Sympathy for the Devil

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I thought the devil was red and had a tail. I had braced myself for His appearance, His style, even His odor if need be. So what happens when I call Him? He shows up at my door in a three-piece suit, looking like a successful businessman. OK, I want to do business. That’ll work.

To tell the truth, I’m not a firm believer in the hereafter. I figure when you’re gone you’re gone. So even if He got my “soul” I wouldn’t know it, or care either. If I could get something from Him in exchange for it, ok, we’ll play let’s make a deal.

I found His website on the Internet. Everybody who is somebody has one these days, and as soon as I’m somebody I intend to create my own and tell the world about it. Anyhow, what I want to be is a top-notch, overpaid weatherman. The devil can arrange that, even if the weather he’s most familiar with is hot and steamy. So I sent Him an email with my address on it and a suggested date and time to get together. He took me up on it. He was even ten minutes early, saying something about business being slow right now, with no airplane crashes lately, no explosions, not even a flu epidemic. He had time to listen.

I thought I heard Him snicker when I told Him what I wanted. Hey, what’s wrong with being a weatherman? Or a weatherlady? There’s a real sexy one on Channel two! Now, if I was a peer of hers, maybe I could get into. . .Ah, no, I’m not going to ask for that too. I can arrange it myself, once I’m successful.

So anyhow I invited him in and suggested he take off his coat and tie and be comfortable. I offered him a drink, and he wanted ice water. Lots of it. I snuck a look when his coat came off, but could see no sign of a tail, or horns either for that matter. Where do they come up with his supposed image? Or do I have an imposter here? Nah, nobody’d try that. They’d be afraid it’d get them a warm spot in his warehouse. right?

So, still suppressing that snicker, he said “Yah, I can do that. And I’m in no hurry, enjoy your new career. I would advise you to spend all that money you’ll be making though. You can’t take it with you. It would burn up if you did anyway.”

Now I’m snickering. I never believed that Hell crap, but I’ll play dumb here. “Tell me about Hell, partner. What’s it really like? And is it really down under the ground?”

“It’s too soon to be worrying about that now. You’ve got a long career ahead of you. Don’t – ah – sweat it just yet.”

“Alright, alright.” I thought the idea of Hell was ridiculous anyway. “When can I become the new me?”

He took an envelope from his attache case and extracted from it a sheaf of papers. “This is your scolarship to State University. Get ready, classes start next month and you have already been accepted. When you’ve completed your courses call me back. I can get you a job anywhere. I’ve got connections, you know.”

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. The devil had me figured out, that’s for sure. But it works both ways. I’ve got his number. This afterlife is a bunch of hooey, at least for us mortals.

Four years at State U and two of post-graduate study – I got straight A’s. I called him back. Once again He came to my door. I could have sworn He was wearing the same suit.

“I’ve got your job lined up already,” He announced. “You start for me tomorrow.”

“What?” This was incredulous!.” The deal was I work for a television channel!”

“I said I could get you a job anywhere, not that I would. Say I reneged if you want to, I don’t care. But you will come down and start tomorrow, now that you’re a trained weatherman. You see, I need you. I have a lot of people. I’ve got salesman and gamblers, doctors and CEOs to glory. I’ve got lawyers. Oh, do I have lawyers. But not a single meteorologist. They’re all a bunch of goody-goody-two-shoes types. But I have one now, bought and paid for. Like I said, you start in the morning. I’ve already set up the tools you’ll need. Except a rain guage. You won’t need that.”

Originally posted 12/09/2003

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