May 23, 1996

HECK is the residence of the eternally darned. Those who, in life, were neither good nor bad; who did only what they found easy and avoided challenge and difficulty. Those whose motto, if unexpressed, was "go with the flow."

Not much ever happens in Heck, and nothing happens that has not happened before. Conversation amongst these, the darned and the gosh darned, is restricted to euphemism and platitude. Sports is the primary topic between men; the women discuss shopping and clothing. Both sexes talk about the weather. The greatest complaint of the residents of Heck is chronic constipation, which they discuss endlessly, in hushed tones. Food is bland, and the main flavors are salt and sugar. They are uniformly overweight, and consume great quantities of diet beverages. To reduce the threat of lawsuits, everything is served lukewarm. Everyone smokes in secret, and is trying to quit, but failing.

Reading material is variations on TV Guide, The Reader's Digest, USA Today and People. There is no pornography, though everyone wishes there were. Sexual desire is focused on other people's husbands and wives; there is none between couples. There are no children in Heck.

Television consists entirely of re-runs, but on such a long cycle that by the time it begins again, most people welcome the nostalgic pleasures of Ozzie and Harriet, or Ed Sullivan, as though there were old friends, and greet the eventual re-appearance of Cheers episodes with genuine pleasure.

Everyone dresses to be comfortable. People live in motels or trailer courts with swimming pools, but nobody swims. Everything is clean and tidy. There are no trees or flowers, only neatly trimmed lawns and white or red cement. There are no birds or insects, and no animals except household pets. Heck is neither hot nor cold; there are no oceans or rivers; the sky is cloudless; it is always 2:00 in the afternoon, and the world is actually flat.

They are all either moderate Democrats or liberal Republicans, but can't find the time to vote. There are many churches but they are poorly attended. Most residents of Heck are quite content, and wouldn't change a thing. Most of the residents of Heck don't realize that they are dead.


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