The Wonderful Recruitment of Mrs. Whistlefarb (A Short Story)

27 Sep

Maggie Whistlefarb passed away due to complications relating to hip-surgery on May 27th of the year she was to celebrate her sixty-first birthday. Sometime after her death, she found herself walking through a thick fog that made her squint in hope of penetrating the grey color surrounding her. Maggie knew she was dead, but that fact seemed inconsequential to her, and she worried more about the anesthesiologist who gave her an incorrect dosage and caused her to aspirate into her oxygen mask and drown on her own vomit. He would feel horrible about his actions and attempt to alleviate his guilt by drinking too much and colliding with a station-wagon carrying a father of four who was being fellated by a rent boy. The anesthesiologist would survive, but the prostitute would die from head trauma and the father of four would succumb to his injuries two days later, having lost too much blood when the rent boy bit off his penis as a result of the sudden impact. The scandal would cause an unflattering light to shine on the dead father and his children, who would all suffer abandonment issues and battle substance abuse for the rest of their lives. The male whore was not mourned by anyone, except for the anesthesiologist, who would go on to resign from the hospital, move to the coast and drink himself silly until his liver gave out and his body remained undiscovered for two weeks.

Maggie had no idea how she knew this, but the need to investigate her ability to know all things, present and past, did not strike her. She merely moved through the fog and saw her entire life as if it was on a plate in front of her. Her husband, Dennis, was the manager of “Time 4 Bed”, a furniture store that also sold novelty clocks that were imported from Belarus. He was introduced to Maggie by her father, Michael Bensozia, when she was twenty-three and the two were married eight months later. Maggie knew she was the prize given to Dennis to buy the favor of his father, Lucas Whistlefarb, an industrialist who subsequently invested in Michael’s business (an import-export consortium specializing in the shipping of empty freight containers.) Maggie’s marriage to Dennis was a continuation of her relationship with her father, minus the obvious intimacies that come with married life. She served him well, as her mother had served her father, and as she served her father after her mother died from a heart attack in the middle of a farmer’s market. Maggie and Dennis never spoke in depth about anything; he never sought her council; they fought only about domestic issues; they stopped sleeping together after the birth of their daughter, Candice. Maggie hated the name, but Dennis and his family insisted on naming the child Candice, as they had an affinity for it. The Whistlefarbs had four other Candices in their ranks.

Candice Whistlefarb was raised as well as Maggie could raise her, but the child took after her father in ways that left Maggie out of influence’s reach. Candice treated Maggie as Dennis did: courteous, given to occasional false interest and hidden disdain. When Candice left home at nineteen, Maggie was relieved. When people asked her if she suffered from empty nest syndrome, she lied and told them she did. However, she wished her home was emptied of Dennis as well. She did not desire company, nor did she fear it. She merely ached to be alone, far from the noise of the world. Her life continued unabated as she continued to lie her way through social occasions and conversations with her husband. When her daughter got married, she felt happy only because she would no longer have to feign worry about Candice’s life. She’d met the groom only once before the wedding and he struck her as an unspectacular human who thought Chinese tattoos made him an individual and went on tirades about he, and only he, could revolutionize the advertising industry. Maggie was not surprised when he lost his job and went to work for a company that sold billboard ad-space near the airport. A few years later, he become a re-born Christian and divorced Candice and moved to small town in the mountains to become the reverend of his own church. He was murdered by an obsessed parishioner who believed the reverend was Christ arisen and who attempted to eat the body before the police, responding to a report of screaming and blaspheming coming from the rectory, pulled the mad believer off the loin-cloth dressed corpse.

Candice never re-married and she would move in with her father after Maggie’s death. The two would bicker constantly and be miserable at all hours of the day. Maggie felt neither woe nor pleasure at her husband and daughter’s predicament, and for the first time since she found herself in the fog, wondered why she no longer felt anything. It did not bother her, but it made her curious. She enjoyed feeling curious as she had never been curious about anything before, save for the obvious curiosities of adolescence. She had not been surprised by anything since the wondrous discovery of her own sexuality and those warm afternoons and cold evenings when her fingers would travel across the mounds and valleys of her body and cause her to tremble and marvel at her wet fingers dipping in and out of her and stroking her to orgasm. As she thought about herself then, Maggie realized she could still feel. She stopped walking through the fog and imagined pleasuring herself. She only had to think about the glorious feeling when she erupted in climactic ecstasy. It had been remarkably easy, and she gave credit to the surrounding fog and emptiness beyond.

With Maggie still in the throes of self-administered passion, it took her a few moments to realize a figure approaching out of the haze. The figure was that of a man, but not any type of man she had ever seen. He seemed to be made of the emptiness he emerged from. Maggie straightened up and waited for him to speak.

“I am Abraxas.”

“I’m Margaret. Please don’t call me Maggie. I’ve always hated it.”

Abraxas smiled and offered his hand for her to shake. She did.

“Where am I?” Margaret asked.

“You are where you want to be. It is important to realize that.”

“Can I be other places as well?”

“You can be wherever you want to be. It is important to acknowledge that.”

It was Margaret who held out her hand this time and told Abraxas that he should lead her to where she wants to be. He took her hand, interlaced his fingers with hers and guided her further and further into the fog. All that remained of Margaret was the previously rare sound of her giggling and the lingering aroma of her orgasm.

 ***

 It was three weeks after Margaret’s death that heaven realized its error and sent Samael into the fog to investigate. When Samael emerged from the fog and reached the gates of hell, he saw Abraxas sitting at the grand entrance peeling a mineola. The minor demon smiled up at the minor angel and the two greeted each other as old friends. Samael sat next to Abraxas and accepted half of the deceptive fruit.

“You already took her, did you not?” Samael asked with a sigh.

“I did.”

“Did you lie to her?”

“I didn’t have to.”

The two beings stood up and Abraxas pointed through the gates into the netherworld. Samael saw Margaret and what she had become.

“She’s vying to be Queen,” said Abraxas, “Doing pretty well in the polls, now that I think about it.”

Samael could see Margaret Whistlefarb was doing well and she had found a place among the upper echelon of demons and bringers of death. Abraxas informed him that she had gone back to her maiden name, Bensozia and everyone referred to her by that name. They sat down again and looked at each other with affection. They shared a laugh, toasted their friendship with the fruit and said their goodbyes. As Samael was leaving, he turned to Abraxas and said, “Some you win, some you lose.”

THE END

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