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Sailing with Charlie: Freddy at the Pearly Gates

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Charlie’s friend Freddy had a near-death experience the other week. He was jumping from his boat to the dock when he missed his footing and fell into the water. He tried to grab the lifeline but missed, hit his head on the toe rail and splash! He was unconscious for about five minutes. He was pulled from the water, given CPR, and came to before the rescue services arrived. Sometime later he explained to Charlie his amazing experience. 

“I thought I was dead because I was at the pearly gates and an angel was there looking at a list on her smart phone. She asked me a number of questions and said that if I lied I would be sent back to purgatory and never have another chance to enter heaven. I asked her what heaven was like and how long a stay there lasted but she said in a stern voice, ‘I’m asking the questions.’ ”

“When you were a teenager you shot innocent animals like squirrels for fun and had a birds’ egg collection, true or false?”

“Well, yes, I suppose so.”

“God’s creations are to be respected,” said the angel. “The balance of nature is delicate.

“In your first boat you managed to get yourself into a tropical storm – In no less than 20 minutes you said ‘Jesus Christ, what the f..k am I doing here?’ 12 times! Is that true?”

“I don’t remember, there was a storm going on.”

“Taking the Lord’s name in vain is a sin; you do know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, yes, I do know that. I apologize, it was a stressful time; but I do always say ‘thank God for life’ when there’s a beautiful sunset or sunrise.” 

“No excuses,” said the angel, “and you found a dinghy once and kept it even though you knew the rightful owner. True?”

“Well, yes – but it was salvage.”

“Salvage!” said the angel, “It’s called stealing.”

Freddy was getting worried as the angel continued, “You’ve been away sailing the oceans of the world for some 20 years yet you have never sent home to your parents a single card or present or message. You should honor your parents; it’s one of the Ten Commandments.”

“Well, I do phone once in a while.”

“Yes, it says here on your list that each time you contacted your family and sometimes relatives it was to ask for money, saying that you were desperate and didn’t even have a pair of shoes – even though you never wear shoes.”

“I never wear shoes because I don’t have any,” said Freddy, a bit too exuberantly. 

The angel looked sideways at Freddy and continued, “You’ve been married for 12 years. How many times have you cheated on your wife?”

Never! I have always been faithful to my beautiful wife— 

“And that was when there was a loud WHOOOSH and I was lying on the dock with a large, bearded deckie blowing into my mouth. I was dripping wet and almost wishing I was back with the angel.”

The angel slammed shut the pearly gates, and shut down her cell phone, even though there was a queue nearly half a mile long. She was shaking her head in disgust. She had seen that Freddy had had numerous girlfriends, had extra marital sex 29 times, four with prostitutes.

… Sailors, she thought, for some of them there’s no hope.

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