Mary’s bedside table phone rang in the middle of the night. She rolled away from her grumbling husband Joe and fumbled for the bleating machine in the dark.
“Hello?” she asked in a groggy voice.
“Hello, Mary?” The man’s voice on the other end of the line sounded tentative, nervous.
“Yes, who is this?” Mary sat up, yawning. Joe crammed a pillow against his ear and resumed his snoring routine.
Mary rolled her eyes and sighed. “Oh, hi, God. What’s up?”
“Mary, I love you so much.”
“God, I thought we’d talked about this.”
“You don’t understand, Mary. I can’t live without you.”
“Come on, God. I know you hurt inside, but I mean–you’re God. You can’t die.”
“I’m not the same God I was before I met you. I want to have a relationship with you.”
“God, that was years ago.”
“Is that why I haven’t seen you in church for such a long time?”
“Frankly, God, I hadn’t seen you there for a long time either. That’s why I stopped going.”
“Really?” God’s voice sounded suddenly excited, like a little boy tearing off the wrapping of a Christmas gift to find the shiny red tricycle he’d been waiting for. “So you mean if I went again, you would too?”
Mary keeled over in bed and said, “No, God! Listen, I’m happily married. I’ve got a family to take care of. I just don’t have time for you anymore. Can’t you find someone else to believe in you?”
“Mary, you’re the only one that I really want.”
“Now, how do you think all your billions of believers would feel about that, God?”
God laughed, clearly embarrassed.
“Come on, God. Be a big boy. I know that being the president of the universe must get lonely, but think of how important your position is. You control the creation and destruction of everything, life and death, the sunrise and the sunset. Isn’t that enough for you?”
“It used to be, Mary. Before I met you.”
The phone on the other end clicked.
“Who’s that?” God asked.
“Sorry,” said Jesus.
“Hi, son,” said Mary.
“Oh hi, Mom. What’s new?”
“Nothing special, Jesus. Your father and I are just having a talk for grownups.”
“Come on, Mom. Don’t patronize me.”
“Jesus, get off the line,” said God. “You can call that whore of yours after I’m finished talking with your mother.”
“Sure thing, Dad. But please do me a favor and don’t call my girlfriend a whore.”
“I expect you’ll be hitting me up for cash for a plane ticket to go visit her in the netherworld again.”
“If you weren’t such a prude, maybe she could move in with us.”
“Jesus,” said Mary, “that’s no way to talk to your father.”
God cleared his throat and said, “Ah Mary? I think I can fight my own battles.”
Mary said, “Please don’t call me that, sweetheart.”
“Goodnight, Jesus. Sleep tight.”
“It’s morning in heaven, Mom. Remember?”
“Sorry–I always forget the time difference.”
“By the way, Dad, couldn’t we have some other time of day besides morning here for variety’s sake?” Jesus said. “I hate mornings.”
“We’ll talk about it later, Junior!”
Jesus hung up.
“Anyway, God,” Mary said, “if you keep calling me, I’m afraid I’ll have to call the police.”
“Suit yourself, Mary. I guess I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t, right?”
“Go with yourself, God.”
“Thanks, Mary. Take good care of your family. Remind them how lucky they are to have you.”
“They know–I think.”
She hung up first, before God could lapse into his lugubrious, adenoidal blubbering act.
Joseph woke up and said, “Remind me to disconnect all the phones in the house before we go to bed from now on.”
“At least he’s not inhabiting the dog anymore.”
“Think he got the message this time?”
“God only knows.”
Joseph got up to use the toilet while Mary lay down on her right side, facing the wall, closed her eyes, and went back to sleep.