The diner doors swung open and the chain of bells tied to the panic bar jingled. From behind the counter – or bar actually – was a middle aged woman that greeted the man walking through those doors. Her hair was black and her hips were large. In a past life she was probably beautiful.
“Good afternoon, honey,” she pushed through her wrinkled face.
“I am meeting someone here. In fact, that’s him,” said the beautiful man who had just walked through the door while he pointed at a chubby man sitting alone in a booth. He winked at the woman and made his way towards his breakfast date.
As he walked through the diner, every eye of everyone watched him. His body floated, his arms swung, and confidence followed him like a stench. The blonde hair on his head was combed back on top, and the sides were perfectly trimmed. Underneath that golden perfection was a perfectly shaped and groomed black beard. Sandwiched in between those and underneath black sunglasses were a pair of dead green eyes. Though he looked to be about thirty his eyes always gave away his age. Thus, the glasses. Always.
Being on the outskirts of Las Vegas the diner was a hotbed for characters of all kinds. Vomit on the shirt frat boys to virgin nuns were all included the same within the hundred year old list of patrons. Insects of the night and the larva of the morning sat elbow to elbow, eating. This man, though, was different.
“Barbas. Good to see you friend,” the beautiful one said with arms stretched out asking for a hug.
“Ah, Lou. So good to see you, sir!” said the, chubby, older man waiting alone in the farthest booth. His hair was about halfway gone and there were spots on his head from the sun. After a couple attempts he slid out of the booth he was waiting in and embraced Lou. He was about half as tall as Lou and twice as fat.
“Thank you for taking the time to meet with me,” Lou said as he bent himself into the booth. He pressed down against his suit jacket and slid in sideways. He was really dressed for the wrong side of town. Really, he was dressed too nice for any part of that town. Which is to say, Lou dressed like he was from a different time.
“It’s an honor to meet with you, sir! It’s been a long time since we’ve talked face to face,” said Barbas as his slid back to his spot on the warmed vinyl bench. He was beaming with joy. Lou was something of a hero to Barbas. “It’s been what? A couple years or so, yeah? Right?”
“Yeah probably. I would say right around that.” He was looking down the long diner walkways. The vinyl composite tile floors had alternating directions of their patterns and dimly reflected the fluorescent light from the lights in the ceiling. “I haven’t been to this city in forever. I love it here.”
“Yeah, it’s a good place for-”
“Anything I can get you honey?” asked the same middle aged woman that greeted him at the door.
“Yeah, I’ll take a coffee please,” he said out of the side of his mouth, not moving his neck. “We can smoke in here, right?”
“Sure can, honey. I’ll be right back with that coffee. How you doing, honey?” she asked the round Mr. Barbas.
“I could use another coke probably. And maybe another order of fries.” He stopped and looked up at her. His eyes were also covered by sunglasses. Underneath those black sunglasses, his lips curled up at the waitress. Which is to say he smiled. “When you get a chance.”
“Okay, honey,” said the middle aged woman, smiling back and walking away.
From a pocket in his coat the very beautiful man, Lou, took out a pack of cigarettes. He packed them gently on the table then pulled out one white cigarette and lit it with a match. As he pulled the first drag from the smoke he looked out the window.
“At least they still let you smoke in Vegas,” Lou said, staring out the window. “The rest of the country has got that wrong, I’m afraid.”
“Yes sir, I agree. They focus on the weirdest stuff. Like cigarettes,” Barbas said, pulling out his own pack of cigarettes. Also from his coat pocket. He was dressed eccentrically and outlandishly nice too.
The pair spent the next several minutes in silence and smoking. Outside the window, the desert buzzed like a motel’s neon vacancy sign. New age buildings towered over their ancestors. Everything buzzed underneath the Nevada sun in the golden years of the day’s life.
“Oh well, still plenty here I love though,” he said, shooting a smile to Barbas. “Alright, how’s business, my boy?”
“Good, good,” Barbas said. “Things are always pretty steady here, sir. We are in Sin City after all.” They both laughed.
“I never understood that. Americans are so damned weird. The erroneous names they give to things.” Lou was looking out the window again. “We are having to change our tactics with them now. If there is one thing that you can count on them to do, it’s forget.” He raised his beautiful eyebrow and nodded.
“Not sure I understand, sir. What do you mean?” Barbas asked humbly.
“Oh, Americans have tunnel vision in a way that is unparalleled. They do-”
“Here you guys go,” said the waitress, lowering her sausage arm and setting down Lou’s coffee in front of his chest. “Any cream or sugar, dear?”
“No, thank you.”
“Okay, and here you go,” she said, setting the order of fries and coke down in front of Barbas. “Anything else I can grab you gentlemen?”
“No, thank you,” Lou said again from the side of his face.
The pair put out their half swallowed cigarettes simultaneously. Fat Mr. Barbas poured ketchup on his fries and began to indulge in the salty snack. Lou pressed the ceramic cup of black liquid to his lips and took a pull.
“I guess it’s not fair of me to say that Americans are forgetful. All people are.” He set the cup down. “People are forgetful. Forgetful and selfish. And Stupid.”
“Yes sir, they are,” Barbas said looking down at his fries and taking another fistful.
“Take for example, racism. It seems like yesterday I was in Memphis when they shot that preacher.” He curled his lips. “I was standing on the balcony. I ever tell you the story?”
“Don’t think you have sir.” Barbas was now looking at the beautiful one.
“Yeah, do you remember that man called Martin King, or something like that? I want to say it was sixty nine, or sixty eight. But I was there the afternoon he was shot. It was a beautiful outing.” Lou smiled and took another sip. “Good bit of fun. His necktie blew off from the bullet. Remind me to tell you the story sometime.”
“I vaguely do remember that, sir. You had me working down in Panama around then. I read it in the papers the next day,” Barbas remembered.
“Good bit of fun indeed. Half of the people that cheered for his death that day had fought to the death against the Germans and their ideology only a few years beforehand.” Lou let out a smokey chuckle. “It’s hilarious, really. Now here we are, set for a similar path. The more people live, the more they forget about people like Mr. King. The more they forget about the Nazis”
“The Nazis, now those were the gravy days,” Barbas remembered again.
“Yes, Barbas, yes they were.” Lou pulled out another cigarette. “Those days were some of my favorite, my dear boy. I daydream of walking through France, the rubble underneath my feet. Everything smelled like smoke and death. The sky was gray for a decade. The camps, with all those bodies. That was some of my finest work. Were you in Europe then, Barbas?”
“I was in the Philippines, sir. There would be days that we would achieve our monthly quota within minutes. It was incredible.” Barbas lit Lou’s cigarette before pulling out his own. “Sometimes the bodies would be stacked so high, I could use them as shade for my afternoon nap.” Barbas lifted his hand to emphasis the height of the macabre picture he just painted.
“Good days indeed. It is said that humans are all created equally, doesn’t really seem that way to me.” Lou took a drag, tilted his head back and released a plume of tobacco smoke. “The big man, he can tend to bend the truth I think.”
“I do too, sir.”
“Anyways, all that to say it’s time we really push the whole racism thing again. That’s why I wanted to meet with you. I need you to head to Washington DC for a couple months. I have an angle I really want to see through.”
“Okay understood. I will head out this afternoon, and start to resurrect and cultivate that.” Barbas was taking out a notepad.
“Good.” Lou took a drag. “And just so we are clear, you aren’t resurrecting anything. You are just going to ramp it up. Racism is a constant. I made it, so I should know.”
“Understood sir.” Barbas scratched out something he had written on this notepad.
“I have given you a really helpful headstart and spoken with our people in the news business.” A smile curled up Lou’s lips again. “It’s really shaping up nicely. They call themselves the left and the right I believe. I don’t understand that either. They both nurse from the same septic tit, after all.”
“Okay, great. The media really opens doors for the little guys like me. If there is one thing that I do know about Americans, it is that they love their news stations.” Barbas was scrolling on his pad again. “I hate to be the one to bring it up, but what about the big guy upstairs? Should I anticipate any blow back from him or his church?”
Lou threw his head back and laughed hysterically. Barbas feeling odd but relieved that he did not anger Lou did the same. The passion in Lou’s laughter was the kind that made the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end. Which is to say, it was scary.
“Old boy God, and his little confused bride.” Lou took a long drag and let the smoke out of his nose. “Now that is funny. No, don’t expect much from him. I know how to stay within my bounds. His church is also a non-factor. They will not acknowledge it. Racism to them, doesn’t exist. It’s in churches, dear friend, that segregation still lives happily. That’s why it’s such a home run.”
“Understood. I am just trying to wrap my mind around it.”
“Actually, Barbas, not many people in this country do acknowledge it. That is why I call them forgetful. The ones that do acknowledge it are made quiet by our boys down there in the poverty department. The rich people who speak out are taken care of by our boys in the media. I own this world, friend. Every damned country on this planet is in my hand, that includes the strong ones!” Lou’s back went stiff and his fists clenched. There was static in his words that snapped at the oxygen in the room.
“I know you do, sir, I am just wrapping my mind around it all.”
“Oh I know, Barbas.” Lou’s back softened and he slouched back into the booth. “Don’t worry, these big countries are easy. It just takes time. Remember Rome?”
“Yes sir I remember.” Barbas said thinking back to the days of Rome’s power. He thought back upon a certain man that hated racism in those days. A man that he and Lou, or Lucifer to be proper, had conspired to murder. He did not like thinking about that man, it made his stomach upset.
“It just takes time.” Lucifer smiled at the window. “Like all good things.”
The two continued on. Between puffs of smoke and sips of their drinks, they continued their business of conversation and plotting. Every now and again the waitress would come refill their respective drinks.
When the two decided to pay the bill and head out the sun, in its senility, had painted everything in the sky orange. A few miles in the distance the strip, with its hotels and casinos, started to sparkle. That vacancy sign buzz was still singing in everything and in everyone’s chest.
“Well, Barbas, I’ll see you in a week or so. I am going to make a quick pitstop on my way over to DC,” said Lucifer as he stood up from the table. “A little town call Charlottesville in Virginia needs my attention. Some good ol’ boys just need a little bit of direction.”
“Sounds good, sir. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you in Washington,” Barbas said sliding out of the stall.
“Barbas,” Lou said as he placed both his hands on his shoulders and looking down into his face. “The gravy days are on their way again. America will be the new Rome, and we will walk together over the debris. If all goes to my plan, my boy, I promise you destruction you haven’t seen in a long while. It just takes time.”
Lou and Barbas said their goodbyes in the parking lot. Barbas got into his car and drove off towards the glitter of the manmade oasis. Satan, or Lou as he preferred to go by, sat himself down on his Harley Davidson. He slid his hand across his blonde, beautiful, hair and put his helmet on. With the defiant desert heat bleeding well past sundown, he wiped his white brow and kicked on the bike. Satan gripped both handlebars, pulled out of the parking lot, and headed straight for Virginia.