He takes center stage and receives the applause from the hidden faces of the viewers. The great hall is filled with expectation of his presentation, and all eyes are fixed excitedly upon him as the sounds gradually decrease in volume until stillness replaces the rancor of excitement. He has exactly 60 minutes to present the life he’s lived. In one hour’s time, the life he has have lived will be revealed to the entire world that permeated his existence, from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Every single word that came out of his mouth and pressed the molecules of compressed atoms out of the way, every single thought that his mind formed is about to be placed on the stage for all to see and not one single picture that his eyes have seen will be withheld from the audience. This day, nay, this hour belongs to him, either to establish himself or to discredit himself. Today, the scales are going to be weighed based on the life he chose to live.
Behind him, the great curtain begins to slowly part as he walks quietly to the side of the stage to take his place on the simple wooden fold out chair and as he sits, his hands are folded together as he leans slightly forward, his eyes fixed steadfastly upon the scene which had begun to unfold. The silence in the Great Hall was thick, as though every person there was to be the acting Jury and presiding Judge and rightly so. Today, he is on public trial for the life he lived, acts he did, the thoughts he had, and the sights he allowed his eyes to see. Today, all the known world was about to see everything that made up the life he chose to live. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail was to be left out, and nothing would be left concealed in the shadows which lay heavy on the heart of every man and woman ever born. All was to be made known in the most brilliant of lights! Perhaps now my dear audience, you may understand his nervousness and folding of hands as he sits, slightly trembling, on the edge of the chair at the left side of the stage.
Th huge curtains had been drawn back to permit the viewers an unobstructed scene which had begun to pulsate with motion, a murky light, of the which his head could be seen and outlined and muted sounds were to be heard. The grand entrance had arrived for his birth! Very quickly the murkiness is replaced with a sharpened white light which causes him to withdraw his limbs, and the first cries of life were to be heard! His first cries of life as he entered the world were to be heard! Through eyes that strived to focus, he saw for the first time blurry images and strange sounds that were frightening for him, and he cried for the warmth that was now gone! He cried for fear of the new and the unknown until he heard a familiar sound, a sound of comfort and he sought the sound. The sound of the one who kept him safe and warm and was now there in the brightness of the strange world that was so different from the one from where he had been taken from. And he felt something strange pressed against his open mouth and he sought it and tasted. It was a vague but known taste, and he began to take nourishment as his cries stopped. It was the beginning of a new world.
He was in the fifth grade now and had asserted himself as independent and stubborn. He liked to prove his strength and to push aside the weaker ones even as he sought the teacher’s approval. He spoke and looked down at the poor of his classmates and sneered at their lack of manners or clothing and made fun of them and their parents, even as his parents would do because the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! He would often make up untruths to hurt a class mate and on more than one occasion would steal from another desk and claim it as his own! And in his heart would plan great things to do in the future for his dreams were many.
He would graduate in two weeks with high honors, and he was exceedingly proud as were his parents, but his two brothers and one sister didn’t share the same feelings because they knew that he had cheated on the final exams! They also knew that he was the one who had bullied another student into submission because he had dared to challenge his position on the track and field team. Also, his growing lusts had gotten two girls pregnant last year, and when it was told him, he merely shrugged it off and told them to abort it! He wouldn’t have anything to do with their problems, no, he had a life to live! He didn’t tell his parents that he had stolen $500.00 from them as his father had dropped the wallet in the garage and he found it, along with the money. Later he tossed the wallet into the small bush near the mailbox and pretended to have found it, without the money of course! His mother was distraught because the money had been intended for a credit card payment that was overdue and now higher penalties would be incurred! He thought to himself, her loss not mine and grinned walking away. He would later spend it on his friends and beer.
As a junior in college, he lived the good life! He did well in all his classes and played on the baseball team at left center. He had a steady girlfriend who didn’t know about his boyfriend, he kept his bisexuality a secret back then, and when she contracted an STD, he falsely accused her of cheating on him, thus sidestepping any responsibility for his actions and continued his lifestyle, all the while remaining indifferent to her plight.
At 27, he married his 8th girlfriend after a two-year on-off relationship where the both of them couldn’t decide which gender they preferred the most, so they settled on an open relationship in the marriage. At his job, he was the acting warehouse manager for a large construction company, and he openly abused his position without fear of reprisal because of certain favors he would give to certain men and women within the company. At various times equipment would go missing or would be damaged and written off, and oddly enough, he had a new truck every two years! He was a member of the rod and gun club, the Masons,and the Rotary Club as well as an upstanding deacon in the Pentecostal church in town where he and his wife enjoyed very good relations with the pastor and his attractive wife, sometimes going on short vacations together and all of it being paid for by the church! Incidentally, he also donated large sums of money to the various clubs within the church also.
The first time his wife became pregnant, she aborted it because it conflicted with their lifestyles and said nothing to their friends. At thirty-three, she became pregnant again, but when the doctors told her that the child was handicapped, they aborted that child also, at 32 weeks and told the church that she had a miscarriage. At thirty-five, they had their first and only child. He then ran for public office in the town where they lived and to secure the votes; he spread a lot of cash and gossip around. Sowing contention among friends and neighbors, thereby causing enough of a split that he won the position as 2nd town manager. So he quit his job at the construction company, and he moved his family into a newer home that had just been built on prized land seized through the act of imminent domain by taking it from a poorer family who was struggling to keep it. They were forced to sell at far less than what it was worth, to his advantage for he had initiated the confiscation of the property for himself.
At 45, he was now the town manager and firmly set in place. He was good friends with the police department and had access to all the private information of everyone living in the town, and he used it selectively to keep himself in power! His wife worked at the local bank as the manager, thereby ensuring that the people, if they needed loans or financial counseling, could be within reach of being extorted by her husband by a slip of the tongue concerning said troubles! Those who knew him casually thought well of him and praised him for the faithful services rendered, however, those who knew him intimately never took him out of their sight, not even their lovers!
At 54, he had all that he wanted and felt very secure. The town and the board worked well together, especially when money was passed around and reelections were a guaranteed matter among “friends!” He was now the assistant pastor and a member of the traveling quartet that were well received in the surrounding churches as they sang their songs of heavenly devotion and country humor. Among the ignorant brethren, he was well loved and respected and did many open and widely pronounced charitable works that brought even greater praise and recognition to him, and he felt that God was on his side and it couldn’t get better! While sitting in his office at the town hall on Thursday afternoon, he suffered a massive heart attack. There was nothing the paramedics could do; he was gone! He was 54 years and three months of age. At his funeral, he was praised for all of his good works and his faithful stewardship within the flock and for the community and how the bells rang so mournfully.
The last picture faded slowly from view, and the large curtain began to close. He was violently trembling, and the sweat was running down his face like rivulets of water. His knees were knocking so hard that they could be heard and his heart was audibly loud and pounding furiously when he heard a voice say to him; “Stand and come forth.” As he slowly struggled to his feet, a great terror filled him from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet and all his strength fled him as he slowly, on weakened limbs, moved to the center of the stage where he stopped and turned to face the unseen faces in the Great Hall. There was no sound, only a heaviness that pressed upon him like a giant iron anvil. The stillness was deafening, the weight of his guilt had no place to flee and no place to hide. He knew that he had failed the litmus test of life as did those who were watching him. At that moment a beautiful scale appeared on his right side, and to his left there appeared a book held in hand of a large man dressed in dazzling colors of white. The Great Hall slowly began to brighten, and as it did, he saw a huge multitude of people, as far as the eye could see stretching out into the distance and to the left side and the right side! He had never in his life seen so many people at one time, not even on the television!
He heard a slight noise behind him and as he turned to look, he had to shut his eyes for the light was blinding him but, he could still see through closed eyes the form of one sitting on a Great and Mighty Throne and the form of one standing to the right. He dropped to his knees, his strength failing him at the last. Then the voice spoke, asking the one who held the open book in his right hand, saying; “Is his name written in The Book of Life?” The large man opened the book and looked into it, then closing it he replied; “No, My Lord. His name does not appear in The Book Of Life:” There was no sound to be heard as the man began to weep uncontrollably, his mouth was dry as if stuffed with cotton and his limbs crushed as in a press! He lacked even the strength to lift his head, and his heart was now beating very faintly. He knew that this was the end of everything and nothing could be said or done at this point of time; it was far too late. He had had his many chances he knew but had brushed them off in his vanity and foolishness. Every single detail of the life he’d chosen had accused him of his selfish and unclean lifestyle! He had been condemned by his own conscience. The last words that he would ever hear as another large man stood next to him were these; “Depart from Me and into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his fallen angels!” And as he was picked up, he saw that the scale had been weighed down with his works and he heard the multitudes of people sing with mighty voices and saw that there were millions upon millions of them and he wept even more but could find no place for his tears. He saw the eternal flames from afar but was swiftly over it and all at once he was falling, falling, falling, and his terror was complete as he fell into the liquid fire!
Epilog: He woke up crying out and shaking with fear and trembling as his wife, startled, awoke from her sleep to look at him! He was whiter than a sheet and drenched with sweat, and he had been terribly shaken through and through, and couldn’t speak for a minute even, as she ran to the kitchen and brought back a glass of water and a damp washcloth! She asked him what kind of nightmare did he have as she dabbed at his forehead and pressed the glass of water to his trembling lips, but still, he couldn’t speak for the dream had been so real and horrifying that he was unable to express any words at that moment! Later in the morning, he told her everything because it still burned vividly in his mind and she encouraged him to write it down which he did. From that day on, he began to change his life because he now knew that there would be a day of accountability and he didn’t want to fail the litmus test of life.