An Interview with the Devil’s Advocate
She walks into the Starbucks wearing a tailored pantsuit. Her heels click on the floor, but not aggressively. Like the tap of a neighbor on your front door.
After getting an almond milk hazelnut latte, she joins me at the little table, sinking into the hard-backed chair gracefully.
Thank you so much for meeting me Ms. Donnelly.
Please, call me Norah.
Okay. Well I guess we can get right to business. How did you get into this line of work?
Oh, the usual. I was a smart kid and people started predicting I’d be a lawyer by the time I could tie my shoes. I was tempted to get into theater in college, but I knew I’d have a more comfortable life working in law.
Were your parents supportive of your career choices?
They definitely wanted me to go into law. They wanted that stability for me.
Actually, I guess I mean… What does your family think of your, um, current position?
They were concerned to say the least. At first I just said I was taking on a big client, just another name on my docket, but representing Him is a full-time job. And since I have to spend so much time in his neck of the woods, they eventually realized who I was working for. There was a big family meeting, pleas for me to think of my soul, my parents even wanted me to move back in with them.
Wow. What did you do?
I brought Him around for dinner. People think evil is some big monster covered in blood, using fetus femurs as toothpicks, but of course it’s not like that. The Lord of Evil has a firm handshake, a winning smile, and great hair. God, that hair! How can you say “no” to a guy like that? By the end of the night, He’d promised to take my dad to a Patriots game (since he’s got season tickets) and He was giving my brother real estate advice.
How does it feel to work on such big, historic cases?
[She laughs a little.] Common misconception. It’s not all collecting purchased souls and fighting God’s attempts to exercise eminent domain. The devil is, as they say, in the details. Most of my time is spent on little things like civil disputes, copyright infringement, that kind of thing. He also pulls me into a lot of conversations with partners of his. Like I said, he gives great advice, but sometimes he wants to get a legal opinion on one of his side projects. I have a standing meeting with the NRA and the League of White Rappers With Face Tattoos.
But there are big cases, aren’t there? Real life-or-death, river-of-fire, eternity-of-pain issues?
Naturally. We all have our cross to bear. But what most people get wrong is that my goal is always to avoid the courtroom. Those big showdowns are costly and so melodramatic. It’s better for everyone involved when we can sit down behind closed doors and come to a compromise. I’d rather hit pay dirt than make headlines.
Speaking of headlines, is it true that your client has been called on to testify before congress regarding the 2016 elec —
My client has no comment regarding this issue.
But I just —
No comment. [She fingers the lid to her latte and purses her lips. It’s clear the matter is closed]
Um… Okay, switching gears. What do you think about people who “play devil’s advocate”?
Those guys. [She sighs and rolls her eyes.] Obviously they’re irritating. They just go around stirring up trouble for no good reason — which is exactly the opposite of what I do. I’m a problem solver. I bring people to compromise. I help Him avoid having to drag people over hot coals while listening to Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” on repeat — which, funnily enough, is the go-to treatment for those guys when they get to hell. And that’s another thing, I can never get away from these self-important contrarians because where do you think they end up? You think Gabriel’s opening the gates to some guy who thinks pointless hurtful arguments are productive? Heavens no. They all end up downstairs with me and Him.
Well, what do you do when you’re not being the devil’s advocate? What do you do on the weekends in hell?
I like to golf. I used to sail, but we really don’t get enough wind on the Styx to do it. I spend way more time at Home Depot than I’d like to. Do you have any idea how hard it is to maintain a home with fire raining down on you every other day and horsemen trampling your garden? And I really need to get a better air conditioner. There’s just never enough time, you know?
Image: Edward Cisneros