Friday, April 26, 2013

The Last Trick

Rafael dropped dead at the bridge table just after the second trick. This was the last dummy he saw:

Rafael led the 9 of hearts, top of 3 bad cards, noting dummy had overbid a lot. His partner, his wife for more than 25 years, played the Ace. Rafael concluded she didn’t have the King. He had repeated to her so many times that, in 3rd seat, one has to play the lowest of touching honors. With AK, you play the King; with KQ, you play the Queen, etc. As she played the Ace, denying the King, he started to place cards in declarer’s hand.

At trick 2, his wife, realizing her mistake, promptly played the King of hearts.

When the King appeared, he looked up at the sky, then closed his eyes. His wife muttered some excuse, but her husband’s body was already falling to her right (was he righty?). He was still holding his cards when he fell to the ground before the horrified eyes of opponents and players from nearby tables. People gathered rapidly around the corpse.

"One down!" said one, receiving an elbow to the stomach from his chuckling neighbor.
"I want an average," said declarer to the director.
"Why?" asked the director.
"He revoked at trick 2."

Meanwhile, Rafael's soul was traveling towards outer places. He arrived quickly somewhere, a vast place, without walls, even if it was not outside. Somewhere at distance, very, very far away, he saw an enormous door, with a many people waiting in line, a long long line… forever.

"What happened?" he asked in Spanish to his neighbor.
"You just died."
"I am dead?"
"If you are here, you are dead."
"And who are all those people? All dead people?"
"Is that the Paradise we see in the distance?"
"Why this line?"
"Security measures."
"There are security measures to enter into Paradise?"
"How long does it take?"
"Are you in a hurry?"
"I guess not..."
"We have all eternity, you know."

The queue was moving nevertheless. Weather was nice, not hot, not cold, perfect for a naked soul. After an eternity, Rafael arrived at the door. He was greeted by a very serious clerk, who asked him his name, his place and date of birth, all in American English.

"Habla español?" he asked in Spanish.
"What?" asked the clerk clearly not understanding a word.
"Esto es el Paraíso?... Is this really the Paradise, not New York or Los Angeles?"
"Can someone talk to me in Spanish?"
"What? Do you have something to declare?"
"I have only one question," Rafael said in his approximate English.
"What happened in that 3nt contract I was defending when I died?"
"I led the 9 of hearts."
"My wife won with the Ace, denying the King."
"But she had the King."
"I told here many, many, many times that, in third position, the Ace denies the King."
"Mi dios," murmured Rafael to himself, completely dejected.
"You called me?" asked a gentle voice in Spanish.
"Who is speaking?"
"Me," responded a man in his 30s, with a beard, long hair, and the sweetest eyes.
"You are…"
"The good lord, yes. You called me?"
"No… yes… I think so. I am very happy to see you."
"Talk to me."
"How come we are greeted in English in heaven?"
"English is in fashion."
"OK. I would like to know what happened to this 3nt contract my wife and I were defending when I died. I had led…"
"I know," said God.
"You know?"
"I heard your conversation with the clerk."
"You are bilingual?"
"I speak all languages."
"Obviously, you are God. So what happened?"
"I don’t know."
"But you are God."
"God doesn’t know everything?"
"People exaggerate all the time. I know everything here in Paradise. What happened before your death, I know nothing."
"So, what are all those stories about cardinal sins, mortal sins, good behavior to go to Paradise?"
"Wow! So you know nothing about my life?"
"So you can’t tell me what happened in 3nt?"
"I will be wondering all eternity what was the result?"
"I am afraid so, yes."
"Isn't there any way to find out?"
"This is hell."
"No, it is heaven."
"No, I mean, not to know is a torture."
"Well, maybe, there is a way, but extreme."
"Tell me."
"You like bridge that much?"
"I just want to know if 3nt went down."
"You will know the answer only if you give up Paradise."
"Give up Paradise?"
"It is extreme, like you say."
"To go where? Back to earth?"
"Where then?"
"To hell."
"Wow! Is hell that bad?"
"It is."
"You really want to go to hell, just to know the answer to your question? Seems to me it is not very important."
"On the contrary. It is very important."
"If I stay here, I will wonder for all eternity if 3nt went down."
"It will be hell. Hell in Paradise, who wants that?"
"Yes, but you will be in Paradise."
"And I will suffer like hell."
"It is up to you."

What would you do?

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