Richard Harter’s World
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December 2010

The Wheel of Fortune

Fader drifted down the midway, unseen and unnoticed. He liked to check it out to see which attractions were drawing the crowds. The pits of fire weren’t doing well. Times change; nowadays people just didn’t get visceral thrills from watching sinners burn within eternal flames. The fire pits had to stay – they were part of the trademark.

Vampires, on the other hand … he could use more vampires.

As he drifted down the midway, he gave a silent vote of thanks to C,S, Lewis. Lewis had given him the idea; if the damned could take vacations in Heaven then surely the living could take vacations in Hell. He glanced at his watch fob where Lewis stared back at him. Lewis still believed he didn’t belong there; he never accepted that he had been a lot better at telling other people about being Christians than Lewis, himself, had been. Still, Fader, owed him and he kept him in the watch fob where he could thank him.

As he came upon the wheel of fortune he could see that something was very strange. There was a long line of customers winding back into the distance. That was new, that was strange. The wheel of fortune had always been popular, but never like this.

As he drifted closer he sensed a vast brooding aura. It was cloaked and shielded, shielded even from him. That shouldn’t have been possible. Fader was master in his domain and nothing could be concealed from him. The crowds sensed none of this, it Fader knew.

Fader stopped directly across from the wheel. Behind it there was a huge Buddha like creature, a living statue in blues and purples, bound with great chains. The barker was shouting, “Step right up. The Great God Bojumbo hears all, sees all, and is all powerful. Bojumbo can answer all prayers, even yours if you are worthy and fortunate.”

A small boy stepped up to the barker. The barker leaned down, “What do you want, son?”

The small boy’s face was tear stained. “Please, sir, it’s my mother. She’s awful sick and the doctors say she’s going to die. Please, can Bojumbo save her? Please.”

“That sounds like a worthy prayer to me, son, but we have to make sure. Here, put your hand on the worthometer and repeat your prayer. The worthometer will tell us how worthy your prayer is. Remember to ask Bojumbo directly, He likes to be asked by name.”

The barker pointed to a large red disk on the stand. The boy placed his hand on it and said, “Please Lord Bojumbo, please save my mother. She’s very sick and about to die.” A glowing cloud formed above the boys hand and the slots in the wheel flashed wildly. When the flashing ceased there was a glowing sign floating in the air. The sign read 95% and behold, 95 of the slots in the wheel were gleaming gold and 5 were darkest ebon.

“Now, son, I’m going to spin the wheel. If it stops in a golden slot Bojumbo will answer your prayer. If it stops in an ebon wheel he won’t. You must take your chance Not even the worthiest prayers are always granted.” He grasped the wheel and spun it vigorously. When the wheel slowed the pointer quivered over an ebon slot and then finally settled into a gold slot.

There was a great rumble as the great God Bojumbo spoke, “Congratulations young Edward. You have been found both worthy and fortunate. Your prayer is granted. Your mother will live.” The little boy cried tears of joy and stuttered out his thanks.

The next mark was a fat business man. He wanted his competitor to fail. The worthometer granted him a worthiness of 25%. The wheel spun and the pointer stopped in an ebon slot. The business man muttered curses and left. Bojumbo majestically ignored him; apparently Bojumbo only spoke to those whose prayers He granted.

After him there was a woman who hated her husband and wished him dead. The worthometer posted a paltry 1%. The woman screamed that that was not possible, that her husband was no good. She accused him of a long list of offenses, beginning with cheating on her and ending with failing to do the dishes. The barker looked a little troubled and looked at the readout of the worthometer. He told her that most of her accusations were unfounded and that seeking the death of her husband was a great fault. He suggested that she ask for something else, but she said no. The machine, she said, was wrong and besides the rat deserved to die. The barker spun the wheel and behold, the pointer ended in the single golden slot. The voice of the great God Bojumbo rumbled, “Congratulations, madame Wilma. You are both unworthy and very fortunate. Your husband is dying this very moment.”

As the rumble died away a man standing behind her fell to the ground, victim to a stroke. The woman turned and screamed; it was her husband Harold. She knelt over him and wept, saying again and again, “Darling, I didn’t mean it, please don’t die.” Harold looked up at her and said, “I was going to wish that you could be happy.” With these words he died.

With her dead husband in her arms, Wilma looked up at the great form behind the wheel and said, “Lord Bujumbo, I truly didn’t mean it. Please, Lord, let him live,”

Again the great voice rumbled, “Daughter, it cannot be. As ye have sown, so shall ye reap.” The voice went silent and the woman continued to weap over her fallen husband.

Fader lifted a hand. Time stopped for all in the midway save Fader, the barker, and, of course, the great God Bjumbo. Fader gestured for the barker to come over to him.

“Alright,” Fader said, “What’s going on here? Those chains can’t be real. You could never chain and bind Him; no one can, not even I. And however did you get Him to agree to this charade? What is this nonsense about granting prayers in this place.”

The barker replied, “Oh it’s simple enough; the prayers are real and the price is what it has always been. The chains are just for show; He is here willingly.”

“But how???”

“Oh, it was simple enough. I took the idea from Milton.”


“Milton. I just twisted things a bit and convinced Him that

     It is better to serve in Hell
     Than it is to reign in Heaven

This page was last updated December 3, 2010.
Copyright © 2010 by Richard Harter

Richard Harter’s World
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December 2010