Blog by Richard Heagy
It is a sunny day, and a line of people of all shapes and sizes wait on the steps of an endless stairway that winds its way upward; all ages and ethnic groups are included. At the top of the stairs is a man (CONCIERGE) about forty years old with a short white beard standing behind a pedestal. He is wearing a black tuxedo and sandals with no socks.
(Down the line, a man wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck, blue jeans and sneakers counts the number of people in front of him, about twenty or so; then looks back at the hundreds behind him. He stands in line impatiently and looks at his watch but he is not wearing a watch. His name is JOBS, or at least it used to be when he was alive. In front of him is a young person wearing a pizza delivery hat (PIZZA GUY) and an “I Love New York” T-shirt; he carries a small black umbrella, but he is wet)
USHER (to PIZZA GUY): Here you are, sir. Just fill it out and I will pick it up when you are ready.
(Up and down the line are ushers, all dressed in white togas, handing out questionnaires mounted on clipboards with ballpoint pens. The PIZZA GUY puts his umbrella on the step ahead of him to be hands free. The USHER next hands a clipboard and a pen to JOBS)
JOBS: What’s this for?
USHER: All applicants have to fill them out.
USHER: You don’t think just anyone can walk through the Pearly Gates, do you?
(JOBS takes the clipboard and glances over the questions, then tries to return it to the USHER)
JOBS: Why should I fill this out? You already know everything about me.
USHER: Yes, but we like to see if people are lying.
JOBS: It’s a waste of time.
USHER: Time is something we have an endless supply of here.
(Some clouds come drifting over, then a few raindrops)
PIZZA GUY (to JOBS): Hey, buddy, you want to buy my umbrella?
JOBS (to the USHER): I didn’t know you had rain up here.
USHER: On occasion, a cloud finds its way up here, but you will not need an umbrella. Even if some rain falls on you, you will remain dry.
JOBS (pointing to the step above him): What about him?
USHER: Oh, he was wet when he arrived, so he will stay wet for the duration of his stay.
JOBS: He might get sick.
USHER: No, his condition will remain the same as when he arrived.
(The PIZZA GUY takes out a cigarette and places it between his lips, searches unsuccessfully in his pockets for a match, then motions to the USHER)
PIZZA GUY: Hey, buddy, you got a light?
USHER: Smoking is not allowed here.
PIZZA GUY: Where’s the sign says so?
USHER: There is no place to put a sign.
(The PIZZA GUY tosses his cigarette away, and it lands nearby, suspended in the air)
USHER: No littering.
(The USHER retrieves the cigarette and hands it to the PIZZA GUY, who puts it in his pocket. The PIZZA GUY starts to say something, but the USHER cuts him off)
USHER: I know, there’s no sign.
(JOBS starts to fill out the questionnaire, but the pen will not work. He shakes it, tries again, then hands it back to the USHER)
USHER: I will be right back as soon as I find another pen.
(The USHER leaves and someone suddenly appears out of nowhere)
DEVIL: Psst—would you mind stepping over here for a minute?
JOBS: How am I going to do that? There’s nothing to stand on if I get off the stairs.
DEVIL: Not at all, sir, you will be standing on air.
JOBS: Why should I believe you?
DEVIL: Look at me; there’s nothing underneath my feet.
JOBS: So I see, but I don’t want to lose my place in line.
(The line is slowly moving forward as all this takes place)
DEVIL: I’ll see to it that you don’t.
JOBS: Who are you anyway?
DEVIL: An usher, but not just any usher.
JOBS: You are not dressed the same; well, maybe you are, except that you clothes are off white, even kind of soiled looking.
DEVIL: Step over here. I want to have a little chat with you.
(They move away from the stairs, far enough for the others not to overhear. JOBS looks down nervously as he walks on the air)
JOBS: Are you trying to solicit a bribe to ease my way through the Pearly Gates?
DEVIL: Nothing of the kind. Getting you through the Pearly Gates is last thing I would ever do.
JOBS: By the way, who is that young man behind the pedestal? I thought that St. Peter was supposed to admit people.
DEVIL: He’s the CONCIERGE. They are trying to upgrade the place to improve their ratings.
(JOBS looks at his watch, forgetting again that it is not there)
JOBS: How long have I been in line?
DEVIL: Three days.
JOBS: Three days? That’s impossible.
DEVIL: You will never experience time again, only eternity.
JOBS: Who are you?
DEVIL: I have been known by many names—Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan, or more commonly the Devil. I prefer Prince of Darkness myself.
JOBS: I have been called many names myself.
DEVIL: Yes—tyrant, genius and jerk, to name a few.
JOBS: How do I know that you are the devil?
DEVIL: What if I perform a miracle before your very eyes?
JOBS: OK, try me.
(The DEVIL waves his hand in the air and instantly he is holding a deck of cards, which he fans)
DEVIL: Pick a card, any card.
JOBS: That is a cheap card trick, not a miracle.
DEVIL: I don’t want to draw attention to myself this close to the Pearly Gates; I can’t do anything splashy. Go on; pick a card.
(JOBS takes a card)
JOBS: Now what?
DEVIL: Put it back in the deck.
(The devil shuffles the deck and holds it in the palm of his hand)
DEVIL: Turn over the top card.
(JOBS turns over the top card and holds it up, showing a three of clubs)
DEVIL: What did I tell you?
JOBS: It’s not my card.
DEVIL: Are you sure?
JOBS: It is not my card; I had a seven of diamonds.
DEVIL: I must be out of practice.
JOBS: Assuming that you are the devil, why are here—to tempt me?
JOBS: What do you want?
DEVIL: I want to thank you.
JOBS: For what? I have led an exemplary life, no bad habits of any significance that come to mind.
DEVIL: It’s results that count, not the intention to do bad things.
JOBS: I have no idea what you are talking about.
DEVIL: Let’s take the iPhone, for example.
JOBS: What about it?
DEVIL: First, let’s clear up something. Who invented the iPhone?
JOBS: I did. Everyone knows that.
DEVIL: Not everyone. Some Congresswoman said the government invented the iPhone, not you or Apple.
JOBS: Sour grapes.
DEVIL: Sour grapes invented the iPhone instead of Apple, or you.
JOBS: That’s not what I meant.
DEVIL: Then you take credit for its invention.
JOBS: Absolutely. Just because engineers were working under my direction does not make me any less the inventor.
DEVIL: Thank God—oops—I shouldn’t use that expression. Then I didn’t come all this way for nothing. I suppose you consider the iPhone to be the greatest benefit to humanity in modern times.
JOBS: It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
DEVIL: Not a good example; bread contains gluten and other unhealthy ingredients.
JOBS: It’s just an expression, not a comparison. The iPhone has brought people closer together all around the world, made communications easier and improved their lives.
DEVIL: What about the negatives?
JOBS: I can’t think of any, although some people complain about the price.
DEVIL: First, you have not made communication and interaction between people better, aside from a technical standpoint. Communication online is faceless; many hours are wasted each day by exchanging meaningless twaddle. For example, what is the importance of letting all of the people you are deluded into thinking are your friends know that you are spending the weekend cleaning out your closet.
JOBS: Not everyone spends the weekend cleaning closets.
DEVIL: They spend the rest of the weekend telling their friends, and I use the term loosely, all about it.
JOBS: Why are we talking about this?
DEVIL: Look what you are doing to education.
JOBS: Increasing educational levels by making more information available.
DEVIL: Hogwash. Everyone is texting; no one knows how to write a complete sentence anymore, not even a short one.
JOBS: Everyone is too busy these days.
DEVIL: Busy doing what? Nothing of any great importance that I can see.
JOBS: One of the biggest benefits to people is mobility, the ability to communicate with friends and business associates, shop and do other things from anywhere, twenty-four hours a day.
DEVIL: Your award may be posthumous, but it is never too late to give recognition to one deserving it.
JOBS: Are you giving me an award?
DEVIL: Almost everyone with an iPhone uses it while walking, wherever he or she is, crossing the street through traffic, riding a bicycle, skate boarding or even texting while driving.
JOBS: It is convenient.
DEVIL: You idiot. People walk into each other and cause automobile accidents while texting. Just look at how many people in line behind you are talking on their mobile phones or trying to send text messages.
JOBS (looking pleased): I am surprised it works up here.
DEVIL: I doesn’t. They were on their mobile phones when they died. They continue as if nothing has happened and don’t realise that their conversations and text messages are not going anywhere. You have created an entire world of self-centred zombies, something I could never do. That is why you have earned the Devil’s Award for Outstanding Achievement—for disservice to humanity. This year we are naming it the Zombie Tech Award in your honour.
JOBS: What if I don’t want it.
DEVIL: It’s too late. The award is all over the internet and available on every iPhone as we speak.
JOBS: Take it down.
DEVIL: Impossible. You have made your technology so secure that even I cannot break into it.
(The line has steadily moved up as JOBS and the DEVIL talk. JOBS goes back to the line and tries to squeeze back in between the PIZZA GUY with the umbrella, now number one in the line, and the woman who was previously behind JOBS)
WOMAN: What do you think you are doing?
JOBS: Reclaiming my place in line.
WOMAN: Buzz off, bozo. The back of the line is that way, at the bottom of the stairs
DEVIL: Madam, this gentleman …
WOMAN: Who is this, your brother? You both have the same eyebrows and piercing eyes.
JOBS: You don’t want to know who he is.
WOMAN (pondering): I recognise you now. You are the big cheese who fired me on the spot in front of my co-workers.
JOBS: I don’t recall, but you are not the only one that I fired in person.
(JOBS has worked his way in front of the woman and is now first in line)
(The USHER takes the questionnaire from JOBS and looks at it)
USHER (to the CONCIERGE): He didn’t fill it out completely.
CONCIERGE: Send him back to the end of the line.
(The USHER hands the questionnaire back to JOBS and points down the stairs)