The archetypical St Lucian had passed on; his life and soul had left his body to be mourned and missed by those who knew him, and many who knew him not. The church was filled to capacity; dignitaries who never knew him, but felt they had to be seen paying their respects, and common folk who had exchanged a few words and fed off his notoriety in the check-out lines at Super J’s; they were all there.
The eulogies were, as usual, somewhat over the top, but so what, he probably wasn’t there to hear them, although one or two speakers did glance over their shoulders now and then as if they expected him to be lurking behind some column, fuming that his earthly remains were being religiously abused. He had never made a secret of his disdain for organized religion, or his regret that so many relied so heavily on divine intervention, instead of getting on with their lives to the best of their abilities.
He decided to call it day and left the church, the assembled congregation and his earthly remains, and turned to a path that seemed unexpectedly and inexplicably to lead heavenwards. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. In fact, there wasn’t supposed to be anything after death, of that he had been quite sure for the whole of his adult life. Life was finite. Death was final. How could this be happening to him?
He trudged along the path until he arrived at a magnificent set of pearly gates. Things were getting out of hand, he felt; it was a good thing he had always done what he could for others, helped others, and been honest and kind, even though he had never, actually, believed in all that life-after-death nonsense.
The gatekeeper was a friendly chap. “Hi, I’m Pete!” he said, brushing a loose feather off his left wing with his right hand. “How was the trip? Okay?”
“Fine,” he stammered, “I’m just a bit surprised to be here. Had I known better I would have brought my résumé with me.”
‘Forget that,” said St Pete, “Since we introduced E-Government, we’ve got everyone’s CV on file. Once you make your choice, I’ll check you in. You have to be a real devil not to get in here.”
“I have a choice?” he asked.
“Sure you do,” said St Pete. “You see the guy over there, by the elevator? Go and check him out. Listen to what he has to offer, and if you like what you hear, well …”
Pete’s words hung in the air. “Yes, I see,” said the recently deceased. “Yes, OK. I’ll check him out.”
And so he wandered over to the elevator where, as he noticed for the first time, a tall, moustached stranger whose face was strangely familiar was waiting. “Ho, ho, ho!” rumbled the stranger. “Welcome to our Alternative Saint Lucian Paradise.”
“But aren’t you the ..?” The stranger interrupted him. “That’s my day job, and we never mention it up here, or down there. Come, let me show you the delights of our ASLP.”
So he followed the stranger into the elevator and they plunged down into the depths of the earth. Much to his surprise, when the doors opened he saw, instead of the fires of Hell, beautiful gardens, swimming pools, barbecues, carnival parades, Calypsonians, Nobel Laureates, jazz musicians and completely naked people prancing around engaged in every imaginable, and a few unimaginable, acts.
“Don’t they have jobs to go to?” he asked.
“Of course not,” responded his guide. “In the ASLP everything is free. Work is a thing of the past. Your every wish is provided for. So come enjoy!”
“I think I shall,” replied the dearly departed. “Take me back up so I can tell Pete.”
And so they returned to the pearly gates where he thanked Pete for his kind consideration, but explained he thought the ASLP was more to his liking. Moments later, they were in the elevator plunging down into the bowels of the earth.
As soon as the door opened, his stomach gave a lurch. People were screaming in agony, writhing in mud, begging for food,
and the stench was unbearable. He turned to his guide, “But this is not what you showed me a while ago. What’s gone
‘Ho, ho, ho!” guffawed his guide. “Nothing’s gone wrong. I was in election mode and I wanted your vote! Welcome to reality!”