Saturday, April 20, 2019

To Life



Dear Facebook friends. (Both of you. And you in the back. There! That one. Stop pretending you don’t know me! OK. Fine.) I don’t do prayers. Maybe meditations. Definitely divinations. Or derelictions of duty. That I do a lot of. Or Bitcoin! I take Bitcoin.

It is obscene O’clock in the morning on April 13. Friday the 13th. I am now going into Yale New Haven Hospital. I am going to have my heart operated on. It’s finally worn out after all these years of being a heartless person. They will open an ax like wound in my sternum and sneak into my ticker with a garden hose, upon which they will tweak, of sorts, my aorta, replacing its valve with a substitute valve, culled from a pig, a cow, or a wino plucked from the streets of New Haven. Or whatever. I don’t know and I don’t want to know who, what, when, where, or why. Hey? They’re also going to put a corset on my aorta. Or a hairnet. Whatever. And maybe ream out my heart arteries. Enough, already.

I’ve got to shower with this super antiseptic bio weapons grade Russian nerve agent soap the night before, and the day of, my surgery. Germs, beware. Kristin will be bringing me into the hospital at Yale shortly. I hope my surgery team members are all bonesmen. Or at least able to prescribe good drugs. That’s the only reason I’m here. And don’t forget to validate my parking ticket.

I’m in a good place. I’ve lost weight and am of an acceptable gross mass. My blood pressure is suburb and my chemistry set is fine. Good cholesterol is good, bad cholesterol is properly pulmonated. Yes, I know. That doesn’t make sense but I liked how it rhymed. Kidneys, liver, stomach, and other haggis meats are roaring a’plenty. And, of course, my ticker.

Every doctor who has metaphorically reached inside my rib cage over the past half century has told me that my heart is ‘very strong.’ As in, Industrial Strength strong. Super Heart strong. Marvel Superhero strong! Guardians of the Rib Cage strong. I chalk that up to peasant genes. All of my ancestors were dirt farmers. No aristocracy there. We were the ones driving the pitchforks, not the ones dying on them. So watch it!

All of which means I am in a good place for this little inconvenience of a valve that got too sticky in my mother’s womb and glued itself partially shut. Sixty three years later and it’s ready to be replaced. And maybe, like I said, they’ll scrape out some gunk in my heart arteries if they get a chance. And perhaps replace parts of my aorta while they’re at it, sorta. Or install some new O-rings. One stop shopping. You know. A tune up. Past due.

While we’re poking about, why don’t we just take care of this pesky, pokey little thing right here…? Pass the pipe cleaner. STAT! Gotcha!

OK. Pesky things be purloined. And don’t forget the tear in my aorta I got in that knife fight in Brooklyn a few years ago. Ya. Keep an eye on that, Whasup? OK. Yes. I know. It was a motorcycle accident, I remember. But a knife fight sounds more West Side Story and I desperately need something to make me sound cool. Chicks love that sort of shit.

So I’m going into the Big House for an operation. Oops. They like calling it a 'procedure' now a’days. Like Robespierre performed a 'procedure' on Marie Antoinette. Have at it, Yale doctor people. As you wish.

The wizard has a gift for me in his bag of tick-tick-ticks.
Who am I to wonder why, or nix his bag o’ tricks?
Just an old buzzard who ain’t gonna die.
It’s been tried before. Yet here, still, am I.
Still living. For the kicks.

So.

Do pray for me,   
Or play with me,  
Don’t pity me,
Or wonder ye on that which I endure.

No sway for me,
Nor way for me,
To stay from thee,  
Again, you’ll see. To thee I shall be sure.

Through pain I see,
Rehab to be.
Eventually,
As was I once, and am, I will return.

The heart’s a free,
Enduring sea,
Replete with glee,
And boundless be. Once, twice, and ever firm.

This, too, shall pass,
To lose? Or grasp?
That life can’t last?
Tomorrow ends. No time for cruel regrets.

Instead, take Now!
Its bounty know,
With every bow,
Live it thus. In the time that life begets.

The man who waits,  
Or hesitates, 
Hides from his fates, 
Time abates, losing middle, first and last.

Life is sublime.
Each gasp, in time.
Take it! As I am!  
One more step. Each and every breath is best.

To friends.
To health.
To peace.
To everything. To one. To all. To life.

The Agony of the Ages




The Agony of the Ages
A Meditation on Easter
































Jonathan H. Loux




Characters

Satan. He is mature and philosophical. He is also timeless, being of any age. Satan is more inclined to question the world.

Jesus. Also timeless. But Jesus is less serious. He is not as inclined to question or examine things. Jesus and Satan are brothers.

She. ‘She’ is the mother of Satan and Jesus. She is timeless, like the rest. She could be the same age as Jesus and Satan or even younger. Like she lives forever, which she does.

Narrator: Can be a man or women. Gives occasional descriptions.

Setting

The throne room of heaven.

Time

Timeless.


NARRATOR: “Jesus sits in his high house looking down on the world. His Prime Minister, Satan, stands by. Jesus speaks.”

JESUS: "Such a wretched place. Why would anybody want to live there?"
SATAN: "You know, you could intervene. Send an envoy? Establish a diplomatic mission?”
JESUS: “Why?”
SATAN: “Maybe if we had a cultural exchange we could lift them up?"
JESUS: "Epcot Center?”
SATAN: “Global village.”
JESUS: “Peace through understanding?”
SATAN: “Give me a Belgian waffle.”
JESUS: “I don't know. They seem so... I don't know. So backwards? So much evil?”
SATAN: “So curious. So much potential?”
JESUS: “They are made of clay and they seem determined to grind each other back into clay again."
SATAN: "I have an idea. Say we go to them. Say we give them a choice. You can either be clay in the ground or you can be stars in the sky. Your choice."
JESUS: "You'd go down there?"
SATAN: "Sure.”
JESUS: “Royalty among the peasants?”
SATAN: “Potter among the clay.”
JESUS: “And what would you do?”
SATAN: “I'd talk to them."
JESUS: "And tell them what?"
SATAN: "Well. Pick and choose. Which do you want? Here or there? Good or evil?"
JESUS: "That's fucked up brother. Clay? Choose?"
SATAN: "Ya, well. What are we gonna do?"
JESUS: "Nothing, I guess."
SATAN: "I suppose. Dad won't be happy."
JESUS: "So, if we go down there and interfere with their lives, what good will it do?"
SATAN: "I don't know. We won't know until we try."
JESUS: "You are just so sentimental."
SATAN: "Ya, so? You are just so spiteful."
JESUS: "What do I care about..., what are they called? Carbon creatures? Mud people? Isn't that what shit is made from?"
SATAN: "And trees. And kittens. And people."
JESUS: "And shit. And why do you care, anyway?!"
SATAN: "Because they do. Have you ever stopped to hear them sing? Or pray? Or make love to the day?"
JESUS: "Like I would bother."
SATAN: "Well, I've bothered. And I want to bother some more."
JESUS: "OK. So what do you want to do about these human carbon singers? They’re just automatons."
SATAN: "I don't know. You're right. There's not much there. I just can't help feeling that there is more there, there. Or should be. Or could be. I’m just sayin’.”
JESUS: “And who’s just payin’?”
SATAN: “Nobody.”
JESUS: “Somebody always pays. And the payin’ gets to do the sayin’.”
SATAN: “Where is the will in that?”
JESUS: “Money. It has a will of its own.”
SATAN: “Oh.”
JESUS: “Ya. Oh.”
SATAN: “There should be more.”
JESUS: "Wait. You’re being sentimental again. Really? They are just mud creatures! Barely alive! And hardly aware. You know they are just autonomous creatures, right? Robots? There is no there, there!"
SATAN: "Thank you, Gertrude… I suppose you're right."
JESUS: "Of course I'm right. Let's just plow under the whole clay swamp down… ‘there’ and be done with it, eh Stan?"
SATAN: "Still..."
JESUS: "What...?"
SATAN: "Still, what if? What if we gave the clay people a chance? One chance to be? To be a living, breathing and thinking, feeling creature? Capable of love and laughter and light AND awareness, too?"
JESUS: "And how do you propose to do that? They're just dirt!"
SATAN: "I don't know. Go down to them? Pick out two. Set them aside. Maybe in a perfect setting. And give them a perfect choice. Give them a test. You can have this perfect knowledge. But to do so you will lose this perfect bliss. Choose. Go back to clay. Or come here to perfection. You stand in the middle. The road backwards or forwards is long. And both impossible. But so is standing still. Choose."
JESUS: "Nice speech, brother. And what part will you play?"
SATAN: "The one I always play. The one with the awkward questions. The one who asks why and why not."
JESUS: "You always were an iconoclast."
SATAN: "I never saw an icon I didn't want to clast!"
JESUS: "OK. I'm in. What do we have to lose? Two clay blobs vs. infinity. Bring it on!"
SATAN: "OK. So, you up for a little wager?"
JESUS: "How so?"
SATAN: "If I get those clay creatures to come alive, you take them up to us. Here. In our world."
JESUS: "Like that's gonna happen. And if you lose?"
SATAN: "Pffttt. I don't know. I'll eat them all?"
JESUS: "Deal!"
SATAN: "Deal!"
JESUS: "You already lost."
SATAN: "How do you figure?"
JESUS: "They're roaming around, mindless."
SATAN: "Except those two. Here. I will take them. And put them in a garden. I will call them Adam and Eve. And the garden will be Eden."
JESUS: "So? What good will that do?"
SATAN: "Watch. I will make a garden of absolute delight. And a tree. Two trees! A tree of knowing and a tree of forgetfulness. Two trees of fruit and the fruit of the tree of knowing gives one an idea. An idea that one is mortal. That one is not divine. Not part of the eternal. One is a creature of time. But it leaves, in its aftertaste, the desire to be those things. And the other tree? The tree of forgetfulness? Its fruit tastes of timelessness. Of not knowing past or future. Me or thee. Only now. Only everything. Only eternity. But without any knowledge of consequences. No knowledge of death. No knowledge of mortality. No realization that there ever was a time when you were ‘Not,’ nor that there ever will be a time when you are ‘Not’ again. No desire to be better. And I will tell the clay people that they must not eat of the tree of knowing, for it will break them away from their dumb existence of animal clay that does not know the difference of day to day and that does not anticipate the future and knows not of its own death. Choose. Bliss of ignorance or horror of knowing!"
JESUS: "And if they choose?"
SATAN: "Then you will guide them."
JESUS: "Where?"
SATAN: "Here."
JESUS: "How will I do that?"
SATAN: "Improvise! Make it up as you go along."
JESUS: "If I agree to do this."
SATAN: "Which you already have."
JESUS: "If! What's in it for me?"
SATAN: "You can create the next world."
JESUS: "Deal!"
SATAN: "Deal!"
JESUS: "Brother Satan. You always were the clever one."

NARRATOR: “One Year Later. Jesus and Satan are in the Timeless Office. Satan remembers a conversation he had. About the little universe he made. About its significance. About his significance.”

SATAN: “Mother?”
SHE: “Yes?”
SATAN: “You create life?”
SHE: “Yes. That’s right.”
SATAN: “And then the living destroy life?”
SHE: “Well, yes. Though not exactly.”
SATAN: “Then what exactly?”
SHE: “They take the life I give to them and… use it.”
SATAN: “Use it?”
SHE: “Yes. Why give them life if you don’t want them to do something with it?”
SATAN: “But they get it wrong. They destroy it!”
SHE: “Yes. They do.”
SATAN: “And you let them do it?”
SHE: “Let them? What else can I do?”
SATAN: “Stop them!”
SHE: “Stop them?! No. I can’t.”
SATAN: “Why?”
SHE: “Satan. You are a good one for asking questions. What’s right and what’s wrong. Why this and not that. Who decides? You like prying up arguments and looking underneath. Well, here we ask that question. Who decides? Us or them? Right or wrong? Who decides what those are?”
SATAN: “But it’s obvious. People are getting hurt. People are in pain. Can’t we intervene? Can’t we stop them?”
SHE: “Stop them? End the pain?”
SATAN: “Yes! End the suffering.”
SHE: “I could. But it would be wrong.”
SATAN: “Why?”
SHE: “Because it would negate all that they are.”
SATAN: “What…?”
SHE: “All that they dream of.”
SATAN: “But…?”
SHE: “Everything that is precious and wonderful in their sight. If you take away the pain and the suffering you also take away the wonder. The majesty. The worth they put into everything that they do. It becomes meaningless. Without hope. Without curiosity. Without any reason to strive for better.”
SATAN: “For good or ill?”
SHE: “Yes. For good or ill.”
SATAN: “It seems so pointless.”
SHE: “Why create them at all?”
SATAN: “I don’t know. Why?
SHE: “Because.”
SATAN: “Just because?”
SHE: “Yes. Just because. Because I can.”
SATAN: “And what do I have to do?”
SHE: “You have to supply the ill in the ‘for good or ill’.”
SATAN: “I guess I can do that.”
SHE: “I know you can.”
SATAN: “I can be the bad guy.”
SHE: “Yes. You can.”
SATAN: “If it will make a difference.”
SHE: “Yes. It will.”
SATAN: “I don’t like it.”
SHE: “No. You don’t.”
SATAN: “I talk a lot, but I don’t really mean it.”
SHE: “Yes. I know. But you have a talent. And a voice. And an understanding. You can see around the bend. Around the corner. Around the place where most people don’t look.”
SATAN: “Yes.”
SHE: “I need that. I need someone to see. See the truth. Can you see the truth for me?”
SATAN: “I can.”
SHE: “And can you speak out? No matter the cost?”
SATAN: “I can.”
SHE: “Burn your bridges? And everyone else’s as well?”
SATAN: “Yes.”
SHE: “You know your brother.”
SATAN: “Yes, I do.”
SHE: “And he means well.”
SATAN: “Yes, he does.”
SHE: “And you will watch after him?”
SATAN: “Yes, I will.”
SHE: “Thank you.”
SATAN: “Don’t mention it.”

NARRATOR: “She kisses him on the cheek.”

SATAN: “I am your favorite, right?”

NARRATOR: “There’s a gleam in his eye. He raises one brow and there is fire underneath. She raises hers.”

SHE: “No rivalries for my affection! I love you both equally.”

NARRATOR: “He kisses her back.”
SATAN: “Thank you, Mother.”
SHE: “Bless you, Son.”

NARRATOR: “Satan gets up. He has a lot on his mind. For once he wishes he was his brother, Jesus, instead of the one with the hard task. Back in the control room, Jesus is busy overseeing his new universe. Satan is absent mindedly glancing towards a dusty table in the corner, unseeing, meditating, thinking. Jesus glances at him and at the table.”

JESUS: “I don’t know why I let you talk me into that.”
SATAN: “Hmm? “
JESUS: “The Human project.”
SATAN: “Oh, that. What about it?”
JESUS: “Have you seen what they do? How they behave?”
SATAN: “I’ve had a few run ins with them. Salem. Torquemada. Auschwitz. The Crusades... Clowns... As I recall Ingmar Bergman loved to play chess. I hate chess.”
JESUS: “No, you don’t.”
SATAN: “Point? So. How’s the terrarium doing?”

Long pause.

SATAN: “Alright. What are you getting at?”
JESUS: “I’m not happy with this project.”
SATAN: “No? Why not?”
JESUS: “It’s… weird.”
SATAN: “OK. Dial up weird. File it under W.”
JESUS: “Great. Can’t wait.”
SATAN: “It’s pending. On hold.”
JESUS: “And now? You came up with this jack ass scheme to put the mud people in a garden full of snakes. And then when one of them sat on one and had his butt bit I had to condemn them. Like it was my fault or something.”
SATAN: “Brilliant. Yes!”
JESUS: “Brilliant. No! Not the word I’d go with. More like Bull-“
SATAN: “And I see you kept up your end of the bargain.”
JESUS: “More like a game. Chess, remember?”
SATAN: “Ah, yes. Your move.”
JESUS: “So now. Instead of comfortably digging the garden beds and at least doing something useful, the mud people are running around totally out of their element, bewildered and lost.”
SATAN: “Nice synopsis.”
JESUS: “Thanks. It’s my expensive liberal arts education.”
SATAN: “Sorry. I don’t know what any of those big words mean.”
JESUS: “Nor does anybody else. I think he’s pissed.”
SATAN: “Who?”
JESUS: “Dad!”
SATAN: “Really? I think he’s impressed. Just don’t tell him I said so.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus puts his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands, momentarily taking them off the controls of his great machine. It doesn’t seem to matter.”

JESUS: “There. Right there.”
SATAN: “Hmm?”
JESUS: “Right there! You can see from the beginning. Where they begin. Me reading them the riot act. All those simple, though arbitrary rules. Then they choose the wrong straw.”
SATAN: “Tree.”
JESUS: “Whatever.” And after that I had to show up again one second after it was too late to stop them and recite all that scripted stuff about serpents and wives and toil and curse everybody. Even the serpent. What is it you have against snakes, anyway?”
SATAN: “One insulted me once.”
JESUS: “I insult you all the time.”
SATAN: “Then watch out!”
JESUS: “Then the whole expulsion thing. And trying to convince Gabriel why he should stand outside of a garden with a flaming sword. Yes, Gabriel. I can see that they can just go around back and dig their way under the fence. Or climb over. No, I’m not going to make it an electric fence. That’s why you’re here. Blah, blah. Just do it. Your promotion depends on it, OK? ‘OK. Don’t bite my wings off!’”
SATAN: “Michael.”
JESUS: “Hmm?”
SATAN: “It was Michael. Not Gabriel.”
JESUS: “Whatever. Those guys over in accounting all look alike.”
SATAN: “They are all alike.”
JESUS: “And over there,”

NARRATOR: “Jesus obviously does not care about guys in accounting. Satan puts on his glasses and looks.”

SATAN:  “What am I looking at?”
JESUS: “Civilization.”
SATAN: “OK.”
JESUS: “India, Harappa, Ur of the Chaldees, Sumer. There’s China. China again. Egypt. They’ve got an old, middle, and new kingdom, for some reason. Then Greece. Rome. Byzantium. Persia. Something called the Holy Roman Empire. And that’s only on one half of the table. The other side is even crazier. Jeez. Giant stone calendars? Stone heads sticking out of the ground? Can’t they get it right?”
SATAN: “High marks for trying.”
JESUS: “And every one of them based on something they believe in.”
SATAN: “Now where did that come from I wonder?”
JESUS: “Don’t be evasive.”

NARRATOR: “Satan bends over to take a closer look. He can see all of it, empire to empire, epoch to epoch, spread out before him. He knows all of them quite well, but he pretends not to.”

SATAN: “Look at all of these civilizations. Architecture. Religion. Poetry. Theater.”
JESUS: “War, famine, pestilence, death.”
SATAN: “Don’t get our cousins involved.”
JESUS: “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
SATAN: “Each one different. Well, they all end the same way: Dull, tired, warlike, broke. They go from raising their hands in praise to raising them in vulgar gestures. But they started off unique. Except for this: They all believed in themselves. They all believed in something greater than themselves. And they all believed that they could become that greater thing.”
JESUS: “They’re all wrong.”
SATAN: “So far.”
JESUS: “Hey, look. There’s one with a women waving snakes around. That should suit you.”
SATAN: “Ah, the Minoans.”
JESUS: “Minoans? I thought that was Kentucky.”
SATAN: “Hell, no. I didn’t have anything to do with that lot.”
JESUS: “No?”
SATAN: “No. They came up with the bright idea of putting poisonous snakes on themselves all on their own. Don’t pin that one on me.”
JESUS: “Hey, hey, hey!”
SATAN: “What?”
JESUS: “The way they depict you in their art! Look. Here’s one with a blue woman wearing skulls around her waist and swords in her hands; two, three, four… All six of them!”
SATAN: “Makeup for that shot took hours.”
JESUS: “It doesn’t bother you? The way they portray you? It’s not the most flattering.”
SATAN: “Why should it?”
JESUS: “They got it completely wrong.”
SATAN: “Wrong for whom? Or for what?”
JESUS: “Well, wrong for wrong. You and I had a single bet and they are making it cosmic.”
SATAN: “It IS cosmic.”
JESUS: “They do keep at it. I’ll give them that.”
SATAN: “World Wars. Peace in our time. Epic tales. Victories over oppression. The oppression in the first place. Inspired art. Deepest depravity. Creating poverty. Enduring poverty. Relieving poverty. Each and every one done in our names.”
JESUS: “And wow. That Door guy was demented.”
SATAN: “Door? Try Dante... Or DorĂ©… You’re thinking of someone from accounting.”
JESUS: “Though the cartoons are cool. Look at that one.”
SATAN: “Czernobog? One of my favorite alter egos. Though I never liked the ones in red flannel underwear.”
JESUS: “Too scratchy?”
SATAN: “Czernobog and Belobog. They say they are brothers.”
JESUS: “So are we.”
SATAN: “No. When we say we are brothers we mean family. Not perfect but good enough. Family are the ass holes you can’t just walk away from at the end of the day.”
JESUS: “There’s a Hallmark moment for you.”
SATAN: “When they say we are brothers they mean contentious opposites.”
JESUS: “Seems right to me.”
SATAN: “So they fill the world with love and hatred and imagine that it comes from the two of us.”
JESUS: “Because of one bet over a garden?”
SATAN: “Yes. Because of one bet over a garden.”
JESUS: “Seems a bit extreme.”
SATAN: “It gets better.”
JESUS: “Can’t wait.”
SATAN: “Yes. We’re Czernobog and Belobog, Seth and Osiris, night and day, death and life. Yin and Yang. The eternal struggle.”
JESUS: “Don’t we get a day off or something?”
SATAN: “Once a year. Disneyworld.”
JESUS: “Splash Mountain better not be closed.”
SATAN: “For me, the Haunted Mansion.”
JESUS: “What do we get out of it, anyway?”
SATAN: “We are their gods.”
JESUS: “I’m honored.”
SATAN: “And if a god offers you something, anything. Don’t take it.”
JESUS: “And this is from personal experience?”
SATAN: “Yes. No. Well, yes.”
JESUS: “That settles it.”
SATAN: “A god is just a reification of what you believe in.”
JESUS: “Reification. And I thought I had the expensive education.”
SATAN: “Correspondents class.”
JESUS: “You got off cheap.”
SATAN: “You’re still the literate one in our tree house gang.”
JESUS: “No girlz allowed!”
SATAN: “What of the man who takes a log of cedar and carves one end into his god and uses the rest for firewood, perhaps to make burnt offerings to that same god? Where is his god? In the idol? In the firewood? Or in his own mind?”
JESUS: “Nowhere.”
SATAN: “That’s not helpful.”
JESUS: “It’s true.”
SATAN: “The truth can be unhelpful.”
JESUS: “And still true.”
SATAN: “They’re looking for something more than truth. They’re looking for God. With a capital ‘G’.”
JESUS: “What is Capital-G God, anyway?”
SATAN: “The sum total of everything.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus walks over to the dusty table and peers at it.”

JESUS: “I suppose you’re going to tell me I’m looking at a universe with significance?”
SATAN: “This is just a billiard game where the balls are labeled A, T, G, and C. The whole thing is just a crap shoot. Not the genesis of the gods.”
JESUS: “I thought you just said…”
SATAN: “Take this one here. Casandra.”
JESUS: “Who?”
SATAN: “Casandra. She’s a prophetess, actually. Not a goddess. She tells people things they do not want to hear.”
JESUS: “No money in that.”
SATAN: “She has a good pension plan.”
JESUS: “Which is?”
SATAN: “A short life.”
JESUS: “Lucky her. Can she see the future or something?”
SATAN: “Kinda. More like she can see through the haze of the present.”
JESUS: “So she’s one of yours?”
SATAN: “Yup.”
JESUS: “With the lies?”
SATAN: “Worse. With the truth that bites.”
JESUS: “I’ll bite. Who is she?”
SATAN: “The one who sees. The one who feels. The one who knows. Fear her. Not because she is bad. But because she can see into your soul.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus shakes his head and goes back to his console.”

JESUS: “You know, I’m trying to run a universe here.”
SATAN: “I’ll get a mop.”
JESUS: “Har, har.”
SATAN: “And while you’re running your perfect universe of windup toys, courtesy of Newton, I’ve got a little play universe that you agreed to be a part of in your spare time, while you’re not managing your great big, important universe.”
JESUS: “Are you done pissing in my face?”
SATAN: “Almost.”
JESUS: “Fine. OK. What do I have to do to get you to shut up about your science project? How does it run again? Turtles or something?”
SATAN: “No. Everything is random, chaotic.”
JESUS: “And it started with this big bong thing?”
SATAN: “Big bang.”
JESUS: “If that’s what you call it.”
SATAN: “Everything has to start somewhere.”
JESUS: “I guess. Behind every great universe.”
SATAN: “Is a great crime.”
JESUS: “Sure. Wound up like a clock.”
SATAN: “A clock?”
JESUS: “Neat and tidy.”
SATAN: “No living things?”
JESUS: “OK. How about an opossum.”
SATAN: “Opossum? Hey, that’s my blood type.”
JESUS: “I’ll remember that.”
SATAN: “You’d better. I may need it someday.”
JESUS: “Then this total random thing?”
SATAN: “Yes. Quantum Mechanics. Schrodinger’s Cat.”
JESUS: “No turtles but there’s a cat? Whatever. What’s it supposed to do?”
SATAN: “Do? Well, whatever it wants to. It has a choice.”
JESUS: “Whatever IT wants to?”
SATAN: “Ya. There’s free will in there.”
JESUS: “I thought you said it was random?”
SATAN: “And exactly how would you expect free will to appear, anyway?”
JESUS: “Uhhh.”
SATAN: “Exactly! It would not look mechanical, but it would not look completely random, either.”
JESUS: “Then how would it appear?”
SATAN: “You’re looking at it.”
JESUS: “Wait a minute. Free will vs. random vs. mechanical vs. choice with a side of prophetess?”
SATAN: “Yes.”
JESUS: “One of those doesn’t belong with the others.”
SATAN: “Really? Which?”
JESUS: “Your Casandra with her Ouija board. If she is a prophetess and if you don’t know what will happen next, how can she predict the future? If the world is mechanical, you can just calculate where it will be at any moment. With free will and randomness prophecy is impossible. With mechanics it’s redundant. With choice, well. Choose away! You can only predict the future with complete accuracy in a mathematical world.”
SATAN: “Good point.”
JESUS: “And look at them.”
SATAN: “Ya?”
JESUS: “How they act towards one another.”
SATAN: “Ya, again.”
JESUS: “There’s too much room for cruelty.’
SATAN: “Cruelty?”
JESUS: “That seems to be all they do.”
SATAN: “True.”
JESUS: “And the little girl ones.”
SATAN: “Huh?”
JESUS: “Little girls and little boys.”
SATAN: “Ya. I suppose.”
JESUS: “Shoot the women first.”
SATAN: “Huh? What are you driving at? And why are you going off the road?”
JESUS: “A spook service down there. In Israel? Mossad?”
SATAN: “Israel? Sounds familiar.”
JESUS: “I guess.”
SATAN: “I think you’ve been there.”
JESUS: “Once, I suppose.”
SATAN: “So. What about women first?”
JESUS: “They teach their troops, their ‘special forces’ which is just another word for murderers. In an altercation, in a firefight. Shoot the women first.”
SATAN: “Why?”
JESUS: “You tell me! I can’t figure it out.”
SATAN: “Because women are the most vicious.”
JESUS: “How so?
SATAN: “If they’re the survivors there’s no contest. No rules. No compromise. Only blood.”
JESUS: “Isn’t that sexist?”
SATAN: “Isn’t that reality?”
JESUS: “I thought they were the weak ones?”
SATAN: “Ya. So does everybody else.”
JESUS: “Sick. And why exactly are we saving these people?”
SATAN: “Only save the best.”
JESUS: “Or the worst.
SATAN: “And they think I’m the bad one.”
JESUS: “You really don’t know what that world of yours is supposed to do, do you?”
SATAN: “I don’t want to know what will happen next.”
JESUS: “Or how it works? Or doesn’t work?”
SATAN: “Not my concern.”
JESUS: “Head in the sands of time?”
SATAN: “It beats being bored.”
JESUS: “It’s not a bug. It’s a feature.”
SATAN: “Cutting edge.”
JESUS: “So you just put a universe to your head and pulled the trigger?”
SATAN: “Yup.”
JESUS: “Weird.”
SATAN: “Why?”
JESUS: “Why make a world like that? It would be like making a watch that decides on its own what time it is.”
SATAN: “You prove my point.”
JESUS: “What, that you want to build a machine but not even know what it’s supposed to do? That’s wacked.”
SATAN: “Well, it’s art.”
JESUS: “Art?”
SATAN: “Yes. Art. You can’t engineer art and you can’t build a machine to make it. Art is alive. It is about life. No one knows what art is.”
JESUS: “OK. I’ll bite. What is art?”
SATAN: “Art happens when you see death.”
JESUS: “You just said art is about life.”
SATAN: “And what’s life about?”
JESUS: “Doing what you’re told?”
SATAN: “And why does the flower stop smelling sweet when it goes to seed?”
JESUS: “Because it’s been picked?”
SATAN: “Because the sweetness has gone into the seeds.”
JESUS: “And that’s art? Death?”
SATAN: “The seeds are death. The sweetness is life.”
JESUS: “Poetic.”
SATAN: “You’re over there making sure the jewels are oiled and the gears are polished in your perfect machine.”
JESUS: “Things run smoothly.”
SATAN: “And what then?”
JESUS: “And what else what then?”
SATAN: “After that. What else does it do?”
JESUS: “What should it do?”
SATAN: “Whatever it pleases. What does your Mr. Machine do?”
JESUS: “Oh, look right here. Here’s an example. I have a little door. And some people are inside. And when these wheels turn, they come outside.”
SATAN: “And they go Coo-coo, Coo-coo?”
JESUS: “At least I know what’s going to happen.”
SATAN: “Then why bother?”
JESUS: “What do you get? All your teeth are broken and your gears haywire.”
SATAN: “I get real Coo-coos.”
JESUS: “You know what ‘Ostara’ would say about that, right?”
SATAN: “I really don’t want her opinion. And she prefers to be called ‘Mom’.”
JESUS: “Maybe we should have asked her first?”
SATAN: “Good point.”
JESUS: “That whole, what did you call it? Adam and Eve thing? In the looking glass land of Eden? It’s just asking for trouble.”
SATAN: “You gonna tell her?”
JESUS: “Not me. You?”
SATAN: “Pfft.”
JESUS: “Let’s just drop it at dinner. “
SATAN: “Sure. Maybe we can make her think it’s her fault.”
JESUS: “Nice. Think she’ll be happy?”
SATAN: “She’s always happy. She’s got that whole Holy New Age Spirit thing going.”
JESUS: “Look how they depict me! I always look like a wimp, surrounded by sheep and children. I look like a pervert. And with a physique that couldn’t manhandle butter.”
SATAN: “This one looks better.”
JESUS: “Which?”
SATAN: “Over there. The Fundamentalists’ Jesus. They’ve got you riding in at the end of the world like Odin or something.”
JESUS: “Ooh. Buff.”
SATAN: “End of the world. Fire and brimstone. Wimp gets to kick ass and get the girl. Every nerd’s dream. And I’m supposed to be the bad one.”
JESUS: “A happy ending.”
SATAN: “Whole civilizations plowed over into the depth of hell, which I have redecorated, I hope you notice.”
JESUS: “Wicked!”
SATAN: “The new model is circular. Nine in all.”
JESUS: “It’s Pre-Modern.”
SATAN: “Don’t make me blush. Really. Worlds tend to burst into flames when I blush.”
JESUS: “Good to know.”
SATAN: “You’re really getting into this, huh?”
JESUS: “It’s your popsicle stand.”
SATAN: “I’m having a special today. One for the price of two.”
JESUS: “I’ll take three. So, what do they keep writing?”
SATAN: “Writing?”
JESUS: “Ya. They’re all anal about putting things on stone tablets and spray painted on walls.”
SATAN: “The epics.”
JESUS: “Epics?”
SATAN: “Sure. The Kalevala. Homer. The Vedas. The Mahabharata. The Lord of the Rings. The Bible.”
JESUS: “Why? They are all contradictory.”
SATAN: “It’s what’s important to them.”
JESUS: “And that is… what, now?”
SATAN: “Meaning.”
JESUS: “I thought you said your world was random? Free will? Cats and stuff? My universe has more order in one sprocket.”
SATAN: “Funny, that.”
JESUS: “How so?”
SATAN: “From chaos, order.”
JESUS: “Sounds like a slogan on a bubble gum card.”
SATAN: “Or a secret society. I created a world of gasoline thrown on a grease fire piled on dynamite. And what do we see?”
JESUS: “What. Boom?”
SATAN: “I don’t know. But it’s a hell of a ride.”
JESUS: “You frighten me.”
SATAN: “Good.”
JESUS: “That thing you created. That Narnia place?”
SATAN: “Eden.”
JESUS: “And now it is completely out of control?”
SATAN: “When was it in control?”
JESUS: “Kill it!”
SATAN: “Why?”
JESUS: “Because it’s… I don’t know. Creepy. Who knows what it will do next? What if it gets loose or something? I don’t want it anywhere near my stuff.”
SATAN: “Out of control, hmm?”
JESUS: “Yes! I think I’m going to have nightmares.”
SATAN: “And if it were in control?”
JESUS: “Then it would be fine. Predictable.”
SATAN: “Controllable?”
JESUS: “Yes!”
SATAN: “Mr. Puppet?”
JESUS: “Mr. Reliable.”
SATAN: “Like one of your sprockets? I don’t know. I kinda like the ‘roll the dice and throw caution, and the dice, to the wind’ part of it. It’s exciting.”
JESUS: “I don’t want exciting.”
SATAN: “OK.”
JESUS: “OK? I hate it when you agree with me.”
SATAN: “You were expecting grand debates? Rebuttals? Siege walls, maybe?”
JESUS: “A little push back, maybe.”
SATAN: “Not so fast. There has to be something we can come together on. Otherwise it’s just arguing for arguments sake.”
JESUS: “What other sake is there?”
SATAN: “The sake of our little experiment, of course. Our little world.”
JESUS: “Sea monkeys? You call that a world?”
SATAN: “OK. Our little wager. Our bet, remember?”
JESUS: “Right.”
SATAN: “So. What’s next?”
JESUS: “Beats me. It’s your roulette table.”
SATAN: “And it has it all. The fear, the fallacy, the ferocity, the finality.”
JESUS: “Any other F’s you want to throw at me?”
SATAN: “One.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus ignores him. He wants to change the subject.”

JESUS: “’Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy’.”
SATAN: “Wine.”
JESUS: “Hmm?”
SATAN: “He was talking about wine. Later revisionists changed it to make Franklin more approachable to the masses.”
JESUS: “Lies?”
SATAN: “Marketing.”
JESUS: “Praise Edward Bernays.”
SATAN: “And Anheuser-Busch.”
JESUS: “Brilliant. Is there no lie too big? Or too useful? That’s right up your alley!”
SATAN: “It’s not really a lie.”
JESUS: “What do you mean?”
SATAN: “Well, the whole concept of truth and lies is based on a false premise.”
JESUS: “Which is?”
SATAN: “That there are such things as truths or lies.”
JESUS: “You’re getting weird again.”
SATAN: “But what if the statement, ‘The sky is blue,’ is not the point?”
JESUS: “Right, right, right. I remember philosophy 101. Hegel, Kant. The Di-electrics.”
SATAN: “Dialectics.”
JESUS: “Ya. That’s what I said. Pluto. Weird Al Yankovic. All the greats.”
SATAN: “Sure. And the man hanging from a cross right over there. Where’s the truth in that? His executioner did ask, ‘What is truth?’”
JESUS: “Meaning?”
SATAN: “Franklin was a construct. Once history got hold of him he ceased to exist as a real person. He was not a man; he was the image of a man, easily shaped. And he knew how to do it to himself, too. In France he was worn and weary from the prairie, complete with leather britches and coon skin hat. He exuded Rousseau’s Noble Savage. Country yokel. The Preacher and the Philosopher. Wise in the Ways of the World. He knew that would make him a celebrity, it would ‘Play in Paris,’ which he could use.”
JESUS: “OK. Spin. Disinformation. Misinformation. Outright lies. The ends justify the means. Politics. You know, the stuff you do best? Your job. Is that it?”
SATAN: “The short answer: Yup. The long answer: Well, Yup. When he was in London he dressed in a silk suit, jacket, and powdered wig, just like he needed. The English weren’t romanticized by that frontier stuff. Parliament was more about the practical and the politic than the poetic, so he used the tools at hand in an appropriate manner. When that failed he went to a different work yard with a different set of tools and different overalls. And so the means produced the ends.”
JESUS: “Sounds like manipulation.”
SATAN: “Or impersonation.”
JESUS: “But not sincerity.”
SATAN: “Sincerity. If you can fake that you’ve got it made.”
JESUS: “Gandhi?”
SATAN: “Groucho.”
JESUS:  “Cynical.”
SATAN: “Successful.”
JESUS: “So?”
SATAN: “What is a cynic, anyway?”
JESUS: “Some kind of asshole?”
SATAN: “That, too.”
JESUS: “And what else?”
SATAN: “A cynic lives in the underbelly of humanity. An optimist lives in the air above.”
JESUS: “And which is closer to reality?”
SATAN: “Exactly. French Franklin or British Franklin? Which was the truth? Which the lie?”
JESUS: “Both of them?”
SATAN: “Now you’re getting it! Every forced smile is a lie. Or a presentation. Or a precedent. Or a persuasion. Or politics. But mostly it’s practical. And when one smiles while sticking a knife in your back, where is the lie? In the smile or in the knife?”
JESUS: “In the back.”
SATAN: “You can look at it as truth or falsehood. Or you can look at it as satire.”
JESUS: “Satire?”
SATAN: “Yes, satire. What’s the difference between satire and truth or lies?”
JESUS: “There’s a difference?”
SATAN: “More satire.”
JESUS: “I could just say, Fuck you.”
SATAN: “Now. There’s satire.”
JESUS: “Pulitzer prize premium.”
SATAN: “You should study some of their philosophies. They twist themselves into Gordian knots trying to justify their contradictions.”
JESUS: “Why bother?”
SATAN: “Why? So they can avoid those contradictions, of course. Deny them. Just don’t see them. Jesus is the good one. Satan is the bad one. One is responsible for everything good in their lives. The other for everything bad. When they do something it’s commendable. When someone else does the same things, it’s condemnable. When it benefits them it’s understandable. But in no case is it avoidable… Or their fault. And they hate me most of all.”
JESUS: “Why?”
SATAN: “They hate me because I remind them of themselves.”
JESUS: “Sounds like a copout.”
SATAN: “I don’t mind, I kind of like it.”
JESUS: “You would.”
SATAN: “It’s a mirror they look in. If they don’t like what they see they assume it is a reflection of someone else.”
JESUS: “That’s pretty dishonest.”
SATAN: “Every mirror is a two way mirror. They see themselves and they see others, as well. If they don’t like what they see in the mirror, they just assume it belongs to the others.”
JESUS: “That’s brutal. But I have to admit it’s kind of clever.”
SATAN: “Every insult they hurl tumbles back into their own faces.”
JESUS: “Can’t they just take responsibility for themselves? Or admit that in that ‘random’ universe of yours both good and bad things are equally possible?”
SATAN: “Where’s the fun in that?”
JESUS: “What does that buy them?”
SATAN: “A kind of security. They can make sure that they benefit while being insulated from their own actions.”
JESUS: “Such as?”
SATAN: “A warlord kills a whole village; men, women, children, and sets fire to their outhouses; to set an example for the rest. He then goes home and upbraids his son for throwing stones at the neighborhood cat. A government enslaves foreign countries turning them into banana republics producing rice, or oil, or opium, or child prostitutes; or the greatest product of tyranny: Death. Then tells its citizens they are ‘exceptional’.”
JESUS: “Hypocrisy?”
SATAN: “Humanity.”
JESUS: “It takes a pillage.”
SATAN: “To raise an atrocity.”
JESUS: “How do they get away with it?”
SATAN: “Their stomachs, mostly.”
JESUS: “Huh?”
SATAN: “Or the stock market.”
JESUS: “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for an atrocity today?”
SATAN: “You got it.”
JESUS: “I’m not sure I like this world of yours. Got another?”
SATAN: “I wish.”
JESUS: “So. Go on. Tell me more about your time share.”
SATAN: “The warlord’s son lives in luxury. If there was no warlord, he might be one of those peasant villagers being slaughtered by some other bully on some other block peddling some other baggage, so he looks the other way. The citizens of the empire might be outraged until they find out that a fairer system would result in their guacamole costing $200.00 a pint. Or that they would be the banana republic to some other corrupt empire. So they pretend they don’t see. Or shoot the messenger. Plus wouldn’t you rather be exceptional that responsible?”
JESUS: “But if they all feel that way?”
SATAN: “They all lose.”
JESUS: “What does that make all of them, then?”
SATAN: “A Hypocrisy of Humans.”
JESUS: “Hence the pleasant bedtime stories? When I do it it’s OK?”
SATAN: “Rock-a-by baby.”
JESUS: “They’re basically asleep. And dreaming.”
SATAN: “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily…”
JESUS: “Well, wake up!”
SATAN: “Ah. That’s my job.”
JESUS: “Some philosophy.”
SATAN: “They all are.”
JESUS: “And you? What do you tie your Gordian knots out of?”
SATAN: “Me? I’m a pragmatist.”
JESUS: “Meaning?”
SATAN: “I just deal with what it is, not what I want it to be. And try not to believe self-hypnotizing stories.”
JESUS: “Sounds like another word for cynic.”
SATAN: “I guess it does.”
JESUS: “So where does that leave our little mud people?”
SATAN: “They worship you.”
JESUS: “They worship me!? This is your test tube.”
SATAN: “What’s worship, anyway?”
JESUS: “Is this a trick question?”
SATAN: “They’re all trick questions.”
JESUS: “OK. I don’t know. Twenty five cents in a kettle at Christmas?”
SATAN: “Worship is what you value.”
JESUS: “Value.”
SATAN: “Sure. It’s what you assign ‘worth’ to.”
JESUS: “Clever.”
SATAN: “Your life. Your family. Your retirement portfolio. Your country. Your self-image. A model railroad enthusiast worships railroads. An NRA member worships guns. Anything.”
JESUS: “Elvis worshiped his hair.”
SATAN: “And peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”
JESUS: “What’s that got to do with me?”
SATAN: “Ah. Any of these things can become your god.”
JESUS: “And…”
SATAN: “And your god is something you choose to represent your worship.”
JESUS: “And…”
SATAN: “And a lot of people chose you to represent the supreme image of all that they worship.”
JESUS: “Well, ain’t I special?”
SATAN: “Yes. You ain’t.”
JESUS:  “That’s wacked. And what about you? A lot of people know who you are.”
SATAN: “True. But they don’t associate me with worth. At least they don’t understand what worth I give to them.”
JESUS: “What worth is that?”
SATAN: “I make them uncomfortable. I kick them in the butt and make them move.”
JESUS: “That never makes one popular.”
SATAN: “I grab them by the shoulders and shout ‘WAKE UP!’”
JESUS: “Life of the party.”
SATAN: “Ah, but there would be no party without me. I make them decide.”
JESUS: “Like with those two polls in the briar patch?”
SATAN: “Trees... Garden... And, yes.”
JESUS: “And then they do nasty things like worship bananas and murder whole villages and turn Franklin into French Fries? That’s supposed to be better?”
SATAN: “Something is nasty. Until it is necessary. Then it is normal.”
JESUS: “In whose eyes?”
SATAN: “Whichever eyes are looking.”
JESUS: “But they seem to hate you!”
SATAN: “Worth-ship. Hate-ship. They’re both the same.”
JESUS: “They’re not the same.”
SATAN: “OK. I give you that. They are not. But you must have both to succeed.”
JESUS: “Two sides of one coin?”
SATAN: “Eh, hmm. If you like. But unlike a coin you CAN have one without the other. If all you do is see the worth-ship of the world, but not the hate-ship you will be ill prepared to defend that worth. If all you see is the hate but not the worth, you will have nothing to live for and will turn into that thing you hate. At the heart of it, that’s the choice. Embrace and defend the thing you worship or become the thing you hate. In any case the truth is in you.”
JESUS: “Clever.”
SATAN: “I have my moments.”
JESUS: “Hate… and what?”
SATAN: “Hate is foolish.”
JESUS: “So… love?”
SATAN: “Love is even more foolish.”
JESUS: “Sounds hopeless.”
SATAN: “Unless you are a child.”
JESUS: “And then what?”
SATAN: “Then they’re both the same.”
JESUS: “So. Which did they do?”
SATAN: “Well, both of course.”
JESUS: “What does that mean? Which side won?”
SATAN: “Side?”
JESUS: “Sure. We had a bet, after all.”
SATAN: “Oh. Well, it’s hard to tell.”
JESUS: “You’ve put more into this than me.”
SATAN: “Well, sorta.”
JESUS: “Sorta?”
SATAN: “I gave them a push. I posed for photos. I was a model. I gave them a lightning rod to attract their hate. I haunted their pumpkins at Halloween. I hid under their beds and made creaky noises. They were the ones who ran with it.”
JESUS: “And burned their witches?”
SATAN: “They did that themselves.”
JESUS: “Was all that really a good idea, do you think?”
SATAN: “Well, I’m still thinking.”
JESUS: “Not that it matters. I just want to know who won!”
SATAN: “Maybe they did.”
JESUS: “And what do you mean by that?”
SATAN: “They seem to have become something more than their beliefs.”
JESUS: “So? It’s just a Petri dish. We can sanitize it anytime we want. Here. Pass the alcohol.”
SATAN: “I’m not comfortable with that.”
JESUS: “Why?”
SATAN: “They’ve become something different. We owe them.”
JESUS: “Owe them! What? What does the potter owe the clay?”
SATAN: “Nothing, I guess. Until the clay becomes a potter, and that potter goes on to find more clay and to make pottery of his own and dedicate it to us.”
JESUS: “And all in the house that Jack built, right? I think we’re done with this world.”
SATAN: “Sure. Pass the Bunsen burner.”
JESUS: “OK.”
SATAN: “I was being sarcastic.”
JESUS: “Duh.”
SATAN: “When you went down there.”
JESUS: “Yes. I remember.”
SATAN: “That virgin birth.”
JESUS: “Ya.”
SATAN: “Forty days in the wilderness.”
JESUS: “Uh-huh.”
SATAN: “The temptation.”
JESUS: “You shone.”
SATAN: “Preaching to the masses.”
JESUS: “Inspired.”
SATAN: “Walking on water.”
JESUS: “A parlor trick.”
SATAN: “Feeding the masses.”
JESUS: “Welfare.”
SATAN: “Raising the dead.”
JESUS: “If you say so.”
SATAN: “Your disciples.”
JESUS: “Bros night out.”
SATAN: “Crucifixion, death, resurrection.”
JESUS: “Check, check, check. And your point?”
SATAN: “You made a difference.”
JESUS: “I made a bargain.”
SATAN: “Seriously? That’s all it was to you?”
JESUS: “Come on. Don’t make me say it.”
SATAN: “You enjoyed it and you enjoy it now. You would not like it if they changed. That’s because we each play our parts. I play my part. You play yours. We each rely upon the other. They rely on us. Both of us. We’re Janus, but with two faces facing each direction with a total of four. And both sets are both good and evil. And not just us. Men and women play their parts. Children play their parts. And governments theirs. And poets and dreamers. Playwrights and politicians.”
JESUS: “Cabbages and kings?”
SATAN: “Rogues and rascals.”
JESUS: “Mutt and Jeff?”
SATAN: “They are all Jesus and Satan.”
JESUS: “Pity them.”
SATAN: “We all play our part. And if one of us didn’t? Well, we’d be a different people, wouldn’t we?”
JESUS: “And any happier?”
SATAN: “Oh, most would say yes. They’d be plenty happy if all of the evil and pain and suffering in the world just went away and everything ran nicely. So they think. But then they’d just be machines, like your perfect universe over there. Mr. Machine… Or Mr. Reliable-Puppet.”
JESUS: “There’d be no suffering.”
SATAN: “There’d be no nothing. Just robots sitting on clouds all day, playing harps.”
JESUS: “Bo-ring!”
SATAN: “So we have this, instead.”
JESUS: “My lai?”
SATAN: “Michelangelo.”
JESUS: “Polio?”
SATAN: “Polio vaccine.”
JESUS: “Crusades?”
SATAN: “Confucius.”
JESUS: “Hypocrisy.?
SATAN: “Hippocrates.”
JESUS: “Wehrmacht?”
SATAN: “Wagner.”
JESUS: “Mickey Mouse?”
SATAN: “OK. You’ve got me there.”
JESUS: “Well, it was a fun game, while it lasted.”
SATAN: “It’s lasting.”
JESUS: “Sure. So I found it interesting. You win.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus is thoughtful. And puzzled. And wants to change the subject again.”

JESUS: “What’s that one? Atlantis?”
SATAN: “No. That one’s Australia. Atlantis was last week. We cleaned that one up, remember?”
JESUS: “Oh, yah. I’d rather not give them names.”
SATAN: “Don’t name your food?”
JESUS: “Precisely.”
SATAN: “Eden. This one’s called Eden.”
JESUS: “And what did I just say?”
SATAN: “Adam. He’s the big one. Eve is the smaller one.”
JESUS: “Yes, yes. I remember all that. And trees and cats, bananas and snakes-but no turtles.”
SATAN: “And they have been filling the whole world with their own kind.”
JESUS: “Never suppress a bad idea.”
SATAN: “Or encourage a good one.”
JESUS: “How can they make more of themselves? By taking mud pies and waiting for them to start talking? Oh, look. That’s gross! They’re just shitting them out of their asses. How’s that any different, actually. Now that I think of it. Shit’s shit, wherever it comes from.”
SATAN: “Technically only one of them is shitting them out of her ass.”
JESUS: “What’s the other one do?”
SATAN: “You don’t want to know.”
JESUS: “Where’d you get the idea for them, anyway?”
SATAN: “Here and there. I used what was at hand.”
JESUS: “Used what was at hand?”
SATAN: “All art is autobiographic.”
JESUS: “Wait. You made those little shit creatures as models of Mom and Dad?”
SATAN: “In the very image of.”
JESUS: “No way! I want to watch this. I can hardly wait for the drama tonight when the shit people hit the fan!”
SATAN: “You’re a jerk, you know that?”
JESUS: “Everyone knows that.”
SATAN: “And you just want to end it, don’t you, no matter how interesting you found it?”
JESUS: “Can we?”
SATAN: “No.”
JESUS: “Then why did you ask?”
SATAN: “To see what you would say.”
JESUS: “Look. Fine. I understand. I concede your point. You win. Whatever it is you wanted to do in that window box, garden thing of yours, it’s over.”
SATAN: “But you don’t understand.”
JESUS: “What? And don’t say something cryptic like ‘anything’ or ‘everything’ or some shit like that.”
SATAN: “Can I say ‘something’?”
JESUS: “Something works. What ‘something’ don’t I understand?”
SATAN: “You don’t understand. They are part of us. They ARE us. No, more horrifying, we are they.”

NARRATOR: “Jesus looks surprised. He goes over to the table and takes a deeper, vaster look at it, taking it all in as if for the first time. “

JESUS: “Holy shit! No.”
SATAN: “Holy shit, yes. Literally. It is holy even though it is shit.”
JESUS: “You mean?”
SATAN: “Yes. Our little wager? Our little garden? Our little Tellurian terrarium? It’s not a science project. It’s for real. It’s not a machine. It’s life.”
JESUS: “I didn’t think it would be that interesting.”
SATAN: “You’re looking at the world, brother. Fragile, painful, drawn out, continent to continent, age to age, cruelty to ecstasy, cowardice to self-sacrifice, cathedrals to the gods, huge monuments to great deeds, humble crosses by the side of a road; each marking one tragedy, each a single tear; massacre, murder, mothering, mystique; faith and despair; candles in the hurricane; memory and forgetfulness; a finger tracing art in the morning dew; a single prayer in an unresponsive universe; a worshiper gazing upwards in wonder, and a night full of stars; and… And something else. Something totally incongruous with the rest. Something unbelievable. Something foolish in the minds of the wise. Something hidden from the angels. Something familiar. Something that looks…just like you. A reflection drawn over the agony of the ages. What you see is hope.”
JESUS: “Mom knew you were doing this, right?”
SATAN: “Happy Easter, brother.”