Heaven Ain't Ready...Yet
Frank eased his aching bones in a seat across from his friend, Ralph, at the small table in the backyard of Ralph's Florida home. Being close to eighty years old was not for the faint of heart because everything hurt and no doctor seemed to know what it was like to be old. They were all young whippersnappers who thought they knew everything.
Ralph stared at the chess board in front of him. "So young man." He was close to eighty-one, which made him the elder friend. "You'd better go first, because then you won't be able to whine to me about how you were treated unfairly."
"You're so funny," Frank said. "But remember, I won last week and that was with all my brain cells tied behind my back."
"Yeah…you forgot your Alzheimer's meds, so you did have your brain cells behind your back. It's your turn and make it snappy. I'm losing valuable time here."
Frank grabbed a pawn in the center of the board, looking up to see Ralph frown. "What? You don't like my move?"
"It'll just set the tone for the whole game. Go ahead. I'll just checkmate you in a few moves."
"Just like killing me off," Frank said, moving the pawn anyway. "You know, I'm not ready for the grave yet."
Ralph moved his knight. "Maybe not, but Heaven's not ready for you. That's the real problem. God doesn't want you yet, because they're not ready for your lack of humor."
"Humor? In Heaven? What would they have to laugh about?" Frank harrumphed and moved his queen. "You don't know what you're saying."
"I do, too. Before my Lois died…" Ralph looked upward. "God rest her beautiful soul…"
"Your wife's not dead yet," Frank said, and pointed toward the kitchen window. "She's inside making you lunch."
Ralph adjusted his hearing aid. "Are you sure? Did I hear you right?"
"She's right inside." Frank turned toward the door. "Lois, are you still alive?"
"Did he kill me off again?" an older female voice came from the open kitchen window.
"Tell him he's not getting lunch if he kills me off again. He can make his own sandwich."
Frank turned back to face Ralph, knowing he couldn't hear with the low battery on his hearing aid. "She said if she's dead, she's not making you lunch."
Ralph waved his hand in the air, looking irritated. "She always says that. Anyway, people in Heaven have a great sense of humor. My Lois told me she learned that in her Sunday school class last week." He nodded as if it were gospel. "I don't understand why we have segregated Sunday school classes. Our class was about how to get a new job. Do I look like I want a job?"
"No." Frank laughed. "I can just see you trying to get someone's order at a fast food place. The fries would be cold before you could find the right computer keys to take the order."
Ralph took his turn. "Yep. I have a lot to learn, too. Heaven ain't ready for me yet, either. Guess we have a bunch to do here on earth, first."
"You know that's right." Frank moved a knight. "So what should we do in our old age now?"
"I always wanted to skydive but I suspect I'd land wrong and put out a hip. We could help others. That's almost as dangerous."
Frank chuckled. "Good idea. Who can we help?"
"Well, since I was a guidance counselor, I want to help people get jobs. Get 'em to work and off the road so they won't kill us while driving over the speed limit." He chuckled. "I wonder how I can do that? Maybe getting a new job isn't such a bad idea."
Frank rubbed his chin in thought. "I think I want to be around happy people for my next job. People looking for jobs aren't happy."
Ralph moved a bishop. "You're right. But I want to feel useful. Happy people don't usually need help."
"I know what we can do." Frank moved his queen. "Check."
Ralph stared at the board. "Check? You're crazy."
"Not crazy yet, but listen to this idea. What if we joined a local mission group to help build a house or help someone who needs something? There's a place right down the road that does just that. They give out money to people just for fun and help others who need it. I know they'll take us, too, because we're both fun people."
Ralph laughed aloud. "You're right." He moved his queen. "Checkmate." The board suddenly tilted and all the pieces flew into the air. "Guess I won." He stood up.
Frank stood, as well. "You win every time with that move. Some day, I'm going to actually be able to see how you do it."
"Uh, it was the wind." Ralph turned his attention toward the house. "Lois, call Ethel. We're going to get us some jobs."
"Did you cheat again?" she yelled. "Now I have to pick up all those pieces."
Ralph and Frank bent down and began lifting up the chess pieces.
"She's so put upon," Ralph said. "I can't wait to do something better than beating you at chess."