I had met the famed “God” once, in a roundabout sort of way, when I was about six years old. Behind our apartment complex on Juniper Street, and about fifty yards from the enclosure in which all the children in the neighborhood would study a colorful assortment of porno magazines, was a quiet medical building, which contained within it a circular courtyard with a tree in the center and wooden benches that circled the tree. It was a hidden sanctuary, one of the first to be called my secret place. Vibrant flowers surrounded the lonely, prosaic, brown and white building and I had picked the most beautiful one—its colors resembled a deep amber sunset. I set my gift on the bench and spoke to Him.
“God, if you’we weally weal, this flowo is fo you. I pwomise I won’t tell anyone I saw you if you take this flowo fwom me. Wheweva you awe, just please appeaw. I just want to see what you look like because I need to see you in my head when I pway and wight now it’s weally hawd. I can’t see you and I don’t believe the dwawings of you; I think people awe just guessing what you look like but I weally need to know. Sometimes I see you as a big face with a white beawd and utho times you look like Jesus with long bwown haiw and it’s just too confusing. Please, please, please come and sit with me. Please.”
I waited and waited. Looked around, kicked leaves, broke up a couple of dirt clots with my hands, sat on the bench and swung my legs.
Darn it. No God.
Mum had a way of getting us kids in the house, and quick, with a construction worker’s type whistle, two fingers in her mouth and everyone in the neighborhood knew it was dinner time in Apartment 10. I heard the familiar call and was disappointed that despite my plea and generous gift, God never showed.
“OK, I know you’we busy, God. I undostand. I’m gonna go eat dinno and I’ll come back and see if you’we hewe. If the flowo is gone, I’ll know you took it, but I’d weally watho see you. I pwomise I’ll nevo tell anyone, even my mum, unless, of couwse you want me to. I pwomise. I just weally need to see you. Please, please be hewe when I get back.”
After the usual wholesome Hamburger Helper, iceberg lettuce salad, and slice of American cheese cut into four pieces and placed on the plate ever so artistically, I returned to the barren bench only to find that the beautiful flower was still there, only now limp, lifeless, and wilted. I was at first saddened by God’s apparent neglect, then was faced with the thought that I might have uncovered a paramount truth: God was, in fact, only a myth. But slightly hesitant to give up all hope entirely, I stared at it for several minutes, then suddenly recalled a conversation I had recently with Frank about what happens to people when they die. Then it came to me: God dutifully took the soul from the flower and left the body.
I gasped, and somewhat satisfied with God’s cryptic, brilliant response, I looked up into the sky, smiled at Him, then buried the limp remains under a bit of loose dirt in a nearby flowerbed, skipping home before dark.
Excerpt from chapter twenty-one | shambala | Everything's Hunky Dory: A Memoir