Now I am quite sure that there are many, many seconds in your life which, when counted and sorted, guide your pathway into the afterlife.  Surely, one decision or action can’t earn you a ticket to heaven, doom you to Hades.  That being said, when I contemplate my own distant future, there is always one specific instance that comes to mind. 

It was actually almost a year ago.  I don’t remember exactly where I was going, or why.  I pulled up to the stop light.  I don’t recall what day it was, but it was dusk.  Spring was fading, daylight savings had not yet drifted in.  It was an early evening, the sun just setting down in.  

Generally, at this stoplight, I tried to make as little eye contact as possible, tried to completely ignore the people slinking out of the apartment complex on the side of the road.  I didn’t necessarily live in the ghetto, but you only had to drive about two blocks down before you were into questionable territory.  I was four blocks from my house.  I turned up my music and sat back watching the light.  Then it happened.

Something to my left caught my eye, something slowly making its way across the crosswalk, coming closer to my car.  It was a slightly older gentleman, probably in his mid-fifties.  He had the gray, half-shaven look of a man who pays little attention to his appearance.  He wore a bright green windbreaker and a netted baseball cap.  In one hand he held a long white cane, tapping constantly into the ground ahead of him.  In his other hand, he held, almost pulled the hand of a woman, stumbling behind him.  She wore a fading gray sweat shirt and a foolish grin.  In her other hand, she held a long white cane, tapping against the ground, careful not to hit her companion.  I had no words.

It was a living, breathing cliché walking toward me; it was, literally, the blind leading the blind.  It was beautiful.  My first thought was that I needed to call a friend. I needed to share the moment with someone.  I checked to make sure that the light hadn’t changed, then I leaned back in my chair, extracted my phone from my pocket.  Who could I call?  Who would relish this moment as much as I?  And then I realized that the true perfection of the moment could not be clarified in a phone call.  Sure, I could describe thescene to them, but they wouldn’t really see it.  In reality, my phone call would be no different than me telling the story the next day.  No, the phone call would not due. 

Watching the traffic light, I pushed the camera button on my phone and slowly moved my arm out the window.  I used the side mirror to cover the phone so the man wouldn’t see me, shamelessly taking his picture.  Then realization slapped me, he could not see me aiming the camera at him.  At this point, guilt also slapped me, as my conscience began to scratch its way forward from the back of my mind.  By now, the couple had tapped their way about fifteen feet closer, and were almost even with my car window.  However, there was still an entire lane between us, and they showed as tiny blurbs in the screen of my phone.  I could feel eyes on me from everywhere, sense the world all around me, judging.  I pushed the arrow button.  The screen zoomed, and the figures became larger. 

I jumped at the car horn, blaring from the car behind me.  The light had turned green.  I looked through the phone, moved it slightly to get both figures into the shot.  I pushed the capture button.  Click.  I tossed my phone on the passenger seat and drove through the intersection.

I often think about what my Judgment Day will be like.  In this daydream, for unknown reasons, St. Peter’s Gate is located right next to Gate 41 at San Francisco Airport.  A slightly chunky black woman in a uniform lightly grabs my arm at the metal detector.  She smiles and motions for me to follow her around the detector’s threshold.  Her nametag says Sandra and, although her manly physique is emphasized by the uniform, she smells wonderful of unnamed women’s perfume. 

We walk past the roped-off areas, for employees only, and into a long hallway.  At the end of the hallway, an overweight, balding man in uniform is guiding an Arab couple into a door.  Just a routine, random inspection.  Sir, this has nothing to do with you being of  Arab descent.  Sandra leads me down the hallway and stops at a door about ten yards from the Arabs’ door.  She props the door open, smiling.  It’s bright inside, but I enter.  The door creaks shut behind me. 

The room is completely empty, except for a desk exactly in the middle.  At the desk, a uniformed man sits with his feet on the desk.  He has a graying brown beard that hooks around his ears like a Halloween costume.  His head is bald and shiny.  He reminds me of my Biology teacher from Freshman year.  I look down t his nametag: Pete.

“Have a seat,” he says, sliding his feet off the desk and plopping them loudly onto the floor.  He gestures to the seat in front of me; I’m not sure if it was there when I entered the room.  I sit, he stands.  He lets out a long sigh, as if he is about to say something, but begins to silently pace the room instead.  I still have no idea what this meeting is about.  Suddenly, he is decided, and he walks straight toward me.  He tosses something onto the table, and leans his hands on the table in from of me.  I look up at him.  It’s unclear if it’s pity or disgust in his blue eyes, maybe both. 

I look down and see that the object on the table is a Polaroid picture.  I luck it up and study it.  The picture is taken from a bird’s eye perspective, as if taken from the actual traffic light.  There’s my green Subaru, second car back of the light, though the car in front seems to have already driven away.  In the driver’s seat, you can see me, arm outstretched, camera in hand.  My tongue pokes out of the side of my mouth in concentration.  I know what is there, but I follow the line of my arm to the object of the photo, the couple walking innocently along the sidewalk.  I’m reminded from this picture that a church is on the corner behind the them. 

I turn my head back up to the man, unsure what to say.  I’m quite sure now that it is pity in those eyes, but neither of us say anything.  We sit in silence for several more minutes.

I often have these thoughts, and I can still see his eyes, full of something, whatever emotion it was.  It clenches my stomach and a wave a dread washes over my thoughts.  When this happens, I pull out my phone, and I scroll to the picture, and I remind myself how fucking funny it was.


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