You'll never ever even in a million billion years believe that happened. But I'll tell you anyway.
It all started when Joey came over to play hide and go seek. I was it. I counted to 50 and then looked all around the house. I couldn't find him anywhere!
I was starting to go back to base when I looked up and through I saw Joey go around the corner into the kitchen. I tiptoed quietly to the doorway and there I saw Them!
He was being tapped on the shoulder by someone who said, Clarence, You're not supposed to be here, then disappeared. This surprised me. One generally does not see someone disappear, even during a game of hide and go seek. Clarence turned around for a second, glanced at his comrade, then shrugged his shoulders and turned back. He held the refrigerator door open, humming, "'Ere You Left Your Room This Morning." He took out the whole wheat bread and quietly set it on the counter. Then he took out the leftover ham from Sunday dinner and sliced five big pieces off. He took out the tomoatoes and the lettuce and then looked around for the Miracle Whip.
I remembered having eaten the last bit of Miracle Whip yesterday on my sandwich, but I had put the bottle back in the fridge anyway. I didn't want to be the one who'd eaten the last of the Miracle Whip, and I figured someone could get a little bit more out. I was wrong.
Clarence saw the bottle, opened it, and stuck his finger in, trying to scrape the last bit out. It was useless. He sighed and put the bottle back. It was so funny because he looked so much like the man in the commerical that I couldn't resist.
Just as he started putting everything else back in, I said, "A sandwich just isn't a sandwich without Miracle Whip salad dressing." I had never seen such a flabbergasted expression.
He dropped the tomatoes on the flor and ran around the corner as fast as his chubby little body could carry him. But I was too quick. Besides, he tripped on his robe and sailed around the corner. I caught up with him and grabbed him by the collar. At least I tried to! I put my hand out to grab the collar, but there was nothing there. No ring around the collar, no thing.
Clarence's form was there, plain as day, but his body wasn't. A split second too late I realized who or what Clarence was. I blinked my eyes, and when I opened them, Clarence and I were no longer in my living room.
I stood too stunned to speak for a second and at the same time Clarence turned around and saw me. He was more stunned than I was.
I spoke first. "Who the heck are you, and what were you doing in my refrigerator?" Heaven's not supposed to be the hot place.
Clarence started to speak. "Heck?"
I interrupted him. "On the other hand, don't answer that first question. I don't want to know."
"Oh dear, Oh dear," Clarence moaned. "I let my shield down again. These mortals, so curious, you can't trust them for a minute. Even if you're tired of keeping your shield up, can you let it down? No. Oh no! They'll latch on to you and not let go until they're in heaven. What was the Man Upstairs thinking when he gave mortals curiosity?"
Clarence was looking up, but I couldn't tell if he was talking to someone I couldn't see or just complaining to himself.
"I'm in trouble now. No wonder Harold came down to warn me. Why did I have to be so busy getting that Miracle Whip sandwich? The Man Upstairs hates it when anyone else messes up the Times."
I was very annoyed. I was the one asking the question, not the Man Upstairs. The Man Upstairs not going to like it? What about me? I thought for a minute. What Man Upstairs> Oh! Oh! That Man Upstiars! Wait a minute, this is impossible! This can't be happening! I must be dreaming! I'm in my living room, I tried to convince myself. I'm in my living room. I'm having a horrible nightmare!
"Oh, no," replied Clarence. "You're not dreaming. But it would make everything much simpler if you were."
Had I said something out loud or was Clarence reading my mind?
"Oh dear, Oh dear!" Clarence began moaning again. "And I was just getting up on the promotion list. Why oh why did I have to make a booboo now? All I wanted was a Miracle Whip sandwich. I haven't had one in 800 years, since it was first incented."
Miracle Whip invented 800 years ago? That would be before Columbus discovered America. I somehow doubted they brought Miracle WHip over on the Santa Mara. What was going on here?
Clarence turned to me. "A man's entitled to one Miracle Whip sandwich every 800 years, isn't he?" he asked.
I didn't answer. Only in a dream would Miracle Whip be invented 800 years ago. And who answers questions when they're dreaming?
Clarence began moraning again. "Oh dear, Oh no. Not now. I've been waiting for 1200 years for this promotion. I deserve this promotion. I need this promotion. Oh dear, Oh no, it's not fair. I'm a good angel, really I am!"
He looked at me as if for some sort of confirmation. It was a dream, so I gave none.
He went on. "Oh dear, Oh no. Oh heavens. What will the Man Upstairs think of me now? He'll probably send me down to level 3 and I'll have to start all over with being a guardian angel. Oh dear, Oh no, it really isn't fair. Why me? Oh dear, Oh dear . . ."
Clarence broke off to look at me. He jumped in surprise. "Who are you?" he asked bewildered. Then he remembered and began again. "Oh no, Oh dear. What am I going to do?"
Clarence started to walk away, still moraning, "Oh dear, Oh no." Well that was the last straw. It was bad enough to hear an angel, or whatever he was, moaning, but I was not--I repeat NOT--going to be left alone up here in heaven--wherever I was. I ran after him. I tried pulling on his arm. This time it worked. He was tangible up here.
He read my mind again. "Of course I'm real up here, don't you know that everything was created spiritually before it was created physically?"
"Look here, you . . . , you . . ., whatever you are. I want an explanation and I want one right now! And before that I want you to put me back where you found me!"I shouted.
Clarence jumped satisfactorily. "But, but" he stuttered.
"No buts aobut it!" I cried. "Put me right back where you found me!"
"Oh dear, Oh dear," he began.
I groaned inwardly, Uh on, not again. I'd better stop this now or I'd never hear anything but moans. "Oh, shut up!" I said.
Clarence was shocked. "We don't use that sort of language here!" he exclaimed. "What would the Man Upstairs say if he heard? As he surelyd id. He hears everything, you know."
"Did you hear me?" I asked.
"Hear what--Oh yes, that. I do wich I could put you back where I found you, Alexander hold. Oh, yes, I know your name. I know everyone's nam, almost everyone, that is. But you don't know mine, do you?"
I shook my head.
"My name is Clarence, dear boy, and I'm the guardian of the Garden of Eden." He was smiling now. Oh, you've heard of that, have you? Someone's been readin the Good Book . . ."
I interrupted him before he could go on. I could tell already he wasn't easily stopped once started. "But why can't you put me back?" I asked.
"My dear Alex, I have no control over your world. My realm is Eden. You see, my world here, and your would there"--he pointed downwards, "Run on different times. I could never in an eternity get you put back there at the right time. You see, in the two minutes you've ben up here, ten years have gone by down there. No, no, I'm afraid it just wouldn't do to put you back at the wrong time. Have you ever considered giving your life to the holy service?"
He caught the glance I passed him. "No, I guess not. Not your style. Well, let's see . . . what is the most painless way of getting you to fit in up here? You could be a genealogist. They say that's rather interesting, wouldn't know myself, of course, but . . . No? Well, how about a missionary to the dead? No? Well, we might just be able to squeeze you in as a guardian angel. One spot was just vacated. No? My, you are hard to please, aren't you?"
"Just a minute, Mr. Guardian-of-Eden, I'm not going to stay up here the rest of my life. I'm only ten years old. I have a long life ahead of me. I still have to go on a mission, get married, have kids. I haven't even died yet. You just better put me right back where you found me!"
"Weren't you listening, Alex? I already told you that isn'tpossible. The earth moves too quickly for us to put you back. No, you'll jsut have to stay here with us. Wouldn't you like to be a guardian angel? There's great pay, promotional opportunities, retirement benefits . . ."
I paused. Retirement benefits? I wasn't even old enough to have a job, let alone retire. "No! No! No!" I screamed. This was very frustrating. I'd never see home again. I'd never find out where Joey was hiding. I'd never see my dog, Harriet, again.
Wait a minute! "Clarence," I said. "Somebody has got to have control over the earth. Somebody must be able to get me back if you can't. This is heaven, after all. Isn't it? And in heaven, anything is possible."
"Oh dear, Oh dear! Such a stubborn child! You have to die anyway. It's much less painful this way. Believe me, I know. Do you know how it feels to have your skin fall off, to cough up your lungs? Thinks of all the horrible deaths you could die if you go back down to earth."
No one was going to gross me out of going home! I shook my head vehemently.
"Oh well, I guess there isn't really a choice. There really is not place in heaven for an unwilling angel. Of course the other place has its advantages. Oh never mind. You wouldn't go for that, would you?" I shook my head again.
"I thought not. Well, I must face the consequences of my deed. No use getting squeamish now. What's done is done. I'll just have to face it. Oh, it isn't fair!" Clarence fell down and burst out crying. He sobbed for a good ten minutes, moaning over and over and saying, "It isn't fair! It isn't fair."
I let him moan. I had my own problems to worry aobut and one of us crying was enough.
When he was through, he got up, brushed himself off and tried to make himself presentable. He took a comb out of his back pocket and started combing his hair. He fluffed his gown, took off his glasses, and cleaned them. At last he was ready. I couldn't figure out why or who he was getting all spiffed up for, so I asked him.
"The Man Upstairs, of course. Do you think he'd let anyone else touch the Times? Oh no, it's one of his only pleasures. Oh no! Oh dear! It isn't fair, it isn't fair."
I was afraid he was going to start spouting again, but he pulled himself together and took my hand. We blinkedout of where we were and popped up to a large oak door labeled "The Man Upstairs."
Clarence knocked and when no one answered immediately, he took my hand and said, "Oh, I guess no one's here. Let's go, Alex."
Just then the door opened itself and a deep voice called out, "Come in, Clarence." The voice sounded like something out of the Bible. Somehow I'm not surprised.
I started to follow Clarence, but the voice said, "No, ALex. Just Clarence." So I stayed outside, watching Clarence go in, the door closing me out. What was I supposed to do now? Who knows how long it would be until the Man Upstairs got through chewing Clarence out? I sat down to wait.
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