Call him Lucifer, or Nick or even ‘Ol Scratch. Everybody knows that you are talking about Satan, but to us what knows him, he just goes by the name of Stan.
Lots of folks leave messages for Stan and I should know since he drops by my place about once a week or so to check and see who has called for him.
Contrary to popular opinion, Satan doesn’t have an office since work and punctuality are the earmarks of a solid and industrious person. Instead he just hangs out with folks, drops by the crib, smokes some weed (after all, it’s HIS weed!), and generally shoots the shit. The devil may find work for idle hands, but it usually entails my rolling him a joint while he watches TV. He prefers watching Televangelists and whenever I ask him why, he just gets an irritated look on his face and waves a hand at me to be quiet.
The other day Stan came over and asked if there were any messages for him. I said, “Yeah, they’re all on the KMFDM Album.” He started going through my record collection. “Which one?” he hollered to me (I had walked into the kitchen).
“Angst!” I hollered back.
“Sha . . . “ I heard him say. “Had it in my hand the whole time. I must be psychic or something.”
When I came out to the living room, Stan was setting the needle on the record.
“Ugh. I hate this time consuming crap,” he said. “You all have had CD players for ages now and you still haven’t made one that will play digital music backwards.”
“Don’t look at me,” I said. “I had nothing to do with making the damn things.”
“Yeah, yeah,” he replied, which was his way of saying that he wanted to complain, not converse.
Everybody knows that Satan is the biggest whiner in the whole Universe. I mean, this guy was a ruler, a Prince in Paradise – THE Paradise! The ultimate everything-you-could-wish-for kinda Paradise! – and he still bitched so much about how he wasn’t getting this, and he should be doing the other, that they threw his silly ass out of there.
Hey, just because I like him doesn’t mean I’m fooling myself.
I once brought this up to him and his reply was, “Yeah well, don’t believe all the hype about it kid.” He wiggled two fingers on both of his hands to signify a quote. “If “Heaven” was so great then why did God get bored and decide to create all this?” He waved his arm in an arc, encompassing my trashed living room. I’m certain that he really meant the world.
“Hah?” He demanded. “Answer me that! Hah?”
“I dunno,” I said. “I wasn’t there. Still, it’s gotta be better than hell.”
Stan blew a dismissive “P’shh!” and waved me away. It’s one of his stock trademarks.
Once when I was having a party at my house, someone made a stupid remark and I went, “P’sh!” and waved my hand like a bird wing, like Satan does. Immediately everybody shouted “STAN!” and we all laughed, just as Stan was coming out of the bathroom. Well he got all embarrassed and turned red, and you never saw someone turn red until you see Stan do it. I immediately felt kinda bad about it of course, and naturally when there are bad feelings in a room, Stan is helplessly drawn to them like flies to shit.
So he came over and gave me a big hug everything worked out.
Anyway, despite the popularity of using Satanic backward messages on Rock albums, Stan never really got the hang of sitting there with his finger on a record and spinning it backward at just the right speed. He was always a little too fast or a little too slow which was yet another irritation for him. “Argh!” I heard him say. “Was that a message or just a lyric? Damn this stupid machinery. I must be cursed or something.”
He finally got a pace going and the messages started coming through. At first there was a drawn out and watery “beep” followed by the background noise of the music on the record. Then there was another, then another, and then another after that. Stan was getting riled. After the sixth beep there was a real message.
“Hi Stan, are you there? Pick up the needle if you are.
Stan? Are you there? This is Eddie! Pick up the needle if you are there man.
Come on Stan, I know you are there! Pick up the fucking needle already!” Then a voice in the background said, “So what’s happening?” and Eddie replied, “I guess he’s not there.” followed by a click.
Stan twirled his finger on the label. Round and round the record spun backwards: but there were no more messages.
Stan’s already ruddy complexion turned more livid if you can believe that.
“That’s IT?“ he said. “I came all the way from Hell for this?” He roared “FOR THIS?” and when he gets in these moods even I get on edge.
“What Is Today?” his voice crackled thunder
“Uh . . . Thursday.”
“I MIGHT HAVE KNOWN!” he shouted in Caps Lock. “I HATE THURSDAYS!” Then he drew up his arms, his wings tearing out of his clothing as he cried out. “I DAMN You, Thursday! No One Shall Ever Pen A Hit Song About YOU!”
Sure enough, for those watching the news that day, stories of catastrophes ripping through the world pushed aside dull puff pieces on celebrity divorces and politico-sexual shenanigans.
That’s how the damn day started, and the rest of the afternoon was shot to Hell.
- E.C. “Feo Amante” McMullen Jr, 1998
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Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem! A collection of stories about hunger and need – in life and beyond the grave.
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Ankar appears again in my short story, “Cedo Looked Like People”, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.