Charlie had been OVERJOYED. He had found the key to life and all things. But having found it he had promptly lost it. How on EARTH could that have happened?
It hadn’t been a bad morning, as mornings go. Up early, swallowing a chemist’s shop to keep his various illnesses and conditions under control (they did have a tendency to be rather unruly), getting washed and dressed, then making his way to Mass. He’d always wondered about life and the world, because he had one of those square brains that had to have everything in order and everything in its place. He couldn’t deal with anomalies, and there were plenty of them. Nothing in the Universe ever seemed to fit perfectly. There were strange bits here and there that just did not seem to make sense or relate to anything else. They just kind of stuck out like a sore thumb.
So, you can imagine what Charlie must have felt like when, on parking up in the church car park, his car keys were suddenly on fire in his hands. He was transported, and suddenly saw everything. The universe in all its glory, and the answers to everything. And he hadn’t even got into Mass yet!
In that moment his life was transformed. Everything made sense, and everything was wonderful. However, needs must, and he had to get himself into Mass yet, which was quite a tricky operation in itself, since he had to go in on crutches, one of his many illnesses having behaved REALLY badly, thus taking away his ability to walk properly.
Once in Mass, Charlie went back to being his usual self, except that he had a greater joy than before. Suddenly, the words he was saying made sense. They leapt into life for him. He’d heard about religious experiences, but, much to his annoyance, he’d never had one. But now, things were different. In fact he had a job stopping himself shouting “Hallelujah” at the top of his voice. Instead though, his “Amen” was said just anlittle bit louder and more forcibly. He didn’t, after all, want to draw attention to himself, or make himself look foolish with too much enthusiasm.
The end of Mass finally came. Charlie rooted in his pocket for his car keys – but they were not THERE! Panic stations. They were the key to the Universe. Oh my God, what was he going to do? He could just imagine God saying to him,
“You see, I can’t trust you with ANYTHING.”
As if Charlie didn’t know this anyway. His wife said it to him three or four times a day. But this was DIFFERENT. It was the key to the UNIVERSE, not just the front door.
“Well that’s YOUR fault,” Charlie imagined himself saying back to God. “You know what I’m like. You created me this way.”
Charlie hunted everywhere for the keys, including in the Disabled toilets. But……nothing! He stood in the corridor looking wan. As he stood, Bill came by, and asked him what was wrong.
“I’ve lost my car keys,” Charlie said.
“Oh dear,” said Bill, “I’d better help you look for them then.”
Bill rooted around for a while, in various nooks and crannes, not realising the importance of these keys. But he found nothing. Eventually he went back into the church, to the pew where Charlie had been sitting. Maybe they had fallen out of his pocket onto the fllor during the Alleluia.
Soon, the priest came to join him. No longer in his celestial robes, he went down on his knees and scrabbled around underneath the pew. No sign of any keys.
Bill, accompanied by the priest, made their way to the church car park where Charlie was waiting anxiously. No one knew the secret of the keys, not even the priest, and God only knew what HE would say if he knew the truth.
Suddenly, Doris appeared, and saw everyone looking perturbed.
“What’s wrong?’ she inquired.
“It’s Charlie’s car keys. We can’t find them,” said Bill. The priest nodded.
“Oh I know where they are,” Doris said. “They’re in my handbag. I was doing a bit of cleaning and I found them so put them in my handbag for safekeeping.”
Then, with great aplomb, she produced from her rather scruffy handbag, the key to the Universe.
“Alleluia,” said Charlie, with much more enthusiasm and conviction than he had ever had in church. His joy was now unbounded.