The director of the NSA meets his maker—on the similarity of divine and mundane mottos—on being kidnapped—on letting the director of the CIA take a little more of the heat—the Devil as a good employer—on 21,763 eyes and two teeth—on having consideration for the heavenly hosts—on getting one’s just reward—on the dangers of looking in the mirror.
“Well children, are you all sitting comfortably? Good, now let’s begin our story.”
As the director of the NSA lay dying, he offered up a little prayer. Of course, he wasn’t much used to praying, since he had never had to curry favour with anyone before. But, he thought it best to hedge his bets—his stock broker had told him this once—and praying was the sort of thing you’re supposed to do when dying, so he did some.
Suddenly God appeared in a flash of light. “Ah!” said the director, “Nice of you to come so promptly.” And then, suddenly becoming anxious for a favourable judgement, the director continued, “Look God, see our motto on the wall.” God looked, and there on the wall was the motto of the NSA, “In God we trust; all others we monitor.” “How extraordinary!” said God, “Why, we have one that’s almost exactly the same.” “Ha!” thought the director, “I’m in. That was easy.”
Suddenly there was another flash of light—now children don’t be surprised, for improbable things happen in stories, such as two flashes of light occurring “suddenly” in quick succession, and directors of the NSA who pray to anyone other than themselves. In any case, to continue our story, the director suddenly found himself transported to Heaven, and there, arranged in a great arc across the sky, was the Heavenly motto, “In the People we trust; the NSA we monitor.”
Suddenly—yes children, “suddenly” appears a lot in children’s stories—a black mist appeared. It enveloped the director, and then in a flash of anti-light—not yet discovered by science which is why the word may seem unfamiliar to you if you’re reading this prior to the year 2734—the director found himself surrounded by glaring imps, with saucer-like eyes, each burnishing a firebrand, in a dark, dank cavern with slime dripping from the walls. “Welcome! Welcome!” said the Devil. “I’ve tried to make it look just like the office, so you’d feel at home.”
“Why…you’ve kidnapped me,” said the director, outraged at his treatment—you see when he was alive no one had ever kidnapped him. “Now, now,” said the Devil in soothing tones, “No need to get upset. We don’t call it ‘kidnapping’ these days.” “Well, what do you call it?” said the director in angry tones. The imps who had gathered around the director parted to reveal a large cauldron of boiling metal, on whose side was emblazoned the words, “Extraordinary Renditions: NSA Top Brass Only.”
“But,” wailed the director, “you’ve got the wrong man.” “Really,” said the Devil, “I wonder where I’ve heard that before?” “No, no, it’s the director of the CIA you want,” petitioned the director of the NSA in the most earnest tones. “You see,” said the Devil, tenderly placing a scorching hand on the director’s shoulder, “Down here, we weren’t born yesterday.” (Actually children we don’t know exactly when the Devil was born, or even if he was born, but, if he was, then it happened a very, very long time ago.) The Devil continued, “Now you’ve heard of ‘Aiding and Abetting’. Where exactly do you think the CIA got their intelligence—they certainty weren’t born with it? And, as to the director of the CIA, just you look over there. The metal in his cauldron boils at a slightly higher temperature than yours, so there’s no need to complain that you’re being treated unfairly. Sorry, if all this seems a little Hollywood, but my imps really took a liking to those Terminator films, so as a good employer I felt it best to humour them.”
The Devil picked up a large iron-bound book and began leafing through its singed, dog-eared pages. “Ah! Yes!” he said, “Here we are.” And putting on his glasses—which immediately started to melt in the intense heat—he quickly did a little mental arithmetic. “Wish we could get some of your technology to work down here. Don’t need one of those supercomputers, just a PC would do fine—Billy Boy’s already offered us a deal on the software in exchange for a lower temperature when he retires—but I’m afraid those Intel chips…well…they just melt in the heat. We’ve applied for a dispensation to have some localised air-con installed, but no joy, no joy.”
“Now, now,” said the Devil admonishing himself, “you must think me very rude pouring over my problems, when I should,” he smiled broadly, “be pouring over yours! You’ve heard the phrase, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ I believe. Now, according to my calculations, I make it 21,763 eyes and two teeth.” “This must be a dream,” wailed the director, “I can’t believe that God would let this happen to me.” “Oh!” said the Devil, “the real ‘God’ wouldn’t, but your ‘God’ would.”
You see your God wouldn’t like to have you tortured up there in his Heaven. It would upset the heavenly hosts, and the divine scriveners would start writing tracts about it being incompatible with the Heavenly constitution—what with all that peace and love and that sort of thing. So your God and me…well…we have an agreement, a pact you could call it. He sends the undesirables he wants to be tortured down here, out of the way as it were. Yes, yes, I admit it’s not original, but, at least, you must admit we’re quick learners!”
“Now boys,” said the Devil to his imps, “Off we go. Thirty minutes per eye, five minutes per tooth, with 24 hours in between dunkings, so that our dear director can contemplate the nature of his sins and look forward with eager anticipation to his next deboning.” The excited imps eagerly closed in and, with sharp claws digging into the director’s flesh, they carried him aloft towards the waiting cauldron, which bubbled even more vigorously in anticipation—you see children, in stories caldrons are allowed to do this!
“Oh! By the way,” said the Devil, “We, too, have a motto.” And as the director looked up at the low-slung ceiling, there in black Gothic letters, dripping with the fat of many former directors of the NSA were the words, “To every man his just reward.”
“And now children, every story has a moral to it, so that, hopefully, none of you will grow up to become a bad person like the director of the NSA. And what is the moral of this story? ... Yes, that’s right children. Confucius, he say, ‘Wise man, when he searching for God, remember not to do so while he look in mirror!’”