( Column 21 / 2002)

"The Lost Valleys"...by...Ron Gladkowski

          "A commentary about creative people living in the small communities scattered through the hills and valleys of Central New York"
          Published in The County Review

Dear God.
What if the Devil decided to turn over a new leaf?

.. Dear God,
          I am writing you in hopes of reconciling our differences. For all these years I have been the "BADGUY", and I'm tired of it. Initially I enjoyed the feeling of power. It was exciting to be able to terrorize the whole human race with that "Fire and Brimstone" image. I also confess that I enjoyed the competition, with you, for their souls.
          I have come to the realization that this competition, this need for power and excitement, is very destructive. The souls I have acquired are all depressing, depraved, and dangerous. Having to be constantly on guard has taken it's toll on me, both physically and mentally. I've decided that this desire I have to control, manipulate, and intimidate is a character defect that I need to change, if I am to lower my stress level, and find peace.
          I want to apologize for all the distress that I have caused you over the years. You certainly had a right to be disappointed with me, and I can't blame you for banishing me. My disloyalty to you, not only caused you great pain, but also started me on a path leading to my own degradation. I have seen the error of my ways, and beg your forgiveness.
          As evidence of my good intentions, I am enclosing some hand carved stone crosses, that we have started making. We first tried Bibles, but the paper didn't hold up well in the flames down here.
          If given a chance, I promise to become a loyal and productive citizen in your society, and work to bring honor and glory to you. My dark and hideous past is behind me, and I'm looking forward to a future of sharing your joy!
                                                  Respectfully Yours, Benjamin L.Z. Bubb

Dear Ben,
          What a surprise to hear from you! You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw the return address on your letter. My hands were shaking as I opened it. It was a beautiful letter. You always did have a way with words.
          I have to say that I was more than a little skeptical about your intentions until I saw the crosses. They were very finely crafted and the detailing was superb. It's apparent that you have finally conquered your phobia for religious symbols. Congratulations! The progress you have made in personal growth and self awareness is impressive. Keep up the good work!
          When we first had our falling out, I was dismayed. I had hoped we could work harmoniously together for all eternity. After you left, and set up your own realm, I wasn't certain what would happen. It turned out that, because I had given humans free will, I needed a place to put the bad ones. Your rebellion was a blessing in disguise. It allowed us, up here, to live in peace, with out those trouble makers. From my perspective, this arrangement is just fine, and I'd like to keep it this way.
          I recognize the advances you have made in your recovery, but I cant allow you to upset the apple cart. Any attempt, on your part, to close your doors, or refuse to take in the souls I send you will force me to take strong action. If necessary, I will retain a lawyer, and take this matter to the highest court.
                                   Sincerely, GOD.

Dear God,
          Where are you going to find a lawyer?
                                        Yours, Ben

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