Fiction: C.L. Dodgson Enters Heaven

Dodgson in heaven3

“So, let’s see here, Dodhill. Male. Right, you’re male? No need to answer. It’s not a quiz. Not yet. I’ll let you know when the exam starts. No, I won’t. I’ll just slip it in on you, under your white robe there. We have a sense of humor up here, Dodhill. Doesn’t seem like you’d fit in. So, let’s cut this short, shall we? Damnation for you! Just kidding. Laugh, will you, Dodhill. You some kind of nitwit? A Puritan? We got too many of those up here as it is. Americans, mostly. OK, Dodhill, I’d like to keep chatting with you. You’re a very entertaining fellow. But I haven’t got all day – only of course I do. This is the land of endless days, Dodhill. That strike you as an attractive feature? Between you and me, I think it’s overrated, can get a little – well, you know, a bit like heavenly bliss, which maybe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, only don’t say I told you. You’ll see for yourself, or more likely you won’t. Depends on how you do on the exam, which is now 80% over. Doesn’t look good for you. Better put on a closing spurt. So, Dodhill, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“For one thing, your – er – holiness, I am not Mr. Dodhill, begging your pardon.”

“The hell you’re not. I have your card right here in front of me. Dodhill, plain as day. Doesn’t take a Saint to decipher that. You suppose we make mistakes?”

“Oh, no sir.”

“In the half of eternity that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen such chutzpah.”

“I’m terribly sorry, sir.”

“You know what ‘chutzpah’ means, Dodhill?”

“No, I don’t. I’m sorry.”

“This looks bad. I haven’t seen a chart like this since Lucrezia Borgia.”

“Oh I trust not, sir.”

“Can’t you tell I’m joking, Dodhill?”

“Oh, of course, sir. That’s a good one.”

“Somebody authorize you to take that tone with me, worm?”

“Oh, no sir.”

“You have any idea who I am?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re aware that a little check mark here, a little tic in this box, this one right here, and you’re sent straight to a burning lake the size of – well, it’s one hell of a lake.”

“Oh please.”

“You get it, Dodhill? One HELL of a lake.”

“I’m sure it is, your holiness.”

“Are you witless, Dodhill? And stop calling me ‘your holiness,’ like I was nothing more than the pope.”

“Yes your saintliness.”

“That’s better.”

“Sir, may I ask a question?”

“Holy Hell, Dodhill, you think it’s safe to try my patience? You think I can’t do what I want?”

“Oh, no, no I don’t. I’m sure you can do anything you want.”

“You bet your ass. You think they don’t trust me?”

“I’m sure they do.”

“You think they send somebody around to check on me, Dodhill?”

“No sir.”

“You’re starting to irritate me, you know that?”

“Oh, please.”

“Stop crying, Dodhill. That’s irritating too. What’s your question?”

“Pardon?”

“You stupid, Dodhill? I don’t like stupid people, try to keep them out. It’s not official policy, but there’s such a thing as tone.”

“Oh, yes sir.”

“You said you had a question. What was it?”

“Oh, yes sir. Remember when I called you ‘your holiness’ and you led me to believe that it was not simply the wrong form of address but somehow insulting to you?”

“I remember everything, Dodhill. What’s your question? You’re taking a big chance jerking me around, kid.”

“I was wondering if the Church of England is the one true church after all.”

“The Church of England the one true. . . . Dodhill, you are hilarious. I don’t see that you did stand-up, not on your card here. You were a banker, did some charity work: married, faithful, two dull children. What’s special about you, Dodhill? Make your case. Nothing here on your card convinces me. Your eternal soul hangs in the balance. You got 90 seconds. Starting. . . . . . . now.”

“St. Peter! That’s who you are. Am I right?”

“You got 72 seconds left, Dodhill.”

“I tell you I am not Dodhill! I will not be damned for another man’s life. My name is Dodgson, not Dodhill. St. Peter or not, you are wrong.”

“Straight to hell, that’s where you’re going, you contemptible shit! Right over there, the one with the long line.”

“That’s unfair.”

“It’s heavenly justice, Dodhill.”

“It’s no kind of justice.”

“Don’t question what you can’t understand. He works in mysterious ways, the committee does.”

“This place is run by a committee?” […]


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About the Visual Artist:
Steven Kenny was born in Peekskill, New York in 1962. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1984. His final year of art school was spent studying independently in Rome. First gaining notoriety as a freelance commercial illustrator, Steven later devoted his full attention to the fine arts. His award-winning paintings are exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States and Europe.

About the Author:
James R. Kincaid has been a Guggenheim Fellow, won teaching awards, and run two prestigious seminars for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Kincaid’s writing has appeared in
Critical Inquiry, PMLA, Nineteenth-Century Literature, JEGP, ADE Bulletin, Yale Review, New York Times Book Review, and the New Yorker. Kincaid has published many non-fiction and academic books in addition to the novels A History of the African-American People (Proposed) by Strom Thurmond (co-authored with Percival Everett) and Lost (2012). James is Professor Emeritus of English and Aerol Arnold Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Southern California and currently teaches at Pitt.