Week 2: Waiting Room

The screen beeped as the numbers changed.

Dismas took a step forward. The muscles in his neck tensed as he refused himself a glance backwards. Taking a deep breath, he walked through the door.

The large, cold waiting room seemed familiar to him. He didn’t have to look at the walls, asphyxiating in their magnolia dullness, to know what the posters papered around the room would say. And, then, there was the door, looming tall in front of him.

Instinctively he looked away from it. A screen to his left flashed the number eleven in large, red digits. He sighed whilst a gentle chuckle reached his ears.

‘You again?’ Dismas asked, and he noticed that the vigour his voice once possessed was all but gone now.

‘Of course,’ the man’s face twisted into a grin. ‘Did you really expect anybody else?’

‘Hoped, rather.’

‘A dangerous thing to do nowadays, my friend.’

Dismas walked over and sat next to the man. ‘Have you been waiting long then?’ he asked disinterested.

The man laughed, the sound booming across the room. ‘You could say that.’

Dismas shook his head. ‘What a tosser,’ he thought to himself.

‘Aren’t you going to ask me my name?’ the man looked up at Dimas for the first time and he noticed the big, dark eyes, heavily underlined by the swollen, cloudy bags under his eyes.

‘I was trying to remember it,’ he almost whispered.

‘You never do, Dismas, you never do.’
_____

‘What were we talking about?’ the man asked without looking at Dismas.

Dismas looked again at the little ticket he was holding, marked with the number ninetyeight, and sighed, stealing a furtive glance at the screen that ominously read seventeen. He felt as if time was not moving forward anymore. ‘We weren’t really talking’ he replied.

‘Religion,’ shouted the man. ‘Your religion, to be precise.’

The man hadn’t seemed so animated up until that point so he indulged him. ‘Really? What about it?’

‘Well, it’s just that you seem like an intelligent chap to me, and I find it hard to believe that you swallowed all that rubbish. That’s all.’ The man seemed to relish each of his words.

‘Do we really need to do this again?’

‘I mean,’ the man went on, ignoring the plea. ‘Inconsistencies from the very beginning.’
Dismas stood up and brought his ear to the door that he had been studiously avoiding up until now. He closed his eyes and tried to listen.

‘What did Eve and Adam do that was so wrong?’ the man asked.

Dismas, eyes still closed, pressed his ear harder against the door.

‘Tell me, what did they do?’

‘Gabriel,’ Dismas said suddenly, opening his eyes as the revelation came to him. ‘That’s your name, isn’t it?’

‘Why were they thrown out of paradise?’ shouted the man, suddenly becoming restless.

‘No, it can’t be Gabriel,’ he whispered. ‘I apologise, I really can’t remember your name.’

‘Please just answer my bloody question.’ The man raised his voice again. ‘Why make this even harder than it should be? Just play along.’

He was taken aback by the despair in the man’s voice. ‘What’s your question?’

‘What was Eve and Adam’s sin, Dismas?’

‘They disobeyed God’s command.’

‘How?’ a smile curled in the man’s lips.

‘By eating from the tree of good and evil,’ he responded, losing interest in the conversation again and turning his attention back to the door. ‘Does it need to take this long?’ he asked.

‘Ah ha,’ shouted the man. ‘So, you’re telling me that before eating that fruit, they wouldn’t know what’s good from what’s evil, correct?’

Dismas nodded his head almost automatically, the familiarity of the argument suddenly dawning on him. ‘Have we already had this conversation?’

‘So, your God basically punished these two poor idiots for doing something they had no way of knowing was bad, or evil?’ the man smiled, his expression, however, was filled with despair. ‘That’s your original sin?’

He ignored him, staring instead at the door.

‘Inconsistencies form the very foundation of their belief,’ the man whispered to himself, realising Dismas was no longer listening to him. ‘Why won’t you see that?’ he looked up at him, as he was slowly pressing his ear against the door again.

The screen flashed again, eighteen filled the black backdrop.
_____

‘I feel like we’ve been waiting here for an eternity.’

‘What makes you think we haven’t?’ said the man despondently.
Dismas shook his head. Standing up, he inspected the room again. ‘I wish we had a window at least.’

‘That would be worse.’

‘How so?’

‘Imagine looking down there, at everyone, with everything so,’ he winced, ‘so distant, so out of reach.’

Dismas looked at the screen. It read forty one. ‘Have you always been this much of a buzz kill?’

The man looked down and it was only then that Dismas spotted the injuries on the man’s hands, pus-filled and sore. ‘Do you think it’ll be much longer?’ he asked , trying to change the topic.

‘I don’t know,’ the man said, ‘I don’t know.’

Dismas looked down. ‘I’m sorry, I’m pestering you.’

‘It’s not your fault. It never was our fault.’ The man suddenly looked up, a plea curtained behind his eyes. ‘Tell me you believe that. That it wasn’t our fault.’

Dismas wanted to agree but before he could speak, his eyes were drawn to the man’s hands again. ‘I don’t know. We wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t done anything wrong.’

‘How can you possibly know that?’ the man shouted, the fear in his voice drowning out the anger.

‘Perhaps they’ll let us go now?’ He took a deep breath. ‘It’s been long enough now, right?’

The man shook his head.

Dismas came over to him and sat down next to the man. He patted his pockets, until he found what he was looking for.

‘I wish we had a window at least,’ he said as he took out a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. ‘Ciggie?’

‘Oh, Dismas, you know I’d kill for one’

‘Go on then,’ he smiled.

The man shook his head. ‘We ain’t got matches.’

‘Oh, yes, I remember now.’ He put the pack of cigarettes down. ‘Maybe I could go and get some?’

‘Your turn will come up. We have to wait.’

‘Ok.’
_____

‘My leg still hurts.’

‘But it was so long ago.’

‘Was it really?’ asked Dismas as he pressed on his calves.

‘I suppose it’s quite cold here. That can’t help.’

‘Very cold.’

The two men sat in silence as the screen flashed once again.

‘Ninety seven.’

‘You’re next, Dismas.’

‘Why don’t you have a number?’

The man looked down. ‘Apparently my name wasn’t on the list. I guess I’ll have to keep waiting for one.’

‘That’s a shame.’ He stood up and looked wistfully at the door. ‘I really hope I get to see them now. I’ll put in a good word for you, ok?’

The man forced a smile. ‘Just promise that you won’t forget me.’ He stopped and looking up at Dismas’ eyes, he whispered, ‘you’ll remember me.’

The screen flashed again. Dismas, who had looked at the screen after it flashed, couldn’t look back at the man. ‘I promise,’ he said and he took a step forward.

‘No, you won’t.’

Dismas’ neck hurt with the effort of not looking back. Taking a deep breath, he walked through the door.

The large, cold waiting room seemed familiar to him. He didn’t have to look at the walls, asphyxiating in their magnolia dullness, to know what the posters papered around the room would say. And, then, there was the door, looming tall in front of him.

Instinctively he looked away from it. A screen to his left flashed the number eleven in large, red digits. He sighed whilst a gentle chuckle reached his ears.

‘You again?’ Dismas asked

THE END

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s