Now that exclusivity rights are up with Writers Tribe Review, I’m excited to bring “Tea With A Demon” home to my little website 🙂
Tea With A Demon
Published in Writers Tribe Review’s “Humor” Issue, Fall 2013
Mrs. Chinsey arrived for dinner at the Flitterbys’ home an hour late that evening. Her graying hair, normally set in an impeccable English bun, with sides held taut as the corset her housemaid tied her into, was ever so slightly disheveled.
“My dear, Mrs. Chinsey.” Mrs. Flitterby let in a horrified gasp when she saw her enter the parlor. She stood up from her fine velvet-upholstered chair to greet her. “In the name of Queen Victoria, what happened to you?”
Mrs. Chinsey smiled, abashed, and motioned for Mrs. Flitterby to seat herself again. “I apologize for my tardiness and terrible state.” Mrs. Chinsey took a quick glance at the gold-gilded parlor mirror and patted her hair. She sighed, shook her head, and sat down at the sofa across from Mrs. Flitterby.
“You see, I had a rather unexpected visit this afternoon.” She began pouring some tea for herself. “I suppose I’ve been out of sorts since then.”
“Whatever happened?” Mrs. Flitterby asked, leaning forward.
Mrs. Chinsey took a long, dramatic sip, set the cup down and dabbed her lips with an embroidered silk napkin. “A demon came to my door today.”
“Yes, it was quite the inconvenience. My housemaid was predisposed at the time, so I was forced to answer the door myself. And there stood a demon, dressed in a knee-length frock coat and a bowler cap.”
“How bourgeois.” Mrs. Flitterby shook her head in disgust.
“I know, I was quite shocked by the getup myself. The tan color of the frock did little to compliment that red complexion. I do believe the demons are growing lazy with their dress codes these days. Anyway, he informed me of his demonic status, which was already obvious considering his eyes were glowing a rather petulant shade of red. Then he said in a very official tone:
“I’m here to possess you.”
“Can it wait until next week?” I asked. ‘You see, I can’t very well be possessed this evening. It would be inconvenient considering I’m to dine with the Flitterby family in Kensington.”
“Ah yes, fine folk, the Flitterbys.” The demon nodded as he fidgeted with his cap. “Well, this is terribly awkward, then. You see, I’ve been going quite a while without a good possession. You could say I’m in dire straits.”
“Why don’t you come in, and we’ll work something out?” I opened the door wide enough for the large creature to enter. (Can you believe they’re nearly seven feet tall and four feet wide? He had to turn sideways just to get through, and even then it proved to be quite the challenge. I was forced to pull on his claw-hand with all my strength, and nearly fell back when he finally popped on through.)
“Sorry, ma’am,” he muttered.
“That’s quite all right. I apologize, but our front door isn’t very demon-friendly,” I replied, leading him into my outer parlor. “How do you like your tea?”
“No thanks, ma’am, haven’t drunk the stuff in years.”
“Why ever not? It’s good for the heart—ah wait, you don’t possess one of those, do you?”
The demon looked down at his red hands.
“I do apologize,” I replied quickly. “My knowledge of demons is quite limited. Is there anything else I can order for you? Raw meat, perhaps?”
He looked up. “That sounds delightful, thank you.” His red eyes brightened to a lovely shade of pink.
So I rang the service bell. Thankfully, my housemaid was finally available, and she hurried in. Her face went a ghastly pale when she saw the looming creature in the parlor. (Which, by the way, we’d just had redecorated. I really wish you’d gotten a chance to see it before the ensuing destruction.)
I asked her to fetch us a couple of raw chicken legs and pork fillets, but the poor thing was so stricken with the demon she could barely respond with a squeak. I suppose, her being so young, she hadn’t seen such a fellow before. I felt a maternal need to protect her, but before I could do anything she had run out of the parlor.
“She’ll be back soon,” I assured him.
“Now, to business, if I may?”
“Ah yes. You’re in need of a body, then?”
“Very much so. From the looks of it, you’d be quite the invigorating host.”
I giggled. “Careful, sir, your compliments are making me blush.”
He winked at me and carried on. “I’ve been on the road for some time now through the whole of England. I met some very kind people along the way, but nobody suitable for a good possession. You see, humans need to have a particular zest for life, for that sort of thing.”
“Yes, that would make sense, wouldn’t it?”
“So when do you expect to be available? I’ll only need a few years, really, just to get back on my hooves.”
“I may be dead by then.”
He laughed. “Oh no, ma’am, you’re too young to be thinking like that.”
“You keep flattering me, demon, and I may just offer up my firstborn son’s soul to you as well.” (You see, he was quite the flirt; I really couldn’t help myself.)
“How about next Thursday?” he asked.
I politely rejected and told him I had a charity event at the Royal Hospital. “The Queen will be there, you see. I don’t think she would approve of any possessed gentility in her midst.”
“Ah, I see. The Queen can be strict about those things. Well, this is all terribly inconvenient, now isn’t it?”
“Quite true,” I said. “It seems I simply don’t have the time to serve as your host. I really wish I could be of more help.”
He leaned forward. “You mentioned your son’s soul?”
“Yes, but only jokingly. You see, he became a politician years ago.”
The demon groaned. “Guess that takes him out of the running.” He paused and squinted in thought. “Your maid looked lively enough.”
“Yes, but I need her,” I replied. “The possessed don’t make very good housemaids.”
I could see that the demon was growing agitated. His eyes began firing like the flames of hell itself.
“I apologize in advance.” His voice began losing its levity. “But I believe I won’t be able to control my anger regarding this situation.”
“Then I must ask you to leave.” I stood and politely gestured to the front door.
He sat in place. A terribly revolting green steam began rolling out of his eyes and ears.
I sighed. There was really only one thing to do. From my convenient standing position, I was easily able to kick him in the head with my heels. He fell back onto the ground and began crying out in pain, which was quite the surprise—I’d never expected demons felt pain. I unclipped my cross brooch from my dress and pushed it into his leathery red forehead.
Smoke filled the parlor. It was wretched. The the sulfuric vapors engulfed my entire house within seconds. The poor housemaid fainted from the fumes. It took the better part of ten minutes and my most pungent smelling salts to awaken her.
Mrs. Flitterby shook her head solemnly and took a sip of tea.
“Worse, my good dress was destroyed in the undertaking,” Mrs. Chinsey continued. “Such a tragedy, considering the fabric was imported from Venice decades ago, and we all know the Italians just don’t make silks like that anymore.
“And of course there was the mess in the parlor. I really do wish demons would die more cleanly, like a good Englishman does. Blood was spattered everywhere.” Mrs. Chinsey paused. “I should probably spare the gorier details. You’re starting to look faint.”
Mrs. Flitterby nodded and began waving her fan over her paling face. “I do commend you for such a brave feat, Mrs. Chinsey.”
“Oh, it was only a demon,” she replied with a flick of her hand. “Nothing to worry about. Now what is your marvelous cook concocting for dinner tonight?”