God, whose real name was Timothy Edgewick, lived in a light blue house located just south of the intersection between Bridge Street and what used to be Lawrence Avenue. It wasn’t that the street disappeared, or even that it was renamed by the city so much as one day it was Lawrence Avenue and the next day it was Heaven’s Gate. No one pointed out, or for that matter, noticed, the difference, largely because as far as anyone could remember it had always been Heaven’s Gate. As it turned out, this was precisely the day that Timothy Edgewick moved in to his new home. And they say God doesn’t have a sense of humor.
The house itself was a rather sensible affair. It was, in fact, so sensible as to leave the Neighborhood Association mildly concerned that it was too sensible and might make everyone else’s houses look, well, shabby by comparison. Still, Mr. Edgewick had been such a nice fellow, they all agreed, that it might be wise to simply give the man a month or so in which his house might naturally degrade to a state of uniformity with the other homes on the block. Mrs. Johannes mentioned that it was rather delightful. Quite the homiest home she’d ever seen, and that was a fact. It was rather as if, she noted, someone had taken all the essential qualities of the word “home” and distilled them into the light blue creation inhabited by Mr. Edgewick. If anyone had thought to ask Mr. Edgewick about this, he might have laughed and would, in all probability, have offered them some tea.
No one, of course, would ask Mr. Edgewick about it because it wasn’t that sort of neighborhood. One didn’t just go about asking people about the distillation of traditionally “homey” qualities as relating to their houses. Why, that would be just…just rude. And if Mrs. Johannes, Mrs. Congrave, and Mr. Ridgemont had anything to say about it, there would be no rudeness on Heaven’s Gate. Well, very little rudeness. Mrs. Johannes and Mrs. Congrave were rather stuffy, but Mr. Ridgemont—whose first name was Gerald but who went by Jerry—did enjoy a bit of sarcasm now and again, though he would never have dared to attempt it in front of his wife, a woman of such magnitude that Mr. Ridgemont often found himself silently wondering whether or not she might simply squish him underfoot.
This is not to say that Mrs. Ridgemont, first name Dolores, was either fat or mean-spirited. She was, as a matter of fact, simply very very tall, and broad of shoulders, rather like one of those Amazon women one reads about in those nature publications. Written by men, of course, but still, the point was the size and ferocity and the existence or non-existence of such Amazons was rather immaterial. As for her personality, Mrs. Ridgemont was quite a lovely woman in nearly all circumstances. Nearly being the key word, as over matters of propriety the woman was simply intractable. A violation of social protocol in her presence was something which just did not occur, mainly because anyone who knew her was firmly aware of the dreadful situation they might find themselves in should they make such a misstep.
Only one person—well, two people, the second of whom we shall meet later—was truly immune to the ire of the formidable Mrs. Ridgemont. That person, predictably for a deity, was Mr. Timothy Edgewick.
Mr. Edgewick was, on this cheery Sunday, in the midst of a rather convivial game of solitaire in the company of His cat, Doctor Tattersail, and His dog, Marmalade, both of whom had in fact been allowed to choose their own names by their new owner. Mr. Edgewick, upon rescuing them as kitten and puppy respectively some three years earlier, had been quite polite about the whole affair, providing them copies of the Oxford English Dictionary and the Encyclopedia Britannica to aid in their choices.
Neither book was even touched.
When asked about their eventual decisions, Marmalade had only to point his nose at the three empty jars of marmalade half-hidden between several pairs of shoes in the living room’s northern corner to provide an answer. Mr. Edgewick had sighed, then posed the same question to Doctor Tattersail, who, like cats everywhere, found the very idea of his motivations being questioned, much less understood, by non-felines laughable. Mr. Edgewick, not surprised but still curious, had asked again, but the fullest answer He had received was merely a request for fish. Mr. Edgewick had smiled, and in the course of retrieving the fish wondered quite seriously whether or not a cat could qualify for membership in the Medical Association if it was in possession of an M.D.
He’d have to ask Doctor Tattersail.