10 Years & 7 months Old
O’ Where art thou, my lord?
My king. My savior. My hope.
I’ve asked and received not.
I’ve sought and found not.
And I’ve knocked and still find myself trapped in this rot.
Or was the fly the answer for what I’ve been asking.
The savior that I’ve been seeking.
The angel that you’ve sent to hark my knocking.
Am I supposed to know my lord of your words in silence?
Or am I supposed to find faith in his words that answered?
It was a little something written by Suzie Lee and it was meant to be for her eyes only. But Beelzebub decided to take it off her hands and read it as Suzie watched from her bed.
“I know it’s a mish-mash of Shakespeare and something you probably heard somewhere on TV and church—but not bad. Not bad for a ten-year-old” Beelzebub remarked. “But ‘Hark‘? Is that word being used correctly here?”
It had been a long while since she had seen Beelzebub. To the devil’s surprise, the girl only seemed a bit startled when he appeared from the corner of her room.
Beelzebub thought the room was quite an ordinary room for a ten-year-old girl who summoned the devil. Books, dolls, a desk, and a bed. The walls were painted pink.
“How you doing, kid? Been a while.” Beelzebub sat by Suzie on the bed. “That’s mean. I know you’re not all sunshines right now, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.”
From the living room below, there was a gentle rumble of noise that’d come and go as if it was the palpitations of the house. Every once in a while either a male or a female voice would shred through the rumble and you’d be able to make out a word or two. And sometimes, both would scream and stomp and Suzie would get embarrassed that perhaps she wasn’t alone as she felt and others would find out. Or maybe they already knew.
“Why didn’t you come back since then? People didn’t believe me,” Suzie asked with a little trace of sorrow.
“Are you mad?” Beelzebub asked playfully. “You know people would literally kill to have me show up. And look at you. Not a drop of blood on you. No goats. No lambs. No virgins. Nada. I should be the one that’s mad!”
“No, I’m not mad,” Suzie answered with a smile. The devil smiled back.
“I figured you were probably busy. Probably doing some important stuff.”
“And I was,” Beelzebub walked by the room’s door.
Suzie’s mom raised her voice. Then the dad raised his even higher.
“Do they ever just go at it?” Beelzebub asked.
“You… are not an angel are you?” Suzie carefully asked. “What’s your name?”
“I’m an angel,” Beelzebub answered. Suzie’s eyes widened. “Though not the kind that you may mean. Name’s Beelzebub.”
“They do. They used to hide it before,” Suzie decided to answer the devil’s after all though she seemed a little confused by what Beelzebub meant. “Can I call you Beezy?”
“No. No you may not,” Beelzebub replied.
“Why?” Suzie asked.
Beelzebub chose not to answer.
An awkward silence wafted across the room.
“I feel like I started it,” Suzie finally confessed.
“I said something. They started arguing. And then mom said something about this is why I lie about you. And I said you were real. Then they started fighting.”
“Ah,” Beelzebub made his way back to Suzie’s bed and sat next to her once again.
“I didn’t even get to finish my lasagna,” Suzie buried her face into her knees.
“So, that’s why you called for me?” Beelzebub’s eyes lit up a bit. “Not the lasagna but because of your parents?”
The child didn’t answer.
“Well, I’m flattered that you’ve thought of me but just so we’re clear. I’m not working for Him,” Beelzebub pointed up. “Whatever you and I decide to do—it’ll be between just you and I.”
“I see,” Suzie’s eyes were moist and left spots on her pants.
“Promise your soul and I’ll make sure your parents stay together,” Beelzebub stood and offered his hand with a grin.
Suzie stared at the devil in silence. Contemplating his offer. The moment lasted long enough for Beelzebub to feel a bit awkward.
“No,” the girl finally answered.
“No. I think it’ll be better for them if they just got divorced,” Suzie wiped away her tears. “It’ll make me sad and I’ll miss having them both very much but it’s what’s best. That’s not why I called you anyway.”
“So what did you call me for then?” Beelzebub sat back down again.
“I just wanted to see again that you were real,” Suzie paused. “And…”
“And I didn’t want to be alone.”
Tears begin to flow down Suzie’s face again. There was a period of time after her infancy where Suzie refused to cry. Even as a child she felt embarrassed and, without being able to form the words for it, Suzie felt like it was a sign of weakness.
Even when she had sand kicked in her face.
Even when she saw her little crush hold hands with another girl.
Or even when her mom and dad said something mean—Suzie refused to cry.
But as she grew older, Suzie found crying easier and more natural. There were more things to cry about than when she was younger. Reasons that she’d never have imagined as a child and types of pain that life can dish out that a young child couldn’t have known.
Life became more complicated and painful as she learned to interpret it. A baby mumbles. A child speaks. An adult expresses. All came at a cost.
But to her credit, crying would be a rare and private affair for Suzie for the rest of her life.
“Is that going to cost me my soul?” Suzie asked.
“Not today,” Beelzebub conceded.
“Well,” Beelzebub thought for a moment. “Unless you want to give me your soul for the lasagna?”
“No,” Suzie giggled. “Why do you want my soul anyway?”
“More the merrier at my kingdom.”
“Hell’s got a pretty bad PR but it’s not what you think,” Beelzebub rubbed Suzie’s head.
“Uh huh,” Suzie brushed away the devil’s hand.
“Why don’t I just tell you a bedtime story so you can fall asleep and I can be on my way.”
“Okay,” Suzie made her way underneath her blanket.
“I’m going to tell you about…” Beelzebub thought carefully about what would be a good bedtime story for a young girl. “…Ghengis Khan. He was fun. Wait till I tell you about what he did with babies.”
“Okay,” Suzie seemed gleeful.
“What’s a PR?”
About three years ago, Michael the Archangel visited Beelzebub’s bar in Hell called The Center after the devil visited the mortal realm to meet Suzie for the first time.
“Brother,” Michael spoke with heavenly grace and paternal stern. “We need to talk.”
“No,” Beelzebub sipped on his drink. “No, we really don’t.”
Other patrons of the bar slowly excused themselves as the gold-haired archangel stared down Beelzebub.
“You know the rules, brother mine,” A seat next to Beelzebub was open but Michael chose to stand. “And you’ve broken them. Why?”
“You see,” Beelzebub clicked his tongue. “You see, Mikey, I don’t relly need to tell you a goddamn thing.”
Michael cringed at Beelzebub taking the Father’s name in vain.
“You have a problem? He has a problem?” Beelzebub walked over to Michael. The devil took a moment to take in the archangel’s anachronistic white robe before grabbing Michael’s hand and folding the archangel’s fingers into a fist.
“Kill me,” Beelzebub said as he placed his forehead on the archangel’s knuckles. “Do it.”
“Don’t be childish, brother,” Archangel lowered his hand.
Beelzebub chuckled. He gave nervous Binkle a look and sat back down. He sipped on his drink and stared at the TV.
The archangel stood and waited for the devil.
“Y’know,” Beelzebub remained focused on the TV. “Your brothers down here and I often wonder why you and Father let us live. Do you even know?”
“I follow His will. I trust that He knows best,” Michael answered.
“So you want to kill us?”
“No, brother. I have no malice in my heart for you and the others. Only pity.”
“Pity,” Beelzebub scoffed and downed his drink. He waved Binkle at for another who glanced at the archangel as he served his master a vodka tonic.
“Get him a juice box or something,” Beelzebub told Binkle.
“You…” Binkle cleared his throat. “…You want a juice box?”
Michael stared Binkle for a moment. Binkle wasn’t sure if his heart had stopped for a moment because of the sheer beauty of the archangel or the fearsome power he posed.
“Yes,” Michael answered. “Do you have the Berry Blast?”
“…Do you have money?” Binkle asked.
“Do you think he has money?” Beelzebub snapped. “Does that robe look like it has pockets? Just put it on my tab.”
Binkle came around the bar and gave the archangel his juice box with the bendy straw. The archangel still refused to sit.
“What is it that you want to do for the girl, Beelzebub? For the humans?” Michael asked after a sip.
“I ANSWER THEM,” Beelzebub finally turned away from the TV. “I. Answer. Their. Prayers. What do you do? When was the last time you were there for them, Michael?”
“It’s not our position to interfere,” Michael placed the juice box on the bar table. “It is against what’s best for them.”
“What’s best for them? Okay,” Beelzebub stood and faced the archangel again. “What do you know what’s best for them? Whatever He told you was best for them? Where were you when a kid prayed for his mother to be saved as he watched her being beaten, raped and then chopped off limb by limb? Where were you when the parents are crying for His grace as their baby dies? Where–”
“Do NOT question my love for them brother!” Michael interrupted the devil. “DO NOT THINK FOR A SECOND THAT I DO NOT FEEL THE PAIN FOR THEIR SUFFERING!”
“THEN TELL ME WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM BEING HAPPY!”
By now, the bar was empty. There was only Binkle, Beelzebub, and Michael. Binkle slowly descended below the bar table and held his knees tight and hoped that he’d make it through the day.
“Why can’t they just live happy lives? Why can’t we just help them have happy lives? What’s the point? Why all this? Isn’t being happy enough? Suffering will happen anyway so why not let them be as happy as they can be?” Beelzebub asked after what Binkle thought was too long of a silence.
“The meaning of their lives isn’t happiness,” Michael answered. “Life isn’t about being happy. You’ve never understood that Beelzebub.”
“Or I understand fine and you and Him are just wrong,” After a short staring contest, Beelzebub sat backdown.
“Humans,” Beelzebub grabbed a nacho that Binkle had prepared for him earlier. “I don’t think even he knows what he has spawned.”
“Hold your tongue brother.”
“I AM THE PROOF OF HIS FLAWS,” Beelzebub threw the basket of nachos. “Otherwise, why am I the way I am?”
“Or you’re part of his plans,” Michael calmly replied.
“Jesus,” Beelzebub spat and switched his attention back to the TV. “We are the ones who can provide salvation to His slaves. All of us here are proof that something was wrong with His plans. We’re here because we want to show Him that we don’t need someone like Him. We choose to be free. Even if the cost is losing Him.”
There was no point in talking to the devil. Their conversations were echoes from the many similar conversations of the past.
“Answer me, Beelzebub,” Michael said as he headed for the exit. “What is love to you?”
“What is love?” Beelzebub didn’t turn to look at his angelic brother even as he left. “You tell me.”
“Something beyond happiness. Something beyond the present.”
The door closed behind the archangel.
The devil sipped on his drink as he turned up the volume of the TV.
His bartender placed in front of him some olives
There would be no other customers that evening.
Last drinks were served.
The TV turned off.
And the two retired quietly into the night.
Re-reading Part 2 to post on the blog reminded me why I ultimately didn’t push forward with this project when I was working on it.
While I’ll save all of my comments until the end for those who may be enjoying it so far, a short answer is a sort of a writer’s block that I got distracted away from when I had other projects come up.
And just for the record, these are un-edited so it might be rough in some parts and probably would have benefited quite a bit from going through the refinery i.e. an editor as all writing stuff tends to do.
Thanks for reading!