This is a story about Rod.
This is a story about Rod and his God.
Today I received a letter from God, which is kind of strange since I don't really believe in God. I think one of my neighbors is playing a trick on me to be completely honest. See the whole neighborhood goes to the same church every Sunday at ten in the morning. My neighbor is even the priest. About once a month Lenny (my neighbor/priest) hosts a BBQ and makes sure to invite me. They are convinced that I am some sort of stray farm animal that they need to corral, brand and save, or something.
I have nothing against them or their religion, but I have been an atheist all my life. I don't believe in God, the Devil or any of those other deities out there. They know this and try to convince me of my shortcomings. Who knows, it could be that we are damned for an eternity of reincarnation as some common fly or some such nonsense.
That brings me to this letter. All that was written on it was "FROM GOD." I decided to show it to Lenny thinking that maybe he would be able to decipher the handwriting since he sees everyone's handwriting on their donation checks every week.
So I phoned Lenny, "Hey Lenny," I said. "I got a letter from God and I was wondering if you could help me figure out who it was from." This seemed to puzzle Lenny for a moment because there was a bit of silence on his end of the line. 'Well sure, but how do you know it's not really from God? Have you opened the letter to see what it says?"
I swept the first question aside reminding the reverend that if I don't believe in God how could I believe that it would send me something, and I hadn't opened the letter because I wanted him to be there to see it. Basically, I wanted a witness so that when I found out who did it and confronted them with their silly prank, which is obviously an attempt to draw me into their circle, they could not accuse me of lying. Lenny agreed to come over and authenticate this event.
When he got here I showed him the envelope, which he promptly proceeded to open. For a few minutes he just stood there and read it with his mouth slightly agape. Finally he handed it to me and let out a sigh that said, "I can't believe it's you."
The letter read:
Yes this really is God. How are you doing? Don't answer that, I already know. Just a little humor, Rod, jeez lighten up. Why aren't you laughing? I just wanted to let you know that you are doing an outstanding job at being Rod. I really wish more people would act like you, meaning act like themselves, instead of simply trying to please me.
Frankly, that's what I liked so much about Jesus. He was a real trendsetter. You know what I mean? Well keep up the good work and tell the reverend to close his mouth, I made flies taste absolutely disgusting.
Jehovah H. God
I looked over at the reverend whose mouth was still open, told him to shut it, and then asked him to help me find out who this was from. He just looked at me and said, "How the fuck should I know?"
© Olatundji Akpo-Sani 2009
This electronic version of "John Paul Drive" appears in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the author and publisher. It appears in the anthology Fast Forward, Vol. 2, edited by K. Scott Forman, Kona Morris, and Nancy Stohlman, FF>> Press, 2009. Book ordering available through amazon.com and amazon.co.uk
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