At the Eden

By Sean Craven

So God created the Eden, and it was nice - kind of seventies style, lots of orange vinyl and amber plastic panels. Then God created His first customer, Adam. Adam seemed a little out of place in his striped work shirt and plaid pants, but he wanted a drink, and there wasn’t anyplace else to go.

“Hey,” God said. “How you doing?”

“A little tired,” Adam said. “Ah, I’m okay. Can I have an appletini?”

God pulled at His beard, and said. “An appletini? You sure?” God said it in a way that made Adam feel insulted.

“Fuck it,” Adam said. “Make it a beer. And a shot. Tequila. No, bourbon. Make it bourbon.”

God pulled the beer and poured the shot while Adam stretched and rubbed his eyes and shook his head. That’s how Adam missed the part where God put an eyedropper full of something extra in the shot.

A few hours later, Adam woke up naked in a tub full of ice water in a hotel bathroom; his side hurt like hell and a glittering centipede of surgical staples ran across the base of his ribcage. At the juncture of his legs, where previously he’d seen only the plaid lap of his pants, there was a snake.

“Let’s get out of here, man,” the snake said.

Adam got dressed, opened the door to the empty hallway, and went looking for an elevator. Eventually he found his way back to the Eden. God was still behind the bar, and there was someone sitting in one of the booths.

Her pantsuit was bright, solid purple, creased as though she’d been screwed into it by a third party. The blonde curls of her hair were a lopsided mass of confusion, and her loose-fleshed face looked stunned. The jacket of her pantsuit and the position of her arms on the bar made it impossible to guess at the conformation of her breasts, but her hips spread across the padded bench, their slack mass too broad to sit comfortably on a stool. The drink in front of her was blue and had dry-ice fog boiling out of it; the process of creation had advanced while Adam had been gone. The drink made Adam think of the appletini he’d tried to order earlier, and now he understood what God had implied.

That Fucker, Adam thought to himself.

“Well, well, well,” the snake said, and Adam’s incision felt as though someone had twisted it. He put his hand to his side, and walked to the bar. “Hey,” the snake said, and through some horrid trick he spoke with Adam’s voice, and used a motion of Adam’s head to catch God’s eye. When God came over, wiping His hands on a bar towel, the snake said, “So, uh, is...”

“She’s alone,” God said. “Name’s Eve. So what you want? Same as last time?”

The snake shook Adam’s head, and said “I’ll have what she’s having,” and when God gave Adam a look the snake looked right back at Him, then turned and walked over to Eve’s booth.

“Hey,” the snake said.

Hey, Adam thought, but it didn’t come out of his mouth. He was addressing the snake, but the snake ignored him.

Eve looked up, blinking, and pulled back. She pulled a strand of hair from where it was stuck against her mouth, a smear of red lipstick on the pale yellow. “Excuse me?” Eve said.

“I haven’t seen you around,” the snake said with Adam’s mouth. “You’re new here, right?”

Hey, Adam tried to say. Nobody noticed except God, who thought, Oh, for Christ’s sake.

“I don’t think I know you,” Eve said, and the snake slid Adam’s butt onto the bench opposite Eve.

Adam was starting to get mad at Eve. She wasn’t good-looking enough to be so stuck up, but the snake wasn’t going anywhere.

“I’m sorry,” the snake said, and used the same little head motions he’d used on God until Eve looked at Adam’s face. “I was hoping you could use some company. There’s not a lot going on. But if I’m bugging you...”

Eve straightened her jacket. For a second, the snake was distracted - Eve’s breasts were small, but there was some fun there - and Adam started to get up from the table.

“Don’t go,” Eve said, and the snake settled Adam back into place. Adam felt even more alone when Eve looked right into his eyes while she talked to the snake. “I think you were right. Maybe I could use a little company.”

That was when God came up with Adam’s drink, blue and fuming. “Here you go,” God said. “Sir.” When God went back behind the bar, He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. My image and likeness, He thought, and popped His towel. My image and likeness.

Trying to kill time, He picked over the drink garnishes, the little onions and maraschino cherries, wondering what it would be like to have so many people in the world that every onion might be put into a Gibson. God shuddered. All their sticky little fingers. Maybe it wasn’t too early for a drink.

“Hey,” the snake shouted, and God flinched.

God turned and walked to the booth. Both glasses were empty. “Yes?” God said, and leaned over the table while revealing His teeth. “You need something?”

“Yeah,” the snake said with Adam’s mouth. “Two appletinis.”

When Adam saw the look on God’s face, he was angry and hurt and he wanted to tell God it was the snake drinking, not him. But God walked away, and the snake turned back to Eve.

“I don’t know,” Eve said, “It’s just that everything is beautiful, you know? It’s all beautiful. It’s like there are atoms and everything is made out of atoms, and what the atoms are made out of is beautiful.” She stroked the orange vinyl bench, and it was as if she’d run a fingernail along the staples closing the incision in Adam’s side, zzzzziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip.

“Do you know what’s beautiful?” the snake said. Adam cringed and thought, oh, for Christ’s sake. “You’re beautiful,” the snake said. “Those atoms must be made out of you.”

“Hey,” God said, and placed the green glass triangles of their appletinis in front of Adam and Eve and the snake. “Listen, I think you two have had plenty. This is your last, okay?”

After Adam and Eve finished their drinks, they left the Eden and wandered around for a while. At the corner of Nod and Forty-Second, they settled down at a bus stop to wait for their real lives to begin.

Eve twisted the polyester of her pants, marveling at the purple. “What was I thinking?” Eve asked.

“What?” Adam asked, and looked up, startled. What was he supposed to do with this woman?

“I look horrible,” Eve said.

Adam kept his mouth shut. Where was the snake? He was supposed to deal with this stuff.

Eve pointed at Adam. “Your pants are horrible. Those pants are the worst thing in the world. They’re made out of ugly,” Eve said.

“What’s wrong with plaid?” Adam asked, but the sour taste of an appletini belch crawled into his mouth over the back of his tongue, and he knew -

-- he knew, he knew, he KNEW --

he knew what was wrong with his pants. Eve was right. They were made out of ugly. He was Mister Uglypants at the bus stop.

Adam wanted another drink.

Behind the bar at the Eden, God continued the process of creation until he had scotch, then poured Himself a small one. It was early, but it was going to be a long, slow shift.

If you enjoyed At the Eden you can buy the e-book of Flash Fiction Fest 2013 "Deadly Sins" for Kindle, iBooks or Google Play.

Other Stories from Thursday 21st November

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Thursday 22nd May 2014

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