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Poems, Stories & Stuff

Short Stories...
The Patient
A Perfect Life
Midnight at Captain Tom's
The Shark Man
Setting Free the Moth

Poems...
A Warrior's Heart
I'll Remember Love
These Things I Pray
My Miracles
Differences
Raison D'Ítre

Prose...
Sailing Through Life
What's Become Apparent
The Wrong Wish

A Perfect Life
by Pat McDonald
© Pat McDonald 2000
all rights reserved

Bill Thomlinson was an ordinary sort of guy. He was raised in the midwest by a good Christian family. His father was a farmer and his mother was, well, a mother. The kind who wears an apron everyday of the week except Sunday, when she wore a simple print dress, a hat with a flower on it and a strand of faux pearls. Each Sunday Bill would sit in church and dutifully try to pay attention. He learned what most of us learn about Heaven and that other place, about charity and forgiveness and about the Golden Rule. As a child he had a lot of friends, never got into too much trouble and was generally a "good boy".

And so, Bill grew up, graduated college and became a certified public accountant for one of the largest businesses in the United States. He became fairly popular although not too popular. His co-workers always referred to him as "good ol' Bill" and they called him a "good egg" and "one -of-the-guys". He fell in love, got married and had kids in a rather unremarkable way. Little-league coach, devoted husband and father, Bill's wife would pack his lunch and send him off to work each day with a kiss on the forehead and a "Have a nice day!"

The mailman knew him, the neighbors were good friends too. Many a summer barbecue had been shared in the Tomlinson's backyard. He'd throw a cheery wave as he drove off to work each morning. Sundays would find him in church singing off-key and helping to impart to his children the values he had learned as a boy in the midwest.

After forty years of faithful service, Bill retired from his job. They held a dinner in his honor and they gave him a gold watch. Between his savings, social security and his pension, he and his wife, while not rich, were quite comfortable. Their children grew and moved away. They in turn, had children of their own. Bill's funeral was well attended. He died as he had lived: normally. At the statistically normal age of 72, he had a stroke and died quickly. His friends and family agreed the fact that he had not suffered was a blessing. He was loved and mourned by the many who shared his life. "He'll be remembered." they said.

***************************************************

"Name?"

"Bill Thomlinson"

Bill smiled confidently. The Heavenly Gates were spectacular! More beautiful than anything he could have imagined. He had stayed to watch his funeral before following the Beckoning Light and was happy to see how many people had shown up to pay their respects. He'd had a good life. He'd been a good man. He was thinking this when the angel interrupted his thoughts.

"I'm sorry sir, I don't see your name here. If you could just take that elevator to your right and press the "down" button, please."

"But, surely there's been some sort of mistake." Bill stammered. "I'm Bill Thomlinson. You know, 472 Cherry Tree Lane. Hard worker, wife and kids, church-goer?!"

St. Peter gazed on him benevolently and Bill relaxed a little. "Let's just have a looksie, shall we?" he said. The handsome angel reached behind his rather ornate pulpit and fetched out a much larger volume than the one from which he had been reading.
"Let's see, Thomas, Tho-mas-on, ah here we go, Thomlinson." He paused, reading to himself. "Nooo," he said slowly "I'm afraid there's no mistake about it sir, if you would kindly just take that elevator to your right and press the down button, I'm sure you'll...."

"WHAT!" cried Bill. "I don't understand! I was a good man! People loved me! I did my best. I followed the rules!" He was doing his best not to panic, but this was getting scary. St. Peter kept his smile benevolently fixed on Bill as he surreptitiously pressed the hidden button on his pulpit. "According to our records, sir you were in the accounting field, were you not?"

"Y-yes" said Bill cautiously.

"And you worked for an organization known as the Internal Revenue Service?"

"Well, yes. But, I didn't..."

"Ah, ah, ah," interrupted St. Peter. "You see Mr. Thomlinson, everything up here works on a system of balance. Yes, you had several people upon whose lives you had a very positive effect. They loved you. Unfortunately, you had rather the opposite effect upon the lives of many hundreds of people. Consequently, they didn't like you quite as well. And so," he said sweetly. "You can see the reason for our decision."

"But...but...wait!" cried Bill as two largish angels appeared and gently grabbed him by the arms. "I didn't know! I DIDN'T KNOW!"

Bill disappeared into the elevator with the two angels; his screams lessening as the car descended. The next person in line stepped forward, uncertainty in his eyes. "Name?" Smiled St. Peter.

Beware the perfect life...