The old man laid down on his bed. His body was aching from his long, battering life. The only escape was to close his eyes and wait to fall into a different world, one that pain seems to dissolve into numbness. His only thoughts were the woman he loved nearly sixty-nine years of his life. The woman that left the world with the simple yet complicated bang.
It took nearly four hours, or four-hundred, thirty-seven thousand moans, or three-hundred, forty-four thousand winces, or one-hundred, seventy-three tears to fall asleep. He wanted so desperately to leave the Earth and be back with his love. There was something that was keeping him alive, however, and he wished it would just hurry up.
He woke up after a few hours, or three-hundred and eighty-two minutes, to be exact, of numbness. Soon the pain was back, as well as the feeling that part, or most, of him was gone. The phone rang and the old man was both shocked and puzzled. He hadn’t gotten a call on that phone in almost three years. Five years ago was when his Earthly partner had left as well as most, or all, of his friends. There were only two people who would call. His daughter and his son would call almost once a week to see how he was doing. It was always the same answer, “I’m doing fine son.” Or, “Hey princess, I’m okay.”
It went on for two years and eventually their once a week calls turned into once a month calls. He didn’t mind, as he didn’t want his kids to worry about him and he knew they were well off with their loving families. They always called near the same times, on the first day of the month, around noon. The old man eventually just told his kids that he would visit them once in a while if they would stop worrying about him.
There was no other reason for a call, once his kids stopped calling. He meant to disconnect the line so he wouldn’t have to pay for something he never used, but with the wear and tear of his life, his memory wasn’t what it had once been.
He stopped and waited a few rings to make sure his mind wasn’t just playing tricks on him. Five rings later, he realized this was an actual phone call. His shaky hand picked up the phone and he held it to his always-growing ear. With a nervous tone he asked, “Hello?”
“Mr. Stelzer, you have been very patient with me and I thank you for that,” the deep and stern, yet gentle voice said.
“Who is this?”
The voice had a loud, warm laugh. The kind of laugh that a kid will hear from his father.
“You wouldn’t believe if I told you. Instead of spending anymore of your time and keeping you, I’m going to tell you what it is you are waiting for.”
The old man was so confused most of these words seemed like they were in a different language.
“What do you mean? Who is this? What is your name?”
“You need to be at the corner of 1st and Emery at exactly 2:32 p.m. Wait there and you’ll know what to do after that. Mr. Stelzer, I appreciate you being so patient. Once you are finished, you will have a special place saved for you. Again, thank you.”
The other line disconnected before the old man could ask any more pointless questions. He sat there wondering what in the world was going on. Thirty minutes, or thirty dumbfounded minutes went by and he finally decided it was time to do something. He went over to the counter and wrote down the address and time of where the voice told him to go and was surprised when he remembered this with his memory.
He put on a light coat, it was during the spring, and grabbed his keys to lock the house. The old man decided that the phone call was either a hoax, in which case it wouldn’t matter, he didn’t do much these days anyhow, or it was something serious and he wasn’t about to miss out on that. He looked up directions on the map and found that the location wasn’t too far from his house and that he was going to walk. He left his house, locked the doors and started his slow and painful walk towards the address.
The old man was almost to the spot where the voice said to go. It took him nearly two and a half hours, or four-thousand, two-hundred and fifty-two slow and painful steps, or sixty-two breaks, or two tears. He sat down on a bench, on the corner 1st and Emery. The pain and the exhaustion almost made him pass out. Sitting and watching he waited for a clear sign to come out at him.
The voice did say that once he arrived he would know what to do. The only thing he knew was he didn’t know what he was looking for. Nearly thirty minutes went by and still nothing had been a clear sign. He began to think that the phone call was a prank, after nearly two hours. He stood up and was about to head home, when he started feeling dizzy and his vision became blurry. He stumbled around looking for the bench but couldn’t seem to find it.
The pain became too much and he decided he had to sit down on the ground. His vision became clear and he looked up and seeing he was in an alley, he looked around. He saw a dumpster a few boxes and a small clock above one of the doors. The time read exactly 2:32 p.m. There was a loud, human like whine coming from one of the boxes.
The old man summoned some of the strength he had left as he cautiously went over to see what this sound was. In the box was a blanket and something underneath it. He had a good idea of what this sound was and was almost afraid to pull back the cover. He was hoping his old ears were playing a trick on him. They weren’t.
He pulled back the cover and in that box, was the face of something new. The new face looked up at the old man and, as if it knew it was saved, it stopped crying and just glared at him. It reached up with its new, little hand and grabbed the tip of his nose.
The old man was too stunned for words as he watched this new body, this new mind squeezing his big, over-grown olfactory organ. This new baby, with its pure, smooth, undeterred, ageless skin was now a part of the old man’s responsibilities. He sat down, held the baby in is arms like he did almost twenty-seven years earlier and thought. He called his daughter.
“Princess, I have a really big favor of you. This is something that will change you’re life forever and I want you to do it only if you are completely ready and willing,” The old man said to her.
“Daddy, are you okay? What’s going on?”
“Just listen. I need you to meet me at the coffee shop off of 1st, near Abercott. Can you meet me in twenty minutes?”
“Of course Dad. Is everything okay?”
“Yes, everything is fine. Just be ready for a gift from above.”
He got up and headed towards the coffee shop with the new baby in his arms. He looked down at it, as it smiled back up at him. Every step was still painful but the pain went to the very back of his mind. He looked at the new baby and wondered what kind of human could ever do something like this. It could very possibly be for the best.
He sat down at the booth with the baby still in his arms and waited for his daughter. This baby had no cuts, scraps, bruises, or hair. The old man giggled to himself as he thought about how completely opposite they were and the irony in it. His daughter came in and sat down across from the old man and the new baby.
She looked at the baby and back at her Dad and then all around the coffee shop, “Whose is that?”
“This is what I need to talk to you about. This baby, I found it. It was in the alley with no note, or anything else with it. Just the clothes and a blanket the hospital puts on when they are born.”
The old man held a damaged, scarred finger at the new baby’s nose, as it grabbed it and then started gnawing it. He looked at his daughter with sincere eyes, “I know you have that thing where you’ll never be able to get pregnant. You and Mark have been wanting a kid for a few years and I feel like this might be your chance.”
She looked around for words, but couldn’t find anything to say. Her eyes began to water as a few tears dripped onto the table. She looked at the new baby, saw its good, pure nature and saw that this baby was always meant to be hers and this baby has something special in-store for it.
Even though she was still unable to talk, she nodded her head to say what her mouth could not. She was going to take care and love this new baby and give it the best home possible. The old man gave one last look at the new baby and handed it to his daughter as she kissed it on the forehead and cradled it to sleep.
They talked for a few more hours about everything and she gave him a ride back to his house. He looked at the phone wondering if he was going to get another unexpected call, but nothing happened. He walked out onto his porch to see the rest of the day. He took a few painful, but joyful steps down and walked to his grass.
He knew his daughter was going to be a great mother to her new baby. He decided to lay on the yard as he used to as a young man. It may have seemed strange to a passerby, an old man laying on his back, in the grass, but the old man felt as comfortable as he used to before age got to him. He watched the clouds roll by and drifted off and closed his eyes.
Then the old man felt a strange feeling lay over him. It felt to him like a warm blanket being pulled over his cold achy body. He looked up and noticed that the sky didn’t even seem to be moving. Instead, it was dissolving into something more illuminated. Something that was much more beautiful and articulate. He looked down and noticed that the ground seemed to be moving further and further. As he looked up again, he knew something beautiful was happening something he was waiting for. It was as comfortable as he’s ever been. As if he were a child in his father’s arms.
He wasn’t exactly sure where he was going, but he didn’t really care at this point. If he was stuck like this forever, he would be as happy as ever. Once he closed his eyes, the ride somehow felt as though it were over. He opened his eyes back up to see what had changed and noticed he was standing. What he was standing on, was a whole, different story.
It didn’t have the feeling of any type of surface he’s ever stood on before. Maybe there wasn’t even a ground at all, maybe he just was and there was no need for a floor. Suddenly, the voice of something in a loud and gentle way eased its way into the silence and the man shifted his attention to where the sound was coming from, or where he thought it might be coming from.
He looked over in the direction he thought he heard it and saw something wonderful. It wasn’t a man or a human at all. It didn’t seem to have any body parts of any living creature, yet it had the feeling something powerful was living inside. It moved as though wind was coming from every direction, yet a breeze was non-existent. It was the brightest thing ever created, yet it was the easiest thing to look at.
The man, Mr. Stelzer, was so focused on how beautiful and simplistic it was, that he forgot it spoke at all, until it spoke again, “Hello son. I’ve missed you. I’m glad you’ve found your way home.”
The voice sounded like a deep man’s voice and a lady’s voice at the same time. It was like it spoke into his thoughts and out loud. He thought for a minute and could only manage one human word, “Dad?”
“Yes son. It is your father. Not the one you knew on Earth. But the one who gives you life and love and the one who loves you more than anything ever could,” replied the shimmer.
“God?” He seemed a little silly for asking that question.
“Yes. Son, I have been very happy with you that day you found the child. You were patient with me and your reward shall soon come.”
“What do you mean that day? That was just a few hours ago,” His voice trailed off as more of a question as he thought. Time didn’t seem to exist since he became painless. After he thought about it for a while, he decided to ask, “Wasn’t it?”
The voice, or voices, laughed and it seemed like everything began to rumble with it, “Son, there is no time here. That happened neither a long time, nor a short time ago. It just simply happened. But let me show you something that your last day on Earth happened to do.”
The man’s attention turned, somehow, to one person on Earth. Though he wasn’t there, the new vision was more like a memory, or something that was in his mind. The person was a teenage boy named Landen.
He was sitting down on a floor that was probably his bedroom, writing something in a notebook. He wrote until the very last page was full and set it down on a stack of two or three other notebooks that were just as complete. He picked up a different one and began to write even more. The memory, or event, or moment dissolved into a different one.
This time Landen was older maybe mid-twenties with a full beard. This time he was typing on his laptop. It looked as though the document contained around three or four-hundred pages. The memory faded again.
He was maybe a few years older and was sitting on a chair next to a woman talking towards a camera. In front of them was a book titled, God’s Love, Our War. He wasn’t nervous one bit. He did seem really excited and enthusiastic, however. The book seemed to give him great joy. The event faded again.
Now he was standing on stage in a stadium filled with thousands and maybe even a million or so people. He was in the center with a microphone in one hand and the same book in the other. Landen would talk for a few moments and then point to a person with their hand raised. They would ask a question and then he would take a minute to answer it and then he’d continue again with his speech. The moment faded once more.
The man opened his eyes and found himself still standing next to the beautiful and majestic presence. “Who was that?” He asked.
“That was the new baby you found when you were still an old man. He became quite the character.”
“He looked like he was talking about some book to a lot of people. I’m guessing those times where he was writing was for the book,” Mr. Stelzer replied.
“Yes that was his book that he wrote. It was all about how much I love my children and how everyone should love as I love. Instead of creating violence based on different ideas or opinions. It changed a lot of people. When I say a lot, I mean over one million. He has been quite the blessing.”
The man felt, or thought he felt, a tear roll down his cheek, “So my daughter did, or is doing, a good job of raising him?”
“The best. Your grandson has done something very special for myself and everyone I’ve created. I am very proud of him as we all should be.”
The man became overjoyed, and probably would’ve started to cry had he still been on earth, at the sound of this. His grandson was amazing beyond compare. “Thank you. Thank you for letting me stay. For that child.”
The shimmering wonder didn’t say anything for a few moments. It seemed as though it turned to a different direction. Finally God said, “Now son, your reward. It awaits you.”