Mr. Deity 7

Ms. Jones-Berger looks up without ceasing the click of her nails on the keys. “Do you have an appointment, sir?”

The thundercloud doesn’t budge from the young man’s face.

Ms. Jones-Berger sighs, picks up the phone, and presses the intercom button. “Sir, you have a visitor.” She waits a moment, then places the phone back in the cradle.

She looks at the hall door when she says, “Go ahead.”

“Thank you, Ms. Jones-Berger,” the thundercloud says before yanking open the office door.

The door closed behind him, the young man opens his mouth. But the desk is vacant. The man with the beard is standing in front of the clock wall, eyes closed, listening to the ticking and purring and tocking and whispering.

“Sir,” the young man demands, but falls silent when the bearded man holds up a finger without moving his head or opening his eyes.

“Do you hear that? Do you know what that is?”

“The sound of time we should be spending smiting the self-righteous sons of tar who have been taking advantage of children?”

Mr. Deity opens his eyes and swings around to face the young man. “What’s happened now?”

“How can you be so calm, sir? How can you be complacent while little kids are being bullied, beaten up, and worse? And some of them in your name!”

Mr. Deity beckons him over to the clock wall. “That, my son, is the sound of 7 billion, 807 million, 224 thousand, and 62 people’s hopes and dreams and struggles, and that’s just the people currently on the planet.” He holds up a hand to stem the words already bubbling out of the young man. “Do you think I don’t hear the cries of the little children?”

“Then let me do something about it!” the young man shouts.

The beard sags to the chest of the older man and he turns to the desk. “Son, do you remember our conversation on free will?”

The young man strides to the desk and pounds his fist on it. “Do you remember how I turned the extortionists’ stalls upside down?”

Mr. Deity’s eyes flick to the young man’s face. “Why don’t you sit down and we’ll talk about this.”