By Bryan Grafton
A man grew old and as he did so he started to reflect back upon his life. He did not wax nostalgic. For he forgot about all the good times and good things he had done in his life and for some reason or other fixated and dwelt only upon all his screw-ups and his failures. Those stupid and foolish things that he had done then and regretted so dearly now. Things that he wished had never done. It pained him that he could never ever undo them. And the more he thought about those things the more of those things he thought about. So it came to the point where whenever he would think about them that he would shake his head side to side as if to somehow shake them loose so that they would go flying off into space somewhere and be lost forever. But alas this did not happen for the man did not have it in his power to do that.
Now that he had but a few years left to live the man feared that when he died and went to Heaven these things would still be with him there and that therefore Heaven would not be a pleasant place for him after all. In fact, would be a kind of Hell for him as far as he was concerned since he would always be thinking about his screw-ups forever. Certainly, God would not let him suffer like that in Heaven thought the man for God is a just and merciful God.
Now the inevitable happened. The man died and he appeared before God.
God sat high upon his throne and smiled down his fatherly smile upon this man, his child. God knew that the man had been a good man, a moral man, a believer in Him, and therefore deserved a place in Heaven.
“Welcome to Heaven,” said God to the man.
The man took in a breath and blew it out slowly his shoulders slumping as he did so. A look of distraught perched upon his face. “Thank you, God,” he muttered not knowing what else to say.
“What is wrong, my son?” asked God. But God knew what was wrong.
“God could you please erase all the bad, stupid things from my mind that I did while on earth?” he humbly asked of God.
“Why my son?” But God knew the why also. He asked just to be polite, to show HIs concern.
“Because it hurts me so much to think about them and now that I’m in Heaven I will think about them forever and ever world without end.”
Now the Devil was there, lurking in the background, and had seen and heard all this. He sensed he may have an opportunity to snatch a soul here.
The man had not noticed the Devil as the Devil for the Devil was dressed in a natty dull grey business suit, his tail tucked in his pants, his horns covered by his fedora. The man assumed that he was just another soul waiting his turn to meet his Maker and thus paid him no attention at all.
“Oh I know how to do that for you,” spoke up the Devil, “for I was a psychiatrist in my previous life and I helped people like you wipe those things from their minds forever. Come with me and I will do that for you,” he said as he put his arm around the man’s shoulder and started to lead him away and astray.
“Hold on there Devil.” roared God rising from his throne lightning and thunder flashing and clapping all around Him as he did so.
The man jumped and pulled himself away from the Devil upon hearing this.
“Now God,” said the Devil. “You know you will not do that for this man. For if you erase his bad memories you would also be erasing all his happy good memories too because as you know one cannot have good memories unless he has bad memories to compare them to..”
God knew the Devil was right. That He would not destroy the man’s good memories for someday he would want them. He did not wish to destroy something that was good.
“Look.” said the Devil to the man, “come work for me. I will erase all those memories for you.”
“But then I will burn in Hell and suffer physical pain there forever after,” the man whined quaking in his proverbial boots. ”And I do not know what is worse, physical or mental pain.”
“Well, I promise you that you won’t feel either with me, neither mental or physical pain shall be yours,” answered the Devil while forcing himself to hold back his patented devilish grin.
Now that offer was tempting to the man for that is what the Devil does. He makes tempting offers. But the man did not trust the Devil for no one in his right mind would.
With pleading eyes and a mournful sad face he turned to God and asked him. “What can you do for me?” And upon saying this the man immediately regretted it for he realized that it appeared that he was playing one against the other and thus insulting God by doing so.
Now God knew that the man had not intended to say this. That this was just something that had slipped from the man’s lips, a hasty emotional utterance under stress. But before He could answer the Devil spoke up again.
“Oh, you can have him God. This man is of no use to me anyway.” The Devil now figured that the man would suffer eternally in Heaven and that was good enough for him, a moral victory, even if he wasn’t in Hell with him. Let him go thought the Devil. There’ll be other souls to fry.
Now God wanted to help the man, for who does not want to help their children, but in doing so he would have to destroy the man’s soul and this pained Him terribly. Nevertheless, He decided to do just that because he loved his children so and saw no other way to relieve this man from his pain and suffering.
“This is what I will do for you if that’s what you want,” said God. “I will make it,” and notice God did not use the word destroy here, “so that you do not have a soul at all and therefore without a soul, you can’t go to either Heaven or Hell. I will turn you simply into dust for dust does not have a soul, a memory, any existence of any kind at all, and as dust from which you came, so shall you return.”
Upon hearing this the Devil grimaced and cursed. God had foiled him again.
The man noticed this and thought to himself, this must be a good deal because the Devil doesn’t like it. So he answered.
“Please do that for me, God.”
And with that said God immediately with just a shake of his head turned the man into dust and scattered him into His ever-expanding universe. And through the years the particles of dust of this former man without a soul were eventually sucked into a black hole. For that is where God places those without souls, in a black hole that is.
Author’s westerns have been published by Outlaws Publishing and he has had seventy-some eclectic stories published in various online magazines and book anthologies.