“Has anyone ever been sent to Hell in error?”I asked as I reached into the cooler for a fresh bottle of Snapple. “I imagine with billions of souls in play, an occasional clerical error must come up like in any bureaucracy.”
The Devil put down his newspaper, turned to me, and gave me an icy glare so frigid that it could only be melted by eternal Hell fire.
As always, my guest was well dressed in an impeccably tailored suit that cost more than a minor lottery jackpot.
“Such mistakes are never made,” Lucifer insisted. “And I’m not saying that because my staff is perfect. The thing is, unless someone signs a contract that trades me his eternal soul, I have no say as to who enters my kingdom. That decision is up to my former employer and his buddy St. Peter.”
Now he definitely had my attention. “But the rules are clear. If you lead a sinful life, you go to Hell.”
The Prince of Darkness let out a sinister laugh that made chills run down my spine.
“Those Nuns really did a number on you,” he chuckled. “Unless you are an obvious candidate like Hitler or Charles Manson, it actually takes some effort to spend eternity with me. That God of yours is all about forgiveness and redemption. He’d much prefer to open the Pearly Gates to a reclamation project than see that soul end up in my clutches.”
This was melting my brain. I chugged half my Snapple in an attempt to cool off my body and save my internal organs.
The disbelief had to be apparent in my voice because a bright smile quickly grew across Satan’s handsome face.
“All that mumbo jumbo they force fed you in Catholic school about obeying the Ten Commandments, turning the other cheek, and going to Church every Sunday was just a form of mind control,” The Devil explained with a chuckle. “It’s how the Church remains relevant and manipulates people into behaving.”
“I’m starting to think the Nuns were right about you and your lies,” I accused.
“Believe what you want, my friend, but why do you think I work so hard to entice people into giving up their souls?” Lucifer challenged. “If I was going to get all the sinners, I could sit around and do nothing all day. There would be no need for me to constantly be out on the road hustling up business. Hell, I’d be free to spend a lot more time here.”
Whoa. Now that was a concept around which I never wanted to wrap my big brain. Sunday visits were more than enough to hold me over. If anything, I’d be wanting visitation decreased.
“So maybe you should go public with this,” I suggested. “Tell the world that the Pearly Gates are open to virtually everyone, and see how people react. Maybe God and St. Peter will be forced to review their acceptance policy if the truth is revealed. Could lead to a sudden influx in new arrivals for you.”
“Do you really think the Big Guy and his goody two shoes sidekick would allow me to spread the word that Heaven is open to sinners just so long as the sins aren’t that bad?” The Prince of Darkness asked with a hint of anger in his voice. “They’d send a whole choir of Angels down here to silence me, and then have the Pope ramp up the Church’s message that only the good souls get to pass through the Pearly Gates.”
“After that, there would be a lengthy smear campaign against me, making it almost impossible for me to get anyone to trade me their souls,” he lamented and reached for a Snapple. “It’s much better for business for me keep my mouth shut and play along with God’s little charade.”
It was settled then. No one gets sent to Hell in error, and Heaven apparently has an acceptance policy more like a community college than Harvard…