Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Mario V. Farina
Email: [email protected]
I’m Grace O’Dershowitz,” the woman declared. ‘I’m God.”
The remark took me completely by surprise. I didn’t know whether to smile or make a clumsy retort. What was I doing here, anyway? Curiosity? The day has started like any other day. Well, not quite!
I had peeled off the yellow sticky that had been attached to my copy of “Strunk’s Elements of Style” and stared at the words: “Robert, you’ll find God at 305 Kosciusko Street.” During the morning I thought about the message as I taught three English classes at Pratt Institute. My curiosity had been aroused. I decided to walk to the address during the lunchtime break.
As I strode through the large mahogany door of the school, I wondered who had placed the message on the book and why. It was warm for April. The blue woolen jacket that I wore, provided an amount of comfort that balanced the chill of the air with the warmth of the sun. It had been years since I had taken a noontime excursion. At sixty, I tended to leave a more sedentary life that was good for me.
Soon, I found myself on Steuben Street, amidst the roar of the street-and-people traffic that is Brooklyn. Then, I was on Classon Avenue. I had been moving briskly, but began to slow down by the time I reached Taafle Place, and later, Kent Avenue. A few more streets and I arrived at Kosciusko Street, which had been named for a famous Brooklyn general. I was not acquainted with the street and had some difficulty finding the address. It turned out that 305 was a tailor shop. There was a man’s tuxedo in the show window and a rack with several women’s evening dresses. It was dark inside, but as I peered through the door’s small, dingy window, I could make out a counter and some tables. A sign on the door read, “Open, Walk-in.” Which is what I did.
It was a small room. There was a stand on the left with some men’s and women’s clothing, a counter directly in front, and, at the right, a small dressing room with a curtain over the opening. Behind the counter was a door partially hidden by a clothes tree that held some men’s jackets. There was a bell on the counter.
Before I had a chance to press the plunger, the door opened, and a woman emerged from the murkiness. She peered at me from behind the counter. “Hello, Professor Stanton,” she said. “I’ve been expecting you.”
I scrutinized the woman. She was of average height, had hazel eyes, wore black horn-rimmed glasses, She was trim but not slim. From the few gray strands in her blond and auburn hair, I estimated her age to be in the early forties. She wore a shapeless black blouse over a blue skirt. Her lipstick had been carefully applied. There were tiny blue earrings on her ears.
“I received a message saying that I would find God here,” I began. “I’m not sure why I’ve come.”
The woman’s brown eyes, which seem to grow larger through the thin lenses, twinkled as she smiled. “You have found God,” she said. Did you notice the sign above the entrance?”
“No,” I responded, puzzled.
“It reads Lord and Tailor,” she said smiling. I noticed that she had a slight gap between her upper two front teeth. “I love puns,” she continued. “I just couldn’t resist this one.”
“Was it you who wrote the message?” I asked. “Surely, you had a better reason for bringing me here then to tell me a joke!”
The woman’s face took on a somber demeanor. “Would you follow me, please,” she said. She opened the small door at the side of the counter. This enabled me to follow as she led the way to the rear of the room. There was a short, dark hallway and another door at the end. She opened this and a shaft of light illuminated the hallway with a brilliance exceeding that of daylight. Instinctively, I shielded my eyes as we walked and entered another room that was several times the size of the tailor shop.
I soon became accustomed to the extreme brightness and caught sight of a long table crammed with equipment that resembled items found inside a missile launch control room. There were huge display screens, cables, switches, and gauges of various kinds. In the air, were indistinct sounds that seemed to emanate from unknown sources, eerie whines, shrieks, moans, musical tones, and murmurs. It seemed that samples of all the sounds heard on earth had been mingled to form a single cacophony that permeated the entire room.
“This is my lab,” I don’t spend a lot of time here. There is a more quiet room next door. Follow me.”
She brought me into a smaller room and closed the door behind us. The heavy door effectively closed off the din from the lab. There was a table and with an Apple laptop on it, a bun, and a coffee cup partially filled. On a ledge behind the table, was a small statuette of Buddha. “Let’s sit here,” she said and drew another chair close to the one that was already there.
The screen was small but there were many smaller images on it, views of storms, battlefields, and other scenes of violence. There was a short period of silence as I stared at the electronic images realizing that these were real time events that I was witnessing. That is when this woman made the statement that has startled me. “I’m Grace O’Dershowitz,” the woman declared, “I’m God.”
I did not respond, for the full impact of her statement did not immediately register. Finally, when the words, “I’m God,” had reverberated in my brain several times, I reacted with a gasp. I stared at the woman, my mind not comprehending.
“You’re G-God? Y-you’ll have to admit,” I stammered, “that you’ve made an audacious, if not blasphemous statement. Why should I believe you?” There, I had voiced what needed to be said, but in my heart, I knew that what this person claimed was true.
“I brought you here to introduce myself,” she said. “First, I’ll have to convince you that what I’m saying is true” that you are not dreaming or hallucinating. Much as I hate to do this, I’ll have to perform some cheap parlor miracles.”
Without a moment the preparation, and without any apparent passage of time, I found myself alone at the apex of the tower atop the Empire State Building. I looked down one thousand feet and my legs turned to shards of ice as terror struck my being. Then, I felt myself falling forward as my body left the dubious safety of the pinnacle.
“My God!” I screamed as I plummeted downward.
“You called?” The woman was speaking though I could not see her. Vehicles and people on the street rapidly became larger. An instant before impact, I found myself in a vast black emptiness. In the distance I could see widely scattered points of light. Then, the scene changed. I was sitting at the left of Grace O’Dershowitz, whom I now believed with all my heart, was God.
“No more,” I managed to cry out. “What’s happening to me? Am I losing my mind?”
“No, nothing like that, Robert. I simply needed to get your attention,” she responded. “Let’s chat for a while. It’s seldom that I have a conversation with a living creature. I prefer humans to the beings of other worlds. Take the ones from Alpha Centauri, for example. They have evolved more than you, but are less inhibited. They give me a headache sometimes.”
““But why me? I haven’t been religious. I haven’t even been a believer.”
“That’s no problem,” said God, “as you will see. But first, I’m hungry. Do you feel like pizza?”
“God eats pizza?” I marveled mentally. “Oh, sure,” she responded audibly. “I know it isn’t good for me, but I enjoy it. Let’s take a walk. I know a great little Italian restaurant not far from here.”
She led as we made our way back to the shop, then into the thundering clamor of automobile traffic. It wasn’t possible to converse while we walked along the streets bustling with people, cars, buses and taxicabs, amidst the babble of voices, shrills of sirens, racket of jackhammers, screeches of tires, and blare of horns. I wouldn’t have been able to do so, anyhow, since my brain had encased itself within a ceramic shell so that it could contemplate the occurrences of the last half-hour without interference from the real world.
“Watch where the hell you’re going, you idiots,” yelled a brawny taxi driver through the open window of a yellow cab. God and I had barely escaped with our lives as we crossed against the light on Pulaski Street.
Finally, we came to a small restaurant snuggled between two brownstones on Main Street. “This is it, Angelo’s Pizza Palace,” she announced, as she stood aside so that I could open the door. A man, who I took to be Angelo, approached and greeted us. He was short, pudgy, and wore a huge black mustache, which contrasted sharply with his naked head. Smiling expansively, he exclaimed, “Oh, Misses Grace. How nice to see you. Your table, she’s justa now be empty. Follow me please.”
“Nice to see you, too, Angelo,” said Grace. “Just couldn’t resist the thought of your excellent pizza for even one more minute. I brought a friend. Meet Professor Stanton.”
“I’ma happy to meeta you,” said Angelo glancing at me. “I tella my son to maka the pizza especially good for you.”
In a quiet corner of the rather small dining room, Angelo brought us to a table that was covered to the floor with tablecloth. There were ten or twelve other diners seated in groups of two and four.
I assisted Grace by pulling her chair from the table, then pushing it back after she had sat. As we fussed with our napkins and silverware, I studied her plain face, I wondered why God wouldn’t select a more attractive appearance.
“I’m here to do a job,” she explained, “not to win a beauty pageant. Does that answer your question?”
I nodded, embarrassed that I had entertained such thoughts.
A young woman arrived. “Hello,” she said. “My name is Trish. I’ll be your server. The soup tonight is minestrone. What would you like to drink?”
Grace ordered a glass of red wine and I did the same. As we were ordering, I had a chance to take note of the woman who was serving us. She was about twenty, of medium height, slim with dark hair. Her uniform was a black dress with white, lacy trim. She smiled her thanks and stated that she be right back.
“How do I address you?” I mustered the question that had been vexing me for several minutes.
“It is awkward, isn’t it?” God responded. “You can address me as Grace, if you wish, or God, whichever makes you feel more comfortable.” She smiled. “Or, you can simply say Ms. O’Dershowitz.”
“Dershowitz sounds Jewish,” I observed. “And O’Dershowitz sounds a little Irish. Is there some sort of story here?”
“Yes, this is a nom de plume. I chose it because I don’t want to show bias. God is not a Christian, not a Jew, not a Muslim, not anything else. God is simply God. If you look carefully, you find a little Arabian in my name, a little Chinese, and so on. Did you notice that my initials are G. O. D.? I thought this was a nice touch. My real name is Mary Mattiola, but we won’t go into that exactly now. We will later.”
“All right,” I stumbled. “I just don’t know how to act. You seem like an ordinary person, but somehow, I feel as if I should be kneeling, or groveling, at your feet.”
“No groveling, please, Robert. Just be yourself. Tell me something. What are some of the things you’ve always wanted to know about God, but didn’t know who to ask?”
“Well, I guess you’ve answered my first question. Is there a God? Why has there always been so much mystery about whether or not you really exist? Is there a Heaven, Hell, Devil, all the things that the Bible mentions? What is the meaning of life? Why is there so much evil in the world?”
“Wait, slow down, one question at a time. Yes, of course there is a God. God has always existed and will exist forever. There should never have been a mystery of God’s existence since the mere fact that existence, itself, exists is abundant evidence. As to your other questions, there is no Heaven or Hell or the other things you’ve mentioned. The Bible? Well, I understand that this is a book that is worthy of study, but it has nothing to do with me. I intend to read it when I have more time. I understand there is some excellent literature in the book.
“If there is no Heaven, then where do you normally live, if it makes any sense to use that word?” I asked
“I live, that is, I exist in hyperspace, Robert; I’m everywhere. And so is everyone else, and so is everything else. The locales that you see around you are artificial; they aren’t real.”
I must have looked perplexed.
God smiled. “So that you can better understand some of what I’m saying, I need to give you some background about the nature of God, about hypertime, hyperspace, and a few other things.”
“There is only one God,” she continued, “but I, myself, have not always been God. Others have had the position before me. Countless others! Angelo, whom you met a few minutes ago, was God at one time, also Trish, and the chef in this restaurant. Some of the people you’ve known in the past have been God – like professors Jamison and Chu. Also, Alice Mason, who is currently one of your students. And, believe it or not, the taxi driver who honked his horn and hollered at us as we were crossing Pulaski. Robert, if you knew of all the creatures, those immensely huge beyond your comprehension, and those infinitely small, in this world and the myriad of others, who have been God, you would be dumbfounded!”
“And my wife…?” I began.
“Yes of course,” she responded. Didn’t you ever suspected it? Surely, you’ll have to agree that it took a hallowed person to put up with some of your shenanigans.”
She was right. There had been times when I felt I had contributed to her early demise.
There was a moment of silence. Then I asked, “what is hypertime? And hyperspace?”
“I guess the simple answer is that it’s God’s time and space. But that would be only partially answering your question. Hypertime and hyperspace are the same. They are an eternal now and forever, a perpetual here and everywhere. The form of time that you sense is synthetic. Time, as you know it, cannot be defined by humans. God created it so that the mental capabilities of creatures would allow them to be aware of their own existence. And it’s a sort of refuge for me when my work gets hectic and I need to rest a while.”
“Time is duration,” I exclaimed. “You say time is indefinable?”
“Of course, Robert. You intuitively feel that you understand time and the passage of time. It’s true that time seems to be duration but what is duration? What does it mean to durate from one moment to another? I hope you excuse my coining of this word.”
I thought for a while, but was forced to agree that the notion of duration is much harder to define than to experience. “Grace,” I hesitantly began, “are you saying that everything happens at the same time and in the same place?”
“Exactly, Robert in a very simplified manner, that’s the way it is. In addition, all the versions that your life could have taken as you made moment by moment decisions are revealed and known. Did the thought ever occur to you that you make decisions during every waking moment of your life? And that each decision affects the rest of your life, sometimes in a small way, sometimes in a more profound manner? And that every decision you make affects the universe in some way?”
“Over a never ending design of time and space, you live through all of these versions. You will never cease to exist because the forms that your life can take are infinite.”
“Are you referring reincarnation?” I asked.
“Oh, no, nothing exactly like that! While you’re human, you’ll always be Robert. But you’ll be all kinds of Robert. You’ll be Robert, the peasant, Robert the king, Robert the thief, and so on. And everyone else in the universe will be experiencing the same transitions.”
“After you’ve been Robert, you’ll be Max, then Sam, then Helen, then Sandra, and so on. In time you’ll be every kind of human that it’s possible to be. And that’s only the beginning. Afterwards, you go on to become every other form of creature that exists, has ever existed, or will exist!”
How is all of this possible?” I protested. “How could there be enough time for all of that?”
“Ah, but you forget, Robert” God declared. “We’re speaking of infinity. In our excursion through infinity, there is no lack of time for anything. Time, as you know it, has always existed and will continue to exist forever!”
“As for the meaning of life,” she continued, “since there is a God, then there has to be a validation for God’s existence. That is why creatures, such as humans in this world, and creatures on other worlds exist. For example, good exists. It follows, therefore that in order for there to be good, there has to be a state that is the opposite of good so that God can be perceived. That opposite state is what you call evil. Since all possible lives will be lived by all creatures, both good and evil will be experienced by all. It’s like that for all the other qualities that exist.”
Trish brought our drinks. Because of what God has revealed about her, I now viewed her in a different way. God and I ordered pizza and garlic bread. We both asked for Miller light to be delivered with our pizza. “What is pizza without beer?” God queried.
“Does Trish know that she was God? How long ago was that? What was the duration?” All these questions burst from me like torrents pouring through a break and a dam. Grace waited until Trish was out of earshot.
Oh yes, Trish was God for a length of time that you would deem infinite. She was God and, in hypertime, still is. This is also true for several others that you see in this room. Trish knows all this but, for the time being, has chosen not to. I, too, have turned omniscience off except for selected occasions. Remember the sounds in my lab? They were prayers from all over the world. But, they were only a babble in my ears while I was there. Whether or not they are answered is not a decision that has to be made since, in an eternal now, everything has already transpired, is transpiring, and will transpire.”
An awareness that the reason for this meeting with God had a much more profound purpose than I had imagined, began trickling into my brain. Up until this moment, I had not had time to wonder why God had chosen to communicate with me. Now it was becoming clear. “You and I are here for a definite purpose?” I asked.
“Yes,” God responded. “But, let’s wait to discuss this until after Trish brings our pizza. Angelo makes the kind that is to die for.” She grinned broadly at the pun. “Did you think I was going to say that it is heavenly pizza?” I wasn’t sure it was appropriate, but I allowed myself to chuckle.
God and I continued our conversation. After a while my questions emerged at a more leisurely pace and I stopped addressing her as Grace. I now felt enough at ease to use the word, God. I began to feel a fellowship with her. “Grace,” I asked, “how is the baton passed. Is there thunder, lightning! An ordination a coronation?”
“Oh, no,” she responded. “Being God is hard work. This is not a job that anyone in his or her right mind would want, so the transition is accomplished in the rather mundane way. It could be over a drink at a party, a flight over Naples, in the library, at the seashore, or even in a pizza palace while enjoying pizza.”
Trish brought our meals. She placed them gingerly on the table. “Be careful, they’re very hot,” she warned as she smiled and walked away.
“Robert,” God said, “it’s time for me to hand over the baton, as you put it. From this moment, you are God!”