As Adam stood in front of the store and gazed into the empty room, another reflection appeared in the glass. A crotchety old man’s image was captured in the window, ambling toward him from the street. Though he looked nothing like the octogenarian seen on television, Adam was reminded of the televangelist, whose prophecies now haunted him as he considered Satan’s words. Unlike the first old man, who wore a threadbare suit and clerical collar, this stranger wore the baggy and tattered clothes of the vagrant. In contrast to the televangelist’s shiny baldhead and clean-shaven face, he sported a shock of filthy matted white hair. Like other unwashed bums, his hands were filthy and he exhibited a stubbly gray beard. The televangelist had comported himself with the authority of a patriarch. Moving slowly, with the feeble shuffle of men his age, the vagrant took his place timidly by Adam’s side. For a moment, Adam expected him to ask him for a handout. In anticipation of the proverbial “hey buddy, got some change?” he handed the apparent panhandler coins from his pocket, hoping he would be on his away.
For a moment, as he held out the change, the annoying little tramp stood there mumbling to himself as burnt out winos often do, looking quizzically down at the coins then looking up with irritation at the young man. Adam understood, after the old man waved querulously at his outstretched hand, that he didn’t want money. He listened with curiosity, unable to understand the man’s gravelly voice at first, as he pointed impatiently at the street. Following the shaky finger to its destination, he tried to decipher the man’s grumbling but saw nothing but emptiness beyond the curb. Skid row was quiet this hour. With the exception of the old man, not one homeless person was afoot. Adam’s mental dialogue with Satan had emotionally drained him. In his fragile state frame of mind, he welcomed any diversion or sign of normalcy, even the ramblings of an old drunk.
As he bent his ear to the irascible voice, he caught sight of a small black cat scampering down the street. Under normal circumstances he might have considered this to be a bad omen, but he felt only pity now for the little beast.
“Every city in the world has castaways,” explained the old man, “but there are one hundred thousand homeless folk in Los Angeles, twenty thousand of whom live on skid row. It is unknown how many of these people lost in this wilderness were once husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, murderers, or thieves. Many of them are still salvageable, if just given the chance…”
Though he had little sympathy for bums, Adam listened patiently to a brief history of Los Angeles’ skid row. According to his new friend, who no longer sounded like a burnt out drunk, “Skid row is an ugly byproduct of the railroad industry in LA. Since Los Angeles was the last stop for rail riders traveling across the country, the area known as skid row became one of the collection points for the “riff-raff” in the USA. Transient workers and folks running away from past lives patronized the cheap hotels, bars, and brothels, which welcomed down-and-out men and women from all walks of life. These early hobos found the climate better in the City of the Angels and found it easier to survive on the street. A sub-culture of vagrants, already familiar throughout US cities, grew along with the working population of LA. During the Great Depression, many unemployed men and women joined the ranks of the homeless culture in skid row. A large influx of undesirables also occurred when mental hospitals begin cutting their budgets by releasing harmless lunatics onto the streets. After the world wars, the Korean, Vietnam, and three Middle Eastern wars, many men, who could not cope with memories of battle also wound up casualties on skid row. Children, whom parents discarded or ran from physical and sexual abuse, often wind up as adult wrecks on the street. As heart rendering as the autistic and schizophrenic men and women are here, worse are the drug addict runaways, down-and-out women, and even children trapped in skid row.
“Supplying homeless folk with meals, temporary refuge, and employment counseling is the Union Rescue Mission of Los Angeles, founded in 1891 by Lyman Stewart, who also founded the Union Oil Company. Unfortunately, due to cutbacks in government funding, entire families are forced to rely on the mission. Did you know that some of these families virtually live on the street? You’ll meet some of them downtown, near the river, and in the parks. Our most immediate concerns, however, are the down-and-out men and women on this street.”
Slow to attach significance to his last words, Adam stared slack-jawed at the speaker. It hadn’t occurred to him yet that the devil had been exorcized from his head. A mortal, even an eccentric street person, was a vast improvement over the evil presence in his mind. Any moment, however, he expected the devil to break its silence as it had before. As he stood looking at his reflection again, the words “our most important concerns” caused him to flash the man the classic double take. From a jerk of the head, Adam then fell into shock, gasping and falling back against the glass as the punch line poured from those ancient lips.
“…. The street is empty now,” the old man seemed to change the subject, “but in less than a hour,” he declared, raising his arms in the air, “it will begin filling up with the castaways of humanity—your new congregation.”
Adam recalled light-headedly the voice in his head. How he had prayed that the dreaded occupation would end. It was not merely silent, he noted with mixed feelings, it was gone. It stood before him now, disguised as a dirty old bum. Hysterical laughter erupted from his unsmiling lips. A lament followed, which Adam halted by pressing a fist against his mouth.
“Don’t look so frightened,” the old man cackled. “Your old church was empty in the beginning, and look how long it took to fill up with those middle class, do-gooder prudes. Look how quickly many of them turned against you because of your wife. Tell me Adam, where is the alleged Christian compassion in your hoped for new age congregation? How long would it have taken for those blue-nose hypocrites to give you the boot?”
“…. The street, on the other hand,” he said after a pause, “is constantly filled with desperate seekers and unhappy souls. On a moment’s notice, a mysterious drifter can strike up a band of these ragamuffins by proclaiming himself a messiah. Just think how much someone like yourself could do with my help!”
The full weight of everything Satan had said now fell heavily upon Adam as he stared at the old man. Satan’s unreasonable expectations and continuing presence were more than he could bear, as his last shreds of sanity seemed to slip away. Now, in the flesh, came the monstrous punch line, so appropriately following the history of skid row.
“Is this what you meant by the universal church,” he cried in disbelief, “—skid row?”
“It’s a beginning,” the old man replied, “and it’s fertile ground.”
“What happened to the stadiums and cathedrals?” Adam shouted. “Where are the banners and the crowds?”
The old man answered, “They were glimpses of the future, not the present. Surely you don’t expect everything to happen all at once! You’re not ready for that.”
“Maybe not at once,” he protested, “but certainly not here!”
“You must start somewhere.” The old man shrugged his shoulders.
“But why this place?” Adam asked in disbelief. “Burbank, Hollywood, Orange County, or anywhere, but why here?”
All Adam could think of at this point was the trick that Satan was playing on upon him now. As he shrank to the pavement again and surveyed his dark domain, the old man cleared his throat to break the quiet.
“Don’t be afraid of the street,” he uttered thoughtfully. “Where you go I am. I can be many people, any place, and at any time; and I can create illusions and work miracles on your behalf. If you’re patient and follow my instructions, you’ll prosper and become the most powerful prelate alive. On the other hand, if you turn your back on me now, I will make you the poorest of men. As you slink through alleys and hide in the shadows, you’ll not only be godless and friendless, you’ll be without a future as well.”
A grim smile twitched on Adam’s stunned face. As he listened to the words from those ancient lips, it sounded so ludicrous. The old man, in playing out his role, seemed to wring out his last ounce of strength as he shook his gnarled fist, but not for a moment could he mistake the look that was cast upon him during his bombast. Those cold black eyes, he knew, had once defied heaven. They had also shown encouragement to Nero, Stalin, and Hitler, and now ruled Hell. They were the eyes that had mocked Christ and were mirrored in the merciless gaze of Nazi storm troopers, Klansmen, and Muslim terrorist groups on their paths of death and destruction, and were the same eyes that followed the deeds of most of mankind…. They were the eyes of Satan, perverse and without compassion and warmth.
“Why do we have to start at the bottom?” Adam asked, looking away from those cold dark eyes.
“Because,” Satan answered cryptically, “at the bottom lies the seed.”
It’s amorphous body now transformed into a series of street people. A blind man with a white cane, sleazy-looking girl in a tight blue dress, hollow-eyed teenage runaway, Hispanic bag lady, and other dirty, misshapen and emaciated derelicts flashed before his eyes, until, finally, a black street hustler, with tattooed and needle-tracked arms, unshaven face, and ragged clothing stepped forth.
“This be as good a place any,” the young black man replied, while rolling a match around in his mouth. “Dis street be full of lost souls, jes like me!”
The accent and cocky demeanor of the young man didn’t distract from his true identity. As the old man and the other specters before and after him, this was just one more manifestation of Satan. To emphasize its magic the match in the young man’s mouth suddenly exploded into a brilliant flame. At that point the latest specter began to dissolve hideously before Adam’s eyes, a mindless grin cracking his melting head. “I’m melting! I’m melting!” His voice gurgled in parody of the Wicked Witch of the West. His body turned to liquid now, as would a melting candle, as he shrunk down to the pavement. Adam stepped back gingerly as the bubbling fluid created a large puddle on the sidewalk and began trickling over the curb and onto the street. As the man’s empty clothes blew away in a gust of hot wind, a miasma the color of candle wax had already stretched amoebically over the street as far as the eye could see. To the limit of his sight a symbolic evil, which Adam now understood to be the beginning of his empire, invaded the land.
Overwhelmed by its latest theatrics, Adam shook his head numbly and asked, “When’s all this suppose to begin?”
“Today,” a voice came breathlessly into his ear. “It’s already begun!”
Startled half out of his wits this time, Adam whirled around to confront the young woman in the tight blue dress paraded earlier before his eyes. Only drug addict hookers would be caught in this part of town. This creature, who was supposed to be a streetwalker, was a common sight uptown in the shopping and business districts. Though she was as much out of place as himself in this part of town, she represented an important element of lowlife found on the street. He sensed now that Satan was about to play another monstrous joke on him.
Moving provocatively down the sidewalk with an exaggerate wiggle in her stride, she glanced coquettishly over her shoulder, as if to say, “Come here big boy,” and waited patiently for him to take the cue. Adam watched with mounting apprehension as she stood there in front of an abandoned and condemned hotel. He did not want to consider the implications in this gesture. After she passed under the marquee into the hotel, he began walking hesitantly toward the building, his heart drumming in his chest. “This can’t be happening,” he mumbled over and over under his breath.
When he reached the entrance of the ramshackle building, he looked into the gaping doorway of what was once an elegant hotel lobby but was now a haunt for derelicts and pallet for gang graffiti. A shaft of light stuck her frosted hair and bare shoulders as she paused in the middle of the room. The words to the song “Devil With The Blue Dress On” surfaced in his mind. Here, waiting for him in the disguise of a prostitute, was the same devil who had tempted Eve. This same devil had also tempted Christ…. Now she was tempting him, beckoning him up a shadowy staircase. After hesitating repeatedly as he moved forward, he followed her slowly up the steps, knowing that he was reaching a point of no return. Her seductive form hung expectantly at the top of the stairs, as would a bride awaiting consummation. At this point, he had no more doubts about what Satan had in mind: Satan, the enchantress, wanted to seduce him in order to make him her own.
For a moment, he lingered in the hall and could not warm up to the idea of making love to the Princess of Darkness. Aside from its factual wrongness, it seemed so utterly perverse. He recalled his wife’s ugly remark about Jesus being a “Queen.” Here, personified in himself, was the stereotype image of the Risen Christ, and he was being lured up a rickety staircase by Satan, who now seemed to be the mother of whores. Before he had a chance or dared to protest, his shaky legs had brought him up the steps into a dimly lit room. She begin stripping down as he followed her into the room, first discarding her sunglasses and her high heels and then managing to wiggle out of her tightly fitting dress, slip, and bra as if there was no time to waste. She settled in a corner of the room where sunlight streamed through boards nailed across the window frame. She stood there quietly, reminiscent of a feral beast, her eyes simmering coals, her anatomically perfect physique poised for action. Under normal circumstances, if he could have put aside his dread and concentrated on her body, she might have been just another sensuous element filling an empty void in his life. She was beautiful. She had the power for unlimited passion…. But she was also the devil, and nothing could change that fact in his mind.
Visibly trembling now, he shuddered as she reached out from the shadows to touch him.
“Calm down,” she whispered, “relax…. We’re not starting our great adventure yet. There’s no rush today. It’s too early to begin in this part of town. The street people, as you know, are mischievous, nocturnal souls who keep late hours. You need rest and relaxation now.”
“I’m starved. I need something to eat,” Adam blurted as she began tugging at his belt.
“All right honey,” she said huskily, “I’ll give you something to eat.”
“No, no, no,” he groaned, “I meant food. Not the nectar of love. You’re moving to fast for me!”
Suddenly, without even a visible gesture by Satan, a small ornate little table appeared in the center of the room with a cornucopia of fruits and nuts. A tureen sat next to it alongside of a platter of meat and a large jug of wine. In spite of his realization that he was famished, however, he was more concerned with what waited for him after his meal. Eyeing the nearby bed, he felt himself being pulled by his belt, and heard her muttering, “That’s right. Let’s get you comfortable first. I’ll personally feed you with my own hands. I didn’t mean I was going to sit on your face. You nasty boy…. There-there, you get comfortable on the bed, while mummy gets you a nice hunk of meat and mug of wine.”
“I don’t think I can do this,” he said, watching her pour him a drink. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Sure you can,” she replied, handing him the mug. “Drink this first before you begin eating. It’ll relax you and clear your head.”
Almost immediately after he took a sip of the beverage, his found his stomach settling and his nausea disappearing.
“What is this?” He asked suspiciously. “Is this some kind of drug?”
“No, it’s not a drug,” she assured him, holding a drumstick up to his mouth. “I want you clear-headed, not drugged…. Now eat, my lamb. I must fatten you up a little before we begin.”
Adam took as much time as he could to eat his meal. He hovered around the small table awhile, gorging himself on its delicacies in effort to delay the inevitable as long as he could. In spite of his fear of being drugged, he drank as much of his second mug of wine as he could before he found Satan taking the empty mug out of his hand and leading him back to bed.
Breaking away suddenly, he retreated to a far corner of the room. He stared across the narrow space that separated them, which still seemed a million spiritual miles away, and was sure that he would never be more severely tested than now. This act would complete his tie with Satan; they will have graduated from a blood offering to a love offering. He would have preferred that it was merely feral lust or perversion in Satan instead of a test of good faith. But he knew that she was not playing games anymore. She was deadly serious.
“Come, my lamb,” she called from the darkness of the bed, “lie down with me.”
“This is what you meant by rest and relaxation?” He asked bleakly. “…. Sex?”
“Yes, we’ve made our bond,” purred Satan, “now we must consummate it. Our secret partnership shall be like a marriage between a man and woman: in the flesh as well as the spirit.”
“I thought it required simply a nod.”
“That was before you exorcized me out of your head.”
Reaching across breathlessly from the bed, her delicate hand caught the sunlight: the most perfect hand in creation, with long fingers and glistening scarlet nails. Crooking her finger, she continued to beckon him toward the bed. Except for her streetwalker bearing and frosted hair, the outline of her shadowed body was a flawless hourglass form. Even the eyes in her lovely head, which glowed with feral light, had an inner warmth lacking in the previous specters. She was a vast improvement over the other personifications he had seen, and yet he couldn’t warm up to her no matter how hard he tried.
“I understand what’s happening.” Adam swallowed miserably. “There’s another reason other than blackmail for the death of my wife. Now that she served her purpose, you will take her place.”
“Our relationship has to be strong and inviolable.” Satan explained. “You must therefore learn to think of me as a person. The only way you will ever accept me is as a woman: a lover and a friend.”
“Accept you as a woman?” He murmured, gripping his forehead. “How can I accept you as a woman? All my life you’ve been portrayed as a foul fiend with cloven hooves. My liberal theology would never allow me to believe such nonsense. Now it turns out that you do exist, but, through all your disguises, you’re not even a male!”
“Nonsense!” She said with a snarl. “Forget those medieval myths about horned satyrs carrying pitch forks. I never looked like that spawn of Greek mythology who went about raping virgins and guzzling wine. Pan was male: half goat and half man. I, as you should know by now, can be either sex with no specific form. I can be pure sex: male, female, or both. I also have the power of unlimited joy.”
“All right,” he replied, shuddering at the thought, “for the time being you’re a woman. But I can’t do this. Believe me I can’t!”
“Can’t or won’t?” She shot back irritably. “With me anything is possible! Don’t tell me you can’t do it. You haven’t even tried!”
“It’s true,” he assured her. “I’m trying to warm up to you, but I can’t!”
“There’s that word again: can’t. I won’t accept can’t.” She waved her hand in annoyance. “I don’t see any effort to warm up to me. What’s stopping you? I have a prefect body. Look at my breasts. Here feel them. Feel the rest of my body too.”
She watched him sigh deeply, close his eyes, and drop his chin to his chest. Springing angrily from the bed now, she stood there in front of him, breathing strangely, trying to fathom his mood.
“You wonder why I like being inside your mind,” she whispered indelicately. “It’s where I gather unspoken information. I don’t like tormenting you that way Adam; that’s why I’ve decided to work with you in the flesh. But I can return to your head any time I wish. You’re mine now Adam, so stop fighting me. Don’t make it so difficult for me to read your mood.”
“Do what you will with me. I cannot play this game,” he announced, his shoulders slumped but gaze rising to meet her stare.
Her naked body, caught in shafts of sunlight, scandalized him anew as he looked up and saw her standing there. Her voice rose accusingly this time as he stood his ground. “No-no, this is not a game Adam. You must know that by now. I don’t always have to be in your mind to know what’s going on inside. It’s obvious to me by the look on your face that you’re thinking ‘Satan is in disguise again—as a woman this time but no less the devil.’ Satan is therefore perverse, with homosexual inclinations. Is this not right?”
“Yes…. but it’s not the only reason,” he confessed, trying not to look her in the eyes.
“Adam,” she said, reaching out to touch his face, “look at me. For all practical purposes I am a real person now. Give me a chance to prove it to you.”
Seeing him shrug faintly but drop his head again, she reached out gently and raised chin. “Is it my eyes that bother you? You seem to have trouble looking me in the face?”
“No,” Adam said, glancing at them briefly, “you have beautiful eyes.”
“Is it my hairdo?” She asked, touching her hair.
“No,” Adam said, “I don’t mind frosted hair.”
“All right, is it my body that’s the problem?” She persisted, placing a hand on her hip. “Am I too big busted or narrow in the waist? Would you like it better if I was shorter or had fuller lips?”“
“No,” Adam shook his head, “you’re perfect, without a flaw!”
“Okay, Adam,” she said, folding her arms, “if it’s not my eyes, hair, or body that bothers you, what is it that’s preventing you from having some fun?”
Adam was surprised that Satan was accepting criticism. So far she had been quite patient. Trying now to frame his last problem into words, he realized that it was her stereotype appearance that turned him off. How did one tell the Princess of Darkness that she was a turn-off, no matter how perfect her body seemed? After being victim to his wife’s outrageous behavior for so long, he had lost his basic desire for those kind of women. It was bad enough that Satan had broken tradition and changed genders on him. Her anatomy, even with her intense gaze, was utterly flawless, but she had also chosen the wrong type of female body to captivate him. She had selected the carriage and look of a whore.
“…. Call it a performance problem,” he began lamely now. “…. Yes, I’m sure that’s what it is.”
“Performance problem,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t know Adam. When I was in your mind, I found no evidence of you being gay or sexually inadequate. Just exactly what sort of performance problem do you think you have?”
“…. In the past, my wife came on to me really strong. You should know that,” he struggled for words. “Sometimes she acted like a whore for me. I can see why now…. She was a whore. But I was raised by my parents to respect women. I guess I put them on a pedestal. My wife never liked that. She thought I was too gentle and polite. Not too long ago she started coming on really strong with me, as if she had forgotten how she had disgraced herself in front of my congregation and the many disgusting things she did when were at home…. I couldn’t warm up to her. In spite of being a stud-muffin once, I became impotent. Do you understand now?”
“Listen Adam,” Satan interrupted impatiently, “if she were alive today and standing in front of you right now, I could understand you having a performance problem. But you’re not impotent. Any normal man would have performance problems with such a wench. That nasty creature would have destroyed you if I had not come along. But that’s in the past Adam, and your wife’s dead—cut from your life by your own hand. This is now, you’re alive, and I’m alive. I will not let you wallow in the memory of her corpse anymore!”
After what she thought was a convincing argument, Satan drew close to the trembling young man and began rubbing his crotch. Experimentally now or to test his reaction, she began unzipping his fly. As her breath quickened and one hand reached in to grab his manhood, he did feel a momentary twinge, until her cold fingers touched the flaccid muscle and began pulling it out.
“Ohmagosh!” He gasped.
“Come here my little troglodyte,” she cried out with delight. “Let me take you to my cave!”
What Satan thought was clever use of words reminded Adam of some of the tactics that his wife Cora had used. He had tried unsuccessfully to seduce his wife in the old romantic way, but his efforts to do the foreplay, himself, were always superceded by Cora’s aggressive behavior. He wanted to explain this problem to Satan, but he didn’t know how. She had taken such great pains to be the perfect bedtime partner, and he was impressed with her efforts. But she was on the wrong track. How did one tell the devil that she was acting like a common slut? What words did one use for the master of temptation and deceit?
His effort to select just the right response was seen by Satan as continued stubbornness. She began to stimulate him the old fashioned way, her hand pounding unmercifully onto his scrotum, disregarding the expression of horror on his face.
Wincing in pain, he cried out “Hey bitch, that hurts!”
Jerking away and retreating to the corner of the room, Adam stood there in panic, his forehead pressed against the wall, reminiscent of his pose in front of the store. The sound of his zipper going up now sent Satan into momentary rage: “You wimp! You still think I’m a queer! Well, that’s rubbish! I’m amorphous and hermaphroditic, but for your miserable benefit I’m also a female! Come over here and feel my naked body at once!”
Not knowing what to do yet, he shuffled slowly back to her, felt a bare shoulder and then withdrew again with a shudder. Ignoring his timid response, she reached out boldly and pulled his trembling hand excitedly down her ribcage.
“See” she said breathlessly now, “I’m a bona fide woman: breasts, nipples, mons veneris—all the trappings!”
“I don’t believe this is happening,” he mumbled numbly.
“You must believe,” she said, with a passionate groan that made Adam almost wretch. “Who do you think corrupted many of our great men of history, palace eunuchs? You are a man; I am a woman. Let’s do it!”
At this point, his hand finally brushed her moist pubic hairs, and he was swept with revulsion. “I can’t do! This is making me sick!”
“You can do it!” Her voice shrilled with rage. “I’m Satan, and with me you can do anything!”
After watching him shake his head emphatically, she suddenly transformed into his childhood phantom: a horned satyr with foul breath and cloven hoof.
“Would you prefer this!” She asked him in a deep masculine voice.
“No!” Adam gasped, backing away toward the door.
“How about this one?” She began transforming into something far worse.
The creature inching toward him looked like the Greek medusa, with snakes coming out its head in place of hair, until it began to melt into a bubbling frothy mass onto the floor. By that point, Adam had reached the door and was trying desperately to open it and escape the madness unfolding in this room.
“Let me out! Let me out!” He cried, wrestling with the doorknob.
“You can’t escape me now,” the blob uttered in a hissing voice. “We’ve gone too far!”
“Unlock this door. You can’t keep me against my will,” he replied in a quivering voice.
With his face pressed against the door and his fists pounding frantically on the wood, a look of terror was frozen on his face. As he listened to the bubbling mass behind him, he wanted to pray though it seemed to be such a futile gesture now.
“Oh dear God! “ he muttered frantically. “What’ve I gotten myself into?”
“Adam!” He heard the woman’s voice now. “Turn around and face me…. Why do I, your loving master, revolt you?”
As he looked back, a shaft of light from the dirty window fell on his new master. That moment, in spite of her frosted hair, her body appeared statuesque, almost goddess-like.
“I think I can explain it now.” He whispered almost to himself. “…. Your question’s right on the mark.”
“Speak up man,” she commanded him. “Tell me what’s wrong!”
Recalling the woman in the tight blue dress, he meditated a moment longer, took a deep breath, and then told her the other reason why she turned him off.
“It’s not just what you are.” He gathered his words carefully. “It’s how you are.”
She replied calmly this time. “I think I understand what’s wrong. Since the inflection was on what and how, I take it that, along with homosexuals, you don’t like whores.”
“Yes, it’s true,” he cried in relief. “Your sexual preference was a big enough shock to me, so why did you pick a hooker’s body?”
“Is that how you perceive me,” she asked, a faint smile playing on her lips, “a scarlet woman and common slut?”
“Yes!” He nodded vigorously.
“So that’s why you can’t warm up to me.” She seemed to be amused. “All along it’s been the image and what it stood for, not just me.”
“That’s correct,” he replied, the imprint of the medusa flashing intermittently in his mind. “I hate those kind of woman more than any blot on earth!”
“Hate no one who’s not your enemy,” her voice softened. “Despise only fools, who will not listen; they are your enemies—not those poor wretches on the street. If I remember correctly, that carpenter started with a motley crowd, himself, and one of them was a hooker too!”
Adam realized that the insult had been diminished to a mere complaint, leaving Satan only mildly irritated with him now. He had exaggerated the personality of his wife a bit to make his point. She came forward slowly and thoughtfully this time and began undressing his rigid frame. Although he offered no resistance, he remained frozen like a storefront mannequin, awaiting the inevitable.
Tossing his jacket aside, then unbuttoning his shirt, she continued to chide him gently: “Loosen up…. I understand your feelings now. I’m not going to molest you anymore. I’ll be gentle.”
“I’ll do my best,” he promised, bracing himself for the worst.
As she finished pulling off his shirt, he wanted desperately to oblige her and to relax, give himself up to whatever lusts she had in mind. Though he wanted to get it over with, his heart wasn’t in it. Because of her aggressive actions, Satan still reminded him of a dissolute call girl. When she caught the hopeful gleam in his eyes and sensed his growing effort to warm up to her, she responded immediately by kissing his bare chest. He reacted by closing his eyes, as if pretending that it was someone else. Encouraged by his efforts, she plunged her tongue downward and began tugging exciting excitedly at his pants. Although it felt as if a warm, nasty slug was moving toward his navel, there was a distinct rise beginning in his crotch.
Dropping his unfastened trousers and yanking down his underwear, she cried, “Name her!”
“Name who?” He gasped, as she pulled him over to the bed.
“The girl of your dreams,” came a breathless response.
“My wife was the only one,” he said, as she removed his shoes that had been preventing his trousers and underwear from being pulled off his feet.
“Well then,” she offered, pulling off his socks, “use your imagination! What will it be: a blond, brunette, or maybe a redhead? Come on Adam, dig into your memory. I seem to recall one woman in your mind who made an impression on you.”
After removing his last article of clothing, Satan drew back on the bed next to him. A shaft of ethereal light fell over her body as she began to transform over spectrum of female types, ranging over every imaginable combination of body build, skin tone, hair color, and size. Somewhere in the midst of this menagerie he must have made a gesture of approval, because he found himself staring suddenly at a petite woman with rich brown hair, an average built but fresh-looking body, with medium-sized yet well formed breasts and a child-like, angelic face. The only part of her that did not require change was her eyes; her large dark pupils sat motionless now in her almond-shaped eyes.
“Big breasts, small breasts, wide hips, anything else?” She asked in a crinkly, much more feminine voice.
“This is fine.” Adam smiled, finally satisfied with Satan’s new form.
He lie completely naked next to her. For the first time in months, he allowed himself to be stirred by longing and wasn’t ashamed. The body he had picked was drawn from a Biblical painting he recalled, subconsciously his ideal from the beginning. She was the most natural opposite to Cora in every way and was therefore someone he could accept.
“A good choice,” he heard her murmur as they edged closer on the mattress. “You have chosen the face, if not the body, of the Virgin Mary. In the painting, however, I believe her eyes were blue.”
“Yes,” he nodded with more enthusiasm, “in that depiction they were blue.”
“That’s false.” She shook her head. “Christian painters always paint her with blue eyes. But Mary came from good Jewish stock, and her eyes were as black as sin. It was her bastard son Jesus—the spawn of Gentiles—who had blue eyes.”
Stroking his Nazarene beard in mock humiliation at this obvious perversion of the Biblical truth, Adam caught himself laughing at this sacrilege. Only yesterday he had cringed at such free flowing blasphemy from his wife. But today, coming from the body of Mary and mouth of Satan, it was somehow refreshing and desperately amusing. In one short paragraph imprinted forever on his thoughts, this softly smiling creature had officially rebuked his entire education in the church. Her saintly face, in matter-of-fact directness, had undermined his last threads of faith. The Immaculate Conception had been degraded to whoredom, the resulting Savior bastardized, and the Holy Trinity therefore degraded to human perversity.
Satan was in charge of his life. With her sex established and working for her, as she promised, she had evolved from a blackmailer and tempter to an enchantress. Now they were partners, if not yet friends.
After coaxing him softly to snuggle up to her, she began using the ultimate lure upon him: sex. The taint of the evening’s horror, which had followed him up to this very moment, had seemed to disappear almost completely. As a passing nightmare, the spectrum of degenerates that were used to persuade, extort, and shock him into submission vanished from his thoughts. The counterfeit Virgin Mary, his new master, became a goddess for him now, offering him her secret garden. He became a neophyte, exploring her forbidden fruit. Together they began a session of erotic pleasure that lasted long into the morning. Together they locked in unholy communion, consummating their bond at last.
When it was over, all his aching joints and stricken muscles were suddenly consumed by the last twenty-fours of fatigue. He remembered one more kiss from her boiling lips, and he felt her stroking him feverishly as his body lifted weightlessly into somnolence and then into a deep, untroubled sleep.
While he slept, Mary, Queen of Hell, continued to stroke the motionless body of her protégé. Her black pupils burned with unnatural light. She had given herself the power to express feeling toward a mortal man. So a mortal’s warmth left her fingertips and a smile broke her trembling lips…. He had finally submitted: the love offering had been made. She had won her first earthly battle against God.