Ernie was not happy about having to come up there. Although falling well within the duties specified in his contract, as chief of staff he did not typically work the gate. Only when there was trouble. This was not trouble yet, but it was brewing. And with a brand new shipment of Cuban rum waiting for him inside he was in no mood to countenance any fools. That was Hartman’s job.
“Alright Phil, whaddya got here?”
Hartman was possessed of an inimitable sarcastic snarl. He was perfect for this post. “Boss he was already here when I opened this morning. Then after I logged in he...”
“Show me who it is on the monitor.”
Ernie leaned over the desk to take a closer look at the screen. The robotic camera anchored above the main gate was still rotating through it’s 220 degree arc, a clear image was yet to come into focus. While waiting Ernie caught a whiff of something. It was Hartman! Was that...gardenia!? For just a flash he forgot where he was and the words bleated from his tongue.
“Jesus Christ!”, and instantly followed by, “… oh shit!”
Hartman groaned, “Oh sir! You didn’t!”
From thin air a young man in his early thirties, dark, kind of Somali looking, materialized. He was lean, wore long dreads and sported a multi-colored robe with what appeared to be some rather expensive shades. He had a long blunt lazily suspended between his lips as he spoke from the corner of his mouth.
“Damn cuz! I’s finna blazin’ summah dis fine shit up! What you want?”
Ernie closed his eyes for a few seconds, still in disbelief at what had just happened. “Hey Jesus…sorry! False alarm! It was a slip!”
Jesus nodded. “Alright, alright. It’s cool. You motherfuckahs got the paperwork on this shit?”
“Yeah, yeah….of course! We’ll take care of it.” And at that he was gone. That rum shipment could not possibly have arrived at a better time. This was going to be a long day.
The camera came back in range and the image became clear in the monitor. “Hartman, are you going to try to tell me that you don’t know who that is?”
Hartman rolled his eyes. “I know it’s Senator Reid. That’s not the problem.”
Ernie stared down at Hartman, awaiting further explanation. When none came he exclaimed, “Am I gonna have to pry it out of you? You just call me up here to do what? Shit! I knew Harry was ill, but..”
“Well you see, sir, that is the problem. Senator Reid isn’t actually dead yet. He insisted on speaking to the boss.”
Ernie nodded, still stone faced and not betraying any of the amusement that crossed his mind. Now he understood why he had been called. Still, he couldn’t resist taking the opportunity to have a little fun with Hartman. “So? Why call me?”
Thinking quickly had always been one of Phil Hartman’s greatest strengths. “Well he didn’t ask for the Boss. It was more of a I want to to speak to your supervisor kind of thing. Now that I think of it.”
Ernie allowed himself a slight grin. “Uh-hunh. Alright. Lemme go out and see what his story is.”
Senator Reid was indeed looking quite poorly. It wouldn’t be long at all before his death’s door would meet with the gates of hell. He was already halfway home. The poor bastard was blind and made it this far. That showed a manly quality which he never suspected to be present in the man. In a rare weak moment he decided that he could at least go ahead and start getting his paperwork underway.
“Buenos Diaz, Senator Reid. I’m Ernest Hemingway, Chief of Staff. May I call you Harry?”
“Harry I’d like to be the first to express to you how much we look forward to getting you on board. I would be happy to go ahead and bring you through the gates, Harry, really I would. But you see these are wired with sensors that simply will not permit living human tissue to pass through. I know it’s a mere, er, technicality in your case, but you know how it is with all these tech upgrades these days!”
“Hillary got in.”
“Human tissue, Harry. Hu-man. But listen, Harry… I laud you for your effort making it here on your own, so I’ll go ahead and start getting your file put together. I’m truly sorry, but this is the best I can do for you until...well, you know.”
Senator Reid’s face remained inscrutable behind those wrap around shades on his head, looking like something from films of the 1950s nuclear tests. It seemed fitting for a man whose political career had been spawned in the residual fallout of the Nevada desert. Then in his bland, understated tone he asked to speak with the Devil.
Ernie had just about expended his daily allocation of diplomatic finesse. This was not his meter. He cleared his throat and carefully stated the case. “Senator Reid, please understand. We do want to help you in an easy transition, but, well shit! There is no easy way to say this. Senator Reid, you’re just not important any more.”
Reid’s face remained blank. “I see. Very well. I’ll just wait here. Would you let him know when I get inside?”
Ernie had no intentions of doing so: who the hell did this prick think he was anyway? A US Senator? They were a dime a dozen down here! Still, to placate him, he assured him that he would indeed see that his arrival would be announced.
Later that morning Ernie was ensconced upon his office chair with a bottle of rum and a crystal tumbler sitting upon his desk. His blood alcohol level restored it was on to other matters. Around 9:15 the boss strolled in.
“Hey Ernie. I was in earlier and you weren’t around. Everything okay?”
“Sure, sure. Yeah, there was just some dumbass senator at the gate....the fucker wasn’t even dead yet! He was right there, though. I went ahead and got his paperwork going.” Ernie stopped to chuckle, “ You know this guy, ha! Oh, this is funny! He actually asked for you!”
The Devil’s ears pricked up at this. “Really? What was his name?”
“Pshaww! Him? Oh, you probably wouldn’t know him, uh… Reid. Harry Reid.”
“Harry?! Really?! Well why didn’t you say before!”
“Boss! You just walked in. I took care of it.”
“You mistake me, Ernest! Of course you did. No, I know Harry. Is he dead yet?”
“Well he was still propped up about an hour ago, but I’d say if not? Any minute now.”
“I have a special debt to collect from Senator Reid.” The devil smiled his broadest and most gleaming smile, a twinkle came to his eyes. “Ernie, mind the fort, will ya? I may be gone a while.”
“Sure thing, boss.” Ernie didn’t know what this was about, nor did he care. He had his rum, his cigars and his choice of any lusty flesh at his beck and call. Hell indeed!
The Devil arrived just as Senator Reid was being ushered through the intake for the civil service division. This one division alone constituted one third of the Hell, Inc. organization. Of that number roughly 70% were employed as shit shovelers. Senator Reid was hardly the first to be dismayed at their assignment.
“I don’t care what your paper says there, I’m Harry Reid! US Senator for the state of Nevada, I was Senate majority leader! Shoveling shit is a complete waste of my talents. Has the Devil been notified of my arrival? There will be some heads roll around here, mark my words!”
This was fun to watch. The Devil almost hated to interrupt him. “Harry! There you are! They told me you’d be arriving. I believe you met with my chief of staff earlier?”
For an instant Reid froze in panic, fearful of what might have been heard. Still he was relieved to finally get an audience with the lord of the underworld. He had something juicy to trade, or so he thought. Even in death Harry was able to put on that old “aw shucks” schtick, his face transforming into the old mask he used to wear on the floor of the Senate. He whirled then to greet the Devil.
“Boy am I glad to see you. We have got to talk. May I, just a moment?”, Reid motioned at the velvet rope delineating the maze through the civil service division while leaning closer and trying to hiss something private. “I’ve got some very interesting stuff on Trump, you know.”
What was this insane fixation with Trump? Frankly it was growing very tiresome. Hell had dozens of people with similar knowledge or offering on the Clintons and none of them had ever come begging. Of course based upon his own experience with that harpy he could understand where some might fear her more. He had to begrudgingly admit that if circumstance should ever require it, she was a more than capable successor. Not only that, but she wanted the job. That was hard to find these days.
The Devil had other business to conduct with the senator, but decided that it was best to burst this bubble first. “Harry? No, you don’t. And if you did? It wouldn’t matter because I don’t give a shit. I can’t treat you any different, know matter what or who you know, okay Harry? You better get used to the idea that none of that shit matters down here. It’s not personal, it’s business. You understand, I mean hell, you ran the US Senate. Order in the ranks, all of that. You know. So you’re going to be shoveling shit, just the same as all of the other senators.”
He stopped momentarily to allow all of that to sink in to that thick skull. This part of the process was particularly troublesome for those who have spent much of their lives in Washington. Being accustomed, as they are, of being able to deny the reality that surrounds them, proclaim their own alternate reality and then have everyone accept their version despite all proof to the contrary. Worse than alcohol or nicotine, there is no more dogged addiction than this.
Reid was blank and paralyzed. He blinked several times, still trying to process what he had just heard. His mouth moved when he willed it, but no words would come out. For the first time since 1982 Harry Reid was speechless.
“Hey! While I’m here there’s actually another little matter we need to take care of. Just a tiny little thing, Harry. Really. Won’t take any time at all. Are you with me?”
“This war…..is losssttt!”
“Okay Harry, I can see you’re having some difficulty, so I’ll take it slow, alright?”
“I have a friend who tells me that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid any taxes in ten yeeerss-uh!”
“Right. That’s something you said on the Senate floor, that’s good association Harry! Now let’s go back to something else you said there.”
“So, the word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”
“No, not that one, Harry. Lets go back to January of 1989, a little conversation you had with your old buddy, Senator Strom Thurmond. Remember him?”
“The republicans are all racists.”
“Let me cue this up for us...”, the Devil conjured a holographic image in the space between them and the scene he had in mind was replayed before them. “Alright now Harry, let’s pay very close attention to this.” The holographic field pulsed and flickered as the images grew clearer. The other parties in the background were still blurred, but the image of Thurmond and Reid speaking together became crystal clear. The Devil waited for the right moment, then raised the volume.
“Harry let me tell ya’ll somethin’: the day there’s a nigger sittin’ in the White House ya’ll can stuff that pathetic little pecker of yours up my bunghole for all eternity!”
“Well Senator Thurmond as the former head of the Nevada gaming commission I know a good bet when I hear one. You’re on!”
The pertinent part of that conversation revealed, the Devil snapped his fingers and the holograph vanished into thin air.
"I don’t have to worry about what I said in a different place. I’ve always said the same thing. Now does that mean I’ve never changed? I’ve changed, I’ve evolved over the years, a lot of different ways. And so I think somebody like me could get elected in Nevada."
“Harry, the campaigns are over. Now. What’s it gonna be: We gonna chop off your dick or do you actually want to sodomize Strom Thurmond for eternity?”
Then Reid actually smiled. “Ha! Jokes on you, Devil! My wife already cut my dick off! You didn’t think that was actually a gym accident, do you?”
And so Harry Reid marched off to his assignment and after a few weeks he was just one more dickless piece of shit. Just like he had been in life. The Devil was pleased, much to Strom Thurmond’s eternal regret.