He had a B.A. in Studio Art from UMKC. He had a Prepress Certificate from Penn Valley, but they were just pieces of paper. The jobs were taken. He'd been to their offices. They'd shown him the door. "Don't call us, we'll call you." They wanted him to know software he didn't know. They expected him to have experience he didn't have. In short, they didn't want him. No one did. He couldn't even get a job at a supermarket. They only hired kids. It seemed nobody wanted him. The temp agency he worked for, Manpower, never had anything. But they had him sign a contract, so that he couldn't even draw unemployment.
Then his parents and his aunt and uncle died. He could no longer pay for the house, and no one could help him. His brother was just barely making ends meet with his job. So he did the only thing he was qualified for, the only thing he could think of, the only place where he thought he could find money. He did panhandling. It wasn't enough.
The city bought their house. Someone else moved in. And he lived on the street.
Then winter came. The shelters were all full. There was nowhere for him to go. So there he lay, in the alleyway, keeping warm over a sewer vent. It smelled bad, but it was warm.
But overnight, the temperature dropped far below 0 degrees, and he froze to death.
When he awoke, he was warm, and more comfortable than he'd been in years. His lung and back problems were gone. He smelled barbecue.
He examined himself. He'd been dressed in fine clothing. A clean, pressed, comfortable suit. No uncomfortable tie. His feet were warm and toasty in a pair of brand new shoes.
He stood outside a giant gate made of a shiny white material, decorated with twelve sets of Hebrew words, etched in the surface in giant block lettering. Twelve golden angel reliefs framed the door. Crowds of glowing people stood in front of the gate, guarding it. A large wall made of jasper connected to it, extending forever in either direction. The wall connected to a gold floor, its base covered in precious stones. A light seemed to be coming from somewhere above, but he couldn't tell where it was coming from.
This has to be heaven, he thought. The one solace, the one comfort, the one hope that made his pathetic, miserable existence palatable had been realized. "Thank you, Jesus," he whispered. "Thank you, Jesus."
He walked to the gate.
The giant door cracked open. He walked through.