The Devil was wearing a tuxedo with a pair of pants that stopped above his ankle. I thought a pair of horns were tucked beneath his champagne colored beret, but instead a black rat tail curled on the back of his neck. His beret slowly moved up like an inflating balloon and pair of red eyes met with mine. He extended his arms to the side and his beret scurried down to his wrist; the tail and his pinky interlocked.
“He’s shy,” the Devil said and shook his beret off; a loud squeak then followed. He smiled at me. His teeth reminded me of pointe shoes: mouth full of thick molars that narrowed out at the bottom. I wondered how he flossed; I then wondered what he ate.
The Devil worked in a glass dome on the top floor of Hell. There was no furniture. There were no plants. The Devil offered me a seat and a large fist came through the floor and opened up slightly, forming the letter “C.” I straddled the thumb. It felt moist like someone had spent some time on it.
His assistant, Victoria who looked like a hot dog, wearing a mustard dress with red tights, came in with a list of names and numbers. The numbers weren’t the ten-digit ones I am used to, but instead had a combination of shapes, letters and numbers. A few were upside down. Victoria stood next to me and read aloud one of the combinations.
“Floor two. Miguel Corey. Six, six, H, J, trinity, six, si-”
“Don’t you mean nine?” I asked peeking at the list. I felt the thumb lift until I slid back and the overhead fingers slowly moved down like a convertible top.
“Michelle,” the Devil whispered.
The hand stopped mid-close. Its thumb nail was now digging into my belly button. The fingers pushed me like Atlas.
The Devil dropped to the floor and moved towards me like a spider. His legs and arms cracked with each stride. I wondered how he didn’t rip his suit. His joints looked like golf balls beneath the fabric. He propped his head up on the thumb’s cuticle and said, “Sweetheart, a six is always a six.”
The hand slowly opened back up and Victoria left.
The Devil approached the opposite side of the room and straightened himself out. His multiple joints loosened up. I watched his beret scurry beneath my feet and crawl up his side to the top of his head. The rat tail swayed back and forth like a grandfather clock spine. The Devil knocked on the glass and I felt tapping underneath me. Another hand was on the other side of the glass. Its nail beds were green with overgrown cuticles that looked like moss. The Devil cuffed his heel on the floor and the hand crawled to his side of the dome, burrowed through the glass and offered him a seat. Instead of straddling the thumb, the Devil turned the hand horizontal and sat in its pulpy palm. He laid the thumb across his lap like it was a keyboard and proceeded to push the nail bed up. Cockroaches filed out of the thumb’s trunk and crawled up the walls.
“What brings you here Michelle?”
“I’m interested in an internship program.”
“I already have a secretary. Besides,” he retrieved a pack of cigarettes from the open trunk, “we don’t work with your type.”
“I’m not asking for work. Just experience.”
The Devil left the hand and lit his cigarette. The cockroaches marched in a single file line down the walls and back into the trunk. “I’m sure you know someone who can offer you a similar experience -”
“No one else will take me,” I interrupted him. I felt the hand cave in.
He inhaled the nicotine and then exhaled. The smoke smelled like burnt rubber. “Tell me about yourself then.”
“Didn’t Victoria show you my resume?”
He burst out laughing. Mouth opened wide, his teeth bent back and forth like piano keys with each chuckle. His tongue, split at the end, jumped in his mouth like a fish out of water. “You think we follow the norm here?” He flicked his cigarette and it proceeded to sink into the ground and drop down into the descending floors. “People only get to a place like this by doing one of two things: saying too much or saying too little. So,” he rested his knee on my seat’s thumb. The hand stopped mid-close. “Where would you like to begin?”