Welcome to Spec Script, where author Michael B. Tager delves into the unexplored from your (or his) favorite television shows.
By Michael B. Tager
On the Seventh Day, All in the Family, Season ∞
Mondays are supposed to be the gentle days. The demon walks Archie from his rocky alcove to the torture room and straps him to a wicker chair. Bamboo shoots are inserted under his finger and toe nails and from time to time, the demon slaps Archie and asks him why he thinks he’s there. Archie often spits at the demon, spittle disintegrating in the demon’s aura. That’s not an answer, the demon says. If the demon is in a foul mood--if the weekend was unpleasant, or if he’d argued with his boyfriend--Archie is subsequently hung from a meat hook and left to dangle with weights on his toes while the hook slowly but surely cracks spine and splits skin as he’s inexorably split apart by gravity, rules of physic sacrosanct even here. If the demon is in a good room, the meat hook is skipped, but he’s almost always in a bad mood grinding his teeth and rubbing away a migraine. The demon tells him in his lovely Baritone, over and over again, the Jews didn’t kill Jesus, you idiot, Jesus was a Hebrew and the Romans did it and only the priests didn’t like him because Jesus was the first Hippie and Archie grunts through the pain, Hippies are worse than commies and Jesus loves me this I know for someone tells me so. And if he’s on the meat hook, when Archie finally splits apart like that dude’s head in Scanners (which is the demon’s favorite movie to watch when the halo above his head needs to be varnished), the demon says that Jesus partied with hookers and lepers and Archie was probably not his kind of dude. Also, Jesus was brown but Archie can never respond to this, as he’s a puddle of viscera on the Formica, his blood running in rivulets into a grate that falls into the pits of Hell.
On Tuesdays, Archie is flayed from head to toe with a paring knife, the glowing white demon always starting with the the big toe. This is for every time you called a black person the n-word and Archie says, no darkie ever got their feelings hurt. They knew what I meant and besides, darkies don’t have feelings anyway, not like a white man. The pain is of course excruciating, Archie bound with bungee cords on a stone tablet, stripped naked and screaming. He always says I’m not sorry I’m not sorry I’m not sorry and the light-filled demon always tells him, when he gets to Archie’s knee (needing to switch to a different curved knife to get around the kneecap), you should be Archie, I know the inside of your heart. It takes several hours to flay him entirely because the demon stops to watch Judge Judy and to listen to Joan Baez while drinking sarsaparilla. Nothing quenches like sarsaparilla, the demon says and after he finishes peeling the skin off by hand—sometimes in one satisfying piece which the demon shows to his supervisor, the Seraph Bianca—he’ll offer Archie one, though Archie can’t really answer through his screams because of the open air kissing his nerves.
On Wednesdays—hump day even to demons—the effervescent demon beats its feathered wings and writes on the chalkboard the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights and the words of Muhammad and Gandhi and every prophet and philosopher and Archie says, I’m a Christian aren’t I and besides, like the Good Book said, Let him who is without sin be the rollin’ stone. The demon tallies in his ledger and says that ain’t the quote Archie, you know this and besides you have all the sin; you can’t just say you’re a Christian and not do Christian things…like you know, being a good person. But I am a good person Archie says and the demon just repeats the lesson, his chalk on the blackboard soft and gentle without the screeching of banshees.
On Thursdays, Archie is left in a coffin with no air holes and live coals at his feet and shown images of powerful women on the installed flat screen, subtitled with powerful quotes by Andrea Dworkin and bell hooks while Rage Against the Machine and Public Enemy and all the anti-war songs by the Dixie Chicks pounds pounds pounds from built-in speakers and the demon yells so that Archie can hear, Edith deserved better than you but she’s here too because she didn’t call you on your shit and Archie responds, no bitch can tell me what to do and the demon responds, you don’t learn do you?
On Fridays Archie’s asshole is sewed shut and the demon keeps feeding him, keeps feeding him, keeps feeding him kale and seaweed and sushi and never stops feeding him until the pressure builds and Archie squirms at first and then gets ready to scream until he literally explodes like that guy in Scanners (which is the demon’s favorite movie). The whole while, the demon tells him, this is what all of your alt-right and neo-nazis and skinheads and Klansmen receive on Fridays also, they’re all in the rooms next to you getting this same treatment and Archie says, I don’t even know what they are and besides, I wasn’t no Klansmen except for that one time when I accidentally joined the Klan. The demon says, good people don’t accidentally join the fucking Klan, you moron, and besides, I think you understand what I mean from context clues.
On Saturdays Archie is just beaten, beaten, beaten, beaten, beaten, beaten, beaten until the demon’s hands are bloody and his knuckles ache and his soul hurts because he hates hurting people and he wants nothing more but to redeem this man but this man doesn’t respond to the gentle redemption methods that demons always start with, like group therapy and positive reinforcement--torture is the last resort--and he tells him while he crushes Archie’s cheekbone, this is for being a jerk every day of your life and Archie says, I was just telling it like it is and the demon says, nah bro, you really weren’t and why do you think you were a good person and Archie says, people shouldn’t be such pussies and the demon says, no, that’s not it and Archie has never apologized and seems beyond redemption and says he was friends with Sammy Davis Jr who’s black AND a heeb and he gave his other heeb friend a nice eulogy and that’s something right, and no, it’s not enough to say some of your best friends are Jewish or Black or whatever, so the demon beats him beats him beats him until Saturday is over.
On Sundays, the demon takes Archie out of the torture room and bathes him and dries him with a soft fluffy towel and brings him to the one chapel in Hell that sits behind a waterfall and has lovely stone cornices and stained glass and pews made of balsawood with a full-time priest/imam/rabbi on duty depending on need and says, do you wish to pray for forgiveness and no, Archie says, I’ve done nothing wrong and I’m a good person and this isn’t fair and the demon gets on his knees and prays for Archie’s soul.
Michael B Tager is a Baltimore-based writer and editor. More of his work can be found at michaelbtager.com. Likes include garden gnomes, cats, tacos and Prince.