Happy Monday, Readers! It’s a pleasure to be back in the country again. You won’t believe this, but in Italy I did not come across a single Starbucks, and when you go into a regular restaurant and ask for a spot of tea, they give you literally what you ask for: a spot of tea.
“Italian waiters,” I said, “this is not enough tea to whet the appetite of a moderately sized mouse. I’m an American, and when I ask for a cup of tea, I mean an ENORMOUS cup of tea, several thousand times larger than the one you have currently just delivered.”
Only my Italian wasn’t good enough to communicate all of this in the correct language, so after they blinked at me in confusion for several moments, I repeated the above speech in the best Italian I could muster, which came out as “molto buono,” and then I humbly drank the undersized-mouse portion of tea. But I find that in order to really get into my writing zone, I need an absolutely enormous cup of strongly caffeinated tea, ideally served in my favorite white teacup, which my little brother gave me in college. So as I sit on my writing couch, holding said teacup, and gazing out the window at the rain-spattered rooftops of silky grey Portland, I revel in the luxury of being an American.
But Italian cappuccinos are excellent. And without further ado, I bring you the next installment of Diluvium, reveling also in the pleasure of having such great readers.
Excerpt from where we left off:
“You and your wife shall be spared,” God repeated, “and together, you shall repopulate the Earth.”
“What, all of it?” I said.
“Yes,” said God. “All.” The Guy can be very solemn about these things. Um, did I mention that I’m 600 years old? And my wife is no spring chicken either. Also, even if you’re Good yourself, there’s no guarantee that your offspring are going to be Good. It’s a lot of work trying to bring them up properly, and of course we had my wife’s (apparently sinful genes) to contend with. So that right there is a tremendous amount of responsibility, and this, you understand, is before He even mentioned building an Ark.
Well, the next day God stopped by was a Sunday, and I was just getting ready for church. Going to church in those days was kind of a drag, because almost no one attended. There weren’t enough members to have a decent choir, or deacons, or acolytes, or actually much of a congregation at all really. In fact, it was pretty much just me and my family, and sometimes the priest didn’t show up either. But I always insisted on going because it’s the Right thing to do; also, I always felt a little bit better when I could glance down our pew at my sons, all lined up in their Sunday best looking like decent citizens for once, and when they couldn’t give the game away, by speaking.
“Noah,” God says to me, “today I’m going to tell you the rest of the Plan.”
I screamed, because I was in the shower at the time, and you try keeping soap out of your eyes when an invisible Deity suddenly addresses you out of nowhere, while you’re at your most vulnerable.
“God,” I snapped, “do you think maybe I could get a LITTLE bit of privacy?”
God watched, interested, as I grabbed for a towel.
“Noah,” He pointed out, “I can see into your mind and your heart, and the innermost depths of your very soul. Why does it bother you if I can also see you naked?”
“I don’t know, it just does,” I snapped. “I think it’s something you have to be human to understand.”
“Perhaps one day I will be,” God said, thoughtfully.
“Anyway, what do you want?” I demanded. “I’m late for church.”
“Tell me, Noah,” said God, in that grandiloquent tone He always gets when He’s about to launch into a lecture. “What is church?”
“I don’t know,” I groaned, “it’s the House of God, or something. That’s what they used to tell us in Sunday School, before our teacher was arrested for her sideline career in the porn industry and the class was cancelled. It’s the House where God is.”
“And where are we now?”
“In my house.”
“And who am I?”
“This, then,” God concluded triumphantly, “is temporarily the House where God is. Therefore you’re already in church.”
Well, my jaw dropped because it was a real stunner. The logic of the thing was all on His side, and I couldn’t think of a decent counterargument, so instead I just gulped and reached for another towel, because I’m not used to being naked in church.
“Noah,” God repeated, “today I’m going to tell you the rest of the Plan.”
“What plan is this now?” I mumbled.
“This is My Plan to Wipe out all Mankind except for You and your Wife,” God explained patiently.
“Oh,” I groaned, “that plan. I thought maybe you had reconsidered. I mean, maybe we could focus on something easier for now, like inventing a new planet, or designing some new kind of animal or something.”
“It would be pointless to design a new kind of animal at this time,” said God. “Because it would only get wiped out in the Flood.”
I said: “Flood?”
You can tell when He does that even if you can’t see Him, because the air seems to ripple and sparkle, and the world becomes suddenly brighter, even if you’re in a place where there’s no explicable source of sunlight, such as a bathroom.
God grinned. And that was when things started getting really out of control. ♦
(To be continued…)