Out of the Frying Pan by David Roemhildt
“Right this way, Mister Braune. Lord Lucifer will see you now.” I looked up from the outdated copy of People magazine I had been perusing to meet the smouldering sockets of the scaley receptionist sitting behind the large, lacquered desk. His weird tongue kept flitting in and out of his mouth as he gazed steadily at what I assumed was me.
I looked to my right at the heavily tattooed skinhead reading Cosmo. The number of piercings on his face made him look like bedazzled mannequin and the sinister images on his arm danced above molten muscle as he delicately turned the page. Eleven Fall Fashion No-no’s the article said. He apparently hadn’t heard the receptionist or didn’t care.
I turned to my left. An elderly lady was quietly knitting a. . . something. I couldn’t really make head or tail of it. Her eyes were glued to the soap opera playing on the television in the corner while her needles absently click-click-clicked.
Yup, the Mister Braune that Lord Lucifer wanted to see now was definitely me. Damn.
“Uh, yeah. Could I get a glass of water quick?” I asked the scaley thing behind the desk. He absently brushed something off of the shoulder of his pinstripe suit.
The door to the left of the desk slid open–motion activated or something. I shuffled through and walked down the hallway. The floor beneath me was a gleaming obsidian that eerily reflected the torchlight. As I walked, my footsteps echoed in a manner that seemed out of place for such a short hallway. Drawing close to the end of the passage, I was shocked when a black and red door appeared with amazing, tendril patterns burned into the wood. The floor squeaked loudly as I tripped in surprise. Looking down, I noticed that my shoe had made a mark on the shiny stone floor and I hastily tried to rub it off.
Next to the door was a little room number that said: “666” on top and “Satan” on a piece of paper slid into the bottom. I touched the tiny braille spots on the tag. I was a little nervous. Do I knock or just open the door? I mean, obviously I knock, but ok, how? A quick little tap-tap? Maybe an affirmative bang-bang-bang! I decided on a playful knock-tap-tap-tap-tap *pause* knock-knock. Immediately, it felt like the wrong thing to do.
“Yes, yes, ENTER,” a voice boomed on the other side. I took a deep breath and swung the door open. The devil was casually lounging on a throne of human skulls scrolling through what I’m 90% positive was a dating app. And ladies, he was swiping right a lot. Also, Hitler was there, I guess. He was busily trimming the devil’s toenails, which were growing as fast as the fuhrer was cutting.
The scent in the room was also particularly bad. I mean, the whole building smelled like a hospital, but, like, not the kind where anyone would leave alive. This office seemed to be the epicenter of the smell, and I suspected that the green mist coming from a crack in the floor was the culprit.
“Hi, um, Lord Lucifer. Your excellency. Can I call you. . . nevermind. You wanted to. . .” I cleared my throat. “See me?”
“Ah yes, Sebastian! Welcome. We’ve been expecting you for some time now,” Satan drawled. His phone disappeared and he shifted into a sitting position on the throne. Adolf obligingly adjusted. “How’re the wife and kids?”
“Oh, I’m not, you know. . . married,” I said. Satan grinned.
“Yes, of course, my mistake. And the kids?” he persisted.
“No, yeah, they’re good. Kevin just started playing varsity basketball or something, I guess. I kind of lose track. . .” I said.
“Wonderful!” Satan nodded enthusiastically as he spoke, “How’s business?”
“Well, it’s kind of touch and go here and there. You know, kind of hard to make ends meet without. . .well, we manage,” I answered.
“Yes, that’s what I’ve always loved about you Sebastian,” Satan said. He bounced up from his throne and paced towards me. “You always do manage, don’t you.” I loosened my tie. Was it getting warmer in here?
“Will you be needing anything else, your excellency?” Hitler whined. “My fingers are quite sore.”
“Oh, go to hell,” the devil said, annoyed at the interruption. Hitler bowed deeply and exited through a doorway to the right.
“Say, do you have something to drink by chance? Your receptionist, charming bloke, didn’t seem to have anything on hand,” I said. Who the devil was that laughing all of a sudden?
“Listen, Sebastian, I wish we could talk more, I really do. But, as you know, my time is just so limited and I have many appointments today. You know all about that, don’t you?” he said.
“Uh. . . no, I don’t think I quite understand,” I responded.
“Oh, come now, your little stunt on the bridge,” his eyes danced as he spoke. I just shrugged. “Anyway, I am just so happy that you are here to stay with us for a while–I wanted to greet you personally and shake your hand.” I slowly reached to shake one of the several arms he extended towards me. He sort of grabbed just my figures in the shake, so I flopped my arm up and down awkwardly in his clammy grasp. Unsurprisingly, he’s one of those people.
“Yes, well, that’s very kind of you, but-” the handshake was going on forever.
“Here you are, Sebastian,” he pulled a bulky manilla folder out from under his arm; the third from the top, I think. It said ORIENTATION on it in comic sans. “In here you will find the details of your living arrangement and your roommate.”
“Erm. . .roommate?” I didn’t like the sound of that.
“Oh, don’t look so alarmed. You two have a history,” he reassured me.
“A. . . history?”
“Yes, you remember. The incident in college?” he practically licked his lips as the full gravity of his words hit me like a ton of bricks. I seized the folder and ripped it open until I found the little name card with two beautiful, terrible words on it. A name.
The moment I realized what I was reading, I knew I was as good as dead.
David Roemhildt grew up in the blustery tundras of Minnesota, but doesn’t seem to mind. He is a Biology major with a Psychology-Chemistry double minor at Bethany Lutheran College. Entertaining people with stories has always been a passion of his whether it is through performing music, appearing in theatrical productions, or writing creatively.