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Dime Stories: The Baby Devils

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

I always enjoy movies about evil children—”The Omen,” “The Bad Seed,” “The Other” and, of course, “The Exorcist,” featuring Linda Blair painting the local clergy from scrot to throat with green puke.

I love this kind of stuff. “Village of the Damned” and “Children of the Corn” also set me off into fits of laughter. In fact, all of the devil shit is hysterically funny to me. When I was a kid, there was a grade-Z stinker called “Mark of the Devil.” It might have been a Roger Corman movie that got made for about six dollars. They had an ingenious marketing campaign of handing out barf bags at the drive-in and the commercials cautioned the moviegoer to keep repeating to him or herself, “Remember, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.” Damned if the thing wasn’t a hit.

The old drive-in movies were chock full of evil kids and toys, as were the comics; “Creepy” and “Eerie” especially. Decades before Korn, Slipknot and Marilyn Manson, the comics were full of satanic little fuckers doing evil at the drop of a hat. “The  Demon Seed” and “Village of the Damned” come to mind; the latter with children adorned with bleach-blond page-boy haircuts that made them look more dopey than evil.

The best bad guy is the Devil. Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub. Whatever you call him, he leads the league in evil. He is the catch-all for all of the shit that men actually do to each other. Here and there on cable there are shows where they have real-life exorcisms, always somewhere in East Bumfuck where the foreheads get wide, the chins disappear and shit-kickers wave snakes around and drink battery acid as a testament to their faith. Our country clings to its guns, religion and hatred of those unlike them, and ascribes the wrongdoing in the world to the Devil. It appears the Devil is a busy guy, recruitment wise.

Communists are the Devil. Gays are the Devil. Illegal Immigrants are the Devil. Civil Libertarians are the Devil. Non-whites are the Devil. Anyone who opposes the NRA is the Devil. Anyone who is pro-choice is the Devil. Muslims are the Devil. Atheists are, for damn sure, the Devil. Rock ‘n’ Roll is the Devil.

Fuck, that’s a lot of work—like being in the Army. Evil: It’s the hardest job you’ll ever love.

You get the picture. All of my peeps are, you guessed it, the Devil. Years ago my pal, Penn Jillette, gave me a T-shirt that said “Team Satan 666.” I loved this shirt. It made your whack-job, bat-shit variety X-tian crazy. They would walk by me with their mouth open slack-jawed and oafish and say to each other, “Can you believe what that shirt says?” It was funny as hell. I even had one guy roll up on me and scream in my face that I was a Satanist and that he was going to report me to the authorities. I told him that I really wasn’t. I just wore it to piss people like him off and, even if I was a Satanist, it’s not illegal to be so. And he insisted that “it most certainly was against the law to worship Satan.” I told him, “No pal, it’s not. Sorry.” He then said, “In Indiana it is.” And I said, “Look, I realize you’re from Indiana, so I’ll speak slowly and try not to use any big words like ‘Constitution,’ but Bunky, it’s perfectly legal to worship Satan in Indiana, if you so choose.” He then pointed in my face and said that he was going to pray that I go to hell. I gave him the Ronnie Dio devil horns and told him, “You have a pal in Satan, my man,” and he walked away cursing. This T-shirt launched many encounters like this and finally I had to stop wearing it.

Needless to say, I don’t believe in the Devil, or his competition. I don’t have an imaginary friend in the sky.

The last time I looked it wasn’t the Devil’s logo festooned on the drone bombings of innocents a half a world away.  When this happened to us, it was terrorism and tragedy; When we do it to them, it’s “collateral damage.”

Nor was Lucifer poisoning the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Busy as Satan is, he is a fucking piker when it comes to  competing with us for the doing evil sweepstakes. We’ve forgotten more about it than he’ll ever know.

I believe nothing is more capable of evil than mankind. I believe nothing is more capable of decency and kindness than mankind. It’s that simple. And it is that complicated.

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