The Worst Art Teacher in Hell

devil's_santa

I got a job working in Hell.

Lucifer doesn’t speak English, so that’s something.

“He understands a bit, so be careful,” the math teacher tells me. We work at the school for kids of wealthier residents. I teach art. There isn’t a Staples in Hell, but there is a printer.

I hand out the worksheet; a color by numbers. Lucifer’s son sits in the front right corner, as always. He’s a sweet kid. I think the other teachers baby him too much. When I hand him the printout, Santa with Rudolph and a bag of toys, he colors the whole thing purple. I give him a high five. He smiles, his teeth are razor sharp, but white. At the end of my hour, the math teacher comes to collect the kids.

She goes pale. I follow her gaze. The purple Santa looks up at her.

“Oh no!”

Lucifer’s son looks at his drawing, then up at the math teacher.

“You have to fix this,” she says, in a panic.

I frown. “He’s four,” I remind her.

She shakes her head. “No–no.”

She walks over to the desk and pulls a fresh Santa from my pile.

“Here, you have to fix it.”

Lucifer’s son looks about to cry. I cross my arms.

“No.”

She turns to Lucifer’s son. She picks up his drawing and crumples it into a ball.

“Again,” she growls at him, in Latin. She turns back to me.

“You help him.”

She walks out before I can protest, taking all of the other students with her. I sigh and sit down.

“Come on.”

I pat him on the head, he manages not to cry. Together, we color in Santa. It is pristine, red. I write his name at the top, a little askew to make it look as a child might have done it.

Lucifer’s son looks at his own name, he nods, knowingly.

“Go to math,” I tell him, in Latin.

Before he goes, he hugs me. I can’t help smiling even though his teeth cut my leg a bit.

Once he is gone I flip over his drawing. On the back I start writing:

2+3=7

5+2=9

1+6=3

The Devil is in the Details

detailed_devil

We were too drunk to drive home. So, we drove to Denny’s.

We settle ourselves at a table. It is red, raw from the endless scraping of plaster plates and cheap silverware. Harry looks around.

“Denny’s is where the devil goes to take a shit, I’m sure of it,” he says, eyeing a group of men in stained white T-shirts speaking Spanish in the corner. I roll my eyes. A waitress approaches the table.

She is old, molded from the innards of a grease trap and baptized in sour black coffee. She doesn’t ask, but we give our orders anyways. She takes our menus and leaves us.

She is back in a disturbingly short amount of time. Harry looks down at his food.

“You know,” he says, picking a pancake up between two fingers, “it is a clear cut sign that someone is off. I mean, if you ask ‘where’d you go for breakfast?’ and they say ‘Denny’s’, you know something is wrong with them.” He drops the pancake. It bounces. I take a sip of coffee and frown.

“Harry, we are at Denny’s,” I remind him.

“Yes,” he says, dowsing his entire plate in syrup, “but we are drunk.”

He begins shoveling up heaping fork-fulls of viscous mush. I sit back with my coffee and stare at my food.

“Better eat it before it starts eating itself,” Harry mumbles through a wet sticky mouth. I take a few bites. I put my fork down. My stomach, already sagging with shame, groans.

“Be back,” I inform Harry. I make my way towards the bathroom. The saloon-style doors into the back¬†swing toward me. I step aside. A man walks through. He looks at me; his right eye, black, left — for some reason — green. He smiles and his teeth glint in the dull light. I shudder as he passes.

I didn’t plan to vomit when I entered the bathroom, but the state of things makes it unavoidable.

I get back to the table, paler. Harry groans, his plate wiped clean. I push mine aside. I look around the room. A woman sits at a table close to ours. Her clothes are tight, her skin, loose. Beside her, a small boy stabs his fork into a stack of pancakes, over, and over. I turn back to Harry.

“Is there a point to life?” I blurt out.

Harry raises an eyebrow at me. “I thought we came here to sober up?”

I shrug.

Harry looks around the room, “ask me when we get out of here,” he decides.