Hoshti Goshtas (rpeate) wrote in ilcommedia,
Hoshti Goshtas

Dante Paper Five: "It's Not Easy Being Black"

Today I pushed seventeen bribe-takers back under the boiling pitch. I don’t know why they keep emerging; they know we will push them back down. There is no escape. We never rest.

We enjoy our work. These sinners were among the worst of the worst above, among the living, taking bribes to silence their consciences. They do not deserve more mercy than they receive from me, and they will not receive it. To fail to punish these criminals would be to commit a crime myself, to fail in my duty to the One who rules us all.

I am a servant of the Lord, executing His will. I execute it gleefully, because it is a pleasure—punishing evil is satisfying work. Some might consider this a dirty job, but I do not. I attack my work with gusto.

I was flaying a barrator with my fork the other day, another soul who dared to attempt a complete escape by jumping out of the pitch and onto the bank of the river, with Big Pig, who was picking sinews out of the flank of one over his shoulder. Then Big Pig said to me, “I grow weary of this tending, this pursuit and punishment.” He continued to pick absently at the flesh writhing in pain.

I was mortified by this blasphemy, and expressed outrage as well as confusion. “What?” I cried. “You dare to oppose the Divine Will? How can you lose ardor for the pursuit of Justice? We are its agents!”

But Big Pig looked at me sadly and said, “I always wanted to be a musician. I just don’t have it in me to fight it anymore.” Pick, pick. I could see his heart wasn’t in the torture he was inflicting, and it pained me.

“A musician!” I spat. “Think of this as your music!” I urged, as I tore sinew off the screaming wretch on my fork. And what beautiful music his singing made! I indicated him with a gesture. “Hmm?”

“It’s no good,” Big Pig sighed and went away. I worried for him and what was clearly a case of mental illness, and a burning occurred in the pit of my stomach for the rest of the day. I could not understand it. Here was a cleric to torture! Oh, the hypocrisy. What a delight to give this corrupt soul its just desserts!

But that night I was troubled. I mentioned this disturbance to Evil Tail. I asked what would become of Big Pig. Such a subversive could disrupt our entire organization, which up to then had been a model of harmony, efficiency, and good morale. We had always performed well, but yet I felt myself distracted by this case. If this sickness had been allowed to spread, it could lead to negligence, even an escape. I had to prevent this possibility by speaking to Evil Tail of my concern.

“Oh, he’s already gone,” E. T. said.


“He submitted a transfer request. Paperwork gets signed fast here. He’ll be happier with his new assignment. He’s up there now, with a harp. Are you still happy in your work?”

“Am I!” I exclaimed, curling my tail, letting my tongue fall out between my teeth.

“You’re an inspiration, Harlequin! That’s why I want you to train our new recruit.”

I swelled with pride, noticing for the first time the young demon waiting eagerly behind Evil Tail. “Thank you for your confidence, Evil Tail!” I said. “I won’t let you down.”

“Just don’t let them out!” he joked, indicating the bribe-takers below with a wave of his fork. The three of us laughed.

After Evil Tail had left us, I began to instruct Foul Breath on the use of the fork. “Now, you hold the fork thus—grip the handle as if you are shaking hands . . . ”

The life of a demon is sweet.

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