The wind definitely was whipping at me harder than a swarm of angry yellow jackets. I’ve never been swarmed by angry yellow jackets before, but I had a hard time believing they’d be able to hit me at a hundred miles an hour or generate these kinds of G-forces. Salabas liked to fly fast and low and he took his turns sharply and even threw in a couple of unnecessary flips.
Luckily, however, we didn’t seem to have far to go. He stopped abruptly in a parking lot a few miles away and eased me down to a feathery landing as though he hadn’t just rocketed me through my hometown at breakneck speed. Taking a moment to catch my breath and recover from a bout of dizziness, I looked around slowly at my surroundings. “Burger Baron?” I asked.
Salabas nodded, which was when I realized that his enormous sombrero had inexpicably remained mounted firmly on his head through that chaotic flight. “We needed a neutral meetin’ place,” he said apologetically. “Everybody loves a good burger.”
“I guess I was expecting some kind of grand throne room in the clouds,” I admitted.
“Naw,” the angel replied with a chuckle. “Gettin’ you into Heaven would be harder than gettin’ a pig snout out of the feedin’ trough, and getting’ you back out would be even harder.”
I frowned. I guess that made sense, since Conrad seemed to have implied that my presence in Heaven following each of my deaths was unusual and tenuous. “So God’s inside?” I asked.
“Straight shootin’,” he confirmed. “Go on in, son.”
My legs felt all wobbly, and it wasn’t just from the berserk joyride I’d just been taken on. “How will I recognize him?” I asked. “I mean, white beard, glowing countenance, that kind of thing?”
Salabas gave me a wide grin. “Oh, you’ll recognize him,” he assured me. “He’ll be the one who recognizes you.”
“Okay, whatever,” I said apprehensively. “You’re not coming in?”
He shook his head. “I ain’t invited.”
“Oh,” I said. “Uh, thanks for the ride, then, I guess.”
“My pleasure,” he said graciously, sweeping off his hat to make an elaborate bow.
I walked up to the front door of Burger Baron, steeled myself, took a deep breath, and pushed it open. I’d never been this terrified to walk into a fast food restaurant.