by Whitney R. Holp
Doris sat inside the farmhouse window and waited. A tumbler of whiskey and some sugar-cubes were on a tray on the porch, which she had placed there earlier. So far they sat neglected, but she was patient. She sat there and waited, watching as dusk fell upon the land; and with the darkening increments, a raccoon came sniffing. It poked its head around the corner of the house, looking both ways to be sure the coast was clear, then hopped up. The raccoon picked one of the sugar-cubes, sniffed, then licked tentatively, and commenced munching and crunching the mineralized sweetness. It paused to lap a few tongue-loads from the tumbler then took another sugar-cube. The raccoon repeated the procedure and Doris watched, as she had for every night since her husband was gone.
She yawned. It was late and she had to work early tomorrow if it snowed. She had been up all night playing VLTs and only came home when the bar closed. As a dispatcher for a cargo company this was not a good vice, for it made her all spinny and disordered, but it was her vice, one she favored above all others. If it snowed then they would need an extra person taking lines and if she hadn’t slept enough then she would likely make a few mistakes. Sometimes she dreamed about those VLT screens rolling with numbers: 11…72…36…88…93… waiting for the jackpot.
Doris got up and went out onto the porch. The raccoon looked up at her, scared out of its wits. In all the years of their little ritual it never saw the provider of these blessings and was startled by the benefactor’s sheer enormity in proportion to itself. Then it burped and fell over. Doris looked down at the little creature sadly and pulled out a cigarette, placing it between her lips and held it there without lighting it. She didn’t smoke, but her husband did, and often he would stand out here in the evenings like she was doing now, smoking a cigarette and watching the night envelope the world.
“Going to have a dart,” he would say before he stepped out. She never went with him when he did; she thought the habit grotesque and couldn’t bear to watch. But also she knew it was a brief moment he would take to himself, allowing a train of thought to form without scrutiny. She still missed him, even after all these years. It had been so long since he was gone, she sometimes struggled to imagine what it was really like when he was around. Strangely she found herself emulating certain gestures of his, shaping a word the way he would, resuming abandoned practices. It was her only way to hold onto him now. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be, and doing this was all she had left.
From the porch she had a good view of the yard. Most of the lawn had been graveled over to reduce maintenance. Across from the house and some distance away was an old barn. There was also an abandoned chicken-coop in the bush with a small shed. These buildings hadn’t hosted any lifeforms since her husband departed. Nowadays she parked her car in the barn during winter so it wouldn’t freeze, but tonight she had it near the house because she was gonna have to go the office in a few hours.
She looked to the sky, scanning for recognizable constellations. And oh yes, there was the North Star, and the Big Dipper… and the Little One… there’s the Scorpion …Sirius… Andromeda… Mars… and over there, its predecessor, the Morning Star, Venus. It glowed when she saw it, a sustained pulse, one that swelled. Then she realized that what she was looking at wasn’t the morning star at all, it was something in the sky, and it was getting closer. It grew and grew, this flaring ember of light, and there was a faint whooshing sound as it descended, accelerating.
Doris panicked―it was coming straight for her! She ran around in a circle and then stopped and turned to watch its approach. The air filled with light as it fell, emanating from a fiery fetal ember burning at its core. Suddenly the barn exploded from impact as the fire-ball hit it, the entire structure seemed to explode, pieces soaring. Dust and chaff and smoke billowed out mushrooming, and as it cleared Doris could see the dancing flicker of a robust fire burning in the empty space where the barn had been.
At first she didn’t know what to do. Doris turned to rush into the house and call the police, the fire department, anyone, someone who could help her. But she stopped and turned back to the blazing ruins. Those people could do nothing; something just fell from the sky and destroyed her barn. The police would look around and ask questions and make a file on the case; the fire department would put out the flames. But what good was that? Doris had no insurance on the building. It was wrecked now anyway, so who cares, let it burn.
She walked over there and found a human figure lying miraculously unhurt amid the debris. It was a naked man who had wings, and he looked at her with a face that was beyond gendered beauty, it was utterly perfect in its proportions. Bizarre though it seemed, this was almost certainly an angel, one of those celestial transhumanoids spoken of in certain holy books.
“Dear God,” said Doris. “Are you all right?”
“I think I broke my leg,” said the man. “It hurts like a bitch.” He tried to stand and fell down.
“Jesus! Let me help you,” said Doris and rushed to him. She ducked under his armpit and helped lift him to his proper height, which was over a foot taller than she. His left leg was indeed broken; it had a texture that would make any anatomist shudder. She helped him along the entire way as they limped back to the house together. There inside Doris seated him at the kitchen table and set about brewing some chicken soup and echinacea tea with which to soothe her poor visitor. She offered to call an ambulance but he declined.
“So who or what in God’s name are you anyway?” Doris asked.
“My name is Lucifer. I was cast out from Heaven and I landed here. Sorry about your barn.”
“That’s okay. But I was wondering, if you’re Lucifer, weren’t you cast out from Heaven already? Like, before the existence of humankind and all that?”
“I was, but I’ve been trying to get back. There is a constant draw for us to re-unite our polarities. Zero equals two. Opposites attract and all that. Like a moth going into a flame, but if the moth and the flame were both magnets.”
“Uh, very well. So what are your plans now?”
“I donno. I feel like I have a lot of options. I might go back to Hell and reign as king down there for a while, or I might go roaming around and see what’s happening in this crazy world of yours.”
“How long has your husband been gone?”
“How did you know I have a husband?”
“You’re still wearing the ring.”
Doris looked down and sure enough, there was a plain gold band gripped round the base of her ring-finger. She had never taken it off, not even after the bastard forsook her in this realm.
“You look like you need to get laid. When was the last time you had a ride?”
“I beg your pardon but that’s none of your business.”
“Oh come on. Don’t be offended, darling. I’m Lucifer, remember? I can say whatever I want to. I’ll screw your ass off if you let me. You know what they say, use it or lose it. I heard women start getting cobwebs up there if no one’s cleaning her chimney, if you get what I mean.” He winked salaciously.
Doris couldn’t help but look over her strange visitor then. The man was built like a god; regarding all proportions, he was basically designed for lovemaking.
“Well, all right,” she said.
“Fantastic,” he said, and got up. He lifted her onto the table, setting her down gently, then raised her skirt and spread her legs.
As he slid into her Doris had an image of a coffin, she was at a funeral, and as the horned angel started thrusting into her she imagined advancing upon this coffin, coming closer to it and she could see someone lying in it, Lucifer’s hips grinding against hers, pushing it all the way in, her husband was lying in that coffin, the skin of his face lying slack over the shape of his skull like a mask, her legs wrapped around the Devil’s butt, pulling him closer, deeper, she imagined leaning down to bestow a final kiss upon her husband’s lips, a fever pounding away inside her, reaching out as a molten gush flooded within to close the lid and seal off his face forever.
Her husband was dead. She would never see him again.
Lucifer pulled out, his dick still erect, and looked at her with a lascivious grin. “Damn,” he said, lighting a cigar. “That was awesome. Did you know they don’t allow fucking in Heaven?”
Doris struggled to focus. She could barely see; her head was spinning. She looked away from her strange visitor and spaced-out for an indeterminate period of time. When she looked back, he was gone. She got up then and staggered through the house out onto the porch. There was still some whiskey left in the tumbler. She sat down and slugged it back. Her head began to clear. She hadn’t felt better in years.