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Escape from Heaven
A Novel by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 28

Friday, October 28th, 12:00 PM in Television City, Los Angeles.

In addition to the normal TV cameras in the studio, there were, for the first time in earth broadcasting history, the pick-ups that would turn the present events into a dream that could be broadcast to sleepers around the world, to be translated into symbols they could grasp whether or not they were familiar with the language or cultural matrix of the actual event.

The director was counting down, “eight … seven … six … five … four … three …” then counted the last two numbers with his fingers, silently, and cued Uncle Nimlash who was standing center stage– no brassy theme song introducing him this time.

“Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentleman,” Uncle Nimlash began, “and welcome to what I believe will be an historic event about which I can’t possibly exaggerate its importance. Today on your Uncle Nimlash Show we will be hosting a debate between the two candidates who are running for the position of celestial governor of the planet earth.

“Neither of the candidates has seen any of the questions my staff has prepared with suggestions that have been pouring into our website, not only from you the viewing audience but also from journalists throughout the world. In the second half of today’s debate, my studio audience will be free to ask questions of the candidates, and none of these questions are being pre-screened. We have done our best to keep partisans of the two candidates out of our audience.

“The format of the debate is going to be simple. The candidate receiving the question will have one minute to answer, and the opposition candidate will have one minute to reply. The candidates have declined an opening statement to allow more time for questions, but they may make a closing statement if there’s time left over and they have accumulated a balance of time.

“The debate is going to be fairly informal but I will do my best, with the help of my producer, who will be watching the lengths of the candidates’ responses, to divide the time between the two candidates equitably. We had a coin toss before the program to determine which candidate would get the first question. The candidate of the Party of God won the toss but has elected to allow his opponent from the Anorexic Party to take the first question.

“We have asked our studio audience to refrain from applause or any other demonstrations until the conclusion of the debate.

“And now, the candidate for governor of the Anorexic Party, the First Lady of Earth—Eve.”

Lucifer walked out wearing a smart, emerald-green Christian Dior original, reminiscent of an Oleg Cassini suit Jackie Kennedy had once worn. She shook hands with Uncle Nimlash firmly and seated herself in an armchair stage left of him, folding her lands on her lap and crossing her ankles demurely.

Uncle Nimlash continued:

“The candidate for governor from the Party of God, originally known to us as Adam, the first man, and later as the savior of the human race, Jesus Christ.”

Jesus came out in smartly creased white slacks and a long-sleeve white silk shirt, a white silk tie, and a white silk jacket over it. He looked like a doctor, or at least a doctor on General Hospital. He also shook hands with Uncle Nimlash firmly, shook hands with Lucifer, and seated himself in the armchair stage right of him, leaning forward slightly with his legs about a foot apart and his hands resting on his knees. It gave the impression that he was alert but not overly nervous.

“The first question for Eve,” said Uncle Nimlash. “Many observers of this election have noted that it appears to be not about substantive political issues but merely a custody dispute between a divorced couple. Would you care to respond?”

“Of course,” said Eve. “I simply don’t think it’s true. Jesus and I have deeply felt differences on a number of important issues. He is opposed to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion; I favor that freedom. He is for a laissez-faire economy, while I believe the excesses of big business must be curbed. He would wish to do away with the current treaty that limits the size of celestial interventions into the affairs of earth, while I believe that the treaty preserves the independence of earth from outside interference. I could give you many more examples but I’m hoping to reserve some time for a closing statement.”

“Very good,” said Uncle Nimlash. “Jesus, you have one minute to respond if you’d care to.”

“I have no response at this time,” Jesus said.

“Then we will go directly to the next question, which is to you, Jesus. It has been debated elsewhere many times during these last three weeks whether the accounts in Genesis have properly apportioned the accountability between you and Eve regarding the sequence of events that led to the fall of nature and the fall of man. Would you care to give us your perspective on this question?”

“Yes, I’m very happy to take that question,” said Jesus. “Eve would not have even been capable of causing such a catastrophe. It is not in her nature. I take complete and solo responsibility for causing the fall of nature and the fall of man, with all the consequent pain and suffering that followed through human history and that exists to this day.”

“Eve,” said Uncle Nimlash, “you have one minute to respond.”

I could see that Eve looked perplexed. She had evidently come here prepared to challenge Jesus on his failings but he was preempting that possibility by taking responsibility for them. If she concurred with him she would come across as a bitch; but she could only dispute Jesus by admitting her own part in the fall, something she had never done, even to herself.

Which left Jesus getting the points for that question, no matter what she did.

“I have no response at this time,” she said.

Uncle Nimlash looked surprised and smiled. “I can see we will be getting through more questions than I anticipated,” he said.

“To you, Eve,” he continued. “While it is traditional in American politics not to ask candidates questions of religious faith, this is a worldwide election covering many different peoples of widely differing beliefs. While we would anticipate a prefabricated politically correct response embracing the beliefs of all peoples, could you please tell us of your own religious background and faith, if any?”

Zing! Uncle Nimlash’s staff had just put a shot right across Eve’s bow, foreclosing the option of her prevaricating on the question.

I wondered whether she was going to do the debate equivalent of taking the fifth.

“I regard myself as a Christian,” Lucifer said. “I have witnessed for myself the historical truths that Jews, Christians, and Muslims base their faiths on. These are not questions of faith for me but inescapable reality. I would not be here if I had not been created by God and resurrected by Jesus. Any other differences aside, it would be childish of me not to be grateful.”

Classy answer, I thought, and wondered for a moment, having heard quite a different speech from Lucifer in a celestial Hyde Park, whether my talk to her had some impact, or whether this was simply a political ploy.

“Jesus, would you care to respond?”

“Eve’s gratitude to my father is right and proper,” he said, “but there is no balance of gratitude she owes me. She has given me far more than I was ever able to give her.”

Uncle Nimlash took off his glasses for a moment and looked at Jesus. “May I break format and make a comment that is not on my prepared questions?”

“If Eve has no objection,” said Jesus.

Eve nodded her consent.

“Perhaps we can set aside some of these questions, Jesus, if I can anticipate some of your answers from the ones you’ve already given. May I conclude at this point that you have no intention of disputing Eve on any substantive issue in this debate?”

“Uncle Nimlash, that is precisely my intention.”

We knew what the next question had to be. In fact, we were counting on it.

“Jesus, are you then telling us that you believe Eve is better qualified than you to govern earth?”

“May I go beyond the one-minute limit to respond to that question?” Jesus asked.

“Eve?” Uncle Nimlash asked.

“Yes,” said Eve.

Jesus turned his chair away from facing the audience and faced Lucifer directly.

Here was the moment we had planned for. Jesus’ answer was going to take all of God’s creation and put it squarely in the lap of Lucifer.

“Eve,” Jesus said, “I love you. I have always loved you. I have never loved another living spirit as much as I love you.”

Jesus paused a moment and I could hear a stir in the audience.

Uncle Nimlash waved his audience into silence.

Lucifer looked stunned.

Jesus continued:

“I died on the cross for you,” Jesus said. “I had no other god before you. It was the thought of you that gave me the courage and the strength to face the crucifixion.”

I could see tears starting to well up in Jesus’ eyes, as he poured out his heart to her.

Lucifer did not look away from Jesus’ gaze but I could not read her reaction. Her armor was up.

“I wanted to make up for the damage I had done which had ruined your faith in my father, in me, and in your joy of creation. When you would not stay on earth with me, earth lost its flavor for me. Do you wonder why I haven’t been back here more than a few times? It’s that everything on earth reminds me of your beauty and your joyful innocence and of the wonderful times we had together in the beginning. The memories were just too painful for me to be here without you. Having to stay on earth without you, even now, would be a living death for me.”

Jesus took a cloth handkerchief from his jacket and dabbed the tears from his eyes.

“How can I ask the people of earth to support me in this election, when I don’t want to be here without you, when I can’t be here for them? You obviously care for the people of this world or you would not be here. I am withdrawing my candidacy and throw my support to you, Eve. You win.”

Lucifer sat there and I could see her start to tremble.

Suddenly, her armor dropped and I could see directly into her divine heart.

I could see her youthful innocence and joy in existence shine out, as her disappointment, her rage, her bitterness, all dropped away in an instant. For the first time in thousands of years, her aura could be seen.

Lucifer’s aura was not visible to the television cameras but I could see it and it would be visible in the dreamcast.

Her corona was growing in size and intensity, and she was beginning to radiate an almost blinding white light.

It must have been sensed even without seeing it by some people in the studio audience, because they became restless. Uncle Nimlash waved them into silence but suddenly a woman’s voice shouted out from the audience, “Give him another chance, honey! This is one man in a trillion!

The audience, waiting for any sort of trigger to release their own bottled up feelings, erupted into wild cheering and applause.

I kept my gaze on Lucifer and I adjusted my eyes so I could see past her corona to her face. She was crying.

She got up from her chair, walked over to Jesus, got on her knees and put her head on his lap.

“Oh, Adam,” Eve said, crying, as Jesus wrapped his hands around her and stroked her head. “Oh, my dear one,” she said. “I am so celestially sorry.”


Next in Escape from Heaven is Chapter XXIX.

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

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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