You know those old films where you see some old duffers sitting around a roaring fire recounting their youth?. Well that was us.
Four of us to be exact. Every month we'd meet up and discuss a topic, something political maybe or something relating to our work.The library of the college where we spent many a time sufficed, comfy chairs and that smell that you get from old books. These new fangled devices were alright for some but not us, we were old school, the pen and paper brigade, if you had to plug it in we didn't want to know.
'What's the worst pain you've ever suffered'? I asked randomly one evening. The other three looked at me and then each other and then the cogs in those old minds started whirring,
Things had cooled off of late. Hell wasn't as manic as it used to be and people were nicer to each other these days, the odd one slipped through the net but just lately, well, things had been a bit slack.
There are four of us. Tomas is just a first grade demon learning the ropes as it were, he's quite shy but we'll soon knock that out of him. Eric on the other hand, an old pro from the ancient order. Been down here six hundred years and doesn't look a day over thirty. Bowen can be a bit of a nuisance with his' I've done this and when I was a marine' but all in all we get on well. And then there's me, I've been a fire breathing demon for as long as I care not to remember, but then I can't remember who or what I was before all of this.
Anyway, back to my question.
I put the question to Eric as the fire crackled and we sat with our Jack Daniels and pistachio nuts.
'Oh that was probably when I was torn limb from limb, first went my arms, popped right out of the sockets they did heck of a job to get them back in, excruciating wasn't even in it. Mind you that time they skewered my eyes with red hot pokers, totally uncalled for it was and how was I to know I wasn't allowed in there plus I always seem to be losing things, arms, eyes, kidneys, I've never died a good honourable death.'
The others laughed, it's not the best job in the world but at least we never die. We might suffer agonising trials but when so many people hate us it goes with the territory. It was Bowen's turn next and I knew it was going to be a long night
.He recounted the wars he'd fought in, the drownings, the fireball, laid in a pit and suffocated by stones, heavy boulders that crushed your insides to pulp, tenderised enough to put on a barbecue. Bowen is flamboyant in many ways and he likes to embellish so we let him ramble on,
'And the boss was very pleased with me' he boasted 'I made a killing that day both financially and physically" he popped another pistachio in his mouth and took a swig of whiskey, you see we may be dead but we still have to make a living.
I retold the story of the seventh war, the one where we fought the angels and lost, how did they get so clever?, outwitting us at ever turn, oh the joy of removing those feathers from my throat, I still cough one up now and then when it's chilly.
.And so we went on 'My finger still hurts where it was crushed' moaned Bowen 'Shouldn't put it where it doesn't belong then should you' laughed Eric
.Then we turned to Tomas our first grade demon, wet behind the ears and everywhere else.
'What's the worst pain you've ever endured Tom?' I asked, waiting for his reply we mused on scraped knees and cutting his first teeth. His voice rang through the air and stopped us in our tracks.
'Her name was Carmen, she had the black hair of a moonless night, blue eyes like a summer's day and when she spoke it was the softest music.'
'Did you kill her'? asked Bowen
'No, she married an accountant and had three children, she died last year age 85'.
The tears that pricked his eyes signalled an end to our discussion.
'You win old man' laughed Eric, and with that we disbanded for the night.