Excerpt: 'Why Is God Laughing'

One thing about this bizarre apparition was convincing. Larry had always had a short fuse, and so did the voice. It started yelling louder.

Don't blow this, kiddo. Stop being a jerk and listen to me.

"All right, all right." Mickey sat down in the lounger again.

"I'm listening."

It's different here.

"I bet."

You don't understand. You can't. One minute I'm sitting in that chair, the one you're in. The next minute the whole room starts to disappear. The walls fade, and I start to go through the ceiling.

"You had a heart attack. You didn't feel that?"

Pain gets erased from your memory.

"Except when it doesn't," said Mickey doubtfully.

Don't interrupt. I kept going, up and up, until I could look down and see the whole earth, and everyone on it. I saw everybody on the daylight side and on the night side. I saw all ages, all races. It felt incredible, you cannot imagine.

"You didn't go into the light?" asked Mickey.

Nope. I wondered about that. I kept floating farther into space, and the earth got smaller and smaller. I figured I must be getting closer to God.

"God's in outer space?" said Mickey.

The voice ignored this. It was getting more excited.

I kept looking around, but nothing. No God. No angels. Then I heard it. Can you imagine, kiddo? I heard the voice of God.

"What did he say?"

He didn't say anything. He was laughing.

"Who was he laughing at, you?"

No. He wasn't laughing at anybody. This laugh was everywhere. It filled the universe. It was pure joy.

The voice was now ecstatic, which wasn't like Larry at all. It made Mickey uneasy. It reminded him of the one time he had found his father crying, the day Mickey's mother had died. Anyway, what did Mickey care if God was laughing? Comedians make people laugh. It doesn't mean they're happy. Laughter is a reflex, like sneezing. The voice had been quiet for a few seconds. Now it said, Everyone should hear that sound. Kiddo, it would make all the difference. Mickey seriously doubted this, but he didn't interrupt again.

The voice sensed what Mickey was thinking.

I'm not fooling. Until the world laughs with God, nothing's going to change. "Nothing's going to change anyway," Mickey said.

He leaned down and picked up the fallen whiskey bottle from the floor. He considered taking a pull, then thought better of it.

"I'm glad you're okay, Dad," he said. "But I've gotta go. Have a nice limbo." You don't believe me.

"What I believe is that I've taken a little detour into craziness. I'm going home to get some sleep. This has been a rough week."

Not for me.

"Congratulations."

This isn't the way to end, son. I have limited access. You need to listen. I can show you what to do. Then you'll hear it, too.

Mickey had already gotten up to leave.

"If God likes to laugh, here's a joke for him," he said.

"A guy dies and goes to Hell. The Devil is giving him a tour, and they come across this ninety-year-old codger sitting on a park bench. He's smooching with a gorgeous twenty-year-old girl.

"The man says to the Devil, 'What's going on? This isn't Hell.'

"The Devil says, 'It is for the girl.'"

Ha, ha.

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