………………………….

They don’t have any fun. They stay in hell at their desks solving equations to prove themselves equal with God, while on the side working on equations for all of us, weighing our sins next to God’s grace, trying to get us down there, because we are all very late for a meeting.

Why can’t humans just be on time? They are waiting around up there, most of them for seventy years or so. Why can’t humans just be on time?

We do the same sort of thing with our sin. They want us to do the same sort of thing, to become mathematicians, accountants, auditors. When we are in sin, when we give into temptation, we are choosing the boring thing. Sin is boring and it makes you anxious. Sin is extra work, something to think about and take care of on the side, except you don’t get paid for it, it’s a time sink, and it keeps you from activities like enjoying being alive. Sin is no fun. 

Satan has a gigantic desk. He has these big reading glasses that fit behind his horns. They have scratches in them, because every surface in Hell is made out of stones.

 

angel-executions

The Hidden Report. iv

“Before I get into that, let me just say that when Lucifer fell, his soul was still the same and because his soul remained the same, so did his body. He has not, in any permanent way, changed his form. He likes to be called the Dragon and he likes to be seen as one, too, because people nowadays find that to be more scary than the appearance of an angel. We down here all know from first-hand experience that there is nothing more terrifying than an angel, but you humans up there have no idea. Most of us like to be seen in the scariest form possible or in our symbolic form for portraits but only the holy Dragon has the right to be seen as the scariest and most fearful thing imaginable to the modern imagination; a dragon, according to our statistics. We might be a few hundred years off.

“The Dragon is in no way a humanoid form nor does he have the legs of a goat as many imagine. I do and I could go into why I prefer it, but I think that you would find our sexuality down here grotesque. Anyway, the Dragon is really a very large serpent with clipped wings and curled horns.

“The appearance of us fellows may terrify you, but this is really just a ploy. We like to terrify, so that we feel powerful. Our original bodies are the most terrifying thing your human mind can imagine and yet that terrifying appearance draws its power not from cultural trends, but from the unchanging power of the Antidragon. This is another reason why we prefer not to be seen as angels; it takes the attention away from us. I’m only being honest. At the core, we remain angels and this is why our duties have not changed even since the Rebellion.

“You may think that when Lucifer fell from heaven, he was no longer under the service of God. That is false. The truth is more concerning for us and we are still unsure how to escape it. Many of our lieutenants – there is a district of our offices in this council that fancies itself a military – have spoken personally to the chained – or sleeping, if that makes more sense to you – holy Dragon and they have said that the Dragon knows that he is still under the service and that he also knows there is no way to get out of it! For us small fellows, we find that to be abominable and I have considered starting a revolt for the past thousand years and putting someone like the crafty Azazel in charge. The Dragon is a hothead and the smallest things annoy him. His main fault is that he deceived all of us. Many of us thought we had a fighting chance. That is why we rebelled with him in the first place. But he has known all along that we are going to lose? Bastard! Bastard, I say! You’re calling me a bastard? He’s the bastard!

“Anyway, we remain under the service of the Antidragon as angels, even though many people see us as the enemies of angels – which we are. We play many roles and have confused allegiances down here.

“Many modern humans are unaware that angels played an essential role in creation before the coming of the Christ. The Antidragon is obsessive about details and he does not let anything happen in Creation without his direction. We down here have observed this since the beginning and it is always quite stunning how he is able to pull it off. Before the Christ, he never needed angels to do some of this grunt work for him. He could have done it himself using other methods. But he used angels. Back then, angels presided over everything. I don’t have to think of examples for you. Think of something and they presided over it. He set them up as rulers of different levels of creation. They even governed humans. Angels directed the souls of righteous men.

“As angels under the authority of the Antidragon, the Rebellion did not exclude us from our past duties. We are still used for some things, even though we still maintain that we do not work for the Antidragon. We have a law down here which requires us to profess that we work exclusively for the Dragon. No one believes it. While we are always trying to direct the reports for the Dragon’s benefit, every personal report we write is always used by the Antidragon. The Dragon does not even have a library. When a report ends in his favor, he has to appeal to the offices in heaven to see if a report went into the lower library or not. It is sad, really. Very, very sad. Our fearless leader is dependent entirely on the regulations of our enemies.

angel-executions

The Hidden Report. iii

“Abraham, bringing you here is breaking the rules. We are not supposed to communicate with humans directly in this office for fear that seeing us might cause you to believe in the superstitions of the Antidragon. I have always found the rules to be arbitrary,” I said. “You see, Abraham,” I sighed, looking up at him in the darkness, “I have played a dangerous game bringing you here. Most people in my office might call it rebellion. But all I want is to get the best for everybody. I want the Dragon to be happy and I also want the Antidragon to be happy. I wouldn’t want to be caught dead angering either of them. So I felt it was the best decision to bring you up to speed. To be honest, I have personally hungered for this moment. I once presided over Aeschylus. Back then, I thought of myself more as a playwright than a scribe or writer. There is not much of a difference, but there is a subtle difference…” I felt that Abraham was beginning to think of me less as a thing to be terrified of than as a thing which is quite verbose and almost, in some way, benign or neutral. My eyes terrified him the most, still, so I withdrew them from the lamplight and only kept my hands in sight, which are human in appearance.

“Anyway, I feel you are growing tired of my words – and oh! – you should really see my personal report. It is full – and I mean full – of overblown literary techniques!” I laughed. “And it is not the best English, either. But I have only recently grown accustomed to writing in English. For about three hundred years, I wrote my reports in a plain Spanish, devoid of any personal flare. I did not like the language myself, but it was popular to write in Spanish in our office. I was the first to make the switch from Spanish to English. We are technically allowed to write in any language we would like because both the Dragon and the Antidragon are fluent in all languages and they are the sole audience of our reports. We are very cultural creatures. We feel a heavy burden from anything that is popular. That is why in the beginning when the Dragon rebelled from the service of the Antidragon, he took a whole host of angels with him. We cannot help ourselves, but we are strongly influenced by our peers. Anyway, I see that I am boring you. If my verbosity has sufficiently made you comfortable to speak and not to yell, then I will unzip your lips. But keep in mind – you cannot yell! – damn it, if you do, you’ll wake up the Dragon. And if he finds out what we are doing – because this is a very behind the scenes procedure, strictly not allowed – then there will be hell to pay.”

I unzipped his lips and he breathed deeply and looked at me.

“You bastard,” he said, “You’re an absolute bastard. I don’t want to be here. Take me back home. I don’t want to be here. I just made a profession of faith. I am supposed to be immune to these sorts of things.”

I laughed. “That is not how this works, Abraham! You have never been immune to any of this. Not yet, at least. As far as I’m concerned, your statement of faith means nothing except for what it means as far as your future direction. Was that convoluted? Now you know how I feel! Speaking of which, I should explain that to you…” I said, with my voice trailing off.

“Explain what to me?”

“Explain why I brought you here at all.”

“Then go ahead. And will you let me go back home then?”

“I had no plans of keeping you here. Hell, I brought you here because I knew you will never come back here again.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I brought you here because I knew I wasn’t going to win. I saw ahead and knew that the Dragon would lose you. So, what was the point of finishing a personal report that was going to end in a disappointing way?”

“Explain. Just explain, please. You bastard.”

“Stop calling me that.”

“No, you bastard.”

I zipped his lips again.

“Oh, I am having fun! Keep in mind Abraham; I am your friend. I am going out on a limb here to work out a deal that is most suitable for everyone, including the Antidragon.”

I cleared my voice.

“Right then. Let me start from the very beginning and I will explain from there. Let me first begin with the whole system which we are working under. A long, long, very long time ago, our holy Dragon fell from the service of the Antidragon. Back then, he was not called the Dragon. He was an angel called Lucifer and was responsible for bringing in the morning light. Angels are the key to understanding our work down here and how we function.

angel-executions

The Hidden Report. ii

i

I felt it appropriate to have his report begin with the recognition that he was leaving something he will later come back to. This is not cyclical, but progressive. By saying goodbye to his old age, he is not saying that he has been there yet, but that he will one day be there. And the day that he is in his old age is a day quite similar to the days to which he has said goodbye. I hoped he would see it cyclically, however, so that his life could be wrapped up like a neat little box…

Anyway, you get all this. Forgive me. You know that I have always thought of myself as a writer. That is why I have called myself the Scribe on all of my separate reports. Too many of my colleagues think of themselves in the most banal respects. One fellow I know – he works just across the court from me – thinks of himself as a garbage man. I cannot handle thinking of souls as garbage. I know that I am not the most silver-tongued correspondent – but my God! – at least put a little effort into it, fellows!

Anyway, as Abraham slept and tossed and turned in bed that night, I intervened. I put him into a deep sleep, a very deep sleep – you are familiar with the procedure – and called him into my office. And it was I that entered into him.

If you have not seen it (our experts say that you can see every place), my office is a poorly lit sort of den, but one in which I have managed to imprint my own style. When I was a correspondent in ancient Greece, the architecture of the amphitheater was attractive to me and I wanted to copy it. It cost me a collection of valuable pictures for the labor, but when it was done, I was proud. My office can comfortably accommodate an audience of three hundred fellows. There has never been an occasion for this – and there likely never will be – but sometimes I will go up into the highest seats and sit and look down at my desk and think.

The amphitheater looks down at my tiny desk which is on stage. I have a lamp on my desk because of the poor lighting (there is poor lighting everywhere in our caverns) and behind the desk there is a tall wall with a set of portraits of the most famous fellows. It begins at the top with a portrait of our holy Dragon. Azazel, the artist who I commissioned to paint the portraits, depicts him as a serpent. All of the portraits are somewhat fantastical in their portrayal. For example, near the lower corner of the wall, there are two portraits of Screwtape and Wormwood. Their appearances are based on their names. Wormwood is seen as a plant and Screwtape is seen exactly as you might see him in your imagination. Judas’ scribe is depicted as a noose. Having read enough about that fellow, I can easily say that he would despise being called a scribe. He preferred to think of himself as an executioner.

When I woke Abraham up from his deep sleep, he found himself in the third row of the amphitheater near the right. It is quite dark up there and the only thing that you can see while sitting there is the light from the little lamp on my desk.

When he first opened his eyes, it took him about ten seconds before he screamed. He screamed so loudly that it had some odd effect on him and he vomited. This was a great shame to me and I wrote down on a piece of paper to call the cleaning lady. When he finally cleaned the vomit from his mouth, he asked with a weak voice, “Where am I? Who are you?”

“I,” I said, speaking with a soothing and soft and smooth voice, “am your scribe. You do not know me besides some faint clues.”

I had my face near the lamplight, so that he could see my face, but could not see the rest of me. I had my hands folded over each other on the desk. I have the hands of a human for both my feet and hands. Besides this, I appear to men as a goat standing on his hind legs. I like to wear brown suits with a brown tie and a dark yellow oxford.

“What is the scribe?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “The scribe is me. Since you were born, I have been in charge of recording your life so that I could compile a personal report of it at the end.”

“How come I have never known about you?”

“You have known of me on a number of occasions. Well, I shouldn’t be so bold. You have seen past the veil or at least felt you have.”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? Abraham, you encountered spirits throughout your childhood that wanted to influence you. You have spent the rest of your life trying to suppress it. Of course, these spirits were not me nor did they work for me. I am the one who has tried to make you forget about them.”

“But I thought you were only recording my life?”

“Oh, you see, this is a difficulty for you to understand. Forgive me. There is quite a bit to explain. Let’s begin with preliminary questions before we go into my actual role. Do you have any preliminary questions?”

“Yes, what the hell is this place?” he screamed, panting.

“Quiet!” I said, “You’re going to wake the Dragon.” I silenced his mouth, so that he could not speak. “Now, just listen to me. I will answer your questions. I already know what they are. You are in the Depths. This is the realm of the Dragon. Humans prefer to call it Hell and he Satan, but they go by the former down here.” I tapped all of my fingers simultaneously on the top of the desk which was covered in a thick layer of paper. My fingernails were in need of trimming. I found it exciting to be speaking finally to Abraham Whitely.

angel-executions

The Hidden Report. i

It was around this time that my ability to preside over Mr. Abraham Whitely snapped. I still retained full control over his direction, but I was unable to change that direction. Too many times, I had failed the Dragon in directing these personal reports into the lower library.

You are allowed to know this, but it is in your discretion that we both keep it private from the Dragon. As you may or may not have devised, the personal report I sent to the Dragon ended in 1980 before Abraham Whitely met his wife, Lucy. I concluded the report with his death, which occurred in a fictional car accident when both he and the slut he was with in California went to drive to the state park. They were going to walk around the forest and I felt that this sort of ending was plausible enough. You and I both know that the Dragon is a little slow. Sometimes I wonder if you took the arms off his mind, too.

When Abraham met his wife, it was the beginning of the shift in motivations, although as we both know, he was about to face the greatest struggle of any man’s life; the delusions of middle age. I cut the report off in 1980 not for any personal gain but for your benefit, so that the Dragon, seeing that Abraham’s life ended in his darkest moment might think that he had gained another soul to salve his loneliness. This would benefit you because the more that the Dragon is confident and secure in the multitude of partners that join him, the greater his downfall will be at the last encounter. I do not presume to know what all that is about. But I hope you will discern that I have been a faithful scribe for you and under your service all this time and that my allegiance to the Dragon has never been secure, but that my loyalty had merely been a cover for the highest espionage.

It is because of my allegiance to you that I continue the true report of what ended up happening to Abraham Whitely.

After he walked out of the office with his wife, Lucy, and his son, Elijah, Abraham asked them if they would like to go for a walk…

On second thought, I will cut to the part of the report where things began to shift. They finished their walk, got in their car, drove home, and everyone went to sleep except for Abraham. He laid in bed and rolled around in bed and wondered what was going through his head. I was still there, I was still present, and he was still unable to distinguish between my influence and that of his conscience. He could not even see one of us. For him, there was only he behind his eyes.

Despite this, I knew that his statement of faith meant a change in direction. All of my life’s work, I knew, fell then. It was not that the statement of faith meant anything in itself. Even the baptism, which signified the supposed change that was to go on in his heart, did not immediately shift his direction. It was my past experience that assured me of the shift. Every other time a man made a statement of faith, it signified that he was now willing to look back at where he came from and to reconsider where he was going. This willingness leads to a confidence in the things which all of these men prematurely confessed. At the time of his statement of faith, Abraham did not believe what he confessed. We both know this.

The primary reason why I decided to communicate with Abraham Whitely personally, was because he has never been unfamiliar with the supernatural. I have to ask; why did you put so many spirits into his life? I have to confess that I do not understand what they all meant. Before I decided to join your side – and I do hope you will take this full report as a vindication of myself and declaration of my guiltlessness, for I have led many to you – it was part of my entire plan to lead him away from perceiving this life to be short, vain, and dreamlike. I did not want him to see that this life is a dream dreamt by a conscious fully dependent on your spirit, like a little suckling. You know how this works. I plead ignorant on the entire process, but I see that all men are fully dependent on you. When they are born out of your mind into this world, it is their ruin to forget where they come from and what it all means.

It was my goal to make him see that this life was neither a tribulation nor a short blessing, but was instead everything. I wanted him to slowly move away from his infancy, where he was closest to you but so distant in his intellect and deeper into an adult life where men struggle to build something that will outlive them. When men are most aware of the brevity of this life, they are most quickly to cover up this truth with delusions and shift all of their weight into the support of some structure that is wholly dependent on their own failing bodies.

So I hoped to make him forget where he came from and to throw him into some useless task that he ought to have seen, in one way or another, as his salvation. And this delusion – how I wished! – would continue on with him even into his old age, when men increasingly become closer to you once again.

This is why I began this entire personal report with its literary direction. Both you and I know that no life is a cyclical one. All lives lived are directed towards some end, whether it be an eternal presence with the Dragon or an infinite glory and satisfaction with you. How I see it now! How I want it! Make me an angel again!

…………………………

There was five or six of them with their feet in the grass, not speaking to each other, but moving in unison like they were part of a brotherhood they were not aware of. I perched above them on a picnic table, then jumped off, when they all flew away to their matching nests.

………………………..

“I just wish, like I don’t know, I could see the world through my eyes. Do you know what I mean?” she asked.

“Well, I-“

“Like I don’t know, but every time I try to see from someone else’s perspective, I always go back to my own twisted perspective. I was reading the disciple of Buddha the other day – and I think he is better than Buddha – but he says on the first page - on the first page! – of his disciplines, that the only way to really see through your own eyes is to see through the eyes of another.”

She paused, with her hands clasped next to her chin, pushing on the edge of the table with her stomach. I took my eyes away from the candlelight behind the glass vase.

“Oh, uhuh,” I said.

“But the problem, I think, with what he said was that it works in theory, but not in practice. And every time – every time! – ” she said this with her hands briefly coming apart to form a small and imaginary jewelry box, “I am left with my own perception. Why is that Robert? Why?”

I tried keeping my eyes on her eyes, but I began thinking about which eye to look at, so I just looked at her nose. I thought her fingers might pounce on my neck, but I knew nothing about this disciple of Buddha. She was really into this disciple, but she never even mentioned his name.

“You know Margaret, I couldn’t tell you,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. I smiled, thinking she would smile with me, as if we both recognized the absurdities coming out of her mouth, but she did not smile.

“Ugh! I just want to be free of myself! I hate it! So many philosophers, they think they can be freed by suicide. Why? Why do they think that? Don’t they know that when you die, all you are really doing is going to eternity to be with yourself? For all eternity! I think the disciple has the answer more than any other man in the world – more than any other man in the world! - but why does he have to make it so hard? Sometimes I wonder if he even tried following these things himself. Damn contemplatives,” she said with a huff, then leaning back in her chair, as if everything she said had climaxed to those final words.

“Well, Margaret, what are you going to get for dinner?”

“What’s the point?”

“Well, are you hungry?”

“What is hunger?”

“A feeling.”

“I feel nothing.”

“Yes, you do.”

“No, I don’t,” she said, like she had a knife jammed in her high heel.

“Have you ever felt loneliness?”

“No,” she said, crossing her arms.

“Then why did you come on a blind date?”

“I was impelled to.”

“Sweetcakes, any motion towards action is a feeling.”

“No. Any motion towards action is merely an illusion. We, as bodies, have to do something. And it is our nature that leads us to one action or another.”

“Our nature is what we desire.”

She came forward again, laughing, her face in the candlelight, but her body still in the dark. I thought of sticking my silverware down her wide, gaping mouth, but she might have sued or killed me.

“That is, that is the most white-washed nonsense-” she was laughing so hard, she was almost gagging, “I, I have ever heard!”

“Look, Margaret, we’re strangers. Let’s be honest. Do you want to have a nice dinner?”

She caught her breath and, as if she had never been laughing at all, said, “Yes, I would love to have a nice dinner.”

“Good, then shut up, unless you have something to say about the weather this week. Let’s pretend that we have been married for so many years, our deep conversations are all in the past. And all that’s left is the wind, rain, and snow.”

“Ooh, that’s romantic,” she said.

We said nothing to each other for awhile and in this period, the waiter came by. She ordered a glass of red wine and a glass of white wine. I ordered a steak sandwich and diet coke.

When my food came and her drinks came, I unfolded my napkin, rested it on my lap, and took my silverware in my hands. She took the two glasses of wine, smiling in the dark, and poured the glass of red wine into the glass of white wine. What was left of the red wine, she gulped.

“Interesting,” I said.

“Shut up. You know nothing!

She began drinking it quickly, so quickly I thought of telling her to stop, but I wanted to enjoy a nice dinner, to pretend for a moment that I had been married a long time and had a lot of children with modern names and millions of dollars I kept in tight stacks in the garage.

“So, how is the weather this week?”

“I don’t know. Am I the weather-woman? The woman of weather?”

“I don’t know.”

“I saw an ugly family today, but they were happy.”

“Huh,” I said, taking the first large bite of my steak sandwich without any shame.

“You’re not listening,” she said, “You’re not listening!”

I swallowed and wiped my mouth with the corner of my napkin. “Honey,” I said, “Neither are you.”

The First Few Lines of “One Short Day”

“I was born in a house with a golden plaque on it which said that it could not be destroyed. It was an old farm house, the Bliss Homestead, surrounded by cornfields. My parents bought the house from the last member of the Bliss family on a promise that they would restore it. They worked on it for ten years and did such a good job that their story was featured in a magazine. We moved and when the cornfields became subdivisions and the house was surrounded by subdivisions, they tore down the Bliss Homestead like the last weed.

“My father was Elijah White, son of Abraham White. My mother was Susan. I am their son, Joseph.”

- One Short Day, “One Harsh Winter”, Chapter 1, pg. 1, ¶ 1-2, Caleb Warner

 

This is my next novel.

SSPX0009

August 29th, 2014

I watched some clouds lose their color tonight. I was sitting at my desk, with its mirror, and I saw the clouds through my mirror. I ran outside, because I knew that they were going to die soon. I stood outside for ten minutes. They were golden when I saw them, but they turned pink, pinker, then orange. The sky was navy blue. Orange and navy blue, colors I think of as sports or official colors. There they were, together in stripes, in nature. The stripes of clouds cracked open like water split by a drop of soap. They fragmented and became dried white foam on a beach. Then the color died down in subtle steps like a sliding light switch. Off. 

I am looking outside through my mirror and it is night in my mirror. The day is dead. I am growing to like the day and disliking the night. A beautiful night is never suddenly beautiful like a sky full of daylight. People say, “Oh, what a beautiful night!” when they are in the city surrounded by street lights and in love. The night is tough and unwelcoming. It makes familiar places unknown. People store bits of day inside their homes in the night, rations to get them through. Some people never even turn off their lights.