To work is to suffer; to be damned is to suffer.
To work is to be damned; to be damned is to work.
And such are the woes of the Prince of Darkness. As warden of, and dweller among, the Damned, his suffering is two-fold.
Like so many of us, the Prince of Darkness hates his job. But he has never been one to complain.
Or maybe just a little. But always privately. And always guiltily.
Bureaucratic minions. Dissatisfied peons. Always dissatisfied. The Damned hate waiting in lines. They have no patience for slip-ups. They are notoriously bad tippers. They fill comment cards with blasphemies and obscenities. Don't you know who I am, they roar, ineffectually and pathetically, remembering a time when they were powerful lawyers and CEOs and leaders of men.
Do not buy the old line: the Prince of Darkness is not heartless. But unflagging and dedicated service to ungrateful, selfish, and ill-tempered souls is enough to break the spirit of even the Prince of Darkness.
Even if he will never admit that he has been broken.
The Prince of Darkness does what he can. He tries. Oh, how he tries. To spread good cheer, he organizes sack races, badminton tournaments, and games of jarts. Maliciously, the Damned defecate in the sacks; they stomp on the birdies; with the jarts, the Damned perform unholy and unnatural acts. Doomed souls are infamously poor sports. They gamble; they fix; they bribe; they inject performance enhancement drugs. The Damned are in it for the money. When there's no money, they're in it for spite.
Spite is the only possible explanation.
The Prince of Darkness hosts potlocks, and his favorite potato salad is the only dish; the Damned mooch; the Damned complain that the potato salad needs more mustard. At the Devil's ball, the damned line the walls and slink from the punch bowl to the shadows. No one buys raffle tickets. The devil wins his dollar back by default.
At New Year's, the Prince of Darkness sends invitations, and no one RSVPs. At Christmas, he puts on a white beard (he has no need of a red suit) and distributes fire engines to doomed boys and girls. The children kick him in the shins and pull his tail. At Easter, the Prince of Darkness hides eggs that no one will search for. The Damned demand incentive up front. At Halloween, his is the only candy free of razor blades. His is the only house toilet-papered and egged.
Someone lesser would give up. Desist. Admit defeat.
It pains the Prince of Darkness to see the Damned so demonized, even if they deserve it. In the Underworld, depression abounds. To generate a sense of pride, to develop good role models for the Damned, the Prince of Darkness has begun accepting applications for sainthood. Sainthood among the Damned.
Of course, there have been complications:
Good deeds have been scarce.
The miracle requirement was dropped early on after allegations of fraud. Nine out of ten miracles were revealed to be the results of marked cards and tricks with mirrors; cons were uncovered; get- rich quick schemes folded; diet pills failed; hair loss wasn't restored; penises refused to enlarge; the stock market crashed; psychic friends proved unreliable.
The Damned grew bored; the Damned are always growing bored.
To give it popular appeal, the Prince of Darkness has lessened the official requirements for the attainment of Sainthood among the Damned. In the Underworld, candidates for Sainthood are allowed to nominate themselves. To achieve Sainthood, a candidate needs only one vote other than his own. From anyone. Anyone among the Damned.
To his dismay, the Prince of Darkness has discovered that there are no allegiances among the Damned. In the underworld, no one vouches for anyone else. There is no back scratching. No comradery. The damned detest good turns.
To date, Sainthood among the Damned has been a complete failure.
On the wall above the bed where he nightly rests his head, the Prince of Darkness has hung a plaque that reads: The roads in hell are also paved with good intentions.
The Prince of Darkness has been resting his head more and more of late. The bags beneath his eyes have been expanding. Smiles have been scarce.
Secretly, the Devil longs to be the first crowned Saint among the Damned. Saint Satan, he thinks, has a nice ring to it. He has completed the paperwork for his nomination.
He lies in bed, every night, wondering if anyone will second.
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