Bob looked about with confusion, his eyes squinted from the bright light.
“What’s your name, son?” asked the voice again.
“Bob. Where am I?” His eyes shifted and the pain dulled, but he still couldn’t make out what he was seeing. White vapor rolled by. Golden light poured from the horizon like one hundred suns rising at once. Bob rolled his fists in his sockets.
“It says here you were a teacher, second grade. Tough job, good on ya. Did you like the kids?”
“Of course I like the kids. Why else would I be a teacher?” Bob asked. “I sure as hell didn’t—”
“Didn’t do it for the pay, right, right. All the teachers say that.” The sound of pencil scrawling against paper was heard.
Bob ceased his eye rubbing and gave another attempt at looking around. For a moment, the blur in his vision was worse than before. He squinted and strained and forced himself to look at the searing sights. Rolling clouds of white surround him like a vast sea. A small man stood before him with a clipboard in hand, making rapid check marks along the side of some unknown form. He was bald and wore glasses with invisible frames. His eyes were a soft blue and seemed to have a forgiving quality to them. He wore a gray suit that was well-tailored, and a small white stripe of hair split his chin.
“Where am I?” Bob asked.
The man looked up at him and smiled, tucking the clipboard under his arm. “Heaven! Well, the pearly gates anyway. Are you familiar with the pearly gates?”
Bob looked up at the golden rods that extended forever into the sky. Doves fluttered about in the blue above him. “Yeah. I mean, I guess so. I didn’t think it was real though.”
“Didn’t think it was real?” the man asked, pulling the clipboard back out and raising his pencil to touch paper.
“I mean, I thought that was more of a limerick or something. Why would there be gates?”
“Well, if there is an inside to heaven and an outside to heaven, there must be something that creates the separation. I thought you said you were a teacher?”
“I am,” Bob said. “Or was, I guess.”
“Yes, well, never mind that. Let’s get to your exam.”
“Exam?!” Bob said.
“Of course,” said the man, folding the paper back to reveal another page. “No one gets in without passing the exam. Now,” he said, tapping at the paper, “about this incident involving your older sister’s underwear and the freshman football team.”
“Oh, Christ,” Bob said, immediately covering his mouth.