Stan by C Merry
Satan... "Stan" to his friends and constituents.. was depressed. He'd gotten himself elected Governor of an influential state, but it wasn't going as planned.
After months of doom and damnation and allusions to apocalyptic scripture and ancient imagery of Hell that no one was "getting", he finally just blurted out at a daily press conference:
"I am Satan!!.. I have come!! I am SORROW Death Degradation Hellfi-"
Someone interrupted him with a bored "So what!"
After that no one seemed to be listening.
He looked up his son later that day.. the Anti-Christ, who had recently moved to the suburbs of the state of Maryland. AC had not been doing very well. His letters home were always asking for money and trying to sound upbeat about the humiliation of humanity, but Stan could read between the lines.
He found AC in tears coming out of a limo in front of his Ranch Style house. Seems the reason AC left Capitol Hill back then was all the Senators and Congressmen were stealing his ideas and not giving him any credit. He took a job with a major Tobacco Company but his plans of getting young kids to smoke was laughed at as "Old Hat" and now he was facing a future of cartoon cigarette ad development, and the ten year olds in the focus groups were mean to him and swore all the time, were sometimes armed, and, well.. it was hard he said. Those kids could really hurt his feelings.
Stan saw AC off to bed, fed the cat, and left for a local tavern. He sat down and was surprised to see his old friend Papiyan , the Buddhist demon, slumped over the bar.
"You too?" They said at the same time and laughed sadly.
"The world has changed my friend." Stan said as his lite beer arrived.
"You know folks don't appreciate the classics anymore" Paps replied mournfully.
"ahhh Plagues.." he said with his eyes misty.
"They'll throw money at them," Stan said "and feel better about themselves.. have fundraiser dances.. walks... that kind of thing, then forget about it until the next dance, walk whatever- as long as they don't have it."
"Drought... pestilence.." Paps said with a dreamy tone.
Stan let out a little snort, "They throw Benefit concerts and have a good time."
"Go home humming." Paps added.
"No long term guilt," Stan continued, "no acknowledgement of their inferiority, faults, inherent weakness..."
"Rape... murder," Paps said with a tinge of hope.
"Well," Stan grunted, "you know that Ted Bundy fellow? Hugely famous, was fried awhile back? Not even a hello! Not mine! He came up with that act on his own.. no respect.. no credit..! He's not the only one."
"Well you should feel happy he's dead then?" Paps offered helpfully.
"Oh don't try to make me feel better.. he's the one they'll talk about not me.. not my hard work, my centuries of toil."
They drank for awhile.
"Oh can you clear something up for me." Paps asked, ordering another round.
Stan laughed, Paps laughed.
"Everybody asks about that one.. 'was it mine.. was it HIS'? Those were the days weren't they? Well that was HIS believe it or not."
"Yes!" Stan said dabbing lite foam from his lip, "Now that, was a sight! Such destruction. For a moment there I thought He finally saw things my way, but then, no.. that guy in the boat.. forget about it. Real preachy type- ended up being a huge bore. I tried to take credit of course, for some of it, but you know how He can brag and everyone around trying to suck up.."
"Even some of my people.. its pathetic." Paps murmured.
"They think all that real estate He's got Up There is going to be free.. WELL, they'll have to spend Eternity singing hymns and worse. After a few million years of forced adoration I guarantee you they'll be appreciating me, but by then it will be too late!"
"Too late." Paps murmured.
"Well, what can you do against someone like that?" Stan asked.
"You can only try.." Paps said patting Stan's shoulder.
They drank in silence for awhile.
Paps tried to brighten things up. "Soo how is your kid.. AC? My daughters ask about him all the time."
The look on Stan's face was answer enough.
"Sorry about that."
The bartender served two drinks they did not order and when questioned he pointed to a booth in back. A fresh faced young man in a nice suit waved and smiled at them- they waved and smiled back, then turned to the drinks.
"Who was that?" Paps asked.
"Murderer? Kidnapper? Oh I don't know, they all look like everybody else now.." Stan frowned.
"Well if he wants to spend his money fine!" Paps took a sip and he clinked Stan's glass
"the root of all evil eh?eh? Money?" he giggled.
Stan grinned.. "Yes they say that don't they.. but it's not!"
Paps was now gulping his drink but grunted in a way that indicated "oh really-no?"
"No..!" Stan said with some vigor. "The root of all evil is actually three things working together.." He paused for dramatic effect, but seeing that the brew was beginning to take a toll on Paps' attention span he hurried along.
"Its Boredom, Loneliness, and then, Love"
"Inter-reschting" Paps muttered.
"Yes- it always starts with 'what will little johnny do with himself?' And then he's lonely because there is nobody to do it with or to, whatever IT is that johnny wants to do! If he figures that out, he'll eventually find others to do IT with, and it doesn't always involve others, it can be a concept that makes him feel special.. and then the Love of the thing, the IT, they do together or to someone else, is more important than what is done. He has an interest, he finally "belongs", and he'll do whatever it takes to keep that good Lovin' feeling going on! What else is there to do on a round planet with a heavy gravitational pull? There is nowhere to go! Join a club.. call it religion, call it a career, call it a calling.. some work out well for me some don't... but that's your root, money's just icing."
"looove.." Paps mumbled.
Stan wondered if Paps had followed or even heard what he had just explained..
"Intreschting isn't it that they say 'God is Love'.. isn't it?" Paps drawled.
Stan got mad. "You know what really burns me up? Yes that LOVE thing.. 'in the name of love'.. HE gets credit for some of my best stuff- or at least stuff that should have been credited to ME- its like He's trying to get it all, selfish arrogant bastar.."
"You should complain!" Paps cut in.
They watched the news on cable roll the latest footage of bloody world events done in the name of "God", "Love", or something like it.
"I would complain.. but to who?" Stan paused.. "Its lonely at the top."
"Or the bottom!" Paps giggled. "Sorry.." he apologized after Stan looked hurt.
God walked in.
Several patrons began screaming and writhing.
"oh god.. speak of the-" Stan said in disgust.
"Hello boys." God said with a trifle too much patronizing forced cheer.
"Can you tone down the glory there Mr. G? This is a decent place." the bartender asked politely.
G obliged and sat at the bar next to Stan. The screaming ceased and the ensuing gloom calmed the rabble.
"Slumming?" Stan asked barely disguising his distaste.
"I came to see you actually."
Paps started giggling again.. it was obvious he had been at the bar too long.
G showed Stan the latest UFO/Astrologer/Conspiracy Theory rag, no other papers had run the story, and Stan's picture was on the cover with the quote "I am Satan!" above it.
"What are you trying to do?" G asked irritated. "I'm not ready for this yet. You know the timeline. I have several subdivisions of mansions that don't even have the roads paved with gold and the basic wiring in yet- the main cathedral on the blue concourse isn't done, the pearls are a mess.. some pink some black- I wanted all whi-"
"Don't put this pressure on me G." Stan interrupted, "If people are bothering You its Your Own fault. You know You keep confusing people.. they keep thinking they're going to be moving soon."
"No help from you." G ordered a Chivas on ice.
"HA! WW2 and Hitler weren't mine.." Stan spat. "Everybody thought something was definitely going to happen then, and now here we are, new century.. same old same old."
"Please, I saw you talking to Hitler." G said.
"Yeah and you know what he threw in my face? Your name! He ignored me- it was humiliating!"
"Well, I had nothing to do with him either." G sipped daintily.
"That's a real problem nowadays. Proper credit." Stan said.
Paps started giggling and shaking so hard he fell off his stool and didn't seem to notice he was on the floor. He curled up, closed his eyes, and began to snore.
Stan and G stared at him for a moment.
They turned back and continued to drink, and think.
"Seems to me," Stan spoke thoughtfully, "if I'm going to die in some fiery Armageddon anyway, I don't need to help You- at all."
"I'm just trying to be helpful to you in the time you have left. I'm not unfeeling. Don't forget, I made you.."
"BLAH BLAH BLAH" Stan blurted.
G ignored the outburst and continued.
"You start this End Of Days crap now and I guarantee you the longer I don't 'Come Again' the more it will get twisted around to Me, and worship of Me. They get scared, they blame themselves, they go to church and always manage to explain it all away- paranoia, fraud, then feel nothing. You'll do better to lie low and wait until the last few weeks or so when no one has time to consult their local pastor, priest what have you.. roll out some big horror, they'll acknowledge you..frankly I wish you would. Those added prayers really clog the airwaves and it distracts the angels."
Stan drained his mug and pulled some wrinkled bills out of his California Condor-skin wallet to pay his tab. He gestured to Paps on the floor smiling and gurgling, and covered his too.
"Stan, these people are doing fine on their own, you really don't have to make things difficult for yourself.. I hear AC is having some problems.." G's attempt at understanding was lost on Stan.
"I'm bored, I'm lonely, and I love what I do when I can do it.. and I'll take care of AC." Stan said.
G looked like He was going to stay awhile.
"Good luck tomorrow" He said sweetly ".. hear you're trying to abolish the death penalty in your state."
Stan smiled what he referred to as his 'evil' grin. "Well they're of no use to me dead now are they?"
He left the tavern. It was night, and the stars were twinkling. He pulled out a cigarette but couldn't find his lighter.
Stan wandered awhile until he was held up at knifepoint and that cheered him some.
Maybe tomorrow would be better.
(c)2002 Story and Art C Merry