A dark shadowy figure moved almost silently across the tavern floor. It slipped by the other patrons of the bar invisibly and parked itself on a bar stool next to a man who glowed faintly with a radiant light.
“Hey G,” the shadowy figure said to the fellow next to him.
“Hey L, you’re late,” replied the radiant man.
“Well, you know,” the dark figure said in a gravely voice, “traffic was Hell.” He chuckled at that. The radiant man rolled his eyes. The bartender walked up to the shadow and slid a large glass mug full of an amber liquid at him. He made sure not to get too close. The shadow nodded his thanks but said nothing.
“So how are things in the trenches?” asked the radiant man, sipping from his mug which also contained the same amber liquid.
“Feels like torture sometimes,” replied the shadow. “I don’t even enjoy it much anymore.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” said the radiant man.
“Oh please,” snipped the shadow, “as if you have room to complain. ‘Help me, save me, forgive me’… how hard is that? Torturing souls can be exhausting. The endless screaming, the pleading for mercy, the bargaining — day after day after day — it get’s old.”
“That’s what you signed up for, if I recall,” replied the radiant man. The shadow grunted and sipped his drink.
“You told me it would be a ground floor opportunity. Underground is more like it. That brimstone really starts to stink after a few millenia. No amount of incense can clear that away. And honestly, things just seem kind of messed up. Why so many people heading my way?”
“How many times have we discussed this?” asked the radiant man. “You know how things work. You’ve seen the master plan. Heck, you helped design it. All men are sinners and doomed to eternal suffering unless they repent and bow down before me. They either jump through my hoops or they spend the rest of their existence with you. I spelled it all out for them. I even sent J down there to do a training session.”
“It just seems a bit… unfair,” replied the shadow slowly, not looking directly at the radiant man but watching from the corner of his eye. One did not criticize lightly.
“I mean, you’ve got all these contradictory rules and first you say one thing and then another…”
“Simple is boring,” said the radiant man taking another swig of his drink. “Been there, done that.”
“Look, I’m just saying, with the way you have things set up, I’m running at near full capacity now. We just finished the last expansion only a few hundred years ago and now we’re running out of room again. The logistics for intake alone is becoming a nightmare. Why not make a few policy changes? Nothing major, mind you, but… what about the whole homosexual thing? Couldn’t you just clarify that and let them know you don’t give a rat’s ass about their sexuality? Your instruction book is pretty vague and it’s not like they’re the sharpest tools in the universal shed.”
The radiant man put his drink on the bar and looked directly at the shadow. “The whole point of being vague about some things is to give them the opportunity to figure these things out for themselves. I made the important stuff very clear: Love, peace, acceptance. If they truly understand those concepts there should be no confusion over how to treat those who differ in some way. If they get it wrong, they go see you.”
“Ok, but there are a lot of them down there that have figured those things out but you still want them sent to me because they reject your instructions. How is that fair?” asked the shadow.
“Who says I have to be fair?” asked the radiant man? “Haven’t you heard? I work in ‘mysterious ways‘. It’s my game and I play the way I want. Fair is boring too. Come on now, drink up. You worry about them too much.”
“Yeah, I guess I do,” said the shadow sadly. He picked up his mug and drained it. “Another please,” he said to the bartender. The shadow did pity the humans. They were just pawns in an elaborate game of the cosmos and they didn’t even know it.
The two old friends drank some more as they often did. The game continued.