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A Devilish Dilemma

Thank you for calling Hell, how may I direct your call?”

“Let me speak to the boss. It’s his agent, returning his message.”

“Hold, please.”

“I’m a blonde single girl in the fantasy world/Dress me up, take your time, I’m your dollie . . . ”

“Still, with that hold music . . . for Christ’s . . . ”

“This is Satan.”

“Nicky, my man! How’s it hanging? Look, I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you . . . ”

“Benny? It that Benny? It is Benny, right? Or was it Barney? Forgive me, it’s just that it’s been so long, and I’m getting forgetful in my old age.”

“I know, I know. Look, it’s a busy time of year. I’m sorry. But when I heard your last message, I called right away. You sounded like you were having a breakdown, or something.”

“Yes, Benny. I am. I am freaking out! I feel like I’m losing my mind!”

“Hey, hey, don’t get your tail in a twist. What’s the matter?”

“The matter? What’s the matter, he asks, my agent. Um, just the little matter of total irrelevance! Of the end of a career!”

“What are you talking about? Your career is fine. You’re a legend.”

“Benny, the Loch Ness monster is a legend. The Clara Bow-USC Football Team sex 78 is a legend. Heterosexual movie actors are a legend. I don’t want to be a legend. I want work. Do you know how many channels we get down here?”

“Uh, last I knew? Just that one, the one that alternates Touched by an Angel and Driver’s Ed. film loops.”

“No, not on the floor. I mean in the administrative offices. I get all of them, Benny. Every last one. And when I surf, Benny, what do I see? I see Tony Hayward, Tony Hayward, Tony Hayward. I’m the Prince of freaking Darkness, Benny.”

“Well, yeah, but, you know, he was pretty irresponsible . . .”

“Irresponsible?! Seriously? Irresponsible? I’m the Devil! Not a devil. The Devil.”

“Be fair, Nick. Have you seen the footage of the spill? It’s really alarming.”

“I think you are missing the point. He’s a geologist!! And if it’s not him it’s that Jesse James! A bike mechanic, who likes sexually aggressive, tattooed women. You don’t say. Really? What in the name of my game room is going on up there?!”

“Well, I mean, she’s America’s sweetheart, Nick. Did you see The Blind Side?”

“Of course I saw The Blind Side! We all saw The Blind Side! I thought it was her best work to date, but that’s not the point! These bush-league dweebs are getting my press!

“I swear, every year it gets worse. Back when it was guys like Amin, Duvalier, and so on, I didn’t mind sharing some. We were all on the same team, and they had style. But these guys . . . Facebook apologies? Rehab? What kind of evil is that?

“Or these Ponzi-scheme clowns. They’re like the Amway salesmen of sin. I’m hardly even looking forward to getting my hands on Madoff, you know? It’s really affecting my mood.

“Benny, when did it go wrong? Maybe I shouldn’t have let Kissinger and McNamara wear suits? Too stuffy? Too bland? I thought the flamboyance of my Hollywood crew would balance it out, though. But the pencil pushers are evading blame and the celebrities are . . . they’re . . . confessing and, and, repenting! It’s a complete renunciation of my work. If I could get my hands on that Oprah Winfrey. . . .”

“Nick, I don’t think you wanna go there.”

“All right, I know. I’m just upset.

“Don’t tell her I said that, OK?

“Look, you’ve got to get me out there. I need better visibility. You know, I was gonna start a Twitter, but some idiot already took @satan. Can you believe that? Is that even legal?”

“I’ll have the lawyers look into it. And the very fact that someone grabbed it proves my point: You’re a vital brand! You’re the original, the go-to guy. The Original Go-To-Hell Guy. Hey, we should copyright that. In any event, we can probably get you @realsatan.”

“I guess . . . ”

“You guess, nothing! You the cloven-hooved man, dog! Say it!”

“I’m the cloven-hooved man.”

“Damn straight. Now, you feel a little better? ‘Cause it just so happens I might have something for you.”

“You do?”

“Are you sitting?”

“Is it high-visibility?”

“The highest.”

“It’s not another Tarantino audition, is it? That guy makes me nervous.”

“Look, you’ll get the call back, just be patient. But this is even better. Something’s opening up that I think you’d be perfect for. Just one quick question: How would you feel working with Seacrest again?”

—John Rodat

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