Welcome to Hell

My short story Welcome to Hell has been published on the Tall Tales TV podcast. The host of the podcast reads the story to listeners. My thirty-minute story is about a nonbeliever who finds that hell is a very real place, and maybe not as bad as people fear. The host has some interesting insights into the undercurrents of the story. Stick around for his comments at the end. And check out TallTalesTV.com for other great SF and Fantasy stories. Enjoy.

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MP3 (Podcast)


Inna Gadda da Vida

Some of my early stories seemed to have musical allusions. There was Little Red Corvette and Hear Me Roar (from I Am Woman). After writing this story, the title just came to me and seemed so appropriate. I don’t know if the story about how the song got its name is true or is just apocryphal, but it’s a great story so I’ll tell it here in case Millenials don’t know. Iron Butterfly was a heavy metal band way back in the day. They only ever had one hit, In the Garden of Eden. On the day they were going to record it, the lead singer showed up stoned. They decided to do a practice cut anyway. So he struggled through the lyrics, shouting “Inna gadda da vida, baby.” The producer liked it that way so that became the official name and the official lyrics.

I subtitled the story “A Fractured Fairy Tale” as a nod to my childhood favorite cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle. Looking back at those old cartoons I realize there was a lot of adult content that went right over my head back then. I also chose it because I heard a comic say that researchers have found that the King James translators of the original manuscripts of the Bible made a mistranslation. It seems the opening words “In the beginning” should read “Once upon a time”.

This story appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review on April 11, 2020.

Inna Gadda Da Vida

A Fractured Fairy Tale

In the beginning… oh hell, forget that. There was no beginning. Gods are eternal beings. We always were. At least that’s what I think. The Big Guy says he created me, but he says a lot of things that ain’t necessarily so. Anyway, after an eternity of sitting in darkness doing squat, he got the idea of creating a universe. I don’t know why it took him so long to come up with it. Being all-wise and so forth, but refer back to the disclaimer above. My memory of fourteen billion years ago is a bit hazy, but we were all here then; me, Michael, Gabriel, YHWH and the rest. Yeah, he calls himself YHWH. As the lord of all creation, you’d think he could buy a vowel. But he’s so touchy about things like that.


So, his followers have a book that says he made the entire universe in six days. Nope. In usual YHWH fashion he dicked around for five days and then pulled an all nighter. That’s why he did such a shitty job. I mean platypuses and penguins? Give me a break. This universe has amateur night written all over it. And if you’re a cosmologist, yes this is the first iteration. It definitely could use a reset. His followers say there was a reset a few thousand years ago with a big flood, but no, that was a local thing. It was just a big oops on YHWH’s part, anyway. He’s like a bull in a china shop. No finesse. But I digress.


            Anyway, he created everything. And as his book says, he created man, “male and female created he them.” Basically, they were golems. Look it up. He called them Adam and Lilith. Then he created a ton of animals and told Adam he could name them. So Adam named them Harry, Joe, Eugene and so on until YHWH stopped him and explained that’s not what he meant. Adam wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed. So he started over, “dog, cat, fly”… No one seemed to care what Lilith wanted to call them. Her job was to tidy up the garden and sweep out the elephant shit. “Emu, lion, blue-tailed skink”…


            YHWH liked to come to the garden and sit with them in the evening’s cool. He’s always had a problem with the heat. Fortunately, it never bothered me. He liked things as they were. He’d sit, Lilith would fawn over him and Adam was still naming animals… “mosquito, mouse, wombat”.


            Things were slow in the ether one day, so I decided to drop by Eden to see how things were going. I caught up with Lilith carrying a huge load of elephant shit down to the river.

“Let me help with that,” I said.

“Thanks.” In the background I heard… “monkey, cobra, antelope”…

“You know, it would be easier if you wove some of those grasses into a basket, or we could take some poles and make a travois. Something like that would work better.” She just looked at me blankly. Seeing as she was buck naked, I figured out they hadn’t gotten around to inventing things yet. So, I went more basic.

“How about fire to cook your food, or for warmth?”

“It is always warm here. What is cook? Our food is the fruit, berries and nuts all around us.”

“How about tools to help you do your work?”

“We do no work. Adam names the animals and I clean up. That is how it has always been.”

This was worse than I’d thought. YHWH was keeping them ignorant. Buck naked, no tools, no art, totally vegan, not a lean steak in sight. It was just wrong. These talking animals had so much potential. It was just a waste.

“Hey, Lilith,” Adam interrupted us. “I gotta go to the beach. YHWH wants me to name all the animals in the ocean. I’ll be back in a few days. By the way, I just named gorilla and he shit all over the place. Be sure to clean it up.”

Okay, I thought. This is just ridiculous.

“Lilith, girl. I need to show you something,” I said. “Let’s go to the center of the garden.”

When we got there, Lilith shouted, “Shit! That freaking gorilla got crap on everything. It will take me all day to clean this up.”

“Not to worry,” I said. I pulled a little power from my center, waved my hands and the gorilla crap all faded away.               

“You can do that?” she cried incredulously.

“No prob,” I bragged.

“Show me how.”

“Uh, I can’t. I can do it, you can’t.”


“But come with me over here. We have these two trees. The tree of knowledge and the tree of life,” I showed her.

“Yeah, YHWH said not to mess with them. They’re deadly.”

“If YHWH said you could eat whatever you wanted, then why would he put something deadly right here in the middle of the garden?”

“I don’t know. YHWH moves in mysterious ways?”

I walked up to the tree of knowledge and picked off a piece of knowledge fruit. It was golden, luscious and ripe. “Here, taste this. I think you’ll see things differently.”

She took a bite, golden juice dribbling down her chin. She giggled and wiped it off. In a few more bites it was all gone. She looked around with her eyes wide. “What a fool I’ve been. I’ve been working like a slave here while Adam sits around on his fat ass and does nothing but call out stupid words like kangaroo or boomslang or tell me to fetch him a bunch of grapes. And YHWH just watches and laughs. I’ve been so stupid.”

“Not stupid. Just ignorant. There is a difference.”

“Just wait till that jerk gets back. He’s going to get a piece of my mind.”

Not so good for Adam, but maybe Lilith could kick start humanity toward its destiny.


            When Adam got back, Lilith was waiting for him. She uttered for the first time the four words that have forever struck fear in the heart of every man — “we need to talk.” It didn’t begin well, never got better and ended worse. “Fuck this shit. I’ve had it with you, YHWH and the whole garden thing. I’m packing my fig leaf and leaving. The Nephilim are having a rave over in the land of Nod, east of Eden. Gabriel’s my ride. I’m outta here!” was how she left.

“Fig leaf?” Adam asked.


            Sometime later, I came upon YHWH wandering around Heaven glowering. He’s always had a hairtrigger temper and is generally cranky, but today he looked quite perturbed about something in particular, not just his general unpleasantness.

“What up, Big Guy?” I asked.

“I’ve told you don’t call me that. And I’m pissed at Lilith. That shameless hussy has gone and left Adam. He’s been moaning that he has too much work without Lilith to help him. He said she took off with Gabriel. Said she called him a sadistic son of a bitch and a dickless man. If I didn’t know better, I’d think she’s been eating off the tree of knowledge. I probably made a mistake making them out of equal mud. I’ll fix it though. I’ll make Adam a new helper and I’ll make sure she knows her place.”

So he did and called her Eve.


            Adam finally finished naming all the animals. YHWH let him skip the big lizard looking things because they weren’t going to survive anyhow. Now he could devote more of his time to laying about the garden and directing Eve in what needed doing.


            Lilith eventually heard that Adam had a new maid, so she sneaked back to Eden for a look-see. She was not surprised. Adam was lying on a bed of leaves, hand in his lap, fondling his balls. He was getting a little thick around the waist. Eve was looking a little worse for wear, fetching him food and keeping the animal shit in the garden cleared. When Eve was out of sight of Adam, Lilith grabbed her arm and said, “Girlfriend, we need a heart to heart.”

It didn’t take her long to get Eve to the tree of knowledge and have her eat a piece. Eve, now a smart cookie in her own right, decided to bring Adam into the fold so she took him a piece of the fruit.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“It’s knowledge.”

“Isn’t a little knowledge a dangerous thing?”

“Don’t be cute. Just eat the damn thing.”

Once both their eyes were opened they realized how empty their lives had been. They’d had no purpose, no dreams, nothing to look forward to. Now they did. Especially the sex which they explored enthusiastically. Eve remembered how Lilith had worn a grass skirt. She realized that a little near nudity was more erotic than total nudity. It’s all about the tease. So, she fashioned leaf skirts for both of them. Adam was dubious, but when Eve threatened to cut off the sex, he immediately complied.


All this time, YHWH had been dealing with a black hole situation over in the Andromeda galaxy. Remember this was his first shot at universe making. He wasn’t a physicist; didn’t know dark matter from Darth Vader and the galaxy was in a mess. He finally got everything back in order. He came back and just wanted a quiet evening in the garden. When he got there, no one was around.

“Where is everyone?” he wondered. Usually they ran to meet him. He wandered around until he heard giggling coming from some bushes.

“Adam, Eve. That you?” he called. There was hurried whispering and then the two crept out of the bushes, blushing and their hair in disarray. The little leaf skirt did not hide Adam’s rapidly dwindling erection.

“What’s going on here? What were you doing in there?” YHWH demanded.

“Uh, nothing,” Adam said.

“And what’s with the skirts?”

“Well, it was kinda drafty here in the garden and…”

“Bullshit!” roared the Almighty. “You’ve been eating from the tree of knowledge, haven’t you!” he accused.

Then came the first ever case of someone being thrown under the bus.

“It’s all Eve’s fault. She made me eat it,” Adam babbled. Eve’s eyes flew open wide.

“What?” she screeched. “You blame me? You’ve been happy enough to fuck all day long. I think you get a little responsibility here, too, Bucko.”

“Eve, who told you to eat from the tree of knowledge?” YHWH demanded.

For about a nanosecond she thought of ratting on Lilith but she decided she was better than Adam. There is such a thing as female solidarity. She cast about for ideas and noticed a snake walking by.

“It was the snake. Yeah, the snake. He told me to do it,” she exclaimed, pointing at the snake. YHWH whipped around and pointed his finger at the snake. Lightning came from his fingertip and suddenly the snake was on the ground, his legs turned to ash.

“What the fuck did I do?” whined the snake. YHWH pointed again, yelling “Silence!” and the snake’s tongue split in half and all he could say was “Ssssshit.”

YHWH was having an old-fashioned hissy fit.

“From this day forward the three of you will be enemies. The snake will be poison and seek to bite you wherever he finds you. Man and woman will fear him and beat his head in with clubs. Men will no longer understand women, nor women, men. I will make their minds think differently. And since you like sex so much there will be consequences. You will do it to create more people to be slaves to my whims. And you will bear them in intense pain.” He was on a roll.

“What’s Adam’s punishment?” Eve asked.

“Um, I don’t know. I’ll think of something. Maybe he has to cut off a piece of his dick and if you kick him in the balls, it’ll hurt real bad. Yeah, and he can only come once a day. Now get the hell out of my garden!”


            So, there you have it. That’s how I helped man escape the slavery of the garden. YHWH has bumbled along a few millennia since then, fucking up one thing after another. Couldn’t even keep his son from being killed, although that was an idiotic plan from the get go. He spends a lot of time slandering me. And my name? Oh, I’ve had many names. Morning Star, Light Bringer, Prometheus. But my favorite is Lucifer.

The Park Bench

I’m not sure where this story came from. It starts out very normal but soon it starts taking weird turns. I didn’t plot out the story, I just went where it wanted to take me. I have to say that I agree with Reggie’s closing comments.

I wrote it in February 2019 and it was picked up by Ariel Chart Review and published October 21, 2019.

The Park Bench

            “I think I’ll wear my blue polo shirt today,” muttered the elderly gentleman. He was going on his several times weekly walk to the park. Ellie might be there. She always said his blue shirt made his eyes sparkle blue. He said his eyes were green, but Ellie said the shirt made them turn blue. She loved blue eyes. He also felt he needed a sweater. It was a bit chilly this spring morning so he pulled on a navy sweater to ward off the cold and set out.

            Reggie, the doorman, held the lobby door open for him. “Good morning, Mr. Dawson,” he said as he always did.

            “Good morning, Reginald. Lovely Friday for a walk.”

            “Sure is, Mr. Dawson.” The kid always had a smile for him. I need to tip him more next Christmas, he thought.

            The park was only a block away. It was a lovely oasis in this mammoth city. His apartment building wasn’t the Excelsior or the Dakota but it was in a nice neighborhood. He crossed the street and shuffled onto his little patch of green. He could have dressed more casually but today he felt like wearing his charcoal pants and shiny tassel loafers. He wanted to look sharp in case Ellie came along.

            He found his usual park bench and settled down. The seat was a little cool to his behind, but soon warmed. He opened the little bag of bread crumbs he always brought and began tossing little bits out to the pigeons. The birds were so used to him and others feeding them that they had become quite tame. They would sit on your arm or shoulder and let you feed them. He did NOT let the birds get on him. They were filthy, carrying God knows what kinds of germs. And they would shit on you without a moment’s notice.

            The sun came out from behind a cloud and he could feel it warming his face. He closed his eyes, leaned his head back and inhaled.  A nearby blooming lilac bush covered the automobile smells of the nearby traffic. It was so nice and peaceful.  A simple getaway from the hurly-burly of life. He relaxed with the gentle cooing of the pigeons. This is nice, he thought, so nice.

            As he soaked in the warmth of the sun he noticed movement coming from the other side of the park. A lady was coming his way. He would recognize that walk anywhere. It was Ellie. His Ellie.

            She approached him strolling sexily. She was wearing a green sundress. It was a bit cool for it, but she didn’t seem to mind. It fit her beautifully. He always thought of her in the summer. She was a summer creature. Beautiful and blonde.

            “Good morning, Henry. I’m so glad you came today,” she said by way of greeting.

            “It’s a beautiful Friday morning. You knew I’d be out today.”

            “Yes, I can always count on you. Do you mind if I sit for awhile?”

            “Oh, where are my manners. Please, please, have a seat.” She settled on the bench beside him, her hip touching his. She always liked to sit close. He did, too.

            They sat in companionable silence, each enjoying the presence of the other. After a bit, Ellie tilted her head and rested it on his shoulder. Oh, he loved it when she did that. It made him feel so close to her. It brought back all the memories of their love.

            She stroked his arm lying along her left thigh. His arm was covered with snowy white hairs. Her skin looked so young in contrast.

            “Ellie, you are so beautiful,” he said. “It’s been, what twenty years, and you’re just as beautiful as the day I killed you. You know how much I regretted that, don’t you?”

            “Henry, it’s been more like fifty years. You’re starting to slip in your old age. Yes, my skin is still as supple as it was when I was thirty. And, no Henry, I don’t blame you. What I did was unpardonable. But I was so angry and you knew I was always a bit unstable.”

            “Yes, my beautiful Ellie was so flighty. One of the many things that made me love you,” he grinned with the memory. Then his face darkened. “But, Ellie. Little Leonora? How could you? She was to be the best parts of both of us.”

            “But she wasn’t. She was sickly. She cried all the time. It became so I couldn’t bear it anymore. And then, you and that secretary.”

            “Now, Ellie, don’t misremember it. My secretary had nothing to do with it. That was all your imagination.”

            “I know that now, but it was so real. I knew you loved her more than me. You were going to leave me and take Little Leonora away. Even though she cried all the time, I couldn’t lose the only piece of you that I had,” Ellie said through sniffles.

            Henry kissed her hair. “Well, it’s all in the past now. We had to move on.”

            “Some of us,” she said. He could just catch a mischievous tone in her voice. He looked down and saw she was grinning. “I’m glad you got away with it. As much as I would have loved to have you here, I’m glad you had a good life and could come and tell me about it.”

            “It was touch and go there for a bit. Good luck it was shoddy policework.”

            “I didn’t come near you with that shot. You shot yourself after you took the gun and shot me.”

            “You know how hard it is to shoot yourself? You’re trying to pull that trigger knowing it’s going to be the worst pain you’ve ever felt. Only the grief I felt for Leonora and you was worse. I never thought I’d get over it. If you hadn’t been able to meet me in the park I would have gone crazy.”

            “I was the crazy one, remember? The ‘crazy heiress who killed her baby, tried to kill her husband and then shot herself’. A murder-suicide gone bad.”

            “And thanks for the money, by the way. It has helped the business.”

            “Oh, Henry. Let the business go. Stay here with me. It’s beautiful here. There’s a little Argentine bistro across the park. They have a band that plays tangos at night. Remember how we used to tango? Stay with me and we can tango again.”

            “Ellie, you know I can’t stay. I have too many people counting on me. Maybe someday I can put it down, but not now. I’d feel so irresponsible.”

            “Am I that unimportant to you now? Have you forgotten me totally?”

            “No, Ellie. You’re the love of my life, the center of everything. But how could you respect me if I just chucked everything. That’s not who you or I are.”

            “I know. It’s just that I miss you when you’re gone.”

            “And I miss you. I miss you so much. Without you here in the park I might have picked up that revolver long ago and finished what you started.”

            “Do you still have it? Oh, do it, Henry. Do it.”

            “No, Ellie. The police took it. And I’m getting old. We’ll be together soon enough.”

            “I hope so, Henry. I do so miss you.” She laid her head back on his shoulder and sighed.

            “And I you, my love.” He patted her hand.


            Reggie Harris, in his sparkling white orderly uniform, stood looking out the window into the courtyard. A light snow was beginning to fall. It wasn’t sticking yet but would soon cover the dismal little patch of weeds with the bench in the center.

            “Shouldn’t you go get your vegetable?” Orderly Denny Haskell asked, with a smirk.

            “Don’t call him that. I like Mr. Dawson.”

            “He’s a nutcase. Look at him. Sitting there in the snow wearing his pajamas and a ratty old bath robe. He’ll probably catch pneumonia out there,” Denny said.

            “He doesn’t know it’s snowing. Where he’s gone it’s beautiful and warm and there are people who love him. He always comes back saying ‘It was a beautiful day in the park. Ellie wore her sundress.’ Doc wants to force him back to reality. I say let him stay there. He’s happier there. All that’s left for him here is sitting in this dingy dayroom waiting to die. He’s over 90. He’ll die soon anyway. Let him be happy.”

            As they were talking the old man got up from the bench and shuffled into the dayroom of St. Anthony’s Hospital.

            “Good day, again Reginald. It was a lovely day in the park. I saw Ellie today. She wore her sundress. Yes, she looks beautiful in that dress. Carry on.” And he walked off to his room.