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80 Years Ago

Archives 12-27-2000

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com



Okay, I admit it's true. The devil tried to take my soul while I was reading a Harry Potter book.

I was turning a page in chapter seven, when poof!, he appeared out of a puff of smoke. The red skin. The pointed tail. The horns. The pitchfork. I immediately recognized him.

"Wow, man," I said, "what a groovy entrance." "I've come to take your soul back with me," he said.

"Why?" I asked.

"You're reading a Harry Potter book," he said.

"Your brain's not functioning properly, is it?" I replied.

He scratched his left horn. Maybe he has a rash, I thought. Probably from all that heat. "Why would you think that?" he asked.

"Poverty. Starvation. Violence. Crime. Greed. Hatred. Wars. Death. Destruction. Drugs. Addiction. Prisons overflowing. Millions living on the streets, sleeping in cardboard boxes, eating out of garbage cans. Armed troops murdering children for throwing rocks. A world gone insane and you're hassling me for reading a Harry Potter book. Get real," I said.

He scratched his right horn. The rash must be getting worse. "All those things are trivial," he said, "when compared to reading a Harry Potter book."

Maybe I should try a different approach, I thought, to get through his thick, red skull. He can't be a complete idiot even though it appears that way. "Do you know what goes on in the other place?" I asked.

"What other place?" he said.

Pointing upward, I said, "You know, the other place."

"Oh, that place," he said. "Yes, I keep a close eye on the competition."

"So, you know what goes on there," I said, "at all times."

"Yes, he said, "at all times since the beginning of time. I don't want them pulling any fast ones, like two admissions for the price of one. They tried that during the time of ancient Egypt. I put a halt to it quicker than you can say J. Edgar Hoover."

"You know J. Edgar?" I asked.

"Of course I know him," he said. "He's one of my residents. Plays five-card draw with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jimmy Hoffa when I'm not poking them with my pitchfork."

"Just like I thought, " I said. "They were in it together. But they're down in your place. I want to know about something up in that other place."

He scratched the back of one pointed ear then the other. The rash must be spreading quickly. "What do you want to know?" he asked.

"When I was a little kid," I said, "a milk truck squished my dog. I was wondering if he made it to the other place. Poochie was a good dog, a little mean maybe, but he never bit anyone who didn't mess with him first, except the milkman several times."

"Poochie's up there," he said, "playing a harp and howling in the heavenly choir. But you won't see him again. You're going with me."

"Darn," I said, "I've never seen a dog play a harp. Does he strum it with all his paws or just the front two?"

Before he could answer, the phone rang. I picked it up and said, "Bob speaking. If you're an ex-wife or the lawyer of one, leave a message at the beep. Beep."

The voice at the other end said, "Did you remember to eat the sandwich I made you for lunch? You know how grumpy you get when you miss a meal."

"Yes, Pinchy," I said, "I ate the sandwich. But you know I prefer the ham on the top and the cheese on the bottom."

"You should have turned it over," she said.

"Now you tell me," I said. "You should have left a note on the refrigerator reminding me to do that?

"I did," she said. "I'm stopping at the grocery store on the way home from work. You want me to get you anything?"

"I do," I said, "but you better not. I might be gone when you get home. Satan is here, trying to get my soul."

"Who's Satin? Pinchy said.

"Satan," I said, "not satin. Satin is smooth cloth. Satan is something entirely different."

"That's nice," Pinchy said. "You and your friend have a good time. Bye."

"That was Pinchy," I said.

"Yes," the devil said, "I know. A mansion is reserved for her in that place up there."

"It is," I said, "why is that?"

"For putting up with you, he said.

"Oh," I said.

"Time for us to go," he said, scratching his red elbows.

"You better put something on that," I said, "before it reaches the tip of your tail."

"Quit trying to change the subject," he said. "Let's go."

"I'm not going anywhere with you," I said. "You're not real. I didn't believe in you when I was little. I don't believe in you now. I'll never believe in you.

That hokey, superstitious nonsense might go over big in Third World countries like Haiti, where they sacrifice chickens under a full moon, but this is the modern world, where we have electricity and sanitary indoor plumbing and freedom of expression and universities of higher learning and doctors who treat patients with medicine, not voodoo chants.":

I hadn't planned to go into a tirade. But when I finished, the devil vanished as quickly as he appeared.

Was he ever really there? What do you think?



Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486

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