The rules permitted him to “look down” on his former world and observe the day’s special events: his memorial service at the parish center, followed by his funeral Mass and burial and, finally, what was officially a Mercy Dinner for one Andrew Gerhard Boehme, “beloved spouse and father,” and still with the trappings of a non-celebrity roast. The accolades and the wise cracks, the bad jokes and the tear-jerking tributes to his life reminded Andrew, or “Drew” as he preferred, of the good and full life he had had on Earth, so much of which had been utterly wasted.
“That hypocrite is here!” Drew caustically observed. “That loser never liked me.” That “hypocrite” called him Andy; to others he was that name or Andrew. Drew hated the name Andrew, and didn’t hesitate to correct people when they called him that. To a few people he was just Drew. To his three children he was always Dad; and to his one woman and only one, he was usually, though not always “honey.” A smile covering his face.
“And he’s saying this bull shit for me?” he continued. “For my benefit?” he asked with ridicule. “And now he’s paying me some phony tribute!” Drew fumed. “I’ll bet he’s really here for KC now. He just wants to get into her pants.”
“Lieb, whatever you meant cannot be good. I will shut this portal down if you continue in this uncivilized way.”
“Uncivilized? Are you kidding me? I thought I’m dead Anton! Give me a break!” Drew said with complete disrespect.
“I have told you this before: There are rules and protocols here, policies and procedures that must be obeyed if, and this is a big ‘if’ Lieb, if you are to move on toward Paradise.” With Anton’s gentle prod, Drew pulled himself away from the hypocrite man and was drawn almost immediately to another “loser” guy, and his comments.
“True, you jerk,” Drew blurted. “I was not born here, but I lived here most of my life. So what I was born in New York? My wife was born here and my three kids were born here, so soon you’ll have three of me to deal with, you idiot.” Drew “moved on” and was drawn this way and that as if he looked down from a great balcony upon a sliver of the world’s great stage.
“She’s such a bitch!” he heard from one rather large lady, a person he did not know and one for whom the phrase “lady” was most generous. He had no idea who she spoke of, or even to whom she spoke, and he simply moved on again to listen to other voices and conversations. Drew struggled now and then to take it all in, to listen to whatever gossip and small talk he could discern. It was generally pleasant to see the images and refreshing to hear others’ voices after God knew how long he had been with Opa.
“Love your shoes,” said another bloated old woman.
Drew turned his attention to more idle chit-chat, and then eavesdropped on talk of an ongoing investigation into the plane crash. How long had it been since the crash? He looked over to Anton and then decided to answer his own question. “If this viewing were in real time, Anton, then it has been about two weeks, right?” Anton made no comment. And what had happened, he thought. Why did that plane crash? Personally Drew had no idea and from what he heard, there was still a mystery surrounding the crash. His business purpose in going to Washington was also a mystery to people, and especially of great concern to his wife. So far, no one had come forth to disclose his ultimate destination or his intended business. And while he was somewhat amused by the mystery of it all, he could clearly imagine the terrible strain it had put on his wife. His wife!
As if completely drawn into a different world, Drew breathed absentmindedly, “How beautiful she looks!” He observed his wife, KC his widow, with complete love and admiration. Drew always loved to see his wife in black. Next he saw his children. Oh, and the kids! It seemed they had grown.
“God,” he lamented. As his view of the events on Earth carried on, Drew was overwhelmed by the people “down there” who cared about him and who showed their love and support for KC and the kids. For so much of his adult life, Drew seldom thought that he’d made such deep and lasting impressions on people. Some of these folks he had foolishly discarded over the years. Now he knew all were good people in some way or another. There were those who fondly mourned his loss arrayed alongside other folks who quite possibly celebrated his passing. A few were dispassionate or unaffected by the whole affair. And then there was Oona. Drew took a long look at Oona and, as always, his mind and imagination ran wild.
“Oona,” he said. “That bitch is in perpetual heat.”
“Whatever you mean, Lieb, cannot be good,” offered Anton.
Drew had mixed feelings about seeing Oona with his wife at the service, and evidently living there at the house! And evidently she was also using his office!” He was doubtful now over not breaking with the world of the living. He’d seen enough and for the first time since he arrived in the Hereafter, his passing started to make some difficult sense.
Still he refused to accept either the finality of his fate, or The Light.
“Maybe there’s a middle way, Anton? Maybe there’s a way to ‘stay in touch’. What do you think?” Drew’s expressive, desperate eyes saw only Anton’s stone cold demeanor. “Maybe I can remain part of the family?” he asked, undeterred. “I could be a sort of virtual…consultant. Anton, I can help guide these guys and, in doing so, stay connected with KC and the kids. What do you think of that?”
“Mein Lieb, KC’s affairs are no longer your business. Please use this day’s viewing to close the book of your life on Earth. Do that and together we shall compile the Annals of your past so you may finally move on.” No spoken words passed from Anton’s lips, though Drew heard every word loud and clear. Whether in a pleasant accented English, or occasional German, the two men always conversed as easily with their lips as with their minds.
“What’s going on with Oona? I didn’t know she moved into my house.”
“Oona is now the nanny to your children and the assistant to your wife. Together they will manage the affairs of the family. Oona is wanted there, and is rendering needed assistance to KC.” Anton gave him a small wink and added, “Remember, you are in Processing.” Then with a nod and a smile, he said, “Trust me: There are far better things which lie ahead, mein Herr.”
Drew thought of his legacy on Earth. He always tried to get through life without embarrassing himself or his family too badly. From what he had just seen, it seemed that he managed to accomplish many things for the common good, sincerely and without fanfare. And he knew more than ever, he lived an ordinary life which was filled with extraordinary blessings. How lucky am I to have lived the life I did?
“And it is like nothing you have ever imagined and nothing I can ever describe properly, until you are there; until you are ‘in’.” Anton winked and smiled and finally took a moment to fill his dark briarwood pipe.
Drew mused for a moment longer. He found it peculiar that his death-date matched what he always thought of as his “lucky number.” October ninth is one, zero, nine, Drew Boehme’s lucky number. Drew never had a clue why that was “his” number, but it always was and it was anybody’s guess why. He never won anything by it and it never made any sense until now.
“So I guess I hit the jackpot, Anton.”
“So you do remember that fantasy of yours?” offered Anton.
“I was talking about my ‘lucky number.’ My Jackpot! My number for some reason, number one oh nine; it belongs to Drew Boehme. What are you talking about?”
“You know, Lieb.” He nodded his head slowly and smiled lovingly.
“Anton! You can’t mean that! What is this? Part of my penance; my purgatory! Tell me Opa.” Drew recalled how Oona gave him more than ample fuel for his fantasy of her with his wife. He always had good reason to believe she would do it with KC, but it was just a fantasy for him and, as far as he ever knew, it never went anywhere between them. Such were his fantasies: rarely pushed and rarely fulfilled.
“Be careful of what you wish for, Lieb,” said Anton. I myself cannot imagine what two women would do with one another.”
“That’s what makes us different, man. Look! This is bull shit. I never meant for that to be real, Opa.” He finally said, “In fact, I’d say, ‘I object’!”
“You are objecting to nothing. Nothing has happened with them in the way you imagine.”
Drew had to admit the girl-on-girl thing had always been a favorite fantasy of his. “Well,” he conceded, “if KC has to do it with somebody, I’d rather she do it with a girl. There’s no question about that.” After a long moment, he further qualified his remarks. “Well, to some extent. I’m not crazy about my wife fooling around at all, but ‘Hey,’ I’m dead, she’s not, and if she’s gonna poke somebody, I just as soon let it be a girl.” Drew looked deeply and unashamedly into Anton’s gray eyes, and added, “Let’s sit back, have a beer, and enjoy the scenes.”
“There will be no more ‘scenes,’ Lieb,” responded Anton solemnly. “Your wife is now your widow. Let her go. It is truly time for you to move on. We need to write your Annals.”
With the burst of passion to his loins deflated, Drew looked somewhat compliant now though startled by Anton’s seemingly insensitive reply. “So okay, then, I think I understand now that I can’t return to Earth, but I’ve got to stay connected Anton, somehow.” Drew gave his ancestor a cold stare. “You can’t tell me that that’s impossible. What have we been praying for all our lives? For God to grant us wishes and help us dear departed souls into Heaven and all that…stuff. Are you gonna tell me that’s all? That that’s it? Bull shit!” Why’d we ever go to church to pray for people, and up to the saints and all those people that ‘went before us?’ We hoped and wished for things to happen; for things to get better.”
“Prayers are always heard and sometimes answered,” Opa began. “I, as a resident here, am able to commune through carefully guarded channels – paranormal pipelines, if you will. I may communicate with those who can reach me. However, as a sponsor I may not directly comment on the status or condition of my charges. And please, do remember that our firewall serves a dual purpose of insulating our new entrants both from those with good intentions as well as those mischief makers who would try to do them harm. So to those on Earth who may breach our firewall – and I speak specifically of your son, Louis, and the witch, Oona – it will seem as if you are unresponsive, and that is because of your present position here with me. Their efforts will seem to have failed. Yet they are unaware that your son’s simple callings have already breached our firewall. Your boy’s frustration is and soon will be that his father ignores his pleas and is totally impassive; that his father does not appear to him, and that he only receives random pieces of information provided through his Opa.” Anton gave a moment for all he had said to be processed by Drew, whose sponsor had by now also put his hand upon his shoulder. “Nor will your wife be able to communicate – directly or indirectly – with you, regardless of Louis’ drive or desire, or Oona’s powers. Please, Lieb, Go on to The Light and this will all change.”