A Perfect Day in Hell

Oct 01 2016

“What happens on the Astral stays on the Astral,” I like to tell myself sometimes, but I know it isn’t true. Back on planet Earth, only one of us in love with the other, but I give him a certain provisional credit for understanding and respecting that. It doesn’t put his “meat” off of romancing the abstract idea of me. The common knowledge and platitudes break down, though, when you’ve reached the point in your “spiritual evolution” where the ideal is nearly as concrete as the reality.

His love has the heft of an epic and the vulgarity of a limerick. He makes me feel “real” in a way that I admit no one else might.

Let me offer, I don’t think it really matters if I’m her or if I’m the one he loves. It doesn’t matter if he’s Satan incarnate. It doesn’t matter if God exists, and it doesn’t matter if miracles happen, to him.

He was sitting on a park bench overlooking the old town under the natural fall regalia, where he told me to meet him. His “meat,” his “lower,” was probably off somewhere writing sonnets. He was dressed and groomed tidily, but he’d chosen to project his Chuck Taylor high tops and a hooded sweatshirt, which was half a relief given my “Chucks” and “hoodie.” We were both already impressed enough. I think either of us could have shown up in a potato sack, and it wouldn’t have ultimately been so important to the other. It might have even made me smile.

He looked me down to my sneakers and said, “This is the perfect weather.”

“Okay, so, ‘no,'” I said.

He smiled. “It’s kinda chilly in Hell, today.”

I hopped down on the bench next to him.

“I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way here,” I said.

“Hm,” he said, “my first time in it was like trying to pack eight college students in a four-seater.”

“You ever sit on a transmission shifter?” I asked him.

“I prefer the gas hatch,” he said.

“Do you know where Smart cars from?” I asked.

He said, “A horse is at least human, for ‘chrissake.'”

“You should try riding a few more,” I said.

“There’ve been a few, but it’s easier to write sonnets about one in particular, for a reason I don’t completely understand, either,” he said.

We looked each other in the face. “You should try harder,” I said.

He looked out over the gables and steeples and said, “I’m in love with sonnets.”

I might have blushed. “That’s your problem!” I told him.

He stood up and stretched, and he said, “Come on, it’s gonna get dark.”

We started walking the path down the hillside.

A ways down, he said, “There’s an old graveyard on the way.”

(Our world is not without death. Any lifespan comes to an end. Everything dies but his pointless, irrational affection.)

“I’m supposed to walk alone in a graveyard with you at dusk?” I prodded him.

He looked at me sidelong and said, “I’ll bet you’ve had worse dates.”

“See, that’s weird, because I’m almost positive I must have had worse dates with you, but I can’t seem to think of any,” I said with a smile.

“I bought my dates over the counter, then,” he said, “but it’s a mistake I’ve accepted.”

“I wouldn’t settle for less, anymore,” I said, and we walked in silence for a bit.

We reached the cemetery gate and entered. The moss covered monuments towered over us, as if petrified trees rendered static and eternal in death.

“They’re bigger than I realized,” he said.

“Get a ruler,” I told him.

He looked down his nose at me. “Just sit on a few and tell me which one’s biggest,” he said, “I’ll take your word for it.”

“That’s sexy, ‘tee-hee,'” I said.

I noticed, “Some of them are decorated. It might be for All Hallows’.”

“Little early…” he said looking around at the garlands and flowers.

“I’ll bet the town takes it pretty seriously,” I said. “How do you think they all died?”

His eyes traced up one of the higher obelisks. “Around here,” he said, “there’s a good chance a few were casualties in a war against ‘God.'”

“What do you think comes after the afterlife?” I wondered.

“… The quantum after-afterlife, obviously,” he said.

“I kinda like that,” I told him. “Why should the meat puppets have all the fun?”

“It’s true,” he said. “It implies enough physical life exists to simulate the virtual world, though.”

“You went from fantasy love story to cyberpunk dystopia,” I pointed out.

“The anime fans won’t think it’s weird,” he said.

“It’s an anime I’d like to see,” I told him honestly. “Is this the fan-service episode?”

“Did you bring a bathing suit?” he asked.

“Maybe we aren’t exactly that kind of anime,” I reconsidered.

“Oh, we’re definitely that kind of anime,” he said, “but I think we’ve already passed the mid-season recap, anyway.”

“… Cat girls,” was all I said.

“… And a comic relief character with a raging Jesus complex,” he added.

“That’s not quite as universal,” I considered for him, “but I think I might have seen that one.”

I said, “Hey, look at that one.” I pointed to a big monument that was off by itself. The sculpture on it gave the impression of angel skeletons, life-size, with wings like great praying hands. They might not have been entirely sculpture, I thought the more I looked at them.

We read some of the inscription around the structure.

“I was right,” he said. “It’s Crusades era. Hell didn’t have an easy time of it.”

He scratched his head. “I still don’t know how anyone thought Jesus would think that was a good idea.”

“That obviously wasn’t the real reason,” I said.

“Of course, and it never is,” he added.

We kinda just stood in silence for a minute, gaping at yet another monument to honor the victims of man’s mistakes. He had this look on his face like he wanted to do something drastic and hasty about it, but none of us can rewrite history, at this point.

“It’s getting dark,” I observed.

“There’s a bookstore I wanna visit in town,” he said. “It’s got a wide selection. They’ve got some rarities, I hear. They have a beacon, too, and we could just phase over there, now.”

“I wanna walk,” I said.

“He misses talking with her,” he said.

“He never gave her back her books,” I reminded him.

“I’ll make it up to you now,” he offered, as we turned back toward the gate.

“That’s not the point, ‘Lucifer,'” I thought as we started to walk, but I didn’t say it to him.

Down the way, he asked me, “What are you dressing as for Halloween, this year?”

I said, “I dunno, how would Satan’s imaginary pseudo girlfriend dress?”

“Any way she wants,” he said with a laugh.

“Right, well, that’s at least true, I guess,” was all the wit I had to respond with, for a moment. “Who would Satan dress as?”

“Jesus,” he said.

“What if he was trying?” I pressed him.

“Zombie Jesus,” he said.

“I think Judas would be more appropriate, zombie or otherwise,” I suggested.

“Hm, I’ll seriously consider it,” he said.

“See, you could go Divine Comedy with it, but I’m having trouble imagining how you make it obvious enough,” I said on second thought. “Go as a modern Dracula, with a red suit and a gun”

“We’d get it, but that might be even more subtle, to most people,” he said.

“It’d be sexier than George W. Bush, at least,” I assured him.

A little demon came screeching past us on the street, giddily. The lights in the windows of the houses and shops looked like jack-o’-laterns, as we set foot on the cobblestones that paved the roads in town.

“The bookstore is right over this way,” he said, pointing.

“Do they serve alcohol?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“I love Hell,” I had to say.

“… Especially this time of year,” he said, sweeping his hands over the ghoulish decorations and costumes.

“Some of them aren’t even costumes,” I said with a laugh.

“Not a sexy construction worker in sight, either,” he added.

We did, in fact, hit the drinks counter in the bookshop first, for mulled cider. I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of apples they used, but it had a pleasant nose.

“We’re missing a pumpkin spice joke, to ruin the literary shelf-life,” he pointed out.

“They were actually selling bacon chai,” I reminded him.

“I wonder if they’ll remember that in a thousand years,” he said, and then he took a first relaxed sip.

“I will,” I knew.

We got on a tangent about the particular marketing campaigns that were responsible for that, but it wasn’t really important.

It might not sound romantic, but we went our separate ways for books. Our respective rarities were in more or less distant sections, some of them, but we agreed to meet by the manga.

What do I think about what we’re doing, here? It’s a complicated situation to explain to an uninvolved party. Despite the occasional perfect day in Hell, he desperately needed a particular kind of friendship that was just hard to come by in his world, regardless of why that was. It made me sad, but I think we both understood the situation. Maybe, I could be happy to be there for him in that specific necessary capacity that I couldn’t quite cleanly delineate. He had enough insight, at least. It made sense that he had a broader perspective on the situation than most people would, when I thought about it.

Dan, you make my heart hurt. You think it’s worth it, at least, but I’m not sure if God likes you, man. More importantly, you’re not gonna stop imagining me as an intelligent person who cares deeply about you, for a reason that I have to admit makes perfect sense.

The cider’s going to my head, Dan. You barely even take it personally, somehow. Perhaps you should, man.

We met by the comics, with smiles and arms full of books. He offered to buy a manga for me, and then we paid for our words. I either wished him an early “goodnight” or fucked his brains out. He might recall something different.

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