GOD: [Adam and Eve] would never dream of disobeying me, because they will love me, and honor me, and do everything that they possibly can to please me.
DEVIL: Of course they will. It’s beyond questioning. They are your creations, after all. And trust me: you entirely misunderstand my interest in them. I would not for a single moment think of compromising your relationship with them. As if I were even capable of such a thing! Besides, I find it heartwarming, the understanding that you describe having with them. It’s so . . . I don’t know . . . quaint.
GOD: (suspiciously) What do you mean, `quaint’?
DEVIL: I mean there you are, with so much power, creating these beings who are so complex. So intense. So . . . life like. And yet . . .
GOD: What do you mean, “so” life-like? What’s that supposed to mean? They do have life!
DEVIL: Oh, I’m sorry. My mistake. I thought you said that you designed them without free will.
GOD: What are you talking about? I didn’t say that. Trust me: they have free will. I made them with free will, okay?
DEVIL: Of course! What do I know? I meant nothing more than to reiterate what I thought you had said. I thought you had said that with regards to their sexuality, Adam and Eve were going to be without free will, insofar as you were going to put it permanently into their heads that they should absolutely and under no circumstances make wild, passionate love for days at a time, or become involved with … oh, I don’t know … multiple partners, or whatever lurid sorts of behaviors they might find irresistible. Whips and so on. I have no idea. And clearly it doesn’t matter. Forgive me. I was confused. I thought you said they wouldn’t be able to choose what they did.
GOD: Well, that’s not what I said. What I said was that I was going to ask them to refrain. Request them to remain pure. They’ll still be able to disobey me, if they want to. But they won’t, see? Because I, their one and only God, will have asked them for this. And it would not occur to them to ever give me any reason for displeasure. What!? What are you smiling at!
DEVIL: Oh, it’s just … . It’s nothing. Really. It’s just that I find the whole thing so . . . I don’t know . . . charming, really. This is all very charming.
GOD: What are you talking about?
DEVIL: That you feel that one command from you will be enough, that your simply telling them not to give into, say, their sensual desires, will be enough to ensure they don’t.
GOD: And you don’t. You don’t think that will be enough for them.
DEVIL: They’ll have free will, right? Absolute free will?
DEVIL: Well, listen, let’s not kid ourselves, shall we? We both have our specialties. Mine happens to be the ways of the flesh. As it should be! It’s absurd to think of you sullying yourself with the sorts of things with which I spend so very much of my time. But surely you agree that after all these eons gone by, I do know a bit more than you about the temptation and allures of sensual indulgence. I’m not proud of that knowledge, of course. I’m just saying it’s something I know something about.
GOD: What are you talking about? Of course I know about sensual indulgence. I know about sex! I’m God, you idiot! And I am telling you: my order to Adam and Eve that they ignore their base, animalistic instincts will be enough to insure that they do!
DEVIL: Of course it will be. I’m sorry. Of course. Your command is all it will take. Especially if you use that truly fearsome lower range you have, that booming voice you can do. I know I shudder whenever I hear it. We all do down there. That is certainly all it will take.
GOD: All right, that’s it. I can’t stand it. We’re betting. You and I, right now, a bet. Do you want to bet over this?
DEVIL: A bet? Gosh, I hardly know if I should.
GOD: Oh, how I hate you! Okay, here’s the deal. I’m not even going to bring sex into this. I don’t even need something as big as sex to prove to you how devoted to me Adam and Eve will be. Okay? Forget that. Here’s what we’ll do. Down in the garden where Adam lives now is an apple tree. It’s surrounded by all kinds of other fruit trees: cherry, pear, orange, mango, you name it. All right? Now, here’s the deal. I’m going to order Adam and his mate, Eve, to never, ever eat an apple off that one tree. That’s it. That’s all they have to do. Never one apple, from one stupid tree. And I promise you those apples will look delicious.
DEVIL: I’ve seen them. They are irresistible.
GOD: Oh, shut up. Now. You and I will make a deal, that if either of those two does eat off that tree, then you can go down there and join them in a threesome if you want to. But we won’t put it to them like that. I won’t mention anything to them at all except, “Do not eat an apple off this specific tree.” If they obey me, they get to live in the garden and lay around like two fat cats in the sun for the rest of their lives, and you can never go anywhere near them, ever. If they obey me, they are permanently off limits to you. Do you understand?
GOD: And if they disobey me, and eat from the tree, then you can go down there, and you can bring your oils and lava lamps and whatever else you think might help you turn them into rutting obsessives, and you can stay there until you have her dressing in crotchless fig leaf peek-a-boo outfits, and him wearing them when she goes to sleep at night! So whattaya’ say, perv boy? Strike you as an interesting bet?
DEVIL: You know, this is why I come to visit you. You’re just fun to know. I love your passion.
GOD: I hate yours.
DEVIL: “Interesting” isn’t the word for this bet. It’s fascinating. Do you know that if we do this, I’m not sure I’d be able to pay attention to anything else? It would be hard not to watch them all the time.
GOD: I don’t care if you turn into a boil and attach yourself to one of their foreheads. You can watch them all you want. If you want to go live in the garden, so you can have a front row seat to watch them obey and love and worship me, that’s fine with me. You can’t tell them who you are, of course, or what you’re really doing there. But if you want to go down there as, say, a squirrel or something, just to watch, that’d be fine. I’d have no objection. I want you to see me win this. In fact, I have an idea. Why don’t you become a snake? Low, slimy, a good view up everybody’s loin cloth. That seems about your style.
DEVIL: That actually does sound intriguing. I might just take you up on that!
GOD: So we have a deal.
DEVIL: We do. Shake on it?
GOD: Let’s not and say we did.
DEVIL: You wound me.
GOD: Gee. How sad.
DEVIL: But our bet is official. It’s on. I have your word on that.
GOD: You do.
DEVIL: All right, then. I suppose there’s nothing to do now but wait, and watch it all unfold.
GOD: You’re going to go down there tomorrow, aren’t you?
DEVIL: When are you going to forbid them from eating the pears?
GOD: The apples.
DEVIL: The apples.
GOD: Right away. Quite soon.
DEVIL: Then quite soon is when I suppose I’ll start observing them. Very exciting! I must say, I hope I win. They sound like they would be fun to play with.
GOD: Believe me: you’ll never know.
DEVIL: Well, and, let’s face it. Even if I do win this bet, and you do let me become involved with them, in whatever ways I might, they will still have you on their side. If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you never abandon your creations. There is a lot that be said about you, but that you’re not loyal isn’t one of them. If they lose, you’ll figure out a way for them to win yet.
GOD: We’ll see. But I’m not worried about it.
DEVIL: Until next time, then?
GOD: Yes. Great. Good-bye. Don’t let the door hit you on the tail on your way out.