A week ago, two Sunday-suited men came to my door. Jehovah’s Witnesses, I assumed. No nametags, so they weren’t Mormons. At first I was not going to answer, then I thought, Why not?
They both had dark hair, thin frames, identical ties. I disliked them at once.
“You may as well not bother,” I said, taking their pamphlet. Better in my hand than wedged into the screen door handle. “I’m a hardcore atheist, and, yes, I’ve thought about my eternal life.”
I expected a scripted reply from the more senior of them. Instead, they spoke in unison, the voices slightly discordant in my ears.
“Are you a good person?”
That took me aback. “Yeah,” I said, “yes.”
“How do you know?”
“Do you do good deeds? Do you aid your neighbors and give succor to the poor? Do you donate to worthy causes?”
“I do my part,” I said.
“Are you willing to die for a cause greater than yourself?”
“Do you give your life to God?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then, how can you be a good person?”
“I am,” I said. My hands wrung the pamphlet.
“Have you considered that your goodness may only be judged by others and not yourself?”
“I don’t understand.”
“You will be survived by others. It is the residue you leave in their hearts that will determine whether your mortal life was good or… not.”
I had to admit that made some sense.
“For example, we are quite dubious of your goodness, given that you do not believe in God, that you do not invite us into your home, that you will not accept our message.”
Next I knew we were sitting in the kitchen drinking tea and philosophizing like Facebook friends. When they left, I was by myself, but not alone.
I felt found. I felt free.
I felt like knocking on some doors.
That brings me to my purpose in visiting you today. Do you have time for tea?
Stephen V. Ramey lives in beautiful New Castle, Pennsylvania with his talented wife, Susan Urbanek Linville, and two reformed feral cats. His work has appeared in many places and his collection of (very) short fictions, Glass Animals, is available wherever fine books are e-sold.