(BEFORE THE PEARLY GATES. SAINT PETER, openly flamboyant and flanked by two hunky ANGELS, awaits the arrival of the newly-deceased.)
(Enter RICHARD, in a hospital gown, fresh off his deathbed.)
PETER. Hello, welcome!
RICHARD. Where am I?
PETER. Oh, dont be naïve. You know where you are.
RICHARD. No, I dont. The last thing I remember, I was lying on my deathbed
PETER. Surrounded by your children
RICHARD. Surrounded by Oh
PETER. And your youngest was saying, "Daddy, you look kinda green" and "Whys that machine beeping like that?" and then (wrapping up quickly) everything went blurry and then dark, then a bright bright white light beckoning you to the hereafter and yadda yadda yadda BOOM here you are!
RICHARD. (sinking) Yeah, its all coming back to me now.
PETER. I thought it might.
RICHARD. So this is the Hereafter?
PETER. This is the Pearly Gates. The Hereafter is just the other side. Which, I guess makes it the Thereafter.
RICHARD. And you are ?
PETER. Saint Peter, of course. A pleasure to meet you. Really, I mean that, Ive read your file, youre an amazing specimen of piety.
RICHARD. Hold on. Youre Saint Peter?
PETER. In the flesh! Well, in the spirit, actually. (whispers:) But they both sound kinda naughty, dont they?
RICHARD. But youre
PETER. Mm, yes?
RICHARD. I thought you would be
PETER. Taller? Darker? Handsomer?
RICHARD. No, I mean and I dont mean any disrespect
PETER. None taken.
RICHARD. I didnt expect you to be
PETER. Go on, say it.
RICHARD. Well "Differently-persuaded." Not that theres anything wrong with it.
PETER. No, of course not. Whats a little abomination between friends? Or between an apostle and his creator.
RICHARD. So it is an abomination, still.
PETER. I prefer to think of it as a FAB-omination.
RICHARD. Uh, okay.
PETER. Something wrong?
RICHARD. Well, no offense, but I thought they didnt let people like you into heaven.
PETER. Jews? Oh, were still on the gay thing.
RICHARD. Yeh, no, not the Jews.
PETER. Cuz we dont. The Jews are out. Three strikes policy.
RICHARD. Then how did you?
PETER. Well, that was the original plan, anyway. But then how would that look: Jesus up here. All of his apostles down there.
RICHARD. Because they were all Jews.
PETER. No, because they were all gay! Try to keep up.
RICHARD. What?! They were ALL
PETER. Oh, come on. We quit our jobs to follow a gorgeous, long-haired Galilean around the countryside in togas. And the only woman in the group was there to give pedicures. The straightest guy in the group was Judas, and thats only because he was a lousy kisser. I mean, seriously, you dont need a candelabra to see this one coming.
RICHARD. I guess I just thought I mean, I dont personally care one way or the other Not that Im judging
PETER. Careful there. Thou shalt not lie. (shrugs) Not that it matters. This doesnt go in your file.
RICHARD. My file?
PETER. Thats right. Once youre dead, your case is closed. So this part doesnt count against you.
RICHARD. It doesnt?
PETER. No, it wouldnt be fair. (There tends to be a lot of screaming in this part.) So we score you based off of where you were ten minutes ago. And, let me tell you, mister, youve been an exemplary man. Married your college sweetheart. Five children. Deacon of the church. Didnt turn away from God after your wifes tragic death.
RICHARD. I knew that was a test!
PETER. And you passed. With soaring colors! Was that too gay? Im trying to tone it.
RICHARD. I passed? Im in, then? Thats it?
PETER. What did you think, we were going to torture you first? No, thats not how things work. Torture was back there. Now, its just eternal life! Or more torture. Depending.
RICHARD. Thats great!
PETER. So, welcome to paradise. Heres your key. Harp. Photo ID. And youre good to go. Can I get you anything else? Tea? Halo? Wings? Nother harp? Latte? You name it.
RICHARD. Well Id like to see my wife, of course.
PETER. Oh, um I dunno about that.
RICHARD. Please tell me she didnt go to the other place.
PETER. Im afraid its worse than that.
RICHARD. Worse than hell?! But she was such a devout person. Prayed all the time. In fact, the last week she was alive, she went to church every day.
PETER. You dont have to tell me. She was tossing up Hail Marys practically 24/7, that last week. One of the cleanest souls ever to come through here.
RICHARD. In fact, she died on the doorstep of that church! You cant have sent her to hell.
PETER. No, no, dont worry, shes here.
RICHARD. Well, then Id like to see her
PETER. You say that now, but
RICHARD. Youre not gonna let me see my own wife?
PETER. Oh, certainly, if thatll make you happy. But I dont think it will, trust me.
RICHARD. Why wouldnt it make me happy? She was the love of my life. After she died, I never remarried and was miserable without her every waking moment of my remaining twenty years.
PETER. That was a test, too, by the way.
RICHARD. Well, so whats the hold up?
DANA. Im so glad to see you.
RICHARD. Oh, I am, too. Its been hell living without you.
DANA. I know. Ive been watching. But youve held up admirably. Congratulations. I hope to see more of you, now that youre here. Well have to go for a latte some time.
RICHARD. A latte? Dana, Its me, Richard, your husband.
DANA. I wish it were that simple.
RICHARD. Dana, whats wrong? What arent you telling me?
DANA. Richard Im married.
RICHARD. Yes, I know. Youre married to ME.
DANA. Uh no. Not anymore.
RICHARD. What do you mean, "not anymore"?
DANA. Theres someone else.
RICHARD. I dont understand. You married someone you met in heaven? Is that allowed?
PETER. No, of course not.
RICHARD. Then I dont understand.
DANA. Do you remember Tony?
RICHARD. Tony your high school boyfriend? Tony the guy who beat you so badly you had to go to college out of state so he wouldnt find you. And when he did find you, he stalked you all through our senior year. And when you and I got married, he crashed the wedding and tried to stab the priest? And then followed us from city to city for the rest of your life, and on more than one occasion threatened our children, and then eventually caught you outside the church, and shot you dead!
DANA. I thought youd remember.
RICHARD. Youre married to HIM??
PETER. Oh, here comes the screaming.
DANA. I know it sounds strange.
RICHARD. Strange? It sounds completely fucked up. He killed you.
TONY. Hiya, Richard.
RICHARD. How can you remarry anyway? Is that even allowed?
DANA. Actually, we were already married in the eyes of God.
TONY. And in the eyes of Padre Tio.
DANA. We drove down to Tijuana after our high school prom. I would have mentioned it before, but I didnt know if it counted. Turns out it did. I cant believe I never told you this. So, you see, Richard: Tony was my first.
RICHARD. And you were MY first. I didnt date anyone in high school. I didnt go to prom. Or Tijuana. I met you my freshman year of college, and realized you were the only one for me. I saved myself until our wedding night.
DANA. I know, but what we did that night was commit adultery.
PETER. (jumping in, quickly) For her. Not for you. Youre fine.
RICHARD. So now youre married to him?
RICHARD. I dont understand. He killed you. Why is he even here?
TONY. I know I did. But in prison I met a really great chaplain and started going to services. I converted to Christianity on the anniversary of her death. Although converted is probably overstating it considering I didnt really have a religion before that. Im a changed guy, Richard. I started doing charity work. Helping with the Scared Straight program. By the time I died, I was a deacon of my church. The prison church. Thats something we have in common, Richard. Were both deacons.
RICHARD. Yeah, you and me and the BTK killer.
DANA. Hes really much nicer now than he was in high school.
RICHARD. Yeah, but what about me? Do I get to marry someone else in heaven?
PETER. No, youre married to her. Thats forever.
DANA. But I can never be with you. Sorry.
RICHARD. I wasted my whole life. Waiting for you.
PETER. Thats good. Thats why youre here. If you HAD remarried, and never repented of it, you might have gone to the other place.
RICHARD. What about her? Doesnt she have to repent for marrying me?
DANA. Why do you think I spent the last 3 weeks of my life going to church?
RICHARD. You were repenting of ever marrying me?!
DANA. Its nothing personal, Richard. I was repenting everything.
PETER. She was very thorough.
DANA. Im sorry, darling. What we did was wrong. And Im sorry I did it. (to Tony) Im still sorry.
TONY. Hey, youre forgiven. Dont beat yourself up.
PETER. (cheerily) And now youve both died with unblemished souls! And you can enjoy living together forever in eternity. Just not together.
RICHARD. Watching my wife schtupping the thug who murdered her?
TONY. The REPENTENT thug who murdered her.
PETER. Whatever makes you happy.
TONY. I know what makes me happy.
DANA. Aw, honey. (kisses him)
RICHARD. Am I the only one who sees that this is wrong?
PETER. Oh, its not wrong.
RICHARD. Of course its wrong! I was a GOOD Christian my whole life. I didnt have extra-marital sex. I didnt have pre-marital sex. I lost my virginity to this woman on our wedding night. I stayed true to her my whole life. Only to get to heaven and find out Im screwed out of eternal happiness because my wife was a BAD Christian, but now shes sorry.
PETER. Would you rather be in hell?
RICHARD. I am in hell.
PETER. Now, I wouldnt talk like that. This isnt hell. Its more like a nightmare. A recurring nightmare of watching your wife get nailed by her ex-boyfriend, over and over again, forever. Thats gotta be rough.
RICHARD. And this is your idea of eternal happiness?
PETER. Well, now, Richard, nobody ever promised you eternal happiness. What we promised you was eternal LIFE. Well (looks at his watch) Good luck with that.
ANGELS. Right this way, sir.
TONY. Its really good to see you.
RICHARD. Fuck off.
(ANGELS escort RICHARD into heaven with DANA and TONY. SAINT PETER smiles and waits for the next arrival )