From the other side of the two-way mirror, the Devil smiled.
"Seven-figure salary, for starters," he said, tipping back in his ergonomically-designed executive's chair. "And a company car – you like the new Lexus?"
The mark furrowed his brow, still staring at the contract. "What about a BMW?"
"A Beemer man, huh? Hell yeah, you can have a Beemer!" His grin widened. "And let me tell you, my friend, that's just the start of a long list of bennies. I'm talking stock options. I'm talking write-ups in Fortune. And that's just one side of the coin." His tone grew low, seductive. "When you're the CEO of a major corporation, every man wants to be your friend. And every woman…" Skimming his tongue over his lips, the Devil sighed. "But we mustn't get bogged down in the dirty details of the thing, hmm?"
The mark's hungry expression made it clear that he wouldn't mind hearing all about those dirty details. But the Devil didn't have time to waste.
"So that's my offer. Take it or leave it." The Devil's grin widened even more. He tucked his hands behind his head and leaned back again.
The mark sighed. He was twenty-six, fresh out of business school, and floundering at a lousy job when the Devil found him. The promise of immediate fame, fortune, power, and direction would be enough to sway him; the Devil had seen that from the beginning.
"So," he said cautiously, "I get all that…"
"Success beyond your wildest dreams, right."
"And in return, all you want is – my soul?"
"No better deal in the world." The Devil favored him with his most suave smile yet. "All you've got to do is sign."
The mark waited only an instant more, then seized the ornate fountain pen on the Devil's desk and scribbled his name, with the wild loopy exaggerations of a practiced CEO-style signature, at the bottom of the contract that lay before him.
"Hey," he said. "Red ink."
"That's not ink, buster," said the Devil. "That's your own blood."
Before his mark could respond, the paper snapped itself up into a neat scroll and exploded, leftover bits drifting down like confetti.
"There. That felt suitably symbolic," the Devil said. He reached into the pocket of his suit-jacket and drew forth a small silver rectangle. "And here you go."
The mark reached forward to take it. "What's this?"
The kid's hands shook as he tore off the shiny wrapping. The Devil could barely keep from snickering as his face registered confusion.
"Why – why – what's this?"
"That, my friend, is a stick of gum."
"But – I don't understand…"
"Peppermint, I believe."
"But what do you want me to do with this?"
Aha. This was the fun part.
"Hey, you signed the contract; it's up to you now. Personally, I recommend chewing it. There's not much else you can do with gum. Or you could save it for when you're back here again. In Hell, all your neighbors have halitosis."
"But what does this have to do with my contract?"
"Oh, really." The Devil gave a melodramatic sigh. "That was just a moment ago. Need we review it again?" Before the mark could answer, he held out his hand, into which the scroll materialized, and read aloud. " 'I, Ronald Maxwell Sharpe, hereby sell my eternal soul to the Devil, payment to be made upon my natural death, in exchange for one stick of Extra peppermint gum.' " He raised his eyebrows. "Ooh, Extra. Sugar-free."
Ronald Maxwell Sharpe leapt up, brandishing the stick of gum. "Let me see that!"
"Calm down, my friend," said the Devil. "May I call you Ron?"
"No," he said, glowering.
"Very well, Ron. Read it again."
The scroll bobbed forward and quaveringly unfolded itself before Ron's eyes – which widened.
"It did not say that before!" he yelled, jabbing the gum at the paper, which recoiled and retreated to float above the Devil's shoulder, like a pet macaw.
"Of course it did," said the Devil.
"No, it didn't!"
"Yes, it did."
"It did not."
"Look, we can go back and forth all night here, Ron, but it pretty much comes down to my word against yours. Let's review: I'm Lord of the Underworld; you just got your MBA." He shrugged. "Just remember to read deals with the Devil before you sign them. And really, don't sign things in your own blood. How gauche."
Ok, this is funny. Not exactly new and fresh, but funny. I'd give this five pages or more to get to to fresh. I like the writing. (Take out the stuff in blue). We all know how Miss Snark loves Satan so she's always glad to hear about his antics.