It was a great day for Hell.
The weather was overcast and cloudy and spitting a little snow occasionally in Nashville, Tennessee that day. It started out as just another day for Lucifer. He was out to claim more souls for hell, and he expected, good, perhaps extraordinary success on this particular day. Since it was a raw day, Lucifer wore his red sweater under his windbreaker. He wore a hat too of course, for besides protecting his shiny bald head from the chill, it also conveniently concealed his horns.
The Devil was in a particularly good mood that morning. His daily incoming status email report already listed an unexpected bump in the day’s intake. Four Wall Street bankers and three insurance company CEO’s had all bought the farm together in a crash involving a charter flight headed to a golf outing to Palm Springs. All seven were undergoing processing at the Purgatory Intake Center. Lumped together with the regular daily crop of deceased politicians, Catholic pedophile priests, pathological killers, Mormon elders, used car salesmen, Baptist preachers, child molesters, wife beaters and the usual daily intake of lobbyists, petty thieves and assorted other riffraff and lowlife, it would turn into a very good day indeed.
Lucifer was embarked on his daily chore of signing up future work. He had spent a lot of time prospecting for souls in Nashville over the years. Being the virtual buckle on the bible belt, it was of course prime productive territory to begin with. But, on this particular day, Nashville was very, very special indeed. The Tea Party convention was in town - and the place was certain to be full of God hollerers and simple-minded bible thumpers - all excellent candidates for the devil’s workshop. Lucifer actually licked his lips at the juicy prospects as he headed for the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, the actual venue for the event.
“May I help you Sir?” asked the respectful clerk behind the desk as Lucifer approached.
“Yes,” said Lucifer. “I’m here for the Tea Party convention. Where do I register?”
“Yes Sir,” answered the clerk. “right down there to your left. You’ll find the registration desk set up in the center of the lobby there.”
But the Devil received a rude shock when he approached the registration counter. “That’ll be $595 plus a $9.95 fee, plus tax.” said the white-haired registration lady with a tight, grim smile. “The total is $662 even.”
“$662 for a goddamned two day, two-bit political convention for a bunch of simple-minded bozos?” the Devil exploded. “That’s freaking outrageous!”
“Yes, I’m sorry Sir.” answered the registration lady. “But, don’t forget, most of these folks are GOPers, and this event was organized by GOPers and you know how our people are on the subject of money and profit. Besides, I know exactly who you are. You’re bound to make out big time here today.”
Had it been possible, Lucifer would have turned redder - but his complexion was already at its limit. “How in Hell do you know that?” he demanded as he looked at the lady more closely.
“Let’s just say I have my ways.” said the white-haired lady. “I’ve been around a long, long time and I’ve seen the sinners come and go. Besides, I guess you don’t remember me, but you signed me up yourself at George W. Bush’s first inauguration.”
Lucifer smiled. Of course he did remember. He never forgot a soul once signed up. It was just she had a new hairdo, with blueing - and after all, nearly ten years had passed. He paid his tab and passed on into the convention hall. It was full of people he recognized immediately. For Lucifer put his special marks on signed souls so he could pick out his former victims easily, so as not to waste his time: A grim, judgmental set to the countenance, with downturned, tightly pursed lips, a hunted look, and with eyes that darted furtively were just a few of the signs. The goddamned place was full of people with his signs. Maybe prospecting wouldn’t be so good after all.
But, he soon brightened up. Of course the stage was already completely full of signed souls, but the first few rows of spectator seats had a hefty proportion of candidates. Eager, and angry looking people, but without that hunted look - yet. Lucifer would work hard to change all that. He sat down next to a large, well-fed fat lady.
“How do?” he said, dropping into the local idiom. The large woman looked at him suspiciously.
“I’m Aidan Messor from Brimstone, Louisiana.” Lucifer smiled warmly as he stuck out his hand. The fat lady reluctantly gave him three pulpy fingers, overhand, like over ripe bananas hanging from a stalk.
“Trinity Jones.” the fat lady said, glaring at him. “Milwaukee.”
“I’m really looking forward to hearing Sarah Palin’s talk.” said Lucifer.
“Oh, I just love her so much.” Trinity Jones gushed immediately. “She’s so down to earth and real and all. I wish I could be as beautiful and smart as she is!”
“Well, you’re already as beautiful, and I can easily show you how to be as wonderful and smart and popular as Sarah is. In fact, I’m the very one who showed Sarah how to do it.” said Lucifer with an easy grin as he started into his standard spiel. Trinity Jones turned her full attention to him, intrigued. This one was already almost in the bag!
And, the entire day went that way, easy pickings all the way, all day long - one hundred and sixteen signed contracts and counting. Lucifer was exhausted by the time Sarah Palin launched into her speech. He turned to what he decided to be his last and final mark.
“How do, I’m Aidan Messor from Brimstone, Louisiana.” he said to the wizened little old man.
“Rafer Fortis” said the old guy. “Fort Wayne. I’m just here to check things out. So far, I’m not too impressed. Figure I ain’t got a whole lot’s for my money yet. Damned sure not what I expected.”
“Me neither.” said Lucifer. “What were you expecting? Exactly what are you looking for?”
“Well, a damned sight more than what that silly-assed airhead Sarah Palin’s giving us.” said the old guy. “I wanted this simple-minded crap, I’da stayed home with the old lady. Least they coulda given us someone like that Ann Coulter. Now, her I could listen to all day long.”
Lucifer smiled. “What if I could work it out for you to have a personal audience with Ann? What would that be worth to you?”
“Hell, I’d give my very soul for that!” said Rafer Fortis. “But, how in Hell you gonna do that? You something special or something?"
“Not a problem.” said Lucifer with a wide, warm smile, another soul already as good as done. “See, Ann is my sister.”