Stabbing the glow of his cigarette into the bakelite ashtray at his elbow, God’s displeasure was evident to the others seated in the disorderly scrum around a beer soaked card table. It was dim and quite smoky in this corner of the bar. Le Bar des Sapins was recognized locally as the seediest in La Gascilly, but a handful of habitual locals kept the creditors at bay. They included God and several of his acolytes. The usual ambient noise within consisted of a potpourri of murmured French conversation occasionally interspersed with raised interjections of excitable Frenchmen, the clack of snooker balls and clink of wine glasses. Scratching sounds of accordion music struggled outwards from an ancient speaker on a wall. The barflies were mostly local men who had lived a bulk of their lives around the village of La Gascilly although several peals of feminine laughter emanated from the other end of the bar. God, however, had seemingly resided in the village forever, and no-one could ever remember his arrival or his youth. In all respects though, he was just another Breton farmer. Baggy crumpled trousers held up by a wide leather belt, thick flannelette shirt, scuffed and muddied farm boots and a grey cap rather similar to an Englishman’s cap but definitely not a stereotypical beret.
“Non, it’s gotta be changed!” God rattled off rapid-fire, hands and lips gesticulating wildly, a feature of French conversation. For effect, he stabbed his cigarette butt several more times into the ashtray as though attempting to impale it. Sparks flew sideways, highlighting his determination to murder the bakelite.
“But the seven deadly sins has been with us since the beginnings of the church,” pleaded Peter, flailing his drinking arm and spilling a measure of the glass of burgundy which was shaking uncontrollably in his hand. “It’s a central tenet of the church ethos. It’s immutable.”
Wiping his shirtfront with a nicotine stained hand to remove the offending burgundy, God thundered in reply,
“Hang on, Peter. Don’t you bloodywell tell me what’s immutable and what’s not! Who’s the supreme being around here? Who appointed you as the new God? “
Sensing an escalation towards violence, God’s son stepped hurriedly between the two antagonists and quietly suggested they both take a deep breath and ensure that their next glass contained water.
“I’m sorry Peter,” mumbled God, “but I get a bit pissed off with wannabe usurpers.”
“That’s wasn’t my intent, Lord. I was merely reminding you of the laws you gave unto us, and which have guided lives on Earth for millennia. I’m not questioning your divine right to alter or amend your directives,” Peter groveled in obsequious French as he took a step in God’s direction.
One of the angels who was lounging around the card table with his feet on the adjacent chair looked up quickly from his game of solitaire and tossed down his tattered cards to oversee where this confrontation was heading. Adjusting his halo around spiked and blonded hair, he stood abruptly, knocking over his chair, took a slug of his cognac and sauntered over to stand beside God. He folded his heavily tattooed arms and gave Peter a dark, menacing glare.
“There is only one God, Peter. If you want to question his right to amend the seven deadly sins, you’ll have to deal with me. If you want to make this physical, just know that I’ve got God’s back. Now sit down, like a good little saint, and listen to what God’s proposing.”
The handful of other drinkers in the bar now resumed their own conversations after vainly, almost hopefully, expecting to watch blows rained down upon Peter. Clearing his throat into a spittoon from twenty feet away for effect, God addressed those gathered around the card table.
“I’ve been thinking for a while about the need for ongoing revision. Nothing is immutable, we need to move with the times. Evolving circumstances require appropriate guidelines free of the strictures of tradition.”
Discernible nods and a murmur of agreement emanated from the group.
“So, I’m proposing that there’ll still be seven deadly sins. I’m just adding a new one and removing an existing one.”
Peter, the arch conservative at all times, inquired with a mocking tone, “And what new sin are you proposing to introduce, Lord?”
“I’m pleased you asked. Carbon emissions, Peter. It will be a sin to pollute the planet which I gave to my people as a gift.”
“ Fine,” sniffed Peter. “I’ll see to it that the word of God is amended forthwith. And which sin should I delete, Lord?”
“Lust, Peter, I’m removing lust.”
An outbreak of enthusiastic whooping, nodding and backslapping ensued before God signalled for quiet. Fumbling in a deep pocket, he withdrew a crumpled 50 Euro note, nodded sagely and announced, “Drinks are on me.”