Pay as You Burn.

by Ray Cowie

Pay As You Burn.

"Can I come in then?" Asked Roger from the front of the queue.

"Hold yer horses!" Said St. Peter, "I gotta check your credentials first."

Roger looked a little nervous. But he was confident that his place in Heaven was assured.

"Stop pushing at the back, please!" Screamed St. Peter.

"I'll bet they weren't in such a hurry to get in here a week or two ago, were they?" Said Roger.

"Oh dear, a gambler! Not a good start" Sighed St. Peter as he typed Rogers name into the ethereal dispensation unit and proceeded to place a tick in the relevant column.

"Name?" Said St. Peter in a stark tone.

"You know my name!" Said Roger frowning, "It's there on your screen!"

"Just answer the question please," said St. Peter as he peered over his clipboard at Roger,

"There's been a radioactive leak in Ickyspeckystan today and a pensioner fell down a well in Oldham on Monday, so I've a lot to get through this morning, thank you very much!"

He pushed his spectacles back onto the bridge of his nose, cleared his gravely throat and continued.


"Roger." Said Roger.

"Surname?" St Peter was tapping his pen on his clipboard somewhat impatiently.

"Trimble." Said Roger Trimble.

The Archangel played the keys on his laptop like Liberace might, but obviously without the stupid smile and the candelabra. But his digits were just a blur to Roger.

"Right then Mr Trimble let's see what you've done with your life then, shall we?" St Peter seemed aloof, "Hmm, what happened in 1979 Mr Trimble?"

"1979?" Said Roger, "Arsenal won the FA Cup, didn't they?"

"Don't be facetious Mr Trimble! I haven't got all day." St Peter rebuked him.

Roger scratched his head and rubbed his chin but not with the same hand you understand.

"I have absolutely no idea!" He said.

St Peter was feeling quite cantankerous now, "It says here Mr Trimble, you once had turquoise blue and lime green hair?"

"Oh yeah, I did, didn't I?" said Roger thinking back, "I was a punk rocker wasn't I?"

St Peter stood upright and scowled at Roger.

"Blue and green should ne'er be seen, except upon an Irish queen Mr Trimble!" St Peter was thrusting his pen at Roger, "You've heard that aphorism have you not, Mr Trimble?" He was leaning towards him now. They were almost eyeball-to-eyeball, if that were at all possible.

"If God had intended you to be an Irish queen Mr Trimble He would have made you Irish for a start, wouldn't He? And then He would have made you a queen, wouldn't He?" St Peter roared.

"I'm neither!" Admitted Roger.

"Exactly Mr Trimble and under the Utopian Self-Image Act, clause 2B section 15 of 1326AD, amended in 1599AD, that I'm afraid, is false advertising sir!"

"Oh!" Said Roger. "I never read that clause."

"Well I'm glad you can be so flippant about it Mr Trimble. Can you imagine the despots and tyrants who might fancy a stroll through these here pearly gates and probably would do, if I was half as flippant as you?" St Peter was flushing red and almost panting.

"There marble, not pearly!" Roger pointed out. "It was the fashion in 1979 anyway!"

"Oh, you were a trend-setter were you?" Said St. Peter, "If that were true Mr Trimble, when did your fashion sense decide to take a vacation?"

"When I reached middle-age I suppose!" Said Roger defensively.

"That's no excuse Mr Trimble." St Peter was scribbling something in his notepad whilst peering at Roger over the top of his glasses.

"Ever been unfaithful to your wife?" St Peter hummed.

"No, most definitely not!" Said Roger.

"What about with your dog? Bruno isn't it?" St Peter probed further on.

The rank and file behind Roger mostly jeered but one or two Scandinavians actually cheered?

"I beg your pardon?" Said Roger, blushing.

"Just checking!" Said St Peter, winking.

The feint echo of shuffling feet upon fluffy cloud could be heard and mumbles and grumbles increased as time wore on, building to a crescendo, maybe.

'Git da blardy moof on!' A voice sliced the atmosphere like a cleaver might cleave an unripe melon.

"Ignore him!" Said St Peter as Roger looked over his shoulder. "It's just that Russian bloke Igor, right at the back." St Peter went on, "Spent his whole life queuing he has. A bit unfortunate really, his surname's Zzzyppek!"

Roger mouthed some profanity.

"Right, where were we?" St Peter scrolled up and down his incandescent monitor.

"Ah yes, can you play the harp?" He asked.

"No!" Said Roger.

"What do you mean no?" Said St Peter.

"What part of 'no' don't you understand?" Said Roger.

"Don't be cheeky!" Said St Peter.

All of a sudden St Peter's countenance changed and his tone of voice changed too.

He clapped his hand on Rogers shoulder as if to move him aside, "Osama" he bellowed down the tailback, "I won't tell you again, you can't come in!"

The expectant crowd was hushed.

"No, no, no," St Peter was wagging his finger and shaking his head, "I told you before. We didn't mind The Pentagon although The Whitehouse would've been better, but the twin towers was going too far. Now sod off! And take Jeffrey Archer with you!"

A scuffle broke out.

And with that he turned his attention back to Roger.

"What's he doing here? He's a Muslim?" Said Roger.

"I know" Said St Peter, "but we've got Johnny Mathis in and Osama loves him! Ever had a sexually contracted disease Mr Trimble?" Asked St Peter.

"Certainly not!" Said Roger.

"Would you like one?" Whispered a rasping voice from behind.

Roger looked round to see a rotund, bespectacled man with tiny horns growing out of his skull and a scaly tail protruding from the rear of his three piece suit. He had a green forked tongue!

It could have been Timmy Mallett but it wasn't.

He was floating on a black cloud and stroking his chin, he was grinning perversely.

It could have been Richard Whiteley but it wasn't.

"Excuse me San Pedro?" The man said, "I think you'll find he's one of ours!"

St Peter double-checked his records and there under occupation it read High Court Judge.

A look of surprise and relief spread across St Peters pale face. "Jesus Mr Trimble, you could've saved us a lot of time. Probably cost me my bloody job too!" He said as he shooed him away.

"C'mon Roger, you're with me." Said Satan with open arms, "I have some people who would love to meet you!"


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