Category: Stories

The Devil And Sagittarius Rolfdown

This is Story #15, entitled The Devil And Sagittarius Rolfdown, from my book, Go West or Go Weird.


I felt nervous. It was my first day of college. And I was in English class. I assumed English college professors were tough, dry, and dull as a stale bagel. And I wondered if I could survive this class. I even considered walking out, and dropping out of college right then, rather than undergo the tortuous mental discipline of a rigorous academic education.

Professor Rolfdown resembled a gray Abraham Lincoln, although his grizzled beard was even longer than Abe’s, extending below his Adam’s apple. His tall figure and wizened face came across imposing and intelligent as he began our first lesson, with chalk to blackboard, screeving descriptions of nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

But about five minutes into the lecture, he set down his chalk, removed his wire-rimmed spectacles, and solemnly informed us that this concluded our English lesson for the day.

He then had us form a circle with our desks, asked us to hold hands, and then led us in a meditation session. And that’s how we spent the rest of our class that day.

I felt relieved, because English never seemed so easy before. But I also felt a little puzzled and annoyed. I signed up to learn English, damnit, and not some weird eastern religion. Why, I thought I had matriculated into a community college, not some hippy-assed California commune.

And as my anger smoldered, I strongly considered transferring out of this class and replacing it with fuck, who knows, badminton maybe. But I needed credits in English. And this seemed like an easy way to get them. Hell, Professor Rolfdown had turned English into a gut course. So I stayed on for the easy ride.

But not without remonstration. A pattern developed. Every day of class began with a simple, five minute lecture about English. Basic shit I already knew all about, from elementary school lessons. And after that, the bearded professor would segue into lessons on eastern religion, meditation, psychic phenomena, and the paranormal. Then he’d have us write a short essay about what we’d just learned. And every time, I wrote sarcastic, satirical essays, expressing skepticism about all this bullshit, and lampooning it as New Age nonsense.

He would chuckle at my essays, and gently tell me that God loves humor. But such reverse psychology never dissuaded my skepticism.

One day, after I’d written an especially strong satirical rebuke of the lesson he’d just taught, he asked me why I hadn’t dropped out of his class. I told him that I needed the credits. He then ordered me to visit him in his office after class, for some counseling.

I sat cornered in the tiny cubby of his office. His beard strands were inches from my face. And his breath reeked of coffee, as Professor Rolfdown referenced my need for credits. And then he said something incongruous. He told me that he didn’t think I would be very good in bed.

Strange. And then it occurred to me. He might be making a pass at me. I suspected that if I reacted by defending my sexual prowess, he would have told me to prove it. In other words, this professor seemed to be implying, in a weasely sort of way, that if I didn’t suck his cock or let him fuck me in the ass, I might not get those English credits I was hoping for.

Now I felt even more nervous than my first day of college. He truly was a tough English professor.

I didn’t take the bait. Instead, I quickly changed the subject, and told him I was running late for my next class. And then I excused myself and got the hell out of there.

But I continued my defiance and sarcasm, in my essays. In fact I stepped it up. And I determined that if I failed this class, I’d raise a holy row, and expose this son-of-a-bitch for what he was, to the school administrators.

On the last day of the semester, our final exam consisted of us writing an essay explaining how we had changed after attending this “English” class. You can bet I laid the satire on thick and heavy, and lampooned the hell out of Professor Rolfdown.

He returned the paper to me, with the superscribed comment: “God loves humor. But God also loves change. So what grade do you think you deserve?”

I didn’t fall for it. I left that class giving him no response, and no final chance to try to mulct a sexual favor out of me. And his little smarmy, written question provided just the evidence I needed, in case I had to protest a failing grade.

He gave me a B. So I let the matter go, since a B was sufficient to get the credits I wanted.

But I also felt a little burn, having to go through such bullshit, and having to learn the hard facts about professors with hard-ons.

About a year later, just to get all this bullshit off my chest, I wrote one final sarcastic essay about this pervert professor and the eastern religion crap he tried to shove down his students’ throats. And I changed his name to Sagittarius Rolfdown. I thought that name was more fitting.

I submitted it to my Creative Writing teacher, and she read it to the entire class, then asked if anyone felt offended by it. To my great disappointment, nobody raised their hand. I don’t remember what grade she gave me but here, I humbly submit my essay now, for your grade. And please, if you feel offended by it, be sure to raise your hand.

The Devil And Sagittarius Rolfdown


The bearded man was eighty-five when he finally died of old age. He was in the middle of a meditation session when he went into his first chakra and had a heart attack.

On his death bed, he said the cosmic experience from the first chakra was so powerful that his heart began palpitating with excitement, only to become completely exhausted a moment later.

After he died, the bearded man expected to become a cosmic part of the great universe above him. But instead he felt himself being hurled downward, downward, downward until he finally fell on his ass before the burly gates of Hell.

The gates were a sooty black color, and had a sinister, gothic look to them. A red sweaty figure stood behind these gates, sneering and jeering at his newest arrival. “This is not my idea of becoming a piece of a great cosmic dustcloud in some ectoplasmic galaxy far away,” the bearded man mumbled in a low, confused tone of voice.

“Shutup!!” the red devil roared, “Just who the hell do you think you are to talk without my permission?!

“Wait a second, I think I know who you are,” he continued, playing with his pitchfork thoughtfully, “Why, you’re that space-cadet who fell heads over tails for eastern mysticism and such garbage as that.

“I’ve been waiting quite a long time for you, Sagittarius Rolfdown. I’m glad that goddamned God finally gave up and let you into my clutches. What foolish thing have you to say for yourself?”

“Where the hell am I?”

“Foolish enough.” Lucifer chuckled. “You are now exactly 450 miles beneath the surface of the earth, sitting in the bowels of Hades. Is that cosmic enough for you?”

“They say the inside of the Earth is like the outside of a star.”

“Goddamnit, one more reference to this place being like a heavenly body and I’ll root you in the butt through a volcano and send you to the heavens!

“And now, before I allow you the privilege of entering through these gates, let me explain how things will be while you’re down here, which will be forever.

“I will be your father and your mother, your brother and your sister, your godmother, godfather, and even God himself. You will be my slave and I will be your master. You will follow my orders to the letter and punctuation mark. What I say goes, even if it means jumping into a sea of boiling hot lava. Yes, life will be tough down here in Hell. Almost as bad as a Marine Corps training camp.

“But before you can pass through these burly gates, I am instructed by the Jesus Peace Convention in Heaven to allow you a few questions as to why you’re down here instead of up there with Simon Peter.”

“My first question,” the bearded man asked, “is why have I been sent to Hell if I spent my whole life on earth devoted to learning how to go to Heaven?”

“Because you’re a sucker!” Satan screamed with delight. “And God hates a sucker! It was God, you know, who first said ‘never give a sucker an even break.'”

“I thought that was W.C. Fields.”

“It was W.C. Fields. He stole that line from God, though.”

“B-But I still don’t understand,” Sagittarius stammered, “h-how am I a sucker?”

“Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!” the devil roared. “My computer readout for your life on earth shows that you spent over a hundred thousand dollars on psychic phenomena books, religious cult magazines, astrology and biorhythm charts, and other such useless things, during a sixty-year span of your life. You were so easily conned out of your money, in fact, that God almost rated you as bad as those foolish churchgoers who tithe. What suckers they are! But still, you’ll be getting harder labor than most of them down here!”

“Why is that?” the bewildered Sagittarius asked.

“Because of your actions!” the devil ranted, pounding his pitchfork on the ground and switching his pointed tail furiously. “You stupidly devoted three hours out of every day of your life in worthless meditation (which amounts to one-eighth of your life). You wasted the average of another hour of each day reading that lousy literature you bought. And worst of all, you wasted a total of over one thousand weekends as a Hare Krishna disciple, walking around busy airports and pestering weary travelers with your ridiculous eastern religion philosophy.

“Being suckered out of your own physical actions by doing things slick con-artists like gurus and preachers want you to do, is a crime more heinous than wasting money. Money can be replaced. But the short time you have to enjoy life on earth, cannot.

“You could have spent your time doing more enjoyable and worthwhile things like procrastinating, bar-hopping, or stealing, but instead you gave your life away to enduring hardships like meditation (very boring) and mind reading (very futile) for a bunch of fat gurus. For this reason you have been sent to Hell instead of Heaven.

“But enough of this talk—it is now time for you to learn coal shoveling for my vast furnaces. They must be kept very hot if I am to maintain this Hell of mine.”

Beelzebub then opened the burly gates and began prodding the bearded man through with his pitchfork.

“Oh no, oh no, oh no!” Sagittarius began to cry. “I’m doomed to live in this burning Hell forever and work beside evil people, like whores and heathens!”

“Whores and heathens?! Shit, they go to Heaven!” the devil exclaimed.

Click to the next story, to read Not Randy’s Day.

The Lonely Wish, Part 3 of 3

This is the conclusion to The Lonely Wish, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. For earlier Parts, click on the links below:

Part 1

Part 2

The Lonely Wish (Conclusion)


One night it was closin’ time at the diner, when Penelope sat down by the counter beside me. She had been a faithful wife up until now, but this time she really seemed interested in me, like I’d caught her special attention. She studied my face for a few moments an’ was quiet an’ serious in her looks as she sat there. All solemn-like ‘n all. There was just she an’ me an’ some old guy hunched over a cup of coffee way down the way. A little cigarette smoke was rollin’ around in silver-blue river patterns up aroun’ the fluorescent lights.

The whole atmosphere gave me a lonely shake. Made me think of that-there famous painting of another diner. A haunting painting called “Nighthawks” by a feller named Hopper. An’ the empty barrels at the bottom of my soul were ready to pour out my lonely heart.

Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I told someone about my lucky star. Penelope listened with big, round wonderin’ eyes. I told her everythin’. I told her about the Yankee attack on my farm. The attempted suicide. The first time I saw the star. I told her about my wives, about the decades I’d lived in, and about my loneliness. I just broke down an’ told Penelope everythin’.

And then I popped the big one. I asked Penelope to be my wife. I told her it was possible with my lucky star. All she had to do was say yes, and I could make it so. I told her that I loved her, and that she could cure my loneliness. And in return I could make her young forever, and give her everythin’ she wanted. All she had to do was be my wife.

To please be my wife.

Penelope was an angel, she truly was. First, she said she loved her husband too much to leave him for anythin’. An’ she said she could not be unfaithful to her weddin’ vows.

Then she said that I had a problem. She said that she cared for me very much—as a friend—and she thought that I needed some professional help. She told me I should see a psychiatrist.

She urged me to please seek psychiatric help.

For a couple weeks after I did not see Penelope Frooze. Instead I spent my time wonderin’ how I could convince her I was authentic, and not some nut with mental health problems. And how I could convince her to accept my marriage proposal.

Then one day Penelope got a visit from the U.S. Army. It was very bad news. Her husband had been killed in action. She was now a widow.

And a free woman.

I waited about a week, until I thought she was over the worst of her grievin’. The funeral was past, an’ she had just returned to work. So I figured now would be an appropriate time to approach her.

It was evenin’ when I visited her at the diner. I waited around ’til closin’ time, then asked if she’d like to go out for a walk with me.

The sky was clear, and full of bright, twinklin’ stars that evenin’. We walked for a few minutes, and then I stopped and held her arm. I pointed to the east and said, “Penelope, do you see that big star that fills up almost the entire horizon?”

She says, “Is that the lucky star you think you see?”

“I know I see. Don’t you see it?”

“No.” she says. “Listen, I really do think you need some help. It can’t hurt to go and see one of those doctors. There’s nothin’ to be ashamed of. And they can help. They really can.”

“You can’t see it, Penelope, because it’s not your lucky star. It’s mine. But I bet I can help you see it. Just watch.

“Lucky star,” I said, “I wish she could see my lucky star, too.”

I looked over and saw Penelope’s eyes get wider and wider. Yes, now she was seeing it, too. Now she could believe me.

“I see something!” she says, “I really do see it! Oh, it’s beautiful!!”

“That’s my lucky star, Penelope. That’s what I’ve been tellin’ you about. Now do you believe me?”

She looked over at me with wonderment in her eyes. The same look I prob’ly had the first time I saw the star. “Yes,” she slowly says, “. . . yes, I guess I do believe you. I do believe you now.”

“Penelope, I’m tired of bein’ a lonely man. So I have to be honest with you if I expect to truly win your heart. Penelope, I have a confession to make. Whenever I wish upon that star my wish always comes true.

“After I proposed to you, you said you could never break your weddin’ vows. But weddin’ vows say, ‘until death do us part’. So last week, Penelope, I made a wish upon that star. I wished that your husband would be killed in the war. That’s how much I love you and want you. I wished your husband dead. I’m sorry, Penelope. Will you please forgive me?”

Penelope’s face just seemed to twist up like a wrung out washrag just then. She suddenly looked up into the sky and began to cry. “Please tell me you didn’t do this!” she said over and over to me.

I felt like I had to be honest. It was the only way I could end the loneliness that was torturing me so, and begin an authentic relationship with someone.

“I can’t Penelope, I did do it. I’m sorry.”

For a few more minutes she cried.

But then she suddenly looked back up into the sky, and I should have been warned by the fire in her eyes.

Slowly, and with trembling lips, she said, “I wish it was my lucky star, and not his.”

I quickly looked up, but only in time to see my star quickly shrink down to nothin’, just like the picture would shrink down to a little dot on the old TV sets, after you turned ‘em off. It vanished, and for the first time in over a hundred years I saw a night sky without my bright lucky star in it.

I grabbed Penelope and pleaded, “Please, please, bring it back!”

“No.” she said. She was like a rock.

“Please Penelope, please! I must have it back! I can’t live without it! Bring it back! Please! Wish it back for me Penelope.” I demanded! “Wish it back!”

She looked at me and said, “The only thing I should wish is that you were dead.”

“Oh no, no! Please don’t wish that!” I got down on my knees. I’d never felt so helpless and vulnerable before. “Please watch what you wish! Please be careful!”

I’m ashamed to say that I then began squealing in a high voice. “I’ll die if you wish that! Please don’t wish that! Please! Please!!”

She didn’t wish me dead. But I never saw her again, either. The next day I went to her house to beg for my star back. But she was gone. She’d moved out overnight.

I’ve been lookin’ for her ever since. From town to town, city to city I’ve traveled. Searchin’ the phone books for a Penelope Frooze. Prowlin’ around the advantaged homes of the upper-middle class for a glimpse of her.

I suspect she’s made herself somewhat rich with my lucky star. I suspect she’s also changed her identity several times. And I suspect I’ll never find her, in spite of how hard I search.

She’ll be forever young, forever kind of rich, and forever lucky, just the way I was.

I’m gettin’ kinda old now. In about ten years or so I’ll prob’ly die of old age, if it don’t get me sooner. Still, it’s not bad for a guy who was born in 1818, don’t you think?

I doubt if I’ll ever see Penelope Frooze again. But I’ll bet about now she’s startin’ to get a bit lonely herself. And maybe by now she’s lookin’ for someone she can trust. Someone she can share her true self with, just like I thought I could with her.

Perhaps you’ll meet her one day. And perhaps one evenin’ the two of you will go for a walk under some starry night sky.

If she should start talkin’ about some lucky star of hers, tell her you won’t believe it ’till you see it. And when she shows it to you, you know what to do next. Don’t be shy or hesitant, just do it. It’s yours for the takin’, jist like she took it from me.

And you’d be a fool to pass it up.

But if you do take it, I’d like to ask one thing of you. Some evenin’ while you’re lookin’ at your lucky star and makin’ a wish for somethin’ you’ve always wanted, I’d like you to think of me.

And then maybe if you would please, wish a little luck my way, too.

Click to the next story, to read The Devil and Sagittarius Rolfdown.

The Lonely Wish, Part 2 of 3

This is Part 2 of 3, of The Lonely Wish, from my book, Go West or Go Weird. Click here to read Part 1.

The Lonely Wish (Continued)


The next day I started to walk into town. I was no longer a crippled man, so now I figured I could look my fellow brethren straight in the eye and ask ’em to let me do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage. I felt like a respectable man. An upright respectable man, now that I was a whole man.

But before I got to town a temptin’ thought hit me. I thought, supposin’ I should stay out of town for jist one more night and see if that lucky star comes out again. Then I could wish for enough money so that I wouldn’t even have to work. I could go into town and be not only respectable, but also rich.

Shore enough, that night the lucky star did come out again, fillin’ up the eastern horizon with all its brilliant shinin’ colors.

“Lucky star,” I said, “I wish I could have a thousand dollars in gold, right here in my pocket.”

My pocket suddenly ripped, and the weight of a thousand dollars in gold fell down my pant leg and hit my foot.

So I wished that my foot would stop hurtin’, and it did. Amazingly, the pain just went away like blowin’ a candle out.

That night I also wished for a new suit and a fine horse. I got both, and rode into town the next day a rich and respectable man, who only two nights earlier had been standin’ on a bridge contemplatin’ suicide.

I turned the heads and eyes of a lots of folks, especially a lot of women-folks. But not too many of the younger, more attractive women were lookin’ at me, and I realized it was because of my age. I was 48 years old and had the kind of wrinkles an 80-year-old might have, due to all the misery I’d been through the past few years.

But I was a man with a lucky star, so that evenin’ I wished I could be twenty years old again.

The next day the young women were finally lookin’ at me, and I told ’em I was the rich son of that old galoot who’d come through the day before.

Soon I had it all. I had a pretty young wife, a mansion, fine horses, lots of money, and lots of respect from the townsfolk. I was a rich, respectable young man, far from that old white trash dirt farmer who’d been burned out way back in Georgia. I was a man who owned a lucky star. And all of my wishes were comin’ true.

But after awhile I learned not to wish for too much. I learned that havin’ too much money, too many possessions—too much of anythin’, in fact—was dangerous. It got people to talkin’. And talk about a wealthy man attracted thieves. Thieves have been known to kill for money, and I did not want to die for what I had wished for.

You see, my lucky star was no good to me by day. It was only good for me at night, when I could see it. And if it should happen to be a cloudy night, then it still worn’t no good for me. If I couldn’t see my lucky star, I could wish ’til my lips turned blue and it wouldn’t do me no danged good. I had to see it, to wish on it effectively.

So I learned to be careful about my wealth. I learned that by jist bein’ borderline rich I could feel safe enough from thieves, or from jealous poor people, or the like.

I learned to keep a low profile and not to make much of an impression on people. That kept the talk down, and helped me feel more comfortable with my wealth.

Somethin’ I refused to do was let myself age. I loved bein’ twenty years old. For one thing, it made thieves think twice about attackin’ me—young, strappin’ and healthy as I appeared. Also, I was afraid that by aging I would be more susceptible to ill health. I didn’t want to suddenly get sick and wind up dyin’ before I could get a chance to see my lucky star and wish myself back into good health. That was a great fear of mine.

But unfortunately I had to let my wife age. Wishin’ her to stay young would eventually lead to some questions bein’ asked, and then a lot of talk that could become harmful. Perhaps people would accuse her and me of bein’ in league with the devil or somethin’. I was afraid of that kind of talk, and what it could lead to.

But after about ten years, people did begin to talk. They talked about me, and why I wasn’t aging. They wondered aloud, and even joked half good-naturedly with me about it. The handwritin’ was on the wall, and I knew the time had come for me to leave. Leavin’ seemed to be my only option.

My wife was a nice enough person I guess, but the time had come. So one mornin’ she woke up and I wasn’t in bed next to her. I had moved on.

I wound up in another town a thousand miles away. I took on a new identity, with new looks, to keep from bein’ recognized by someone from my past who might come travelin’ through my present. I wished myself new wealth, and began courtin’ young women.

Soon I was all set up again, just like before. And for another ten years I was able to live the life of a comfortably rich, but quiet man, with a beautiful young wife. No one talked about me much or bothered me very often. In fact I think I was hardly ever even thought about.

And the cycle continued. Decade after decade I would pull up stakes and start a new life somewhere else. The years were like a gentle breeze on a summer day—they just seemed to slip by without me noticin’ anythin’ but a pleasant good time.

The years rolled on into the twentieth century. And on they went, through World War I, the Great Depression, the Second World War, and the Korean War. And on I went, with my lucky star as my guide.

But somethin’ was a’changin’ inside me. I guess I was goin’ through a kind of a personal crisis. I was feelin’ kind of hollow inside. More and more all the time. I would look back at all my wives and all my lives and ask myself if it had been worth it. I would ask myself if I was really happy. I would want to know what the meanin’ of life was. And I would want to know if I was fulfillin’ the meanin’ of life.

But when I boiled it all down, I decided I was just plain old lonely. Here I’d had so many wives and I had left them all, each time just when I was beginnin’ to know and appreciate them. And they had never gotten to know me. I had lied to each and ever one of ‘em about my past and the source of my wealth, because I didn’t want ‘em to know about my lucky star. I was afraid they wouldn’t believe me. Or that if they did believe me they would talk about it to others. Talk seemed to be the most dangerous enemy I had. And so to prevent talk about myself, I had to keep from talkin’ about myself. And that meant remainin’ lonely, even with my wives.

The Vietnam War busted loose on a lonely world for me. I had just left another wife, who was beginnin’ to wonder how I’d kept my young looks for so long. This time, I vowed, I would not get married again until I met a woman who I could trust. A woman who I could tell the truth to about myself, and who wouldn’t talk it around to others. A woman who I could get to know, and who could get to know me. A woman who I wouldn’t feel lonely with. This time I would wait until I met such a woman.

In 1969 I met Penelope Frooze. She was 25—a little older than what I was used to. But she was a darn purty woman. Beautiful both on the outside and on the in. She was someone I could talk to in confidence, and who I knew would keep the cats in the bag. She just had that special kind of personality that could make a believer out of anyone who came into contact with her. Includin’ myself. She was sympathetic, humorous, happy, gregarious, fun, and interestin’ to be with.

An’ I loved her.

She was a waitress at a diner. That’s where I met her. Her husband was over in ‘Nam, fightin’ commies. Well, that was his problem. I had me a lucky star and he didn’t.

And I was determined to make Penelope my wife.

But Penelope had to volunteer to be my wife. I wanted someone who I could trust and talk to, not someone I had to force and be afraid of.

End of Part 2. Come on back tomorrow, for Part 3, and the conclusion to this tale.


Philosophy, living life, and other fun stuff

Stephen Metcalfe

playwright, screenwriter, and novelist

Experience Film

A Visceral, Psychological Perspective on Modern Cinema

Water for Camels

Encouragement and Development for Social Workers and Those with a Mission of Helping Others

"Depths of Poison" Book 2

Scroll down to read the sequel.

Marie Lamba, author

Some thoughts from author and agent Marie Lamba

Catxman's Cradle

Catxman dances, Catxman spins around, leaps ....... // I sing a song, a song of hope, a song of looove -- a song of burning roses. / Synthesizer notes. // (c) 2021-22


Celebrating God's creatures, birds and plants...

Chel Owens

A Wife, My Verse, and Every Little Thing

Chasing Unicorns

Where smartasses chase unicorns

suyts space

Just another site


A site for the Barsetshire Diaries Books and others

The Trefoil Muse

Words are art on paper, and for me they are the seeds of my soul.

Marta Frant

Humor and Lifestyle

Jessica reads&write

I read to live, I write to share their life

Jessica E. Larsen

Writer. Reader. A mom and a romantic dreamer 🥰 💕

Borden's Blather

A 60-something guy trying to figure out the world, and his place in it.