Griffin stood by Nuelle. They shared their apple while waiting. It was an unusual morning. Across the street there was a black carriage with a black horse waiting. The driver wore black and had a confident look about him. Nuelle stood tall, relaxed yet alert. The angels had groomed her, she was ready for the journey.
A lanky man stood in the middle of the road. He looked from one carriage to another. Griffin waited patiently. He had all the time in the world. The man looked like he had made up his mind. He toddled over to Griffin eyeing him closely. Pointing to the carriage across the street, he said, “That driver over there says he will take me anywhere I want for a dollar.” He cocked an eyebrow, “How much do you charge?”
Griffin smiled a knowing smile. “You have already paid the price for your ticket.”
“Yeah, but he says, he can take me where there is temptation.”
“What need is there of temptation at this point?” Griffin looked this man over. He certainly did not care about the fit of his clothing. His pants were too short; this matched the cuffs of his jacket sleeves. It just seemed the suit was two sizes too small.
“Yeah, but he says that many of my friends are where he plans to take me. He says there is some kind of a roast planned.” He pointed to the black carriage.
“It is my understanding that many were not satisfied with the roast, once they arrived there.” Griffin eyed the man, wondering how his mind worked.
The man seemed to twist his arms about and put his chin in his palm. “Yeah, but he says, that I will never be cold again if I go with him. I did not bring an overcoat.”
He started to speak and then stopped short. His attention was drawn to Nuelle for the first time. “She is a beautiful animal; so well groomed, she stands proudly. Wait a minute.” He tottered over to the black horse which shied and reared up at the sight of him. The man stepped back and looked at the coat of the black horse. He saw it was thick and tangled, in need of brushing.
Griffin could not hear, but watched the man talking to the driver of the black carriage. Jerry turned and ambled back to Griffin. “He says, there are treasures beyond measure, like Las Vegas.”
Again, Griffin smiled, “You worked Las Vegas. The pastry was always a day old. The hours were long. The air was thick with smoke. The crowds shifted here and there, without direction, mulling over their circumstance. The atmosphere created from cold, flickering neon. The antithesis of nature, is not treasure.”
A second black carriage arrived. The driver climbed down and went over to the first driver and said something to him. The first driver whistled over for Jerry. Jerry’s eyes dropped half way down in their sockets. His jaw drooped. His nostrils flared. “Wait a minute.” His long crane like legs, sauntered back to the man who whistled. He listened for a moment, and then he ran back.
“Yeah, but what about Dino?” He smiled. “I was hoping to see Dino.”
“I can’t help you there,” Griffin said. He was growing concerned. He reached beneath the seat and glanced at the book. “Joseph Levitch?” Griffin turned the page to Jerry. “That’s you, right?”
“Yeah, but I go by Jerry.”
Two more black carriages drove up. Nuelle was not amused by this. The drivers all climbed down and were talking amongst themselves. Then the first driver whistled again to get Jerry’s attention. “Ask that guy why you had to wait so long. We would have taken you at any time. Ask him why, if his place is rated so high, why so few obtain entrance. Ask him…”
“Wait,” Jerry held up his hand. He ambled back over to Nuelle and Griffin arriving short of breath, he said, “Why?”
Griffin held up his hand. “Are you through clowning around now?” He walked over to Nuelle. “Come meet Nuelle. She is your guide today.”
Jerry walked over and stroked Nuelle’s cheek. “Hello beautiful. I could not ask for a better guide.”
The four drivers climbed back into their carriages and drove off hastily, after their black horses were given the whip. Jerry watched, eyes wide, as the black carriages entered into walls of fire and disappeared.
“Come,” Griffin walked to the step and held out his hand.
Jerry took his hand and stepped up to the carriage and took his seat.
Griffin watched Jerry as he rubbed his hands against the upholstery; then a second time against the front of his suit jacket. “Am I the right religion for this journey?”
Griffin took a deep breath, “Religion is an earthly pursuit. There is no need of it on the next stage of your journey. Everything has been proven. What is in you, brought you to this point. What is in you remains. There is an equality that awaits you; it is unlike anything that is imagined. There is no competition; that has been replaced by cooperation.”
“Where are you taking me?”
Griffin never tired of this question. The last earthly concerns would fall away shortly. The concept of existence without worry is only known to the largest of hearts on this earth.
“We are here to take you anywhere you wish.”
Jerry leaned back. He extended his arms out hands raised, fingers up, thumbs pointing towards each other, as if viewing a scene. “Jerry Lewis Playhouse. No, no, let’s see. Jerry Lewis Hotel and Casino. No, no, that won’t do. Um, Jerry Lewis Film University.” He put his arms down. “I never gave this any thought. I was too busy. Do they even have entertainment where we are going?”
Nuelle kept walking at a slow gait. The afternoon was perfect. The sun graced her coat with a glow. She knew where she was taking them.
Griffin looked back at his fare, “There is less need to escape on this part of the journey. If you want a Playhouse, one will be provided. That goes for a university as well. All the reasons to gamble have been eliminated; as there is no need for money.”
Nuelle turned down the Avenue of Prayers, and Griffin realized where she was headed. She pulled to the side of the road in front of the tallest building.
“Are we here?” Jerry leaned forward.
Griffin smiled, but did not answer. He climbed down and held out his hand to Jerry.
“No neon lights, no glittering marquee.”
It was the way he said it that brought another smile to Griffin’s face.
Jerry climbed down. He felt great, his revitalized body full of the energy of his youth.
The twenty foot wide doors opened as Griffin and Jerry approached. Griffin led them to an elevator; here also, the doors opened at their approach, a young angel greeted them. Her smile revealed her pleasure, “I heard you were coming. Floor please.”
“Top floor,” Griffin answered.
“Of course,” Her energy was contagious.
The doors opened, Jerry’s eyes grew wide, looking at the room full of phone banks manned by people of all ages. Their dress, revealed no dress code requirement, the costumes were of all ages and styles and fashions. There were men, women, and children of all ages. The energy level was so high that Jerry felt like he was on stage, in front of a great crowd. “What is this place?”
“This is a call center; it is a prayer call center. This group handles the entire western region. St. Maria Goretti is around here someplace, she usually keeps the place running smoothly. You can attend here as long as you like, while you are deciding what options that are ahead of you.” Griffin shook Jerry’s hand. “Enjoy,” he called over his shoulder as he returned to Nuelle waiting on the street below. It was a perfect afternoon.