PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…
PART ONE – “Oh my God! I ate a toaster pastry full of concentrated lightning then died on the toilet trying to get rid of it!”
PART TWO – “Where am I? Why am in a 1930’s bar?”
“Wow, look at all these famous dead celebrities – Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Liberace and so on…”
PART THREE – “Wow. Bill Shakespeare is explaining everything about this place to me…but wait, so I’m not in Heaven or Hell?
AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…
Bill plucked the olive out of his martini and ate it. I waited patiently for him to give me the 411 on the situation I was in.
“You, my good man, are in God’s waiting room,” Bill said.
In my mind, I thanked the waitress. The booze insulated me from this shocking news.
“You have yet to discover the meaning of life, Mr. Bookshelf,” Bill said. “And until you do so, Heaven is off limits to you.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Abe Lincoln. Albert Einstein. Lucille Ball. Roosevelt, Cleopatra. You’ve got some pretty top notch folks walking around this gin joint. You’re telling me none of them have discovered the meaning of life? That all of these influential icons are just lollygagging around here because they’ve never answered mankind’s most elusive question?”
“No,” Bill said. “You see, the last thing God needs is for people to die and then return to the physical realm where they will undoubtedly run their big mouths about the existence of an afterlife.”
“Why would that be a problem?” I asked.
“Man’s greatest fear is that nothing happens after death,” Bill said. “That upon death, that’s all there is and nothing more. Fear of the lack of an existence after the physical life is what often produces a fire under the posteriors of the masses to get them moving…to take advantage of all that the physical realm has to offer.”
“So you’re saying that God wants people to be afraid…”
“That life is a tale told by an idiot,” Bill said with a dramatic flourish. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
“That makes sense,” I said. “I suppose if everyone were to learn that the afterlife exists, they’d all just sit around drinking booze and eating chili cheese nachos waiting to croak.”
I slurped from my alcohol hat straw and ate a handful of chips. The irony was not lost on me.
Bill sipped his martini.
“Thus, when people die and arrive in Heaven, they are pleasantly surprised to find their lives have not ended but in fact, are just beginning,” Bill said.
“Heavy stuff,” I said. “Still doesn’t explain why all these brilliant historical types are in a room for people who don’t know the meaning of life.”
“When you return to life,” Bill said. “And tell everyone that you died, then woke up in a 1930’s speak easy where you were served free drinks and snacks by the most beloved female celebrity of your generation who died too soon, hobnobbed with the likes of Einstein, Lincoln, and Roosevelt and engaged in a deep, meaningful conversation about the meaning of life with William Shakespeare…”
“Everyone will just think I’m a nutcase and the secret answer to the question of whether or not there is an afterlife will remain hidden from the living,” I said.
“Precisely,” Shakespeare said.
“All these historical figures just spend their afterlives hanging out in this bar to make people who have yet to find the meaning of life look crazy?” I asked.
“There’s a rotation,” Shakespeare said. “We all take turns to help the Man Upstairs out. Had you died yesterday, you’d of seen Nixon, Elvis, the Big Bopper, and Gahndi.”
“Aw man,” I said. “I love Elvis!”
“I’m the only one who never gets a break,” the waitress said, handing me a Cuban cigar.
“Thanks,” I said. “But I don’t smoke.”
“Good thing,” the waitress said, taking the stogie back. “These things will kill ya’ sweetie.”
“What about you, Bill?”
“Me?” Bill asked. “I am indeed the Bard, the one and only William Shakespeare. But every person who ends up in the seat you are sitting in is greeted by a different person. I have been selected to be your spiritual guide, based on your interest in a career as a writer.”
“Wow,” I said. That was all I could come up with.
Will Shakespeare share any more nuggets of wisdom? Find out next time on Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!
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Beer photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.