The Drunkard and the Dervish

by C. J. Serling

Once there were two men who lived across from one another on two sides of the same street, one of whom was a wretched drunkard, the other a pious dervish. Each night the drunkard would look out of his window at the dervish and he would weep, saying, “Oh, how I wish I could be like that dervish across the way, who prays every night and keeps the Law.” And each night the dervish would look out of his window at the drunkard and say to himself, “Why, the way that miserable sinner drinks each night he ought to be ashamed!” On Judgment Day an angel descended upon their street, and, passing the dervish by, came to the home of the drunkard and took him up to heaven. When the angel did this the drunkard protested, “You have the wrong man; it was the dervish across the way who was holy and kept the Law.” The angel replied, “God has sent for you because your cries have melted his heart, but the dervish was so full of judgment there was no room for God’s pity.”

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C. J. Serling, whose work has appeared in Flash Flooding, is a student of law and the classics. He lives in sunny Miami.