“Don’t you want to see the New Year in?”
“I wasn’t asleep,” the old man said, as he slurped drool from his lips.
“You know, Son,” he said after his head cleared. “I don’t think the nurses will let us stay up until midnight. They’re big on us getting our rest here.”
“You can tell them all to go to Hell, Dad. It’s your life; you can stay up until midnight if you want.”
“I’ve never told anyone to go to Hell in my life. I wouldn’t want to see anyone go there.”
He was a retired preacher, after all. He wouldn’t give anyone the directions to Hell, but he would tell them if they were on the right road. The old man’s head dropped to his chest and he was asleep again.
“I tried to talk to God the other night,” said Larry to the sleeping man. “He didn’t have anything to say.”
The old man stirred, half opened his eyes, and closed them again.
Larry tested his father’s sleep by saying, “I had a gun with me. I threatened to shoot myself if He didn’t answer me. I had the barrel in my mouth waiting for some sign, anything that would tell me that He was there or that He cared.”
It wasn’t exactly a lie, since that is what he would’ve done if he had a gun.
“Zzzzzzzz,” said his father.
“I ended up firing the gun off at god. Yea, I shot god, but not the real God, I killed the type of god that might’ve answered me, but didn’t.”
The old man jolted awake as if a gun had actually just gone off in the nursing home. An unfamiliar TV host introduced an unfamiliar boy band, they played unfamiliar music, music that would make an old man wish he was already dead.
“Did you say something?”
“I said that music like that makes me doubt there’s a God.”
“You know,” his father said, “there’s a Jewish legend that, when God created the world, He withdrew a little to make room for it. Otherwise He would overwhelm his creation. That’s what God’s doing for us always: giving us space so that we have room to grow; and quiet, so we learn to speak.”
The old man smiled, despite the boy band music that was insuring that the New Year would be just as bad as the old.
“That’s just great,” said Larry. “We’re left out here on this rock with no one telling us what’s going on.”
“Oh, there’re signs.”
“Where are they?”
The old man was asleep again.
“DAD,” Larry shouted.
The old man jolted awake, “What?” He slurped.
“Where are the signs?”
“SIGNS, WHERE ARE THE SIGNS?”
“You usually see signs at intersections. They tell you where you are.”