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A True Friend

A man and his dog were walking along a road.  The man was
enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that
he was dead.  He remembered dying, and that his faithful dog
had been dead for many years.
He wondered where the road was leading them.  After a while,
they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.

It looked like fine marble.  At the top of a long hill, it
was broken only by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.  When he was
standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch
made from mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate
was made of pure gold.  He and the dog walked toward the gate,
and, as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, "Excuse me, where are we?"

"This is heaven, sir," the man answered.  "Wow!  Would you
happen to have some water?  We have traveled far," the man
said.  "Of course, sir.  Come right in, and I'll have some
ice water brought right up."  The man gestured, and the gate
began to open.  "Can my friend," gesturing toward his dog,
"come in, too?" the traveler asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets."  The man thought
a moment, remembering all the years this dog remained loyal
to him, and then turned back toward the road and continued
the way he had been going.  After another long walk, he came
to a plain dirt road which led through a farm gate that
looked as if it had never been closed.  There was no fence.  As he
approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against
a tree and reading a book.

"Excuse me!" he called to the reader.  "Do you have any
water?  We have traveled far."
"Yes, sure, there's a pump over there."  The man pointed to
a place that couldn't be seen from outside the gate.  "Come on
in and help yourself."
"How about my friend here?" the traveler gestured to his
dog.
"There should be a bowl by the pump; he is welcome to share."
They went through the gate and, sure enough, there was an
old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.  The traveler
filled the bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave
some to the dog.  When they were full, he and the dog walked back
toward the man, who was standing by the tree waiting for them.

"What do you call this place?" the traveler asked.  "This is
Heaven," was the answer.  "Well, that's confusing," the
traveler said.  "The man down the road said that was Heaven, too."
"Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly
gates?"
"Yes, that's the place!"
"Nope, that's hell."
"Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like
that?"
"No.  We're just happy that they screen out the folks who'd
leave their best friends behind in exchange for material things."
"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and
can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

___________________________________________________

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