A Story by alanwgraham

The philosopher spends an evening with god and the devil


God and the Devil


As he did every evening, the servant prepared a simple meal for his master’s supper and then served it on the small wooden table in the corner of the living room. After thanking John, the old man ate, without apparent relish, his unvarying repast of potatoes, cabbage and stewed meat. Peter’s plate was always left clean - every last piece of fat or knot of gristle was digested. 


Peter’s attitude to his food was repeated in his ‘interior life.’ The good and bad were both sent ‘from above’ to be dealt with and not put to one side. Once Peter had finished his meal, John cleared up and then washed and dried the plates. Then he retired to his room upstairs where he spent the evening watching TV as he eked out his one vice, a bottle of Newcastle brown ale. His bland diet of game shows and reality TV were easily digestible and did not disturb his sleep.


Peter had been a professor of philosophy at the local university but since his retirement he had progressively withdrawn from normal life. To all intents and purposes Peter lived the life of a hermit. He had never been a member of a formal religion, but as he had grown older the sum of all his philosophical ruminations led him to believe that god and the devil did exist, in at least metaphorical form. Peter’s experience had shown that life was a mixture of comfort and struggle and you must learn to eat the gristle with the lean meat!


After John had left for his room, Peter prepared for his nightly period of contemplation. After drawing the curtains he sat in the firm chair by the window. Having past his three score years and ten Peter had become a stooped old man, wrinkle faced and grey haired. As he sat in his chair, Peter prepared for his daily communion with God and the Devil. Peter took a few moments for a wry look over the ranks of his philosophical tomes that filled the bookcases. A lifetime of study and discussion had led him to the firm conclusion that all the philosophers in the world could not agree on the answer to a single question.

‘Words, words - empty words!’  Peter exclaimed with conviction, as if he was back addressing a crammed lecture theatre.


He always prepared for his evening contemplation by emptying his mind - a tabula rasa was always a better surface to write on! As Peter’s earthly span increased, so did his need for this internal conversation with God and the Devil.  Most would imagine that an elderly academic who rarely did more than pay a brief visit to the local town would have limited opportunity for misdemeanour. However, the truth was that his awareness of sin was acute - walking past a beggar, letting his gaze linger on the girl in the checkout gave him ample scope for self-analysis and reproach.


Somehow, Peter’s dialectic duo, God and the Devil, had performed the magic of the alchemist and had transmuted his base instincts into something good and precious. There was no turning of water to wine or no raising of Lazarus, but for Peter, some kind of suburban minor miracle had been performed.


When the parish church clock struck ten Peter knew that it was time for bed and time to speak directly with his companions, God and the Devil. He always addressed God first, sitting benignly on his right side.

 ‘God, what is the most important thing in life?’

There was a pause, as if God was in need of time for thought.

‘Love, love, love!’  God replied.

Peter had long come to the conclusion that the simpler the answer, the better. He knew that the keenest of scientific minds were in pursuit of the single ‘equation of everything’.


Then he turned to his left where the Devil himself sat brooding.

‘And what do you say is our fate Devil?’

There was a pause.

‘Burn, burn, burn!’


Peter laughed at God and the Devil. ‘Empty words as usual, meaning nothing!’

Then, Peter carefully lifted the green parrot from his right shoulder and placed it carefully in its silver cage.

‘Goodnight God!’

‘Goodnight Peter.’ God squawked in reply.

He repeated the procedure with the red parrot on his left shoulder and put it into the other brass cage. ‘Goodnight my Devil.’

‘Goodnight Peter.’ The Devil squawked.

‘Emptiness, all is emptiness!’ Peter laughed, went up to bed and slept soundly.


Meanwhile, downstairs, God squawked to his old friend the Devil.

‘What an old fool Peter is - let’s talk some real philosophy now!’


© 2018 alanwgraham

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Way too much fun! I really want to stick around and here the conversation between the parrots. The "Newcastle Brown Ale", what a wonderful and manageable vice... and one of mine. Love the phrase "suburban minor miracle". Well done Alan.

Posted 3 Days Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


3 Days Ago

Ta DR, I wasn't too sure myself where this was going and the ending took me by surprise too. I must .. read more
I love this! Very cleverly written! Loved the twist at the end of the 2 parrots!

Posted 2 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


2 Months Ago

Thanks Helen, meant as fun but as usual you start to read more into it and then you think - is this .. read more
Until the end, I thought it was a serious piece and strained my brain to grasp it all. Surely, there was some priceless nugget of knowledge to be gleaned! Well, ya got me, didn't you? Damned parrots--those are probably the only words they know.

Posted 2 Months Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


2 Months Ago

Apologies Samuel - don't take anything too seriously!
I really have no idea where this came f.. read more
Samuel Dickens

2 Months Ago

No apologies needed, Alan! It's just my odd personally with accompanying strange sense of humour. Th.. read more
Thanks so much Margie, you do a wonderful job of encouraging your weird and wonderful collection of furry and feathered scribblers with juicy and chewy treats and rewards. I' m going to talk to my parrots now before bed!
All the best,

Posted 2 Months Ago

This is hilarious & delightful. Almost overshining the storyline, you have used this exacting regimented writing style that is so deliberate, it's hilarious. One can almost feel the guy's a*****e a bit too tight for comfort as you spiel along spilling his utterly habitual nightly routine. I had no idea where this was going, but I couldn't have imagined it to be more unexpected & perfect as it was, even in my wildest dreams. Which brings me to why I'm so envious of you -- it's your wildest whimsical concepts droned out into a meticulously organized & executed story -- what could be more appealing? The ending is such a hoot, delivered with such concise precision! You know how to pack a wallop with an economy of words! (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 2 Months Ago

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5 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on February 6, 2018
Last Updated on February 16, 2018



Fife, Scotland, United Kingdom

Married with three grown up kids, I retired early from teaching physics but have always enjoyed a second life enjoying the outdoors, particularly the mountains. In my mid forties I experienced a manic.. more..


A Story by alanwgraham

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