America, 1988 (from the Dutch)
God found a collection of figurines at the ballpark—the kind they sell by the vanload at night games. God was chagrined by the patriotic hot dogs and music, the curveballs, the bullpen, the umpire’s calls. God was bleak and sweaty and kept tugging at his beard. When some rookie rounded the bases after hitting a four-bagger, blue lasers shot from God’s eyes, reducing the catcher to dust.
“Stop it. Have a Coke.”
God covered his ears. “Can’t hear you!”
The relief pitcher shuffled his feet, glanced up at God.
He was afraid to throw the ball. He cowered on the mound like a humiliated beast.
“You’re killing me!” shouted God, inadvertently incinerating some poor woman’s hair and blouse.
The pitch was wild, just missing the batter.
“What the hell was that? Stand-up comedy? French kissing?”
God raised his arms and howled the national anthem. A nearby family trembled. Thunder sounded from his nether regions and fire poured from his hands.
“What are you doing, slacker? Pitch!”
In the end, everyone lost the game. Fans ran for the exits; a rain of boulders crushed the players. God let out a laugh like an orgasm. “I’m Mick Jagger! I’m Indiana Jones! I’m marijuana! I’m King of the Jews!”
Later, sullen, he went to bed with his bobbleheads, muttering goodnight.
“Did you have to do that? Did you have to bring down the stadium?”
“Tuck me in,” said God. “Don’t be a dick. Someday you’ll understand.” He wiggled his gargantuan toes. “We can’t always get what we want.”
He could, of course. This was in America, in 1988.
J. Robert Lennon is the author of two story collections, Pieces For The Left Hand and See You in Paradise, and seven novels, including Mailman, Familiar, and Happyland. He teaches writing at Cornell University.
Illustration by Alexander Fukui