“Worse than a Devil” by Sarina Dorie
When my best friend, Mandy, offered to set me up with a hot, handsome man, I had no idea he would also have horns and hooves.
I sat in the Wandering Goat coffee shop, nibbling my croissant as I waited for my blind date to show up. I resisted the urge to touch-up my lipstick or recheck to make sure my sweater didn’t make me look fat. When the bells on the door jingled, I made eye contact with the cute twenty-year-old with dreadlocks. His eyes were glazed over and he was far too young for me, reminding me of that boyfriend I’d had six years ago who couldn’t hold down a steady job and had always been borrowing money from me. To my relief, he quickly seated himself with a group of equally stoned-looking yuppies.
When the older man in a stained wife-beater swaggered in, I shivered, thinking how he reminded me of my ex-boyfriend from four years ago – the one who’d locked me in the laundry room of my apartment complex until I’d “forgiven” him for smashing all the antiques in my china cabinet in a fit of rage. The guy in the wife-beater quickly ordered at the counter and then left.
When a tall guy with red skin, immense horns and an Armani suit shuffled through the door, a few of the college-aged, wannabe hippies in the café looked up from their coffee with wide eyes. Conversation dwindled away.
The devil flashed a brilliant smile at me. “Hi, are you Jackie? I’m Bob.”
My stomach sank. Mandy couldn’t set me up with a werewolf who was a freak once a month, or even a vampire. She had to pick a devil. I would have to watch my every word and hope he didn’t trick me into signing my name in his little black book before the date was over.
My heart fluttered with panic as I tried to think of some excuse to end the date…an allergic reaction or having a hot flash. Maybe I could just pretend to be someone else. I didn’t want to date another jerk who thought tying me to the bed and poking me with a pitchfork was the same thing as foreplay – I’d already had that boyfriend five years ago and he’d been as human as I was.
I smiled back, determined to be polite; after all, you never wanted to piss off a devil. My voice came out shrill. “Excuse me, I think there must be a mistake.” I hopped from the stool and edged toward the door.
Bob looked genuinely disappointed. “Mandy didn’t tell you I was a devil, did she?”
Guilt immobilized my tongue. He would think I was racist. Was that a mortal sin? Would that doom my fate to Hell? Crap!
He looked at me with doleful eyes. “I’m so sorry. She promised me she’d tell you. I didn’t want you to get the wrong idea about me.”
Bob seated himself at the table, the odor of fire and brimstone wafting my way. “It’s not like I enjoy torturing people in Hell for a living. I actually have an interview for my dream job next week at Mashimoto Florists to do ikebana.”
“Ikebana? Japanese floral arts?” I asked. Mandy had said the man she was setting me up with spoke Japanese and had served in the Peace Corps. I slid back into my seat, fear giving way to fascination.
“So, tell me about yourself,” I said. There had to be some reason Mandy thought we’d be perfect for each other. Either that or this was payback for spilling spaghetti sauce on that white sweater I’d borrowed. She may have been a half-harpy, but she wasn’t typically a vindictive bitch.
“I like Japanese food, watching baseball and writing poetry. Oh, and I’m vegetarian.” He smiled pleasantly, his straight teeth white and sharp.
I smiled back, trying to think of something to say. “Vegetarian? Really, maybe that’s why Mandy wanted us to meet. I’m a vegetarian, too. And um, I think Mandy said you’re the only person she knows in Eugene who doesn’t smoke pot.”
He laughed at that, stomping the concrete floor with a hoof. “That’s right. That’s me. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs or even sniff glue.”
I rolled my eyes. “Uh! That reminds me of my ex-boyfriend, Greg. He was a used car salesman.”
Bob scratched at the base of a horn. “Greg? Greg Peters, by any chance? The guy with a bad comb over and an addiction to glue?”
I sat straight up in my chair. “Well, yes.”
Bob shook his head. “What a small world! Greg arrived three weeks ago. We chained him up to a wall in the pits of Hell. Boy, is he a screamer.”
My croissant settled like a brick in my gut. Greg was a jerk, but he didn’t deserve to be tortured in Hell for all eternity…Did he?
The startled expression must have shown on my face because Bob went on. “I’m sorry, how insensitive of me. This must be the first you’ve heard of his death. It’s not easy when one first learns someone they once loved is burning in the pits of Hell for all eternity, paying for all the sins they committed when they were alive.”
Bitter memories sparked dark emotions inside me. I recalled how Greg had tried to sell me, his own girlfriend at the time, a lemon of a car. When I noticed the speedometer went backwards, it had sort of tipped me off. Then there was that one time he’d given me gonorrhea, cluing me in that he’d cheated on me. He’d stolen his elderly mother’s social security pension, and even ran over my dog when we’d broken up.
A slow smile spread across my lips. “He used to complain about everything…I bet he’s really complaining now.” I imitated Greg’s squeaky, scratchy voice. “It’s too hot. My flesh is boiling off my bones. Boo hoo! Why do I have to be fried in vats of Hell broth? Wa wa wa!”
Bob tugged at his white collar. “Sinners reap the wages of sin. Being a devil is a job someone has to do. But like I said, I’m trying to get out of–”
“Serves him right. We were dating three years before he told me he didn’t want to be in a committed relationship; he just wanted someone he could see a couple times a week and have sex with, and hoped that was okay.”
Bob fidgeted with a napkin. “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. So, anyway, what do you do for a living?”
“That wasn’t even the final straw. The thing that pushed me over the edge was that he said he’d stopped sniffing glue and then I found a case of rubber cement under his bed next to his porn collection. I told him he could take his glue and shove it where the sun don’t shine.” I chuckled. “Any chance you can give him a little extra pitchfork prodding from me?”
“Well, I guess. I mean, he is in Hell, so he does deserve the punishment, but it isn’t like I actually enjoy torturing people.”
Wow, dating a devil came with some perks. I wondered if I had any other ex-boyfriends in Hell right now. Maybe this was why Mandy had set us up.
The more I gazed at Bob, the more his chiseled features and giant horns grew on me. I grinned, envisioning us spending romantic evenings next to toasty fires, roasting tofu dogs, and prodding ex-boyfriends with pitchforks.
He toed the ground with a hoof. I broke the silence. “So do you think you might be interested in going out to dinner some time?”
“I’m really grateful for the second chance you gave me after meeting me. But the thing is…I just don’t think we’re right for each other.” He stood, bowing in a gentlemanly manner.
“No, wait!” I jumped to my feet. I couldn’t let all those dreams of torturing ex-boyfriends just go down the drain. “You’re going to be a florist starting next week, right?”
“If I get the job, I’ll put in a two week notice.”
“And then there’ll be a position open in Hell as a torturer, right? Do you know who I would call for a job interview?”
His brow crinkled in confusion. “Excuse my asking, but what are you?”
“What do you mean, what am I? I’m human. Can’t you tell?”
He shrugged a little sheepishly before pulling a business card from his breast pocket. “Just ask to speak with Mario. I’ll put in a good word for you. You’d make a great devil.”
Maybe I was unlucky in love, but I had a good feeling I was going to be blissfully happy in a new career – thanks to Mandy.
About the Author
As a child, Sarina Dorie dreamed of being an astronaut/archeologist/fashion designer/illustrator/writer. Later in life, after realizing this might be an unrealistic goal, Sarina went to the Pacific NW College of Art where she earned a degree in illustration. After realizing this might also be an unrealistic goal, she went to Portland State University for a master’s in education to pursue the equally cut-throat career of teaching art in the public school system. After years of dedication to art and writing, most of Sarina’s dreams have come true; in addition to teaching, she is a writer/artist/ fashion designer/ belly dancer. In addition to showing her art internationally, she has sold art to Shimmer Magazine for an interior illustration, and another piece is on the April 2011 cover of Bards and Sages. Sarina’s unpublished novel, Silent Moon has won Romance Writer of America awards, and she has sold her short story “Zombie Psychology” to Untied Shoelaces of the Mind, and “Losing One’s Appetite” to Daily Science Fiction. Her piece, “A Ghost’s Guide to Haunting Humans,” won the March Whidbey NILA Student Choice Award.
Now, if only Jack Sparrow asks her to marry him, all her dreams will come true.
Find her at www.sarinadorie.com.