Sitting. Trying not to stare at the clock.
Observe my surroundings:
The *customer lounge.* Ten chairs crammed together in a dingy waiting room. Two little tables piled with unreadable magazines like Motor Trend. An ancient gumball dispenser. Scuffed black-and-white floor tiles. The only thing shiny and new: a flat screen bleating the *news.*
Been here two hours-and-fifteen minutes, already. Waiting for some repair on my '97 Civic. Carbon build-up. Fuel Induction something or other. I don't know what. The yellow check engine light came on, and here I sit with a handful of other sudden-pedestrians.
Look at these people. God. Thank God I can't see myself.
Look at squirrels. You never see an ugly squirrel. Look at deer. You never see an ugly deer. Look at bears or tigers. Not one of them ugly. Crows. All handsome. Never seen an ugly crow. But look at people. Look at us. So many ugly bastards. I'm sure the squirrels in Eden looked just like the squirrels we got now. But Adam and Eve? No way they looked like us riff-raff sitting around here.
Sin. Generation after generation of human sin, eating away beauty. Adam and Eve would shudder to see their descendants.
Sin causes death. Everything dies, including beauty. Sin alters brain chemistry, sin engineers genetic mutations, etc., etc. Thousands and thousands of years of human sin, the human body marred. I mean, look at that lizard sitting over there. Forty and her face rough as sandpaper. When Eve was three hundred she probably looked twenty years younger than this bag, with her straw hair. Look at her, her mouth hanging open while she stares at the television, her gray teeth pointing every which way. Listen, if this crocodile were the one who offered Adam fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we'd all be fine today. . .
Failure. The collective failure of mankind. There's a noble thought to ponder. I don't think people think enough about their failure. I mean, they really don't seem that embarrassed by the garbage dump of a world they've created.
How did I end up here? Adam and Eve could probably fly, and here I sit, waiting for a car repair. Sitting in a waiting room. That's life. That's this life. Life is a waiting room. A waiting room for death.
Stuck here, removed from the distraction of the routine of life, I feel exhausted. Almost fifty-five years of fake living. These others go about their lives. Two of them thumbing madly on their smartphones, another fiddling on a laptop, the lizard staring in rapture at the television, the television titillating her with crash porn, an airplane wrecked in a far eastern sea.
But me? I just sit here, stopped. Nothing to do but compare my life to a car. A broken-down car. A junker that sputtered along, then ended up in a ditch by the side of the road. That's my life. All that's left is to test faith.
It's the lizard.
We all look at her. She points at the television.
"Does anyone know if they found any living bodies?"
What? Living bodies?
"I don't think so," the laptop guy says.
"All dead? All the bodies dead, all dead. . ." the lizard shakes her head, rather mournfully.
"It's so horrible. Can you imagine anything more horrible?" one of the smartphoners says.
They are all shaking their heads, in that slow, mournful fashion.
"Examine the wrecks of our own lives," I say.
They all look at me. Not with friendly looks. I am regarded with offense and incomprehension.
"Well," I say to the smartphoner, "you asked if I could imagine anything more horrible."
They still don't seem to understand.
"I mean, let's be honest. We're all adults here. All the ugly shit we've done. The ugly things, little ugly things, big ugly things. All the ugliness done hours, days, weeks, years and years ago. So many ugly things. . ." Here I pause and offer my own mournful head shake. "No, no, what is a plane falling out of the sky compared to our own ugly lives? A trifle. A mere trifle."
From the looks of them, they still don't get it.
"Speak for yourself!" the lizard barks. "Actually, don't speak at all! God! What a sicko!"
The others nod their assent.
That's fine. Let them have their little club. I don't have some electronic toy to play with. I have to sit here and think about life.
They babble on for a minute about the airplane crash, then one asks if they believe the mechanics here are honest, and they go on discussing that. They are a community, now. I've brought them together. Good.
Me? I'm in a ditch by the side of the road. Nothing to do but wait. That's the test of faith. To resist trying to save myself, and to wait for Jesus to pull me out at the End of Time. . .
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