Next thing I hear the pope will be taking his side.”

“Kids, I know they’re all alike,” Dr. J said. “Mine wants to be an actor. Run off to Hollywood and be a star. That kid couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag.”

“No appreciation,” God said, “for all the hard work it took to get us where we are today. All my hard work, I only did it for him.”

The doctor handed God a prescription. “All I’m saying,” Dr. J. urged, “if you get another attack like the one you just had, that’s it. No more God. God is dead. It’s the writing on the wall.”

God looked at the prescription. “This isn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg, is it?”

“Nope, it’s a generic. Besides Medicare pays for it.”

“Well, where should I move to?” God sighed.

“Phoenix would be good. I hear housing prices have dropped so much you can get a new house for a dime.”

“That so?”

“Yes, and you’ll be close to the Grand Canyon. I hear the view is downright awesome.”

“You mean in Arizona?”

“That’s the one.”

“I did put a lot of work into that canyon. It would have been a big sinkhole if I hadn’t done my thing. Nice job, if I say so myself. And then there’s those folks in Sedona. They do seem to have a knack for healing. I get a healing and I’m back in Florida.”

“Why do you like Florida so much?” Dr. J wanted to know.

“Oh, the weather’s nice here. Everywhere else it seems to have gotten out of hand. I mean, forest fires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes. At least, I can see a hurricane coming several days ahead.”

“Sounds like it’s time for a Rapture and a Second Coming. All this weather and the wars and rumors of wars. The Middle East is coming unraveled. Makes me think Armageddon. ‘Course I don’t believe in all that stuff.”

“Oh, you don’t?” God asked.

“I’m Jewish,” Dr. J said. “Reformed, you know.”

God sticks out his hand. “I didn’t know,” he said. “I’m Jewish too.” The good doctor shook God’s hand. “Orthodox. Do you keep kosher?”

“Did Moses write the Torah,” Dr. J said. “Darn right I keep kosher. But you know it’s getting harder and harder to find a good kosher deli in the neighborhood.”

“Tell me about it.” God put on his coat and straightened his tie. “Seems like everything’s going online. Even the kosher delis.”

As God walked out into the waiting room, he heard the nurse call the next patient. “Mr. Satan, the doctor will see you now.”

God drove straight to the pharmacy. As he waited on his medication, he thought over what the doctor said.

Of course, I’ll have to transfer my job. Hopefully there’ll be an opening in Phoenix. One thing is for sure. If this doesn’t work out and I don’t get any better, I swear on a stack of Bibles I will come back and smite that s.o.b. of a doctor. He thinks he’s seen boils. He ain’t seen nothing compared to what it’ll be like when I’m through with him.