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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

He’s Real. I Seen’im Twice

People who scoff at the existence of the devil are the ones most easily seduced by his charms. For those of you who are unaffiliated (no religious preference) let me give you the bad news first: there isn’t a whole lot of time left to take a stand. No, I’m not an ‘end of days’ guy who is predicting the apocalypse. I just want to present the very real and sober point of view that very, very few people know when the clock of their life is going to stop ticking. I will guarantee you this: if you don’t take a side, you are in for a big surprise when that day comes.

I can feel God’s presence every time I walk outside to take out the garbage – which in our household is several times a day. I look up. I feel the breeze. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face. I hear the music the mockingbird makes. These aren’t accidents. This is a concerto that has been playing for you and me since Day One.

The devil makes himself known in two ways. For the non-believers, he’s like stepping into a warm bath as the water is just starting to fill the tub. You can feel the warmth enveloping your feet, and even though a chill permeates the rest of your body, you know for sure the warmth will be there soon. You lay back and relax as you get that feeling in the small of your back. It tickles a bit. You squirm for a moment and then all of you begins to get warm and comfy. The water has hit the tips of your elbows and you want it to hurry up to get higher. You want that relaxation all over.

Your eyes start to roll up in your head as the water wraps its way around your chest. You’re trying hard to get up to turn the knob off, but you don’t want to fight the relaxation that surrounds every ounce of your being. As the water reaches your neck, something happens. The water turns to ice. You’re trapped under it and can’t move an inch. You see something approaching you but can’t discern what it is until it’s almost on top of you. You can smell him before you see him. It’s the fetid stench of death. But what you don’t realize is that what you are really smelling is your own body beginning to rot.

And then this horrid face is nose to nose with you, teeth dripping with the gristle of whatever is left of your soul. It’s too late. He has you and there’s nothing you can do about it at least for the next eternity.

I first saw him in a video rental store in 1999, shortly after I had been Baptized. I know what you’re thinking. All of that religious stuff went to my head and all I see now is good and evil everywhere. That’s pretty accurate. The difference for all you non-believers out there is this: when you are in the presence of God, His touch is unmistakable. It’s one of those times in your life that you are absolutely, positively certain of His presence, yet have a tough time articulating the why and how.

The devil is pretty much the same, but it’s not the warm / fuzzy feeling.

I had just parked my car a few doors down from the Blockbuster store. As I’m wending my way through the parked cars, I notice a sticker on the window of the truck parked right in front of the store. It’s a simple oval with ‘666’ on it. I freeze. If you don’t already know what that is a reference to, go Google it, I’ll wait a minute…

My heart stops momentarily as I open the door and walk in. As I do, a fellow at the counter (the only other person in the store) turns around, stares straight at me, and his ghoulish smile stops me dead in my tracks. A chill goes right through me, head to toe. I know exactly who I'm staring at. I turn around and head home. I can return the video tomorrow. I scurry past the ‘666’ and into my car before I draw another breath.

As Phyllis can attest to, I’m prone to have very vivid nightmares when I take a particular combination of some of my medication for this and that. I had not taken this and that last night. It was not a nightmare I was unfamiliar with. It has haunted me more times than I can remember, but last night was different. Last night I saw all the players for the first time.

I was walking down the street and something tried to attach itself to me, sort of like Steve McQueen in the 1958 version of “The Blob”. I do my best to avoid it. It looked like a steel wall that melted and flowed and was magnetically drawn towards your body as you got closer. I saw other people merging with it, being sucked into its vortex until all you saw was the steel wall – the person had disappeared.

I managed to elude it two or three times but then I was walking down a narrow path with no other direction than straight forward. I could see the steel wall looming in the distance, but this time it was different. It had a head, and it was smiling at me, just like in the video store. As I got closer, I was able to see the face more clearly. It was beckoning me to merge with it, and every ounce of my being knew that was the wrong thing to do.

At the very last second as it began to melt and flow through the air at me, I yelled out “Jesus help me!” I awoke, drenched in sweat, bolted upright, and was awake. Phyllis was still sleeping -- stuff like this usually wakes her up. This is not the sort of thing you can shake off easily, so I got out of bed, went into the living room and tried to finish the video I was watching earlier in the evening. I couldn’t get rid of that feeling, that memory of what had just happened. As hard as I tried to shift gears, to get back into the movie, I couldn’t. Yeah, you can sit there and say “It wasn’t real, it was a dream. You’re imagining the whole thing.” Right, let me try and get behind that idea.

Hey, let’s do this. Next time you run a hot bath and slink into it, call me when the water gets up around your neck. Let me know how things are going for you…

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