Omir the Storyteller

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

"God Will Save Me"


The sky was as black as the inside of a slavedriver's soul. Rain continued to come down in torrents, as it had all week. The radio and TV had been saying it for days, the mayor had been saying it for hours, and now Jim's neighbor was saying it to Jim. It was time to leave the city before the levee broke and the flooding started.

"C'mon, Jim, get in the car!" the neighbor yelled over the sound of the wind and rain. "Time to go!"

"I'm not worried," Jim called back. "God will save me."

"Jim, come on," the neighbor pleaded. "They're evacuating now. I've got room. Get in."

"God will save me," Jim repeated.

The neighbor wondered whether he should go force Jim into the car, but then he looked at the flow of cars heading out of the city and decided he needed to go if he were to save himself.

Jim returned to the house and continued his prayers to God to save him.

Soon the traffic thinned to a trickle and then, amazingly, to nothing as everyone in the city managed to find higher ground. Everyone, that is, except Jim (and maybe a few people like him).

From his second-story bedroom window Jim alternated between watching the rain and praying. Eventually the silence was broken by the sound of an amplified voice coming from a police car. "You! Up in the window. Come down now. That's an order. The flooding is about to start."

"Don't worry," he called back to the policemen. "God will save me."

"If you do not come down we will force our way in and --"

The thread remained unfinished as an alarm sounded over the policemen's radio. The alert was unmistakeable: LEVEE BREACHED. LEAVE NOW. The police car pulled away. Jim returned to his praying.

Within the hour water began to fill the streets. It was a dark, rising water, worse than the clouds because it was closer and filling the lower story of the house. Still Jim continued to pray.

The water continued to rise. Driftwood and other objects rushed past. The water came up to the bottom of the windows, then the top of the front door. Amazingly, from the direction of what had once been the river but was now just a part of the flood, a boat came, obviously running under power. It maneuvered its way toward Jim's house, and an inflatable raft appeared over the side.

"Get in," the man in the boat shouted over the roar of the water.

"I'm okay," said Jim. "God will save me."

"Don't be a fool," the boatman shouted.

The water was now rising faster. Jim left the window open -- there seemed to be little point in closing it now -- and made his way through the attic up through a trap door and onto the roof. When he got to the roof the boat was gone. Still he continued to pray.

As he prayed, over the roar of the rain and the water he heard the beatings of the rotors of a helicopter overhead. its searchlight picked out Jim on the roof. The helicopter came to hover overhead and dropped a ladder down to the roof.

Jim ignored the ladder. "God will save me," he said, though he knew no one but God would be able to hear him. "God will save me."

The pilot of the helicopter watched as Jim turned his back on the proferred ladder. "Get ready to go down and get him," he said to the other crewman, who was readying a lifeline and harness.

But it turned out to be too late. The pilot watched, powerless to help, as the waters finally took their toll on the house. Jim sank into water, and darkness, and death.

. . . and suddenly, pearly light. The roaring was gone, replaced by harps and a choir, and Jim found himself standing in front of the Pearly Gates, facing none other than St. Peter himself.

"Well! Jim!" St. Peter said. "This is literally an unexpected surprise. I didn't think we would see you here for a good long time."

"What happened?" Jim asked the heavenly gatekeeper. "I called upon God in the moment of my trouble. I was sure He was going to save me."

"Hold on," St. Peter said. "I'll check." He went out of sight for a minute or two, then returned with a piece of exquisitely-laid notepaper, which he handed to Jim without comment.

Jim read the note, written of course in the most beautiful of penmanship:



I don't understand it either.
I sent your neighbor to save you.
I sent a policeman to save you.
I sent a boat to save you.
I even sent a helicopter to save you.
What happened, indeed?

- G.