It’s November! Time for another story. This month’s story is Lucy In Love.
LUCY IN LOVE
Originally published by Glassfire: January 2007
(C) Hank Quense 2007
Lucy — nee Lucrezia Borgia — sat her desk in the small office. Besides the desk and chair, the Spartan workplace contained a battered file cabinet and a droopy potted plant. Through the plate glass front window she watched people hustle past on the sidewalks of Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The window needed cleaning and, like the Italians in the 1500’s, so did many of the pedestrians.
In the rear office, her father, Pope Alexander VI — a.k.a. Rodrigo Borgia — fussed around, nervous about the first day of business because Satan had expressed an interest in the operation and wanted reports. Satan hated failure, and as Pope, Alex had demonstrated success in only one area; raising money to wage wars.
A short, skinny man in jeans, a tattered sweat shirt and a baseball cap with a white NY on it, stopped to look at the sign in the window that read Malevolent Money Management. He squinted through the glass and saw her. She waved at him.
Seconds later, he stood in front of her desk and said, “You do loans?” Despite the warmth of the late spring weather, he shivered beneath his sweat shirt.
“Yes, we do, and we have very competitive rates.”
“I need money.” The man spoke in a croaky voice.
Lucy punched a number into the phone. “I have a client who wants a loan. Are you available to speak with him?”
“Send him in,” Alex said.
“Follow me, please.” Lucy stood and smoothed the old-fashioned pleated skirt she wore, the most modern garment she could find in Hell’s wardrobe department. She simply had to go shopping. She opened the door and stood aside for the client to enter.
“This is Mr. Gomez,” she said to Alex before she took a seat to watch how Alex dealt with his first client.
Gomez stood at the door, shocked by the sight of Alex who wore a white cassock and had a full beard that reached below his chest. It reminded people of a squirrel’s nest. Alex had a beak of a nose so great that in profile he resembled a bird of prey. Lucy wanted him to wear a business suit but Alex refused, saying that as a Pope, he was entitled to wear the white cassock.
“Good day, Mr. Gutterez,” Alex said.
Lucy silently groaned as Alex blinked, frowned and said, “Our standard loan is five thousand dollars for three years. Do you understand?”
“Do you have any collateral, Mr. Gonzelves?”
“Gomez. No I don’t.”
“Gomez, you say. I thought I had a meeting with Gonzelves.” Alex looked at Lucy. “Where is he?”
“There is no Gonzelves.” She shook her fist at Alex. “There’s just Mr. Gomez.”
Alex started and turned away from Lucy’s glare. “Well. With no collateral, I’m afraid we’ll have to apply our top interest rate to this loan.” Alex extracted a sheet of paper from a folder. “Your payments,” he read, “calculated at one percent interest, will be $141.04 per month.” Reaching into a drawer, he took out a blank contract and filled it in. “Look this over carefully. Our company is very adamant about on-time monthly payments.”
Gomez glanced through the paper.
“If you’ll sign,” Alex gave him a toothy smile, “my assistant will write a check in your name for five big ones.”
“I don’t get cash?”
“Of course not. If we kept large amounts of cash in the office, every criminal in Northern Manhattan would be lined up outside our door to steal it.”
Gomez sighed and, with a shaky hand, scrawled an illegible signature.
Lucy took him to her desk and typed a check. “This is drawn on Diablo Off-Shore Trust Company in the Bahamas.”
Diablo — run by dead bankers — was Hell’s biggest money launderer. It generated a ton of cash for other ventures.
“Have a nice day, Mr. Gomez.”
Gomez looked euphoric as he took the check and left.
Lucy sat back in her chair pondering the remote chances of Gomez ever making a payment. The fine print – exceptionally fine print — in the contract stipulated the loss of his soul if he was late with a payment. Satan insisted that the condition be added to all contracts issued by his realm. It was part of his Ambivalent Truthfulness campaign designed to counter Heaven’s propaganda about Hell’s deceit.
She sensed a presence in the office and felt a tendril of trepidation. She focused her eyes on a building across 73rd Street while scanning the room with her peripheral vision. For an instant, she glimpsed a pair of small wings. A cherub! Just opened and already Heaven spied on the loan office.