12 June 2011

The Conversation

I had originally written this for a dear friend of mine when his estranged daughter was about to celebrate her 18th birthday. Today is her 24th birthday. I'm quite happy to report that daughter and father are once again close and happy. I love you, JM... and very happy birthday, Erin!


Liam was 48, overweight, losing his hair, on the outs with his third wife, feeling useless, and drinking whiskey at 2:10 in the afternoon at his local. His first born, a lovely daughter by his first wife was having her 18th birthday that day. He'd not seen his daughter in better than ten years and grieved that to himself daily, but was still happy for the day. His current wife seemed more interested in the €50 weekly savings of child support payments, than of the health and whereabouts of his daughter. Thus the row.

He sat in the back booth of the dimly lit pub, the only patron, trying to read an article in the NME. A stunningly beautiful, impeccably dressed man with a calm, almost serene smile appeared opposite the table from Liam. "The article on Oasis won't be in until next week," he said.

Liam wasn't in the mood for company at the moment, but lowered the paper all the same and met the man's gaze. "And just who the fuck are you?"

"You can call me... 'Lou'," he smiled, extending his well manicured hand in pleasantry.

Liam ignored the gesture.

The young, buxom waitress arrived, leant in to show a nice bit of cleavage, "Are you wanting a cocktail?"

Lou looked up at the cleavage and then the girl's face and beamed, "Sure, Love. Whatever Liam's having, twice. And an ice water for me as well. Cheers." The waitress glided off to fill the order. Lou's eyes were temporarily fixed on the swaying of the waitress' perfectly shaped behind as she walked away from the table. He straightened back up in his seat with a sly grin and cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, you were saying...?"

Liam wasn't in the mood for games, but caught on quick. "I believe my exact words were 'And just who the fuck are you?' to which you replied 'You can call me Lou'." Liam grinned. "Now that we're up to date, Lou, since I don't know who the fuck you are, I believe my question still stands. Who the fuck are you?"

"Well, my boy, straight to the point, eh?" Lou grinned back. "A couple of more whiskeys and you'll be ready to take on the world, won't you, mate? I like that in a man."

"I think you're in the wrong part of town, and certainly in the wrong pub, Mister. I don't play that way and the gay bar is more than a few blocks over." Liam said, insulted and pointing toward the door.

"No, no, no. As much fun as that would be, that's not why I'm here," laughed Lou.

The waitress returned with the drinks. Lou handed her a €500 note and said "Let me know when we've spent half. Thank you."

The waitress had never seen a €500 note, but smiled and gathered herself as best she could, almost losing her English, "Oh, yessir, you can count on me. You'll be lettin' me know when you'll be needin' anytin' else, will ya?"

Lou smiled and watched again as she walked away. "There's just something about the sway of a young, healthy woman's arse when she walks, isn't there, Liam?" Lou took a sip of his whiskey, not touching the ice water.

Liam took a peek and then quickly said "She's young enough to be my daughter! I can't go around ogling teen aged girls!"

"No, no, of course not." Lou countered. "But you can have a toss or two while looking at 'em on the internet every night, now, right?" he cackled. "Looking at 'em is looking at 'em, might as well enjoy the real thing when you can, eh? She's got lovely tits, too, I'll wager."

Liam finished the drink he had when Lou arrived and started to get up. "I still don't know who the fuck you are, Lou, but I'm thinking I don't want to know."

"Sit down," begged Lou. "C'mon! Where else do you have to go today? I bought you a drink and everything... Don't get yer knickers in a twist, we're just being guys. Have a seat." Lou slid the other whiskey the young waitress had just delivered toward Liam. "C'mon... what have you to lose?"

Frustrated, Liam sat back in his seat and took the whiskey. He picked up the drink and peered up through the bottom of the glass, then looked back down through the beautiful amber coloured liquor. "Well," he muttered, "I don't see a sixpence," and took a sip.

"See?" Lou laughed, "I knew you had a sense of humour!"

Liam took a deep breath and looked at the man sitting across the table from him. Liam couldn't quite sort this one out. For a man, he was gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. If he were a woman, Liam would be asking for a phone number and trying to arrange a date, or something similar. And that suit! It had to easily be a €2000 suit. The red tie, the cuff links... Who in this part of town wears clothes like that if they're not lost?

Liam took another long sip of his whiskey. "Well, you're obviously not going to tell me who you are. But, could you be so kind as to tell me what the fuck you want?"

"Oh, don't worry, darling, I'll tell you exactly who I am in good time," Lou grinned in a fashion that made Liam very nervous. "And if you don't like 'Lou', you can call me 'Queen Victoria' for all I fucking care. As for what I want, well, my boy, it's you who called me."

"Alright, then," said Liam. "Now I know you have the wrong place and the wrong man. Cheers for the drink." Liam drained the glass and started again to get up from his seat. "Better yet, I'll pay for the drink me self. But, I'm off..." Liam was heading for the door.

Suddenly Lou's brogue was so thick you could cut it with a knife "And here I thought you'd be wantin' to know about yer Morgan, then."

Liam was half way down the bar to the front door, but spun quickly around on his heel. "What?!?" With three large steps, he neared the table. "What have you done to my Morgan? If you've so much as touched her, I'll see you in Hell!"

Lou took such amusement at that statement he clapped his hands together and laughed out loud. "I knew you had a sense of humour!" Lou said through chuckles. "Oh, my poor boy! I've done no harm whatsoever to your daughter. Come now, sit. Drink. We'll talk." Lou motioned for the waitress, "Deirdre, Love, please get Liam another. And while you're at it, the ice in my water seems to have melted."

Liam sat back down, glaring at Lou, his fists clenched on the table top. "I don't know what you're playin' at, but you're about to see the evil side of me come out if you don't tell me what the fuck is going on."

"You wouldn't know evil if it came up to you and bit you in the bollocks," laughed Lou.

Deidre arrived with another whiskey and a large cup of ice. "This'll be on yer tab, right?"

"Yes, of course," smiled Lou. "We're not to the half way point yet, are we?"

"Oh, God, no!" smiled Deidre. "No wheres close, sir!"

"Fine, Love, just fine. But let's leave God out of it, eh? I don't think He'd enjoy it nearly as much as we do." Lou chuckled and stuffed a €20 into Deidre's ample cleavage to her delightful squeal. "There's a good girl..."

"Now that you've finished fondling that child, it's time you started telling me what this is all about," growled Liam. His still bundled fists hovering above the table top. "What have you done with my daughter? What the fuck do you want?"

"Nothing, son, nothing at all..." smiled Lou.

"Don't think to call me 'son'! I'm nowheres near being your son!"

"Oh, everybody's my child in one way or another, Liam, even you."

Liam raised his fist at Lou.

"Do you really want to do that? Really?"

"About Morgan, then?" Liam said, slowly retreating.

"She's well, actually. She and her girlfriend are going out this evening to celebrate her birthday. After they get bored with clubbing, they'll end up going back to her flat and have sex together."

"That's all? Oh, you're fucking good, you are!" Liam sneered. "What? D'you think you'd blackmail me or something with this knowledge that my Morgan likes girls?"

"I was just answering your question. Besides, Morgan's Sapphic desires aren't why you called me, are they?" Lou smiled.

"We're back to that, are we? I make a lot of business calls in my day, and I know each and every client I have. And I know damn well that I did not call you." Liam jabbed his finger in the air at Lou to emphasize the last of that statement.

"Ah, Liam, my boy, I'm a salesman of sorts, as well, but you'll not find a number for me in your mobile." Lou smiled and pulled out a small wallet from his suit coat pocket and produced a business card, handing it to Liam.

Liam slammed the card on the table without caring to see what was written on it.

"Your passion, Liam! All that anger and hatred and resentment building up inside you! That was your call to me Liam! That was your call!"

"You're fucked," Liam growled, unconscientiously picking up the business card. "Here you come, bursting into my day, my..." he paused to think, waving the business card about in his hand, "my decade long annual event, mind you, being all mysterious and, down right fucking weird, to tell me that my 'passion' and my 'anger' called you?"

"Yes."

Liam sat in his seat, shaking his head, the business card still in his hand. Lou just sat in his seat, a contented smile on his face. Another shake of his head and Liam finally realized that he had the business card in his hand. The back of the card was facing him, but he could feel the quality of the paper and the raised ink on the opposite side. He flipped the card in his fingers to reveal its message. There was only one word printed on the card.

"Lucifer."

Liam dropped the card on the table, it landed face up. Liam started laughing. "Whoever put you up to this don't know me very well."

"I assure you, there's no one behind this."

"Lucifer, yeah?" Liam chuckled. "That Lucifer? The Lucifer?"

"Who were you expecting? Peter Cook? Al Pacino?"

Liam laughed again. "No," chuckle. "No. But I'm no Christian. That's all nothing but a faerie story to me. The person, or being, you're claiming to be doesn't exist."

"Deirdre, Love," smiled Lou, "I really am sorry, but my ice..."

Liam was still chuckling when Deirdre arrived with yet another cup of ice. "D'ya know who this man is, then?" Liam asked of her.

"Who? You're date here? I didn't know you went that way, Liam, but he's pretty enough, and he's a good tipper." Deidre smiled at Lou, still leaning in to show off her cleavage, "I have no idea what you're doing with this ice..." She walked away giggling.

"He's not my 'date'," Liam called after her, taking a sip of his whiskey.

"Well, Liam, we do have a date of sorts," Lou smiled.

"Look you, Lucif... Lou, just because you're pretty and obviously able to get your hands on some money, doesn't make you the devil."

"I really dislike that term. So demeaning, don't you think?"

"Demeaning or not, that's who you're claiming to be. And since I really don't buy into that whole faerie story to begin with..."

Lou interrupted, "I enjoy your lack of faith, Liam, but..."

"No, I have plenty of faith, Lou," Liam smiled, draining the glass of whiskey in front of him. "Just not in the character you're assuming or your counterpart."

"Oooo! Well put! I didn't see you going into politics! I'm sure a few arrangements can be made..."

Liam chuckled again. "Yeah, I'm sure you make that deal every day."

"Not daily, no. But that is one of the most frequent deals that I do make." Lou's smile was chilling.

"No. Just wait a fucking minute..." Liam stammered, at a loss for words. "Bollocks!"

"It's alright, I get this reaction a lot."

"Ok, ok! Just for shits and giggles, let's suppose you are who you say you are."

"Lucifer."

"Right. Lucifer."

"Right."

Liam growled. "That's about enough."

"Sorry, it's just too fun aggravating you. I do apologize, though. Continue," Lou said with a grin.

"Right. Ok. Lucifer..." Liam wandered, collecting his thoughts. "Deirdre, another, please."

"Ice as well?"

"Why break habit now, Love?" laughed Lou. He then looked at Liam and saw the confused look on his face. "I know, I know. You want proof, don't you?"

"Well..."

"That's what I thought. Everybody wants proof. I told them the card wasn't enough anymore. What shall it be? Something spectacular or something subtle?" Lou looked around. "Well," he smiled, "I do have one idea."

Deidre arrived at the table with the drink and ice. She was totally nude and unashamed, and she was stunningly beautiful. "You boys are behavin' back here, aren't ya?" She smiled as she placed the whiskey in front of Liam and then reached across both men to place the cup of ice on the far side of the table, totally comfortable with her nudity. Her clean, smooth skin carried a faint scent of lavender, and was just inches away from Liam.

Liam did his honest best to keep his eyes to himself, but was not very successful. Deirdre walked away smiling.

"That was not nice to do to that girl," whispered Liam.

"What? She didn't seem at all to mind. Plus, I really didn't do that for you. That was for me. I told you she has great tits!" Lou laughed. "Oh, alright!"

Liam looked at Deirdre again and she was fully clothed, seemingly unaware of her recent public display.

"What do you need, then, Liam?" Lou paused a moment. "How much money do you have in your wallet?"

"A ten, a couple of twenties. Maybe a fiver," Liam said without reaching for his wallet.

"Take a good look, then," Lou smiled. "Go on! Look!"

Liam took out his wallet and opened it up. There were one hundred €500 notes! But, upon closer examination, Liam noticed in that space between the EU banner at the top and the denomination at the bottom, there was Lou's face, in red, grinning with stereotypical devil horns. The caricature on the note winked at Liam, then with a quick flash, Liam's wallet contained proper EU currency, a €5, a €10, two €20s, and one €100.

Liam just stared in his wallet for a moment. Shaking his head, he grinned "Impressive..."

"So was the girl..."

"Yes, so was the girl. But I'm not interested in you or your little magic tricks."

"Not interested?" bristled Lou.

"Look, Lou, if you are who you claim, and I'm not totally convinced that you are, then what you represent is not what I want. On the other hand, if you're more along the line of an escaped loony, which is more in conjunction with my theory on you, I don't want to get mixed up in that mess either. D'you see?" Liam sipped his whiskey.

"Hhhmmmmm..." Lou pondered.

"Besides," continued Liam, "Payment to you, Lucifer, for any type of business partnership we two would get involved in would be my Eternal Soul, right?"

"That is the standard currency. Yes."

"And you continue to claim to be the fallen angel Lucifer."

"Yes."

"Alright, then, down to business," Liam clapped his hands together. "It's true that I'm not Christian, but I ain't stupid. I'm not at all willing to give up my soul. There is no wish that can be imagined that you wouldn't loop hole into something horrible. Nothing that you could entice or bargain. Nothing at all that is worth trading my soul."

"Since you've wasted my time, what keeps me from just taking it then?" Lou growled as his face contorted in anger.

"Don't be cross, Lou, no pun intended," Liam chuckled. "Even a person such as yourself knows that in everything there are rules that must be followed. And the big one? Free will. The Bible, the Torah, the Koran, they all teach that there are only two options for a soul, Heaven or Hell. Good or Evil. God or you. Right? Well, I don't believe that we're that limited."

"Go on," Lou sat back in his seat.

"Free will, y'see. The soul is on an eternal journey, not meant to be stuck in one place after it's done here. I think you and your mate God have nicked a couple million souls each simply by default. I'd wager that most of the souls that either one of yous got would have told you both to toss it if they'd believed they had more options." Liam took another sip of whiskey and smiled.

"Really..."

"Don't feel bad, there, Lou. God ain't getting' me, either." Liam finished the whiskey in his glass and stood, patting Lou on the shoulder. "Oh, and to make sure there isn't anything at all misconstrued by me drinking with you, I'll pay for the drinks me self. Don't bother to get up. Nice chatting with you. I'll have Deirdre bring you some more ice." Liam walked over to the bar and after a moment of convincing and pointing, he paid Deirdre for the drinks and gave her a kiss on the cheek, leaving Lou sitting in the booth alone.

"I knew it would be a good day when my Morgan turned 18," Liam said to himself as he stepped out of the pub onto the walk and into the sunshine.