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I love Halloween
And I effing love the Legend of Stingy Jack. You gotta love a guy who can out-douche the devil.

Jack the blacksmith was a boozy swine, the likes of which has never been seen in Ireland before or since. As a child he had been a notorious prankster, but as he grew older his love of drink grew with it and he turned his pranks toward getting out of bar tabs. And so Jack the smith became known a only as Stingy Jack.  One Hallows Eve, as he was crawling from a pub where he had worn out his welcome to another pub where he was not yet unwelcome, Stingy Jack stumbled upon a corpse in the cobblestone street.

“Poor sod,” he slurred as he bent down and searched the man’s pockets. “Well, won’t be needing this anymore.” Stingy Jack chuckled and pulled out the man’s purse. But to his surprise, as he opened the purse, it burst into flame and where the corpse once laid, stood the Devil himself. He gave Stingy Jack a wicked smile and a heartless laugh.

“For all your years of drunken debauchery and miserly misdeeds you come with me. To Hell with you, Stingy Jack.”

“Aye, aye,” conceited Jack, with a sigh and a wily look in his eye, “I’ll come with ye. But first can ye grant a damned man one dying wish? Just let me have one last drink.”

The devil didn’t see any harm in letting the man have one last drink. If nothing else it may provide some amusement, he thought. And so the Devil agreed and followed Stingy Jack to his pub of choice.  

“Two o’ yer darkest stouts,” Jack called to the barkeep; and in no time at all, two mugs were laid before them. “To your health,” Jack slurred, holding up his mug, “Slainte!” And with that, the Devil shared a last drink with a damned man.

“Time to go,” the devil smiled as the barkeep took away two empty mugs.

“Aye,” Jack replied and rose from his seat.

“Now you wait just a moment, Stingy Jack!” Called the barkeep. “Not thinkin’ ‘bout walkin’ out on y’ tab are you?”

“Ah, but alas I got no money, ‘ave I,” replied the ever cunning drunkard.

“Y’ never got money, Jack. But y’ ain’t leavin wiv out payin’!”

“I guess I can’t go wiv y’, mate,” said Jack to the Devil, “unless y’ got some money, eh.” And the Devil grimaced and ground his sharp teeth.

“Why would I, ruler of all darkness, carry money?” he sneered.

“Bit o’ a pickle, innit,” Stingy Jack gave a wink and a smile, “but I bet yer all powerful, eh? What wiv bein’ the ruler of all darkness an’ all. I bet y’ could turn y’self into a coin, yeah? Pay the bill?”

“Of course I can!” Roared the Devil. And with fire in his eyes, the Devil transformed into a silver coin. The pub was in a flurry of shock and disbelief; and in all the commotion, Stingy Jack pocketed the coin, and sauntered calmly out of the pub.

“Y’ll be safe in there, eh” said a satisfied Jack to his devilish coin, “Right next to my cross, and m’ trusty ol’ turnip, nothin’ can get y’, mate.” And so the Devil was trapped in the dark recesses of a drunkard’s pocket. He was none too thrilled to be residing with a turnip, and even less thrilled to be residing with a cross. For you see, the Devil couldn’t transform back, his powers were worthless, all cramped up with a cross such as he was.

“But I suppose y’ want out,” Jack continued, “Places t’ go and people t’ smite. I suppose I could let y’ out, an’ y’ could transform back if y’ were to promise to bugger off. How does ten years sound?”

So the devil reluctantly agreed to leave, and not come back for Stingy Jack for ten years.

The years flew by, as they are wont to do; and on Hallows Eve ten years later, Stingy Jack once again found himself stumbling upon a corpse on the cobblestone road. Once again, Jack leaned down to take the man’s purse for himself, and once again the corpse transformed into the Devil himself; but this time, Stingy Jack was slightly less surprised.

“Your time is up. We had a deal. You come with me. To hell with you, Stingy Jack.” And with that he gave the older, drunker Jack a wicked smile and a heartless laugh.

“Aye, aye,” conceited Jack, with the same old sigh and a wily look in his eye, “I’ll come with ye. But t’is  a long journey, no? An’ I’m so very drunk. I don’ think I can make it all the way without something to drink, yeah? Sober me right up. How ‘bout an apple? I’d get it m’self but I’m so old now, y’ see?”  Jack suggested, pointing to a nearby apple tree.

Well, the Devil didn’t see any harm in letting the man have an apple, so he began to climb the tree. And before he could even pluck an apple, Jack had laid his cross a the base of the tree and carved a deep cross in its trunk. The Devil winced- he had been tricked again, but this time he was stuck up a tree. Stingy Jack looked up and smiled at his handy work: a Devil in an apple tree, grimacing and grinding his sharp teeth.

“Yer not stuck are ye?” Called Jack, mockingly. “A great and powerful ruler of darkness such as y’ self? I suppose y’ want down,” Jack continued, “Places t’ go and people t’ smite. I suppose I could let y’ down if y’ were to promise to bugger off. For good this time.”

And so the Devil yet again reluctantly agreed to Stingy Jack’s demands.

The years went by, and Stingy Jack eventually succumbed to his own vile habits and passed away. When he arrived at Heaven’s gates, he found himself unwelcome.

“For all your years of drunken debauchery and miserly misdeeds,” Said the gatekeeper, “you’ll find no solace here. To Hell with you, Stingy Jack!” And with that, Jack was sent to Hell. The Devil came to greet him at the gates of hell- aflame, arms crossed, and a sneer on his face.

“Y’ll finally have yer way, mate,” sighed Stingy Jack, “her I am.”

A spiteful smile grew on the Devil’s face and two bitter words left his hellish lips: “Bugger off.”

“Y’ have to let me in, I’ve no where else t’ go!” Jack pleaded.

“We had a deal, Stingy Jack, you’re not welcome here.”

“Where will I go?” Cried Stingy Jack.

“Bugger off” the Devil repeated. “Back where you came from.”

“But t’is so very dark! How will I find m’ way home?” It gave the Devil great pleasure to see Stingy Jack so distressed, but he didn’t see any harm in allowing the man some light. So he gave Jack a coal, straight from the fires of Hell. Jack hollowed out his turnip, placed the coal inside, and set off for home. But Stingy Jack was unwelcome wherever he went and was damned to wander, lantern in hand. And so, to this day, lantern light can still be seen in the bogs, for Stingy Jack will wander, unwelcome, forever.


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