All Sorts (A Short Story of Dark Humor)

103539_A-Funny-Demon_400The demon entered the town at dawn, bringing with him the driest, hottest days of the year for a city already suffering the effects of five years of drought. Flies swarmed the overflowing garbage cans after the garbage workers went on strike.

He was a devil, the embodiment of evil, sweaty and belching and scratching his small, twisted body against the corners of brick buildings. He chose a dark barroom that reeked with the stench of sour beer and cigarettes. The floor was sticky when he lifted hooves, and it reminded the demon of the sucking sensation of a bloody crime scene. He felt at home.

Left in his corner of the bar, the demon drank his beer, evilly. His smell was dangerous, his soiled claws clutching the handle of each chilled mug jealously. There he sat, the details of his gruesome face lost in the faded electric light-bulb that hung overhead, swaying in the course of hot bursts of air that pushed their ways inside through the slanted transom glass.

He could be only evil. The bartender knew this and sent the demon large mugs of cheap beer to keep him occupied. Of these the demon made quick work, not pausing long between mouthfuls to maintain his steady torrent of hateful, malefic words. His words spoke apocalypse. His words were fallen. They were curses from the inner ring of hell, spells from lunatic wizards and corrupted priests. Slowly he brought on the doomsday from his dented head with its frothy lips, swollen in the incessant swinging of hell gates.

No one in the bar understood the language of the demon. They left him alone to swig his beer, except if they needed a packet of ketchup. He was blocking the condiment counter.

The demon haunted the same spot in the bar, raving or muttering, for weeks. A child, one day, stepped into the bar, asking for some coins in exchange for paper currency, and the bartender made the exchange, giving the boy a handful of small coins, just shy of the total amount owed him. The demon saw the bartender’s larceny and laughed horribly. Lifting his mug, he spoke a spell so potent it still resonates in the wood rafters of the bar. It foretold the shadow world of the afterlife and a few moments of agony wrenching the boy’s body. The boy left, laughing, to tell his mother about the funny foreign hobo.

A group of women entered, stepping towards the back room of the bar, as they did each Thursday night, to play cards and cheat one another out of coupons, which they used as currency. The demon, wretched with beer, stood when they entered to debase them in the most foul manner, gesturing wildly, promising obscene violence and vengeful humiliation. The women tittered, thankful for the attention and then fell to play cards. Some occasionally eyed him through the curtains trying to guess what was his occupation and how much money he might make. He repaid their gambling and lust by commanding a curse that would render their wombs hatcheries of hell spawn. He vexed their fingers with his necromantic intonations so they forever after would drop threads and needles and an assortment of other small objects.

The next night was karaoke Friday. The demon watched mortals defiling music with their drunkenness and their inability. He laughed loud enough to overpower the final ride of the Four Horsemen, but the mortals around him did not understand. They sang all the more loudly. Finally, the demon leaped onto the stage and snatched the microphone from a man finishing a third chorus of “Born to be Wild”.

The noises he made were necessarily horrible because he was evil incarnate. The static from the speakers drove the crowd first to cover their ears and then to boo the demon from the stage. They couldn’t make out the demonic hexation that he vented through the distortion of beer-drenched equipment and, even if they had heard, the words were para-foreign, made by a tongue that had licked white-hot sulfur from the ass of Satan. The demon laughed at the pitiful humans who hissed at him. He hissed back but climbed off the stage, slowly, and returned to his seat. The bartender pulled the demon another beer.

“On the house,” he said.

An off-duty Java programmer said to the bartender, “You know, you could really make something of this place, if you kept the riffraff out.”

The bartender puffed out his chest and sounded surly. “What do you mean, riffraff?”

“That guy over there,” the programmer said, indicating the demon.

“That’s no guy, and he’s no riffraff.”

“What is it then?” The programmer stirred a tall red drink with a little plastic sword, leaning over a bowl of pretzels to be nearer the bartender.

“He is a demon.”

“Get out!”

“You get out! This is my bar!”

“No, I mean,” the programmer said, “I don’t believe you.”

“Well, tough. It is my bar.”

“No, I mean about that guy being a demon!”

“Ma’am, I’m standing behind the bar. All the lying that goes on does so on the other side of the tap. He’s a demon.”

Java programmers have little understanding of blatant evil. Their ability to sense malevolence is limited, but they could bury others in a slow-motion hell with endless pointers on scripts and platform plug-ins that would make any end-user’s soul explode. The programmer did, however, spread the word about the existence of the demon. Soon an ex-priest who taught a course in Daemonic Languages at the County Vocational Technology School was drawn to the town with little more than a shaving kit.

The ex-priest was greeted by a hot wind that smelled like the bottom of a State Fair garbage dumpster. That, he knew, was a sign of ultimate evil: the stench of the devil and pronto pups. He checked in as “Ex-Father Bob” in the town’s motel. The woman behind the counter saw his signature and began confessing her sins to him without warning, but Ex-Father Bob absolved her without hearing her out.

“As long as the giraffe and the bag boy remain a fantasy,” he assured her, “It’s not a sin.”

He was ready to fight the devil, so he headed for the bar where evil reputedly lived in a dark, beer-stained corner of the reeking, arid town.

It is not difficult to spot a demon: the way in which a mirror reflects light, a demon absorbs light and makes it dead like black holes in outer space do, and there is a connection. Black holes are entrances into hell; their density draws condemned matter to judgment. Ex-Father Bob knew all about black holes.

Crossing himself and murmuring the Lord’s Prayer, the priest entered the bar. For his appointment with evil, he had worn his black cossack that fell jauntily below he ankle. He was going commando—that is to say, he wore no underwear—although there was no reason for anyone in the bar to suspect that. It is just a fun fact. The demon, however, knew. Underwear and the lack thereof are among the chief concerns of the unholy.

The demon growled and laughed and howled and scoffed and roared and panted and sweated and grunted. Finally the bartender brought him another beer and he was quiet again, watching the priest’s lips chanting in Latin.

“Whatchya saying there, Father?” The bartender asked. “Are ya talking to the Lord?”

“Yes, my son. I am preparing to do battle with the forces of darkness and seal forever the orifice of hell. I have come to cast out the demon and return him to his Master who is the Fallen Lucifer, walking back and forth across the earth seeking whom he may devour.”

“You should see the guy plow through a tub of popcorn, Father!”

As it was happy hour, rail drinks were two-for-one and tap beer was a nickel so there was quite a crowd lined up along the bar and the tables were full of smokers and drinkers, a familiar scene to both the demon and the ex-priest.

The crowd became more and more intoxicated, laughing hoarsely between sucks on their tobacco sticks. Their thoughts ran to the gutter like filthy 10W-30 oil ran from an unregulated gas station’s back door. The demon seemed to grow to twice his size with the evil thoughts blossoming in the smoke around him. The ex-priest poised himself to spring into the mass of exorcism. He dug out a book of chants from his pocket and found the page, marked by a coupon for a bucket of chicken wings.

Of all the maledictions ever uttered, what spewed from the demon’s lips has never been rivaled. He had been drinking Milwaukee’s Best beer for two weeks straight, and that, alone, accounts for the spewing. The bar trembled under the force of his iniquitous incantation. The demon called forth his Master to ascend from the floorboards and foul the eternal souls of the town with the blackest excrement. He commuted the Newtonian laws of physics, and blasphemed the prophets. He spilled his beer on his only clean shirt. His tongue flickered like a nest of wasps on fire. The air was filled with sulfur and methane, but it had been since happy hour got rolling.

The crowd quieted and watched the demon leaping against the ceiling. They clapped when his head spun around on his body. Ex-Father Bob trembled as he heard the most malefic spells spoken. “Pray!” He urged the crowd. “For all that is holy! You don’t know the great evil that is about to befall you!”

“You got that right, mister!” yelled a systems analyst.

“Hey, guy! I’m trying to watch the show!” a woman shouted after slamming a Jello shot.

“You must be warned!” Ex-Father Bob declared. He shook his fist and told the crowd the meaning of the demon’s words. Ex-Father Bob translated the every subtlety of damned metaphor, every shade of meaning that were shot from the very testicles of Satan. The crowd was terrified as they listened to the ex-priest. They hid their faces in their hands and wept in horror.

“I had no idea!” The bartender pleaded with the crowd to forgive him. “I wouldn’t have let him in here if I’d known he said such horrible, horrible things!” And then he commanded the ex-priest to leave.

“Get out of here, you sick scum!” The crowd rose in force behind the bartender, and they chased Father Bob out into the street.

It is a known fact that a man can’t run as fast in a dress – underwear or no — and so they caught him easily, summarily executing him with jolts of electricity from the portable electronic devices.

The bartender cleaned a few of the tables with a damp musty rag and poured the demon another beer. “Sorry about that,” he said. “We get all sorts in here.”

“Same where I come from,” the demon replied.

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