Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mimosas, Library Books, and the Realization that God Listens...ALL THE TIME

Claire Rogers loves brunch. She loves being presented with a menu that allows her to order scrambled eggs and hash browns with her cheeseburger and mimosa. God loves brunch, too, but only because of the bottomless mimosas. She rarely drinks anymore, so when the opportunity arises to share a pitcher of champagne and orange juice, She jumps at it. (1)

"I think Lucy's up to something," She says from behind oversized sunglasses. Claire can't tell what She's looking at, but she's pretty sure it isn't her.

"I'm not sure that's an unreasonable suspicion," Claire says. "He is the Devil, after all..."

God frowns...and car alarms go off all across town. "Perhaps I should have clarified - something more devious than his usual bit of mischief."

"Like what?"

She shrugs. A gaggle of college boys pass their table at the sidewalk cafe and three of them stumble over each other as they ogle God's ample bosom, beautifully on display in Her gold and ivory sundress. God lowers Her sunglasses and glares at them with an expression meant to literally put the fear of Her into them.

Claire watches the familiar display with bored eyes, glances down at her own ample bosom on beautiful display. She's more than used to being ignored while in God's company; if anything, she's come to find the invisibility comforting.

"What's Lucy done this time?" she asks, sipping her coffee.

"He borrowed a library book with that temporary card you gave him," She says, replacing Her sunglasses.

Claire eyes her Holy Boss. "Well, then, we should string him up by his horns. How dare he borrow a book...from a library...that he belongs to..."

God once again lowers the sunglasses, appraises Her favorite prophet with cool green and humorless eyes. "Are you quite finished?" She asks.

"Just one more."

"If you must."

"Did he forget to return said book, the rule-breaking, magenta-colored fancy boy that he is?"

That gets God to smile. "I'm being ridiculous," She says with a laugh.

Claire grins, shakes her head. "You're being cautious; there's a difference."

"Maybe he was just looking for something new to read..."

Claire snorts. "Hell no," she says. "The sonovabitch is definitely up to something."

God's expression shows open surprise. "But you just said..."

"I know what I just said. Since when do You listen to a damn thing I say?"

God smiles warmly and the Indian summer sunshine brightens. "I always listen to you, Claire. Even when you think I'm not listening, I still hear you."

Claire looks at Her, catching the subtext and not feeling very comfortable with it. "Does that include..." (2)

"Mm-hmm," She says, taking a long sip of Her mimosa.

"So I probably shouldn't..."

"Best not. Best to keep My name out of it whenever possible." She winks with overdramatic flair, for salacious emphasis. "He seemed like a nice fellow, though, so you're certainly welcome for it."

Claire's cheeks flush red with embarrassment. "Oh sweet Jesus..." she mutters.

"Now, My brother, he's quite oblivious, so feel free to use his name whenever it suits you." God picks up the now-empty pitcher and waves it at the waiter. She turns a vibrant and mischievous smile on Claire. "More mimosas!"

(1) Well, at least She doesn't drink as much anymore. Not since that time...with the mead...and the Devil...She doesn't like to talk about it, though. Poor decisions will get You a lifetime of hangovers and the Earth.

(2) Of course it does. She's everywhere most of the time, which means She hears Her name when you use it. No matter WHERE you use it. Consider that the next time you start yelling Her name at the top of your lungs... 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Introduction of Hope to the Devil, Lucifer

It's half past six in the evening when a thumping sound on her front porch brings Claire outside and face to face with a large creature. She stares at it, unsure of how to proceed. Sleek black fur, bright blue eyes, and a wagging tail - the source of the thumping sound; the dog is absolutely beautiful, no doubt about it, but Claire's not sure what it's doing on her porch right now. She looks at it and it looks back with those very clever blue eyes, sitting patiently while Claire assess the situation.

A lifetime of oddness makes Claire instantly suspicious.

"And to whom do you belong?" she asks, crouching down to see if the dog has a collar. It doesn't appear to. When she looks it in the eye, its tail wags harder, a rhythmic swish and thump against the old wood of the porch floor. "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" she asks it.

The dog leans forward and noses her hand, flips it over so her palm faces up. The dog kisses it and the tails swishes and thumps even harder. Claire's clinical, rational, suspicious - highly suspicious - brain melts; she scratches its ears.

"She suits you," a familiar voice says from the yard and Claire stands, startled. The dog turns to look at the intruder and a slight mohawk of fur rises on its - correction, on her back.

"A gift from you, I presume?" Claire asks the Devil. A low growl starts in the dog's chest. Claire looks down at her, surprised. She settles her hand on the black head beside her. "Not at all from you."

Lucifer shakes his head. "Not, indeed. I'd wager a guess she's another one of Michael's housewarming gifts."

He steps forward, cautiously, and the dog's growl intensifies. Claire feels like she's vibrating from the sound of it. Lucifer smiles. "A blessed well AND a guard dog. He must truly care about you, Claire."

She eyes him, unafraid but uneasy. "Okay, Lucy - how about you stop acting like a Bond villain and either tell me what you need or get the Hell out of here."

He frowns at her, taken aback. "Are you always so damn difficult?"

"With you, yes."

"Why is that?"

"Because you're Satan and I don't really like you all that much." She smiles sweetly at him.

His frown deepens. "Well that's not terribly nice." He takes another step towards the porch, forgetting momentarily about the guard dog. Her growl echoes around them and he freezes. "It would appear she doesn't like me all that much, either."

Claire smiles down at the dog, who looks up at her with adoration and wags her tail. "She really does suit me, then, doesn't she?" She looks at the Devil. "You were going away, I believe."

He sighs, pulls a red library card - the one she'd given him as a temporary replacement for his own lost card a few months earlier - from his coat pocket and sets it on the bottom step, visibly flinching when the dog lowers her head to glare at him while he moves. Claire bites down a laugh - the Antichrist, reduced to a flinching mess before a black lab.

"I'm just returning that, as promised."

Claire nods. "How very responsible of you."

They watch as the card evaporates in a puff of grey smoke. The dog eyes it herself, curious, her head cocked to the side as she watches the smoke shift and rise.

"Give Hades my regards, please," Claire says.

"Of course," Lucifer responds, all business and professional. "And please tell Michael I said hello the next time you see him. Pass along my compliments on his choice of protection." He stares at the dog, who stares back with those crystal blue eyes. "Have you thought of a name?"

"What scares you the most, Lucy?" she asks.

He pauses to think about it. Eventually, he gives her an answer: "Hope...and small children."*

Claire grins, looks down at the dog. She wags her tail happily. "Well then, Hope it is."

*It's always wise to be scared of small children...even if you're the Devil.