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"So...that's it? Just that?"

"Just that."

Wallace shook his head for the hundredth time. It was one thing to have sold one's soul to the was quite another to learn it could be purchased back.

The imp sitting opposite him in the cramped confines of the RV raised his tiny eyebrows. "By the ears of the Beast, Wallace," it began in its Mickey Mouse voice--hardly inappropriate, as it was only nine inches tall, "I don't know how many fuckin' times you want me to go through this Damned deal. We'll sell you your soul back at standard Hell rates. One hundred million anguii. But no bank loans. You gotta come up with the cash yourself. And no goddam personal checks. We've been burned on those before."

"I...I don't know. It's just so..."


"Mundane. I mean, when I signed it away, there was fire, and brimstone, and blood and bellowing and all that."

"Who'd you sign with?"

Wallace thought. "Leutikor...something like that."

"Leutikolis. He's old school. I don't go in for that. Anyway, what do you say?"

Before Wallace could answer a sharp rap on the door intervened. "You'd better get out there, Mr. Lovelight."

The imp chuckled.

Wallace smiled and rose form his seat, careful to not bang his head. "It's the stage name. Works better than Lipshitz, I think."

"In your line of work, yeah, I'd say so. Listen, Wallace, you know the deal. One hundred million anguii. When you've got it, we'll talk. But remember...the dollar fluctuates against the anguish, so you may need more than I said earlier."

Wallace hesitated as he put on his silver-sequined jacket. "Fluctuates? What do yo mean, fluctuates?"

"The value changes, dumbshit. Right now, the exchange rate is about two point seven dollars buying one anguish."

"Oh." He shook his head again. "Still so hard to believe. That you guys use money, ordinary money, for your transactions."

The imp grinned. "You ever hear that money is the root of all evil?" He chuckled and answered before Wallace could speak. "It's literally true."

Wallace nodded and headed out the door of his trailer.

"Give! Give all you can in the name of the Lord!" Wallace Lovelight (a.k.a. Lipshitz) exhorted the crowd. He reached his hand to the sky and pulled down imaginary manna as his cohorts circulated in the tent (located conveniently just outside the Midway) with plastic buckets lined with dollar bills. "And know that the Lord promises you sevenfold your return as you give--in Leviticus 2:12, he promises you this!" Lovelight had no idea what Leviticus 2:12 said, or indeed if there was even such a chapter and verse. He had never read the Bible: he found it boring and thought it would only get in the way of his preaching. He'd been on the road twenty-eight years, clearing thousands of dollars a week in pursuit of his soul purchase price. Two years ago, he thought he had raised enough, but when he had contacted Vomitz, the imp who held his soul in escrow, he had been informed (with more than a little demonic glee in Vomitz' Mickey Mouse voice) that the dollar had weakened against the anguii and he did not, in fact have enough. "There are more of you damned souls coming in that we anticipated, so the dollar has lost some value. We think it has something to do with American Idol; we're not sure," Vomitz had said casually before departing.

Now, Wallace was fifty-eight years old. He had spent almost half his life trying to scrape enough money together to reclaim something he had lost (in a superficial sale to lay some girl whose name he had not even remembered, and who, after all, had given him the crabs) and he knew tonight he would have enough. Even if the anguish had risen still more in value, he'd have enough.

He'd taken it from suckers looking for salvation. He'd taken it from people with minor ailments he claimed to have healed (and who could not find him in the weeks that followed his "laying on hands" since he had long since learned to move on quickly after a performance); he'd taken it from widows wanting to talk to their dead husbands, mothers wishing to talk to their dead children, lovers wanting love potions...anything. Anyone who had hope was his mark.

And now he had it. He HAD it. He had scrimped and saved and cheated his own workers and lived in near poverty to earn his miracle money.

He summoned Vomitz easily...he called the number on the tiny business card the imp had given him so many decades ago. 666 area code, of course.

The imp appeared shortly after the call. "Yeah? You got it?"

Wallace smiled shakily and gestured to the safe he had had installed in the RV eleven years ago. Vomitz hopped off the tiny countertop and approached the money.

"Three hundred million dollars and change, Vomitz." Wallace was confident--arrogant, even, as he relayed the amount.

Vomitz was casually checking the bills. "Nice work, Lipshitz. The dollar has stayed more or less stable. Lost some ground, probably that's due to the Cruise baby, but is holding more or less steady at..." he took out a tiny PDA and consulted the screen. "2.67. So it looks like you have enough, and have some left for yourself. Buy a better hairpiece, maybe, cueball."

Wallace ignored the barb. “You mean…I have it? I have my soul back?” He was shaking with an emotion he could not name.

“Sure thing, mortal. Matter of fact, I brought it, just in case.” Vomitz withdrew a box the size of a sugar cube. “I even gift wrapped it.”

“That’s it?”

“What’d you expect?”

“I--” Wallace stopped. He hadn’t really expected anything. He reached out for the cube, hesitantly, unbelieving. He had worked so hard for this. And he would take it. His fingers clasped the cube, at first, gingerly, then lovingly. His soul. He had earned his soul back. He closed his eyes in rapture.

Vomitz had phoned up someone in Hell to arrange for the collection of money, and a team of four imps wearing union caps started loading the bills onto a pint-sized rig that could only hold a few thousand dollars at a time.

“Gonna be a lot of trips. But one hundred million anguii is a good take. We get three per cent commission, you know,” Vomitz said casually.

Wallace held onto his soul and asked, a smile still on his face. “Commission? You work on commission?”

“Sure. On top of salary.” He continued to watch the union imps load the money and disappear in their rig.

Wallace watched in detached amusement. He cared little for the actions of hell’s couriers and the workings of the infernal mills: now that he had his soul, all would be well. He knew it.

The last of Vomitz’ take was gone, leaving a thin pile of bills in the safe. “Well, mortal, nice to do business with you. Farewell.” And he started to fade from sight.

Wallace watched him go, but a thought struck him as the imp’s image grew transparent. “Hey…my soul…uh….how do I get it back into my body?”

Vomitz solidified again. “Installation? Oh, that’s an extra charge. Costs more than the soul itself, really. Union rules.” And he smiled.

1214 words

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Page last modified on April 20, 2006, at 04:16 PM by DoyceTesterman

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