Satan’s Salagor Stone
The girl screamed and the young man fainted...
A curiosity of life on planet Earth is that the indigenous bipeds seem to miss what is in front of their proverbial noses. And so it was at the Rake’s Progress Hotel, a rather grand affair in Suffolk, not far from the small town of Bungay, the establishment dating back to Elizabethan times - not to mention costing a pretty penny to stay there too.
Anyway, this particular merry morning back in late spring I was breakfasting with Lord Satan, also known as the Good Mr Natas, as one does in my profession, that of humble scribbler, and dare I say it, amateur philosopher.
As we breakfasted on rather fine, locally sourced, bacon, sausages, eggs and black pudding, I looked around at the others in the restaurant. None seemed aware that Lord Satan was in their midst. A dapper, well-turned out fellow to be sure. But he refuses to wear sunglasses to hide his jet black eyes, and more often than not, prefers to let his long, somewhat gnarled (with age) curly tail hang out of the back of his finely-tailored trousers. And when he’s had more than a few glasses of Cuban rum, he’s prone to bellowing, “Damnation be upon ye!” and smashing his first on the nearest handy object, such as a table, and blowing it apart with a burst of cold flames issuing from the deeper aspects of his thrice-core being.
Now, Lord Satan has a profound understanding of how the breathing bipeds on this planet work. He’s been observing them for countless aeons, though does take the odd sojourn on other planetary bodies, including returning to the one he hails from.
Many Earth bipeds believe the Good Mr Natas can grant wishes. On one occasion in Bungay, which according to the last census turns out to be the satanic capital of Britain, he did just that and scared the bejesus out of young couple who, following old folklore, had danced around the Druid Stone in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, which is supposed to make the Devil pop up and grant your desires.
It just so happened that Lord Satan was sitting on a nearby bench, smoking his pipe, and hidden from the young couple by a towering yew tree. Naturally when the’d finished their dance, Lord Satan felt obliged to “pop up”, as it were, though in reality it was less of “pop” and more of a casual saunter. When the two spied his curly tail and piercing black eyes, they had the wind put up them. The girl screamed and the young man fainted.
“Better see to your young-fella-me-lad,” Lord Satan said. “In the meantime, would you like your wishes granted? I’ve just had me breakfast and am in the mood to grant a request.”
Cowering, the girl, replied, “You’re not real... you can’t be?”
“That’s quite a presumption,” he said. “After all, how do you know you are real?”
“Because I am,” she sputtered indignantly.
“Seems to me,” said Lord Satan, “that your erudition is flawed... I’ve been told education is not what it used to be. But this takes the biscuit. You perceive with your five senses, of which actually, there are seventeen, but let’s not get into the finer details... now that input is raw data, which is duly processed by certain aspects of your grey matter, and then made sense of by what you bipeds call the mind. So think about it. I may well be ‘real’, but your internal processing has turned me into something that you do not accept as ‘real’ even though, at least to my own mentation system, I am real, although, of course, I might not be... and neither might you.”
This appeared to have befuddled the girl’s mind.
“You’re talking gobbledygook,” she said.
Lord Satan tried another tack. “Well, given that you and your paramour danced around the Druid Stone in order to make me appear, doesn’t that presuppose you believe in ‘gobbledygook’? After all, how many of the good citizens of Bungay do such a thing? Would you not say that your mentation systems have led you up the garden path?”
“There’s no talking to you,” said the girl, “you’re an idiot.”
“Ah!”, replied Lord Satan, “there you have it, an idiot! A philosopher who philosophizes about the ineffable, a thice-core being who is not in balance and doesn’t realize that words scramble and shape perceptions and bear no resemblance to actual ‘real’ reality.
The girl looked mightily bored by the point. “So what about granting my wish? If you’re what you say you are, it’s the least you can do.”
Lord Satan thought, “Hmmm, I don’t recall declaring who I am...” but he kept that to himself, and asked her what her wish she had in mind.
A look of avarice crossed her not-unbecoming face. “I want a rich boyfriend...”
“I see, but what about him?” said Lord Satan pointing at her still prostrate paramour.
“I don’t care about him, he’s not going anywhere, he’s just a mechanic, and he’s boring and no good in bed.”
Lord Satan raised his eyebrows, and with a wry smile said, “At least you know what your priorities are in life. But I would add that one should be careful what one wishes for. That said, I will grant your wish.”
He reached into his waistcoat pocket and pulled out a small black stone. “Here,” he said, “take this Salagor Stone, keep it with you, and your wish will come true.”
“Really?” she said. “I can’t wait. It’s about time I had what I deserve. I keep playing the lottery, but the most I won was two hundred quid. Dead loss. When do you think I’ll meet my rich boyfriend?”
Now tiring of the girl, who he felt was clearly irksome company, Lord Satan said, “I predict by the next dark of the moon...which is in one week and one day. So take your current paramour home and await your change in circumstance.”
The girl pouted. “What you expect me to take that useless lump home?! Just leave him there, somebody will come along and see to him.”
With that, she walked off clutching her Salagor Stone, and with the air of somebody oblivious to the fact that all Earth bipeds are dependent on each other, the clemency of seasons, the fierce or temperate tides, the Great Sun and Great Mother... and of course, the emanations of the Moon... so it never hurts to do the right thing where possible, or at least pick up your boyfriend of two minutes ago, and get him on his feet. And besides, thought Lord Satan, the likelihood is she’ll be back with the humble - and as it happened, still prostrate, mechanic... his hands might be oily, but he was no doubt a good sort, salt of the earth, and all that. The grass might always look greener, but it rarely is.
So Lord Satan took it upon himself to get the mechanic back on his feet. But it was to no avail as the boy fainted again on seeing the Good Mr Natas’ long curly tail. “There’s no dealing with these Earth bipeds,” he thought and then went back to the bench on the other side of the yew tree smoke his pipe. As the smoke weaved into the cool spring air, anybody watching would have thought he disappeared in a cloud of smoke.