Once a week, an angel called Dave and a demon called Aaron meet in a coffee shop to catch up and shoot the shit…
‘Alright, Dave, you want the usual?’
‘Yes, please, that would be fabulous.’
Aaron snorted and ambled up to the counter. The server was different from normal. Far more attractive. He painted on his most charming smile.
‘Good morning, sir, can I help you?’ She asked.
‘I hope so, but I’m not sure Gurman would agree.’
Aaron leant closer. ‘You can help me by letting me take you out the back and do the things to you Gurman refuses to. You know, those things.’
She coloured and stared at the till. ‘I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know what you mean. What would you like to drink?’
‘That’s impressive. Here, try this.’ Aaron turned up the power on the smile and slipped in just a little bit of magic. The girl, whom he already knew was called Jasmina, simpered and glanced over her shoulder.
‘What about Gurman?’ She tried.
‘What about Gurman? He’s not here and I am. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.’
Fifteen minutes later, Aaron sauntered back to the table bearing a hot chocolate and a latte. He set the latter down in front of Dave and settled himself opposite. He sipped his hot chocolate before rearranging his trousers.
‘I wish you wouldn’t do that.’ Dave muttered.
‘Take advantage. You could have scarred her for life.’
‘Scarred her? She’s just had the best fifteen minutes of her—’
‘Because that’s worth boasting about.’
‘Ha, that’s rich coming from a two thousand year old virgin.’
‘Hey, I still know fifteen minutes isn’t going to change someone’s life.’
‘Oh yeah?’ Aaron leant back, grinning as he rested one long arm on the back of the chair. ‘Just watch. By the time we leave here, her life will have changed.’
‘Right, whatever, I just wish you’d leave them alone.’
‘Why? This is what we do, in case you hadn’t noticed.’
‘No it’s not. We help people.’
‘Why do we have to have this conversation every time? Why does every week begin the same way?’
‘Because every week you come in here grinning like a Cheshire cat and make me wonder why I ever agreed to this.’
‘You agreed to it because, deep down, you want to be just like me.’
‘Never.’ Dave folded his arms and sat up straighter. ‘I could never be like you. I could never torture someone.’
‘Yeah, well,’ Aaron waved a hand, ‘there’s not really that much torture in it.’
‘How can a demon not torture people?’
‘Hey, I didn’t say I don’t torture people. I just said that isn’t the largest part of the job.’
‘Fine.’ He sniffed. ‘How was your week?’
‘Oh come on, Dave, don’t be grumpy. This is the highlight of my week, don’t be a moany bastard.’
The angel sagged, letting his hands rest on the table. He looked at them for a minute, scowling, then sipped his latte and nodded. ‘Fine. Sorry, I won’t be grumpy.’
‘How was your week?’
‘That’s better.’ Aaron grinned. Nothing better than angels for doing exactly what you asked. Just throw a teensy bit of emotional blackmail in there and they were suckers every time. There was a chance he should feel guilty, what with him and Dave having met every week for the last several hundred years, but seeing as he didn’t actually feel guilt, or much of anything beyond pleasure, it soon faded.
‘My week’s been good. We had loads of new arrivals, so it’s been busy. Man, tell me, what’s the admissions process like for you guys?’
‘It sucks. You’d think we’d have it down, but every time I have to go down there, I last about five minutes before I run away. The seraphim have a system, apparently, but it looks pretty much like making the new entrant fill out the same form seven times, then making them wait for a few hours, then letting them in anyway.’
‘What are you gonna do, send them away?’
‘Exactly. My thought is, why bother with it at all?’ Dave glanced over his shoulder and ducked as the rebellious thought escaped his mouth.
‘Do you know, we have whole sections of hell put aside purely for form filling in. We have guys down there who’ve spent the last few decades filling out forms 24/7. It’s brilliant. Their hands are like claws and they can’t stop crying.’
‘Yep, that sounds like admissions.’
‘So yeah, busy but good. They want me to go up a level in a couple of months, start taking on more private clients. Apparently, we have more exclusive souls these days who need something a little more specialised to find true damnation.’
‘What do you think?’
‘Dunno. Could be fun. It’ll be different and that’s always good. I’m not sure whether I’ll get the same buzz from it, though. I’m so used to working with groups. That one on one thing isn’t really me.’
‘You might get used to it.’
‘Yeah, we’ll see. How about you?’
Dave sniffed and sipped his coffee. ‘My week was atrocious.’
‘Oh, how come?’
‘Didn’t you get new targets six months ago?’
‘It was a year, but yes. These are far worse.’
‘Is that even possible?’
‘I’m supposed to be saving three souls a day. Times past, it was one a week and that was before the world went to crap. These days, hitting one a month’s considered good.’
‘So how are you ever gonna manage three a day?’
‘I’m not, no one is. Even Michael wouldn’t have a hope. They know that. The big man knows that, but he’s got pressure same as the rest of us.’
‘Right, cos there’s so many people who put pressure on him.’
‘You’d be amazed.’
‘So if no one’s gonna make it, why does it bother you?’
‘Why do you think? I’m an angel, I have to try.’
‘So every day I fail to meet my target and every day the weight of that failure feels like I’ve been kicked in the testicles.’
‘Dave, you’re two thousand years old, is there really no way I can convince you to call them balls?’
‘Absolutely not. Do you understand why I’ve had such a terrible week?’
‘Yeah, I get it. You really should come and join my side. There’s pressure, but if it gets too bad, you just damn a few people and feel better.’
‘Why do our meet ups always begin and end the same way?’
A shout came from the back of the cafe and they turned to see Aaron’s latest conquest throw her apron into the face of a man in a suit. She thrust her middle finger up at him as she marched out from behind the counter. ‘That’s what I think of your damned job.’
Without another word she strode from the coffee shop, flashing Aaron a smile on the way. The demon lazed back in his chair and folded his hands behind his head. ‘Like I said, changed her life.’
Dave sniffed and sipped his latte.