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Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell: Some of the devil's best work

| Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, 8:42 p.m.
Investigators work at the scene of a deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday Nov. 5, 2017. A man opened fire inside of the church in the small South Texas community, killing more than 20 people. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Investigators work at the scene of a deadly shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Sunday Nov. 5, 2017. A man opened fire inside of the church in the small South Texas community, killing more than 20 people. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

The devil sat drunk and giddy in a bar, boasting about his recent “accomplishments.”

“Enjoying yourself?” I said, sitting a few barstools away from him.

“Like I haven't in years, pal. I'm on a roll.”

His breath was rank, his body crawling with bugs.

“A roll?”

“Look at my most recent work in Texas. I was present when a disturbed and angry young man murdered unarmed men, women and children while they worshiped. If that wasn't an act of pure evil, I don't know what is!”

“You're a real jerk, devil. The New York Times reports that a church video camera captured the horrific event. The Times says the soulless shooter was intent on shooting everyone in the church in a methodical manner — that he shot his terrified victims, even small children, in the head, execution-style.”

“I was also present at Las Vegas in October when 58 innocent concertgoers were murdered by a barrage of bullets from another disturbed man. And let's not forget the recent attack on the bike path in Manhattan. I'm doing some of my best work with radicals who think they can advance their mission through terrorist acts.”


“I'm using the oldest lure in my toolkit with those boys: pride. I got them thinking they're pious and subservient, when they're actually trapped in the narrowness of their own piety. I got them thinking murdering innocents is what their God wants them to do.”

“You're sick.”

“But my biggest successes of late have been in America — a place that's been a thorn in my side from its beginning.”

“How so?”

“America is founded on freedom, pal. It's not easy for somebody in my line of work to influence people who believe that their creator has given them the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“I'm not following.”

“Look, your Founders had very clear values about what is and isn't moral and good. For the most part, they did not yield to the sin of pride, but instead yielded to the principles of my opponent. They built the Constitution upon the basic virtues that unleash the human heart.”

“That bothers you, devil?”

“Of course, pal. Your country's values have produced order and civility. Your freedom has unleashed ingenuity, productivity and incredible wealth. Your values are the reasons America has been the most successful country in the history of mankind.”

“Has been?”

“I'm making terrific progress in America. Incivility, the breakdown of families and communities, crassness, vulgarity — I'm able to promote these things because Americans are becoming more self-centered, more worldly and materialistic, and less concerned for their fellow man.”

“How delightful.”

“Ignorance is one of my favorite tools. Ironically, the more information Americans have access to through 24/7 news channels and social media, they more rigid-minded they become. So many Americans are losing their ability to reason, to follow a logical, objective thread, that they're easy for me to confuse now.”

“Very clever, devil.”

“I'm doing some of my best work to shout down free discussion and debate. Political correctness is one of my most useful tools. I have your people angry and divided — just where I want them to be.”

“I really hate you, devil.”

The devil laughed a deep, horrible laugh, while slapping his claws on his knee.

“That's just where I want you to be. Full of negative emotion and empty of reason. I love it when you hate!”

“Why don't you go to hell, devil?”

He downed a double shot of bourbon and a quart of beer.

“I'm already there, pal, and I'm doing everything in my power to bring your country with me.”

Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, lives in Library. His books include “Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood” and “Wicked Is the Whiskey,” a Sean McClanahan mystery. Visit him on the web at Email him at:

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