Souls for Sale
Asta Idonea © 2018
All Rights Reserved
It’s tough being a demon in this day and age. Times are hard and souls just aren’t what they used to be. I should know; it’s my job to collect them. Or try to, anyway. What I wouldn’t give to go back to the good ol’ days when you could buy a soul as easily as an apple at the marketplace. And I mean a proper apple, plucked straight from the tree that morning. None of this modified, refrigerated crap that passes as fresh fruit nowadays.
I know what you’re thinking. Trust me; I’ve heard it all before. You’re wondering how it could be so hard to get someone to sign away their soul in an age when everything can be obtained for a price, when everything is for sale. Actors, bankers, politicians. You’d think rich pickings; am I right? Well, you’d be wrong.
Problem is that no one believes anymore. Picture this: I walk up to someone and offer to grant them anything their heart desires in exchange for their soul. Now, in times past they’d either tremble in fear and drop to their knees, praying to the guy upstairs (my cue to leave), or they’d tremble in fear for a moment and then sign on the dotted line. Simple. Everyone knew where they stood. But if I were to try that today, most people would laugh in my face and walk off, or else they’d look uneasy and slink away from the ‘deranged lunatic’ as soon as possible. Hell, I miss the fear.
The faith is gone, you see, supplanted with technology, gizmos, and gadgets. An age of information. Everything you want, obtainable at the press of a button. What is there to long for anymore? What is there worth selling your soul for that you couldn’t get another way? Sure, you still have the old standards, the favourites—riches, power, and sex—but as I said, the belief is sadly lacking.
Every passing year it gets harder and harder to fill my quota. I have the boss breathing fire down my neck—both metaphorically and literally—and damned if I know how to get around the problem. It’s not just me. My colleagues are equally exasperated. It won’t be too much longer until it’s impossible to sign up even one new soul to burn in everlasting Hell. Then what’s a conscientious, hard-working demon to do?
Anyhow, I guess it’s about time I introduced myself. The name’s Saul. Yeah, I know, but it’s not like I picked it. We get what the boss dishes out, and I drew the short straw that day. Guess he was in one of his funny moods. I’m here today following a mark. I’m actually pretty stoked I found this guy, as he’s shaping up to be the most promising potential soul-seller I’ve seen in several months. Hey, try saying that three times fast! The trick now is not to rush things, not to push him too hard or too fast.
Oh, here he comes. See if you can pick him from the crowd. No? Hard, isn’t it? Everyone looks the same these days. It used to be so much easier to tell a sinner from a saint. Now the line is so blurred it barely exists at all.
But I digress. Just wait a moment… There! See the guy heading into the pub? The one in the Marvel T-shirt? With the blond curls? That’s our man. Bit of a stereotype of a comic-book nerd, isn’t he? Unlikely to sell his soul, you think? Well, we’ll soon see.
I enter the pub, saunter to the bar, and settle on one of the stools. This isn’t the most salubrious joint on the block and the stool wobbles precariously on uneven legs under my weight. I grip the counter for a moment, until equilibrium returns, and then assess the situation. So long as I don’t make any sudden moves, I should be safe. The last thing I want is to fall on my arse. Not the kind of first impression I’m hoping to make on my mark.
The barman waddles over and raises an expectant eyebrow. He scans my attire. From the twist of his lips, I deduce that he agrees with my own belief: I look wildly out of place here. Nonetheless, I don’t suppose he’s going to toss me out. Money is money whether it comes from a lint-lined pocket in a pair of faded, torn jeans or from a genuine leather wallet, produced from the inner pocket of a bespoke suit jacket.
I had planned to plump for a reliable half-pint of Old Peculiar, but then the guest ales catch my eye. “A pint of the Green Daemon, thanks,” I say as I place a tenner on the sticky bar top.
What can I say? I have a sense of humour—sue me. Besides, I love the little devil figure grinning out at me from the label. And, hey, I am wearing a green shirt and beautifully coordinated tie today. It must be serendipity.
The barman sets the beer in front of me and drops a handful of change beside it. I scoop up the coins and thrust them into my pocket. Then I lift the glass to take my first sip. It’s not bad; there’s a fruity aroma. I’d probably pair it with an Asian fusion dish, if that sort of thing interests you. But I’m not here to entertain or offer culinary advice. I have work to do.
The mirror behind the bar gives me an excellent, if somewhat smeary, view of the room, and it doesn’t take me long to spot my mark again. He’s in the corner seat—the darkest spot in the pub—and is nursing a half-pint of something that looks suspiciously like a girly cider. Geez, the guy is staring into the glass like it’s a fricking crystal ball. What is it he expects to see in there—a masterpiece by Dalí?
Hey, I’m not mocking the guy. He’s actually pretty cute in all his dorkish glory. If you’re into that sort of vibe. One look at him, sitting there like a dejected puppy, is enough to convince me I’m on the right track. I can even guess his wish. Oh yes. Numero tres for this dude. Sex, sex, sex. The poor sap looks like he hasn’t been laid in a lifetime, if ever, and as a fellow man—or close enough—it’s my duty to help him out. If he happens to sign a little contract in the process, all the better…for me, anyway.
I’ve decided on my play, but I watch the guy for a few more minutes, choosing the best approach. The trick to a successful signing is to make the initial contact count. I should probably have an honorary psychology degree since the most important part of this job is reading your mark. You have to know what they want, but more than that, you have to know how they want it. You’ve got to understand how people tick. Know what I’m saying?
Take this guy. We can see he desires sex, but what does he like? Is he into blondes or brunettes, curves or willows? These are all vital questions because I need to know how to alter my appearance before I go over to him. Yeah, you heard me right. The things I do for this job! Believe me, temporary loss of my favourite anatomical parts is the least of it.
Once again, it makes one long for the good times past. Back then it was a simple matter of two choices. First, male or female, depending upon my target, and second, handsome or deformed. Most wanted the devil to be handsome. I guess it was easier to sin if you looked upon a pretty face while you were about it. However, there were always a few who wanted to be truly horrified by what they were doing, to feel the weight of it. In those cases, the traditional horns, cloven hooves, and tail were my attributes of choice.
Nowadays, people are so picky. So many choices, so many new and convoluted kinks to work into the equation. This guy doesn’t seem to be the kinky type on the surface, but you never can tell. Does he want the sweet girl next door? Does he want a dominatrix, all whips and leather? Does he want…a man?
I temporarily lose my train of thought, and my jaw drops quite of its own accord.
Even as I jabber away, I have been keeping half an eye on my mark. He completely ignores the young waitress attending the couple two tables down from him, but his gaze is captured by a waiter who’s just exited the kitchen. The man is lean but toned, and he flicks his head to shift choppy brown locks out of his eyes as he adjusts his grip on the plates he carries hurriedly across the room.
I confess I didn’t see that coming. Not on this occasion.
My guy’s practically salivating as he follows the man with his gaze. Given the flush in his cheeks, I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he had a hard-on; although, it’s impossible to verify that with the table in the way.
One thing is clear: this wasn’t a chance encounter. No, he’s been waiting to catch a glimpse of this guy. Suddenly, I understand his reason for choosing this completely hideous pub. No. Scratch that. They do have a pretty good list of guest ales. Let’s call it a semi-hideous pub, in the interest of fairness.
The waiter-god, his work completed, strolls back into the kitchen, leaving the door swinging to and fro in his wake. My guy watches it like a hawk long after it ceases to move, no doubt hoping for a repeat performance. When the door stays resolutely closed, he shifts his attention back to his untouched drink.
I confess that the revelation threw me for a moment. Even a seasoned professional such as myself can occasionally be caught off guard. No one’s perfect, after all. But I’m nothing if not adaptable, and it doesn’t take me long to bounce back and rethink my plan of attack.
I’ll be able to keep my man-parts for this one—always a blessing—but one thing still needs to be decided: how should I appear to him? The obvious option is to turn myself into the waiter. I’m guaranteed a good reception that way, and yet I’m tempted to try something different and approach him in my own form.
Now, I don’t like to brag, but I consider myself to be quite the looker. Well, you’re looking at me now. Wouldn’t you agree? And I’m actually not too dissimilar from the object of our guy’s affections. Sure, my hair’s darker, closer to black, but I have a toned, compact figure like him and commensurate sharply defined cheekbones. Why not give it a try? I can always make a second approach as the waiter if this one goes pear-shaped.
My mind made up, I hop down from the bar stool and amble towards the gents. I move nice and slow, with a good sway of the hips that stays on the right side of being camp. I want to make sure he gets a good look at me as I pass, and judging by the weight of the gaze I feel upon me, I’ve succeeded. Time for step two.