I expected The Devil to be in a much better mood after his beloved Duke Blue Devils won to advance to The Final Four.
However, he was in a doom and gloom kind of mood. “Have you ever thought about what happens after you die?” Lucifer asked as he picked up one of the last Hellfire Wings and just stared at it.
I shrugged, confused by his odd question. “I’d like to think I’m going to Heaven, where I’ll be reunited with loved ones and live out eternity learning how to play the harp.”
I hoped my somewhat silly answer would lift his spirits, which should’ve been on cloud nine after Duke’s big win.
“That’s probably true,” he concurred as he tossed the wing back onto the plate without having eaten it. Then he removed the Duke basketball jersey from over his expensive suit, and tossed it into the corner to hang on his pitchfork.
“Nice shot,” I said enthusiastically. “Maybe Coach K will give you a try out.
The Prince of Darkness looked like The Prince of Black Clouds as he just shot me a half smile and took a long sip of his Snapple.
This was crazy. Why the Hell was he so depressed?
“What is going on?” I asked. “Duke just won, but you’re acting like they lost. Why aren’t you rubbing it in my face that your team is in the Final Four while mine went down in a crushing defeat last night?”
Satan shrugged, slightly wrinkling the shoulders of his tailored suit. “I just got to thinking that you won’t always be around to watch games with me, and I’ve really come to enjoy your company.”
His comment sent a chill down my spine. “Do you know something I don’t?” I asked in a panic. “Am I going to die soon?”
The Devil looked at me strangely, then replayed his comment in his head and came to realize why I had been so freaked out by what he’d said.
“No, no! I didn’t mean it that way at all,” he assured me. “This weekend has been so much fun, and I have so few friends. In fact, you and the crew at The House on the Hill are my only real friends. I’m going to live forever, but some day, decades from now, you’re going to die. And since you are a good boy, St. Peter is going to allow you to pass through the Pearly Gates, and that will be the end of our friendship.”
Now it was all making sense. When I go to Heaven, The Devil can’t hang with me anymore, since his former employer has had him banned from the premises.
“That’s so far off, though, so why worry about it now?” I tried to console him with logic.
“When you live forever, a human lifespan seems to pass in the blink of an eye,” Lucifer responded and then drank more of his Snapple.
Oh man! He was really feeling like Hell, and I didn’t know what to do to buoy his spirits. “I wish there were some way for us to still see each other, but I really can’t spend eternity in Hell just so we can hangout. No offense, but you’ve created a really bad environment down there.”
That earned me a smile. Finally. “I really have, haven’t I?” The Prince of Darkness asked with a sparkle in his eye.
“Yeah, man,” I agreed. “It’s so wretched that I couldn’t possibly consider ever committing any sort of horrible sin out of fear of being condemned to eternity there.”
“Do you really mean that?” Satan asked as the smile grew on his handsome face.
“Of course, buddy,” I answered with an emphatic nod.
“You know, there is a way we could still see each other after you die,” he informed me as he picked up that Hellfire Wing and took a big bite out of it this time. “I might not be allowed up there, but you could sneak back down to Earth.”
I raised an eyebrow to that comment. “I didn’t realize St. Peter granted day passes, or that there was a way out of Heaven.”
“There’s a back stairway to Heaven that’s long been forgotten, so it’s never guarded, and you could use it any time,” The Devil told me excitedly.
“Why is there a back stairway to Heaven?” I asked and wondered why The Nuns had never mentioned it.
“It was used to get VIPs into Heaven while avoiding the crowds,” he replied. “The Angels also used it as a short cut to return to Earth when they needed to clean up a mess or do something without the Big Guy and his Son knowing about it.”
“I find it ironic that Lucifer is teaching me things about Heaven that I never learned in twelve years of Catholic school,” I remarked as I reached for a chicken wing.
“Those Nuns might be almost as scary as I am, but they’re not nearly as intelligent.”
The Prince of Darkness winked at me, and then whistled the Notre Dame Fight Song. I knew he was doing that to bust my chops, a sign that he’d snapped out of his funk.
Thank God the Devil was feeling Heavenly again because I didn’t know what the Hell to do to resurrect his spirits.