I Missed Doomsday Again
Some kid showed up at my door selling Mayan calendars and chocolate bars for a buck. I bought one of each. After he left I glanced at the calendar and realized the Doomsday prophecy was right around the corner. I barely had enough time to prepare for my end of days.
I washed my car, did all the laundry and even folded it, watered the houseplants, and emptied the trash. I set the thermostat at a comfortable 68 degrees. I paid my cable and utility bills and wrote a post-dated check to the landlord. Just in case.
My dilemma in all this was the underlying fact that only good people would be disappearing from the face of the earth and all the bad people would still be left behind.
I judged myself. Was I a good person or a bad person? I lose my temper sometimes, but it's usually for a good reason. Am I bad? If only bad people were left to rule the earth, how chaotic would it get? I realized that if I were left behind for reasons unknown it would still be business as usual.
The day before Armageddon, I called my boss, reminded him that Doomsday was at hand and that there was a good possibility I wouldn't be at work on Monday. My boss said he'd take his chances.
My car dealer would still be in business. There are bad people there, especially in the service department. They charge $90 an hour. That's more than my good dentist and doctor get from me on a visit after my co-pay.
The people at the dry cleaners would be left behind. They burned two shirts and lost a pair of my slacks.
If all the churchgoers disappeared what would happen to Sunday? Should we cancel it? Who would ring the bell and pass the basket?
People who work in liquor stores would be left behind. They sell demon spirits. I bought a bottle of Merlot last week. Did this make me a bad person?
I made a list of friends and assigned them to one of two columns - GOING or STAYING. Chuck buys lottery tickets. He's staying. Mary is a waitress and doesn't declare her tips. Staying. Mark lies about his golf score. He's staying. Cliff and Barb owe the IRS back taxes. They have to stay. On and on the list went and I couldn't put anyone but me in the GOING column.
Up and down my block, neighbors were busy packing boxes in their garages. It's a good neighborhood filled with responsible working people. I assumed everyone had bought a Mayan calendar from that kid. Only one neighbor seemed oblivious to the exodus. Old Bert. He lives two doors down.
"Aren't you getting ready?" I asked.
"For what?" he said.
"Doomsday. Armageddon. The End of Days."
"Shucks," he laughed. "I ain't going nowhere. Even if I was elected I wouldn't go."
Bert watered his flowerbed. "That scientist Stephen Hawking, he says heaven is a fairy tale."
"But he isn't God!" I reminded him.
"Look at my place," he smiled. "I got flowers coming in and tomato vines budding. It's as close to heaven as I can get. Besides, I don't wanna run into my three ex-wives in heaven. They'll just pick up their arguments where we left off."
"Are they good women?"
"Good enough for me."
"Bert, what is the difference between a good person and a bad person?"
"Something to do with kindness. Doing what's right by people."
I mulled this over. "Bert, let's make a pact. If I go, will you take care of my house? Feed my dogs? Cut the lawn?"
"I suppose I can," he said.
"And if you go, I'll keep up your garden."
We shook on it, then drove to Henley's key shop. We had spare house keys made for each other.
On the way back, Bert said, "I'll be wanting my key back come Monday."
"What makes you so sure I'll be here on Monday?"
Bert scratched his whiskers. "The way I figure it, they raised the bar so high about being good that nobody's goin'.
When we arrived at his house he clipped me a rose from his bush and handed it to me.
"What's this for?" I asked.
"Just a little heaven on earth."
I smiled and took the rose home. After an hour I called my boss and said I'd probably be in on Monday. My boss told me I was a good person.
Doomsday came and went and nobody from my block left. I took the defective Mayan calendar off the wall and threw it away. A neighbor stopped by and I signed her petition to ban kids from soliciting on our block.