"...for heaven is as the book of God before thee set, wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn..." Milton, Paradise Lost
"As we read on, our eyes met now and then, and to our cheeks the
changing colour started, but just one moment overcame us...We read no more
that day." Francesca de Rimini, Dante's Divine Comedy
In the beginning...
There's God on his throne, back before time, stroking his divine, beardless chin. Beardless because he's barely more than a boy, with lips the color of the rose he'll create for a long-necked Greek princess. One day that princess will be worshiped as a god, which is ironic, but God doesn't know about irony yet, or even time. All he knows is his own beauty, like his hair, the same tawny soft gold he'll use for a lion's underbelly, so long it almost covers his nipples. His own beauty dissatisfies him; it can't reach the itch behind his heart, an itch that seems to be spreading. He calls it loneliness, although it feels like poison ivy.
With a yawn, he creates black Chaos. Shapes move through the swirling darkness, a face, maybe, that dissolves under his fingers. The air, damp and violet-tinged on its edges, feels like a kiss against his hand. God shivers. There is heat and weight between his legs, forcing him to shift, while the bordering dark edges closer. It makes his sunless skin itchy and stretched with another emotion, one he knows but hasn't yet named. It lurks in his gut, the neighbor of loneliness.
His body swelling, God gets a little panicky and invents clothing, wrapping himself in a long silk robe. He forgets to invent a belt so the edges slither open. As the air moves closer God spreads his thighs, and a tongue of dark nothingness slides over his nipples, which tighten into pretty little stones. Thoughtlessly, he touches one and moans. The sound bursts into the air and hangs there, round and glowing. "Star," he says, not naming the thing but the feeling in his swollen nipple as he rubs it.
The dark retreats, scared, then creeps back. It stays lower this time, breathing between God's knees, which tickles a little. God won't look down, though. Things are happening, and while he is pure good and alone in nothing, there's a strange unrightness to this, which confuses him more. He decides to invent metaphysics, but later, when he and the dark are done. Because God, although he's timeless, is getting these demands from his body for closure. This is the start of God's obsession with neat endings.
His breath hits the air in silver puffs, and they float above his head. "Clouds." They grow as the dark licks closer, up one divine thigh. It refuses to lick higher, just hovers there, and God, frustrated, must use his hand. He invents rhythm in the strokes, music as his hand goes faster. More clouds appear, and God's head goes back. It's so intense that tears form in his eyes. When one falls, there's a flutter of wings, and a small, sleepy angel flies upward, making baby yawns before settling on the soft fluff of a new cloud.
God invokes his own name as the darkness cheats and licks a little higher, starting a tradition that will endure through the ages. More clouds, more angels, more stars. One fuzzy-headed angel careens into a star, then hangs, blinking, from a gold ray. God is sweating now, and each drop that lands at his feet turns into dewy grass. While he's beyond all fear, God worries a little that his body might break or evaporate, but he can't stop his hand, not now, not when the dark is licking so high, almost inside, there, and...
"Oh, God," he calls, a thousand red-faced ibises trailing his voice. He grips the throne's edge with one hand, himself even harder with the other, and leans back, oh god yes, as God finds the closure he wants, white streams of it flowing from him. Without meaning to, he invents ecstasy. Saints and whores will thank him for it.
His work done, God rests, closing his eyes. The darkness retreats and slips in a creamy pool. While God's heart is finding its pace, a miracle happens before him. Sensing this, he opens his eyes in time to see a new form come into being. Another unplanned invention, and a bit of a kicker. Limbs form, smooth and night-tinged. The face of Chaos solidifies, with blackberry tinges on the body: the lips, hair, nipples, nails, and the wings that burst like God's seed from the straight back. Something else, too. The ripe shiny head of...
God discovers embarrassment and looks up at the sky. Seems that silly angel, swinging on the star's pointed arms, had knocked that star right over God. Its light stings his eyes. "Lucifer," God says, blinking.
"Yes." The new being smiles. "I'm Lucifer, and I love you."
When Lucifer advances, the dark wings opening behind him, God has no choice. He is love, after all, and stands before the throne, opening his arms. The robe falls to the ground.
"Can I kiss you, oh Creator?" There's a kind of innocence to the question, mixed with a very pleasing worship.
"Of course," God says, happy that he'd invented kisses only seconds before. Lucifer takes a step, which brings their bodies close, and God can't help noticing the hardness against his thigh, or how his own flesh stiffens. "I'm not sure..."
Lucifer has very warm lips, warm as the seed God spilled on the ground. At first, they simply stand there, pressing together, Lucifer's arms around his neck, God's arms around Lucifer's waist, Creator and created. The body in God's arms undulates, like there's a breeze living inside him, live chaos, or a snake. He's solid, too, where God is solid, and when they rub, there's a splash to the west, as dolphins ride in the waves of a wide blue ocean.
Then, like the sneaky darkness of Chaos, Lucifer licks God's lower lip. The tips of their noses meet, and God sees himself in Lucifer's eyes. Somewhere behind Lucifer's shoulder, a tree grows, its limbs crooked and expansive, tipped with white flowers like pale clenched fists and fruit like Lucifer's eyes. It bothers and excites him that he's so different from Lucifer, even if they're really one. If Lucifer left, he'd be alone, except for the cherubim, and they're more decoration than company. His reflection looks scared, which must be an illusion, a trick of the new light. This makes him uneasy, and he shakes as Lucifer licks a little harder, with a mouth that tastes like...
A faint rumble in the earth, and rows of vines shoot up, heavy with grapes. A few curious angels swoop down. The uncoordinated one flies right into a cluster of leaves, and grapes spill, tickling the cherubs' chubby toes. They hop a little and land on the grapes, squealing. It becomes a game, and soon purple rivulets dance through the grass while Lucifer pushes the tip of his tongue into God's mouth. Invaded. A vine-covered stone wall builds itself around Paradise, with a single iron gate.
The gate opens.
God's eyes grow heavy as Lucifer's worshipful tongue follows the curves of his mouth, and heart-red poppies spring from the earth. Somewhere an angel sings, the lightest, softest melody in a language that no one speaks. Lucifer strokes God's hair, wrapping it around his fingers, his sliding tongue foreshadowing an uninvented act, although Lucifer never hesitates. Cautious, God takes a step back, and a tree holds him. There are apples on it, fat red ones like angel cheeks.
"I love that you can do that, the way you can make things," Lucifer says. "You made me, even. It's so powerful and beautiful, to create like that. I wish..." He kisses God again, his hands moving. Finally: "Do you want me to stop?"
"No." He is a god of little words, but as the original Author, God knows their power more than anyone.
"Good. Because I don't think I can. There's something about you."
Lucifer's lips are a little swollen, and God likes that. Lucifer is his, and it should show, so he opens his arms again, and the kisses continue a little harder now. Deeper. Then they spread like wildfire, which will be a cliche, but for now is a new and clever simile. The angels squawk and cry as the flames lick the wall and spread to the oldest grape vines in the field. Their tears douse the fire, and while the wall is scarred, the earth is rejuvenated, a richer, oilier black that breeds itself in feline form: one after the other, a dozen black panthers emerge, with no break between their birth and their forward swagger into the forest of Paradise. For each of them a kiss falls on God's mouth, his cheeks, his throat.
Only Lucifer doesn't leave God's throat after the first kiss. Maybe from watching a mother panther with her young, he sucks the skin there, holding God still. When his teeth scrape, God arches, and Lucifer puts his hand on God's hip. If God turned a little to the left, there'd be friction, but he doesn't move, only wants to. His neck begins to burn as Lucifer bites harder, but God decides to withhold the word "hickey" until the 1950s, when a cute euphemism will be better appreciated. He fails to distance himself from the pleasure, and raises his arms over his head, as though spreading himself thin will bring balance.
"Yes, that's what I want, too." Lucifer smiles, and the new moon twists silver in the sky, while a length of vine binds God's wrists together and to the tree. "It's better this way. For worship." At first, he does nothing, just looks him over from head to toe. "I want to worship you everywhere."
Jumbled, God decides to go regal, and says imperiously, "Do it." Only it sounds instead like he's begging. A murder of crows sails over a cloud, then lands with a rustle in the apple tree.
Lucifer strokes God from hip to thigh, then leans forward, his head bent. He's learned another move from the panthers, and sucks with infinite sweetness at God's breast. Under his tongue, God's nipple swells, and with the blissful look on Lucifer's face, God almost regrets inventing gender. After a vision, the fourteenth-century mystic Julian of Norwich will write of God as mother because of this nagging near-regret.
"Do you like this? You don't talk much." Lucifer looks up, still guileless. "That could be a problem later." He takes the other nipple between his teeth, pulling it.
God's silence will cause problems down the road. His Son will die because God can't just say what he feels, what he thinks. He's not trying to be cold, to punish anyone; it's just hard to get the words out. Words are unstable, suspicious things, and if God were scared of anything, words would be it. No one would invent an elephant--he glances toward the lumbering creature with its placid smile and floppy ears--if words were easily contained.
"Because I like doing it," Lucifer tells him. "I like sucking your nipples and biting them, and kissing your mouth. I want to touch and kiss you everywhere. It feels good, here." Lucifer touches himself. "I want this inside you. I want all of me inside you, where I was born." He returns to God's nipples, sucking one then the other, running his tongue around in planetary circles. Venus, Mars, Jupiter--they all hang like pearls in the sky's necklace. "You know what else I like?"
God shakes his head without speaking. Eternal habits are hard to break.
"I like the crazy things you do when you lose control. It gets me hot. Without me you'd be a little boring." It's not arrogance, not quite, more the painful candor of the newly-born.
"I'm always in control." Not a lie--just an extension of the truth, and God quivers against the tree as Lucifer suckles.
An apple falls, crushing a handful of grass, and sits there expectantly. One of the cherubim sees the fruit and picks it up, polishing the skin with his thumb. Sitting at God's feet, he takes a bite, and his wide ocean eyes go round. "Oh," the little angel says, blushing, and flutters to his feet. In a flash he becomes a man, his wings no longer white but rainbow-colored, his cock long and hard. He looks like God except for the wings and so is named Michael. He hurries off toward the gate, casting startled glances over his shoulder, and quickly masturbates in the shadow of the wall. When he's done, and his seed has sprouted a flurry of hyacinths, Michael stands guard there, a spear against his shoulder and a discreet wreath of hyacinth around his hips. With his toe he nudges the gate shut.
Meanwhile, Lucifer is still licking and sucking God's nipples. They're red now, like the apples, like Michael's cheeks, and sting at the slightest breath. God moans, a low rumble echoed by the bees as they ravish the flowers. His hips thrust helplessly, and he considers snapping the vine and pushing Lucifer's torturous mouth lower. Sometimes love must be firm, a belief of his that will be distorted in the future by everyone from crusaders to Victorian nannies. Blame Lucifer's mouth for imperialism and corporal punishment.
"Tell me what you want." Lucifer kneels, resting his cheek against God's hip. His wings are open behind him, and shimmer a crushed-emerald green. "Tell me, Creator, and I'll do it."
When a tower appears, a cloud hovers over it, then rain begins to fall, wetting the stone until it gleams. An angel finds a stalk of fennel in his hand and plunges it repeatedly into a pool of rain water, giggling, while those hungry bees suck juice from their darling flowers. Squirrels nuzzle the heads of acorns while God thinks of tunnels and trains, which he'll save for Europe after the Industrial Revolution so people can travel and see more than money down a coal mine. He is happiest speaking in signs, which will please Augustine and Freud.
This early in their relationship, Lucifer only laughs. "That's the best I'm going to get, isn't it? You and those crazy metaphors." Then he takes God in his hands and brings the swollen skin to his lips. The first kiss is delicate, reverential. The second is lewd and wet, with Lucifer's tongue snaking around the head, the tip sliding into it. "You have a great-tasting cock," he says, to see God blush. It's the beginning of Lucifer's obsession with embarrassing God, and explains Genghis Khan, Benito Mussolini and Jerry Falwell.
Hard to believe, so hard, that Lucifer will bring God anything but pleasure. God stares down at him, across the flat planes of his stomach to the thick, stiff length resting on Lucifer's extended tongue. Lucifer looks back and winks, then opens wide to swallow as much as he can, sucking and licking.
He never blinks after that, just stares with those beautiful plum eyes. "Create for me. I can't, so you have to."
"I think this might be a sin," God says.
Lucifer pulls off his cock, which shines wetly. "Then sin is the most beautiful word in the world, after Creation." He returns to it, licking the head while stroking the shaft with one hand. With his other, Lucifer reaches down between God's pale thighs and cups his balls. "I can pretend that you're mine right now, while I hold you like this. Love lets me do it. You do. No sin there."
Can love sin? All lovers will deny it, except Abelard. And if he'd kept his balls, not lost them to Heloise's furious uncle, he would've denied it, too. God does, giving in to the alchemical mouth. Lucifer's hand is a balance, and love outweighs sin. For now. Then comes Paul, spouting off about better ways to burn, and Augustine, confessing that love doesn't need the body. After that, below Dante's Florence, the sexy book still in her aristocratic hands, Francesca de Rimini will burn in hell's second circle for letting a French romance get her so hot--
"Uh oh," God says, as a pile of books appears beside him, the incriminating story of Lancelot and Guinevere right on top.
"What's this?" Still holding onto God's balls, Lucifer reaches for a dusty volume. There is an apple on the cover. He flips it open and reads.
Still bound to the tree, naked and wanting, God watches Lucifer learn and change. Always beautiful, the planes of his face shift, narrow and tighten, until he's like a living star, so stunning that God invents sculpture, scattering marble effigies in homage throughout the garden. The curved horns that part Lucifer's hair high on the temples only enhance the silky hair that now curls down his back. The tail, thin and black as an adder, twitches behind him, and would surprise anyone but God. The wings, once a deep violet, are black as pitch yet translucent so that the sun whispers against them and rainbows form. Lucifer, you see, has discovered the art of story-telling.
God aches and history rolls into place, a tiger-eye marble. "It's just a story." His attempt to downplay this new and troubling creation doesn't work.
"It's...Wow." With a last desperate look, Lucifer stands. "I can be a creator, just like you. I can make things. Whatever I want." He's so excited, his words somersaulting from his mouth, and he quivers with his newfound power. His cock has grown: it's now thicker than God's and not unlike the horns on his head. He rips away the vines binding God's hands, then pushes him face-down over the pile of books, the old gentle touch lost.
"I'm still your Creator," God reminds him, as he plants his fingers in the grass beside the texts, his cock rubbing pleasantly against old leather. He won't stop Lucifer; time has started, and soon Lucifer will go down to the lava tunnels, leaving God alone.
"Creator. Hoarder. Father. Power. Mine. Will. Freedom," Lucifer says, wild with a surfeit of words. "I'm going to fuck you." He walks away for a moment and steals honey from the bees, then moves behind God, who feels a sticky finger circling his most private place. "I'm going to fuck you, God. I'm going to fuck you so hard. You're in my power now." Even now Lucifer is inventing his own truth and whispers it in God's ear as that honeyed finger is replaced by something even sweeter.
"Creation's a little more complicated than you think," God says quickly. There is a beautiful pressure as the blunt head of Lucifer's cock presses against him, not quite penetrating. "You can't just make it up as you go along. You need order. A plan. A theme." He remembers his loneliness before Lucifer came. "You might not see my plan, but it's there."
"Bullshit." Lucifer's fingers bruise God's hips as he pushes harder. "You're making it up as you go along."
"You're just not looking hard enough."
It's their first fight, and it's going to be a doozy.
"You're so damn arrogant." Lucifer thrusts hard, and his big cock slides deep into God. There is a long, quiet moment--the last ever--then peacocks scatter as a ram bellows and a waterfall cascades down a mountainside. "Why can't you just say it feels good? Why can't you just say that you love my cock up your ass? Why's it always these pansy-ass metaphors?"
Lucifer will never be humble again, and God sighs, partly from the fullness, partly because he'll hate to see him go. Besides, was Lucifer ever that humble? "Like you could do better." It pops out before he can stop himself.
"Once upon a time..." Lucifer is still finding his rhythm as he slams into God. "No, that sucks."
"I like it," God says between moans. "I like it a lot. Give me more." To match the deep thrusts, tunnels form far below the garden in a dark broken only by the orange glow of lava pits.
"In the beginning...You like that? Is that better?" His hands are hot on God's shoulders, his tongue hotter on the back of God's neck.
"It's not bad."
"No one appreciates my genius," Lucifer moans. He's an author now, and his ego is weak from constant addition and subtraction. In addition to inventing basic math, Lucifer becomes the gun that will blow off Hemingway's head, the oven that will gas Plath, the water that will swallow Woolf.
God feels guilty. "You're great. It's perfect. Really." Lucifer's wild thrusts have slowed, and God's getting a little frustrated. His body is sweat-slick and his heart is beating like--Above them, a cherub stretches a shed skin over a tortoise shell and taps with his fist. When he grows up, he'll become the lesser known Muse of Tawdry Similes. His nine sisters will boot him off Mount Helicon; eventually he'll accept a job writing for Hallmark.
"You really like it?" Lucifer slides his hand around God and frees his cock from the loving book. "No, you're just saying ithat." But he picks up the pace, rutting hard, and strokes a place inside God that's just so...
In quick succession, God invents cheesecake, Fridays, and the music of the spheres. "It's fanfuckingtastic," God says, forgetting Himself for a moment. "More."
"In the beginning..."
"Yes, right there. Just a little faster."
"Perfect." God loses it, shaking wildly, and things get a little weird. He just wants to say, "Oh, fuck, I'm coming, you hot stud. Fuck me and never, ever leave me," but as usual his message comes out coded. Take the mermaids who now sing cantatas from flat rocks on the shore. Mermaids live forever, unless a cute prince comes by, then they die for love. They'll excite bored sailors; inspire horny Pre-Raphaelites; and enrich Starbucks CEOs. They'll also give feminists something to talk about:
"Mermaids are a classic tool of male oppression. That's all men want: a pretty blonde with big tits who can't walk."
"You're crazy. They're a powerful female symbol of our mother, Aphrodite Marina, the goddess of the water..."
Which all means: God loves Lucifer, and will feel like, well, hell, when he leaves. See, God doesn't lose his train of thought, just puts it aside for a moment as Lucifer's cock and hand work magic on him. Oddly, he envies Lucifer, who's really getting off on this creating gig, unafraid and uncaring about things like consequence and order. Is that because his mother was Chaos, or is he just doing what God really wants, to create for pure pleasure? If only God could stop thinking and just let go.
"Come for me," Lucifer says, and goes back to his story, rocking harder and faster. "And the Spirit of God moved upon..."
It moves all right, in hot wet spurts into Lucifer's stroking hand as Lucifer pounds into him, filling him. God's so close to, too close to, no...
"Yes!" Lucifer shouts behind him, and his wings beat so hard that the clouds crash together.
Thunder sounds, then a soft rain falls while they come together. Synergy that lasts an age and creates a world outside the gate of Paradise: mountains rise, oceans form, animals breathe all in an elemental riot of color and sound in the bloody sudden thereness of birth. But that's not the end; it's the beginning, a terrible, wonderful, striking start to the world. Just one more thing has to happen.
With a final moan, Lucifer drops God's cock, which leaks onto the grass. One creamy puddle. Then a second. The birds stop singing as the earth roils then spits forth a startled man and woman, who both look remarkably like God.
"What's going on?" the man asks. His cock is hard, as he watches Lucifer finish, stroking the woman's back.
As Lucifer pulls out of God and stands there, flushed and smiling, the woman steps closer. "Is this a private party, or can anyone join?"
"Nice tits," Lucifer says. "And I'll get back to you on that."
God, who has finally caught his breath, rises shakily to his feet. He knows he should say something, be witty and subtextual like Lucifer, but all he can manage is, "Be fruitful and multiply. Oh yeah, and watch out for apples. There's knowledge at their core." All God means is that if they learn too much, they'll be unhappy for eternity and he'll be alone, but Lucifer doesn't understand.
"There you go again," Lucifer says. "Trying to control everyone. All you're doing is confusing them." He picks up the French romance with the apple on the cover and hands it to the pretty woman. "Read this. It'll show you how to write your own story, so you don't have to live with his. There's not enough sex, but it's got some good fight scenes." And with those words, Lucifer becomes an author. He creates a different story than the one God wanted, with more sex and more good fight scenes.
The woman took the book. "Thanks. I'll let you know what I think." About to leave, she paused, rubbing her womb. "Any Midol around? I've got killer cramps."
God sighs. "Go see Michael," and he points to the guardian of Paradise.
"Good. I'm ready to blow this pop stand," Adam said, and they headed toward the gate to freedom.
As the man and woman walked off together toward the gate, God wants to cry. He created them, and they're leaving him. His stories never work out, never lead to the happy endings he wants so badly. Maybe Lucifer's right; maybe he can't tell very good stories. And now he'd be alone forever. Lucifer is already plotting his next move; he really is a dynamic writer, and God is almost jealous of his abilities. Almost angry. "Thanks a lot," he says to Lucifer, who was walking idly along the earth's split lip. "Just look what you've done." And he pushes him.
Lucifer squawks and tumbles into the opening. He falls so suddenly and at such an awkward angle that he never regains his balance and crashlands beside an orange lava river. "You jerk! That hurt!" He shakes his fist at God. "You'll pay for that, you power-hungry bastard! Just wait and see!"
"Oh, give it a rest," God says, showing some of the backbone the Israelites will pick up on. "You're more cursed than cows." A dozen cattle raise their docile brown heads, seeming to wonder how they got dragged into this.
"What? You're not making any sense! You drive me crazy! Can't you ever talk straight?"
God peers over the edge and makes the world's first obscene gesture. "Eat me."
Lucifer stops pacing and stares up, licking his lips. "Come down here, and I will."
"Just for a little while." It's better than being alone.
It's afterward, when they lie together side by side, naked and sated, that the real trouble begins. God is sleepy from his outburst and from Lucifer's busy mouth, hands and cock, while Lucifer is still fired from the possibilities of creation.
"What are you going to do about them? The guy who looks like you, and the chick with the nice tits?"
"Nothing. They've already decided their fate." God's back in imperious mode. With that attitude, Lucifer has no problem convincing the world that God is a stately, white-haired old man and not a beautiful blond boy with slim hips and rosy nipples who always forgets to belt his robe.
Lucifer raises himself up on one elbow. "You know what your problem is? You have no sense of adventure."
"Oh, and I suppose you'd run the world differently if you were in charge."
"Hell, yeah! Your version is plain boring. I can picture it now: he does some work in the field, she gets knocked up, and pretty soon they can't stand to look at each other, but stay together for the kids. Where's the action? Where's the adventure?"
"I guess I could sex it up a little. Maybe give them a problem child." God's not weak; like the authors who will follow him, like Lucifer himself, he wants to tell a good story, and sometimes that means bending the rules.
"Now you're talking. We'll call him Cain, and he'll have a really bad attitude."
"You really think that'll be better?"
Lucifer gets to his knees and crawls between God's legs, bringing God's cock to his mouth. "It'll be great. You'll see."
When he starts to suck, God gives in. "I love you." He strokes the tip of one black wing.
"You know, since you liked that idea so much, how ‘bout I give you some more? Just so it doesn't get boring."
And God, who really does love Lucifer, listens to his suggestions. Some of them work great, like chocolate and Shakespeare, while others bomb:
"That Job is really getting on my nerves. Let's mess him up a little..."
"Those Frenchies are always lording it over the little guy. I've got this idea for an invention that'll take care of those arrogant cake-eating snots..."
"You'll love this one! I call it ‘the sit-com...'"
And so the future unfolds, a collaboration between God and Lucifer. Oh, it's not always happy. There are terrible fights and people die, millions of them, including God's son. God always insists it's all part of his plan, and Lucifer always makes fun of him. It's not a perfect relationship, but as Lucifer says one dark night in the late nineteenth-century, comforting God who'd foolishly peered at the work of a crazy German philosopher with an unspellable name, "We've got to stick together. Nobody else can stand us."
So it was, and so it shall always be.