Next Door to God by Michael Channing

Next Door to God

by Michael Channing

The Lawnmower of Truth

In God's tool shed, which is a rusty, corrugated tin box with the southwest corner shimmied up by a brick, he has two riding lawnmowers. One is a slick and shiny green machine, well-oiled and clean, saddle leather seat, spotless whitewalls. “The other one,” he told me, “is the Lawnmower of Truth.”

“Wow,” I said. “That means-- So you mean it-- What does that mean?”

“That means it's an instrument of Truth.”

“Gotcha. But how does a lawnmower serve Truth? Does it always cut the grass at optimal height? Does it carve letters into the lawn to spell out universal truths?”

"No, it mows down cheaters and liars and lubricates its engine with their blood.”


“Plus it has an optional bagging attachment to collect their heads.” He pointed to a large canvas cube in the corner of the shed.

“It looks like you haven't used it in a while.”

“I haven't. It's impossible to find parts for the thing.”

“Well, I mean, these look like the same brand. Can you use parts from this one on that one?”

“Hmm. Never thought of that. I might have to give that a try one day.”

“Sure. Incidentally, does it just know who is a liar, or is that something you have to tell it?”

“It tracks them down on its own. But it only detects lies within a three-day window of when I crank it up. But don't worry. I'll give you a heads-up.”


God's Hard Drive

There's a hard drive on my desk, pulled from God's computer. He got rid of his old one, left it out on the curb with the recycling, and I happened on it one day and took it home. You never know what you'll find rooting through a deity's trash. Who knows what's on that thing. The secrets of the universe? The history of all creation? God's fanfics? Historical porn? I'm afraid to look, because it might be nothing but cat memes. It'll be like the time he let me borrow his phone. All the selfies.

Video Games With God

I asked God if he played video games.

“Sure do,” he said. “All the time.”

“What's your favorite?”


“When did they make that into a game?”



“Yep. It's an oldie.” He held up a film canister labeled “Casablanca 1 of 6.” “I've played this one through so many times, but it's always great. The battling anthems mini-game is so good. And the end boss is tough, but I can usually take him down with one shot.”

“Usually? You mean you've actually lost before?”

“A few times.”

“Can I play with you? Like right now?”

“Well, it doesn't have a multi-player setting. But we could play Roots. You wanna be Kunta Kinte?”

“No,” I said. “No I don't.”

Board Games With God

Whenever I bring up board games, God always wants to play Monopoly.

“I hate that game,” I told him. “It takes forever.”

“We got time,” God said. “I do, anyway.”

“Do we have to play Monopoly? There are other games, you know. How about Life?”

“I invented that.”



“You literally invented everything. If that's your way of choosing a game, then we'll never play anything.”

“We could play Trivial Pursuit,” he said, wagging his bushy white eyebrows.

“Fine. But I call no putting money on Free Parking. That's just dumb. Plus I'm the car, and you have to be the goddamned boot.”

God's Television

God popped some popcorn, and we sat down to watch TV. We watched the season of ALF where he escapes from the government and goes on the lam, terrifying cats across the country as he gathers followers and raises his own personal army like a furry, big-nosed Tyler Durden. No one else ever saw this season because it only exists on God's television.

I've watched a lot of shows like that. There's the half season of M.A.S.H. that takes place after Korea gets nuked. The Family Ties episode where Alex tries to kill a girl to impress the president. The rest of Firefly.

Then there's the alt-news and pre-news channels. He won't let me watch those. One day I asked him why.

“Because you inevitably see yourself. That's how it works, and it's very rarely enjoyable. You'll see yourself as the victim of a crime. Or the perpetrator. You'll watch yourself starve, go to jail, get beat up. You'll see yourself attempt and fail at one enterprise after another, or if you are successful you alienate and anger all your friends, some of whom you actually have here and now. And the alternate reality shows are even worse. In one world you're dead, in another you're still here, but you realize that those two worlds are exactly the same.

“So seriously, don't bother. It's too depressing.”

I slumped into the couch, slack-jawed at the notion of all those other me's. “I don't even want to think about it.”

“Glad to hear it. Now hand me a root beer,” God said and turned on the TV just in time to see The Fonz get eaten by a shark.

Further Adventures of God

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Chokes and Warbles
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Chokes and Warbles, a collection of essays and poems by Michael Channing