10th February

The Temptation of Simon

One filthy day of driving wind and freezing rain, the Devil walked over the peat bog moor to lay a bit of temptation on Simon Stoblichties. Whatever Simon stood for, on this occasion he was lying down. He had wrapped himself in all his blankets and skins, not so much to keep warm as to pre- vent them blowing away. It was before the start of the tourist season, but in such foul weather nobody was about anyway. The Devil stood at the foot of Simon’s tree and called up to him.

‘Got a light, pal?’

Simon leaned over the edge of the platform to see who was asking such an idiot question. When he saw the Devil he groaned. He knew he was in for it.

‘Forget it, I’ve got wan masel,’ the Devil said, and he pointed his finger at a nearby rock and smashed it to bits with a lightning bolt. Then he lit an enormous cigar from the smouldering ruins.

‘Chilly the day, eh?’ he said, summoning up a bijou wee cabin with a peat fire and a triple-glazed picture window. He settled himself in an armchair with a twelve-year-old malt whisky, and scanned the wild scenery.

‘Want tae come doon for a heat?’ he shouted.

Simon shivered and groaned again. He said nothing.

‘Come on,’ the Devil chatted on. ‘Just hop doon for five minutes, get a heat and a dram – oh, and a wee bowl of soup – and then away back up again. Naebody’ll ken.’

Simon crawled to the far side of the platform.

The Devil chucked another peat on the fire.

‘Look, I ken ye’re no the Son of God,’ the Devil said. ‘I’m no wantin ye tae take a heider so His angels can swoop in and save ye. I’m no gonnae ask ye tae turn stanes intae breid, or tell ye this shitehole can be all yours if ye worship me. I’m just sayin, gie yersel a break. Whit difference will it make?’

Simon’s brain was too cold to think of an answer. He didn’t know if there was an answer. He did know that it would be fatal to argue. His only hope lay in silence.

Reader: Matthew Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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