WILL VISIT EARTH. ARRIVING WHITE HOUSE LAWN JUNE 21 1:00 P.M. THIS IS NOT REPEAT NOT THE SECOND COMING. GOD.
The message had arrived—in a tweet somehow—and then a second message nearly drove the President into a tantrum.
“My God, He’s giving us only three weeks as it is!”
God, for His mysterious reasons, was requesting transportation from the stratosphere, just beyond the region of the moon. A shuttle must get up there. Well, at least we have had astronauts groping after satellites gone astray. Presumably, they would be able to get a grip on the Old Man and bring him aboard. Air Force One from Edwards should be able to handle it, with final stage touchdown near the oval garden.
In news conference, the President showed no sign of his tantrum.
“Mr. President, have you decided on the guest list?”
Of course Megyn Kelly was asking this, belligerent twinkle and all. Just let her get up here to handle this, the President was thinking. Take the smirk right off her face.
“Well, George and Dick, we should invite them. Barack indicates he might be engaged as a speaker in Europe somewhere. Not sure on that. Old George might not be able to make it. Jimmy is possible. Vladimir . . . unfortunately, no. But there’s my dear friend Benjamin Netanyahu, plus Theresa and Boris . . . We’re just getting started.”
“Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Mohammed Bin Salman? Mr. Assad? Kim Jong Un?”
“Of course, we won’t forget our friends in the middle east. We’re rigging up a satellite connection for worldwide coverage. Naturally we would do that.”
Murmurs from other reporters: “Mr. President, Mr. President, any concerns for security? What precautions are being taken?”
“Absolutely. Rest assured we have the means to provide security here at The White House.”
“What about the demonstrations, Mr. President? We have estimates of two hundred thousand homeless with their shopping carts and all their possessions in black garbage bags heading for Washington Square—”
“The National Guard, the 82nd Airborne will be on hand. Not to worry.”
“The agenda for God’s presentation, Mr. President. Any advance copy on that?”
"I just would like to make a comment here, and then I'm very busy and must be on my way. This is a Head of State Affair, I mean gee whiz. I expect He is going to talk about the deplorable condition of the moral fabric in America. I mean we've got the FBI and various intelligence agencies running amok into politics . . . Gosh, after years of blighted vision from the Democrats . . . Well, let me not belabor the point. I would just add that though I'm not, you might say, intimate with God, I KNOW Him. And I think it's no accident He chose to come to the greatest nation on earth, in the history of mankind, to talk to us. Please, let us show our respect."
So. The weeks moved along, world airwaves thrummed with excitement. There was some concern about God's accommodations. After the address to congress would come Camp David, a banquet, a royal sampling of the world's finest delicacies. Who knows, maybe He hadn't tried them. Jared offered to pull together a concert with Beyonce and Stephen Colbert at the top of the bill. Melania began knitting a pair of slippers in national colors, size twelve.
The guest list at the oval garden remained a secret, bitterly divisive issue. First, there had been applications from 1,752 members of the world press. Jimmy thought he was going to be busy painting a housing project in New Orleans, so at least that gave a bit of relief in the space problem. Mr. Kissinger, on the other hand, who had not been invited, had turned nearly belligerent. If George and Dick were going to be there, shouldn't he Henry also be there, the engineer of some of the finest world relations since Versailles?
Mohammed Bin Salman on the other hand was promising a satellite address to the world on a neighboring Arab network at precisely the time of God's address to Congress. Assad, Kim Jong Un, and the CIA were locked in some kind of battle involving bombs on airliners at the moment God's helicopter touched down, but that was thought to be the work of the yellow press primarily.
Meanwhile, pollsters were busy with what possible impact God's visit could have on the midterm elections. The nation was clearly divided on this matter. 52% thought the visit would be favorable to the President; 45% said it would make not a damn bit of difference; others had no opinion. On a follow-up, somewhat clever question, they were asked whether an endorsement by God of the Republican Party might stem unrest in the cities, and that showed a hot neck and neck 21% it would stem it and 21% it wouldn't, with the remainder of no opinion.
Mr. Brown, exiting from the Governor’s office, momentarily hit headlines, and somewhat surprisingly given his early background in the seminary, denounced God's visit as "partisan baloney." How many American people hopelessly in debt would be there in the oval garden to greet God, he asked. Why didn't God set down in the middle of Los Angeles and give an address there?
Bill and Hillary had mysteriously announced “not available” for the guest list, and then it was discovered they had plane tickets to the Himalayas for a visit with a hitherto undisclosed guru, a Mahesh something or other. Amongst the Presidential aides the chief concern was—well, with all that rich food at the banquet, what if George or somebody threw up on God's trousers?
The day arrived. The shuttle was up and ready with improved grappling equipment. One of the astronauts, something of a wag, announced from outer space that America was about to "put the other foot forward." The world watched breathlessly. Incredibly, the accident rate was very low as people rushed to television sets, and a mere 25,000 perished on the roads, canals, and byways. Later, it was announced that there had been "television riots" as underclass people in various countries tried to jam up to store windows to see the screen. On the other hand, ice cream vendors and what not made a killing. Attendance at baseball games in America dropped by 10%.
And there He was! Amazing, didn't even require a space suit. True, He did revolve ass over cart handle several times as the astronauts grappled to bring him aboard. But then, out of the purity of Outer Space, He was inside the space shuttle and descending! The world gaped at His Image. It was true, after all. He really did resemble—except there were no glasses, the hair was longer, the beard longer and whiter—Santa Claus! My God, people everywhere exclaimed, He looks like Santa Claus! A great wave of joy swept the world at that moment. Electric prickles went across everyone's skin, strangers turned to each other in the streets and embraced.
Wenches were seized and kissed. The Pope crossed himself with tears in his eyes. Nine months later there was an astonishing population boom and children born at that time went on to become holy men and presidential candidates.
So. With God aboard, one of the astronauts held an upright thumb in front of the camera. That was immediately replaced by the vision of an American flag. Then there was nothing much to do but wait until His landing, one final zoom in on the Old Man—he seemed to be dozing—and the announcement he had been offered a space shuttle dinner but politely waved it away. Later it was rumored He had asked for a shot of bourbon and a cigar after His long voyage downward from . . . well, who knows, really?
A delay followed, somewhat delicious this delay, in that virtually everyone now was aglow with His Image. Factories across the world closed, and there were rapid implementations of TV screens to public places to help the masses view God's arrival at the oval garden. Pubs, restaurants, salons, outdoor cafes around the world screamed with business. In a clever coup, the T-shirt presses emblazoned His Image with the words "God Arrived And I Was There" on them and hurled their products into the streets in seven nations simultaneously.
The moment came for the transfer onto Earth Itself. The brilliantly polished Air Force One helicopter settled down out of the skies like a gigantic dragonfly. The rotors whipped, causing a wind up all around, women holding their skirts. An intolerable waiting ensued as the copter seemed to sit on far too long with its blades furiously whipping the air. Then a door opened. A huge roar of glee rose from the planet as God stepped through a door and came down the steps.
He stood tall—by Jove, He certainly was tall! Much taller than had been imagined. He was down on the tarmac and then took a turn toward the rear of the copter, with the blades still churning—perhaps He had been momentarily confused in the logistics. He stepped right into the rear blades. Everyone was numb from the horrible sight. A silence fell into the sky. Just like that, the Visit was over.
Afterwards, the Arabs held forth that the entire business had been a hoax from the first, a CIA ploy, and nothing short of the despicable degradation of the West. People went back to work. The President returned to his office. He needed a new speech. Melania stayed at his side, still knitting the socks. After all, the President himself could probably wear them.
"I don't know. Geez . . . Am I gonna be blamed for this?"
"Don't you think we should get Benjamin to help us with this speech, dear?" Melania asked.
"I've got to have the right tack. I mean, what can I say?"
"This terrible tragedy . . ."
"This terrible tragedy . . . yes?"
"Leads us inevitably on . . ."
"Leads us inevitably on . . ."
"To confront, to deal with at last, my friends, what has to be, in a way, construed as a war. Yes, though we hate the idea of war, we hate all the sacrifice that it entails, we can only now stand with His example—this beautiful gesture, if you will—to take up arms in the last great struggle of the human race.
"I won't say that He communicated to me all this in that one brief moment as He came down the steps of the helicopter . . . Let us just say that the terrible moment filled me with a sort of light, a light that was at once dark and heavy and full of tears, and a light that was truly a guiding hand.
"I am speaking now, my fellow countrymen, of Operation Paradise. We have within our grasp, the tools, the inspiration, the loving example of our Lord to start on the road to re-building, to re-constructing, not just our community here at home, but across this wide world."
"Of course, such a struggle will never be easy. Will require—"
"What is it, Donald?"
"I forgot to turn on the recorder. You'll have to start over."