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"The Devil Goes Down"

sim's picture


SIMON: A nerdy-looking schmuck.
THE VOICE: Authoritative, slick, off-stage voice.
THE DEVIL: Preferably a girl, like Satan in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ.

SCENE. LIGHTS UP on Simon seated at a table with a computer. He's trying to finish a sitcom script by deadline and is obviously frustrated.

SIMON: (Looks at clock) Damn! (Looks at watch on left arm) Damn! (Looks at watch on right arm) Damn!

Man, why did I put this off till the last minute? (Types furiously) Ahh, that SUCKS! (Backspace, backspace, backspace...)

Dammit, I'd give anything to have this finished!


VOICE: (Softly) Simon. (Beat, louder) Si-mon.

SIMON: What the --

VOICE: Hello, Simon.

SIMON: Who the --

VOICE: How's your script coming? Think you'll get it finished and postmarked by the midnight deadline?

SIMON: Who the hell is this?

VOICE: (Chuckles) It's not going well, is it?

SIMON: I've still got time, I've still got time. I work really well under pressure.

VOICE: No, you don't. Under stressful conditions, you barely function at all.

SIMON: Okay, okay, I don't work well under pressure. What do you want? I'm BUSY HERE! (Beat) Great. I'm talking to myself. I'm talking back to the voices in my head. I need to focus!

VOICE: You need a script. I can help you out.

SIMON: You know, I'd do anything for a script. A prize-winning script.

VOICE: I know. I heard. I have an offer you may find... tempting.

SIMON: Who is this?

VOICE: Who do you think this is?

SIMON: Well, I've watched enough “Twilight Zone” episodes, including the new ones with the theme song played by The Grateful Dead, and there's a segment with George Jefferson from “The Jefferson's” and Detective Harris from “Barney Miller” where the guy from the Jefferson's plays a mathematician and...

VOICE: Stop. The skit's limited to five minutes.

SIMON: I don't even believe in you.

VOICE: You don't even believe there's such a thing as a human soul, do you?

SIMON: Not as a supernatural, ghost-in-the-machine element of my identity, no.

VOICE: Then you should have no problem with my proposition, my quid pro quo. What could be the possible harm with letting something you don't believe in have something you don't believe you have?

SIMON: Well, treating all this unreality as reality, hell, just talking like this, instead of dismissing this as a hallucination, a waking dream...

VOICE: ... Dream? You know that feeling you get when you're dreaming, and you're dreaming that you're dreaming?

SIMON: Yeah.

VOICE: That's the closest you come to being awake.

SIMON: Yeah, whatever. Anyway, I'm busy. I've got a deadline.

VOICE: I've got a script for you. A good one. I think you're familiar with the terms of the deal?

SIMON: Um, yeah.

VOICE: If I don't exist – if your soul doesn't exist – think of this as a metaphor that your subconscious has created to illustrate how much time and effort it takes to be a good writer. Perhaps a lifetime of solitude, bad posture, and squinting eyes in exchange for a few words on paper that no one cares about is the very image of damnation. Your subconscious will only open your creativity if you make the commitment.

SIMON: Oh, if you put it that way, okay. I'll do it.

(THE DEVIL comes in as a young woman or girl. She has a script in hand. SHE SHOULD TRY TO MATCH THE VOICE'S RHYTHM AND TONE.)

DEVIL: Like this? I hope this isn't frightening. Do you find it pleasing? Do you find it tempting?

SIMON: Is that the script? Gimme.

(SIMON takes the script from the DEVIL and leafs through it.)

SIMON: Hey! “As you wish... Sleep well and dream of large women... Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line... You have killed my father, prepare to die...” This is all ripped off from The Princess Bride!

DEVIL: I'm not the creative one. The Other Guy is the creative one.

SIMON: I can't pass off The Princess Bride as my script!

DEVIL: My specialty – one of my specialties – is deception. Especially self-deception. With this deal, no one will remember The Princess Bride. When people rent the movie, they will see another movie with Ashley Judd running away from a serial killer. When it reruns on TNT or Comedy Central, people will see a movie with John Candy or Billy Crystal, perhaps together.

When you turn in this script, everyone will think it's your idea.

SIMON: But who would be in it? Andre the Giant is dead! The rest of the cast is twenty years older!

DEVIL: Jennifer Aniston would stay in television for this script.

SIMON: It's a movie, how can this be a sitcom script?

DEVIL: Editing. Some writers can punch out treatments. The important thing is the concept.

SIMON: But The Princess Bride was one of those movies that I used as a litmus test to see how cool people are. It's like Bottle Rocket or Harold and Maude. No one will understand any references I make when I talk about The Princess Bride if you brainwash it out of the collective consciousness.

DEVIL: How many references and allusions do you make now that people don't understand? What's one more?

SIMON: Geez, I don't know... Let me think about it.

DEVIL: And miss the deadline?

SIMON: Damn it! (Beat) Why did you appear as a girl, anyway?

DEVIL: Do you like it? Do you find it – tempting?

SIMON: I figure you'd come to me in a familiar image.

DEVIL: Such as?

SIMON: Like, like Gilligan.

DEVIL: Gilligan?

SIMON: Yeah, I've been watching a lot of “Gilligan's Island” and I've concluded that Gilligan is the Devil. He wears a red shirt, you know.

DEVIL: Wearing a red shirt makes Gilligan the Devil?

SIMON: Well, “Gilligan's Island” is Hell. You can never leave Hell. It's part of the torment of the damned that they think they can leave, they get their hopes up, but the Devil keeps them in Hell.

DEVIL: I'm Gilligan?

SIMON: Yeah, the castaways represent the Deadly Sins. The Professor suffered from Pride. Ginger was Vanity. Maryanne was Envy. The Skipper was Gluttony. Mr. Powell was Avarice or Greed...

DEVIL: And Mrs. Powell?

SIMON: Sloth. She never did anything. Didn't even gather food.

DEVIL: And I'm Gilligan?

SIMON: Of course.

(THE DEVIL takes the script back from SIMON'S hands.)

DEVIL: Give me that back. You're too weird. Your soul would be too weird. I don't want anything that weird.

SIMON: I wonder what I'd be like on “Gilligan's Island”...



SIMON: (Yells at the devil) Thanks for the concept, BITCH!!!

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sim's picture

And speaking of Ashley Judd

So, I went to see Bug 'cos the same director did The Exorcist. From the commercials, I thought the title was kinda like a Snakes On A Plane where the title describes the basic idea of the movie. From that logic, Bug would have been better titled Bugshit as in "crazy as". It's a weird intense movie. Ashley Judd gets nekkid, but crazy is never erotic.


A world without Princess

A world without Princess Bride certainly sounds like Hell.

And you definitely had me convinced Simon was a writer when his only reaction to the Devil's tempting form was: "Is that the script? Gimme." *grin*

sim's picture


Changed "Monty Python and The Holy Grail" to "Bottle Rocket". Why? Because, truthfully, that was a litmus test movie for me rather than Monty Python. I've had lots of successful relationships with Python haters. But not with them that don't get "Bottle Rocket".


sim's picture

Moratorium on "Gilligan's Island"

Okay, I've an allusion to Back To The Future with the watches. There's the Soup Nazi reference from Seinfeld. Uhh, a line completely ripped from Novalis, a German philosopher-poet. Oh, line from Rushmore. I was hesitant about using "Gilligan's Island" again, but I figured, what the heck, right? I feel like I need to leave off the culture-vulture pecking of the stinking corpse of pop culture. Anyway, comments welcomed.

Oh, and yes, this is a slight riff on alexwolfe's blog entry -- I left a comment on that page that I hope he doesn't find hateful or negative.