Sunday, February 26, 2017
The face in the mirror wasn’t too bad for such a quick turnaround. And the outfit was clean, professional and covered the tattoos. Her spiky hair brushed out nicely for once and it was tossed up in a neat blonde bun. A quick check showed only the slightest pink and green streaks. Party Kelly had been put away and replaced with a professional, responsible young woman, ready to take on any and all public relations nightmares.
This was the first real job interview in a while, six months at least. Yeah, she’d heard all about the slow economy and whatnot. Everyone thought she was doomed to wait tables the rest of her life. After all, it was all she had done since high school.
It was time to prove them wrong.
The job offer was weird, though. And how it came was weirder. The old man wandering in before closing last night. Balding, with grey fringe, he seemed OK for an old guy. There was a twinkle in his eye. Maybe Santa on his day off? At least he wasn’t a drunk. Suchita had finished her side work and offered to take him. But the man had requested her to wait on him. The coffee only order made things easier. Oh, there were a couple of lame flirting attempts. Kelly just laughed. He might be a sweet old man, but no way she was going home with him. She wasn’t that dumb, or that lonely.
But the voice! She could listen to it all night. Morgan Freeman mixed with vodka. It thrilled her to her core.Since he was the only customer left, there was plenty of time to talk
His name was Luke. He had traveled far and wide Stories of Europe and Asia took her mind to all sorts of places. Never married, though. Said women would just have tied him down, although he hinted at more that few hot nights. . All this said with a wink and a smile. Kelly spoke of her family and the lack of opportunities in the small town and her loser boyfriend. Her contribution to the conversation made her depressed. But Luke smiled and that made her feel better.
The last hour flew. Last call came and the old man handed Kelly a piece of paper. Said a friend of his had a job needing her expertise and she should be their at 9:00 AM. He turned at went out the door as Kelly’s widened green eyes stared as he disappeared into the night..
Expertise? What expertise? She was the friendly waitress with the rainbow spikes and gap-tooth smile. The only thing she had done since high school really was party, and she had the scars to prove it. But she did admit she had a way with her customers. They were better than her family toward her. Always asking how she was doing and tipping her well.
Without thinking, she looked at the paper. DQ Communications, 666 Dominion Street. Odd, no phone number was included. The street name wasn’t familiar. Must be in the fancy part of town. What if she got lost? She did have the GPS Daddy gave her. It will get her there. She hustled to finish up. Got to get some sleep if she was ever going to escape this place.
The sun was in her eyes while she looked for the address. Traffic seemed really light for a morning rush hour.
"Turn left. Your destination is 100 yards on the right..."
The voice on the GPS always reminded her of fingernails on a chalkboard. She only used it in times like these, where getting there important. To Kelly, getting lost was part of the fun of traveling. How else would you find new places? Waiting for the light, she looked at her destination
Grey glass looming high over the street. 666 Dominion Street was an impressive place. Must be twenty stories or more. A small sign at the curb noted the existence of DQ Communications. Parking the car, she took one last look in the mirror. No smudges, nothing between her teeth, nothing that indicated she was just another girl with broken dreams. Taking a deep breath, she opened the car door and walked confidently into the building.
The lobby was impressive, paneled in brushed metal and wood. A reception desk was centered in front of two elevator. The red coated woman smiled in recognition and handed her a visitors badge..
“Kelly, right? We have been expecting you. Please take the car to your right.”
Unlike most elevators, this one only had a scan pad. Passing the badge her hand over pad caused the doors to snick open, showing a mirrored interior. A feeling of unease came over her as she stepped in. Soft, relaxing music played as the doors closed. The elevator began descending. Descending? The friend’s office was in the basement? The car come to a halt.
The doors reopened showing a stark white room with a small desk in the center. There were chairs on each side. Luke's disembodied voice called out.
"Good Morning, Kelly. So glad you could make it. Please have a seat and I'll will be out shortly."
Her apprehension grew as she stepped out. Where had the voice come from? No speakers were visible anywhere. This had to be a mistake. Turning back to the elevator, the doors were gone, replaced with another blank white wall. Holding out her hand, it was cold to the touch.
"Don't worry, Kelly. There has been no mistake. Please. Sit down."
As she turned back, there was Luke. He was now dressed in a black suit with a contrasting red vest.
"I'm so glad you could make it. It isn't often I get pretty ladies here."
Kelly's eyes widened.
“An explanation is order. While I did introduce myself as Luke last night, my full name is Lucifer J. Beezelbub. I am the founder and CEO of Devil's Quill Communications. We use the initials DQ to fly under the radar, so to speak."
Noticing the fear on her face, he tried to calm her.
"It's not what you think, Dear. You haven't gone to Hell. That is only for the really bad ones that fail the evaluation. No, we are under contract with The Maker to run quality control on those whose time has come."
Curiosity overcame fear.
"My time has come? You mean I’ve... Wouldn't I have known something about that?"
"Not likely. Not many people know it, but everyone comes out of Maker Industries with an expiration date tattooed underneath the hairline on the back of the neck. Even when you put your hair up, like you have it now, it usually stays hidden. The only ones I have ever known to find it are chemotherapy patients and even then their rarely recognize the date. Since you are here, let me show you yours."
He shuffled around a drawer in his desk and brought out a two piece hairdressing mirror. Putting it up to Kelly's head, she could clearly see yesterday's date underneath mousy brown roots. She began to cry. Lucifer put his arm around her shoulder and whispered in her ear.
"We almost missed you. Now let's get your evaluation started."
The medical examiner wheeled the body out of the restaurant. In the corner, the detective handed Suchita a tissue. Nodding appreciation, she blew her nose and took a deep breath.
"It was so sudden, Lieutenant. Kelly was sitting there talking to this old guy when she just collapsed." Dabbing her eyes. "Like she had been touched, or something."
"What did this old guy look like?"
"Nothing special. Older than you, maybe 65. White with a grey beard. He had on this red cardigan sweater that looked like Hell, but other than that, I can't remember. He was gone even before we called 911."