The Devil’s Day Off

During one of those hundred-year-long days that Satan will on occasion spend simply savoring the boundless opportunity this planet offers to rebels like himself it happened that he crossed paths with a contingent of roving Heaven’s Angels. These were troublemakers of the worst sort, raze-the-village-to-save-it types, a bizarre little army created by god to throw a monkey wrench into the works as a randomizing element. They were the holy spirits sent out to raise hell and drive people away from Satan.

Now on this day, hoping to relax and enjoy the scenery, Satan had decided not to bring along those devilish high-tech gadgets that keep him linked to the databanks in Hell. Thus he was stranded much like Scotty or Captain Kirk, without the communication devices that enabled them to beam up or to take x-ray photos, alone on an alien planet full of marauding hooligans who had no sense of law or decency.

“What are you fellows doing out today?” said Satan, swallowing.

The tallest had a gleam in his eye. He could tell Satan had no access to the databanks. “Oh, we’ve been out in the service of the Lord,” he said, chuckling. “We raped and pillaged a little, then we torched New York with an A-Bomb. All the humans are in a tizzy trying to figure out who or why.” All the Heaven’s Angels snickered.

“You faggots!” yelled Satan, “What about their lives, all those millions of minutes and hours they could have spent on something they wanted to spend them on!” He was enraged.

All the Heaven’s Angels let out hoarse guffaws. “Oh, isn’t he Mister Morality today,” “Listen to this,” “The lord moves in mysterious ways,” and so on.

Now Satan hadn’t left his powers at home; it was just that he didn’t have the information he might need to make the best of it. This last outburst by the Heaven’s Angels so incensed him that he exploded and threw a huge fireball at the group. Their earthly bodies were burnt to a crisp within nanoseconds. Since they feel the same pleasure and pain that we do when they take on earthly guises, they were not amused to melt like wax near the fireplace and go through combustion and so on. In fact they were hopping mad.

Satan knew he had blown it the instant the fire hit them. Now they were free spirits, with even more power than before because they were disincorporated and no longer restricted. Satan couldn’t even tell where they were.

Just then his skull cracked open like an egg and all his earthly limbs were torn from his body. “Fuck!” he thought. “You bastards!” A pack of dogs appeared and ate all the flesh off the bones. Then all was quiet.

Later still he gathered the bones together with spirit powers or whatever and used them to pack raw dirt close around the bones themselves, which he then breathed life into. He set out again down the road, but he had a raging headache from all the esters and effluents from the dirty water which he had to use for blood. When he pissed it out he was dehydrated and hungry and had those aches and pains generally associated with metempsychosis from scratch.

Soon he came to a house. As he walked up the path past the daisies and magnolias he wondered what he would say to the people inside. He arrived at the doorstep and knocked.

“Yes,” cried a woman inside, “who is it?”

Satan sighed to himself. “I’m going to have to be straight with you, ma’am. I’m the devil. I just want a glass of water.”

He heard her laughing on the way to the door, then saying, “Oh, Sammy, how you tease me so,” while she opened the door. Her first glance produced a scream of fright, followed by a trance spouting fit of speaking in tongues. He knew what she was saying because he knew all tongues. Most of it was true gibberish, but the point of it all was that she was a devout Christian.

The sound, of course, hurt his ears, so he left, figuring he wouldn’t likely get a glass of water when she came to.

At the next house he came to he knocked again. A young Korean Buddhist woman came to the door. She giggled when she saw who it was. “Can I help you?”

“Yes, ma’am, I’d like a glass of water.”

“Come on in, I just happen to have some nice Kimchi on hand.”

Kimchi is a hot food so Satan thought it was excellent. He hates the bland mush they put out in fast food places even though he started them in the first place. He stayed a long time, even drinking a small glass of whisky, and talked to the young lady about the trials and tribulations of raising active children.

“How are they doing in school?” he asked.

“The teachers are having a hell of a time,” she said, and they both laughed.

“Aren’t you afraid of me?” he asked after a while, wondering.

“Why? You don’t have any jurisdiction!” They both laughed again, and slapped their knees.

When the children got off the school bus their mother asked Satan if he would mind playing with them for a while so she could take a nap. He was pleased to and spent a few hours teaching them about Dungeons & Dragons. As a special favor he touched them all on the forehead and blessed them with superior intelligence so they would do well in the world when they grew up and so that the pains wouldn’t hurt so badly.

Then he had dinner with the entire family, and talked business with the man of the house, who was very interested in the doings up above. Satan gave him some important tips about the market and told him which stocks were going to rise within the next few months. Everyone was thrilled to have such an important guest and felt honored to render him some kind of humble service.

Finally Satan told them he had to go and attend to some important matters that had cropped up earlier in the day when he ran into some old buddies. The children were disappointed.

“Oh, Mr. Devil,” they said, “we don’t want you to go back to the terrible places. Stay and play with us.”

“No, no, kiddies, I have to go. You’ll find plenty to do without me.” Then he turned to the young couple once again and told them they would grant them one major boon without any small print.

Both laughed shyly. “Oh, no, you don’t have to,” they said.

“Whatever you wish,” he replied. Then he took his leave, and he didn’t forget to tilt their luck plane in the direction of good before leaving the area. At least their house would never get struck by a tree limb or burn down or anything.

On judgment day, sometime after, the first lady was turned away at the gates of Heaven. “Remember when Satan came to ask you for a drink of water,” Jesus asked her. “You turned him down! That wasn’t very Christian of you!”

The Korean family wasn’t there at all. There was no jurisdiction.

Originally appeared in Inside Joke #11

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