Welcome to my part of the DSDU 2nd anniversary Halloween blog hop. Today I have for you a story of deceit, drunkenness, debauchery and the devil getting the last laugh. Sound like last Saturday night?
Well it could be, but it isn’t. No, this story hails from several centuries ago and from a land far, far away, nowadays known as Ireland. The folklore revolves around a lech known to the locals back then as Stingy Jack. Yes indeed, by all reports Jack was a bit of a lad – and not in the nice sense of the word. He’d mastered all the mandatory criteria for being a right proper scumby.
Depending on which story you read, Jack apparently outwitted the Devil on one or two occasions. I think this highly unlikely for I doubt the Devil would be so easily deceived, being a Master of the art himself.
The first time, when the Devil came for his soul, Jack convinced the Devil to allow him one final drinking binge before departing for the nether regions. The Devil agreed. (Magnanimous of him, don’t you think – doesn’t really fit the profile) Anyway, Jack had his drinks in a bar and somehow tricked the Devil into turning into a coin to pay for the drinks. When the Devil did this, Jack grabbed him up and shoved him in a pocket which also held a crucifix. Now the crit partner in me is thinking, if he’s such a douche bag loser, why’s he got a crucifix in his pocket? This is one of those unforgivable coincidences that a writer shouldn’t get away with. (Also, why would the Devil care about paying for drinks – but that sort of thinking only gets me sidetracked.)
So back to the story, Jack coerces the trapped Devil into agreeing to let him live for another 10 years before reaping his soul. Oddly enough, the Devil not only agrees to this, he honours the bargain. Go figure.
Ten years on, the Devil has apparently developed early stage dementia, for he’s totally forgotten Jack’s previous deceit and once again falls pray to treachery involving apple trees and yet more crucifixes (you’d think the Devil could sense these a mile off). Caught between the original sin (quite poetic) and the sign of Christ, for his freedom the Devil agrees that he will never take Jack’s soul into hell.
So Jack eventually dies, his soul rocks up to heaven only to find St Peter at the Pearly Gates denying him entry. Jack’s hedonistic and unrepentant lifestyle had earned him a ‘do not pass the Pearly Gates, do not collect any money’ card. Problem was, during his last encounter with the Devil he’d also forfeited his ‘go straight to hell’ card. He gave it a shot though, but the Devil, ostensibly obeying the bind of the promise he made Jack, could not take his soul.
Destined to wander the darkness between Heaven and Hell, Jack whined about finding his way and the Devil flipped him
the bird an ember from the fires of Hell to provide a light. I’m guessing the damned thing was too hot to handle (even for an incorporeal soul) and Jack stuck it in a hollowed out turnip (no not pumpkin – they came later) and used the ensemble as a lantern.
So now I’m left wondering if the Devil wasn’t simply amusing himself all along and set this up to play out as it did. My advice to this author is to give us a bit of the Devil’s POV when he first appears and we might find his actions believable.
It seems to me that Jack’s mother had not properly impressed upon him (or more likely alcohol had destroyed the memory) the rule ‘Don’t tick off the Devil’. Bit like making eye contact with a twenty foot statue of Anubis, but that’s another story…
Where’s the pumpkins? When the food-hollowing-at-Halloween craze hit America, they sensibly decided their native fruit/ vegetable (there’s a whole world of debate out there about which), the pumpkin, lent itself far more readily to carving. I can imagine WHS stepping in here. Can you imagine the number of nine fingered turnip carvers there must have been?
And for those of you gluten/grain intolerant, please check out my recipe page for a delicious pumpkin pie.
To go into the draw to win a copy of Bob Mayer’s The Novel Writer’s Toolkit please leave a comment.
The Blog Hop Rules (sounds like a song)
- To be eligible to win a prize on the blogs, the reader must do what’s instructed on each blog by 11.59pm, 4th November, Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
- To be eligible to win a grand prize of a $30 Amazon voucher, participants must comment on each participating blog. Only one comment needed. Multiple comments will be ignored for the purposes of the contest.
- Have fun!
Halloween Special – 2nd Blogiversary Participants
|1. Eleni Konstantine
2. Mel Teshco
3. Nicole Murphy
4. Imogene Nix
5. Christina Phillips aka Christina Ashcroft
6. Amanda Ashby
7. Jenny Schwartz
8. Shona Husk
9. Maree Anderson
|10. Kylie Griffin
11. Lilliana Rose
12. Nicole Hurley-Moore
13. Eden Summers
14. Erica Hayes
15. Sandra Harris
16. Keziah Hill
17. S E Gilchrist