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Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 26

The next time I had a chance to talk with Thomas Jefferson privately I asked him, “Can Lucifer or any of her followers see the divine heart?”

“They see only the outer soul,” he said. “The armor they put up to hide their own true selves blinds them to the true selves of others and is their Achilles’ heal. Unlike all but the most evil people on earth, who walk around celestially naked, the guilt-ridden habitually hide their true selves from those who can see them. That was why after their disobedience Adam and Eve felt so naked before God in the Garden of Eden. They did not know how to hide from him what they had done. Demanding a look at their true face is the only real enforcement clause we have in any treaty with the Anorexics. If they didn’t know that we can know when they’re lying, even to themselves, eternal evil would always be one step ahead of eternal good, the way mortals are tricked by frauds on earth.”

“Then if we can see them but they can’t see us, why do they trust us to keep our word?”

“Because we always have. The testament to one’s honor from an enemy is its most glorious praise. But it is also why they fear and loathe us. Our ability to see them allows them to feel the pain of their own guilt. We diagnose their pain just by being honest, and that’s why they must hide from us if they wish to remain ill.”

“I didn’t try to undress Lucifer during our meeting—I’m not very self-confident yet and was afraid of the corruption I might see—but I don’t think Lucifer was trying to hide from me,” I told him.

“Then we have hope,” King Solomon said.


“Europe will just be starting to go to bed when Uncle Nimlash begins,” said General Patton. “The Middle East and Asia will already be asleep. For those who don’t stay up to watch us on CNN, we’re going to have to pick up a lot of audience on the live dreamcast and delayed plays.”

“How are people reacting to the new phenomenon of common dreaming?” I asked the round table.

Robert A. Heinlein answered. “Our surveys and focus groups showed that some people were initially frightened when they awoke to find out other people were having the same dreams they were,” he said. “But real-time morph checks show few instances of nightmarish fugues caused by the dreamscape experience itself. The dreams are only being broadcast on the REM Network so most people are just waking up refreshed.”

“Excellent,” I said. “Ladies and gentlemen, can you do without me chairing these meetings for a couple of days? I’ve been pretty much cooped up in this fortress since the campaign began, and I’m worried about losing touch with how the voters are feeling, just as we’re pulling into the home stretch.” I turned back to Heinlein. “Can you take the gavel while I’m gone?”

“President Jefferson is Chairman Pro-Tem,” said Heinlein.

I looked across the table to Jefferson. We locked eyes and he smiled back at me.

“President Jefferson will be my traveling companion,” I told him.


A few hours later Thomas and I were sitting at a bistro on the left bank, enjoying buttered croissants and cups of café au lait. He had abandoned the nineteenth century garb he preferred to wear at our committee meetings in favor of a Giorgio Armani suit.

“The French are … well, the French,” he said. “They haven’t changed in thousands of years. Did Jesus tell you that he spent a lot of his ‘missing’ years in Gaul?”

I shook my head and told a white half-lie. “We’ve been so busy talking shop that his personal life never came up.”

“The French have always loved Jesus,” Jefferson said, “although after getting razzed about their affection for Jerry Lewis, you’re not likely to find a Frenchman who admits sentiment about anyone. Did you study française la langue when you were mortal?”

Un très petit peu,” I said, sipping my coffee. “I studied French in high school just enough to be able ask for directions to the Rodin Museum on my one previous trip to Paris. They say the French are rude to Americans but that’s only because they’re insulted we no longer treat French as, well, the lingua franca. The Parisians showed this American beautiful manners, although some of them thought at first I was German because no American could possibly go to the trouble of learning their language.”

Jefferson chuckled. “I asked you about your French for a specific reason. Say in French for me, if you please, the phrase ‘I am.’”

Je suis,” I said.

He waited.

“I’m not getting your point,” I said.

“Perhaps it would help if you wrote it out,” he said, handing me a pen.

I wrote “Je suis” on a place mat but was still drawing a blank.

Jefferson reached across the table and drew the proofreader’s semicircular underline mark for making two words into one. That’s when I saw it and my jaw dropped. “Jesus. I Am. The French knew his divinity before he’d even started preaching!”

“It was buried in their language as a prophecy,” explained Jefferson, “so they would recognize the savior when he came to live among them.”

“You know,” I said, “When I was mortal I’d always thought that when you were mortal you were an atheist, like me.”

“I was a gnostic, a student of the arcane,” said Jefferson, “just one of many who misread old documents about Jesus having fathered a ‘holy bloodline’ on earth to mean that he’d survived the crucifixion and went on to get married and sire children. I didn’t realize that the documents were referring to the children Jesus had fathered with Eve when he was Adam. The big secret is that the sainted blood—the ‘holy grail,’ in a coded pun — goes all the way back to Eden. By today’s date you’d be hard pressed to find a human being that doesn’t share in it.”

“Then all the human race is royal?”

“Jesus was the ultimate Democrat,” said Jefferson, who’d just finished his coffee. He spoke to the “grande duchesse” who had just served us. “Madame, une autre tasse de café au lait, s’il vous plaît?


Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXVII.

Escape from Heaven is
Copyright © 2002 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust.
All rights reserved.

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