The Devil And Myron Rabinowirz

Runner-up-Booksie "Tickle My Funny Bone" Comedy Writing Contest Runner-up-Booksie "Tickle My Funny Bone" Comedy Writing Contest

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

Kenneth C. Goldman One-Time/Reprint Rights
1700 Oakwood Terrace, Apt. 3-G ©Ken Goldman Narberth, PA 19072 Approx. 2588 words   



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Ken Goldman

There had to have been a mistake. Here stood Myron Rabinowitz at the gateway to Hell wearing an old flannel shirt Edna had purchased for him at Wal-Mart, and he had not even had his morning gargle-and-spit. The last thing he remembered was stepping out for half a dozen poppyseed bagels and a quarter pound of lox at Rosenblatt’s Deli, the one advertised on the Kosher Cable Network as “A Taste of Tel-Aviv in Your Mouth.” But he had not wound up at the Deli, unless Abe Rosenblatt had changed the sign in front of his store to read “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.” Not that it was such a bad idea for anyone who had tried Abe’s whitefish.

It seemed that only moments earlier Rabinowitz had left Edna while she was still sleeping as she always did Sunday mornings, looking like a beached whale that had spent the night swimming in an ocean of Pond’s facial cream. One of his most recurring nightmares had been that the time would come when Edna would again insist that she be the one on top. For the past twenty years Myron Rabinowitz had lived in fear of that day and kept an overnight bag containing his Med-Alert just in case.
But what sin have I committed that is so great that it has brought me to the very doormat of Hell? Myron Rabinowitz asked himself, while inside his head he rewound the lengthy videotape of his life, pushed STOP, and then PLAY. Could one honestly and accurately recall every small offense he had committed? 

Rabinowitz struggled to remember, and a vague memory came. Something about a rather plain woman named Alice who had lived in abject poverty inside a dingy one room apartment with a kitchen table and two chairs as its only furniture.

Or was that “The Honeymooners” ?

Well, someone around here would know why he was here when he should have been home watching his wife as she shoved heaping mounds of cream cheese into her face. What that woman could do to a hapless quarter pound of lox and some herring, now there was a sin.

“Hey! Hey! I’m standing here!” Rabinowitz called out before the gates of Hell. “I’m standing here waiting and I’m becoming very annoyed with you people!” If living with Edna had taught Myron anything, it was to speak up for himself. Of course this was always easier whenever Edna was not around.

No one answered. There was no one tending Hell’s entrance or even providing valet parking. This was not only a cosmic mystery, it was also impolite to keep someone standing in such heat. Then again, there would be no need to tip.

  There must have been a reason why Satan had brought Myron here. Yes, but the Prince of Darkness was a tricky devil. Did Hell have its own entrance requirements in compliance with some cosmic quota system? Was Myron Rabinowitz its token Hebrew like some guy named Raheeb who is welcomed into the Knights of Columbus? If so, Myron could accept a little rejection from Lucifer. Or, if all the Devil required of Rabinowitz was a slight attitude adjustment, Myron could arrange that too. The Arabs wanted the Holy Land so bad? Well sure, why not? If it were up to him he might even throw in parts of Florida. Stay healthy, Satan, and shalom.
On the other hand perhaps he had been brought to the Netherworld because this was the demon’s litmus test to see just what kind of mensch was this man who called himself Myron Rabinowitz. Maybe this was a final examination to determine the mettle from which such a man was cut and to what levels of pain the Deuce might have to subject such a man before he gave even the slightest indication of his bowels loosening? The Devil would have to check with Edna about that last part.

“I’m still standing here!” Rabinowitz repeated. “You see me standing here? Well that’s what I’m doing, I’m still standing in this same spot right here! Right here is where I’m still standing!”

When Satan suddenly appeared before him in a cloud of smoke, it was not unlike the entrance made by Siegfried and Roy whom Rabinowitz had taken Edna to see in Atlantic City, although the band in the Underworld was nowhere nearly as good. Perhaps that was because the clarinet player’s nose hairs were on fire. This Hell certainly appeared to be a tough room, and Myron Rabinowitz had not come prepared for open mike night.

At first glance Rabinowitz almost mistook the Prince of Darkness for Sammy Davis Jr., an honest mistake because the Devil had popped in while doing a chorus of “The Candy Man” and all those demons looked so much alike anyway, like a bunch of prancing goats gone meshuggah. Smiling courteously at his guest, Satan extended his hand. 

“Welcome to the Nether Region, Mr. Rabinowitz,” the Devil replied with a beatific smile as he escorted Myron through the massive gate. “My staff and I extend all the necessary courtesies and pleasantries to you before we get down to the business of the eternal damnation of your soul, may it rot in Hell.”

Some primal instinct told Rabinowitz that he was not in a good circumstance. It was bad enough that he was not very fond of the weather here, but he had also heard that Hell was filled with goyim.

“So, Satan, am I dead, or what?” Rabinowitz asked the archfiend as they passed the
volleyball tournament. The ball someone had just spiked over the net appeared to be the head of the Ayatollah Khomeini. “I just want you to know that if I’m not dead there may be some legal considerations here and I have a nephew who is known as the lawyer from Hell--“ Rabinowitz paused, realizing that this might not have been his best choice of words. He had tried a threat. Now some guilt was in order.

“On the other hand, if I am dead, by tomorrow morning my brother-in-law Sol will be robbing me blind in the store. Is this the kind of news I need to hear on my one day off?”

  “All that cholesterol and you still don’t remember your heart attack?” Satan asked while stopping to check a near-by phone booth’s coin slot for change. “Think, my friend,  think ...”

Rabinowitz thought back over his last day. Yes! By God, Satan was right! There had been a heart attack on his way to Rosenblatt’s. There had also been a peptic ulcer, gas, and diarrhea that flowed like the Red Sea, so who could know? But still Rabinowitz wondered what a simple clothing merchant had done to deserve an eternity in Hell? Was this his reward for selling retail? Hadn’t he lived a good life, a clean life free of sin and offense, regretting nothing except perhaps for the several decades of his life that followed the Eisenhower Administration?

Myron Rabinowitz had always believed that his place on earth had been to do good to others. He had no idea what the others were there for.

“But why am I in Hell?” he asked his host. “Surely among all the evil people in the world you could do better than an old pisher like me? You couldn’t find a nice neo-Nazi?” The Devil merely smiled as they passed the large Saddam Hussein statue that read “We owe you one.”

“There are many categories of sin, my friend, many definitions which go beyond those found in your standard Roget’s Thesaurus,” the Devil explained. “And you shall know these things in time, Mr. Rabinowitz, once we review some information from your past that will tell us something about the quality of your life.”
Now they were getting somewhere! All that fasting during the High Holidays was finally going to pay off. Rabbi Shapiro was right! 

“So we’re going to go over my pages as they appear in the Book of Life?”
“No, Mr. Rabinowitz, we’re going to play Jeopardy.”
Rabinowitz considered the possibility of the Devil’s being a putz.
Well, perhaps he might get a weekend at the Hyatt Regency in Hell out of this. He looked up at the categories on the board :

Embarrassing Articles of Clothing Your Mother
Insisted You Wear to School
Sexual Guilt and Related Acts That Will Make a Man Go
Yiddish Expressions Screamed Out During the Act of
Pharmacists Who Do Not Charge an Arm and a Leg for
Generic Brand Prescriptions
Sons of Bitches Who Will Never Get One Penny From You
After You are Dead, So Help You God
and State Capitals



“Can I buy a vowel?” Rabinowitz asked.


“That’s ‘Wheel of Fortune’,” the Devil answered.

“Then I’ll take ’Sexual Guilt’ for $100, Satan.”

The Devil smiled and pulled out a card from which he read, “The answer is  ‘Choking the chicken.’”

“I beg your pardon?”

The Devil was losing his patience. 

“We’re talking about serious sin here! I’m referring to the last time you milked the weasel, Mr. Rabinowitz! Drained the lizard! Shook hands with Mr. Happy! Don’t toy with me, my friend! I give the answers, you supply the questions! But perhaps I might supply you with a hint concerning your offense.” The Devil leaned forward and pointed to the river of fire near the front gate. Immersed in its flames were perhaps two dozen naked screaming sinners who were forced to sing the lyrics of ‘The Brady Bunch’.

“Look closely at those tortured souls, Mr. Rabinowitz. All are unclean practitioners of the sound of one hand clapping! First we boil them in oil for a few years, then we subject them to reruns of ’The Jeffersons’. After that they usually beg to go back into the oil! Now, the answer I gave pertains to the last time you kneaded the knockwurst ...”

This guy was clearly no Alex Trebek. And his metaphors could have used a little more finesse.

“It may be difficult to recall, Satan, but--”

“--In the form of a question, Mr. Rabinowitz, or you will never see the Daily Double!” 

Rabinowitz flashed back to that terrible moment when his mother had caught her twelve year old son discovering the pleasures of the flesh while diddling himself in the bathroom with a copy of Popular Mechanics. From that day forward young Myron Rabinowitz had been afflicted with nearsightedness and the slight hint of stubble on his right palm.

Satan responded before Rabinowitz could utter another sound. “The question you are struggling with is : What vile and repulsive act was Myron Rabinowitz committing the morning of his fatal heart attack? And let me tell you, Mr. Rabinowitz, I had to think twice before we shook hands!”

“But it was the only time I touched myself there in twenty years!” Rabinowitz shouted.

“The Devil tempts men to be wicked that he may punish them for being so,” Satan replied. “Gotcha!”

Rabinowitz wondered if perhaps he should have selected State Capitals.

But was his act such a serious sin that it would ram a man directly into Hell? This thought gave Rabinowitz a moment’s pause. Could there be metaphysical ramifications of every ludicrous action one might commit? In an ordered universe could sin actually be subjective and abstract, or was it instead a concrete notion, impossible to judge in its context and on an individual basis? It appeared that this whole concept of sin was a pretty tricky business to nail down. Perhaps it had been a bad idea to select a rabbi who had taken the Evelyn Wood Talmudic speed reading course.

“So let me get this straight, Satan. I am to burn in Hell because this morning I pulled my schwantz?” Rabinowitz asked.

“Would it were that simple, my friend,” the Devil responded. “Do you remember the incident with Officer Elvira McShrimp?”

“The meter maid?” Rabinowitz asked.

“Exactly the one!”

“But that was in 1975!”

  “The Devil never leaves his receiver off the hook, my friend.”

“But it was only a ten dollar ticket for parking two minutes in a Loading Zone!”

“God’s line may be busy, but the Devil has ‘call waiting’!”

“But it was a simple parking ticket! What are you, an idiot?”

The Devil merely smiled. “If God’s answering machine recorded every man’s lament, my friend, there would be a ‘No Vacancy’ sign flashing eternally in Heaven.”

Rabinowitz had no doubt now. The Devil was a putz. And probably working for A.T. & T. as well.

“And of course there is the business of the towels,” Satan added.

“Towels? What towels?” Rabinowitz asked, but he felt certain he already knew.

Satan’s eyes locked with his. The Devil’s were cold eyes, vacant and devoid of life, the eyes of a lizard or perhaps of Edna’s nephew Richard who practiced law. “The towels that bear the name of the Ramada Inn that lie folded in your wife’s linen closet even as we speak, Mr. Rabinowitz!”

It would be pointless to argue. Satan was right. Myron had stolen the towels during a
weekend in 1968 when he and Edna had gone to Cleveland for the wedding of her sister Rose, a woman who on the day of her nuptials looked like a brontosaurus in chiffon. They had stayed in a room at the Ramada that had been roughly the size of a box from Federal Express, and the following morning he had been presented with a bill that practically demanded his first born. Of course he had taken the towels. That, and three rolls of toilet paper.

“... and of course there is the toilet paper--” added Satan.

“--Never mind,” interrupted Rabinowitz. “I see your point.”

“Then there’s no need to go over the business of the paper clips you took when you were an office boy back in--?”

“That’s all right, Satan,” said Myron, his voice reduced to a hush. “I think I see where this is going.”

Myron Rabinowitz looked around him at Hell. Yes, it appeared that this was where he would be spending eternity. To his right a vulture gnawed at the liver of a man who looked remarkably like Mister Rogers. Directly before him was a theater whose marquee read “Larry The Cable Guy : Director’s Cut.” And to his left a hundred naked women had been shouting the word “Gonads!” while hopping on one foot. Rabinowitz didn’t even want to know.

All that mattered was that Myron Rabinowitz, sinner, was about to begin his eternity roasting in the pits of the darkest corners of Hell. He had indeed fallen while doing his little hava nagilla on planet Earth, and now it was time to pay. He had only one question to ask of Satan.

“My wife, Edna. Will she---?”

“She will be along shortly, Mr. Rabinowitz,” said Satan. “She has been hitting those Whitman Samplers pretty hard, and what she has been telling those people at Jenny Craig is a sin in itself. Yes, my friend, your wife will be joining you in no time at all. And she will be expecting to be on top!”

“Damn!” shouted Myron.

“Exactly,” replied the Devil. “Now, Mr. Rabinowitz, if you will kindly remove that awful flannel shirt and step into this cauldron ...”



Submitted: November 12, 2018

© Copyright 2020 Ken Goldman. All rights reserved.

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I really enjoyed this! great voice! amazing visuals that, alas, will stick in my mind all day like old gefilte fish sticks in my gut...

Tue, May 21st, 2019 3:28pm

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