Dead Dogs Don't Roll Over
Written by: Alex Sandell

Chapter 44
12 Steps After Death

My chin begins trembling, as my eyes well up with tears. "You’re an angel?" Lisa smiles at me, a smile so wonderful, I fall to the floor and begin crying. Lisa holds me in her arms, cradling me until all the pain I’ve been dealt during this terrible day seems to go away. "One step below, angel, Wayne." Lisa seems to sense my confusion, and explains.

"Christians got the whole Heaven and Hell thing all wrong." I can’t help but mumble, "big surprise there." Lisa ignores me, and continues. "The afterlife actually works in levels. The lower you're placed, the more levels you have to work through, before reaching the top. I’m currently one-step below Heaven." "So," I ask, "is that like Limbo, then?" "No," Lisa answers, "it’s actually two-steps above Limbo, it’s the final gateway, once I pass through, I'll be in Heaven. Then I’ll be an angel."

"Well, you already look like an angel." My compliment causes a smile to gently work its way across Lisa’s dazzling face. "Once you die, you move beyond ‘ugly.’ Whatever made people consider you less ‘desirable’ than somebody else, in your mortal body, is lost in your spirit, and only what is pure and beautiful, is found." "So, no matter what step you’re on, you still look great?" "Not on the bottom step." Lisa returns, "the bottom step is the closest approximation there is to the traditional version of ‘Hell.’ But even those who enter the bottom step, can eventually work their way up to the top."

"You don’t get sent there for doing things like whacking off over some nudie-picture," Lisa continues, her words bringing me a great deal of relief, "or shoplifting from WAL-MART." "So, how do you get there?" "God isn’t into all this ‘punish people for having hormones’ crap, that’s just something a bunch of fanatics came up with, ‘cause everyone else seemed to be having too much fun. Actually, the level you’re sent to isn’t determined by God, at all." "Who does determine it then?" I ask. Lisa pauses, looking as though she’s worried somebody may be listening. "Wherever you’re sent, you’re sent by those who surrounded you in life."

"Huh?" is my only response. "How well did you treat others? Did you ever hurt anyone? Lie to, or consciously betray them?" Lisa stops speaking for a moment, and looks around, nervously. "Were you looked up to? Did you do your part to leave this world a better place than you entered it? Were you respected? That’s what determines the level of immortality you enter, not any of this mumbo-jumbo your mom tried to brainwash you with." Jeez, I wish my parents could have heard that.

"But, Richard hated me, without me ever mistreating him. Would that send me to Hell?" I can’t believe I’m talking to a spirit, and still unable to have absolute faith. "What about some celebrity that is loved by the public, but is only putting on an act, would they go straight to Heaven?" Lisa begins sounding frustrated, "Richard’s thoughts of you are not based on your actions toward him, and the public’s thoughts about the celebrity would be misguided." "But," I interrupt "you just said it’s what people think." "And that’s why God’s there," Lisa answers, "he’s sort of like a judge. Only without any personal agendas. Since mortals are so easily misled, it is Him that decides if what others have been thinking about you is true, or merely a misguided notion."

"So," I continue with my questioning, "in the end, God actually does decide where you go?" "No, he only figures out if where you’ve been sent is the place you belong." "Why didn’t you get to the top level?" I ask. "I’m not entirely sure, you forget all that was superficial, in life. You forget who you hated, you forget who hated you. Who you were mad at, who hurt your feelings, who disagreed, none of it matters. It never did." I look puzzled. "If you still need an answer, I’m figuring someone must have rightfully thought I mistreated them, even something as simple as someone thinking I was annoying could have done it." I kind of bob my head and whistle, hoping Lisa doesn’t know what I was thinking back in chapter 41.

Although I have hundreds of other questions, I decide to ask only one, "why did you come to me?" "Because you were going to leave," Lisa replies. "Leaving is wrong?" "It is when staying will help." "What can I do?" I ask. "Stay." "That’s it?" "For now." I become flustered. "When will I know more?" "When you need to," Lisa answers. "They’re scared of you, Wayne. There’s something in you, and it’s something they don’t like." "Great," I cynically return, "they’re probably just gonna slice it out." "They haven’t yet, have they?" Lisa asks. "So, what does that mean?" "It means they haven’t figured you out. They don’t know what to do with you. Listen, Wayne, I'm sorry I don’t have the answers to all of your questions, if you want to leave, I won’t stop you. Just walk out the door, drive away, and I won’t restart time, until you’re miles away." I look toward the door. I see a bird paused in mid-flight. I walk up, and begin pushing the door open, "I’ve never wanted to spend my life working here, it’s the only chance I have to escape, Lisa . . ." I wait for her to justify my cowardice, she remains silent. The way I finish my sentence surprises even me, ". . . But I’ll stay." "Thank you, Wayne." Lisa seems to glow, "you did the right thing."

Go to: Chapter 45

1997 Alex Sandell but, if you're a book publisher and, you wanna get this puppy out, please get in touch with me, hand me a nice, big contract and, of course, a 12 pack of Grape Soda and maybe we can do lunch.

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