First Day Off
This morning he woke early, before six, as he had done everyday throughout his working life.
He tried to recover the last few seconds of a dream in which he had invented a time-machine which somehow was capable of travel to Jupiter. The dream had also had a giraffe in it, he couldn’t remember why.
As he lay there, though, trying to remember whether or not it was Saturday, as he hoped, or Tuesday, as he feared, he suddenly remembered that it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter because today was the first day of his retirement, so he snuggled back down under the covers and closed his eyes. Twenty seconds later he threw back the covers and got up.
After all, today was the first day of his retirement, and the Pope didn’t want to miss a second of it.
He went down to the kitchen, made himself some rolls and coffee, and took them outside into the garden. Five seconds later he took them back inside again, shivering, and reflected that perhaps he should have retired in June.
After breakfast he sat back, wondering what to do. He could go to Mass, of course, indeed he probably should, but he reckoned that would be a bit like those people who leave a company but still turn up at their Friday after-work booze-ups. He decided he would miss a day, he felt that God would understand.
He turned on the TV. The first seven channels he flicked through had Oprah on them. He turned it off.
He decided to go out. He put on a pair of grey trousers, a black jacket and a Chicago White Sox baseball hat (nobody knows how baseball hats show up in your house, they just do) and walked to the bus-stop, since he had of course had to give back his company car. Using his free Pensioner Bus-pass for the very first time, he travelled out to a shopping mall on the outskirts of Rome.
He went into a coffee shop and had an espresso and two doughnuts. A man passing glanced at him, then looked harder, and walked over.
“Wow,“ said the man. The Pope smiled. “You’re Robert Vaughn, aren’t you?”
The Pope’s smile faded.
After the man left he read the front page of the Corriere della Sera (Berlusconi was standing for election yet again), the back page (AC Milan had beaten Juventus 2-0) and the middle pages (someone called Jennifer Aniston had a new boyfriend).
He then went into a little pub where he met two men, Luigi and Giancarlo, at the bar, and while he had a small sherry he learned from them that the Government had destroyed the country, that the EU had destroyed the country, that immigrants had destroyed the country, and that Johnny Depp’s overacting had destroyed Pirates of the Caribbean.
He got a taxi home, where the information about the Government, the EU and the immigrants was repeated by the taxi driver, who seemed though to have no opinion on Johnny Depp.
And as he sat eating his dinner this evening the Pope pondered his future. Perhaps he would get a cat. He might take up chess, or bridge. He might go to one of those active age groups, and go to theatre outings, tea dances and bingo. He thought about going on a cruise-holiday, but felt that at the age of 85 he was probably too young.
He suddenly, fiercely, missed being the boss. He was just an ordinary Joe now – quite literally, in his case. Until yesterday he had had the ear of the whole world. He had written books and encyclicals about deep, deep theological issues, and scholars had pored over his every word.
He still felt that he had lots to say, but nobody was interested in reading it.
He thought back over that last sentence, and realised what that meant.
He’s going to start a blog.