Heavenly Presence

“God??” Nina stopped in front of the lean man in a navy blue suit. She was returning from dumping the trash and saw the familiar customer about to step into what could only be described as a black hole. He stopped and turned around to face her with a smile.

“Yes?” he asked. Up until that moment, Nina and the rest of the staff thought ‘God’ was just a quirky name he used to stand out. But, he obviously had abilities humans did not. Nina realized she had a chance to actually talk to him without the pressure of a long line behind him.

“Are you…” Nina stepped closer and looked him up and down. He appeared to be in his early 30s with a tan, wrinkle-free, clean-shaved face and a short chestnut crewcut. He looked more like a businessman not quite at the top than a divine force in flowing robes. “… are you really… God?” she asked. His smile broadened and he pulled his leg out of the black hole; it disappeared.

“That depends who you ask…,” he said. He gestured at the grime-covered back alley blacktop with his hand and a wide tree trunk sprouted out of the ground. It did not grow into a tree, it remained flat and only rose far enough for the man to sit down comfortably. He patted the seat next to him to invite Nina to sit. “… and how you define ‘God’,” he added with air quotes. Nina was ready to believe then and there; and, God invited her to sit next to him. She rushed to sit.

“To some people, the things I can do qualify me as a god, to others, I’m apparently the one and only capital ‘G’-od,” he shrugged. “If you ask me, I’m a man like everyone else.”

“But you made the universe?” Nina asked although she was entirely sure he did. The well-dressed stranger chuckled but nodded his head.

“You know, that used to be harder. Now, with the right technology, anyone can do it.”

“You made the universe?” Nina asked again. But, this time she had more to add. “Why do you come here to buy coffee? You invented coffee beans!” In the back of her mind, Nina realized that was a wasted question. She had a chance to get some real answers.

“I don’t come here to buy coffee,” he said. “Buying coffee gives me an excuse to pass by, I like to mingle among the people when I’m not working.”

“Can’t you see everything from everywhere?” Nina asked while trying to decide on her real question. The man nodded.

“Sure. But, this Earth has teleconferencing tech already. You can’t tell me that a face to face meeting isn’t better to get a real feel for the person you’re talking to.”

“This Earth?” Nina asked. That was potentially a secret to the universe. He nodded.

“There are alternate Earths, each one is kept in its own separate universe. Some are more advanced than others.

“What are they like?” Nina asked. After a brief moment, she built up enough courage to ask God for a favor. “Can I see??”

“Sure!” he said with a broad grin. “But, you’re still on the clock,” he nodded at the back door of the Starbucks. “Why don’t you spend the rest of your shift thinking about what kind of Earth you’d like to visit. I’ll come by to pick up you after work, or I’ll send someone if I’m busy.” Nina was sitting next to God and ready to see other realities. She wanted to quit her job then and there, but he was the one telling her to finish working. She nodded and stood up.

“Thank you!” she said. Then, another thought crossed her mind. She made time for one more question before heading back inside.

“Wait… if you’re real. Is the devil real too??” the stranger nodded at her, but also gave a half-shrug.

“I’m tempted to say no,” he said. “Technically there’s a position in Hell filled by Satan. But, the universe doesn’t work the way most people, including you, think. He’s not evil, he’s doing his job.”

“Hell is real?” Nina asked. She paused at the back entrance because she suddenly knew where she wanted to go. “Can I see Heaven?” she asked. God’s smile remained, but he shook his head. “Well, that’s a bit trickier,” he said. “We could stroll through Hell if you like but, Heaven isn’t real.”