[Author’s note: This is part 2 of 3 and will make not a whole lot of sense without part 1 which is here.]
The next morning Dee Dee slipped from behind a street lamppost in the middle of the town’s central park. The grass was well watered but suffering under the summer’s heat. The gray paving stones of the park’s walkways radiated heat back at the demon woman as she walked. To her it seemed like a fine spring day but the people in the park were wilting under the heat and humidity. In her pinstriped skirt-suit she stalked seductively through the park looking for her new boss.
“You are late.” From the bench she just passed, the man in a sharp, red suit took a drink of coffee from a red ceramic mug. The logo for Idle Hands, Inc. smiled from the side as he took a drink.
She smiled as sweet as she could, through the rough lines on her youthful looking face. “Good morning to you too. I was, um…”
“Sun glasses. You should wear sun glasses, especially on the surface.” He produced a pair of Ray Bans from a cloud of red smoke and tossed them to her. “Makes you look cool. People like that.”
“I’m sorry,” She flipped the sunglasses back. “I already look cool, thanks.”
“No you don’t. You look bitchy. There’s a difference. There’s cool, and then there’s frigid.”
He put up his hands as an illustration. “You are giving off two different vibes here. One of them is ‘fuck me’ and the other is ‘I’m going to kick your ass.’ Combined, it comes out to looking bitchy.”
He stood up and his mug disappeared in another puff of red smoke. “Let me help you out with something. You may have been the big D’s pick for this position, but you are still my employee, and that makes me your boss. You think that D gave you the run of the place, but you are wrong. Use the glasses.” She looked surprised that he was talking to her that way. “Besides, you say way too much with your eyes. You want to keep that you’re going to tell the big man that I’m mean to you a secret? Use the glasses.”
She snatched back the sunglasses, put them on and said, “Yes sir!”
He looked at her and smirked “And don’t be smart. Take a good look around. The downtown’s screwed from unemployment. A veritable playground. See anyone you like?”
She looked at the men with newspapers and pens, some with briefcases in suits. Pointing at a particularly rough looking young man, drinking from a tall boy beer, she said, “How about that guy?”
“Nah, He’s given up already.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Taking that guy is a waste of time. He’s already on his way to hell.”
He looked at her and raised an eyebrow. “You still don’t understand the plan, do you?”
“I understand fine, I just think the plan is a little ‘pussy’ is all. I mean, look at these fuckers. You telling me any of them are good for shit?”
The man stroked his goatee, raised a finger, and pointed at the sour looking young woman. “Hmm, well understand this. We need workers, not slackers. No matter how inherently evil, a slacker makes no impression on the world. We want people to work to further the cause of misery, because through human suffering, comes human temptation. It all has to fall out of free will. People choose to give each other a hard time, leading to more and more desperate circumstances. Eventually even good people turn to evil of their own free will. It’s a domino effect, with each domino getting bigger. And it’s working. The big D must think so or else you wouldn’t be here.”
“Fine, we play it your way,” she added a snide, “Sir! But I’d much rather be making some of these bastards’ nightmares come true.”
He quietly said, “This is a placement agency, not a dating service. You can work on your love life in your own time.”
“You heard me. So, you got anyone you like?”
“No, they all look like desperate losers.”
“Well maybe we can take a break and see if you can score some dates instead.”
She turned on her heel and put a hand on her hip.
Ignoring her poisonous stare, he said, “Come on, I think I have your challenge.”
🙂 😦 😉
“God, it’s hot.” Sal slumped into the shady park bench. The humid breeze reminded Sal of an open oven from which there was no relief.
The truth was he had seen many of the places that were hiring already. Every one of them had said that they would keep his resume on file, in case something showed up.
He looked around at the buildings that ringed the park and imagined his resume residing in dozens of offices, just waiting to be hooked up with a job. “Something is bound to happen,” he mumbled.
From a place beyond the vision of mortal eyes, Dee Dee and her new boss looked at Sal. “Him? That old fart is my test? And what is he, like, Fifty-two? And he’s going to heaven, so far.”
He nodded. “Yeah, and he still might, even if he keeps one of our jobs. It’s a strange system, getting into heaven and it’s not even our concern. We’re spreading woe through the abstract layer of the system, not singling out our workers for damnation.”
He cut her off. “Look, I thought you were the people person and the crafty manipulator. You think this guy can beat you? I need to give you a challenge, not just a hall-pass to torment the living.” He waived off the thought. “You get this guy one of our jobs and keep him there? You’re in. If not, well…”
“How long?” Dee Dee looked at her hand. It dissolved in a shower of sparks and twisting metal until it became a cell phone attached to her wrist.
“Month. Five weeks to be exact.”
She snarled with more venom than should be possible with her girlish human face and tiny frame. “Fine! Save your reverse psychology bullshit. Not only am I going to get this guy working for us, I’ll damn his soul too.” She pressed a button and Sal’s cell phone beeped.
“Hi, this is Dee Dee from the Idle Hands employment agency. We ran across your resume and would like to speak to you about a position we have opening up at Barron Brothers Holdings. Do you have a moment?”
Sal looked around the park, cupping his hand to the phone. Dee Dee watched him from her invisible vantage point.
“I guess I can take a moment. One thing though. What’s the pay rate?”
The small woman smiled a smile that was too wide for her face and she said, “I’m sure something can be arranged.”
🙂 😦 😉
Shelly came through the still un-repaired hole in the office wall and sat in a chair. “She’s a total nightmare.”
Without taking his sunglasses up from the paper he was reading, the man behind the desk nodded. “I know”
“She’s totally botched my filing system and is an utter bitch!”
“Did you know that she has been dating topsiders to death for sport? Not to mention that she keeps leaving us with the bill at happy hour.”
The man looked up. “That’s actually kind of funny.”
“Not on what you pay us it’s not. She’s prancing around here like she runs the place.”
“I run the place.”
“Not for long and at this rate there won’t be anything left to run. You’ve got to wonder what the Big D was thinking, sending her here.”
At that, he stopped and put down the paper. “Ah yes, the Duke of Deceit. I tell him we’re growing and need some help and he sends me someone to help force me out and no doubt send me back to eternal torment.”
He kicked back in his desk chair and laced his fingers. “One thing I learned while wandering in hell’s endless desert is that a fervent devotion to deception, lying and chaos tends to make a being predictable, if you are organized and observant of its behavior.”
Shelly flipped her hand and a bit of blood oozed over her palm. She mentally pulled it back in. “Moot point if you are sent down. My afterlife is going to suck.”
Leaning forward, the man smiled under his sunglasses. “Now shelly, would I make your hereafter a living hell?”
Her face brightened. “You have a plan?”
“I have better than a plan. I have a man.”
🙂 😦 😉
Papers shuffled in nervous hands as Sal prepared for his first meeting at Barron Brothers Holdings. It had taken three weeks to draw up detailed prospectus sheets on the two companies the firm was looking into and he was happy to find two solid companies.
He walked into the meeting room five minutes early to find people he didn’t know joking and talking. “I’m sorry, I’m here for the ten o’clock meeting for Foster Inc. and Stewart Manufacturing. Is this it?”
“Yes! You must be Sal.” The young man in a well pressed shirt offered his hand, but did not stand. “I’m Duncan Barron. Bill told me you have been going over the Foster and Stewart records with a microscope. I appreciate the attention to detail. But can you nutshell it for me?”
“Well, they both are medium manufacturing outfits with reasonable profit margins. They are solid corporate citizens and both are in reasonable shape with no hidden bombs on the books…”
The smirking young man put up his hand. “Just tell me, where’s the fat?”
“Excuse me?” Sal still hadn’t sat down and everyone who had been in the meeting room were now looking at him with half smiles.
“Is there anything in these companies that is doing worse than other pieces? Less profitable?”
“Well, the Medical Products Division of Foster has operated at a loss for the last two years, weighed down by R&D spending, but is working on a promising new material. And Stewart’s Auto Parts Section has been hit hard by changes in the auto industry.”
“Ah, well, there you go. We buy these companies, close down the crappy divisions and sell them off when their stock prices jump up. Three years, max, make our money back tenfold and wash our hands of the whole thing.”
“But the R&D is what gave Foster the growth in the other sectors, and Stewart has a very good plan to modernize …”
“That’s great and all, but in the now, the companies are weak and our plan is a solid win for our shareholders.”
“But there are four thousand people working in those divisions!”
The room went quiet. Everyone looked nervously at the seated young man in the crisp shirt and the standing older man in his rumpled brown suit.
The young man smiled. “Well they weren’t working hard enough to be profitable, now were they? Maybe we can find someone who will want to buy them, but that’s not my concern.”
“Not our concern? What do those four thousand people do?”
“Look for jobs.” The room erupted in laughter. “You are new, so here’s the deal. It’s all about the quick flip here. My only concern is to put lipstick on these pigs, make them all sexy looking and sell them to the highest bidder. If I lop off a few limbs from them, fine. Thanks for the reports, Sal. I appreciate the quick turn around.”
The tall blonde man took the two binders from Sal and left him standing in the conference room. He had the rude impression that he was being dismissed in all possible ways.
Sal looked around the room for a moment and couldn’t believe the apathy of the collected executives. He turned on his heel and walked out of the meeting room. As he walked, he could hear the room once again erupt in laughter and understood that he was probably the butt of the joke.
🙂 😦 😉
The rhythmic pumping under the railroad overpass came to a climactic stop. In the pale blue light of an almost full moon, a large man rolled over and revealed a much smaller woman pulling down her miniskirt. They laid side by side on the railroad tracks, using the hard steel as a pillow. The smell of cheap happy hour drinks and sweat floated around the pair.
“Wow, you sure are a special kind of woman!”
“You know it, babe.” She lit a cigarette with a spark from the tip of her finger and straightened her blonde bob cut wig. “They don’t make them like you every day, either.” Though there was a bit of sarcasm in her voice, he was much too drunk to hear it. “It’s been so long for me, Stud.”
He had a goofy grin on his face, which increased the magnitude of his dough-like double chin. “I tell you what, this is the wildest thing I’ve done in … forever.” He looked over at her, still grinning. “I mean it. You really are something special. I’ve got to get your number.”
She smiled a grin that was just ever so slightly wider than it should be. “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be sure to stop by so we can relive this night forever.”
“You mean it?”
“Sure I do. Now lean over here. I’ve got something to tell you.” He leaned over onto his elbow and she cuddled up close to his ear. She sweetly breathed into his ear, “train” and dissolved into a shocking mass of writhing metal that escaped under the oncoming locomotive.
The train passed in a loud, hot rush. Squealing wheels trampled and crushed the lecherous drunk into man-cobbler. Minutes passed as the train spread the gore for the better part of a mile before obliviously sliding around the bend and back into the night.
A shower of blue sparks and silver wire coalesced into the form of the woman wearing the blonde wig. She stood looking at the tracks and watched the last remains of the lecher’s soul slip slowly down into the earth.
Her smile was just slightly too wide, as she said “Oh, we definitely will have to do this again. But next time, I’ll be on top.”
A few Yards away, a door opened in a solid concrete wall, revealing a bland office corridor. A man in a dark suit, colored black by the pale blue of the moonlight, came through the door. She only barely acknowledged the man as she took off the blonde wig. Her straight black hair, now free, fell to the middle of her back.
“Do you think this wig makes me look bitchy?”
“Uh, No. It’s not the wig that makes you look bitchy.”
She looked over her shoulder with her hand on her hip. “I suppose you are here to chastise my choice of dating activities.”
He put his hands up in the air as if in mock surrender. “Hey, what you do on your own time is none of my business. Just don’t drag it into the office. Actually you have someone on hold, waiting for you at your desk.”
“Oh really?” She smirked. “They must be important for you to make a new door. So who is it?”
He smiled. “It’s Sal.”
Her face went white and her smile disappeared as she ran through the door in the concrete slab. The limbo workers were knocked off their feet by Dee Dee as she passed at a full sprint. She threw herself into her office. Straightening her skirt and putting her headset in her ear, she slammed at the phone to get Sal’s call.
“Hi Sal!” She greeted him with a fake smile and saccharine sweetness in her voice. “What can I do for you?”
Her face became white, then angry and finally started to crack while listening to the man ramble. “So, Barron Brothers isn’t what you expected?” She listened. “It’s really so bad you can’t work it out? I mean…” White hot sparks came from the small fissures, metal wires started to snake from the cracks and wind around her face, both binding and breaking. “Sure, sure. I understand. Listen, um, can I possibly meet you somewhere where we can talk about this? You know, I’d like to be your friend in this. Maybe you just had a bad day or…”
She continued to nod and reveal more of her monstrous true appearance as a blank-eyed, limbo-bound soul came in carrying some paperwork. “Sure, Sal, that sounds great. I know that bar. It really means a lot to me to see an – uh – upstanding man like yourself up and working. So, let’s see if we can’t work this out.” Her face was twisted in a demonic mask of metal wires, spikes and sparks as the last remains of her perky voice chirped “Ok! See you there! Bye!”
The man carrying the paperwork said in a limp voice, “Shelly wanted to make sure you filled out all the proper forms for Sal’s change in job status. She’s a real stickler for that kind of thing.”
Dee Dee suddenly grew a mouth larger across than her desk and lunged at the man. His eyes bolted wide with panic as she bit his head off with one sadistic “Chomp!”
🙂 😦 😉
[Another Author’s Note: This is part 2. Things get a touch nastier here, so … uh … hi mom! 🙂 Part 3 is coming up soon.
I’m still trying to figure out if I’m going Crabtree, Idle Hands or something else after I’m done with “The Strange” so if you like this, please hit the like button or if you have a comment, I’m up for those too. By the way, “The Strange” is about to get a lot nastier too, so maybe, check that out? Thanks.
And please spread the word! I’m trying not to be a self-aggrandizing and pushy bore to people, but it’s tough to let potential readers know that any of this stuff is here. I’m not advertising so any word of mouth is extremely helpful to me.
Thanks for reading and Stay Weird