Tales of the Divine Comedy

by      Thomas Ragazzi   and Dr. Philip A. Pecorino

Chapter Two

The Eighth Day

                 In a bedroom at six o’clock a.m. a digital alarm clock had rung, waking up a married couple.  Both husband and wife were around forty-five years of age and they lived alone.  Their kids had graduated college and found jobs out of state.  The couple was lonely, and there was a constant sense that they needed something new lest their relationship stagnate or founder.

                The husband, Dan, was a good-looking man and had aged well.  He was tall with a lightly tanned complexion with sprinkles of grey on the sides of his otherwise dark-brown head of hair.  Martha, on the other hand, had not aged well.  She was short with a stocky build and of pale complexion save for a few blotchy spots of red on various parts of her face.  Her hair was completely grey and she never bothered to dye it.               

                Martha got up, turned on the light, and proceeded downstairs to make Dan breakfast.  This is what she did every day of the week, and Dan was so accustomed to this that he never thanked her for it since he was in his mid-twenties.

                Dan got himself ready, then went downstairs and ate his breakfast with his wife.  He checked if he had all of his necessary belongings and rushed off to work without bothering to kiss his wife goodbye.

                He got in his Altima and drove off.  But instead of going on the highway, which was the fastest route to get to his job, he parked the car at the nearest gas station and proceeded to make a phone call on his cell phone.  He dialed the number and after a few rings, someone picked up:

                “Hello, ConTech International, Human Resources Department.  May I help you?”

                “Hi. Nancy,” said Dan in a hoarse voice.  “I have to call in sick today.  I think it’s the flu.  I couldn’t even finish the dinner Martha made last night.  I need to make a doctor’s visit today.”

                “Sorry to hear that, Dan.  Okay, I’ll let everyone know.  Feel better, okay.  At least you’ll have the weekend to rest up too.  Hopefully you’ll be better by Monday.  You know, nothing really gets done in this office when you’re not around.”

                “Thanks, Nancy.  Yeah, I’ll be sleeping it in this weekend.  I’m sure I’ll be better by Monday.”

                “Okay.  Rest up.”

                “I will.  Thanks.”

                They hung up and Dan made a second call.

                “Hi Trace.”

                “Hi Dan,” said a woman’s voice.  “Bill left a half hour ago.  As I said the other day, he’ll be back from the city late tonight, around 8 o’clock.  So come on over.  I’ll make some drinks for us.”

                “I told them at work that I have the flu,” he chuckled.

                “Don’t you think that excuse has gotten old?” she laughed.

                “Everybody tells me to get the flu shot.  I keep telling them that I keep forgetting.  But they buy it.”

                “How about your wife?” Trace asked.

                “She knows nothing,” Dan said dismissively.  “Forget her.  She’s so focused on our kids and what they’re doing that she doesn’t question what I do anymore.”

                “Well, that’s good for us, isn’t it?”

                “Yeah, it is.  What she doesn’t know, won’t hurt me.”

                Trace laughed.  “Well then, come on over.  I bet you can’t guess what I’m wearing.”

                “Is it the black one-piece lingerie?  Or the red dress with the thin straps?”

                “You’ll find out,” she said coyly.

                “Alright.  I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

                “I’ll be waiting.  Bye.”


                It only took Dan a short while before he parked his car adjacent to the sidewalk in front of Trace’s house.  As he got out of the car and approached the walkway, Trace opened the door and smiled.

                She was a beautiful woman of about thirty-eight years, tall and slender, and she was wearing a red dress with high-heeled shoes to match.

                Dan smiled and raised his eye brows.

                “The dress,” he said.

                “The dress,” she said in a way that showed she was satisfied with his response.  “Come in.  The drinks are ready.”

                Dan walked in, and Trace closed the door behind him…


                In a suburban neighborhood, two children were walking on the sidewalks side-by-side.  One of the children was bouncing a basketball.  The other was humming a tune he had learned in his elementary school music class.  Then there was a sound of SMASH!  The unsuspecting children jumped as they were startled by the sound of a large glass object being broken, and they immediately started running back to their homes.  The sound came from the house eight yards away at 237 Mullins Street.  It was a small one-story house, with painted white shingles, a small garage, and of moderate upkeep.  Inside the house, a couple in their mid to late thirties was arguing.

                “Michael!  Are you listening to me?!  Do you ever listen, or are you stupid?  Why did I ever marry you?!  Do you like this life that we live?  We are stuck!  We are stuck here in middle class suburbia!  My God, all that money for my education and I end up a suburban housewife…”

                She started to cry.

                Her husband got up from the couch and tried to console her by putting his hand on her shoulder, but before he could do this, she swatted his hand away.

                “Get away from me!” she yelled.  “This is all your fault!”

                She continued sobbing.

                “I’m sorry, Kate,” the husband spoke.  “The economy’s bad, and we’d be doing a lot better if I hadn’t gotten laid off.  I’m working two jobs now.  We’re struggling, but if the economy picks up…”

                “The economy will never pick up!” interrupted Kate.  “Don’t give me that!  You’re giving me excuses!  If you would have been a little more motivated and ambitious, and hadn’t decided to take the easy route, we would never have been in the position we are in.  This is all your fault.  We are so pathetic!”

                Kate started to sob again.           

                “Honey, we’ll make it work.  If we’re patient and focused, I think…”

                “Oh shut up!  You don’t know what you’re talking about!” she yelled.  “You have no idea how the world works.  You don’t even have the guts to ask for a raise.  You have no ambition.  You’re just like your parents.  Made in the same image as mommy and daddy.  You heard about the Davis’s, didn’t you?  They’re moving out of this neighborhood.  They’re buying a three-story house in a good neighborhood with a good school district.  Why?  Because Jim has ambition that you lack!  And I’m stuck raising our child.  Oh, you’ll be such a good role model for her!  You don’t help me around the house.  You don’t help me with raising our kid.  You don’t…”

                Kate continued to upbraid Michael, and he continued to put up little defense.  Then the sound of broken glass started up again, and it was loud enough to be heard by the neighbors next door.


                Kelly and her mother had a tumultuous relationship.  There was practically no topic that they never argued about.  From how Kelly dressed, how late she stayed out, to boyfriends, they had covered it all.  The source of the conflict was that Kelly’s mother was an overprotective parent and Kelly was a young woman who enjoyed going out and having fun with her friends.  This was one of their typical arguments…

Kelly’s worried mother had been pacing back and forth in the living room for over an hour.  Her husband sat on the couch and let out a sigh.  Both husband and wife seemed stressed.

                “I can’t get in touch with Kelly,” she told her husband.  “She’s not picking up her cell phone.”

                The husband sighed again.

                The mother’s cell phone started to ring, and she quickly answered the phone.

                “Hi Kelly.  Where are you?”

                “I’m at Gallagher’s.”

                “Is that a bar?”

                “Come on, Ma.  I really hope you’re not gonna start again.  I’m twenty-one years old.”

                “How often do you go to bars, Kelly?  You were just at one yesterday.”

                “I’m serious, Ma!  I don’t need this today!  I had a hard week with school and work and I want a drink.  Julie and Michelle are here, so it’s not like I’m drinking alone.  The loser drunks drink alone.  They’re the ones who become drunks.  I’m with friends.  This is what people my age do.   You’re living in the eighteenth century…”

                “But Kelly, I’m just worried that someone might put something in your drink…”

                “For God sakes, Ma!  What is your problem?!  I’m not a child anymore!  You’re treating me like a child!  People go out drinking on the weekends.  They have fun.  This is what people do.  Really!  What do you know about life?!  You never amounted to anything.  Give me a break, Ma!”

                “Kelly, please stop being vicious,” the mom pleaded.  “I just worry.  I don’t want you to become an alcoholic because…”         

                “How do you know how much I drink?!  Are you with me when I go to bars?  No, so shut your mouth!”

                “You really shouldn’t talk to me this way,” the mother said, exasperated. “You should treat me better.  I’m your mother,” she said as her voice started to crack.

                “You start with me and you have the nerve to talk to me this way?!  You’re a witch!” the daughter screamed, and she hung up the phone.

                The mother turned to her husband and started to sob.

                “She’s being vicious again, John.  I don’t know what to do with her.  I feel we lost her.”

                The husband just shook his head and said, “I don’t know what to tell you, Mary.”

                Meanwhile at Gallagher’s, Kelly started talking to Michelle who was sitting next to her at the bar.  There was loud music and the bar was packed with patrons.

                “I hate my mom.”

                “Yeah, I heard it all.  You called her a witch.  I thought that was kinda funny.  Ha!  What a loving family you come from.”

                “I really hate her.”

                “But I agree with you.  I mean, this is the twenty-first century.  Women should be allowed to act like men.  If men can go out, drink, and have fun with their guy friends, women should be able to do the same with their girl friends.”

                “Yeah, but she’s so clueless she doesn’t see that.”

                “And you gotta go out and grab the bull by the horns, not stay at home, be a housewife, and rely on a man.  That almost never happens anymore.  Well, there’s Stacy and Mike.”

                “But they have no life.  They never go out,” retorted Kelly.  “And Mike’s a wimp.  I’d never date a guy like that.”

                “I love it when you’re catty like this.  You’re so funny,” said Michelle as she laughed with a smile.  “You’re right.  They are goody-goodies.”

                “My mom has no idea.  This is how you gotta be to survive.  She has no idea what I’ve been through, and when I went through a really difficult time in my life, she could do nothing to help me.  This is who I am and she needs to deal with it.”

                “Yeah, I’m pretty nasty too.  It’s a bite-or-be-bit world.”

                “Don’t you mean a dog-eat-dog world?” asked Kelly with a chuckle.

                “Yeah, same thing,” said Michelle, as she chuckled too.  “To the catty ladies,” she said with emphasis, as she put up her gin and tonic for a toast.

                “To the catty ladies,” said Kelly, with a smile, holding her margarita in hand.

                They chimed their drink glasses together.

                After a few minutes of conversing at the bar, the two were greeted by two young men and a young woman.

                “Hey!” said Michelle.  “It’s Julie, Gary, and Mark.  How’s it going guys?”

                “Same old,” Mark responded.

                “Work sucks,” said Gary.

                “Amen,” said Kelly and Michelle together unintentionally, and they all laughed.



                Going home on the bus, a fifth grade boy sitting in a back seat looked distressed.  He was socially awkward with few friends who spoke with an occasional lisp that was particularly prominent when he was anxious.  He was fidgeting with his school bag and was repeatedly looking out the window as if he was looking for someone.  When he was at his stop, he took his belongings and got off the bus.  As he started to walk home, he thought, I hope they forgot.  They say that stuff to everyone.  I hope they forgot.

                He walked one block and was beginning the second when he saw twenty yards away five young boys rounding the corner one street over.  When he saw them, the boy started to dash straight ahead, hoping to get home before the boys found him.  He was able to run thirty yards until one of the larger boys grabbed and held him.  Then he let him go.

                “Hey there, Lenny.  We just wanted to talk with you,” said a boy with reddish-brown hair moussed up and a gold earring in his left ear.  “Remember what we were talking about in lunch?”

                “Yeah,” said Lenny.

                “So what were we talking about?” said the red-haired boy.

                “That I wathe going to karate clathes,” mumbled Lenny.

                The boys chuckled.

                “And then I said I wanted to see how good you were.”

                “But I wathn’t trying to thay I wathe tough,” Lenny protested.

                “I just want one match.”

                “Yeah, just give him one match,” said a smaller kid.  “It’ll be fun.”

                “For us,” said another kid standing beside the red-haired boy.

                They all laughed.

                “I’m gonna get a match,” said the red-haired boy, and then he pushed Lenny.

                Lenny fell, but quickly got back up.

                “He’s scared,” said the smaller boy.

                “I don’t wanna fight,” Lenny said.

                The red-haired boy slapped Lenny in the face and grabbed him in a headlock.

                Lenny pushed the boy away.

                “Oooh, he’s starting with you,” said the smaller boy, excitedly.

                The red-haired boy pushed Lenny back and swung a right hook, hitting him square in the nose.

                Lenny fell to the ground, cupping his nose in his hand, as his nose started to bleed profusely.

                “Oh my God!” he screamed.  “My nothe ithe broken!  Oh my God!  Oh my God!”

                All five boys started laughing hysterically.  The red-haired boy was laughing so hard that he was beside himself.

                “His nothe!” the smaller boy said as he pointed at Lenny amid loud cackles, and they all laughed harder. 

Once they stopped laughing, the red-haired boy smiled and said, “There ithe no God.”

They all started laughing again.

“Forget this,” said the red-haired boy.  “He can’t fight.  He’s a joke.”

                Then the five boys started to walk away, leaving Lenny all alone, on the ground, holding his bleeding nose.



                It was a warm, summer day at approximately 5:30 p.m., about the time when Dan left Trace’s house, Kate and Michael ended their argument, Kelly got off the phone with her mother, and young Lenny was on the ground bleeding from being punched in the nose, when a world-shaking event occurred that reached the foundations of earth and soul.

                There was suddenly a loud BOOM that was heard throughout the world.  Wherever people were on Earth, in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia, this BOOM was heard.  It was so loud that it was heard even by the deaf.  Immediately after this unearthly sound, there was a halt in all motion, as if Time itself had ceased.  All clocks and watches stopped.  Automobiles halted in motion.  Bicycles too.  Planes were halted in mid-air.  All animals, including humans, stopped as if they were frozen in Time. Everything was at a standstill.  Then there came a voice:




After a pause that rattled as much as the booming voice that pierced the conscious and unconscious defenses of every human on the planet came the words ordained to change the course of all human lives and all human history and the life of the planet itself:





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[1] Romans 2:14-15

[2] Mark 8:36

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© Copyright Thomas Ragazzi and Philip A. Pecorino 2010. All Rights reserved.