A guy walks into the store. Black tee-shirt bearing a logo, trucker hat, mid-twenties, average height and build. He walks maybe ten feet into the store, stops, looks at the display fixture there. I greet him, ask him if he’s looking for something.
“I wanted something with pictures of angels and demons fighting.”
We sell video games. Artwork isn’t our specialty. “Can you be more specific?” I ask. Something he might say could spark a thought, point me in the direction of a game along those lines.
“I want a picture of heaven, and a picture of hell, and a picture of heaven and hell at war.” He runs his hand up and down his other arm. “I want a tattoo of that.”
A tattoo. He just wants artwork. Not our bag. I shake my head. I’m really drawing a blank.
There’s a Christian bookstore at the end of the building. They don’t carry the Buddy Jesus, so I somehow doubt they would have pictures of angels and demons fighting. I said as much.
He nods, disappointed.
I snap my fingers. Brainwave!
“All you need is artwork, right? Do an Internet search. Paradise Lost. You’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for.”
His eyes brighten. “Paradise Lost,” he repeats, trying to fix the name in his memories. “What’s that?”
I blink. I count to three. I blink again.
“Paradise Lost. Epic poem. John Milton. About a war between heaven and hell.” I pull out some paper, write down the title. “‘Tis nobler to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” I say, surely mangling the quote.
He leaves, happy.
What are they teaching in schools these days? I had to read Paradise Lost in high school, and I wouldn’t consider Barbour County, West Virginia to be at the bleeding edge.