‘Happy Hour’ at Beelzebub’s Bar, and two young devils with a powerful thirst stepped through the swinging doors. It was broiling hot outside, but the barroom was like an inferno.
“Whew, it feels good to get in out of that warm air!” said the taller one. “Let’s grab a booth.”
A waitress in a scanty scarlet outfit, wearing a cute little ‘devil’s horns’ headpiece and swinging a realistic tail from her tush, sashayed over to take their order. “What’ll it be, tall, dark, and handsome?” she grinned. “Working hard today, or hardly working?”
“Going full bore,” said Nick with a wink and a leer. “Keeping a lid on the global warming debate isn’t easy. My costume’s wringing wet.”
They watched her retreating form as she hustled to get their drinks. “Come on,” said Scratch, the shorter of the pair, “you don’t really think you can lull a planet full of people to sleep while you turn their world into a miniature Hades, admit it.”
Nick snorted. “Hey, it’s easier than you think. I don’t have to deal with six and a half billion people--just a handful of corporate execs.”
“Surely you jest,” laughed Scratch.
“Did you see the Pew survey? Two-thirds of the public in both Japan and India are worried sick about climate change. But you know what? The people who are doing the heavy damage, the Americans? No sweat! Only one out of every five say it worries them a lot. I’d say that’s pretty good proof my method works.”
“Pagan poop!” swore Scratch. “How the heaven did you pull that off?”
“Scratch, Scratch,” said Nicky, shaking his head sadly. “It’s so basic. You’ve gotta get back to your roots.”
“What’s the root of all evil?”
“Oh, the love of money. I always thought ‘all evil’ was an over-simplification. ‘The love of lucre is the love of Lucifer.’ But I see where you’re coming from.”
“I get off on working with giant corporations. If shareholders aren’t happy with the bottom line, they boot out the current management and bring in a ‘leaner, meaner’ team. Love the sound of that, don’t you? Who’s leaner and meaner than me? Think about it for a minute. These corporations exist for a single purpose--to generate a sizable profit. That makes them a perfect devil’s instrument, since by definition, they worship Mammon! Brothers, hello!”
“You’ve got a track record with some of the best.”
“Hey, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I’ve been in bed with the big boys--ExxonMobil, Chevron, Halliburton, Ford Motor Company, GM, Massey Energy, American Electric Power, Boeing, Alcoa, Phillip Morris, Cargill.... Carbon emissions, poisons, carcinogens, smog, bribery, polluted rivers and earth and air... poke around in that list and you’ll find it all.”
“I wonder about their consciences,” mused Scratch.
Nick stared at him. “Didn’t you know? Each one of them’s considered a ‘person’ under the law, but they have no conscience built in. It’s Frankenstein’s monster in a real-world version!”
“I don’t get it. Don’t they care what they’re doing to Creation?”
“A corporation doesn’t care one way or another about Creation. They can be totally committed to Destruction, as far as that’s concerned, and hire a PR firm to paste a pretty face on the pig. Then they pick compliant state legislators and judges, Congresspeople and presidential candidates, and bankroll their campaigns. They dictate the limits of action and the terms of debate.”
“Wow,” said Scratch. “That sounds like a process planned in hell.”
“How did you guess?” beamed Nick. “Here’s the beauty of it. Corporations are like us; they’re immortal. People come and go, but corporations are going to be here till the earth bakes in its own greenhouse gases.”
“A day to dream of,” said Scratch. “But the executives and people on their boards--doesn’t all this worry them?”
“Why would it? They’re rich; they demand and get insulation. They live on private estates, belong to exclusive clubs, and travel in private planes; their kids go to exclusive prep schools and private colleges; they only hobnob with people like themselves on the boards of charities and museums. They’re respected. They’ve got it all!”
“Except their souls,” noted Scratch with a grin.
“That’s a small clause in our bargain. Even the rich can’t have everything,” said Nick.
“Doesn’t it bother you when executives blast critics for ‘demonizing big business’? You do all the work, and then somebody else gets all the credit?”
“Nah. I’m not in this to make a name for myself. I do it just for the hell of it.”
© Tony Russell, 2008