by J. Bateman
The Devil's point of view while viewing God giving a press conference on TV
|God’s Press Conference Part 2: The Devil’s Game
“Hey, you here alone? A pretty lady such as yourself shouldn’t be forced to sit alby herself at a bar like this. What are you drinking, and would you mind if I buy the next one for you?”
He sat as his backless stool in the dimly-lit pub leaning attentively on his right elbow, his body turned to the left so that his remarkably sincere brown eyes locked onto her innocent stare. Admittedly, they equally appeared overdressed for such a casual dive. Her little black dress contrasted intensely against her pale white skin but complimented her long wavy blonde hair, pure complexion, and trusting blue eyes as she cast a coy grin his way, removing the umbrella from the fruity concoction recently received from the barman, whose primary duties more frequently involved whiskey and beer than the frozen fruit drink she had requested. He appeared out of place as well. His thick black hair, pulled back at the temple, was held together with an assortment of oils and gels. His pinstripe Versace suit was clearly tailored to fit, and his shoes and watch probably cost more than her car.
“It’s cute, the way you squint just a little when you smile. Yes, I’m alone. Just waiting for a friend.” Her nervous laughter died away through her soft painted red lips, lost in the noise from the jukebox competing with the small T.V. positioned behind the bar. “You don’t look like you fit in here, you know. What’s your name?”
“Oh, what’s in a name, really? You don’t know me, and I don’t know you either,” his sly voice proclaimed. “For the time being, just call me Damien.” Elevating his voice, he called out, “Barkeep! A glass of the Devil’s Nectar, if you will. Scotch. Top shelf. On the rocks. And make sure this exquisite creature’s glass is never empty.” From a wallet in his breast pocket he produced a black American Express card, the golden Trojan emblem gleaming in what little light eked through the smoky atmosphere. He placed it on the bar. He returned his sweet gaze to the lady and asked, “and what, my dear, may I have the pleasure of calling you?”
“Lauren. I’m Lauren.” She reached out a soft frail hand to shake his muscular tanned grip. “Thanks for the drink, Damien. You’re too sweet. But really, I’m not much for picking up guys in bars, you know.”
“Ha! So you name my ruse so abruptly! My, Lauren… is it really so terrible to serve your desires once in a while, rather than repress them? I’ve always said, a life not lived is a life lost. I like you, Lauren. You’re sweet. You have the smile and the voice of an angel, and I would know.”
Lauren felt her resolve breaking just a little as she took a strong pull at her drink, which now tasted comparably stronger than it did just a moment ago. “Flattery. I accept that. You sound like every serpent-tongued boy I dated in college. I think you’re a bad man, Damien. So tell me. How bad are you?”
“You have no idea.”
The ensuing silence was deafening. Neither spoke. Lauren unconsciously held her breath. The jukebox cut out. The silence was suddenly broken as the bartender turned up the television. Lauren and Damien turned quickly to see what everyone was so focused on.
“I couldn’t think of a more appropriate location to address the human species,” the figure on the television said from behind an ornate wooden podium. The text beneath him scrolled… “Breaking News: God speaks from Vatican City. Stay tuned after the press conference for CNN analysis with Rabbi Shmuley Getzberg, Christopher Hitchens, and Pastor Ted Haggard…” The voice continued. “My message today is long overdue…”
“What? This guy? Really?” Damien was fixated on the television. His demeanor rapidly changed from suave indifference to cool, calculated hatred. “I can tell you all now” he remarked to no one in particular, “don’t believe a word he says. He’s been mismanaging humanity since the dawn of creation. How much are you willing to bet he’s here to tell us none of it was his fault, that he had nothing to do with any of it? Just like Clinton telling the country that the intern didn’t blow him.”
Lauren was visibly taken aback by this sudden change, and she turned to face the television.
The man, identifying himself as God, went on, addressing the masses about his knowledge that the vast majority of creation either believed in him or didn’t, and that many have carried out acts in his name for better or for worse, and that many had strived to be inspirational to others or lived in silent acceptance. “My words today are not to be used to supplement the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Koran, the Torah, or any other existing holy relic, but to replace and eliminate them.”
Damien took a hard pull from his glass and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “What the FUCK??? A Do-over? Really? Let me ask you this. If the devil had asked for a do-over, disavowed everything that he had ever done that pissed God off, would you let him off the hook? What is this shit? Claiming that what he says now supersedes the books that he and his followers have killed to defend…. It’s PERJURY! God lied under oath, putting those books out there for the masses to follow only to say that he didn’t mean it!” He smoothed his tone for a moment and cleared his throat. “What ever happened to accountability? Everyone who does harm to another or acts selfishly ultimately has to acknowledge what they have done and pay for their actions, be it socially, financially, criminally, or eternally.”
All eyes and ears in the pub were fixed on the television, only acknowledging Damien’s outbursts as a brief annoyance, much like a baby crying on an airplane during the safety announcements.
“Just watch… I know how this man operates,” Damien continued. “Now he’s going to take it all back, say he didn’t do any of it. Just watch.”
“…I did not create man. I did not create the sea or land. I did not create the heavens. I did not allow for hell. I did not write nor did I participate in any of the aforementioned scripture directly or indirectly. I have never or will never taken sides in human conflict. I have never and will never reward noble deeds or punish wicked ones. I have never or will never participate in human suffering or it's devastation. I have never or will never provide assistance to the human race. I have never or will never cause or impose a natural disaster of any kind. I did not provide the meal that shall grace your lips. I do not give you the strength to overcome emotional hardship or physical disability. I have never spoken to any of you, though many have claimed to have had my attention. None of you, living or deceased, have ever had a single interaction with divinity physically or emotionally until now."
Damian fumed. Lauren became visibly uncomfortable. She cast him a hesitant smile and slid down one stool away from him.
“No, no… I’m sorry about that,” Damien offered. “It’s just… this guy really gets me. He really does. Think about it. He starts creation, leaves it alone, then later on comes back and starts setting up all these rules for people that go against everything they know and condemns the ones who don’t behave. The ones that say they’re sorry he forgives. Except for his own people. If an angel gets out of line, there’s no forgiveness, only condemnation. The man has all the power in the universe at his disposal, and this is the best system he can come up with? All powerful? All knowing? Omnipotent? Perfect in every way? And now he has the balls to stand in front of the world and deny all of it and to say ‘Fuck you, mankind… you’re on your own and you always have been.” His face was reddening. He was beginning to sweat. “I spent my whole career trying to point out this guy’s flaws. Here he is trying to take it all back. A cosmic, ‘oh, my bad, humanity. Peace out.’”
Damien ordered a round of shots for himself then downed them all in quick succession. “Keep them coming.”
“It’s not enough that he killed all those people,” he continued. “Then he killed his own son, for crying out loud. His own son! Who does that? And it was all pre-meditated how he set it up, after putting Abraham through the same thing like it was a practice run for what he planned to do later. And don’t get me started on the crusades, priest pedophilia, and slavery.” He turned 90 degrees in his seat to face Lauren face to face. “I at least TRIED with humans. They said what they wanted, and I gave it to them. Every desire. Every want. No prayer unanswered. No child left behind. You don’t hear me taking it back. Not one bit of it. I stand by my work. Yet here he is saying that none of it matters.”
God finished his closing remarks at the podium and stepped away, clearly not accepting questions. The talking heads at the news station began to summarize what had just been said and introduced their guests to comment.
Damien’s phone rang. He answered without saying a word and listened as the words filled his ear. “Ok, old friend. That’s it. I left them alone and they destroyed each other. I took the moral high ground, and they did the same. I took 2,000 years off and they made it worse. I guess you saw the press conference. They’re on their own now. I’m all-in, as you would say, and I’m walking away from the table, either will all the chips or nothing at all. If they still want to destroy one another, they’re all yours. I’m out.”
Damien placed the phone back in his pocket, composed himself, and shot his daring smile back in Lauren’s direction as though nothing had happened at all.
“Um, Damien… who ARE you?” Lauren clearly saw that this the typical homeless man ranting at the sky in the streats. He obviously meant what he said and had somehow done quite well for himself in life. “What are you talking about?”
“Nevermind, baby. Tell you what. I have a limo out back. Why don’t we go for a ride. Get out of this place. Talk about what YOU want for a while. I promise, I won’t bite. At least not until you tell me to.”