Angels and Demons

Posted: September 3, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine, Observations
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Why do so many of our childhood songs have a creepy vibe to them?

Angels, Devils, Pears and Plums
Tell me when your birthday comes
January, February, March, April…

A jump rope chant from my childhood.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am engaged with typical Sunday afternoon activities. In other words, I am enjoying some quiet leisure time. I spoke earlier with the Gow who informed me of her productive Sunday afternoon where she hopes and plans to nap a headache away. There isn’t much on TV. Titanic is on HBO, but I have always maintained that the only redeeming feature of the film is watching Leonardo DiCraprio die after inflicting two hours of cheesy dialogue on us.

I have been web surfing and reading about Stephen King. I checked his website, read various synopsis’ of his books and short stories on Wikipedia. It caused a wave of pleasant nostalgia. I remembered where I was when I first read his various books and novellas (King seems to be in love with that term, as I have never seen others use it.) I remember moving back in with my mother when I was 22. I was miserable at the time, although my mom did her best to care for me, make me feel better and help. I would go to the town library and read. I don’t know how to describe it. I felt sitting in the town library and reading was not only comforting, but it was…innocent. I wasn’t being a fuck up by sitting in the library reading a book. I didn’t have to worry about being cool, I wasn’t a loser who couldn’t hold down a job and who had been forced to move back in with his mother. I was just a young guy in a quiet place losing himself in Needful Things. We’ll come back to Needful Things in a minute as it serves as an inspiration for this particular piece.

If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

I read that Stephen King owned a radio station or two in Maine where he lives. That’s a pretty telling sign of success and one to be envied to my way of thinking. Buying a radio or TV station and changing the format to stuff you like. Howard Hughes did this in Vegas years ago. He was an insomniac and bought a local TV station just so he could keep it running the old movies he loved on all night. I could see settling in a rural area and owning a radio station….

“You’re listening to KSCT radio….K-Scott radio here in Shove-It-Up- Your-Ass West Virginia, we are 10 minutes after the big hour of 10am, and we will be bringing you 6 hours of music from the British Invasion because the station owner stayed up all night and told us to play it to help him fall asleep…and don’t forget to tune in this weekend for 48 hours of Pat Benetar and Johnny Mathis…”

Back to Needful Things . It’s a novel about a demon in man’s form who moves to a small town in Maine and opens up a curio/antique shop. He sells things to the town’s residents at bargain prices. He appeals to their hopes and fears. The things they buy are cursed and part of the “price” for these things is to perform a small “joke” on someone else in the town. The demon knows all of the small towns grudges, beefs and feuds. Through these “practical jokes” he causes violence and chaos in the small town.

It made me think of demons…and angels.

When asked about God my standard reply is “I’m not sure if God exists, but I still email him regularly and I’m quite

Would you pass the test?

frightened of him.” To my way of thinking there seems to be more tangible evidence for the existence of angels and demons than there does of God and Satan. Greek Mythology has many examples of the gods and goddesses disguising themselves to mess about with and test various heroes. I think in the story of Perseus, Theseus or Onassis. I’m a little rusty with my Greek myths, but I believe an “old crone” asked the hero to help carry her across a river. He relented and as it turns out it was the Greek goddess Athena who was testing him to see if he was a nice boy. Ever since I read this I have A: Tried to be helpful to old crones in need, and B: Tried to use the term “old crone” as much as humanly possible. I am reminded of my friend and former roommate Ozlo who worked at the Beth Israel Emergency Room and was “let go” for an appalling lack of bedside manner. He would routinely tell people freaking out and overdosing on drugs in his relaxed, stoner, deadpan voice; “Yeah, I think you’re gonna die”. Despite his often mean spirited demeanor, Ozlo was exceptionally kind to the various homeless skells that would drop by the ER with mystery ailments, when really they were looking for a warm place to sit or sleep for a few hours, or perhaps even a meal. He explained to me once that he suspected that these people were angels in disguise and that they were “testing” him. his theory tickled me. I started to keep my eyes open for angels.

The lesser demons are easier to spot. They often take the form of little old ladies in grocery store lines who are there to sap you of your youth and sanity, they are screaming babies on airplanes, and of course, meter maids. The more serious demons are often involved in big business, media and politics so they can spread their misery and mischief on a much larger scale. Most recently they have been pouring a great deal of their energy into reality TV. How do you spot demons? Well, they look like everyday people. It’s their behavior that gives them away. Most people have better things to do with their time than to go demon watching…but it has become a hobby of mine. Some people collect coins, stamps, comic books. I collect pet peeves…and coins. Some people go bird watching. I go demon watching. Here are some tell tale signs of demons visiting our planet in human guise.

  1. Demons delight in doing things that “ruin” an experience for everyone else. They talk or answer cell phones during movies, they make messes in public restrooms…You get the idea. 2 or 3 tenacious demons, who have planned well and taken fiber laxative prior to a sporting event or concert can really mess up a good time for thousands of people.
  2. Demons like to inhabit busy public places where they can blend in while tormenting the rest of us. I’ve noticed an inordinate amount of demons at the gym, bus and train stations.
  3. Demons defend themselves with careful camouflage. They prefer the human form of people with whom it is a faux pas to yell at or attack. Little old ladies or the elderly in general. Babies, small children and drunk, crying and or attractive women.
  4. Dunkin Donuts, The DMV, Collection Agencies and my dentist’s hire demons exclusively.

A final note on the demons that are all around us every day: Mental health professionals are very interested in your theories about and sighting of demons. If you’re in therapy, try mentioning the demon you saw who was sitting selfishly on the workout bench at your gym and text messaging when it was your ‘arms’ day and you only had a little time to work out and they will reach for their notepads and ask things like “Are you taking the pills I gave you?” and “Do you see lots of these ‘demons’?”

I suppose that brings us to angels. I admit I’m a bit of a Gloomy Gus. OK that’s an understatement. I am the undisputed heavyweight champion Gloomy Gus. Gloomy Guses (Is that the grammatically correct plural term?) don’t generally go around looking for or associating with angels. It would be tantamount to my having cute kitten and puppy posters all over my bedroom, and I gave that up in my early 30s.


Protecting the stupid can be so exhausting.

Angels…naturally go around doing nice things or looking out for us. They have their hands quite full with the incredible amount of stupid people out there as they are the most in need of angelic protection and interference. Angels have a “thing” for stupid people.

I met an angel once years ago. His name was Vasilious. I was a young punk living more or less on the streets of Boston and Vasilous would routinely invite me to his home to sleep indoors, have a meal or grab a shower. I like talking to people, but Vasilious didn’t ever say much. He looked like Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later when he wakes up in the hospital with a beard. I slept in his home on several cold nights and ate Greek food with him. I’d prattle on and on as I tend to get nervous around people who aren’t big talkers. He’d smile patiently and answer in single syllables or very short sentences if he had to. His apartment was very sparce, clean and empty. He had a roommate who was also an angel. They were both from Greece and Vasilious was studying physics at Boston University.

Vasilious would walk around on cold nights looking for people to invite home and feed. I never went to knock on his door if I needed a roof for the night. It just never seemed right to me. One shouldn’t abuse the hospitality and generosity of an angel. If he came out and found me, then it was meant to be. Once he asked me over and when I arrived there was another homeless fellow already asleep in his bed. I asked him where he would sleep, and he just smiled his funny smile and said he had studying to do. He fetched me a blanket and pillow and I curled up on his bedroom floor. When I woke up there he was in his goofy raggedy sweater and the same smile. He gave me some coffee, bread and cheese and I left after thanking him. He never said it was time for me to go, that he had pressing matters or acted as if I was over staying my welcome. He was the kindest and most selfless being I have ever met. I hope that the small acts of kindness I have committed since have made up for his deeds in a paying it forward kind of way. My acts of charity, decency and kindness pale in comparison to his.

But then, of course, I’m not an angel.


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