Introduction to God by Caleb Andrew Ward

When you first meet God he’ll attempt to make a joke, so laugh only to humor him. It'll probably be something like he told me, “How do Angels greet each other? Halo!” After first arriving at the Golden Gates—not so golden—he'll invite you inside his house for some sweet tea. Drink exactly one and a half glasses so he knows you aren’t being polite. Some topics of conversation to avoid would be questions about your past life like: Was I a good person? Did people love me? How many times did I whistle the tune to “Funkytown?" Questions like these only bore him. Topics God enjoys are Beanie Babies, The Voice, and the films of Sergei M. Eisenstein.

When I first met God I made the mistake of bringing up the 2004 presidential election. If this happens to you, he’ll tell you that Florida was not his fault. He’ll explain as emphatically as He can that his second cousin Geoffery (not, Jeffery as He will remind you) was put in charge of the ballots, but fell asleep. You can’t blame him though, because, he will quote, “Even God rested.” After you apologize for bringing up such a sore subject, you will have finally finished your first glass of sweet tea, and soon ask for another.

This little introduction is only the overture to your eternal judgment. Keep God in a good mood by complimenting his interior decorative sense. He spends hours at antique shops trying to find interesting lampshades—it’s kind of His thing. Whatever it is you talk about, just remember to steer clear of politics. The last thing you want on God’s mind right before he judges you is the status of the American economic system of the late 2000’s.

By now you've finished your second glass though you were only supposed to drink one and a half, but that's okay: little flub ups like these can be overlooked as long as you keep the positive conversation flowing. You may be thinking that something good to bring up in your conversation with God would be his earlier work in the Old Testament. Not so much. He actually isn’t too fond about the old days. All that fire and brimstone talk gave Him kind of a bad rep.

As you continue to chat with the Almighty you begin to wonder what his decision will be. You’ve been a good person most of your life, never cheating, stealing, or murdering. But does that mean anything to Him? Questions soon flood your mind as time ticks away towards your judgment.

It’s been about three hours since you arrived at the Golden Gates, and you have yet to receive a tour of Jehovah’s home, so you ask and almost immediately regret it. God is just like any other host, who shows you each and every family photo, reflecting at length on the memories as though you shared them. Fake your smile; chuckle a bit here and there, but most importantly, think happy thoughts. You can easily fake this because, contrary to popular belief God is not necessarily omniscient; though he knows what you’re thinking, he can't pick up on visual cues: a sigh from a bored guest, frustration in a dead man’s eyes, or even joy in a reflective woman’s face: all of these mean nothing to him.

Something catches your eye as you pass through one of the rooms of God’s house. It’s a family bible—six inches thick. It reminds you of one your grandfather owned; seeing it recalls you to a time when you sat in your papa’s lap as he read you stories like that of David and Goliath. You forget the rule of not bringing up the Old Testament and say, “My Grandfather had an Old Testament just like this. He used to read me stories from it all the time,” and at the mention of it God is recalled to the fire, the brimstone of his past; of prophets sending bears after adolescents—see: Elisha and the two bears. He looks you in the eye; you share an awkward moment as his fumes begin to settle. He looks even deeper and quietly says, “Now, about your eternal judgment.”

Caleb Andrew Ward is a current Senior at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Some of his influences include Adam Wilson and John Jeremiah Sullivan. This is his fourth publication with Squawk Back. He is the Prose Editor of Atlantis and the Genre-Bender Editor of Treehouse Magazine.