Thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven.
Salami shifted his body’s weight to his right leg. He had been on the long queue for three hours and hadn’t advanced in over one hour. Even though the noisy clatters of the multitude remained, he could hear is knee creek as he flexed repeatedly the now relieved limb. Another yelling came from a further distance up the line, which appeared to be the beginning of it, about where the large sign that read ‘SPG’ hung. Salami had become unbothered about the yelling, as they had become more frequent and nobody on the line seemed to know what was making the noise and why it was being made. The only people who left the line were those who heard their names announced in a muffle over the old and dusty address system, and they hurried to and disappeared into the front of the queue, and never returned. Salami was the first one to leave without hearing his name.
The middle aged man stepped out of the line and moved to the side kerbs, found a shade under one of the trees that lined the side of the path and took a seat on the largest emerging root he could find. From where he sat he could take in more of the environment. The queue trailed from just under the SPG signboard, down past him, and disappeared in a curve around the hill that carried the entire path they were all on. Behind him, the pathway edged in a cliff. Salami leaned slightly backwards and sideways until his head was over the edge so he could peer down the hill.
‘Clouds’, he muttered to himself before readjusting on the root on which he sat, so he could lean his back against the trunk of the tree.
Repeated light taps on his shoulder steered him awake. Salami had slept off as soon as his back hit the trunk of the tree. Two hefty figures in navy blue custom t-shirts stood above and in front of him.
‘You nor hear say dem call your name?’ The one with a bright orange letter M in front of his vest asked. His voice was aggressive and his eyes popped.
‘Obviously I didn’t. I was sleeping as you can see’, Salami retorted as he began to gather himself off the root.
‘Shoo! See this one dey speak oyinbo o!’, the other one with blue colored letter G in front of his vest remarked, clapped on his hands alternately and then continued. ‘Abeg follow us jor, dem dey wait for you since jare’.
Salami was ushered past the gate at the SPG signboard, past another door and into a room, cubic and almost empty save a high table and the man seated behind it. The man, heavily bearded, dressed in a cream colored robe and wore a pair of spectacles. He gestured with his arm for Salami to take the center of the cube and peered at him from just above his pair of glasses.
‘Do you know why you’re here, Mr. Salami?’
Salami gulped some air before stammering a reply.
‘Yes…. yes… sir. I am…I’m dead’.
‘That is correct Mr. Salami, the bearded man replied without lifting his eyes from the book he had been flipping through on the table.
‘Mr. Salami, what we’re going to do basically here is ask you a few questions to determine if you’ll be sent to heaven, hell or back to earth. And since you’ve wasted some of our time, we are going to be doing this as quickly as possible, and realize that as long as you’re in this cube it is impossible to lie’.
‘Sorry there’s no seat. The last one we had got broken and you know how it is, we have to go through protocol to get new furniture. Only God knows how long that’ll take. Really, only God does’.
‘I’m okay like this sir’, Salami replied. An alarm went off and a red light pulsed around the cube. The bearded man pressed a button on the wall behind him and both pulsed light and alarm sound stopped. The man stared at Salami for a while, obviously amazed that he was able to lie in the Anti-Lie cube.
‘G!!!! M!!!!!’, the questioner yelled, his gaze fixed firmly on the bashful Salami.
The hefty men who had brought him through to the cube entered.
‘Gabriel, Michael, didn’t you switch on the ALS?’, the man questioned, as if irritated by the duo.
‘Yes sir. No sir!’, the one with the G vest replied.
‘Which is it? Is it on or not?’, his irritation escalating.
‘E nor dey on’, he answered again, staring at his feet. The other one in the M vest had his hands locked behind him and he continued to stare upwards.
‘Jesus Christ!’, the questioner exclaimed. The telephone on the table rang and the questioner picked it almost immediately and a short conversation ensued. His head motioned as he spoke.
‘No sir… I’m sorry sir… It was an exclamation sir. It was a mistake… I was just……. yes sir. It won’t happen again sir. I apologize’, he murmured into the mouth piece and then dropped the call. He did a sign of the cross afterwards and then returned to the two in front of him.
‘So why did….’, he was interrupted by the one in the M vest.
‘Eh sir, that generator nor dey carry am again and dem never service am…’
‘Will you shut up and go switch on the other generator!’, the questioner screamed out enraged.
‘Fuel nor dey that one sir’.
‘Jesus…….is Lord’, he cautioned himself this time, and then continued.
‘Do I need to tell you before you transfer the fuel from this one to the other one?’, he asked rhetorically.
‘Both of you have a problem. Now get out and go do the needful’.
‘Eh sir’, they both chorus and head out of the cube.
The questioner shifted his attention back to Salami. Salami allowed his eyes to wonder around the cube in silence, occasionally catching the intense gaze of the questioner as they bore into him. The light went off and came back on after a couple of seconds. The questioner adjusted himself on his seat, cleared his throat and then picked up a few of the pieces of paper lying on the table.
‘I’m sorry sir’, Salami said.
‘Sorry for yourself’, the questioner retorted.
A different alarm went off on the table and the wall clock also behind the questioner read four o’clock.
The questioner sighed before speaking.
‘As you can see it’s four o’clock. That’s closing time and we’ll have to continue tomorrow’.
‘So what do I do till then?’, Salami asked confused.
‘Just hang around’, and with that, he gathered his robe and left through another door.
Salami stood confused in the cube. His eyes trailed the bearded man until he disappeared behind the door. The door swung shut and on it was a door tag that read ‘Saint Peter’.
It had been an uneventful call duty until the middle aged man involved in a road traffic accident was brought in. It was a much of a struggle to keep him alive. He was now stable but still deeply unconscious.
Dr. Aneke looked at her watch. It was four o’clock and her duty was over. She left the ICU.