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The Devil Went Up to Missouri
“I don’t know, John. It just seems to me that work has become monotonously depressing as of late.”
“Well, Mr. Beelzebub, you are the overlord of Hell. Eternally tortured souls tend to get that way.”
“Oh piss off. Believe me, if my greedy p***k of a father had mentioned how bloody dreary this job is, I would have rather gone to live in New Jersey with Uncle Phil.”
Something in my assistant’s eyes told me he thought I was bluffing. Which I was. Even God himself couldn’t despise me enough to stick me there.
“Sir, if I may, ever since the collapse of Enron, business has been booming,” John said, ignoring my previous statement. I returned the favor, turning my attention, rather obviously, to my custom set of kinetic balls. On a spur of the moment trip to Earth, I had hired a painter to put tortured little faces on each of them. When he finished the set, I liked it so much that I offered him a rather important position down in Hell with me. It seemed he had a bit of opposition to it when I heard a few months later that he’d cut off one of his appendages or something. Van Gogh, I believe his name was.
“Corruption has increased twenty fold since you took power, and we’ve got so many lawyers down here that we could sue God himself for custody of heaven.” I stopped the screaming ball’s momentum for a moment and looked up hopefully.
“We can do that?”
“Technically no, sir. It was a figure of speech.” I sighed and, resting my chin in the palm of my hand, resumed my activity. John stood awkwardly in the doorway for a few minutes and, seeing that I wouldn’t be contributing any more to the conversation, cleared his throat and sat in the chair across from me.
“Mr. Beelzebub-“ I held up a finger to stop him.
“John, you’ve been working for me for over four hundred years. I think by this point we can be on casual terms, don’t you?” He cleared his throat again.
“Not that casual.” Another throat clear. At this point I was half-expecting him to cough up a lung and make my day. Unfortunately, no such luck.
“Lucifer, sir, why don’t you find a hobby or something to occupy your time?” Lucky me got four hundred years of brilliant ideas like this one.
“Ah, yes. Now there’s an idea.” John seemed to light up as much as a dreary demon like him possibly could.
“What, shall I take to overseeing the new hellion admissions? Create exciting and embarrassing new initiation tasks? Or maybe I’ll put a whoopee cushion under God’s seat when we have our annual business meeting!” His face fell more and more the longer I spoke. I won’t lie; I did find a bit of joy in his misery. I was the devil, after all. Though my job, to me, consisted of only business, I could never deny enjoying it every once in awhile. I couldn’t seem to say the same for John. I tried my best to be nice, I really did. But the bloke was such a bloody downer. He never fought back, just laid down and took it. Not to mention the man had the personality of a wet noodle.
After a long beat of awkward silence, I pinched the bridge of my nose and squeezed my eyes shut.
“John, this conversation is absolutely riveting, but, as you should know, I’m a very busy man. Go excite someone else, if you would,” I muttered, returning my attention to the tortured souls whose paperwork, miraculously, was only half-done when they had been sitting in the waiting room for the last three months.
It’s not like they had anywhere to go.