Preface (this may be long, is all in fun and I hope no one is offended)
Another in my The Devil’s Mistress series explaining why the agent of the devil fears the sweatshops of Hell. This scene takes place in 1930s Chicago where brisk business sent many a mobster’s soul to Mr. D’s coffers. It may not have been happy times for the citizens of the Windy City, but it was happy times for the Devil (Mr. D).
The old episode of Buffy I had been watching concluded. Clicking off the TV I slumped back into the couch and let out a huge sigh. “What a dreary Sunday.” We were both home for a change and I was bored. Yeah, yeah I know. How can the mistress of an agent of the devil be bored? It happens.
My sweetie was seated in an easy chair working on a crossword puzzle.. It never takes him long to complete one and I expected him to toss it away any moment. The only words that stump him have to do with popular culture. Sure enough he stood, put the paper on the table and walked over to me, bent down, plucked off the red wig I was trying on, tousled my blond curls and kissed me on the top of my head.
As I said I was bored, so with a mischievous glint in my eye, I asked, “Have you ever dated a vampire?” I was kidding and only playing around.
“Yes I have,” he replied in a serious tone.
Huh that wasn’t the answer I expected. My eyes questioned him.
“I see you are restless, My Dear. We have time now for me to tell you about it. Because of a vampire I came very close to being sent to the sweat shops of Hell, that you seem to have a problem believing exists. I have mentioned them before— yet you still do not take the matter seriously. Maybe after you hear my story, you will understand.” Tapping his fingers impatiently on the back of the sofa, he looked at me like I was a petulant child.
“I don’t believe you? It just sounds so ludicrous, sweat shops of Hell.”
“Oh really, and working in mid-management for Mr. D is not an absurd concept? When we met you could not conceive of that either.”
I hung my head in acknowledgment of his statement’s truth.
“Okay I guess.” I was so curious.
He sat and I cuddled up to his chest with his arm around me and prepared to listen.
“The sweat shops of Hell manufacture chip implants inserted into lawyers, politicians and insurance company personnel. It is ass scratching work, very meticulous. One has to pay attention every step of the way with no diversions. If the computer dies, or gets a virus, they have to call angels from Heaven to fix them. Do you know how demeaning that is? We just do not know how to fix computers, or cell phones for that matter. The job entails no perks. No single malt scotch. No silk shirts. No mistress,” and he gently kissed my lips, “it truly is Hell. They are not like the old fashioned sweat shops that produced garments but a high tech computer operation. It is the creation of ideas and schemes that these humans believe they thought up on their own.. But actually they are Solutions from Hell. That is the company name for the sweat shops.”
I spun around and asked, “Are you serious?” I settled back into him as he continued. The red cashmere sweater he wore made for a very cozy pillow on this nasty day.
“This incident brought me the closest to the sweat shops of hell that I ever want to come.”
“Hmmm that helps explain why you have to cover your ass.” I patted his bum, gently.
“When an agent is called to attend to Mr. D s office in Hell, now that is stress. I received a text message to be in his office at 2 p.m. the next afternoon. He deliberately set the appointment for hours later knowing I would have the time to stew about it. And I did. I did not sleep that night. Of course I knew what the problem was. He had expected a soul to come through and it never showed up. He lost a soul and that really pissed him off. And even though the problem of Alicia the Vampire had been taken care of, even so, I knew he would find out— well of course he would — and I knew there would be Hell to pay for that lost soul.
I arrived on the dot of 2 p.m. Well I think that’s what the clock said, it kept changing shape and melting so I could not be sure. He does like his practical jokes.
Figuratively speaking the writing was on the wall. He would not literally do that, of course, as it would ruin the Feng Shui of the room.”
“What did his office look like?”
“His office had been redecorated since the last time I had been there. His new desk was a large antique French Rococo. Even through my haze of stress I noticed it. With its curved legs and gold plated accented carvings, the thinness and height made it a perfect example of that period.
The navy blue carpet was plush and plain. The simplicity rendered it all the more rich.
No windows of course but a huge fire blazed in the grate. The only chair in the room was the soft leather, black one in which he sat. Jamming my hands in my pockets and standing as straight as I could. I hoped to hide, somewhat, my nervousness He knew I was uneasy of course, but no need to make the situation worse than it was.
The desk was pristine except for one piece of paper: The Report.
Mr. D intoned the information that Mr. Andrew Gimby, nick named Cutter from the Antonioli Family was scheduled to show up the day before at 11 p.m. My boss did not receive confirmation of attendance in the ante chamber of Hell. He phoned the demons who worked in the ante chamber and were responsible for getting the receipts to him. The paperwork usually came up on the pneumatic tube that they used at that time to transport information from one place to another. He had to go down personally to the ante chamber. He glared at me— those red eyes beamed into my core, and told me how much he hated having to, personally, attend to such petty details, and still no receipt. I knew he hated entering that room. The rules state to avoid the necessity of him showing his presence there. He told me how he dislikes seeing all those new souls wandering around questioning where they are what is going on etc. He double checked the daily reports which normally he does not do— again scowling at me— and he noticed that I, and he pointed his finger at me— started to hang around with a vampire. He told me that is all well and good for the extraordinary sensual pleasure, but I let her go to work with me. I cowered and tried to explain that was not how it happened.
I sweated, my heart pounded, I visualized the sweat shops with no rest breaks, my knees actually knocked.
Mr. D continued and stated that his attention was also brought to the note the demon entered in my file which told him that as soon as I realised the problem, I called another member of the team to come dispose of her.
He studied the report and then looked up and told me he would let me off with a warning. Since only one soul was lost, and in those days with the abundance of business one soul did not amount to much. He told me I had been a good employee for 70 years but, and his voice rose an octave, if I ever let a mere woman, mortal or not, interfere with my duties…. He left the sentence dangling with the implication that if it happened a second time it was the sweat shops of Hell for me.
Thank the gods below and above, I was spared.
I bowed and backed out to the door. My perspiration was ruining my silk shirt. I felt high, tipsy and light headed. I ran as fast as I could back to Chicago. I never want to be called to his office again.”
I turned around in his lap and hugged him. “What does he look like?” I whispered, not sure I wanted an answer.
“He appears as what you would visualize the Devil to be. He appears different to me than he would to you.”
Edit – has no one noticed the use of a cell phone in 1930s? I just realised it last night myself 😀
Blogophilia 39.4 Topic: “The Writing on the Wall”
(Hard, 2pts): include a clock that changes shapes
(Easy, 1pt): use a Red Wig