Tuesday, October 19, 2010


(Dante & Virgil; Hippolyte Flandrin; 1835; Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, France)

Later that evening, Bob drifts off to a deep sleep punctuated with visions of seagulls shooting bullets of something - he's isn't sure what.

Soon, he sees Dante and Virgil coming toward him in the distance.

As they make their approach, Bob squints and says, "What took you guys so long?"

Dante replies, "We got delayed on the Fifth Circle. Virgil wanted to pick up a few things for you in "The Scream" Gift Shop. Welcome to the Ninth, Bob!"

Puzzled at their thoughtfulness, Bob wonders to himself: "Does this mean I am going to have to be nice to people - even in Hell?"

Smiling, Virgil grasps a blood red basket.

He places it in Bob's hands and says, "We want you to enjoy these gifts!"

Bob notices a swirling banner lying elegantly across the ruby hued cellophane.

The glittery words read: "We welcome Hell's newest hottie!"

He peers cautiously into the basket and surveys the contents.

Horrified, he sees a wheel of blue cheese the size of a monster truck tire.

Dante's eyes sparkle as he adds, "We've taken the liberty of enrolling you in the "Blue Cheese of the Month Club, Bob."

A faint grimace crosses Bob's face.

But he is determined to remain cool amidst the Ninth's stiffling heat.

Within seconds Bob's eyes focus nervously on a pre-paid membership packet to the Hades Museum of Art.

Virgil elaborates: "The museum's permanent exhibit is entitled: "Feeling Our Feelings Forever - Art That Never Ends."

The poet continues: "Bob, we know you're dying to see this exhibit. Please remember that you are required to view this fascinating collection three times a week - always and forever."

Virgil adds, " Emotional outbursts are mandatory. Kleenex is provided free of charge on Tuesdays."

Bob's knees begin to wiggle like jelly.

He stares off into Hell's horizon thinking to himself: "What did I do to deserve this?"

Just then Virgil hands Bob a crimson red envelope and commands, "Go ahead, I insist that you open it."

Bob pulls a bright pink brochure ever so slowly from the envelope.

It reads: "Congratulations, Bob! You have just won an annual, three month vacation to the gift shops on the Fifth Circle. You must spend a minimum of $50,000 in each store - weekly. Shop till you drop!"

Virgil winks at Bob and says: "We take that admonition seriously here on the Ninth."

Dante glances at Bob and quickly sizes him up, "You look as white as a ghost, my friend."

"Perhaps we should direct you to Hell's Five Star restaurant: "We Only Do Grilled Chicken Salad."

Dante adds, "This popular salad is priced right at just $175.00 per entree. Croutons are available for an additional $20.00."

Bob drops his head into his hands and whimpers softly.

Virgil tells him, "Oh, I almost forgot. Here is a book of coupons which introduces our newest service:

"Doody Calls."

Virgil cautions Bob, "Those unpredictable seagulls are Class-A dive bombers here on the Ninth."

"They have developed a particular affection for folically-challenged males."

"I wouldn't be surprised if they target your place hourly."

Limp with agony, Bob whispers to his companions, "Thanks, but you really shouldn't have gone to all this trouble just for me."

As they turn to walk away, Virgil explains to Bob, "The gift basket is not something we usually do here."

"But this is a highly unusual circumstance."

Virgil's eyes soften as he touches Bob's arm.

"We checked the Ninth's Resident Roster yesterday. Your neighbor for eternity will be a woman called "Merry."

"Not the most appropriate name for a resident of Hell but we work with what we have."

"Do you happen to know her?"


  1. I hope Bob finds this as hilarious as I do! Can't wait for your next post. There is only one direction to go now....UP!