"The End" by Shel Silverstein
And God looked down over all the earth and He was sick unto His stomach.
"OK!" He said. "All right! I am fed up. I am disgusted. I have had it.
Enough is enough. Gabriel," He yelled, "blow your damned horn! I am
putting an end to all that crap down there."
"Well, it's about time,"said Gabriel, taking his horn out of its case.
"Do you want a nice modern riff or something military, like taps, or maybe
one good long —."
"I don't care what you blow," said God, "just blow! Make it loud; make it
solid and final and of all eternity — make it ring from heaven to hell and
back; make it reach into all men's souls and fill them with the
realization that this is it. Make it bang!"
"T. S. Eliot says the world ends with —"
"I don't give a damn what T. S. Eliot says — you just blow that horn like
I tell you!" said God.
"All right," said Gabriel, "all right, but you don't have to yell at me.
After all, I'm a musician, not a plumber. I've waited a long time for this
gig and I'm not going to goof it. You just tell me how you're going to end
it and I'll come up with something that cooks."
And he fit the mouthpiece into his horn "You going to have it rain for
forty days and forty nights again?"
"Well." said God, "I haven't really given it much thought."
"Well, if you're thinking of having it rain, you'd better forget it —
they got new drainage systems down there!"
"Maybe I'll make an earthquake,' God said. "That would really —"
"No good," said Gabriel. "I could give you some great quaky music — but
lots of those houses are quakeproof, and I imagine you want to get them all
at the same time."
"Of course, of course," said God, "I know that. I wasn't seriously
thinking of earthquakes....A plague is more my style — maybe a plague that
"Vaccinated? Hmmm....of course....that is a shame, though...In the old
days, you could make a plague that would strike down every male child that
"You could try to blast them," Gabriel said.
"That's right," said God, "a few good thunderbolts would really —"
"But their ABM defenses would probably stop them."
God sat back and thought for a while.
Gabriel fingered his valves.
"I suppose everything is fireproof," God finally said.
"Everything but the slums," said Gabriel, "and if you burn those out,
they'll only rebuild with modern developments."
God was silent for a long time.
"Listen," He said, smiling weakly, "what the hell. Maybe .... maybe we'll
just forget about it for now.Maybe I'll give them a little more time — after all, they are my own
children, aren't they?"
"OK by me," said Gabriel. "You want to hear a little somethin' anyway ...
I mean, as long as I already got the horn out?"
"All right," God finally said softly, leaning back wearily in His chair
and closing His eyes.
"Play me some blues!"
Illustration by Fred Berger
|Originally appeared in Playboy magazine, December, 1970|