“Oh, you are a handsome devil!” With a wheezing grin the creature bared yellowish teeth in what was meant to be a grin, but appeared as a horrible grimace. Black, leather-like skin encrusted with flaking, greenish-gray scales strung itself tightly across portions of the creature’s anatomy and hung in loose folds in others. It gave a deep sigh that would have been heartfelt if the being in fact had a heart.
“Unfortunately, it will never do. The human creatures are too pathetically faint to handle your devastating good looks. So we must improvise. Who is first on my list?” The creature glanced at the daily roster that governed its life. “Ah, the ugly female in the blue house. Pleasant St. today.” With a cackle, it transformed itself into a radiant thought, a mental image of a beautiful woman: a collage of Aphrodite, Hathor, Venus. Thus attired, it flitted into the window of the blue house and alighted in the brain of the “ugly woman” who stood in front of her mirror. She picked up her blush brush, prepared to apply the obligatory pink powder that society told her made her beautiful.
“That’s right,” a gentle voice whispered in her head. “All you need in life is beauty. Look at the swimsuit models. Be like them, and the world will fall at your feet. Beauty is the key…to prosperity!” With a sigh she turned, dropping her brush and exchanging it for a book. A tremor of fear ran through the creature’s body and it knew what she held…
“No!” it let out a gurgling scream as the words leapt from the pages of the Holy Book, burrowing into the woman’s brain and punching it in the face: “Whose adorning, let it not be the outward adorning of the plaiting of hair, and of the wearing of gold, or of putting on apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart…even the ornament of the meek and quiet spirit.”* It spun from the blue house and hovered nearby, hands clasped to its dizzy head. Once it gained its bearings, it checked its roster…new try. It spun down Pleasant St. until it reached the house where a young man sat pouring over college catalogs. Assuming the mental image of a knowledgeable professor, the creature slipped unnoticed into the young man’s mind. It was pleased to see that the youth’s copy of the Holy Books sat disregarded beneath the catalog he was scrutinizing.
“Very good Young Man,” his voice carried the note of a learned individual. “You are very bright. All you need to succeed in life is knowledge. Worldly information will raise you above the ordinary man. Education is the key…to prosperity!” The young man rubbed a tired hand over his eyes and slammed the catalog shut.
“No!” The creature hissed as words leapt off the page of the now-exposed Holy Book. The youth’s eyes fell on the words: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”** With a blinding flash, the words sent the creature into a tailspin, out of the youth’s mind and into the abyss of disuse again.
One last chance. Another man, two houses down. Obsessed with stocks and bonds recently. This time the creature assumed the image of money, a myriad of bills and coins, denominations and designs. It spun its way into the man’s mind and softly coerced him to the computer where the screen showed the latest results of the stock market.
“That’s right,” the creature crooned. “With money, you will own the world. When you have a bigger house, a nicer car, then you will be happy. All you need is the right amount of cash. Just think. Money is the key…to prosperity!” The creature was sure it had won this time, until a casual glance caused he man’s eyes to fall on his desk calendar, a day-to-day gig with a verse on each page. The words that drilled through the man’s eyes, into the creature’s mind, and exploding inside its brain read: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”***
Once more, the creature was sent reeling from the brain that it should have owned.
“The cursed Book!” it screeched. Taking a deep breath it tried to calm itself. “My dear Prosperity,” it addressed itself. “You have not been very prosperous today.”
*1 Peter 3:3-4
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