Helen Meager vs the State of Creation: part 1

Despite the 74 years that had transpired since his death, and the less than stellar accommodations he’d had since, Clarence Darrow was still an imposing presence in a courtroom.  Even one as impressive as the True Supreme Court - you know, the one in heaven.  He was excited to be here.  This was the case of the millennium. Hell, (oops sorry for the slip) it was probably the case of all time.  If he won it, heaven and hell would never be the same. If he lost it of course, he’d be back arguing land use law covering that terribly overcrowded half acre to which he had been unceremoniously committed some years back for being an atheist and defending evolution.  But he didn’t care.  This was a lawyer’s dream. Even a long dead one. He was going to get to argue a suit against God himself - Helen Meager vs the State of Creation.  Talk about your legal precedents!

Helen Meager had been a Catholic nun who’d run a women’s shelter in Boston, Mass.  After years of dealing with abuse, denial and violence while trying to rationalize it all with Catholic doctrine, she’d decided one day that it was all bullshit.  She left the order, got a tattoo on her ample chest that said, ‘Screw You Yahweh!’ and went back to work.  She remained at the shelter 34 more years in the service of abused women before dropping dead of a stroke minutes after chasing some pencil-necked wife beater off the premises with a broom.  Of course, she went straight to hell.  Do not pass go, do not collect a pence for all the good you have done.  It’s all about belief, you see, not what you actually do in life.

Her first few years in hell were terrible if not in any particularly creative way.  But Helen wasn’t the kind of person who simply accepted fate.  After a couple of years of torment, she petitioned for an audience with Satan.  Satan was always on the lookout for fresh administrative talent particularly since he had become a bit nervous about the numbers of former Nazi’s in his direct employ.  He didn’t trust them one bit despite their undeniable efficiency.  Deciding that they should join their former boss serving AS hell’s public commodes he had a lot of mid level vacancies to fill.  She’d caught him on his return from picketing Planned Parenthood.  Satan opposition to PP was practical rather than philosophical because he was constantly getting stuck with the fetuses.  Heaven wouldn’t admit the unbaptized and the churches had no interest unless they were old enough to fit with proper bootstraps.   With Limbo now out of the picture, it was worse.  With the demise of limbo, it was now truly impossible to find daycare anywhere in the universe.

Fearless as always, Former sister Helen asked to start a support group for abused women in hell who had taken action against their spouse.  She was of a mind that such actions had mitigating circumstances and that justice demanded some form of relief.  Satan laughed so loud that it was heard in heaven. (He was told to knock it off of course by you know who.) 

"There's nothing in the Bible about beating the crap out of your spouse or kids, to justify any leniency.  As far as it goes, they're just property."

"But it's hardly fair that they are down here while so many of their husbands are up there!"

Since it was all about belief and not about beating the crap out of kids or spouses, a surprising number of abusers ended up in heaven.  Not the really posh areas of course, but certainly better than the even the best upper levels of hell.  It was a bit of a disappointment for the pious poor to learn that nothing changed much even in heaven because the size of your contributions to the church and how many intercessional prayers you got before you checked out, went into your piety score.  And your piety score determined the level of services available to you - forever.  Which is a very long time, as it turns out.    Which was the reason that so many celebrities got the nice digs.  Even status in heaven was a popularity contest.  Another disappointment about the whole thing was that the deceased wives who were saved - weren’t saved from their dickish husbands.  They had to live with them in death.  Having attained heaven, these fellows weren't particularly incentivized to change their abusive ways either.  The tended to consider the whole thing a vindication.

Helen tried to explain the whole affair to Satan but he waved her off.

“Sister Helen, I really don’t give a shit.  Remember I’m not the one who’s supposed to answer prayers.  I don’t have the manpower to process the numbers of souls coming here let alone come up with any particular regiment of torment or worry about some special interest group.  They’re just stacking up with no where to go.” (In that respect hell had a lot in common with intercity USA).

"Heaven can expand.  We have to rezone."

“But It’s not right!”

“Says the women who gets to suffer in hell for eternity after a few decades of selfless dedication to her fellow humans.  I’m guessing like a lot of people, you have second thoughts about that tattoo, ehh?   Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s the law.

"Aren’t the laws supposed to support what’s right?"

"You’re confusing canon and the law with justice."

"Shouldn’t they be the same?"

"Can’t happen.  Every time somebody tries to enact some law to address some perceived injustice it’s like wishing with the monkey’s paw.  There are millions more ways to screw up the wish than to get it right.  It’s like the lottery."

He went back to the stack of papers in front of him.

Helen was distracted for a moment by the shear antiquity of hell's administrative processes. "Why don’t you have any computers for this kind of thing?"

One of the torments of hell was that there was no Internet, nor where there any information systems beyond paper and stone tablets. Except Fox News.  That was on every channel except here in Satan's inner office.

"Hell is a medieval concept.  We’re stuck with age-appropriate tech. There’s no capital budget for anything else."

"Yes, well.  But these men - these abusive bastard men get away with it!"

He mumbled, “Hmmmm. With what?”  (He was hardly listening and any minute now that lever attached to the trapdoor in the floor was going to come in handy.)

"The abuse.  Constantly telling someone that they are worthless without them.  Isolating them.  Trying to control their actions and thoughts.  Punishing them for crimes real and imagined.  Holding their very fate over their heads like Damocles sword!"

Satan’s left eyebrow rose and he looked up from his papers for a minute, his interest suddenly piqued, “Hold on.  Is what you just described any kind of crime on earth?”

"Not so much, I’m afraid.  But it is considered a moral outrage."


"Oh yes.  To exercise power over someone weaker is considered vile."

"Really?  When did this happen?"

"Mostly in the 1980’s and ’90’s unfortunately.  And not everywhere in the world.  Just the places that have evolved beyond the Dark Ages."

"So not Alabama, for instance."

"Not so much, no."

"1980‘s you say.  Ahhhhh.  That explains it.  I haven't spent any quality time up there since ’73.  There was this movie I enjoyed a great deal.  Bad ending, but what do you expect from Hollywood.  That was a high time for films about me.  Mostly tiresome stuff, as if I was as interested in micromanaging their fates as He is.  Hold on a sec." 

He call his assistant.  “Lizzy. Find that lawyer that wears the suspenders.”

He rolls his eyes to the receiver.  “Nooooo,  not the one with the fringed jackets.   The one that did the monkey trial thing, in ’23 I think.  Yeah that’s him.   Tell him I want to see him now.”

In mere moments a smoldering and somewhat pudgy carcass was unceremoniously hurled through his door by two rather unpleasant looking chaps with tattoos.

“I used to use demons for this sort of thing but the Russian mobsters are much much more scary.  They give me the willies.  Get up Darrow.  I have a job for you.  One you are really going to love.”

1 comment:

pboyfloyd said...

I'm holding my breath for the next installment...nice cliffhanger!