Author : Todd Wells

Jon approached the pearly gates. The kindly old man smiled. “Welcome,” he said. “Here, everyone spends their immortal life together with their true love. Soon, you will be reunited with your wife, Julie.”

“That’s wonderful. Thank you so much!” Jon entered the gates at peace, knowing that before long he would be with Julie again.

Julie was an avid runner, and drank red wine only moderately, so Jon had to wait awhile for her arrival. But one day she finally appeared before him, looking just as she had on their wedding night.

Jon fell to one knee, “Julie, my love, he said we would be reunited, and we are. I’ll be here to cherish you for ever and ever.”

“Jon, hey, wow. It’s great to see you too.” Julie was looking around.

“Until the end of time I’ll hold you in my arms, gaze into your eyes, and…” Jon was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Alejandro, who lived down the street.

“Hi, Alejandro,” said Julie softly.

“Hi, uh, Julie.” Alejandro looked uncomfortable. He glanced back and forth between Jon and Julie.

A woman materialized between Alejandro and Julie. Julie’s eyes narrowed. “Stephanie, what are you doing here?”

Alejandro now looked happier. “Stephanie, it’s so good to see you. You look fantastic.”

Jon tried to get Julie’s attention again. “Honey, we get to spend all of eternity together. Isn’t that marvelous?”

“Hold that thought, Jon.” Julie turned to Alejandro and protested, “You said that when you go over to her house, you’re just there to troubleshoot her home network.”

Stephanie snorted. “Ha! My network is fine. His is the one that needs troubleshooting.” Alejandro gasped.

Two more men emerged from behind Stephanie and tried to attract her attention. Another woman turned up next to Alejandro – she smiled at him, and he tried to move away.

The crowd grew larger. Jon recognized one woman from a movie he had seen. “Who the hell are you people?” she demanded. “How did I get here?”

A man approached the starlet. “I finally get to meet you,” he gushed.

Jon turned back to Julie. He took her hands in his own. “Julie, you’re my true love. Do you not feel the same?”

“Jon, I’m so glad you understand. Thanks.” Julie turned back to Stephanie and they resumed their barbs, barely disguised in home-networking innuendo.

The daisy-chain of bickering lovers got longer. Jon grew suspicious – none of the parables he had read in Sunday school ever described eternal bliss like this.

Jon wandered off and found the old man who had greeted him at the gate. The man had removed his beard and was screwing a pair of horns back into his forehead. Jon thought for a moment, then asked, “I know I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t think I was headed here. What did I do to deserve this?”

Satan looked apologetic. He asked, “Do you remember your old girlfriend, Suzanne?” Jon nodded. “Do you remember the night she broke up with you? She invited you to her mother’s funeral and you stood her up to play video games with your friends, and when she came back afterwards she found all of you laughing as you held up one of her bras, pointing out how small it was? So, Suzanne became a medical researcher who developed an affordable cure for a tropical disease. Millions of low-income people now live longer and healthier lives thanks to her. That has given her some sway with the powers-that-be. She asked for a favor and, well, here you are.”

Jon considered this, and sighed, “Damn.”

“Yeah, ‘fraid so.”

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