Gretchen Carlson’s hands were shaking so hard, she could barely get the bottle of Aquafina to her lips, and some of the water spilled down the front of her silk lilac blazer. Her throat was so dry it felt like the leathery palms of her crablike hands. She was near tears, and she walked towards her dressing room with the stiff, determined purpose of someone working very hard to get it together. Various members of the crew would say hello to her, but she ignored them, kept her head down, a tight smile drawn across her face like a child with palsy and a crayon. Safely in her dressing room, she closed the door and leaned against it, the cool metal refreshing and reassuring against her now damp back. She had sweat through her blouse, could feel sweat running down her control top pantyhose. Her whole body felt like it was on fire with some kind of terrible African fever.
Most journalists work all their lives dreaming of a scoop just a fraction of the size of the one she had just reported. Gretchen had always thought of herself as lucky, but she never in her wildest dreams could have imagined that such a thing would just drop into her lap. The unquestionable, definitive proof of heaven! AND SHE BROKE THE STORY!
During most of her interview with Colton Burpo, Gretchen could feel her eyes swimming in her head, and her heart was pounding in her chest like Gretchen Carlson grabbed a small trash can and threw up into it. Little bits of shrimp and half a Luna bar. She slumped down on the black leather couch and stared at her own face in the mirror. The muscles in her body had gone weak, drained by the adrenaline that was coursing through her body. HEAVEN! It all seemed so impossible to believe, and yet it had happened. And to think that heaven was just as wonderful as she had always hoped. You got to be your younger self in heaven, Todd Burpo had said so! She hoped you also got to choose your outfit, but she would wear whatever God wanted her to wear. But He probably did let you choose your outfit.
Gretchen tapped her fingers in a frantic rhythm. She felt like calling someone. Heck, she felt like calling EVERYONE. But, of course, she had just been on TV. Everyone already knew! Who didn’t watch Fox and Friends? No, the word was out now. Heaven was real and Gretchen Carlson was an incredible journalist. She could just see the line of people at the next White House Correspondent’s Dinner, all of them waiting not for the President, but for her, to shake her hand, and tearfully thank her for the incredible news, and then to apologize for her for ever doubting that she was anything other than the most impressive and important journalist that existed. They would grovel. And she would touch each of them on the head and forgive them, like Jesus. Except that unlike Jesus, she would secretly resent them for the rest of her life.
The rest of her life. God, when you thought about it that way, it did get a little grim.
And then Gretchen Carlson thought of all those people who might die before her and get to see the glory of heaven first. Suddenly, the sweat that was drenching her body turned cold. Hadn’t her life been one long series of endless back-stabbing miseries and Vaseline-toothed lies shrouded in almost unbearable self-loathing? Wasn’t her heart just a dried up raisin soaking in a foul-smelling black liquid? Was her soul not stretched thinner than her heavily-injected forehead? Didn’t she deserve some eternal peace? Besides, if it wasn’t for her hard hitting questions, such as, “I like hearing that part,” when the little boy explained what heaven was like (besides real), no one would even know right now that heaven was absolutely for real a real thing. If anything, Gretchen Carlson should prove to them that she isn’t just a one hit wonder of journalism. She should follow the story wherever it takes her! Isn’t that what she learned in her correspondence course on Journalism & Beautician Sciences?
Gretchen Carlson rummaged in the bottom drawer of the desk she never ever used for anything, and found a thick length of heavy rope. She tied it to a cross beam that just happened to run the width of her office, even though you would really think that FOX News corporate headquarters wouldn’t have wooden cross-beams running through them, but there it was. Then she fashioned a noose and slipped it around her neck. As she stood on the chair, giddy to look into Jesus’s “rough but kind” face, she pictured the Pulitzer Prize committee posthumously giving her all of the awards. She pictured every single person in the world standing over her grave and weeping tears of joy. Just before she kicked the chair out from under her feet, she whispered “you’re welcome.”
Epilogue: Heaven doesn’t exist. Gretchen Carlson could have just kicked herself, but of course, she couldn’t, because she was dead. “Maybe I shouldn’t have put so much faith into the retarded sounding fever-dreams of little children,” she might have thought to herself, if she had the capacity for thought, which she didn’t, because she was just an unsentient lump of flesh, dangling above the rough carpet of an anonymous office, waiting for some illegal immigrant on the custodial staff to discover it. R.I.P.