“I assume you all know why you’re here,” a man, impeccably dressed in black Armani and standing at the front of the room said. He was answered by silent but confident stares. He raised his eyebrows and flicked on the projector in the middle of the conference table. The machine started to whir as the projector screen dropped and the lights went off. No one had flicked the light switch, but no one noticed either. The man in Armani clicked the button on the remote and the first slide of a Power Point presentation snapped into view. A pentagram, white against a black background illuminated the screen.
“Still don’t know why you’re here? Or are those egos getting in the way of your answers? Because, gentlemen, I am someone who should be answered.” He was again greeted with silence. His manicured eyebrows arched over cool gray eyes as he raised his strong chin and gazed down a straight, smooth nose at the men sitting around the conference table.
“I see I’ll have to introduce myself before I gain your confidence. I am Lucifer. Satan, the Devil, Mr. Tibbs, Percy, etc. I have been called a few things by you people. I prefer my given name, Lucifer. Gentlemen, it’s a physical fact that heat rises. And there are times when my swirling, steaming fires lick the baby toes of mortals and grow them up as monsters. Your great writer James Michener said that religion is a fire that burns men’s reason. Belief can burn up a man’s reason, belief in anything. Belief in me. Belief in your home team, Clingons, or the supremacy of one race over another. They’re all flames. Desire to see God in heaven, desire for wealth and power? Flames. Belief and desire are kissing cousins. You can believe me or not. It’ll be your funeral.” He clicked the remote and the next screen snapped into view, captioned, ‘Mr. Black’ with a shot of one of the men at a Starbucks.
“Who took that picture?” Mr. Black, a young man in a blue Egyptian cotton shirt with an argyle vest demanded. He shifted in his seat, sitting up straighter in his chair.
“Hardly matters, Mr. Black. What matters is the conversation you are having with the man in line behind you. Do you recall?”
“No.” Mr. Black drummed his fingers on the table.
“You said, and I quote, ‘I would sell my soul to beat Shiply in sales this quarter.’” Lucifer waited for recognition to dawn on the man’s face, and slowly on all the men’s faces, “I know, if you thought it would really happen, you would have picked better bargaining chips. Everyone thinks that. But if sales are what lights your fire, Mr. Black, who am I to argue.” He clicked the remote, a giant white toy box painted with purple polka dots and filled with body parts, bloody speculums, and cattle prods lit up the screen. The men gasped.
“What the hell is this?” Mr. Black pounded his fist on the table as he spoke. Lucifer smiled.
“It’s David Parker Ray’s toy box. Ever heard of him? The Dungeon Master of the Church of Satan. I, of course, am anti-religion, but it was a nice gesture. Davie is Legion now. I always reward loyalty.” He clicked to the next slide. A picture of a man in bed with a bottle blonde wrapped in silk sheets and kissing his chin. Lucifer smiled.
“You’re a man after my own heart, Mr. Manchego.”
“I… uh, she’s uh.” an older man, with chestnut hair, and in good shape stuttered at the photo.
“Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you told her you would sell your soul to reach ten mill liquid this fiscal year. Tell me about Nam, Mr. Manchego.”
“Because I said to and I’m the Prince of Darkness.”
“I was fighting for my country. It was an honor…”
“Be honest, Mr. Manchego.”
“I still have nightmares. I hated that **** place,” Mr. Manchego whispered. Lucifer clicked to the next slide. A Vietnamese baby with a spear stuck through it.
“Humanity is a horrible thing. Ever hear of Richard Ramirez and his Uncle Mikey? Uncle Mike was a vet. He liked to spear babies in jungle so remote the villages even didn’t have names. Then rape and kill their mothers. And then, he showed the photographic evidence to his impressionable young nephew. Classic. Uncle Mikey was the flames for Richard Ramirez. Got him high, showed him things that adults take years to steel themselves to, and then brought it all on home with an in-your-face-****-the-old-lady style shooting. I don’t have to punish sinners. Being human is your punishment.” The men sat in silence. Mr. Manchego was sweating. Lucifer clicked to the next slide, a man speaking with an orderly at a nursing home.
“Mr. Rider, tell me about your mother.”
“She’s a miserable bitch.” Mr. Rider was short and blond with glasses and an expensive suit.
“Good, I see you’re learning that honesty is important. Now you told this orderly that you would sell your soul for Yankees’ season tickets.”
“****,” Mr. Rider hissed. Lucifer clicked to the next slide, a picture of a severed head with darts sticking out of it.
“Eddie Kemper’s mum.”
“Lovely,” said Mr. Rider.
“Did you know, he cut out her vocal cords and tried to grind them up in the disposal but the tissue was too tough? That’s when he resorted to darts. His mommy was a bit of a nag too, Mr. Rider.” He flicked the remote, there was one man left at the table. The picture was of a man in a strip club with a stripper’s toes between his teeth.
“Mr. Chien, you dog, you. You told her that you would sell your soul for a night with her just so you could get a free lap dance. Backfired a bit, eh?”
“It’ll be worth it.” Mr. Chien was confident, cocky and smiling. Lucifer raised his eyebrows and nodded. The next slide was a clean pair of socks and a crow bar.
“Necrophilia is a victimless crime. If you haven’t seen Ted Bundy’s final interview before he was fried, you should. It’s a riot. ‘I had a lovely upbringing and was spoiled by pornography’. Delusional. Bundy was an inbred maniac who needed something outside of himself to explain what he couldn’t face inside. Think about that next time you stick your fingers up your pretty cousin’s skirt. While I’d love to take credit for Bundy’s “entity”, I’d have to say it was Grandpa Cowell in his head, in his DNA. Never trust a man of God, they only confess their sins in secret, if they confess them at all. I will gladly tell you that among my sins, is prompting Bundy to pick up a crow bar.” Lucifer clicked to the next screen. It was a simple wooden coffin.
“I don’t understand why you’re showing us all this,” said Mr. Rider, “don’t you just give us what we asked for and take our souls when we least expect it.” Lucifer rolled his eyes.
“In Faust, yes, that’s how it happens. Glad to see you’re well read, Mr. Rider. I need a show of good faith, before we even enter into a deal. These men I’ve shown you tonight are some of the most heinous serial killers of your species. Kill one person in the manner of the man who was mentioned with your picture or I will take everything you have worth living for. I will take your money, your job, your family, cars, vacation homes, everything. You will be that bearded old fool on the street corner babbling about God. I will leave you with nothing. Do as I say, and we’ll deal. It’s very **** simple.” Lucifer powered off the projector and brought up the lights. The men blinked as their eyes adjusted, “Go forth and murder, dear fellows. I shall see you in a fortnight.” And he was gone.