Calling Dante's Inferno
by Kevin Underhill
Listen as lawyer and satirist Kevin Underhill presents his new translation of Dante's epic Inferno, on Weekend All Things Considered.
[A male narrator reads the first 2 verses]
Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
When I reached the foot of a hill,
there where the valley ended
I saw a phone booth, with a number scratched inside.
Hello. Thank you for calling the Inferno. We are sorry you have died
without achieving a state of grace. All representatives are currently
assisting other customers, but your call is very important to us. If you
believe you have reached this recording in error, and would like to speak
directly to God, press the pound key.
I'm sorry, that voice mailbox is full.
To abandon all hope, press 1, now.
Thank you. If you are an attorney, press 1, and a representative will be
with you immediately. If you know the number of the Circle you are destined
to reach, you may press the star key, followed by the number, at any time.
If you would like to leave a message for Hitler, press 0, now.
Otherwise, please wait.
AC/DC's Highway to Hell plays while holding.
Hello. You have reached the Inferno's main phone menu. Please listen
carefully, as the selections have changed. Your cooperation will allow us
to assign you to the Circle that is appropriate for you. Please be candid,
as your answers will be compared to your permanent record.
To continue, please press 1, now.
Thank you. Please wait.
(AC/DC's Hells Bells plays.)
Thank you. You've reached the first circle of hell, Limbo for virtuous
pagans. Frankly, the worst punishment here is the long line at Starbucks,
so don't panic. But if you happen to be an ancient Greek
philosopher, or a Unitarian, press 1. Otherwise, press 2 to continue.
The second Circle of Hell is for the Lustful. If you coveted your
neighbor's spouse, press 1. If you coveted a co-worker, press 2. If you
sat through all three hours of Eyes Wide Shut, press 3. If you collected
boudoir photos of Bill Clinton press 4. Otherwise, press 5.
The third Circle of Hell is for the Gluttonous. If you died choking on some
kind of pastry, press 1. If you were large enough to be seen from orbit,
press 2. If your liposuction needs caused power shortages in California,
press 3. Otherwise, press 4.
The fourth Circle of Hell formerly housed the Avaricious and Prodigal, but
is now reserved for people who talk on cell phones while driving. If you
were doing this just before you died, press 1. Otherwise, press 2.
The fifth Circle of Hell is for the Wrathful and Sullen. If you are still
mad about the cell phone thing, press 1. If you are still mad about
anything that happened during the Clinton Administration, press 2. If you
are just plain mad, press 3. Otherwise, press 4.
The sixth Circle of Hell is reserved for Heretics. If you started your own
religion, press 1. If it required nudity, press 2. Otherwise press 3.
The seventh circle of hell is for the violent. If you were a tyrant or
murderer, press [*bang*] -- please press [*bang*] -- please do not strike
the [*bang*] -- your response has been recorded. Press 5 to continue.
The eighth Circle of Hell is for the Fraudulent. If you pandered, seduced,
or flattered, press 1. If you were a thief or fraudulent counselor, press
2. If you ever hosted an infomercial, press 3, but if you feigned an
Australian accent while doing so, press 4. If you were a psychic friend,
psychic healer, pet psychic, or the CEO of an Internet company, press 5. If
you routinely falsified anything else including but not limited to
money, grand jury testimony, or boudoir photos of Bill Clinton, press 6.
Otherwise, press 7.
Finally, the ninth Circle of Hell formerly housed the Treacherous, but is
now being reserved for creators and stars of reality television shows. If
this describes you, press 1, and Lucifer will be with you as soon as he is
finished with Judas. Otherwise, press 2.
Thank you for your cooperation. However, I was just wasting your time. One
of our representatives is standing right behind you. Press 1 to abandon all
hope again, and thank you for calling the Inferno.