Jamie Paxon walked into the convenience store as he had done many times before. Same old, same old. . .Right up to the coolers. . .Grab a twelve pack. . .Hand the sales girl the money. . .Get the change. . . Out the door and down the street . . . To where, who knows.
Except this time, near the coolers stood a winged dark creature, obviously supernatural and of the -nth power, beautiful in nefarious splendor. With every flutter of its pitch-black wings, Jamie could somehow feel all the powers of the oceans' tides cut right through his body, right into his very soul. The angel turned to Jamie and with a grin, showing perfectly white teeth, said, "We've been waiting for you to come in for this interview with The Corporation."
Those razor-sharp teeth made a permanent imprint on Jamie's cognizance. Even years later, he would sometimes have flashbacks to that moment in very abstract and surreal reality - of seeing those glistening white teeth. Maybe it was the color of the teeth that Jamie found so weird. The teeth were whiter than white - so white, in fact, those fangs were a different color than the white of a piece of unblemished photocopying paper; or a newly fallen, virgin field of snow; or a new bride's brand-new wedding dress.
And those fangs were designed to seize the weakness of all earthly flesh in a horrid, supernatural, vampirish clamp. The horrid creature didn't have to even explain this fact, it was just to be understood by any living creature that saw those abominable, sharper-than-sharp things. All of a sudden, Jamie became incredibly attracted to the angel, but at the same time, a swell of negative emotions boiled inside - the bleak Knight of the Underworld was like 200 decibels of the hardest of all machine gun rock & roll - played backwards in double time.
The angel smirked and said, "You'd do us more good without dumping that junk into yourself. Think of all the evil you could accomplish without that fermented yeast shit polluting your troubled post-adolescent head."
Jamie pulled a twelve-pack of ACME Beer out of the cooler and walked up to the checkout counter, still staring at the dark angel in horror and disbelief. The demon remained in the back of the store, near the coolers. Jamie gave the clerk a ten and got six bucks and some coins back. Jamie always drank cheap beer, but he could afford quite a bit of it - he always went the budget route.
"That's a weird sales representative you've got working back there," Jamie told her.
"Yeah the New World economy threw out the wannabes and some real heavy hitters took over. It just happened at six this morning, right after the day shift took over," the clerk said.
Jamie stared at the clerk in disbelief. There was something very strange about her, too. Although the young woman appeared to be mortal, she emitted strange waves that Jamie couldn't understand nor comprehend. All Jamie knew was there was something very weird about the girl. Overweight and dressed in the black mesh of Gothic frilly silks and rough leather, the girl was obviously a junior lieutenant in the evil that covered the little store like a death-wrenching stroke covers an incapacitated body.
"You really shouldn't allow that thing in your store. It will scare people away," Jamie said.
"How can we not allow it in here? Its company owns the store, you idiot! Our money isn't good anymore, anyhow. Where it comes from, there's no such thing as money. Get with the times!"
"This is all very weird," Jamie said.
"You can't get away from the new management or the new order anymore," the clerk said. "Wherever you go, there they are."
The girl smacked on her gum indifferently, chewing on it like a rat. She clipped the $10 bill into the drawer then threw the change into the register, which clicked away at Jamie's receipt and printed it out.
The clerk handed Jamie the receipt with an indifferent "Humph" and shook her head in displeasure.
Jamie walked out the front door, onto the gravel parking lot, and towards his car.
Somehow, the hellish creature had snuck out the back door and as Jamie walked across the parking lot, he could see in the stifling darkness this sinister demon on the side of his car, kicking the tires. The dark angel pulled a coat hanger from inside what looked like a topcoat, but it could have been his mass of featherless wings of some unknown color and variety. All Jamie could see from the histrionics was that the wings and the angel were at least 1,000 times darker than the blackest black in his feeble material world. The hideous monster used the wire he'd pulled from his cloak to slide down the driver's window, into the driver's-side door, and with a quick flick, he unlocked Jamie's car. Then the angel opened the door and perused the interior of the vehicle.
"Unacceptable," the demon said.
It closed the door and walked to the front of the car. Then the angel popped the hood by simply touching its metal.
When Jamie got to the car, the demon poked around in a clandestine and supercilious way. It peered under the hood, looking over the car's rusty engine. The menacing presence took something out of its cloak, a weird device that appeared to be a golden valve. Then it attached the thing to the engine.
"What are you doing?" Jamie asked.
"We're going to have to work on getting you something you can use to terrorize other people with, like a vintage 70s GTO with headers, a cam, and a hyper-charged carburetor. In the meantime, I've thrown on one of my favorite devices. It'll make this thing race like a dragster," the supernatural visitor told Jamie.
"Listen, this beat-up old wreck is all I can afford," Jamie answered, almost apologetically.
"We're into the New Economy, I'm working on getting you more dinero'. Good money. Our money. Money that actually means something and that you can use to improve things."
"Yeah, I'll believe that when I'm a movie star," Jamie said.
"Believe it or not, you're going to be an A-lister in a few years. You're going to be my right-hand man, Jamie Paxon," the sinister salesman said.
Jamie felt strong emotions - very mixed feelings ranging from love to loathing and from pride to total ego-deflation. It was as if he had gone from being the janitor to the COO. But he felt trapped by a ruse - this was going to be a very sinister career promotion, indeed. But it was still a great opportunity considering his current low-paying job of punching Autotote tickets at the Bridgefield Pine Barrens Dog Track & Casino.
"Who or what are you?" Jamie asked with a desperate gasp, "And how do you know my name? You look to be like you're straight from hell, or at least you're a member of some extraterrestrial punk band or maybe, a deranged fashion model from one of those fancy unisex boutiques."
"We're going to start grooming you, Jamie," the angel said, with a clever smile.
"If you're going to be my boss, who's your boss?" Jamie asked.
"Isn't it quite apparent?" the angel answered. "The proud rebellious archangel of the darkest darkness. The Angel of the Morning Star. Whatever you call 'The Man' these days. . . ."
Jamie stared at the phantom. He gasped again.
"Old Harry? Ever hear of him? That's one of his many nicknames," the angel answered, grinning with superb charisma. "Sometimes he's called Old Ned, or the Devil, or Sir Beezlebub, or the black side of the Ying and Yang symbol."
And although the smile was very friendly, it cut through Jamie like a sword. The angel's wings fluttered ever so lightly, but Jamie could feel the awesome power they held. That flutter held the captive energy of at least 30 or 40 power plants.
"The New World economy is upon us. There's been a shakeup and you're in the new order. Go home, drink that beer and I'll see you when the hangover starts," the demon said.
"Yeah, I'm going to do just that."
"We have a cure for problem drinking, too. It's not very touchy-feely and it certainly isn't pleasant. To be honest, it's pure hell but it's a lot more practical and effective than those ridiculous money-grubbing rehabs or even that Alcoholics Anonymous program," the dark figure said with a sneer.
Then the epitome of otherworldly evil thrust himself up, rocketing into the heavens like an extraterrestrial spaceship. The ascent took a fraction of a second. Jamie looked up in disbelief and wondered what type of drug he might have taken in the recent past to cause such a realistic disturbing hallucination.
But after he jumped into his car, he couldn't help but feel all the aggravating despondency of working for the dog track. He couldn't help but wonder if the corporate-raiding company that just took over the earth had a 401(k) plan and good medical benefits.
He turned the key and the motor turned over. His car didn't choke and sputter as it always did, no, it blasted like a NASCAR's engine. He hit the gas pedal a few times and the car roared. He put the automatic into drive and without even stepping on the gas pedal, the old jalopy jumped like a tiger.
"I hope you come back to visit me," Jamie said.
"I will, I will," came the thundering voice from inside and outside of the car.