14. Way On Down
My next trip on the Hellavator went all the way. My ticket didn't, but what can you do? Did you know that Hell looks like Las Vegas? Mr D was wearing a Karate suit with the pants in a familiar baggy cut.
He saw me looking,
'One thing about a tail, Gabe. It's a thing better suited to quadrupeds. I only bring it out for Inquisitors and Paedophiles. They don't usually notice if I trip over it. They've got other things on their mind.'
'Well, S... -Dev, I wasn't planning a visit to Vegas or here.'
'Vegas did for the Kennedys, Gabe.'
'Isn't that just something the Earthbound made up?'
'Come on, Gabe, you know it's all made up, Heavens, we're all made up. Just one gigantic multi-mind thought experiment.' Mr D sighed.
'Does it matter though? It's real to us, or it is to me,' he went on.
'But am I a figment of your imagination or am I making you up?' I was getting a headache.
'Don't you see, Gabe? That doesn't matter at all.'
'Why am I here?'
'I'm in need of a little more conversation, unlike some.'
We walked over to what looked like The International Hotel. There were cars with fins parked outside: cars as big as boats alongside muscle cars and soft-top Corvettes. An enormous guy in a three-button, skinny-leg suit saluted with one finger to his temple as we passed through the doors into reception.
'Let's hit the lounge, Gabe.'
I followed Mr D all the way to the stage, but I didn't get up there with him.
The Prince of Darkness metamorphosed all the way into the King of Rock and Roll and I swear Ann-Margaret joined him on that stage the moment the words 'Bright light city gonna set my soul' came out of his mouth and into the microphone.
It was a great show. When he came off stage, the sweat was running into the hairs on his chest and the Karate suit was no longer a pristine white. He winked at me as he wiped a thick towel across his face,
'Told you I had all the best ones, didn't I?'
The smile slid off his face,
'Serious now, Gabe, you do this thing, and you do it right.'
'What thing?' I said.
'You found that woman. Now take her back where she belongs. That's doing it right.'
'Does the Big Man want the same thing?'
'Did Uriel break something when you went to see him?'
'Got a temper, that fellow. My opposite number would have cast him down back in the day.'
He scratched at a fang with a long nail.
'When didya see Him last, Gabe?'
'Not since...' and when I thought about it, I hadn't seen the Countenance Divine since I'd last helped out the Seraphim Service, when I was still with the CBI.
'Yep, that'll be about right. So you do the right thing, Gabe.'
The Devil put an arm around my shoulder and steered me out of the International Hotel towards the nearest Hellavator portal. I wondered if it was the first time someone had been advised by Satan to do the right thing.