She saw him in the doorway, all glowing and brilliant. His magnificent bronze wings fluttered in greeting. Who said all demons were bad? “Sit down, Dark Lord. I was just having breakfast.”
He looked quiet this morning, which was alright. She didn’t mind carrying the conversation. In fact she didn’t mind anything as long as she was away from her mother’s sick room.
Fifteen years caring for her mother. Listening to a lost life, a life lived and ended sadly when illness and old age finally encroached upon the mediocre life that was there.
“Frances! Frances I want you!”
Frances sighed and glanced over at her demon. “You see, you see how it is?”
Dark Lord told her he understood. He knew because he came from hell and could always recognize someone else’s purgatory. Purgatory because Frances and all the Franceses who are driven nuts get mean and wind up toe dipping in the lake of fire no matter what they do. They get a taste of perdition beforehand. All the damned knew that.
“I know how you suffer, Frances.”
Frances closed her eyes. His voice sounded so caring. He understood everything.
She was being summoned again. She wanted him to go with her, but he rarely did because he scared the old woman. “She sees me you know. She didn’t always but she does now.”
Frances understood that because it took her years of pain and anguish to see him herself.
Her mother called her name again. So she’s off, shuffling her flat feet along the dusty floors toward her mother’s room.
A big smile full of perfectly honed false teeth greet her. “Good morning, Frances.”
“Morning.” Frances replied, reaching for the full bed pan.
Yeah it’s a tough life—no one gets out alive.
It’s early but the room is already hot. It faces the Harlem River and the last river breeze passed out and died somewhere on a Washington Heights’ street hours ago.
“Sleep well?” Her mother doesn’t always answer it depends on her mood or perhaps her increasing dementia. Actually Frances does feel sorry for her, it’s Mom’s purgatory too. “I can put the fan on.”
The fan starts up but it sounds like it’s shuffling cards.
“Can’t you make it quiet? It used to be quiet.”
Quiet, I remember quiet, Frances thinks. It goes with peace.
“No, it’s fucked up, Mom.”
Her mother winced. She hated swear words. “Frances please.”
Ah yes, the famous proclamation declared intermittently that all that is horribly wrong is actually alright.
“I’ll get your breakfast.”
Breakfast and lunch and dinner too, and then it starts all over again with work tomorrow. Perhaps Dark Lord might come along just for fun.
She never took him with her to work before. He was like that, aloof and sometimes difficult to figure out but he did seem to understand her need to have him finally come with her.
“Of course I will go with you, Frances. It is my pleasure.”
Ah pleasure, that was something she was sadly short of. At age forty something she was grossly overweight because her only pleasure came from over-eating, ice cream in particular. Pleasure is pleasure after all.
Ten minutes on the subway and they had arrived.
“This is it, Dark Lord.”
He was very impressed, she could tell the way he was nodding.
Into the lobby they went and across to the elevator. “It’s on ten, Ten East, nuts are us—the psychiatric ward!” She expected him to smile, but he didn’t. “Watch your step!”
Buzzers and metal rattling and they’re inside.
A few of the other nurses greeted her, although a bit warily. She was after all Head Nurse and they were just little shits next to her.
She was eyeing each of them carefully to see if they saw her own personal demon. She could see none of them did.
Dark Lord would tell her later how proud he was of her. “It’s a demanding job you have here, Frances. You should be quite proud of yourself.”
She told him she was. They were in the nurses’ lounge when she told him that and more: “They’ll be nurses’ notes next at shift change. You’ll find that interesting I’m sure.”
He did. She kept glancing up at him as the nurses notes were read aloud all about bowel movements and medication and new arrivals.
It was a good night only one suicide attempt.
At last it was time to go on the ward. She had already briefed him.
“They’re mostly all delusional although some are catatonic. They’re a nurse’s best friend. They just sit around and aren’t any trouble at all. The doctors can be a major pain in the ass though. The one to watch out for is the administrator’s husband. But he rarely comes up--just when he has to, usually around accreditation time, you’ll be fine.” She declared.
A couple of new patients passed them without noticing him at all.
“They don’t see you.”
Dark Lord smiled. “Oh but they do, look!”
Frances turned and saw they had gone down on their knees apparently paying Dark Lord homage. “Isn’t it nice the respect you get?”
Dark Lord smiled. “It makes it all worthwhile.”
They had decided to go to the movies after work. She thought Donnie Darko was appropriate even though Dark Lord wanted to see The Devil’s Advocate. Well he was a fan of Pacino.
They were just leaving the hospital when they passed two cops. One looked after them. “Hey, Frank! Did you see that?!”
His partner looked but all he saw was a fat lady in white waddle past.
© copyright 2011 Carole Gill
“Carole Gill’s talent is a wonder to experience. She has the uncanny ability to craft horrors imbued in fairy tale finesse.”
“House of Horrors is a fine addition to my Kindle, and I’m sure I’ll be going to read this again and again…”
“A veritable blood feast for vampire fans everywhere!”
“If you are a fan of horror, you won't want to miss this one!! High marks to Ms. Gill.”
“There are so many different monsters in this book the no matter what your biggest fear is or your favorite one to read about you are gonna find it without fail.”
“I grew up with horror legends such as King, Koontz, Poe, Shelley, Stoker and I added Gill to that list.”