The Gospel According to Belle Eve: War is Deception.

I

The archangel Michael was my closest friend and partner in mischief, and we had oodles in common. We both were around since the very beginning, and we still were immortals living in the Otherworldly While I had my office with every war manual ever written, Mick divided his time being an angel in our realm, but then went to the waking world for two things: teaching underprivileged children fencing, and coming along with me to solve a war mystery.

We were in my office where many of our escapades always began as he scoured my shelves, looking for a book to challenge as it always meant an antic in the staid old waking world, and then a story when we were done.

“Looking for a mystery?” I asked as I put my feet up on my desk and relaxed in my chair.

“I was just in a bad mood because someone prayed to me that their favourite reality show contestant win a competition by devious means. Can you imagine a more wasted prayer?”

“What did you do?”

“Not answer the prayer.”

“So, you did something by not doing anything.”

“Well, I do not like to be vindictive, but if there is a queue of prayers, that person’s priority goes down the list. Angels cannot be expected to grant wishes like a genie. I protect people from harm with integrity and truth, not rig contests and rewarding deceits. So now I am looking to your books to work out what is bothering me so much.”

Mick kept looking until he nodded and took out the original copy of Sun Tzu’s book The Art of War.

“Ah, here it is,” he said cheerily, “The book that was the first to declare that war is deception.”

“No, no,” I said as I rolled my eyes, “War uses deception as a weapon, but war is fear.”

“That makes much more sense,” Mick said as he nodded, “I always said as much, but really, we need to prove our mutual theory.”

“Great idea. So, let us test how much truth is there about the game of lies, peaches,” I said as I hopped up, “And then when we’re through, I will just have to tell you a story.”

Mick jumped for joy. “I love a good story! It gives me strength. Let’s go!”

II

“So how will we prove it?” asked Mick as we found ourselves in Los Angeles and were walking around feeling rather groovy.

“Well, since you had the prayer to meddle in a reality show competition, we might as well find one that has players telling lots of lies to win.”

“That would be Everyone Loves a Scoundrel.”

“Not everyone loves a scoundrel.”

“There’s the first lie right there. The point of the program is for contestants to lie to their friends, neighbours, coworkers, family, and even strangers in order to get certain peculiar items in a scavenger hunt without getting caught, and the person who gets away with the most lies and items wins.”

“You watch this show?”

“No, the person who prayed thought to tell me all of the details including the biographies of all the players threatening the odds-on favourite to win.”

“How helpful, but if the person is on the show and is recording everything, then all of these people must know this person is lying to win.”

“No, it is all hidden-camera, and the faces of the unwitting victims are blurred.”

“The person praying told you this, too?”

“So that I wouldn’t accidentally protect the person who was being lied to by the scoundrel.”

“We wouldn’t want to protect innocent victims from being exploited, now would we?”

Mick roared with laughter. “And now that we are both on the case, that is exactly what we will do.”

“Let’s get to the studio to start the case.”

“I know where it is.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I was even informed in the prayer who was the executive producer.”

“That must have been a very long prayer.”

“You don’t want to know the longest one I ever received, believe me.”

“Not even a clue?”

“It involved a yo-yo, a spurtle, a sprue, seven rancid lemons, a will, and revenge on a sibling whose supposed transgression happened when they were toddlers.”

“And you say I have all the great stories.”

III

When we reached the studio where they filmed the show of conniving deceivers, we were immediately let in as our exotic and distinctive looks had given people the assumption that we were actors who were auditioning for very specific role, with more than one smitten employee wondering if Mick was a famous male model.

“What now?” asked Mick.

“There are four contestants left. Point them out to me one by one, and I will take care of the rest.”

Mick’s angelic tracking skills were superb and it did not take long for him to find the first who was the one the person who prayed had asked for him to help win. I walked over to her and shook her hand as I looked at her with utmost seriousness.

“What would you say if I told you that there could be a very important director looking for his next big star by watching how well you tell lies?” I asked as the woman squealed.

“I knew it! Just wait until I tell the biggest lies ever! I’m gonna be a movie star!”

As the woman ran triumphantly out of the room, Mick looked at me and shook his head. “You told a lie to her! Evie!”

“I did not tell any lies. I just asked what would she say if I told her that. She never answered me or let me finish my thoughts.”

Mick roared with laughter. “That was skirting a very fine line, Evie.”

“She heard what she wanted to hear because she has been telling so many lies, she doesn’t know how to see truths; so she doesn’t realize that she’s setting herself up to believe them, too.”

“And she is hoping for a big payoff.”

“If we asked the same question of the other three remaining contestants…”

“Our case will get solved. You are a fun detective.”

“Remember, peaches, I was originally put on this Earth to amuse you angels with my antics.”

“And you’re a natural.”

IV

It was the final episode, and thanks to the executive producers seeing Mick and wanting to increase their ratings by writing in an attractive and strapping black man with broad shoulders and a handsome face, they decided a live finale was what the ratings doctor would prescribe. The network was excited at the last-minute prospect, and Mick insisted that I was his assistant, and that we were a package deal.

“What is your role in this finale, Mick?”

“The producers have decided they all must lie to me in order to get access to a night club where the final challenge takes place. Unbeknownst to them, I have already been informed that they are to deceive me.”

“And unbeknownst the producer, they have all met you and think you have an in with some A-list movie director. So, how did they tell you to choose who gets in?”

“They have already decided who the final two contestants will be.”

“And one of them is the prayed for woman?”

“No.”

“No? What an interesting twist.”

“If she won, it would be too predictable; so they want her to lose because many viewers despise her. It was the reason she got that prayer in the first place: that viewer knows the formula of the show, and was hoping this time would be different than the last ten.”

“Are you going to listen to their advice?”

“You can do whatever you want.”

“Me? I thought you were the fake decider.”

“I never said to them I would do it. I just nodded and told them I understood them.”

“I am surprised at you.”

“They interpreted my actions as compliance. I never agreed to their terms. Let’s see how far these fibbers will go when they realize they may be lying so much that they can no longer see a truth that hits them in the nose.”

We were instructed to go stand on our marks in front of the nightclub as the program was live to air.

The first of the four contestants ran up and began to dance in a modern style, shocking and confusing the director who could not stop the camera from rolling.

“Is that good enough to be in your movie?” he asked.

“You’ll have to get in the nightclub to find out, peaches,” I said.

“I don’t have to lie to you?”

“It wouldn’t be very nice of you. How will anyone see your natural charm if you tell lies?”

“Oh.”

The contestant ran inside just as the second one did – the devious one who had the prayers of a fellow deceiver, but not of the executive producer.

“I knew you really wanted me!” she said, “Do I get to go inside now?”

“No, the executive producer said they didn’t want you to win,” I replied.

“What? How dare he?”

The director glared at us as we waved for the camera.

“He thinks you don’t have star quality, peaches.”

“I have star quality! I was destined to be famous! Well, I’ll show him! I am going inside that club to have a date with destiny!”

“Hello, America! We’re letting in the other two contestants,” I shouted to the camera, “How boring is it if we always have to decide between two scoundrels, instead of four…”

“What are you doing?” screamed the director who marched on camera, “You’re ruining everything!”

“How so?” asked Mick, “Isn’t television supposed to be exciting and unpredictable?” Mick suddenly looked mischievously at the camera, “And to Rachel Bigelow, of Sandusky, Ohio, the one who prayed for her deceptive contestant to win, you really should use prayers for real emergencies, and not frivolous games! The next time you pray to me, make sure it is for a good reason!”

“Are you insane?” shouted the director.

“No, I am the archangel Michael, and this is Belle Eve, the original Eve from Eden who left before she had to marry Adam.”

“You are insane!”

“No, he’s telling the truth…”

Just then, the third contestant ran up, asked if he could go inside, and I nodded as I pointed to the door.

“You can’t do that, you loons!”

“We already did, and here is the last contestant…yoo hoo! The party’s inside!”

The last one ran in as the director began to swear and curse.

“I know this show is all about lying, but you shouldn’t be lying!”

“But why not?” I asked.

“Because, it’s just crazy! Losers lie and we exploit those idiots!”

Just then, the four contestants marched over to the director and surrounded him. “We heard that!” shouted one of the contestants, “How dare you lie and exploit us like that?”

“Who are you to talk? You lied to your daughter about getting her a pony if she gave you her favourite toy for you to break on the immunity challenge!”

“That was different!”

“No, it wasn’t!”

“You called us losers in front of America! I’m going to sue you!” said another contestant.

“You’re all a bunch of cowards who scheme and backstab people for five seconds of fame!” roared the directors.

“Cowards? We’ll show you who’s a coward!”

The five began to brawl as Mick and I looked at the camera.

“Well, darlings, that is the reason we should never deceive anyone or exploit them.”

Mick nodded, “And to prove how fearful they really are…”

He clapped his hands, and the sunny skies turned black as a bolt of lightning hit an inch away from the brawlers, who all screamed and ran away.

Suddenly, it was sunny once again.

“No one won today’s game,” I said, “But it is a victory for one bolt of lightning. Goodbye, and watch something more constructive next time!”

The cameraman gasped as he stopped filming. “Great special effects, guys! This is classic and the ratings will be through the roof. I don’t know how you managed to pull off that lightning gag, but I was impressed! And I loved the whole Eve and Michael angle – it serves all those cowardly fibbers right! What a bunch of babies.”

The crew left without the contestants or director as we looked at each other and went back to my office where a promised story was about to be told.

V

The truth about war is that it is fear and not deception!

War is deception who will hear the mindful muse time and again. War is all about lies, they decree as they tell more of them, hoping to win and conquer battles, games, and bloodbaths.

But lies are a weapon of war, for war is nothing more than fear.

For those who fear being weak and insignificant, they do all that they can to run away from their vulnerability and insignificance.

People draw all sorts of silly lines in the sand, and make enemies with children and strangers just because they are fearful.

There once was a game where scoundrels waged war on each other, all afraid of being obscure, poor, and weak.

So, they betrayed all those who loved them for fear tells you to hate those who love you, and love those who wish to exploit you.

They began to lie to themselves before they lied to others, until the day they thought they heard a truth, when it was merely an echo from their empty hearts that told them the same lie.

For to wage war on others, you must declare war on yourself first.

And those who do not love themselves will always spread their fear through war, until those with brave hearts fill it with love and truth, and end those wars with the bravery that comes from kindness!