“The Father, The Son, and The Hardware Store,” by Will Musgrove

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction

God’s broke. He’s more than broke. He’s bankrupt.

Six months ago, God met with his financial advisor, who chastised Him for all His poor investments throughout the millennia: plagues, mass floods, feeding people to lions, Enron. God asked if there was any maneuvering He could do to avoid filing for Chapter 11. His financial advisor pressed his hands together and replied: “pray.”

The next day, repo men rang the doorbell at the pearly gates and hauled away everything holy. Angels now had to lounge on beanbag chairs instead of clouds. They had to play kazoos instead of harps. They had to fly coach instead of flapping their giant, bird-like wings. They traded in their golden halos for impure aluminum ones. And God’s gem-encrusted throne was replaced with a La-Z-Boy.

Normal people’s afterlives were also affected. A 19th-century woman who died in a train accident now woke up each morning to a car horn instead of a gentle breeze. A 9th-century man who perished in the First Crusade now felt guilty for all the people he’d killed while in uniform. And those are just two examples among trillions. Even famous people couldn’t escape the downsizing. Isaac Newtown, Stephen Hawking, and Benjamin Franklin went from playing chess to checkers.

Unfortunately for God, during this time of monetary unrest, Earth, His beloved creation, was experiencing its own level of instability. Stock markets crashed. Resources were hoarded. Conflicts boiled. And more and more of His genuflectors inquired about miracles. God had to lay off Saint Peter, how could He afford a new Yamaha dirt bike for some punk teen in North Dakota?

God tried raising tithes from 10 to 20 percent, but His followers refused to pay, said God should quit all the pork spending and get back to the Old Testament. He explained to them the high cost of forgiveness, of mercy and kindness, but they just shrugged and said: “Sounds like a You problem.” Then God decided to contact the pastors at the mega-churches to see if they’d float Him a loan. They all replied hell no. One pastor, after God told him what He wanted the money for, said: “Why don’t You get a real job, You hippie? I don’t know how You plan to stay in the green with a divine plan like that.”

So, God went out of business. But His so-called disciples still wanted a piece of Him. They’d phone Him and send Him threatening emails claiming He’d promised them this or that form of salvation, that they knew where He lived, that they’d switched to another almighty being who, in their words, “could really smite.” Thankfully, God was able to cut a deal with the federal government. He ratted on everyone from the private-jet-flying evangelists to the small-time pastors in the Midwest and brought down all of organized religion. Now, He and His son are in the witness-protection program and go by the names Joe and Fred, respectively.

Joe works at Fred’s hardware store. Joe knows shit about paint, wood, and home repair. He swears He used to be in the customer service industry, but He keeps scolding people for cursing and telling dirty jokes. Despite His lack of knowledge and His holier-than-thou attitude, He’s an all-right dude. So, the next time He’s helping you and He mixes up dimensional lumber and underlayment plywood, forgive Him, He knows not what He does.


Will Musgrove is a writer and journalist from Northwest Iowa. He received an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ghost Parachute, Inklette, Serotonin, Rabid Oak, Tuna Fish Journal, The Daily Drunk, Barstow & Grand, Flash Frontier, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter at @Will_Musgrove.

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