The stadium seat was cold and hard. He winced.
“Like getting a back massage from a nun.”
Frank turned into the big smiling face. Then past him. Then around. The stadium he sat in reached further and higher than any he’d ever seen. In each seat sat someone different; all wearing the same virgin white bathrobe. At the very base of the stadium sat a stage. Above it, a massive screen was showing a string of numbers.
Frank turned back to the big face. His brain felt dry. He only nodded.
“What’s your name?”
Frank stared at The Big man. He reached out and pressed his palm against the man’s beard.
“I haven’t been here that long,” the man said, “yet” he added.
Frank pulled his hand away.
“Sorry, I, I thought I died.”
Frank tried to think of what he might have done wrong.
“Oh no, you’re dead.” The man said, jovially.
“What kind of hell is this?” Frank asked. Looking around. Three rows down an elderly woman spit in her hand and turned to the man next to her. Frank looked away. The big man didn’t.
“Ah, yeah, you get used to it. Not much to do around here.”
“What is here?” Frank asked.
The Big Man frowned. “Hard to say. Bureaucracy? Is the best way I can put it, I suppose?”
“How do you mean?”
The big man reached in his pocket and began pulling out a slip. It reminded Frank of the magician’s never-ending handkerchief. He waited.
“Got it!” The big man held the tip of the strip of paper while the rest coiled on the floor. On it were numbers.
“So, best I can tell, this is my number. And when my number matches the one on that screen down there, I get to go down there and choose my next life. Check your pockets.”
Frank did. The paper was not quite so long as The Big Man’s.
“Ah, better man than me.”
“Your number is shorter than mine. Best any of us can figure is that the worse you were in life, the longer your number. So, by the time you get up there, all the corns been picked out of the turd. You’re left with the worst lives imaginable; guidance counselors, directors of human resources, middle school math teachers.” The Big Man shuddered.
Frank processed the information and then nodded.
“Seems like you might have been a decent guy though, might have a good shot at something decent. What’d you do?” The Big Man asked.
“I was a cop. You?”
“Middle-School Math Teacher.”
“Does everyone wind up here?” Frank asked.
The Big Man looked around. “Seems like it, why?”
“I’m looking for my wife and son.”
“Ah, well, they might still be here. When did they die?”
“My son died a few years ago,” Frank said in a monotone.
“Was he a good kid?”
“Well then he is probably already moved on, what about the wife, when’d she go?”
The Big Man put a hand on Frank’s shoulder.
“If she is here, you won’t find her, trust me.”
Frank looked down at his hands.
“Maybe I’ll apologize in the next life.” He wanted to cry, but he didn’t. The Big Man let his hand fall back. Frank sat up.
“At least I know they’ve got another chance at something,” he sighed, “What’s your name anyways?” He asked The Big Man.
“Charlie.” He held out a large hand. Frank took it.
A DING rang out across the stadium.
Frank saw that everyone around him had picked up there slips of paper and were reading them.
“What’s that for?”
“Means someone is up next. Seems the last guy was a bit choosy.”
Charlie didn’t move.
“Aren’t you going to check your number?” Frank asked.
Charlie tapped his head with a finger. “Middle School Math Teacher, remember?”
Frank looked down at his number, but before he got three digits in someone cried out. A woman, maybe fifteen rows down.
“Me! It’s me! PEACE LOSERS!” She cried, scrambling down the aisle.
The whole stadium let out a collective moan.
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