Sometime this morning, while in my deepest slumber, I dreamt that I was in Hell. Specifically, I was sitting alone in the waiting room. Jon was nowhere in sight and I was trembling in panic. The point that I waited anxiously by myself is moot, however, since that common area only served one office: that of the administrative bureaucracy of Hell and its subsidiaries.
In other words, it was perhaps some sort of fiery version of human resources. It was not unlike that from when I worked for that century-old national concern with Richard and Hap. Prudence delivered me witnesses, although not the courage to name the transgressor.
Naturally, I looked around and didn’t recognize a soul, and I use that term loosely. The clock ticked and tocked with the pace of an anemic snail. Why, oh why did I complain so often while in my 50’s: “Why, oh why does time pass so rapidly?”
I completed all of my paperwork and sat for my identification picture. I shall never again take the DMV in vain.
At that point, the Hades Orientation Ambassador gathered me and perhaps a dozen others and urged us to look around, introduce ourselves, and read the brochures. I’ll never forget the host. She seemed over ten feet tall and looked not unlike the lovechild of Tanya Harding and Michelle Bachman. That is if they could actually copulate and conceive. Horrors.
In the rear of the room was a refreshment station. There were hundreds of incredible bottles of both red and white wines, enough to whip a oenophile into submission. The full-bodied lyrics of Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Krug, and Pétrus danced in an unfolding melody as I realized that there was n’er a wine-tool in sight. Anywhere.
As I surveyed the room, on what would become a fruitless mission, I quickly glanced at the platters and chafing dishes that were teeming with welcome victuals. I swallowed my gasp when I realized the bounty of raisins, yogurt, cranberry jelly, raw broccoli, and Thousand Island Dressing that was before me.
Then again, it was Hell. I should’ve expected such disappointments.
After a few months, I was well aware of the expectations, routines, amenities (if any), and the litany of the unchangeable: meal times, recreation opportunities, and the mammoth squash of any hope or faith.
There was a television in my room. It received only one channel, a 24-hour “Three’s Company” network.
I also found an unexpected, elaborate sound system. The was one lone Björk CD and a single single (’45’): Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA”.
Death had brought me a new life of fear, boredom, convention, and pain. I started obsessing over my many, many transgressions and beating my chest in a Catholic guilt-stirring fist. The newspaper caught my eye. At least there was something to read.
The lead story, written by Nobel prize-winning author Ann Coulter, began with a printable State of the Afterlife address by President Boehner. It never occurred to me what now seems obvious: He is indeed the Lord of the Flies.
Sacre Bleu. Life is Hell in Hell. Why was I the least bit surprised? The only topic ever discussed more often in bars and pubs involved theories regarding JFK’s assassination, the Warren Report, and life today had the President survived.
I was awakened by both Henry and Marigold licking my cheeks. The time was too unspeakable to even admit in polite conversation.
There was coffee already made and Jon was busy responding to comments made in his many news groups. Life is good.
There’s one Shakespearean chestnut that I’ll be wary of, at least for a while:
“To die, to sleep. To sleep, perchance to Dream.
Aye, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil?”
(Image: “Le Safari Luminescent” by Émile Morel, 2009.)