Mrs. Devil

Damon Runyon

I was discussing Mrs. Devil the other night with my friend, Pratt, and exchanging ideas with him on her appearance. I am speaking of the wife of Mr. Devil, sometimes called Satan, Beelzebub, Belial and so forth.

Pratt held out for Mrs. Devil being a sort of Sadie Thompson type. Pratt’s imagination is pretty much grooved when it comes to women. With him they are all either Sadie Thompsons or his mother. Pratt, of course, is a bachelor.

Another chap named Goodman was listening in on the dialogue and he challenged our authority for assuming Mr. Devil has a wife. He said he had always been under the impression Mr. Devil is too smart to get married, but I cited him the Prophets.

They speak of the wicked as the children of the Devil.

I pointed out to Goodman that Mr. Devil must have begotten these children by a lawful wife, else the Prophets would have mentioned the illegitimacy. They were not squeamish about things like this. Goodman said yes, I seemed to have something there.

I showed him where Mr. Devil is mentioned specifically as the father of lies, which I am sure means all the different lies we know, little lies, big lies, white lies, black lies, mean lies and all the rest.

“I am well acquainted with mean lies,” said Goodman. “She lives in the same apartment building I do.”

We are told Mr. Devil “entered into” certain great personalities of history, meaning he got control over them in thought and in spirit and thus accomplished their ruin. I am not going to attempt to give Mr. Devil a character any less despicable than is generally charged against him, but I have long believed he has considerable assistance and there are reasons why I must suspect Mrs. Devil.

I do not think it possible for Mr. Devil to do all the dirty work alone. Besides, much of what we have come to know as “devilishness” has a definite feminine touch which argues the hand of Mrs. Devil. Not even Mr. Devil could have sufficient ingenuity for evil to prompt human beings to some of their actions recorded today. Cherchez la femme, as the fellow says.

Now I visualize Mrs. Devil as a real nice looking lady, not too young, not too old, but just right. I can see her as having black hair, black eyes of great expression, fine teeth and a lovely figure. Not too much here, not too little there, but just right. In short, I think she must be most attractive to all who behold her.

A sophisticated lady, you understand. No dope. No screwball. No simpleton. Worldly wise and yet no wise cracking. Not over-gabby. Not small-gossipy. And of course her voice is low and musical and her laughter tinkles like money in a cash register, which is the most pleasant sound I can think of offhand.

I picture her as rather an inviting dish. It does not stand to reason she is a scrawny, sharp-featured broad without charm because as such she could scarcely be the instrument of harm to mankind that she has always been. I do not believe that old Ananias and all the other characters back to Adam who were pushovers for temptation would have gone for a dame of that type. And, as a matter of fact, I do not believe Mr. Devil would have hooked up with a crow.