I found God in a bar near the university. He was sitting alone at a table by the window, half-leaning against the letters painted on the glass, his face dark against the gray, rain-heavy day outside. He was smoking and drinking a Rolling Rock. “Hey, Mike,” he said. “Have a seat.” He looked like he hadn’t shaved in a day or two, but otherwise he was neat and well-groomed—short, dark hair, thick, white Aran sweater, dark slacks. Nothing special. Not at all what I’d expected from God.
“What the hell,” I said. I went over to the table, but I didn’t sit. “What the hell are you doing here?”
He shrugged. “Hanging out,” he said. “Having a beer.” He tapped his cigarette on the ashtray and gestured to the opposite chair. “I thought you wanted to talk.”
I pulled out the chair and sat. “There’s no smoking over here,” I told him as he blew smoke across the table. “Not during lunch.”
“I’m God,” he said. “You want a burger? The burgers here are—oh, hey. Speak of the devil.”
I looked up to see a blue T-shirted waitress with a tray. “One bacon bleu cheese burger, extra well-done, extra onions,” she said, setting a plate in front of God. “One three cheese with mushrooms, rare.” That one was for me, apparently.
“I didn’t order this,” I told her. “I only walked in just now.”
“God ordered it for you,” she said. “I’ll be right back with your beer.”
“I don’t want a beer,” I said.
“Yes you do,” said God.
“No,” I said, looking right at him. “I don’t.”
He shrugged and took another drag of his cigarette, and the waitress left. “So where were we?”
“You couldn’t have turned up sooner?”
He set the still-burning cigarette in the ashtray and picked up his burger. “I suppose I could have.” He frowned, chewed for a few moments, then swallowed. “Hey, I heard this joke the other day. These three nuns, they die and they’re standing outside the Pearly Gates... ”
I blinked. “So there is a heaven, then? With pearly gates?”
God’s hand, full of cheeseburger, stopped halfway to his mouth. “It’s a joke,” he said. “If I told you the talking muffin joke, would you think there were really talking muffins?” A few raindrops spattered on the window.
“What’s the talking muffin joke?”
“There are these muffins in the oven,” he said. “The one turns to the other and says, ‘It sure is hot in here.’ The other one says, ‘Holy shit, a talking muffin!’” He looked at me for a moment. “You always did take yourself too seriously.”
“So whose fault is that?”
“I’ll give you that,” he said. “Hey, are you going to eat your lunch or not?” He reached over and took a fry off my plate. I’d only seen him take a few bites of his burger, but it was gone, and his plate was nearly clean.
“I’m not hungry.”
I pushed the plate across the table. “So are you really omnipotent?” I asked.
“Of course I am,” he said around a mouthful of mushroom burger. “I wouldn’t be God if I weren’t.”
“So can you make a rock so heavy you can’t lift it?”
He picked up his beer. “Oh, yeah, like no one’s asked me that before.” He took a swig. “Got any other burning questions? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Does a dog have Buddha nature?”
“The problem of evil?” I countered.
“Oh, sure, it looks like a problem from where you sit,” he said, gesturing towards me with his beer. “But it’s not. Trust me.”
I just looked at him.
“Really. No evil shall escape my sight.”
“Right,” I said. The rain was coming harder, blowing against the window, a rhythmless spatting sound. It was a few moments before I placed the quote. “What the hell,” I said. “Are you God, or the Green Lantern?” He laughed. “The Gospel According to Stan Lee?”
He picked up his cigarette. “I thought you were some kind of scholar, Mike,” he said. “Don’t you know the difference between Marvel and DC?” His face was completely serious. “Hey, I’ve gotta go.” He finished off the last of his Rolling Rock and stood.
“You’re forgetting something,” I said.
“I never forget anything. I’m a little short on cash.”
“You’re God. Make some.”
“That would be counterfeiting.”
“No it wouldn’t,” I said. “Besides, you’re outside time, right? Just make it so you earn some money or whatever, so you can pay for your own damn lunch.”
“Or I could make it so you earn some money so I can pay for my own damn lunch,” he said. “It was good talking to you. Maybe we can do it again sometime.”
* * *
The first time you seriously consider the idea of killing God, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. How would you do it? What could one human do that would kill the omnipotent creator of time itself? And what would that mean? Would the universe cease to exist once its creator was gone, if Brahma blinked and never opened his eyes again? Or would things just con -- [End of Preview.]