Heaven & Hell

Don’t you know there ain’t no Devil, there’s just God when he’s drunk

The front door was slightly ajar when I arrived, I didn’t bother knocking as I walked in. I could hear Saul’s Mom’s voice in her bedroom over the TV, sounded like she was catching up on her soaps and talking to a friend on the phone.

I found Saul in the back yard, standing over a freshly dug pit, in spite of the bitter cold evening, he was dressed in only a pair of shorts, sandals, and a hoodie. He was coaxing some logs to catch as kindling burned around them in his makeshift fire pit.

“Hey buddy, take a chair, thought it would be a nice night for a fire!” He called, gesturing to a one of two lawn chairs he’d placed around the pit. I sat down wearily, leaning back and loosening my tie. I pulled my briarwood pipe and a pouch of tobacco out of the pocket of my wool field jacket and began thoughtfully packing the bowl.

“I’ll grab the tea.” He returned with a kettle and two mugs and poured us each a steaming cup. I handed him the pouch of tobacco and lit my pipe with a match, the top of the packed tobacco glowed bright crimson with each draw through the stem, and I puffed out silky ribbons of spicy smoke with hints of sweetness. We drank our tea and smoked our pipes as the logs crackled and smoked, sometimes the wind cutting through and whipping up a shower of sparks and embers.

We talked about the usual nonsense, and enjoyed comfortable silences. That is one thing I appreciate so much about these times with Saul, we are both completely at home with each other. Say anything, or nothing, and it never feels uncomfortable.

“Carmen and my Mom want me to date women my own age,” Saul sighed. “They keep telling me I need to start going after lasting relationships.”
“They just want you to play by the rules,” I chuckled, I was tempted again to tell Saul about my cheating, it was ironic in many ways that we were both recently involved with girls in their early twenties, but I refrained. I knew the motivation at this point was just locker room bravado, and I have enough vanity in my life; I figured I don’t need to add to it by puffing myself up.
“Older women want so much more and don’t put out as much.” He laughed. “Besides, most of them don’t think much of a guy who lives with his mom, I’ll stick with the youngins’ while I can.”

The logs burned down to glowing coals. I thought about how Saul and I were like two sides of the same coin. We’d squandered our lives. Saul in his extreme rebellion of his upbringing had developed no professional or life skills, and was for the most part destitute and unemployable. Thought of as little more than a drunk or a dead-beat stoner. He’d lived it up, parties, girls, drugs. But, he has a heart of gold, and had lived an honest life as far as I could see. Then there was me, so eager to meet and exceed everyones’ expectations, college, career, wife and family. But, here I am, a whited sepulcher, only beautiful on the outside, living a double life. We’d lived at two extremes, and now neither could make up for the lost time, it was past, our youth had slipped between our fingers like sand on the beach. Sure, we had some time left until middle age, but I was trapped in a marriage with a kid, and Saul seemed to have just as little hope of bettering himself and gaining the needed skills to get a career and support himself. Seemed like a foregone conclusion.

I finished my pipe, and began to clean out the bowl of spent tobacco with a silver pipe nail. We gazed into the flames. When I was a Christian, what always bothered me the most was the concept of hell as taught in the Bible. I used to be able to see such beauty in the world, in every person, if you look hard enough, you could see the flame of life on every imperfect face and the dreams and tears in every pair of eyes, or so I believed. We all had our broken lives, but deep down we were beautiful children of God. We just needed God to save us, to fill in our imperfections. But, if we don’t find Him in this life, he’ll damn us to eternal torment in the next? The moral injustice of it turned my stomach, but I kept my faith, left it in God’s hands to judge and do the right thing. Of course, now, I can’t decide which concept of hell I’d prefer, eternal damnation and torment, or to have my soul annihilated, snuffed out as if it had never existed. It seems more real since it looks like those are my two alternatives, unless reincarnation is a thing.

One of several novels I have written in my mind is a crime novel set in Hell. It has one of those trench-coat wearing, cigarette smoking, Bogartesque hardboiled detectives as the main protagonist. In the novel, Hell appears to be a shadowy paradise for hedonists, those who delight in fleshly pleasures. The dim star, Wormwood, shines a sickly green over the desolate world covered in empty deserts and dense forests of ruined, decaying skyscrapers in a sealed off pocket universe, it will never run down, or end, but continues in perpetuity due to the perverted physical laws of the infernal plane. You can die in Hell, but you just get reincarnated with full memory of your past lives and painful demise, all the torments, betrayals, failures, and regrets are yours to keep, to drive you mad for all eternity. Never able to leave, or wonder, or dream, or hope for anything more. It is shabby, overcrowded, violent, polluted, run by corrupt demonic politicians. So, basically Baltimore. I left the novel probably where it belongs, in the back of my mind, never to be written down, and probably all the better, because of its dark futility. The only way I could think of it being written is if I injected it with some hope, some possibility that evil, Satan himself could be overthrown and Hell made into some semblance of a decent place, or at least a corner of it clawed out for some good. But, how could I write something like that? Hope would seem to be little more than a deception is such a setting. But, that is what pushes us forward, clinging to some desperate hope, even a false one will do. Maybe, one day, it could make a half-decent story after all.

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16 thoughts on “Heaven & Hell

  1. Men do not fully mature emotionally until 25 or older. What happens as you grow is that you put on the “clothes” others give you. At some point you begin to shed them, coats, hats, gloves, until the real you is there. How, or why, you came to want a different life, sexually, is probably buried somewhere in your past. If this is the real you then being married is not for you. I think being honest with your wife that you need to be single frees both of you.
    Sierra is the female you. Both of you are chameleons. You wear your every day “clothes” when, in reality, you want to get rid of them and live a sexually free life. She appears to be able to put on, and take off, different articles of clothing on a whim, and is able to because she is not in a committed relationship.
    I don’t believe in cheating because you are ruling your wife’s life without her knowledge or consent.

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    1. Perhaps, nice perspective. I’m not denying it, I don’t want marriage at this point, maybe in the future, but that is an unknown. Either way, I’m “ruling” my wife’s life in the sense you are using the word (which I find inappropriate). I’m not trying to control my wife’s life, but that is an unfortunate side-effect of being married, you affect each other. The question becomes, which course does the least harm to her. Either way, I don’t think I’m going to have her consent. In the current case, she is unaware of my behavior, and by all appearances remains unaffected. She has repeatedly stated that divorce is not a desire of hers. So, if I were to go your route, I have two choices, divorce her without her consent, destroy her world, and leave her to pick up the pieces, or confess my cheating, and also destroy her world, and open up the possibility that she may want a divorce then, but it certainly would not be amicable. Or remain cheating, she may not be aware itg, but if there is an invisible affect on our relationship, she is already living with it and accepted it, preferring it to divorce. I’d say your solution is more about ruling her life, forcing her to live according to my rules and desires for sexual freedom. I have more to gain in a divorce than her, and fewer reasons to stay, except for a desire to honor my commitments and responsibilities as best I can, to care for her and my son. In the current case, I do my best to hide on the periphery and allow her to live her life as she sees fit, as a housewife and mother as she has made it clear that is what she desires, and has no interest in romance or finding a new partner.

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  2. When you are home are you with her and your child or are you somewhere else mentally?
    You are trying to argue against yourself. If you stay in a false arrangement or if you leave either way you are damaging your wife. Ever heard of cervical cancer? It comes, usually, from as std. Of course there are lots of other fun diseases you might pick up. Why would you take the chance with your child’s mother? If you are going to continue to cheat you and I both know you are not going to use a condom. This is selfishness in the extreme.
    Is she young enough to find a partner who has her same values? That’s who she needs.

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    1. No, most of the time I’m not. And I play the devil’s advocate in order to rationally consider all sides of the argument, working towards a solution with you rather than against you. Yes, I’ve read the recent articles on cervical cancer and how men can be unwitting carriers of a certain HPV which causes it. Troubled is right, my wife has little chance of finding a partner with similar values, and since we’d both be financially ruined, we’d have to move to new areas where we could afford more reasonable rent. We can only remain solvent in the high priced area where we live if we stay together, and we’ve agreed to that. To be clear, my wife repeatedly tells me that she thinks I’m cheating on her, but in practically the same breaths she tells me she doesn’t want a divorce. To this end, I will be doing my best to practice safe sex.

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  3. And I meant “rule”. You have kept the most important information of her life from her and you make decisions without her consent. Sounds like N. Korea.

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    1. I’m afraid I have to agree with Troubled to a certain extent on this one. I’d say a value judgement of the information I’m withholding from her isn’t fair for you to make, you aren’t my wife and have no idea what value she’d place on this information or how it would impact her life if it came to light. I’d say this is at least the equal of not addressing one of the most important needs of my life: the need for physical love and affection. But, honestly, I’m not interested in sitting here and complaining about it.

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  4. Troubled, did you see the demonstrations? Why do we hold women to unrealistic standards. I suggest you all watch Cameron Russell, a beautiful model, who gives a great TED talk about this. She also talks about how many times Black and Hispanic men are stopped by cops in NYC compared to White men. If his wife is fat why doesn’t he stay home, go for walks with her and get over looking for barely legal girls.

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    1. I’m really not sure how we are getting into politics and cultural perspectives of women on this, much less the rate of police stops of racial groups, lol. In any case, it is neither here nor there, my wife’s weight problem isn’t so much the issue, I still would like sex with her and to try to remain faithful if we could rekindle our relationship, even though to be fair I enjoy it with other women far more, and I’m not looking for barely legal girls, those just happen to be the ones I’ve ended up with so far. I will say this, I’m not a huge fan of the Red Pill (it has its value, but I find certain doctrines suspect), but most movements have elements of truth to them, just like these women’s marches. Here is a quote that I read on a Red Pill blog recently that you brought to mind (don’t read the full post if you are easily triggered by potentially offensive views), but here is the relevant snippet:

      A woman will invariably condemn you for your weakness, but expect understanding for hers.

      I’m not endorsing this quote as a general rule or as universally true, but it seems relevant in our discussion. Apparently, I’m condemned for my seeking of sex outside my marriage, but my wife’s lack of self-discipline in her diet/exercise and with holding of physical affection is to understood, perhaps even rewarded and appreciated with extra time and attention? Believe me, I’m hardly away from home when I’m not at work. I see Saul perhaps once every couple weeks, and I don’t hook-up with girls often and generally only during work hours. I’m there, happy to go for walks with my wife, spend time with her, and I do. The only thing that bothers me, Moi, is you are willing to believe the best about my wife, but the worst about me based on what limited information you have? I have to say, I don’t believe that is fair.

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  5. Your wife might be horrible but if she is you know about it. My whole point is that you are actively cheating on your wife. If you and she don’t have an emotional or physical connection do something about it. If you hate being married get out. What an insult to your littl family that you had rather sneak around than just pulling that bandaid off and moving on. I don’t think of you as horroble but your actions are. You are no more going to give up this hobby than stop breathing. I don’t like divorce unless there is no alternative. A serial cheater pretty much makes it necessary. You put this blog out for a reason. I am guessing you and your cheerleaders get off on all the sneakiness but YOU HAVE TWO PEOPLE AT YOUR MERCY! Why can’t you see that?

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    1. Look, clearly to you cheating (and perhaps lying) trumps all, so we aren’t going to come to an agreement in this case. I’m still trying to keep an open mind as best I can, but at this point, I’ve determined it is the lesser of two evils: divorce and destruction of lives on the one hand, and sneaking around for sexual gratification on the other. No question, you disagree, but I find your reasoning unconvincing. It is my care for my little family that guides my decision, I’m trying to balance what I want with what is best for them. Yes, selfishness is playing a role. This is more than just ripping off a band-aid, it is turning lives upside down, it is destroying my wife and son’s and my reality, I wouldn’t undertake such a step as lightly as you put it. You are right, I have two people at my mercy (as I am at their mercy), and you ask me to take the path that would surely harm them rather than the path that could potentially harm them. Fine, I get it isn’t what you would choose, but not everyone shares your absolutes (such as divorce is always better than cheating).

      I write the blog to help me think and to help me try to understand my life. It seems most of the readers who can stomach my writing are fellow cheaters (we just find cheating so repugnant these days), but I also welcome conflicting viewpoints, such as yours, and thus I thank you for your comments.

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