“What are you doing?” Milo the Muse asks me as I sat at my desk laughing into my computer screen.
” Nothing.” I snap the off button on my screen and it goes dark.
” Let me see.”
I swivel around on my chair and face the window.
He reaches over, clicks it on and is not amused at what he sees:
” You’ve been on Facebook again.”
I twirl around and I smack his hand away from the off button. ” It’s Facebook, not porn. Go away. I’m looking for inspiration.”
Milo makes a circle around his face with his finger. ” Wrong place to be looking Anita. Besides. I have a great idea.”
” Does it involve six fish being-“
” No. I am sorry. It does not. But if you’d rather be here looking at Pornbook, excuse me, Facebook don’t let me disturb you. I’ve just go a lead on where the Gate To Hell is. But please. Stay here. Oh look. Another post about being a strong independent woman….and look another David Bowie tribute. Well. I’m off. I know one of these things is going to inspire a story. How can it not?”
He gives me one more look and then saunters out the door like a cat who has just gorged himself on Tuna and Cream.
I sit there like it doesn’t matter.
Then I jump up.
” I’m coming!Wait up” I follow him out the door that opens into my backyard and as he disappears behind the tree my cat is buried under I follow him- actually I run after him.
“That’s not Hell..that’s a falling down old house. There isn’t even a door and all the windows are gone. What’s the matter with you Milo?”
” What did you expect?”
” Well. I expected to see monsters and spirits in torment…oh and that river and demons and maybe a few live people who can’t get out and fire and lava and caves and a blood-red sky and not some falling down house in…where are we Iowa?”
” I expected better of you. To be fooled by appearances. But yes we are in Iowa. Des Moines to be precise.”
I shrug. ” Well. ” I walk up to the house.
The stairs are soft and mushy and I expect to fall through them but I make it safely to the porch.
The flooring here is solid, but when I look down and realize those grooves look like claw makes and there are a few finger nails stuck in them, I turn to Milo and give him a thumbs up. Then I peer through the doorway into the darkness and from somewhere deep in the darkness I hear…
something dripping and from very far away the unmistakable sounds of birds in flight.
My skin crawls over my bones in an effort to get away from that door.
I turn around.
” I love you Milo.”
He hops up the stairs and waits at the doorway
and I go through first.
” I didn’t expect it to be so, you know alive.”
We are watching the ground melt, twisted human bodies moving to nowhere in the distance and above us birds of all kinds circling over head.
” Why are they here?” I wonder.
” Because, they carry the souls here. ” I thought you’d know that. The problem is most of them won’t give the little bastards up so they end up flying around for eternity with them. Touching considering the way they get treated on this planet anyway.
Milo and I look at each other and then we turn around.
” Hello Anita and Milo. So good of you to visit me. I’m sure you must have several questions. But I can only answer a few. I’m very busy you know.”
” Well. I do have one.”
” No.” Milo says. ” No.”
“It’s not every mortal who can ask a deity a question and receive an answer. To tell you the truth. It’s PR on my part because I’d rather have you walk through that door then to be brought down here by birds who …”
Lucifer looks up at the sky and roars ” spend all day shitting all over the place!”
” Yeah. That must be nasty all right.”
I step aside so a demon can slither its way past us.
If you think demons are sexy, you’re wrong. None of their body parts are the same size, they smell like olives and when they move their skin splits open and they bleed bright yellow pus.
” So ask me, ask me anything.”
” You really need TO SHUT UP RIGHT NOW.”
Lucifer looks from me to Milo and back to me again.
Milo throws himself on the sword for me. ” She’s going to ask you why Hell is in Des Moines Iowa.”
Lucifer looks up into the red bird filled sky and roars:
” I moved my entire kingdom because this is where my girlfriend lived. But she dumped me for her brother. HER BROTHER. And they both jump out a church window together because the Priest wouldn’t marry them. Can you believe it? They actually got up one morning and said, ‘lets go ask Father Thomas to marry us’.
So of course they both end up down here and now I have to hear them reciting poetry about their love damning them to an eternity and how their passion will be the brightest flame in Hell.
Let me tell you something I personally asked God to take them in because dealing with those two is cruel and unusual punishment and God tells me fine…on the same day I ask for forgiveness and to come home.
Lucifer is on a rant and I punch Milo in the arm.
” I was NOT going to ask you why Hell is in Des Moines, Iowa. “
Lucifer closes his eyes, takes a breath. ” What would you like to know.”
” I lost a charm bracelet. I can’t find it. Do you know where it is?”
Milo face palms himself so hard I’m afraid he’s given himself a concussion.
Lucifer walks towards us, he does have wings and when they fan out the block the sky.
He looks down at us and his eyes are yellow, tinged with red and they’re bleeding a little.
” You what?”
“My bracelet. I lost it when I was nine. I wore it to bed and when I woke up in the morning it was gone. I want it back. Do you know where it is.”
” I know who has it.”
Lucifer is smiling.
I smile back.
” Come on Milo.”
Milo and I turn away from Lucifer and walk back up the trail that leads to the door outside.
” Ok. No Deal. Fine. Can’t blame a guy for trying right.”
” Okay. Look. Poke around for a while. You know your way out. Just watch out for the bird turds and my ex-girlfriend. She’s pretty damn creepy.”
” You wanted to sightsee.” Milo whispers into my ear.
” But I want my bracelet back. It was the coolest thing I ever owned.”
Milo is standing there tapping his foot.
” Okay. Let’s look around for awhile.”
I head back into Hell and Milo is following me.
Lucifer takes to the sky and birds poop all over him as he rises above his kingdom.