Glen woke to the first rays of a new dawn and the peep of birds at his window. The bed was wonderfully comfortable, the pillows, sheets and puff just perfect so he was neither too hot nor too cold. On any other day, he could have luxuriated for some time in that bed, but on this morning he was too hungry.
Glen opened his eyes and realized he was naked. He could not remember how he got in that condition, but decided he would rather not know. In any case, his clothes, such as they were, hung on a wooden butler beside the bed. They were relatively dry, so he slipped on his pants, socks and shoes and remembered he had no shirt.
While he dressed, he took a good look around. The double four-poster bed poked out from one wall in a room that was hardly bigger than a standard hotel room, though with only the one bed it felt like a bigger room. The table was wooden, oak and rectangular with four chairs pushed up to it instead of the expected round, light brown plastic covered two chaired menace of a wobbly table found in most motel rooms. The only other furniture was a desk with plenty of writing paper and pens available. There was no television or dresser, or door for a closet as far as Glen could tell. It appeared that the place was very transient.
It was the table that attracted Glen, pushed back as it was toward a window mostly covered with curtains. The curtains were not pulled tight and it was in the center crack and around the edges that the sun peeked in. That light showed the dishes of food that covered the surface of the table. It was most of Glen’s favorite dishes as well, though to be sure it looked like it had been sitting for quite some time and so some of it was probably not safe to eat.
The door to the room opened and one of those angel people came in. Curiously, the person still had an angel look about him even after a full night’s sleep and a bit of cold and hard mashed potatoes.
“Ah, I see you are awake. This is a good thing. I was just sent to wake you.” The angel stepped around the table and opened the curtains to the full force of the sun. Glen squinted.
“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful,” Glen said. “But might there be something to eat a bit fresher in this place. This food is all wonderful I am sure, but it appears to have been sitting here for some time.”
The angel turned to face him. “This food is the leftovers from your banquet.”
“I had a banquet?”
“Two nights ago. You weren’t here.” Glen remembered the night. He huddled on the edge of the forest in a torrential rain where the lightning, thunder, and demons tormented him all through the night. “Normally, come morning the leftovers make a fine meal,” the angel continued. “These dishes have been sitting here for a whole day and night more than they should. They were not made to sit so long, but you may find something edible.”
Glen was hungry enough to eat some of it despite how bad it might be. “So I had a banquet, except I didn’t because I wasn’t here?”
“Oh, yes. Everyone has a banquet when they arrive in the house. There is a banquet every night.”
“So there are leftovers from last night’s banquet?”
“Oh, yes. But they belong to others, don’t you see?”
Glen saw. “Might I have a shirt? I haven’t got much to wear.”
“Ah!” The angel drew out the sound as if to say listen, this is wisdom. “But what you shall wear is what we shall determine.” Glen nodded, though he had no idea what he was agreeing with. “Odd to say, I cannot remember any time in history when a person did not arrive in time for their banquet. Now, many have come without their guardian, but that usually does not speak well for the person.”
“So how does it usually go?” Glen asked.
“Well, a person arrives when they are due. There is a feast of celebration, a banquet to honor the new arrivals. When it turns late, everyone is shown to their rooms where most sit at the desk for long hours composing their thoughts and last words to all the people they will never see again. It is a great cleansing for the soul. Then they sleep at last, and when they awake… “
“But wait,” Glen interrupted. “What if they have so many letters to write the morning comes before they have time to sleep.
The angel shook his head. “As long as there are words to purge, the night will continue. And then it will continue beyond long enough for a good, restful sleep.” At once Glen knew why he finally slept in the midst of the terrors of that night. He probably reached the point of utter exhaustion and could not help but pass out. Then again, if he had stayed awake, the night might have gone on forever.
The angel continued. “So when they awake, they feast on what is left from the banquet and whatever morning treats they wish. I apologize there are no morning treats prepared for you, but you never came to your banquet. In any case, when they are ready they are taken to the Hall of Grace and Justice. That is where it is determined where and how they shall spend eternity.” The angel shrugged as if to say that was pretty much it.
“How I will spend eternity?” Glen had to think about that.
Glen spent a long time in silence pondering how he might spend eternity. The angel in the room was clearly pondering something else and the angel was the one who finally broke the silence.
“So how did you find your accommodations?”
Glen looked up, brought his mind into focus and answered. “Fine, why?”
“This room is in the military wing. It is more Spartan accommodations and normally only used when there is turmoil and a great influx of people. In your case, there were great arguments on both sides, but in the end it was determined unsuitable to leave you sleeping in the hall. You see, the room you would have had was assigned to another. This was the best we could do on short notice.”
“Sorry to put you out.”
“As I said, no one in history ever missed their banquet, as far as I know.”
Glen stood. He could not stomach any more stale bread. “So now what?”
“If you would follow me.” They stepped out into a great hall and headed for the stairs.
“So what ever happened to the big man I told the doorkeepers about?” Glen asked.
“I wouldn’t know. That is not my department.”
They walked down the stairs and entered a new hall.
“So why did you come to wake me up? I would think to be fully rested one would have to wake up naturally.”
“It was decided your case must be adjudicated at first light, before the normal course of events begins. You know, none of us just stand around here with nothing to do. There are no open slots where we can plug you into the normal lineup.”
They entered another stairwell and went down another flight.
The angel continued. “When I drop you off now, I will have to hurry to my charge.”
“So, were you supposed to be my guide, if I had come to my banquet?”
“Porter? Yes,” the angel said.
They stopped at the door to a tremendous room. It was so big, Glen’s eyes could not find the back wall, or see the side walls for that matter. Glen was told to sit in a chair and wait, but he had one more thing to say before Porter vanished.
“Thank you for taking the time to do your duty, even if I did not show up on time.”
The angel looked at him before at last the smallest smile came to the angel’s face. “You are quite welcome,” and he vanished behind the big doors.