Trump Scheduled to Meet Devil at Manhattan Crossroads 

Return of soul expected, No change in U.S. politics anticipated 

Vincent Price in The Mask of the Red Death, 1964, produced and directed by Roger Corman.

Washington, November 24: Mephistopheles, the prince of darkness, announced today through his press spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, that he would meet on Thursday “with his old friend” President Trump and return to him his soul. The transfer is expected to take place at noon at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in the shadow of Trump Tower. The event will be observed by a small audience, selected by the Devil from among Trump’s most fervid supporters. Mephistopheles is expected to wear red, Trump orange.

The Devil has been in possession of Trump’s soul since 1973, when he met the young real estate heir through their mutual friend, attorney Roy Cohn, described by one colleague as “pure evil.” It’s not known what Trump was paid at the time and there is no record of the transaction in the president’s tax returns, recently published by The New York Times. But it’s likely that profits from the sale – dispersed over many years — were offset for tax purposes by losses from Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, Doral Country Club and multiple golf courses in the U.S. and Scotland.

The reason for the handover right now is unknown, but scientists have over the last four years observed a distinct cooling of Hades, as well as seasonal ice formation on the River Styx. They have named it the “Trump Effect.” Longtime ferryboat captain Charon told reporters today: “I don’t know where the ice is coming from, but it started forming during Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. It’s gotten so bad that my trips to and from Washington take twice as long as before. I’ve had to double my tolls!”

Higher transportation costs have cut into the profits of fossil fuel giants Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, and Marathon whose strong sales to Hell have made up for declining profits in the automobile and home energy sectors. Coal, oil and gas are of course essential to keeping Hell’s fires burning and maintaining the proper level of sulfurous fumes. Lobbyists for the three companies recently obtained from Congress and President Trump increases in the oil depletion allowance to buttress the profitability of business with Hell. Oil deposits discovered in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, (leases to which were recently approved by Trump), are expected to be piped directly to Hell via a planned Trans-Styx Pipeline.

Mephistopheles, also known as the Prince of Darkness, has quietly expressed concerns about Hades’ cooling to his team of advisors, who include former presidents and prime ministers Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Augusto Pinochet. If the cooling is not arrested soon, they fear, Hell may become quite bearable. There is even a chance, if the current rate of cooling continues, Hell could freeze over within 100 years.  The precise mechanism of the Trump Effect is unknown, but it is thought that his soul is so frigid that it reduces or even extinguishes every hell fire it passes during its seasonal migration across Hades.

Most observers do not expect the return of Trump’s soul to have any impact on the ongoing stalemate concerning an pandemic relief package. Moreover, the number of other Republican and Democratic souls in the Devil’s portfolio is thought to be so large, that the continuity of bad governance is assured. And even with a soul, Trump’s narcissism and sociopathy is sufficiently profound that his affect and behavior will be largely unchanged. Experts however agree that he might actually shed a tear on January 20, 2021.

Stephen F. Eisenman is Professor Emeritus of Art History at Northwestern University and the author of Gauguin’s Skirt (Thames and Hudson, 1997), The Abu Ghraib Effect (Reaktion, 2007), The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights (Reaktion, 2015) and many other books. He is also co-founder of the environmental justice non-profit,  Anthropocene Alliance. He and the artist Sue Coe and now preparing for publication part two of their series for Rotland Press, American Fascism Now.