Tuesday, September 21, 2004


After thirty years clean, Bill the program old-timer died, and because of a clerical error, he was sent to Hell. The Great Satan met him at the gate and said, “Bill, this is the world of hurt, terror, destruction, and endless pain.”

“Golly,” said the addict from Massachusetts as he hugged the Devil, “I can’t tell you how glad it makes me to meet someone new, and thanks for greeting me. It reminds me of my old home group back in Boston when I was the greeter. Those were wonderful times, and thank you for reminding me of them.”

Satan staggered back, grabbed his chief demon by the arm and said, “This one we have to crush. Put him on the rock pile.”

The demon put Bill to work on an enormous pile of granite boulders making little ones out of big ones with a twenty pound sledge hammer in intense heat and high humidity. At the end of the day the Devil went to see how the addict from Massachusetts was doing only to find Bill smiling and humming a happy tune as he pounded the rocks.

“Why are you smiling and humming?” the Devil asked Bill.

“Man, I’m psyched! This reminds me so much of when the recovering addicts in my beloved Boston home group got together to help clear some land out there in Gloucester, Massachusetts for a program weekend campout of fellowship, sharing, and beans. It was such a terrific time, and I’m really grateful to you for reminding me of it.” Then Bill hugged the Devil.

“Do not do that ever again,” commanded Satan pulling himself free from Bill’s hug. The Prince of Darkness turned to his demon, grabbed him by his shoulder, and said, “Turn up the heat and the humidity!”

The Devil left and the demon had all the condemned souls shovel coal on Hell’s fires until the walls glowed red, then he had more souls throw water on the rocks until the air was choking with blistering hot steam.

At the end of the next day, the Devil was stunned to find the addict from Massachusetts still swinging the sledge hammer, but now singing out loud a song of joy.

“I don’t understand,” said the Devil. “Why are you singing?”

The addict from Massachusetts wiped the perspiration from his brow, leaned on the hammer, and said, “You know how hot it is here? Well, it’s got nothing on that program campout in Gloucester. Now, that weekend was hot! This reminds me so much of that weekend, and I had such an incredibly good time, I can’t help being grateful for all the trouble you’re going to make me feel at home.”

The addict from Massachusetts reached out to hug the Devil, but was halted as the Evil One held up a clawed finger and said, “I told you not to do that.”

“Of course,” said Bill, “and I respect where you are.” He then went back to the rock pile, picked up the hammer, and continued smashing the boulders, his voice raised in song.

“Dude,” said the demon to Satan, “This not working.”

The Prince of Darkness grabbed the demon by the throat and said, “It’s the heat, you idiot! He thrives on heat. Make it cold. Suck every last little particle of warmth from my domain and cover it with ice.”

Upon being released, the demon put out all the fires of Hell, opened the windows, and turned on the liquid nitrogen spigots. The temperature dropped, the winds blew, and soon Hell was covered with ice.

At the end of the next day, smirking with confidence that the addict from Massachusetts would be miserable, the Devil went to the rock pile only to find Bill marching up and down the pile, dancing, singing even louder than he had before, and twirling the sledge hammer like a baton. The addict from Massachusetts saw the Devil, dropped the hammer, ran down the pile, and gave the Devil another great big hug along with a great big kiss.

“What are you doing?” screamed the Devil. “How can you possibly be happy now?”

“Are you nuts?” said Bill. “It’s a cold day in Hell! The Boston Red Sox must have taken the World Series!”

We do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.
—The Talmud


Eva Whitley said...

Here I came to say buck up, kids, Jack and I got through his angioplasty and you can get through this, you have my best wishes and all that stuff. And I read this and fall off my chair laughing.

Yep, you will get through this. Here's hoping for an uneventful, boring, and quick recovery.

Who would have ever thought we'd fall in love with boring?

Barry Longyear said...

Thanks. Haven't gotten to the boring part yet. Awaiting it with anticipation.

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