. . . leave a message

Doug Mathewson

Hello . . . hey, it’s me! I’m calling you from Heaven. Can you believe it? This is the last place I’d even imagine ending up! So I only get one phone call, like jail I guess, and wanted to say thanks and goodbye, at least for now. Everything happened so suddenly; there wasn’t a chance till now to say how great you were to me.

Heaven’s not like you might think. Nothing at all like those cartoons of people with wings wearing white robes and standing around on clouds. Maybe it was like that once, but not now. I’ll have to ask some of the old-timers once I learn my way around. Heaven, or at least Heaven now, is completely individualized. You stay endlessly in whatever was the happiest part of your life. That’s what it seems like so far.

Up here I am nine years old and spend my time sitting or lying under different folding tables. They are in a store that my older sister, Tina, worked at part time after school. It was a piñata store with hundreds of piñatas displayed hanging from the ceiling. Underneath were all these long tables piled high with party supplies, including lots of Mexican candy to fill piñatas. There were so many strange sugary treats. Some with pictures of beautiful ladies with fans dancing, and other ones with funny wrestlers wearing masks! Candy with Jesus or with Saints I didn’t really understand on the wrappers, but all the candy was pure sugar (especially my favorites, the decorated sugar skulls). Candy that makes your teeth hurt and your head spin.

Our mom had told Tina she had to keep an eye on me after school, so she took me with her to work. I’d read comics I had brought from home, or borrowed, and eat as much candy as possible. I really loved being there. Hot afternoons, lying on the concrete floor in the shade of a table with tales of superhero adventure to sweep my racing heart and brain along.

There weren’t many customers during the week back then, and none at all now. Tina’s not here either, so I don’t know if she has her own special time and place in Heaven or has gone to Hell like Sister Maria Dolores said she would.

So far I haven’t seen anybody we know, which, all things considered, probably makes sense. I shouldn’t form an opinion yet, as most people our age are still young and healthy. I do wonder about older relatives, old people who were neighbors, family friends, the postman or anybody. I can’t really picture them damned for eternity, so they must be in their own Heaven.

I hope it will be a very long time before you get here, and somehow I know that you will, but when you do, look for me. “Tio Bo-Bo’s” store in an old strip mall on RT-66, three blocks west of “Old Town” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have freckles and a buzz-cut. You’ll know me. I’m the kid vibrating at a frequency only dogs can hear, a Jarittos fruit punch in one shaky hand an old copy of “The Caped Avenger” in the other.

DOUG MATHEWSON writes short fiction. “It’s like magic,” he says (meaning sometimes the trick works, and sometimes not). He has been published here and there, now and then by very kind and forgiving people. He is the publisher and editor of Blink-Ink, the finest and fiercest of 50-word fiction. Also he is a section editor for Pandemonium Press in Berkeley, California. His current project, working title “The Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang,” is a secret, so no further information is available at this time. While he is a bumpkin at heart, he admires others for their urban grit.

One thought on “. . . leave a message

Leave a Reply