Grand Designs

Sidey’s Weekend Theme is “a grand entrance”. God seems to be in a surprising number of my stories lately…

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“Er, it certainly is a grand entrance,” God said, looking up at the Gates of Heaven.

His cloudmates, having spent many an hour watching makeover programmes on TV, had talked him into doing the place up and so it was that they’d hired St Claude, patron saint of tat, the man who had designed Caesar’s Palace, the rings around Saturn, and the island of Krakatoa (it was supposed to have simply been an eternal fireworks display, but, as St Peter said afterwards, “D’you reckon you used enough dynamite there, Claude?”).

Getting the Heaven contract had been a big deal for Claude, so he had not stinted on expense, loud taste  or garishness.

“Why are the gates two hundred feet tall?” asked God. “The average person going through them will be about five feet nine.

“This is Heaven,” said Claude. “We must impress new members.”

“Why?” asked God. “It’s not like they’ll decide to go somewhere else if they’re not impressed. And how come the Gates are so shiny?”

“They’re Pearly Gates.”

“Is that not the name of a blues singer?” said God, who was more into Choral music himself.

“No, I mean that the Gates are made of pearls,” said Claude.

“Wow,” said God. “How many oyster shells did you have to open to get all those?”

“Just one,” said Claude. “We created one giant oyster, with loads of pearls inside its shell.”

“And where is this oyster now?” asked God, a little queasily.

Claude pointed toward the night sky. God realised that what he had thought was the Andromeda Nebula was actually a giant oyster, drifting through space.

He peered out through the gates and down the long, long Stairway to Heaven. He felt himself getting Vertigo.

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but how long is the stairway?”

“Three million miles.”

“Dear God,” said God. “Why have one at all? Heaven is all around. You just die, and you’re here.”

“But people believe that you ascend to heaven, therefore they have to climb a stair, or they won‘t believe they’re here. It’s all about giving the public what it wants.”

“And what about what I want?” said God. “We just had a simple front door, painted a soothing blue, with the number 1 on it. It had a door-bell that played Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door when you rang it, and a small sign that said “No Junk Mail” above the letter-box, and before you ask, yes, I do get post, though it’s mostly letters from St Paul. It was homely, and comforting to new visitors bewildered by the sudden change in their circumstances. I preferred the old entrance.”

Claude looked crestfallen, so crestfallen that God said “oh, just leave it,” and walked back to his throne.

The Devil was sitting on it, drinking coffee from God’s mug (it had “you don’t have to be a supreme deity to work here, but it helps” written on it).

“Hi,” he said. “Don’t worry, I’m not staying, I just came to see what you did with the place.”

“How did you get in?” gasped God, who’s omniscience was having a really bad day.

The Devil stood up, handed God his mug, and started to leave.

“Simple,” he said. “There’s no Pearly Wall. I just walked in around the gates.”

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