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Trailer Park Rapture

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Message Tom Aiken

I don't know how I was ever included. They said a couple of mistakes were made. Guess the multi-tasking was just beyond even His capacity. Don't believe it? You try working on a loading dock sometime...

Anyway, there I was half-way through a Mickey D's when -- "whammo" -- I suddenly felt as if I were being lifted by the hair (quite a feat considering my hairline) and yanked up into the middle of my friendly neighborhood McDonald's restaurant near to the ceiling, my clothing falling away as if slipping past my very skin. I could see the other patrons staring up at me in disbelief before I passed through the roof like a specter and continued floating upwards. My eyes must have been round as saucers.

I looked around to see other people -- male and female -- also naked as the day they were born (and many, like myself, in desperate need of some gym time), rising up into the air around me just as startled, heads whipping from side to side. Focusing, I could then see a couple of them begin to relax and start grinning as if they'd just won the lottery. In a way, they just had.

We were still soaring, earth now an insignificant little grey/white ball in the blackness, when it became frighteningly apparent to me this unexpected jaunt was actually a victory lap -- slow, deliberate, confident to arrogance. For this was the fabled "Rapture"... and here I was rapturing. Clearly, something was wrong.

We finally hit a level, dimly-lit plain where, in the blink of an eye, the lot of us were abruptly clothed in in sheets of white. And that wasn't the only thing white about this particular gathering. Surrounding me on every front, caucasian faces were all I could see. They weren't country club-type faces, either. No, these were the faces of the working class -- the gossipy beautician, the Christ-centered air conditioning guy who'd ripped you off the week before, the supervisor who mispronounces every big word that manages to stumble through his or her vocabulary -- the faces of America. Yes, the TV evangelists had whittled it down to a science (if you'll excuse the word): red heifers in the temple, Obama the Antichrist, Israel prepping to lob a couple of nukes Iran's way -- everything was lined up in a neat little row, just like the book said. Time for all good christians to go space truckin.'

Buh-bye, y'all.

But me? I dunno, a clerical error maybe. I mean, I've always been a rather nominal christian, at best. Certainly not Rapture material. Actually, to be painfully honest, I never much cared for the majority of christians I've met to begin with, making this little comedy all the more unlikely. Still, it wasn't like I was complaining right off, especially after they showed us the Tribulation scenes pending for our friends left on earth. Highly unpleasant, especially the radiation sickness part.

The actual rapture process itself seemed a little chaotic, almost as if called too early, the crowds apparently more extensive than had been originally planned for. Because the Boss was already eight months behind schedule on judgements pre-Rapture (not that we weren't judged already, considering our entrance and all, but He still insists on an eventual one-on-one with every newbie) the glut of "Raptees" would be in a kind of "limbo" until Our Heavenly Father's schedule permitted, or at least that's what they told us as we were escorted to Heaven proper and told to settle in.

"Heaven" didn't look like any nirvana I'd have fashioned for myself, that's for sure. A misbegottton crossbreed lost somewhere between a barbeque joint and Las Vegas. Christian Country music droned softly in the background as a perfect circle of brilliant multi-hued light floated lazily above us, bathing endless acres of double-wide trailer homes in a kind of permanent orange and yellow glow, tin siding reflecting and refracting the illumination crazily. I couldn't believe my eyes. All of a sudden those Tribulations didn't look near so bad after all. Jesus... Heaven is a trailer park?

After each being assigned a gender specific "mentor" angel (mine was named Earle and he wore a buffalo head string tie over his sheet arrangement) the lot of us were then herded into a dormitory that looked a lot like a Budget Inn and told to choose a room where we'd stay until "permanent housing appointment" in what I presumed was going to be one of the trailers. Still, I wasn't very picky as our temporary cubicles were all basically the same -- walls a gentle beige and lined with fake plants, furniture up-scale Big Lots complete with a massive flat screen television set and an ice chest full of cold ones... sodas that is. God hadn't been kidding -- alcohol verboten both here and there . It's like Earle told me later; "Jus' cause you in heaven don't mean you can go 'round actin' like you in hell."

Not everyone was pleased with this injunction. One guy had started complaining early on -- and he wasn't finished.

"What 'bout them 700 virgins? I don't see none-a them here'bouts."

The Lead Angel -- Sgt. Rock with wings and a halo -- turned angrily when he heard the remark. "That's the Koran, you idiot."

"Yeah? Well, them Islamics stole from the bible; they was thinkin' up that Ko-ran you talkin 'bout," the man shot back, "Gotta be somethin' inna Old Testament 'bout virgins or them towelheads wouldn't-a wrote nothin' bout' em inna furs' place." He finished his argument and stood his ground with a defiant gleam in his eyes. "Now where's my virgins?"

Sgt. Rock merely pointed at the guy and the poor jerk disappeared in a puff of white smoke. "Hope you like radiation sickness, scumbag," he'd mumbled contemptuously before he realized we could hear him. The Lead Angel glanced around as if he'd spilled some beans. He probably had.

This whole circus was already way too convoluted for my liking. To further my aggravation angelic "mentor" Earle dropped by my cubicle after room assignment as I sat on the edge of the bed, head in my hands, an inch from tears.

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Tom Aiken is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He has written for numerous publications including The Village Voice, Heavy Metal amd M'Zine (RIP). Mr. Aiken also has a spanking new blog -- AikenLand -- for publication of his more unpublishable work. (more...)
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