American Express: You can Leave the Earth Without It

St. Peter woke up with all the commotion at the Pearly Gates, boots marching and swords clanging.

Seems a number of Roman centurions were marching up to the gates.

Considering St. Peter hadn’t seen this sight in about 2000 years, he immediately grabbed his ear and slammed the gates shut and applied the electronic lock, which latched with a metallic thud.

Safe, thought St. Peter.

A no-nonsense centurion approached the gates.  “We’ve got one of your own.”

Out of the flank of centurion soldiers appeared Ed Gilligan, President, American Express, recently deceased.

St. Peter was surprised; he checked his iPad.  “You’re a bit early, Mr. Gilligan.”

“Have you got room, early check-in?” asked Gilligan.

St. Peter tapped at his iPad a few more times. “There was the matter of the financial meltdown, in 2008…you reduced the open-to-buy for many good customers. It ruined some of them.”

Gilligan hung his head.  We were scared.

St. Peter exhaled: “Weren’t we all, at one time or another.”

“I really am sorry,” said Gilligan.

“Hold on,” said St. Peter.  He ran a special logarithm and his face brightened.  “You’re in luck, Saint Gilligan.”  Your private life balanced out enough where we don’t have to send you and The Card to the heat.”

The new Saint Gilligan sighed in relief.  “What do I do?”

“You can start by leaving that by the gate.  There’s a recycling bin.   Saint Gilligan took his American Express plum card out and tossed it in the bin.

The centurions turned about-face and marched off into the clouds.

St. Peter opened the Pearly Gates and newly-minted Saint Gilligan strode through.

“Have a good stay,” called St. Peter.  “See, you can leave home without it.”

Sorry, No Return

Saint Newbie was on his way to Heaven’s Store, and he was not in a good mood.  Tucked under his arm was a Christmas gift from his auntie, Saint Pithia, who always managed to get Saint Newbie something he didn’t really need or want.  She even did this down there, on Earth.

Because Saint Newbie was a creature of habit, he managed to only see Saint Pithia once every five years, if he could help it.  As it is on Earth; the same in Heaven.  Her mansion, thank you God, was a good cloud storm over from his.

Now he encountered another problem: Saint Thor-the- Bore.  He was an old timer, from Roman days — as in Roman Empire Days– and he didn’t get his name for nothing.  Never keeping up with the style, he was still wearing the animal skin and carrying the big Norse axe.  And he was right at the entrance to Heaven’s Store.

“What’s it all about?” said Saint Thor-the-Bore.

“Pardon?” said Saint Newbie.

Thor-the-Bore thundered it this time: “What’s it all about?”

Saint Newbie shrank and looked about.  He also kept one nervous eye on the axe.

“Get that for Christmas, did ye?” said Saint Thor-the-Bore.

Saint Newbie nodded.

“What is it, son?” boomed Saint Thor-the-Bore.

Saint Newbie had no idea.  He had not even opened the box.

“Ye don’t know, do ye,” taunted Saint Thor-the-Bore.  “Once again, you got it for Christmas, right?”

A tentative nod from Saint Newbie.

“You ain’t even opened the box, have ye?” said Saint Thor-the-Bore.

“Uh, no.”

“Shame.  Real shame,” said Saint Thor-the-Bore.  “Don’t know how you ever made it here.”

“I flew over, like everybody else.”

Saint Thor-the-Bore rose over little Saint Newbie, axe in hand.

“I don’t mean here here.  I mean here. Heaven.”

Saint Newbie was hoping he wasn’t peeing his wings.  “I-I-I- was a good person, had faith—-”

“Now you’re talking, son,” shouted Saint Thor-the-Bore.  “Faith! It’s the gift!”

Saint Newbie gulped.

“Our birthday Boy, you know,Mr. Christmas,  the one in the manger, he gave you a gift, and as much as you tried to return it in your miserable life, you couldn’t, because he knew and loved you before you were slapped on the rump. Don’t break your aunties heart.  She ain’t God, you know.”

copyright 2015

A Saint Sam Striver Christmas

So, Saint Nick was busy in the garage when St. Sam Striver drove past.

Saint Nick tried to hail Saint Sam down with a wave of his arm, but St. Sam, always in a hurry, was seeing St. Nick in his rear view mirror by the time he realized the old guy was trying to stop him.

Saint Sam was fuming: he had important things to be done, and, unlike old Saint Nick there, he had a 24/7 occupation.  Heaven can be a busy place, and, despite what some goofs on Earth used to say, about heaven waiting…it can’t. Somebody, Saint Sam thought, should tell Saint Nick about that.  And what is with that red outfit, anyway; just pandering to Earth kids?

Saint Sam smashed on the brakes and reversed.

Saint Nick ambled up to the car and leaned in.  “Howdy, Sam.”

Saint Sam nodded a greeting.  His thoughts were a million clouds down the road.  He knew what was coming next.

“Been naughty or nice, Mr. Saint Sam?”  said Saint Nick, with a chuckle.

“C’mon,” said Sam, trying his best to be polite.  “What choice do you have up here anyway?”

Saint Nick raised his furry white eyebrows.

“Look, I know it’s your job,” said Saint Sam, “to keep track of those things — even up here– but I’ve been too busy to be bad.”

Then he did it, the same Santa shtick.  Same as every year since Saint Sam bought the farm and acquired the mansion.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” chucked Saint Nick.  Then he grabbed his belly and did another set of “Ho! Ho! Ho’s,”   When he settled down from laughing, Saint Nick said, “Of course you are, boy. Busy, that is. There is no need for that kind of busy, here or on earth.” Saint Nick pointed to the Furthest Cloud, and said, “All you need is Him, here and down there.”

Late that night, when Saint Sam got back to his mansion and set the motion detectors and alarm, he sat down in his favorite red recliner and thought about what Saint Nick had said.  He looked across the room at the little Christmas tree that he had taken out of the box and plugged in. Charlie Brown’s tree was on steroid compared to Sam’s. He sighed. A few moments later, Saint Sam fixed a star on the tree, and took out a plastic, one piece manger and set it beside the tree.

Saint Sam thought of his earthly wife, who became a widow even before he died, because of his always being at work or traveling for work.  He thought about his two children, whom he would not see for…how long.  His eyes moistened.

Tomorrow would be a year of Christmas, he decided, and he looked beyond his little tree with the little manger through the window, where he swear he saw his wife and children.  When he looked again he saw a lonely saint in the dark window panes.

Then Saint Sam did what he never had time for on earth: he picked up his guitar and played, “Silent Night”.