Avoiding the Lake of Fire

Demons and ghosts

This is the house of sloth. Nothing much goes on here except a whole lot of drinking and thinking. 

The lowly bungalow is small but large with demons and ghosts. They are real. There’s no room for fantasy here, no room for fairy tales. Our Father who art in heaven art not here. Father Christmas never comes down the chimney. The Easter Bunny hops right on by. Puff the Magic Dragon never shows up.

There is some magic going on, however. Mandrake the Magician often makes an appearance and gestures hypnotically, causing the occupant of the house (that’d be me) to see illusions, but at least no delusions, neither of grandeur nor of glory nor of the kingdom of heaven — only of the pit of hell where ‘the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars… will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.’ [Revelations 21:8]

The Bible calls it the ‘second death,’ but I call it the first, here on Earth, in this life — and I am guilty on four counts out of eight. Not a good verdict — not amounting to hell in the first degree perhaps, nor in the second, but maybe in the third, so less time in the lake of fire. Perhaps I’ll catch a break and be guilty of the lesser offense of man/soul slaughter, or get even luckier and get the minimum charge of reckless endangerment with a life/soul, which carries no time in the lake of fire.

Well, hello, Mandrake just dropped in and he’s had a busy day gesturing hypnotically. He wants a vodka martini and I’m just the man to make it for him.

Demons and ghosts

— Image trick by Outosego

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Thank you Rod Serling

How to save the life of a lonely widower over a long, solitary ‘holiday’ weekend

Imagine, if you will, a widower living alone in a bungalow in Upstate New York. He is going out of his mind with thoughts of his dead wife. He doesn’t know if he can survive the long weekend. Then, purely by chance, he turns his TV to the Sci-Fi channel, where he discovers a marathon of continuous, nonstop episodes of The Twilight Zone.

The award-winning series, which ran from 1959 to 1964, was created by Rod Serling, who wrote more than 80 of the 156 episodes. Rod Serling was a man of brilliant and unlimited imagination, sadly a chain smoker who died in 1975 at the age of 50. [Rod Serling was a U.S. Army paratrooper with the 11th Airborne in World War II who saw an unforgettable amount of death in the Philippines — but that’s a story for another time.]

Let us return to our lonely widower in the bungalow in Upstate New York, where, incidentally, Rod Serling was born and died, respectively, in Syracuse and Rochester, New York.

The ever-bereft widower (it’s been three years for godsake!) spends the entire weekend — how many days? two, three, he doesn’t know — watching back-to-back episodes of The Twilight Zone, consuming countless shots of gin and becoming swept up in an other-world of ‘reefer madness.’ He truly, and as far as he knows, enters The Twilight Zone.

He becomes the lonely astronaut marooned on a distant planet; the writer who can bring people back to life by describing them to a tape recorder; the bitterly unhappy actor who becomes the blissful character he’s playing in a movie; the loser who can stop time with a magic stopwatch…

And from watching these episodes, our widower — anti-hero, madman, loser, alcoholic, solitary inhabitant of a planet that in his case is the planet Earth — comes, in an epiphany-like haze, to the startling and possibly life-saving conclusion (at least for the time being) that if he cannot be with his wife in reality because she is dead and unreachable and always will be since oblivion is an unreachable destination, then he will be with her in his own gin-soaked purple haze now known as — thank you Rod Serling — The Twilight Zone.

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The seeds of madness

Prolonged bereavement — Case Study No. 181221

Page from patient diary — CONFIDENTIAL (provided by Dr. Wilhelm Michelob, Einrichtung für Psychiatrie, Vienna.)

Notes: Patient appears to be addressing his former place of residence.


Yes yes lowly bungalow you don’t have to tell me… I know I’m going mad… it’s been progressing unsteadily since my wife died twentyone months and seventeen days ago… but you know that because you were here and saw the whole thing unravel, the ambulance, wailing death screamer in the night and the medics… such desperate looks of hopelessness… and even though the madness started slowly it has been growing, hidden away from the few friends and relatives I have left and even to myself because my wife kept me sane and now I am drifting in a sea of madness and people don’t say it because no one talks to me anymore but I know they are thinking, Grow up you fool you weak minded idiot, wives and husbands die all the time and remaining spouses get over it and go on with their lives so why the hell should you be any different than everybody else, talking and acting so weird, so way out of proportion, so crazy and drinking eightyproof firewater like there’s no tomorrow and all I can tell them is that I’m not everybody else and if you want to know the truth I had the seeds of madness to begin with… even my son went mad and I think my mother was mad but as long as my wife was in my life and in my head the seeds stayed in the ground and did not grow but the moment she died they started to grow and now it’s my wife who is in the ground and the seeds are weeds overgrowing my brain and I’ll have to go to the hardware store tomorrow and get a Goddamn weed-cutter 

[Note ends abruptly]

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