Heaven or Hell


Two old men are living in Miami Beach. Their hotel is undergoing renovations. The entire neighborhood has been transformed by young people. Izzy and Moishe sit on the terrace of the Breezemore Hotel and watch the parade of revelers. They are feeling their age and Izzy says, “You know Moishe, we’ve had a good life, but I’ve been wondering about what’s next?”

“What’s next is we die. One of us first the other second.” Moishe was more pragmatic than his friend. He had been an accountant. Number added up to a total sum. No more. No less.

“What about Sheol?” Izzy had been a lawyer. He still believe in good and evil. His wife Miriam had been good. Her mother was evil incarnate.

“A bleak afterlife, feh?” Moishe was too pragmatic to be pessimistic.

“What about Olam Ha-Ba?”

“The world to come where we are rewarded for our good deeds. Feh. And Gan Eden is a fairy tale.”

“But what if there really is a heaven and hell?”

“I don’t know.” Moishe had no questions, but there was always doubt, especially at the age of 87. “Listen, I tell you what, if one of us ides and there is a heaven or hell, the one who dies should come back to tell the one staying whether there is a heaven or hell. Is it a deal?”

“For you, anything.” The two friends went back to 1st Grade in Brownsville NY.

Neither man thinks anything about the oath until Moishe dies two weeks later.

“At least he went in his sleep.” Izzy tells the children who are transporting the body back up north. No one gets buried in Florida. The ground is tref.

A week goes by, then another. A month and then more.

A year to the day of Moishe’s passing, the curtains of Izzy’s windows billow inward without a breeze. The temperature was in the 80s, but the room is freezing. Moishe can see his breath and asks, “Izzy, is that you?”

“Of course it’s me, who else were you expecting?” The voice sounds like it’s coming from across the universe.

“Only you, so tell me, are you in heaven or hell?” Moishe is eager to hear the answer, since then he can tell Izzy that he was wrong about heaven and hell.

“Neither.”

“Neither?” Moishe hadn’t expected this response. “So what do you do all the time?”

“I eat, I fuck, I eat, I fuck, I eat, I fuck, and then I go to sleep.”

“Well, aren’t you in heaven?”

“No, I’m a rabbit in Montana.”

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