Malatestes enter the Big B's office, whistling the "American Idol" tune. Beelzebub joined in and the two finished only slightly off key.
"Why so happy my malodorous friend? Good news?"
"Yup", Mal said. "Remember Project Jake?"
"MMMm....yeah..." B said, digging out the file. "Here it is. How's he doing?"
"He has no clue he's allowed something to become...wait for it....it's the tune I was singing...an Idol!"
Beelzebub just laughed. Then he hooted. Then he hollered in joy. "And what, pray tell, is he idolizing? A woman? Money? A boat?"
"Nope...something he's convinced himself that he needs for his 'sanity'", Mal said smiling.
"And how did you accomplish that one, my devious little fiend?"
"Well, I just followed one of your classic plans. And I must say, it works just as good today as it did way back then. I got him to think that what he was doing was of a greater good. He was helping others. He was helping himself by finding a place to let off steam so he 'didn't take it home with him'. He got so wrapped up in it that he started blowing off his Men's Bible Study. He ditched his daughter's softball game in the middle because 'other people were counting on him'. He became resentful when he had to attend Back to School night with the wife and kids. He found ways of attending to his idol at the expense of his family."
Beel just nodded. "Good work. What about the wife?"
"Oh, that was easy. I just whispered that he would probably leave her in a couple of years because they didn't have anything in common."
"Did you have another woman waiting for him? You know, that one only works if you can parade another woman around even if she has no feelings for him."
"Oh....I found a woman...she's....
*Alarms start going off, the red lights are flashing down in quality control*
"What! What's going on!?" Beelzebub squawked into the intercom.
"PRIORITY ONE MESSAGE FROM QUALITY CONTROL" came a loud voice from the overhead speaker.
"SUBJECT JAKE OF THE JAKE PROJECT HAS REALIZED OUR PLAN!"
"Noooooo" screamed Malatestes.
"What happened!?" Beel shouted. "And turn off that gosh darned klaxon!"
The noise subsided and Beel pulled up the report on his monitor. Malatestes leaned over his shoulder to look. He groaned and said, "8 years of hard work down the drain." He slumped to the floor as Beel sat back in his chair. "The enemy." he said. Two simple words.
On earth, in his bedroom, Jake sat on the floor and cried as his wife explained that he didn't care about his family any more. The realization of what he'd done, how he'd made an idol of it, floored him. The Men's Bible Study material he'd just read came rushing back into his mind. Anything that replaces God is an idol. And he'd let just that happen. To the point his wife was willing to leave him to let him do whatever he wanted. Convinced he was going to leave her in a couple of years for someone else who liked what he liked. He had told himself he would never let anything come between him and his family and yet he, himself, had done just that.
The more she spoke the more he realized he'd been a fool. The more she said she understood he needed his time and she was willing to give him his space, the more he realized he was losing his wife and kids. The more he realized that, the more shock and horror descended on him.
So he quit. He quit it cold turkey. The only way he could save his relationship with his family was to start rebuilding it that day. That hour. That minute. That second. He heard the hurt in his wife's voice. He couldn't even look her in the eye for the shame and guilt. He swore he wouldn't fail his marriage and he'd taken it to the brink.
What a fool he was. What a fool he'd been. Would he continue to be a fool or would he repair the damage? Could he repair the damage? Not by himself. He needed help. God had shown him all along. Now he was at His mercy. Again.
The light at the end of the tunnel grew a little brighter but it was still a long way off....