Until the unthinkable happened, I was God's favorite. He asked my opinion on his creations and took my suggestions into consideration. I told him that the wooly mammoth was much too scruffy-looking, that the flamingo's legs were ridiculous, and that no one would love the dung beetle. Even when he disagreed, even when my critiques were harsh, his respect for me never waned.
Then he created man and woman, and everything changed. Adam and Eve, he called them. He repeated the names in a hushed voice, as if cradling them with his tongue. I suspected that something was amiss when, for the first time since I took on the role of his assistant, he failed to ask for my input. He didn't even share the prototype with me. I just slithered into the office one day and was hit with the news.
"Come, Darryl." God beamed with such intensity that brushfires broke out beneath us. "Look what I've created." He pointed down at two pink-grey, hairy little creatures cavorting in the garden. "Aren't they divine?"
So taken was he with his new creations, God failed to notice the disappointment in my voice. I am not being melodramatic when I say I was profoundly offended.
Hurt feelings notwithstanding, curiosity about Adam and Eve nagged me like molting skin. I hurried down to the garden, settled atop a large boulder and pretended to bask in the midday sun. All the while, my eyes never wavered from the newly birthed couple. I watched as they played a silly game of tag, laughing and crying like unschooled hyenas. Then, tired and spent, they sat in a small clearing and tore into a coconut.
Adam cupped his chin with his palm, stared at Eve and sighed. "You're the loveliest thing I've ever seen." She flashed him a buck-toothed grin. If they keep talking like this, I thought, it's only a matter of time before I spew.
"And you're more handsome than…" she stopped, knitting her brow and scratching her head as she struggled to finish the sentence. "More handsome than God!" She nuzzled her head in Adam's chest and they both giggled. That did it; I heaved. Large chunks of the rat I feasted on that morning flew out of my mouth and dribbled down the side of the rock. What a waste of good rat!
Shutting my eyes, I waited for the nausea to pass. Eventually my stomach settled and I was able to resume studying the newest members of God's little universe. At first blush, it seemed that these two beings couldn't possibly be more different from me. I was almost insulted by how unlike me they were. Yet, upon closer examination, I discovered that Adam and I did in fact have one thing in common. Dangling between his legs was something that bore more than a passing resemblance to me when I was a youngster. And I must admit that Adam lavished his Baby Snake with more love and attention than I had ever received from my mother. He stroked the little guy constantly, stopping only briefly when the poor thing threw up.
Much to my amazement, Adam also obliged his Baby Snake's peculiar obsession with Eve's cave. Yes, you heard me correctly: cave. Whereas Adam had a snake between his legs, God gave Eve a sorry little cave. If that weren't bad enough, he covered up the entrance with all manner of scraggly overgrowth. I have no idea what was inside, but I assume there was food in there. It wasn't very good, apparently, because every time Baby Snake went in, he emerged a short while later, swathed, yet again, in milky vomitus.
But I digress. The more I watched these two pathetic creatures, the greater my wrath. How could God possibly fawn over such scrawny, lackluster beings when he had me? Mumbling to myself, I slithered back home to the wife.
"How was your day?" Doris asked.
I hissed in response.
"Listen, mister. I sit here all day minding these damn eggs. I'm sure your day was more exciting than mine." She turned her back to me and began rearranging the eggs.
"God created new creatures. He stares at them all day and smiles. He doesn't even know I exist."
Doris stopped fussing and turned back toward me. "I'm sorry, Darryl, I shouldn't have jumped down your throat like that. I know how much being God's second in command means to you. Is there anything you can do?"
I shook my head. "Naw. He's hooked."
But Doris didn't give up. "There has to be something."
I pulled a pickled rattail from the relish tray she'd set out for me, settled into a warm corner and considered the situation. Then I remembered something. "Make sure they don't eat the Forbidden Fruit," God had said.
Doris grinned. "You've thought of something, haven't you?"
"Sure have." I gave her a peck on the nose. "Gotta go. Don't wait up."
The garden is not very large, so I was able to get to the orchard in no time. Picking the fruit was another matter. I couldn't do it myself, but I knew that sooner or later, some doltish dinosaur would come along and begin feasting. I don't know if you've ever had the displeasure of seeing a dino dine. Trust me, it isn't pretty. For every apple he eats, five fall to the ground, along with bucketfuls of spittle and slobber. Most of the time, the sight turns my stomach, but today I was glad to witness it.
Sure enough, it wasn't long before a young dinosaur appeared. He stuck his head into the tree, plucked apples with gusto and ate to his heart's content. As soon as he left, I grabbed an unblemished fruit and headed back to the clearing where Adam and Eve had been. To my relief, they were still there. She was frolicking in the stream; he was playing with Baby Snake. Since he was so engrossed, I figured I'd start with her.
I slithered through the grass that lined the embankment. "Psst," I said as I neared her.
Eve looked around. "Who is it?"
"Darryl P. Snake." I poked my head out of the grass and smiled. "Pleased to make your acquaintance."
Eve grinned. "Nice to meet you. We just got here yesterday. Don't know anybody yet, but it looks like a nice neighborhood."
It was a nice neighborhood, I thought, till you two showed up. "I have a gift for you." I pushed the succulent apple toward her with my nose.
"Oh, how lovely!" She picked it up and examined it. "But… what do I do with it?"
I gulped air and mumbled a calming mantra. I'd learned the technique in an anger management workshop that God had forced me to attend after an unfortunate incident involving a zebra and a couple of goats. But, again, I digress. "You eat it," I said. "Go ahead. Try it."
That was all it took. She bit into the fruit, threw back her head and let out a moan that quickly grew into a full-on scream. As her shrill voice echoed through the valley, the willow tree beside her turned down its branches and wept. Various woodland creatures popped out of the surrounding brush and scurried away. She struggled to catch her breath. I slipped back into the grass and watched as, finally, she collected herself and ran with the partially eaten fruit back to Adam.
"You've got to try this!" She handed him what remained of the apple as she wiped drool from the corner of her mouth. "It's divine."
Adam polished off the fruit in two bites. He even ate the seeds and the core. "Wow." He wiped thick beads of perspiration from his sloped brow. "Thanks, babe. That was awesome."
Then, all at once, Adam's expression turned from childish delight to unfettered disdain. "Those breasts," he said, motioning toward her with his chin. "They're awfully droopy. Can't you cover them?"
Eve looked stunned, but Adam didn't wait for her response. He picked up two coconut shells and stuck them on her chest, securing them with a wide swath of field grass.
"And what about you?" Eve shot back. "Look at that ugly thing dangling between your legs. Talk about needing a cover-up."
"This?" Adam pointed at Baby Snake, who seemed to have recoiled in horror. Even though it was in close proximity to the cave, the little guy suddenly showed no interest in it.
"Yes, that." Eve tore a leaf from a nearby fig tree and placed it on his crotch. Then, sullen and dejected, the pair skulked off in opposite directions. I basked in their misery until God's booming voice pierced the sky and shattered my newfound joy.
"Darryl! Get your skinny ass up here. Pronto."
Loathe though I was to leave the scene of my triumph, I hurried back to the office. "You called for me, Sir?"
Thunderbolts shot out of God's nostrils. I'd never seen him so angry. I tucked my head into the folds of my coiled body and waited for his wrath to subside. When the skies cleared a bit, I stole a sideways glance. "Sorry, boss. I wasn't thinking straight. I was just trying to welcome the Newbies."
"I expected more from you, Darryl." God shook his head and ran a weathered hand along his sleek white beard. "By the way, which tree, exactly, did that apple come from?"
"Third one from the left. First row."
God exhaled, his breath reeking of salami and vodka. I averted my nose and pretended not to notice. "Ah, well," he said, "at least you didn't give them fruit from the Tree of Knowledge."
I paused for a moment. "So what tree was that?"
"The Tree of Stupidity." God shook his head then waved his hand. "Get out of here, Darryl. Go. We'll talk later."
I slithered out.
To tell the truth, I'd known all along about the Tree of Stupidity, and presenting its fruit to the humans was no accident. Now, all I had to do was wait. Soon enough, those morons would destroy one another, and then, once again, I'd be God's favorite. Who knows, the Big Guy might even apologize.
About the Author
Heidi Heimler is a psychologist with an alter ego that's fond of putting pen to paper. Her work has appeared in both online and print publications, including Verdad magazine, Full of Crow, The Scarlet Sound and The Linnet's Wings. She is convinced that if PopCorn Fiction had been around in the days of the Boomtown Rats, Bob Geldof would never have written the song, "I Don't Like Mondays."