Satan Versus The Surgeon General

Seth Chambers
 

© Copyright 2003 by Seth Chambers

 

Cartoon of Satan.

“I need a new image,” said Satan. “A brighter, cheerier image, one that will…”

“Inspire people?” piped in one of his advertising agents.

The Devil’s left claw impacted the little adman’s body with the force of a freight train, sending him sprawling against the far wall of the office. A moment later, the man erupted in flame.

“Yes,” said Satan to the burning, screaming mortal. “One that will inspire people. I appreciate your input, but object to the interruption. I consider interrupting somebody most rude. Don’t you agree?”

An alarm went off and sprinklers doused the office.

The remaining three admen-Randy, Ned and Jules-- gaped in horror at the writhing remains of their associate. Then they bolted for the door, only to find it locked and sealed shut. Now, they huddled together like baboons confronting a predator. Their clothes were drenched.

“And not answering a question is even more inconsiderate. Agreed?”

“Yes.” “Oh, yes.” “Absolutely,” came the replies.

Satan waved a claw and the smoldering mass of flesh disappeared, although the stench remained. He mused aloud more about his new image while the remaining mortals took turns vomiting into the wastebasket. The sprinklers shut off and the alarm stopped dead.

“… And on my first television commercial, I’d like to appear personally, but in a clean-cut human form. In casual clothes, or maybe a lab jacket, like one of those fake doctors, and I’d just talk…”

One of the admen tentatively raised one finger. The finger shook.

“Randy, you have some input?” asked the Lord of Darkness.

“Yes, s-s-s-sir…”

“You’re sounding like a snake. C’mon, out with it!”

“It’s just that the networks won’t let you do a commercial on television. Their reasoning is that if cigarette companies can’t advertise, then you can’t either.”

Satan roared.

The men dove for cover behind the potted hibiscus. Noxious smoke roiled and billowed about the office. Outside, it began to rain blood. Satan stomped about the office raging for about five minutes, although it seemed a much longer time to the drenched, scared-out-of-their-skins humans in the office with him. Then, quite suddenly, he stopped raging and asked, quite calmly, “What about magazines? Can I advertise there?”

Like three bobble-head dogs in the back of a Plymouth, the advertising agents nodded their heads.

“Yes.” “Oh, yes.” “Certainly.”

“However…” ventured Randy.

Satan cast a please-continue-or-be-damned look at Randy.

Randy went on: “You would have to place a disclaimer within any ad.”

“A disclaimer? What kind of disclaimer?”

“A Surgeon General’s warning, actually.”

“Hmmm. I see.”

Satan did not roar or rage or stomp, but merely asked if Randy might, by chance, have a visual of this warning.

He did, and he promptly brought it out of his briefcase, in which it had remained relatively intact despite the fire, smoke and sprinklers. With one shaking hand, he handed it to Satan’s outstretched claw. “Hmmm,” said Satan again. It read:

WARNING!
THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT
SPIRITUAL COMMERCE WITH UNHOLY BEINGS MIGHT BE
HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.
SAID COMMERCE MAY RESULT IN GUILT, ANXIETY,
DEPRESSION, LOSS OF APPETITE, SLEEPLESSNESS, LETHARGY,
AND ETERNAL DAMNATION
TORMENT.

“You know,” said Satan. “I kinda like it.”

Ned and Jules looked at each other and blinked. Randy said, “Yes, of course. It’s well known that we humans love danger. That whole subconscious death-wish thing.”

“I can provide all the danger and death they want,” mused the Devil. “Even if I can’t go on television.”

“Oh, but you can go on television,” said Randy.

A heavy vibration seemed to rumble through the office then as Satan looked hard at Randy. “But you told me, just a few minutes ago, that I could not.”

“With respect, sir, what I said is that you’re not allowed to advertise on TV. But there’s no law that says you can’t have, say, your own talk show, on which you can say and do whatever you want. And invite guests who will agree with everything you say.”

Again, Satan roared, but this time it was a roar of glee. He bounded about the office in exuberance, laughing. He threw out ideas, all of which the admen made careful note of.

“It’ll be a two-front war,” Satan explained. “Sleazy ads in the backs of slick magazines with that wonderful Surgeon General warning. Then I go on television, in human form, all clean-cut and wholesome. I’ve even got a down home, all-American name picked out. Tell me what you think of it.”

He told them the name.

“Love it.” “Pure genius.” “Fantastic.”

“Try it out!” Satan said, sounding for all the world like a kid on Christmas morning. “Go on, call me by my new name!”

“Um, okay, Mr. Robertson.”

“Pat will do just fine,” said the Devil.
 
 

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