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An Elevated Experience

I wandered around the 13th floor of an office building wondering how I got there. The elevator dinged so I stepped on and not knowing where to go pressed 12 but then pressed 1 because a couple holding a small dog stepped on and the man was holding the dog’s back legs and the woman was holding the dog’s front legs and they were moving gradually apart and it became clear to me as they pulled the two ends of the dog away from each other that they had just broken up but hadn’t yet decided who would get the dog and I wanted to stay on the elevator for as long as it would take to see who’d win.

My speculation about their breaking up was confirmed when she pressed 1 and he pressed 2 and both continued to hold onto the dog even tighter, inching further apart. I speculated further on why they broke up. Maybe they got the dog hoping it would bring them closer together, but when it came up that the dog might need to be neutered a mild debate ensued, which exploded into a dispute about masculinity and “what it means to be a man”, and each side expressed opinions that the other side found intolerable, and they came to the mutual conclusion that they were not right for each other, but couldn’t agree on who would get the dog.

… the elevator descends to 12, 11…

The couple tried to hide the fact that they were playing tug-of-war with the dog. Somehow they were familiar but I couldn’t remember how. Then it landed: the story of King Solomon.

…10…

Two women came to King Solomon with a baby each claiming to be their own. Solomon proposed a solution by which both women would win: he’d cut the baby in half. He lifted up his sword and- as you might know- one of the women shouted, “No! Don’t kill the baby. Let her have it. I’d rather the baby live, even if it’s with another woman.” That, concluded King Sol, proved who the real mother was, and he gave the baby to her.

…9 …

Maybe what this couple needed was a wise man like King Solomon, I thought. Looking around the elevator, I realized I was the only candidate. I shall present to them a solution by which both will win: I’ll cut the dog in two. I grabbed the small knife in my pocket but hesitated because of the thought: what if neither of them are willing to sacrifice their claim? That’s a possibility King Solomon didn’t have to confront. We don’t know if he was bluffing or not. If he was, he’s lucky one of the women gave up her hand. Come to think of it, the Old Testament is chock-full of bluffs. Even earlier than King Solomon is the story of Abraham. Classic bluff.

God told Abraham to kill his son, Isaac. Abraham didn’t know whether God was bluffing or not. However, being a man of extreme faith, he called. Knife in hand, Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah and was about to murder him- only then did God interject. Abraham was told not to kill his son only after he became willing to do it. He accepted God’s bet, forcing God to lay down his cards on the table: a divine bluff.

… 8…

I decided against playing the role of King Solomon because of the risk that both parties would refuse to concede which would force me to become a criminal instead of an immortal example of wisdom and justice. I relaxed the grip on my knife. The shoulder blade. If I had to do it, it’d be just above the shoulder blade.

… 7, the elevator stops and the doors open…

A small boy stepped on, alone. He was short enough to walk right under the dog which hung over him like a piñata. The boy yelled, “Ooo! Puppy!” And started to pet the dog’s belly which, under normal circumstances, the dog would have loved. But, being as it were drawn-and-quartered, the tickling was an added form of torment that caused the dog to bark in displeasure.

…6…

Both members of the defunct couple went to stop the boy but- feeling their grip loosen- pulled back immediately, even harder than before. The dog, pulled to a length twice its usual size, yelped and cried. The boy continued to tickle the dog, blinded by his own bliss, oblivious to what the sounds the dog made really meant.

… 5…

God might’ve over-played His hand with Abraham, but eventually, He made good on His bet. And then some… by killing his own son. I’m not here to parse out the complexities of a theological debate over whether or not Jesus was God or whether or not the crucifixion was God saving face from the bluff Abraham called him on. The point is that the Old Testament has a consistent pattern of near-misses (from Abraham to Noah to Solomon), whereas in the New Testament the mark is hit in the in the most absolute way. The son of God is killed. God Himself is murdered.

… 4…

Under too much pressure, the dog began to pee wildly. Golden streams of urine splashed onto the boy, who for a moment just stood there, not realizing what was happening, until he began to scream in terror but still did not move, maybe because he had no way to compute the fact that he was being drenched in dog piss.

The couple, equally horrified, gestured to save the boy but were still committed to holding onto the dog. Instead, they looked to me (for the first time) and said it’s my job to save the boy from the golden torrent. I wondered, where the fuck are this kid’s parents, anyway?

… 3…

Maybe he’s an orphan. Maybe two women each claimed he was their own, and brought him to a judge to decide the matter. And when the judge said the only solution was to make him a warden of the state, both mothers let it happen, that is, neither of them said that it’d be better for the boy to be in the arms of the other woman, than not at all. And so the judge had to give the boy over to the state, splitting his identity in two. And later the boy, unwatched and unloved, wandered from the social worker’s office into this elevator to find a dog, a companion, his best friend, family. And when he expressed his deep desire to love and be loved by petting the dog, it pissed on him, and he was allowed to suffer, alone.

… 2, the doors open and close …

The death of Jesus is a tragedy. Regardless of whether or not you have faith. Here you have a man, who, at the very least, had his shit figured out. And was helping others do the same. The key, He said, was that the kingdom of heaven is within you; it’s not outside in material objects, it’s not even in God Himself; heaven is a feeling, a feeling of the diving living in and through you. Radical stuff. It helped. It healed people. And for that, he was murdered. People stood around and watched him be crucified. But really, it was God’s doing. An old bet had to be made good on.

… 1, the doors open to a crowd of people in the lobby…

The couple shouted at me, “Grab the boy!” “NO!” I shouted back, “This boy is being crucified- and it’s God’s Will!”

The crowd gathered outside the elevator is flabbergasted at the scene before them: a dog being ripped apart, shaking its last drops of urine on a pee-soaked boy, the couple horrified, digging their nails into the dog’s legs, and me, calling the boy the Messiah, sneaking out the elevator as if this were my floor all along.

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