Do we go to heaven when we die? Get to see our loved ones again? Pet dogs from the past. The hand of Jesus touches us all. Pearly gates and St. Peter and Paul. Waiting for us. Is that what happens?
Boy had come home late again. The old man was watching a movie with Gregory Peck in it. Black and white pictures on the screen. The sound was down low. Robert Mitchum was talking. His lips moved,but, the old man couldn’t hear what he was saying. Just the two men arguing about something. It was obvious this was about good and evil.
The old man heard the boy cursing outside. Fumbling with his keys. Trying to get the one in the hole. The old man laughed quietly. Same thing every night. Boy trying to open the door. He started knocking. The old man took his time to walk over to the entrance. Who’s there? he asked. The boy was in no mood to play around.
You know damn well who it is, boy said. Now open this God damned door.
Are you gonna huff and puff and blow the door down? the old man asked.
Dad. Open the door, the boy demanded. He opened it. And standing there was boy with a bottle of Miller High Life in his hand. A forty ounce. Boy unscrewed the top as he walked through to the other side. Had a seat on the couch. You think you’re real funny, he said. Don’t ya? The old man chuckled.
I wanna thank you for keeping me amused, the old man said. Since your momma died there ain’t much to laugh about. But, I can always laugh at you.
You can huh? The old man nodded in the dark. You think I’m funny? boy asked. Think I’m some kinda fool? the old man just sat there watching Peck and Mitchum fight. You never took me serious, boy said. You never did.
That’s ’cause you never took yourself seriously. I raised a fool. I tried, but. It was no use. You’re just an unfortunate. Haven’t got any sense, dad said. Boy took another drink. You gonna share that? Boy looked at him and laughed. That’s not very Christian of you now is it? Give me a sip, he said.
Boy handed him the bottle. The old man held it against his forehead and then drank from it. He handed it back. You’ll go to heaven when you die son, the father said. God takes pity on fools. Goodnight. The old man lumbered down the hallway of the trailer. Looked at pictures of his wife and dogs. A photo of his son. Shook his head. Heaven will take us all in.