I spotted Click sneaking back into the castle earlier. He’s been moonlighting at the library again. I hope he’s not looking inside those books, they will make him go a bit strange.
There was no time to berate him because Red Stan appeared in a cloud of sulphurous stench and banged his horns on the mantelpiece as he emerged from the fireplace. I braced myself for the usual tirade about horn-chip insurance salesmen but this time, he ignored them.
“You!” He pointed at me and curled his lip. “Did you send that damnable woman down to me?”
“Oh.” I closed my eyes. “You mean Senga? No, that wasn’t my doing at all.”
“It’s been Hell down there since she showed up.”
I opened my eyes. “I thought it already was?”
“Not for me, it wasn’t.” Red Stan leaned on the table, leaving another set of scorched hand-prints. I once tried putting a glass top on that table to save it from scorching but Stan just melted it.
He pushed himself back from the table. “Wait a minute. Shouldn’t you still be in that oubliette?”
“The door was unlocked.” I said. “I decided to leave.” There seemed no need to mention the Professor’s part in it at this stage.
“I won’t need this then.” Stan pulled a thick contract from… somewhere, I’m not sure where and prefer not to speculate… and flared it into ash. “Another wasted lawyer, Still, I have an apparently endless supply of them.”
“What are you doing with Senga? Tormenting her?” I suppressed a grin because I suspected it might be the other way around.
Red Stan sighed. “It’s the other way around.” He rested his hand on the mantelpiece which, being granite, didn’t scorch. “I’m supposed to be the one in charge down there but she’s insisting on smokeless fires and safety caps on the pitchforks. Tea breaks for the souls of the damned and a repaint for the Gates. She’s wrecking the place, Dume. It’s just not properly Satanic any more.”
“Has she mentioned lace curtains yet?” She once tried to get me to buy them, but curtains you can see through are a total waste of money in my book. Besides, all the windows in the castle have wooden shutters even though not all of them have glass.
Red Stan’s jaw dropped. “Lace curtains? She wouldn’t dare.”
“She did have a bit of a thing for lace curtains. It was impossible to fob her off with old fishing nets which are cheaper and do the same thing. Lace it had to be.” I wondered if I should mention the horrible china ornaments. Perhaps Stan could take them back with him in a futile attempt to placate her. He’d scorch them though, and that would make things worse for him.
“I am not giving in on lace curtains.” He flashed so brightly that my eyes automatically gauged the distance between me and the nearest fire extinguisher.
“I’m surprised you gave in on anything,” I said. “You’re the Lord of Hell, aren’t you? How can a mere woman best you?”
“There is nothing mere about that bloody woman. The nagging never stops. You do one thing she wants and immediately she starts nagging for the next thing. When does it end, Dume?”
I tapped my nose with my finger and smiled. “When you realise that there is no way to please her, and that when everything you do is going to be wrong, you might as well do whatever you damn well like.” I lowered myself into my chair. “It never ends, so just stop. I stopped at lace curtains. She nagged me about lace curtains for years but I never bought any, so she never got to move on to the next nagging. Eventually, ‘lace curtains’ were words that didn’t even register with me. That’s when it gets easier.”
“Hmm.” Red Stan scratched his neck with his tail. “I see. Well, thanks for the advice, Dume. I owe you one.” He disappeared back into the fireplace.
So Senga is in Hell. I expect it was quite pleasant there before, at least by comparison. I permitted myself a smug smirk at the thought that I had managed to cope with her better than even Red Stan.
One thing’s for sure though. I am definitely never going to Hell now.