The things you are liable to read in the bible ain't necessarily so.
IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SO - Paul Robeson
And God looked upon what he had wrought, and said, to no-one in particular (for He was alone in the firmament, the Archangels being respectfully absent as they usually were when He was creating stuff), "This Bert and this Kylie don't strike Me as the brightest beasts in the field. If I wasn't omnipotent, I might be wondering by now whether I'd cocked up the software."
He was curious enough to watch a little longer, if only so that His creations could show Him what jolly spiffing creations they were. He didn't know exactly how they would do this, because although he was omniscient (as well as omnipotent), He had not yet created time and consequence. Things happened, or didn't happen, or happened and then didn't happen, in accordance with His whim, and His whim at the present (present in a non-time sense, naturally) was for the happening rather than either the non-happening or the unhappening.
He would, in the end, be right. It was unavoidable. Unless He wanted to be wrong, in which case He could go that way, but there was rarely a good reason for it.
He wandered, as was occasionally His wont, into the theological maze that was actually in itself Himself, but in another guise.
At just about that same time (which wasn't really a time but only God knew that), Bert was in high dudgeon with Kylie, and Kylie was, as usual, taking pleasure in provoking that dudgeon.
"Snakes", he pronounced, with the authority of someone who had resided in the Garden at least a couple of days longer than his tormentor, "don't talk. Language was a gift by God to me. As a mark of my intelligence. And later He gave it to you, in a more limited manner, so that I could tell you what I need from time to time. And don't I wish that he hadn't bothered? Because you waste language on prattle, woman. You should be silent, unless I have need of a song, or some polite discourse, or maybe a drink of juice."
"You're a pompous tosser", Kylie replied happily. "But anyway, it's up to you whether you listen. I'm only passing on the message. You want to ignore it? Ignore it. It's no skin off my snout."
"What I want", Bert advised sniffily, "is my rib back."
Kylie tossed her long brown hair nervously. The only thing that ever really bothered her in what was otherwise pretty much a life in paradise was the possibility that she might be turned back into a rib (she hadn't enjoyed being a rib at all - the other ribs had picked on her, because she was prettier than they were.) However, only God could do the rib thing, and she was always polite to God. Pissing off Bert, on the other hand, was a safe enough game, because he wasn't God. Even though on the surface he looked a bit the same, having no breasts, a big beard, a big lump in the throat and a dangly thing between his legs that looked like a fat red caterpillar, Bert was most definitely not God.
So she carried on with her ribbing. "Well, tough", she told her fellow garden dweller through a deliberate pout. "It's me now, and He's already told you you're not getting it back. Live with it. Or without it. Whatever."
"Ribs talking to snakes", Bert commented, in the pretence of an aside. "This is much too surreal for a simple biped like me."
"If you do as snakey suggests", Kylie proposed sourly, "and chomp upon the Apple of Knowledge, then you won't be a simple biped any more. You'll actually know a few things. Which would be a very welcome change."
"I know everything already", Bert stated haughtily. "Well, everything I need to know."
"Everything He wants you to know is what you know", she sniped back, then, looking around warily, added, "which, of course, is absolutely fine. Obviously. Why wouldn't it be? I'm not criticising God here. I want everybody to be clear on that."
Bert was baited. "I can too know things for myself", he argued. "I can know things just because I know them. And anyway, I always know more things than you."
"You didn't know about the Apple until I told you", she challenged.
"That's not knowledge", Bert replied sniffily. "That's fantasy. Anybody can make things up. Apple of Knowledge, eh? What about the Banana of Confidence? Or the Pomegranate of The Biggest Secrets That Ever Ever Were? See. It's not difficult."
"You're pathetic", Kylie judged reasonably. "And you're a coward, too. The only reason that you won't go near that Apple is because He hasn't told you to."
"And you", he responded with a quality of insight so unusual that it surprised even him, "are only going to go near it if I do. So that we both got into trouble at the same time. Oh, yeah. That's pretty brave."
Kylie flushed. "At least I'm prepared to consider the odd risk here and there", she sallied, more to keep her end up than with any conviction. "At least I have a curious mind. At least I'm my own person as well as His. At least..."
"Oh, enough with the at leasts", Bert interrupted in his best long-suffering tone. "I give up already. Just show me the sodding tree."
Kylie smiled the sly smile of the victor. "You're sure?", she finessed. "You don't think you need to ask Him first?"
Exhibiting the reckless and misplaced sense of impugned dignity the capacity for which God in all His invention allocated only to those of his creations with a penis, Bert declared, "I make my own decisions, woman, and I fear nothing."
Of course, the decision was actually Bert's first decision of any consequence, and he already knew, deep down, that it wasn't a very good one.
The fallen archangel slithered along a branch to watch Bert and Kylie approach. He slithered adeptly. slithering being something he was starting to do very well. This didn't surprise him, of course, because he was a quick learner. A facility which, amongst other things, had contributed to his downfall.
"Yesssssss", he said aloud, then fell silent for a moment until he had conceived a way to express his further thoughts in words that had no letter "s" in them. He settled on, "My plan is nearing fruition." Entirely "s" free, though a little tacky, this declaration not only summed his progress up quite nicely, it also contained a passable pun. Fruition, eh? Good one.
The targets of his scheming continued to argue as they walked. Well, no surprise there. Bert obviously wasn't keen on the Apple thing, but talking him into it, the snake was confident, would be a no brainer. In the not so humble opinion of the fallen archangel, Bert was one fork short of a trident. Gullible Bert would swallow the story, then he'd swallow the Apple. This was as certain as the fact that night, now that God had created night, followed day.
"You'll learn about your bitssssss, my friendsssss", the fallen archangel predicted gleefully (whilst simultaneously hating plurals), "and then you'll sssssstop arguing and find better entertainment. You'll forget about Him, and He'll throw you out. On your asssssesssss."
The fallen archangel realised that this was all plot exposition. Which he hated. So he stopped.
And God, having been The Word for a little while and conceding to Himself that He might have deliberately missed something, again looked down upon what He had wrought, and He saw that He had missed nothing. His creations were merely walking. Taking in the glorious sights He had gracefully chucked in for them. Arguing.
Well, no surprise there.
"Oh, crap", said the talking snake. "Him. Looking at all that He'sssss wrought again." And with that, the reptile scarpered, dropping from the tree and meandering quickly off into the long grass. As he covered ground, though, he reassured himself that there would be another time. In fact, he thought of saying this out loud and adding a maniacal laugh, but decided against it, preferring to experiment in understatement.
And God turned his attention momentarily to the apple tree which He had wrought, and saw the snake in the grass, and thought, "I see a snake in the grass", and in his omnipotence decided not to know how right He was in character description as well as species identification terms. He noted too that Bert and Kylie were rather near to the apple tree, and He decided to warn them away, but then He remembered that He had already warned them away. "Don't go under the apple tree", He had instructed, "with anyone else but me", thus delivering the warning and teaching them the concept of singing in one brief but inspiring message.
He had not of course delivered any such warning, but it suited Him to believe that He had, because it was part of His divine plan that He should. Confident therefore that His creations either would or would not approach the tree, He decided to put His omnipresence on hold and devote a little time to being The Rod and The Staff, not wanting The Word to have the chance to lord it over them.
"Which apple?", Bert asked, his arms impatiently folded. In truth, he wasn't impatient at all, because he rather enjoyed the rear view of Kylie's buttocks, which were so much shapelier than his. If he was entirely honest, he sometimes enjoyed the front view too, especially the lumps, although the need for her to have hair between her legs when there seemed nothing of importance to protect down there was something which defeated logical analysis.
Impatience, though, was clearly the correct note to strike. One-upmanship demanded it. He kept his arms appropriately locked across his chest whilst Kylie surveyed the tree. Top to bottom. Side to side. Bottom to top.
Finally, in a small voice, she admitted, "He didn't exactly say."
"He didn't exactly say", Bert mimicked. "And he's not exactly here to say anything now, is he? Is that because, perhaps, he never exactly existed? Because what he was, exactly, was either a figment of your imagination or some silly joke?"
"He was here", Kylie insisted petulantly. "And it doesn't matter whether he's still here or not. We'll eat all of the apples. We'll take a bite each out of every one."
"All of the apples", Bert scoffed. "We'll eat all of the apples, will we? Kylie, have you tried counting? Or haven't you learned how to do that yet?"
"We'll eat them it over a few days", she negotiated. "Not all at once."
"I think", he declared, "that we won't do it at all."
Kylie drew herself up to her full height, which on Bert was at about the level of his missing rib. "This is the man", she taunted, "who makes his own decisions and who fears nothing."