Even the Best Laid Plans
Jerry squeezed the wedge of lemon, letting the sour liquid drip into a glass of chilled tomato juice. Tomatoes and lemons, these were flavors to be reckoned with. Nothing subtle about them, they demanded attention. He downed his drink, then smacked his lips with satisfaction.
Abruptly, a sudden chill; Jerry shuttered. He could feel the sorrow on the other side of the door. With caution, he passed through the doorway that led to an expansive court yard, awash with light, lush with rose bushes, wild flowers, fig trees and cascading waterfalls. Jerry sat down beside his comrade, his God. “What’s wrong?,” he whispered.
God shook his head in disbelief. “I thought I had it planned out so well. I gave them everything.” God raised a majestic bronze goblet, filled to the brim with water, cooled with huge ice cubes. “I gave them this,” he said, ”pure water to drink. And enough sweet and tangy juices to suit everyone’s tastes.”
Jerry nodded in agreement.
“And the food I gave them. Fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, growing everywhere. Up high in the trees for the Giraffes and Blue Jays to reach and low to the ground for Lizards and Raccoons. Edible plants in the marshes and oceans for Alligators and Dolphins and Turtles. Food everywhere.” God’s voice bellowed. “Chestnuts and almonds and hazelnuts. Pear trees and plum trees and cherry trees. Rice, oats, barley and lentils. Mangos and olives and dandelion greens. Fields of corn, strawberry patches and cranberry bogs. Grapes on climbing vines and zucchini on sprawling ground-vines. Carrots and potatoes under ground. Everywhere, at every level, something to eat.”
Again, God shook his head. He raised his goblet to his lips, taking powerful gulps until he drained it of its last drops of water. He crunched on gigantic ice cubes, while gesturing to a bowl of fresh-picked blueberries.
“Yes, thank you,” Jerry said, helping himself to a generous handful of the tiny fruit. He cupped them in his palm, plucking them one at a time into his mouth. And he continued to listen.
“I gave them so much. Yet, it was not enough. Why? Why did they...”
“But my friend, my God, I don’t fully understand. After all, it seems to me that your plan has worked. Are they not eating the food? The Squirrels seem to enjoy the walnuts. The Humans pick peaches from the trees. The Monkeys peel bananas with great delight. The Cows graze the grasses. The Elephants love to eat peanuts. The Horses are wild about oats. So what’s wrong? They are eating the bounty you’ve created for them. It seems to me, things ARE going as you planned,” Jerry said. Satisfied with his assessment, Jerry popped another blueberry into his mouth.
“Yes, I know,” said God, “They like the snow peas and pineapples and eggplants and grapefruit and coconuts and oranges. They have indeed embraced the abundance of life-sustaining food I have provided for them. But that was not enough for them. That is what pains me so. They are not satisfied with fruits and vegetables and nuts and grains. They are TURNING on each other. Living creatures are attacking, murdering and eating other living creatures. This was not my plan.” He crunched on another ice cube. “All these living creatures I have created, so many different species, are eating one another.”
“No!,“ said Jerry in disbelief.
“Yes, it is true,” God said. “The Dogs are eating the Cats. The Cats are eating the Mice. The Mice are eating each other. Spiders are eating Flies. Snakes are eating Rabbits. Big Fish are eating little Fish. Sharks are eating Humans. Foxes are eating Chickens.
“Seagulls are swooping down into the waters of the oceans, snatching Fish from the safety of their home and swooping back up to the skies with their prey helplessly trapped in their beaks, flopping about, unable to breathe without water, as they are eaten alive.
“And the Humans, they are worst of all. They are the ones with the most insatiable of appetites. They are eating everything they can get their murderous hands on. They eat Cows that are bigger in size and weight than them. They plunge the depths of the oceans, where they have no right to be, only to take part in the murder of Octopus and Squid and Tuna. They cast huge nets in the waters to capture Shrimp and Sardines and Smealt. They are raiding the ocean’s floors for Crabs and Lobsters,” God shook his head at the carnage. “They eat Pig’s feet and Turkey necks and Frog legs and Chicken wings and Beef Tongue and Cow’s livers. They are ripping the innards out of Clams and Oysters.
“And oh what they do to my poor little Lobsters. The Humans are boiling them alive; they say the flavor is better that way. Do you understand what I am saying? Humans are dropping living Lobsters in boiling pots of water. This was not my plan.”
Again, God shook his head. “Nothing is safe from Human hands. They shoot Ducks in ponds. They hunt down Deer in the forests. They kill Pheasants in flight. They take Pigs to the slaughter house. They eat Fish eggs before they have a chance to be born.
“And oh my dear little Worms. My innocent Worms are spared of the Human appetite, but not of the Human cruelty. Humans have made Worms part of their murderous game. They snatch innocent Worms from the safety of Mother Earth, then impale them on hooks attached to their fishing poles. The fate of my dear little Worms is death by impaling or drowning or being eaten alive by a bloodthirsty Fish. And these Fish of mine, so eager to eat another living creature. Their fate too is sealed. Eat the Worm. Get caught on the hook and pulled from the water into the open air where a Fish cannot survive, then skinned alive.
God shook his head in disappointment and despair. “Fruits. Vegetables. Nuts. Grains. All this food to sustain life. And what do they do? They eat each other. What would make one living creature want to kill and eat another living creature? This was not my plan.”
Jerry gazed up at God, shrugged his shoulder and said the only thing he could think to say. “You tried your best. Maybe next time, with another planet, maybe...”
“My concern is now; my concern is with Earth. So much food and they are eating each other.” Yet again, God shook his head.
This time, Jerry mirrored the sentiment. Jerry wanted desperately to say something to ease God’s pain. But words would not come to him. His heart ached for God, and for all of Earth’s creatures. But what could he possibly say? How can one comfort God? Jerry diverted his eyes to the side, swallowed hard and remained silent. A calm breeze carried the fragrance of roses through the air; the soft warm winds serving as the only source of sound in the court yard. Jerry took one more blueberry. Placing it cautiously to his lips, he chewed it slowly, savoring its wonderfully tart flavor.
Paul Germano is a carnivore who thinks herbivore animals and vegan people may be on the correct path. Germano works for a Syracuse-based automotive Internet company, Autolit.com. His fiction has been published in print in SlugFest (South Carolina) and the Java Snob Review (Michigan) and on-line in CollectedStories.com, MWP Journal and The House of Pain.
As a journalist, Germano’s feature writing has been published extensively in The Catholic Sun, Post-Standard, Stars Magazine, Syracuse New Times and other publications. His non-fiction has earned him three Syracuse Press Club Awards, twice for television criticism and once for a sports feature story.
Other stories by Paul available online:
“A Slap in the Face” appeared in the Jan.-Feb. 2001 issue of CollectedStories.com
“Weekend Phone Call” appeared in the Jan.15, 2001 issue of MyWebPress.net
“A Hot Bath Will Make a World of Difference” appeared in the April 2001 issue of The House of Pain