Ferdinand Franco strolled down the street briskly. Rain drizzled down on his face lightly. Turning around the corner of the block, he could see the entrance of his favourite pub flooded in bright lights. Even from this distance, he could see a small crowd gathered at the entrance, patiently waiting to be admitted. He hastened his pace.
Pound……pound……pound……this must be the biggest headache he has had since last week, he dug into the front pocket of his overcoat and fished out a small bottle of aspirin. He snapped the cap off with the expert grace of a seasoned pill-popper and poured out three white pills. A nice, cold Bacardi on the rocks would be just great now. Popping the aspirins into his mouth and dry swallowing them, he arrived at the edge of the somewhat disorderly crowd.
Edging through the crowd, he could feel many eyes glaring at him. Paying no heed to them, he continued with his advancement unprovoked.
"Good evening, Mr Franco. Glad to see you here at the Coco Bongo again sir," Decker the bouncer greeted Ferdinand in a low, gruffy voice, a constant reminder of his excessive smoking. He took Ferdinand's overcoat and holding the door open he said, "I'll get you a seat at the bar counter in a moment, just follow me."
Ferdinand, not in much of a mood to converse, just gave a low grunt and muttered, "Lead on Decker, yeah, and get me a quiet corner, I've got a real sucker of a headache."
Music wafted around him but he mostly ignored it. Sure, the live band is good, being the high-flyer that he is, he wouldn't settle for anything less than the best, but all he wanted now was his drink. Even before he could get seated at the counter, JJ served him his drink.
"Your usual, sir."
Ferdinand gave him a smile and took the drink, if there was anybody in the world that he could like, it would have to be JJ. The young bartender could read his face like an open book and serve up an appropriate drink to suit his mood, very uncanny indeed. JJ wasn't much of a conversationalist but that served him just fine because all he really needed was a good listening ear and JJ was just that. Ferdinand downed his drinks in two short gulps and replaced the glass on the table. He could feel the drink rise back up from his throat to hit him right smack in the brain. His persistent headache died an almost instant death. It gave one last spluttering pound and stalled like an old '65 Plymouth. Better. Much better already.
Holding another drink in his hand, he turned to enjoy the music and watched the crowd bop to the music. Three drinks later and feeling just a little tipsy, he got up to go home. Even hotshot lawyers have to go home. Standing on his feet, he straightened himself, but before he could take another step, his heart fluttered. Ferdinand caught hold of the bar counter and lowered his head to try to get more blood to his brain. It didn't help though and he realised that his vision was slipping fast, he could hear JJ's voice call out seemingly from afar asking if he needed help. He tried to shake his head but at that moment, his hand lost strength and he crumpled to the floor. He hit the floor with a thud and the long overdue heart attack came at the same time. His last vision was seeing JJ jumping over the counter and then trying to get the crowd to give him some breathing space. He always knew the kid had a kind heart in him, Ferdinand reminded himself to give him a bigger tip to the kid later. Four minutes later, lawyer extaordinaire Ferdinand Franco passed on…
……AAAAHHHHH! Pain greeted him and he jumped to his feet.
"What the hell…," Ferdinand thought. There was a sizzling sound and it apparently came from beneath him, accompanying that was a searing pain that came from the soles of his feet and nearly made his knees buckle. Clenching his teeth, he snapped opened his eyes and the sight that greeted him made him forget the pain coming from his feet for a moment or two.
"Oh my lor…"
Before he could finish his sentence, the pain jolted up his feet again and caused him to clench his teeth, in the process he bit off the tip of his tongue, this time he yelped out in pain. What he saw ahead terrified him. Dense smoke hung in the air and it was putridly choking. The land that stretched as far as the eye could see was hot, VERY HOT. The land even has a reddish tinge to it and through the occasional cracks that ran along the ground, red-hot lava could be seen stirring restlessly beneath. However it was the unbearable crushing silence that finally tipped him over his senses. He dropped to his knees and his once bright scheming eyes went blank.
"I am in hell. Hades. Devil's lair." Thoughts flashed through his mind and not even the pain from his frying kneecaps could bring him to his senses. "Hah…Ha! Ha!" Ferdinand started to chuckle to himself, the chuckling quickly became a sad laugh but he just couldn't help himself. "So this is how multi-millionaire Ferdinand Franco ends up after half a lifetime of cheating and lying to help his clients their case and just as often bankrupting or putting his opposition into jail., he ends up frying like a pig on a land as bare as an egg. The smell coming from his legs smelled a little like bacon and it reminded him of a ritzy eating-place he had once been to. 'Hot Stones' it was called because your food comes served on a heated stone and you just let it sizzle to your liking before you start on it. The smell coming up reminded him of pork, barbequed pork. Just a while more and you can have a leg of ham, your leg of ham. Ha Ha!" That last thought got him jumping to his feet, half expecting his knees to buckle under him, he stood albeit a little unsteadily.
"I must be strong. I am Ferdinand Franco and there is nothing that I cannot take." Ferdinand hissed out these words and whether it was real or merely psychological, it actually hurt just a little less. He took off his shirt and pants and very shabbily wrapped his charred feet with them. At least he could walk around in relative comfort now. A sudden realisation came to him, he wasn't having a headache anymore and for the first time in weeks, his mind felt clear and free.
"How queer that there should be nobody around in Hell, with the amount of crooked people in the world, one would have thought that this godforsaken place would be jammed packed. And where the hell( no pun intended) is the Devil who is supposed to poke us lost souls with his trident," Ferdinand thought aloud to himself. His mind raced to find an answer while he trudged on the burning land in search of other souls.
After what seemed like an eternity of walking, Ferdinand gave up his search. The dry air made it incredibly hard to breathe and it was irritating his throat. The thought of a Bacardi made his head swoon, "make it on the rocks JJ," he thought wishfully. All of a sudden a twinkling caught his attention from the corner of his eye. There was something on a large rock, which he could have sworn was not there at all previously. He walked up to it cautiously at first. When he got closer and could finally make out what it was, he gave out a whoop of joy and raced over to the rock. He picked up the glass of Barcardi and gobbled it down. After the hit from the drink passed, he perched himself on the rock and a sly smile broke across his face. Then, he started to laugh, shrill and evil.
(I want to be able to ignore all pain and be able to breathe properly in this air.)
Instantly, all pain disappeared and he could breathe the air like the sweetest honey. Tears streamed down his cheeks as the pieces of this puzzle fell into place. Absolute power.
Before he could mop up his tears, a shrill scream pierced the silence. "Ahhh… seems like I've got a visitor," Ferdinand thought. (I need to look presentable… a trident… some befitting clothes… hmmm… horns and a tail. Oh, and a mirror, of course) He stood, admiring the collective effect of the combination, and smiled approvingly to himself, then he strode over to the newly arrived soul.
Picking her up by the scruff of her neck, he inspected her. Not bad, not bad at all. He already has certain plans for her. Just then, another yelp of pain was heard not much further off. He shall come back for her later. Just by a simple thought, Ferdinand appeared beside the writhing form on the ground. He gave the man a hard kick to the kidney area and flipped him over. "Well, let's get this over and done with, shall we?" Ferdinand said in a taunting voice, "I have more pressing tasks to attend to, you know," he continued with a tilt of his head in the female's direction. He drew up the trident and was about to plunge the trident into the man's face when a warm glow of light appeared in front of him.
"Halt, Ferdinand! You are making a big mistake. This is not your place. Repent and you will be welcomed to join us and live in eternal bliss," the Voice reverberated throughout the whole of Hell.
(Hah! Never! I will never give up what is mine!)
"Plunge that trident into the man and you will be lost to us. Please, even the Devil himself has repented and has been accepted into Heaven, come now, come with me."
Ferdinand's face softened with those words and the trident trembled slightly, the glow slowly reached out to envelope Ferdinand in it, thinking that it had won him over but Ferdinand swung the trident down swiftly and whipped off half the man's face, leaving him without even a mouth to scream with. Blood spurted from the man's wounds and splashed through the glow of light, it gave a shudder and slowly dimmed to nothingness. Ferdi…no…The Devil then stepped over the man's crotch nonchalantly and muttered to himself, "There is work to be done…"