Editor-in-Chief

 

 

            “There’s a Mr. Good here to see you.”

            Louis Ipher tilted his head at Shelly’s voice coming through the intercom on his desk.  The Editor-in-Chief of Palisade Books had checked his schedule that morning and didn’t remember seeing any Mr. Good.

            Louis pressed the small, red button on the phone.  “Does he have an appointment?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Okay, send him in.”  Louis decided he must have overlooked it, and put the manuscript down on his desk.

            The door opened silently, something it hadn’t done in fifteen years, despite monthly calls to maintenance.  Louis stood to greet Mr. Good as he came through the doorway. 

Mr. Good was indeterminably old, but fit, and wore an impossibly white suit.  The jacket and pants, the shirt, the tie, even his shoes and socks were bright white.  Mr. Good walked so effortlessly he seemed to float to the chair in front of the desk.  Louis held out his hand and was surprised at the warmth of the man’s touch.  He motioned to the seat and then returned to his own chair.

            “Can I help you, Mr. Good?”

            “God.”  The man’s voice was gentle and powerful.

            “Sorry?”

            “God.”  The man said again.

            “Oh, sorry.  Mr. God.  What can I do for you?”

            “Just God.”

            Louis nodded.  Authors were getting more and more pompous every day.  “O-kay.  What can I help you with?”

            “I’m looking for a publisher for my new book.”

            Louis closed his eyes for a long blink.  He had a strict policy about un-agented manuscripts.  He’d have to talk to Shelly about this.  “Have you been published before?”

            “Yes.”

            “And what was that?”

            “The Bible.”

            “Just the one book, then?”  A novice writer without an agent.  Louis was curious as to how he had managed to get an appointment. 

            “Er, well, yes.  But, it is the best selling book in the history of the world.”

            “Yes, but we handle mostly established writers.”

            “It’s been in print for hundreds of years.”  God protested.

            “Yes, I know.  I’ve read it.”

            “And?”

            “I don’t know.  It wouldn’t kill you to thumb through Elements of Style.  I mean, your stuff’s harder to understand than Shakespeare.”

God looked down at the manuscript in His lap.  The byline read – by God, with William Shakespeare.  He took a pen from the desk and scratched through the last part.

“Anything else?”  God asked.

“Well, it comes off a bit, uh,” Louis paused.  “Preachy.  There I said it.”

God blinked several times but said nothing.  Louis shifted nervously in his chair.

“What’s the new one about, then?”  Louis asked.

“It’s about the apocalypse, judgment day, and the future of human existence – ”

“We don’t handle science fiction.”  Louis interrupted.

“Oh, no, no.  It’s not science fiction.  It’s about what mankind must do in order to cleanse their souls in preparation for the coming of – ”

“We don’t do that new-age, self-help crap either.”

God frowned and let out a sigh.  “I’ll bet Stephen King doesn’t have this problem.”

Louis perked up at the mention of that name.  “Ooh, wait.  Does one of the characters have a deep, dark secret he’s carried around for years that finally manifests itself as a preternatural entity that destroys all those around it until culminating in a classic battle of good versus evil?”

God looked at Louis, surprised that the chain-smoker had the lung capacity to get through that question in one breath.  “Uh, Satan’s in it a good bit.”  He shrugged.

Louis sat still for a moment, staring at the ceiling and saying “Hmmm.”  He brought his head slowly down and looked at God.  “Nah, it’s been done.”

God’s shoulders shrank, and He stood up.  “Louis Ipher, right?”  He asked.

Louis nodded.

“Louis Quentin Ipher?”

Louis nodded again. 

God pulled a PDA from the breast pocket of His suit and tapped the screen a few times.

“Okay.  Well, Louis, looks like I’ll see you in – ” God paused and looked at the screen again.  “Two years, eight months, seventeen days, and fourteen point six-eight hours.”  God tapped the screen one more time, replaced the PDA in His pocket and disappeared in flash of light.

Louis flipped ahead in his calendar, found the specified date, and crossed through “Racquetball with Sammy.”