My Ideas of Hell

There are two indisputable Eventualities.  Hell is one of them.

* * *

Blame the dream on Covid or a friend’s comment while watching the week’s Masters warmups.

 “My idea of Hell is being chained to a chair watching golf all day,” she says.

I agree but add being chained to a treadmill all day and forced to watch breaking news on CNN with Wolf is a close second.

Maybe it was because of the lockdowns that closed the church doors. I miss the weekly thrashings of the wages of sin which at the same time remind me the gates of Hell swing only one way. Anyway, I had a dream of visiting the Abyss.

The sign over the door reads, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” That will jolt you even in a dream. I look for the sign that says Exit. There is none. I go in.

Wormwood and Gall greet me. They run the dungeon. They open the books of life and read my life’s history. They laugh uncontrollably. I’m afraid to ask why.

I get a visitor’s day pass. I ask what to expect. They tell me it’ll be instructive, reminiscent of my life’s experiences and may even adjust my attitudes. They promise it’ll reinforce my ideas of Hell. They laugh louder.

I’m evaluated to determine my tolerance level of boredom and anxiety. They huddle, converse with furtive whispers and summon me to a giant shopping mall. They introduce me to Ms. Gucci, a manic shopper who had twelve husbands, all deceased, the cause of which was enduring the catatonic stupor of her shopping.

I lug her bags, suffer hours outside of dressing rooms, fearing a similar demise from her mindless addiction. I finally collapse in the shoe department next to Jimmy Choo. Wormwood revives me.

“Maybe shopping is not your thing,” he says. “You are an outdoor type. Follow me.”     

A landscaping crew waits. An industrial strength leaf blower of eight thousand decibels is strapped to my back. It’s so powerful I’m lashed to the gigantic oak tree. Leaves fall, I blow them into piles. They keep falling. I keep blowing, they keep falling.

I complain of the noise, the noxious odor of fossil fuel exhaust and the time wasted in this senseless pursuit. Wormwood laughs, “Time doesn’t exist here. This could be your assignment for eternity.” 

I tell him I need a snack, but not apple sauce. He consults my history and grins. Uh, oh, I remember the day I greedily scarfed my brother’s apple sauce. My father made me eat a gallon of it till it ran out of my ears. Wormwood calls for apple sauce. Somehow, I survive.

My next assignment is the dog kennel. I ask why here. He reminds me about the neighbor’s barking dog, the one I threatened to poison, to shoot or torch the neighbor’s home. I tell him I’ve repented of that error. He wants to be sure. Thousands of dogs, all barking. I repent again.

He says he’s overheard my opinions about Georgia’s the new voting laws, the ones that suppress voters, that force them to stand in long lines. He thinks it’s redemptive for me to have that experience, since the lines in Hell are long, especially to the ice machine.

So, I stand there, waiting, creeping towards the voting machine that forever moves forward. I’m thirsty, hungry. No water, no food. My bladder is a watermelon. Leave the line and lose your place. Lines, all lines, lines everywhere are Hell in themselves.

My visit ends. Wormwood offers me a meal in the five-star restaurant. I’m seated in the smoking section. Maggie is my server. “I’ll take good care of you, sir,” she promises. Smoke clogs my lungs. Maggie never returns ‘to take good care of me.’

Others file in, eat, leave. No Maggie. Finally, the maître de shows. “Sir, time to go. Kitchen closing. Come back soon.”   

Fortunately, time doesn’t permit more ‘instructive’ torture with the dripping faucet, the beeping smoke alarm, the rap music, tailgaters, golf carts, and TV sightings of John Galt and Jim Crow. Ideas of Hell are endless.

* * *

We all have our ideas of Hell, even of the other Eventuality. We’ll know soon enough. But today I wake up in my bed. Somewhere a dog barks, a leaf blower whines hideously and a MAGA voice shouts on TV, “Do you miss me yet?” 

Can dreams really come true?


Bud Hearn

April 9, 2021


Drawing Courtesy of Leslie Hearn