The Judgment

The Judgment

By Dan Moore

He was a greasy excuse for a man.  His leather jacket was worn at the elbows, and a fistful of hair erupted from the back of his neck.  His boots were caked with mud, and his beard was long, unkempt.  A few moments ago, he’d lost control of his motorcycle and was on the losing side of a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer truck.  The man was dead.  The cold steel of the truck fractured his body in a fraction of a second and snuffed out a seemingly meaningless life.

The man sat on a plain wooden bench which was bolted to the wall of the waiting room.  He was confused and worried.  He was confused because he didn’t know how he got there.  The last thing he remembered was the harsh burning pain of the pavement grinding its way through his left knee, the approaching truck growing larger in his field of view.  He was worried because he knew what death held for him.  He was not a virtuous man.  He’d been an angry, drunken son-of-a-bitch.  His father had told him he wouldn’t amount to much, and the man had spent his life living up to those expectations. 

He sat with his elbows on his knees, working his hands around the rim of his cap like a nun working a string of worry beads.  He tried to be invisible to the others in the room.  There was an angelic boy sitting next to him.  His face was innocent.  He was dressed in white, and his hair was parted in a perfect line.  He had a sprinkling of freckles and blue eyes that had never seen the harshness of life.

A woman’s voice embraced the room with a resonant lilt.  “Bobby McGill, please enter the throne room and approach the judgment seat.”

The little boy bounced off the bench, full of enthusiasm for a new adventure he did not understand.  He walked down the row of benches and pushed eagerly against the heavy swinging doors located at the end of the room.  Beyond them, the motorcyclist caught a glimpse of an immense room with a hard, stone floor.  Then the doors swung shut.

The man slumped his shoulders.  He stole a furtive glance at the family seated across from him.  They were dressed in their Sunday best. Two small girls sat between mother and father, the parents stroking their silky, golden hair. The mother smiled at her children. They weren’t like the children the man had seen during his lifetime. These children sat quietly and respectfully. They seemed like small adults.  The father was a portrait of propriety.

The disembodied voice filled the waiting room again.  “The Chester family: Amanda, Robert, Suzy and Tabitha, please enter the throne room and approach the judgment seat.”  The family rose from the bench, each parent carrying one of the small girls.  They glided across the room and disappeared through the large, imposing doors.

The motorcyclist had lived a chaotic life.  He had many regrets, and he knew that things weren’t going to go well for him in the next room.  He waited in silence as the room slowly emptied, leaving him alone. Finally, the voice called his name.  He rose from the bench and walked toward the doors with hesitant steps.  He pushed the doors open and walked into the throne room.  He looked down at the gray stone slabs that formed the floor.  His boots clicked on the stones, the reverberance of each step suggesting a room of immense size.   He walked with his cap in his hands, a broken man.  He surrendered himself to the coming judgment.

The man stopped walking.  He could see a set of steps rising from the surface of the floor in front of him.  He lifted his head slightly and saw the base of a great platform.  He looked down again, sensing an ancient presence there, measuring him with Divine Scrutiny. There was a long silence as the greasy man studied the mud on his shoes and the weathered cap in his hands.  Then, the silence was broken and a deep sonorous voice filled the room.  He knew he was doomed.

“Kickin’ jacket, dude!” the voice announced.  And the man was welcomed into eternity with a howl of divine laughter.

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