Chapter 3

Last night was a blur, a blur involving Issabella’s favorite smoothie bar, a demon, and a fish named Gunther. And before that, it was another night, another job, sexorcising demons, a tantalization of the wicked, bringing evil to its knees, for capture and depositing back to the horny hell whence it came.

But last night was different. A predictable end-game had turned into an unwanted carnal invitation to the seedy-side of middle America. One demon a night was enough, more than enough, but two was too much. Issabella took pride in her job. Ridding pesky evil was good for a girl’s esteem, extra coin, extra exorcise and a reputation that few could share. It wasn’t the type of reputation you would put in the yellow pages; it was an obscure note on bulletin boards; it was a whisper from ear to ear between society members with a discreet problem. It was a job that had to be done. But last night had been different.

Far different, and far worse.

Last night, her sanctuary was invaded. An unexpected exorcism at ground-zero, her favorite juice bar. Temple of the Smoothie, owned by her friend Raskal. A demon had come to her. Yes, a demon had come to her. The audacity. The fucking audacity. Which now went down as case number 336.

Was someone bringing the war to her home turf?

Someday her adventures might make a great book, or perhaps a Hallsmark movie. She laughed to herself, knowing that would never happen. The morning had come too soon for a respectable demon hunter, and even quicker for her. It was Wednesday, and Wednesday was owned by the man, the pizza man. Toss the dough, spread the toppings and feed the oven machine. It was like making art. A round canvas begging for tomato paint, veggies, meat, and cheese, then into a hot oven via the long wooden shovel known as the pizza paddle. She could paddle someone’s butt with this, from across the room. She thought. A nice hard muscular male butt. She would apply a slight blush of red across the cheeks. Then surely, she would have to make it all better with soft kisses, nibbles and direct nipple to cheek massage. Someday…

Suddenly a woman’s hand punctured her daydream. It cut across the counter and grabbed Issabella’s sleeve. The paddle jerked with a spasm and the pie sailed toward the cashier.

“Hey! You got pie in my ones and fives?!” Alphonso called out.

“Sorry boss!” She turned toward the woman. “Can I ahh… help you?”

“I’d like a pepperoni with extra cheese, and a demon removed from my house.”

The woman appeared upper-class with a short pointy nose and blonde bouncy bob, but her eyes told the real story. They looked haunted. They looked like three nights of espresso on three hours of sleep.

“I think you have may have mistaken me,” Issabella spoke. “That will be thirteen dollars and forty-five cents”

She reached into her purse. “I’ll give you one-hundred and thirteen dollars and forty-five cents.”

“Shhhhh… I can’t hustle demon removal while I’m at work. However…”

Work ethics were work ethics, but one-hundred-dollars can make you question them.

The woman passed a note across the counter. “My name is Annie.”

Annie had a classic face. It was the face of couples-tennis at brunch, a gold link necklace for breakfast, and very expensive running shoes for a stroll around the mall.

“Please come to my house tonight.” She urged.

Issabella’s smile turned to a harsh whisper. “Speak in pizza code.” Her voice returned. “So, tell me about this pizza?”

“Well, um… it’s not wearing… any cheese? And its… ah… very saucy.”

“Oh?”

“My husband doesn’t normally like that type of pizza, but he can’t resist it. The next thing you know, it’s inside him!”

“I see, when did you first discover this pizza?”

“About two weeks ago, we went to a friend’s house and they had this same pizza.”

“What the fuck!?” Issabella announced a little too loudly.

“Swear Jar!” Alphonso called out from the pay station.

“Sorry!…” She whispered. “Shit, big brother. Tell me more.”

“Ok, I’m a little embarrassed, but we are…” She paused and her volume dialed down to a breath on the tongue. “swingers.”

“Swingers?”

“Talk louder please!” Alphonso called out again.

“Yes, we SWING pizza here! We SWING them right into our authentic pizza wood oven! Right here at Mafioso Pizza!”

Alphonso’s habit of catching every third word had brought a smile to his face.

Issabella squeezed Annie’s hand in reassurance. “I’ll come to your house tonight.”

“Oh thank you.”

So here we go again, Issabella thought. Another night, another demon. Lately, there had been no peace for the wicked, or more so, for the wicked hunters. She remembered a time not long ago when most the calls were explainable. The time when a demon was actually the wind whistling through a tree outside, or the frantic call was a hidden Sybian in the closet accidentally switched on by a playful house cat.

“Pizza in!” She hollered.

She remembered the first time she really cut her teeth. Case 11: The Mulville house on Basker Lane. A hot demon at a pajama party. Issabella had realized the demon was attracted to her, and she used it. Instinctively. And that’s what you do, you utilize what you got, or as they say, you shake your moneymaker. She had learned the beasts name at the drop of her bra and used him like a comfortable sock that had tumbled many-moons on dryer cycles. Its name was Olaf the Petty. Putty in her hands, and the first notch on her purse.

But what thrill would tonight hold? Another demon? Or another house cat? However, if she understood pizza-code correctly, this monster was trying to take possession of the husband. Sounds more like a dybbuk. It’s a definite body-dominance case. But why? They were swingers… demons enjoy swinging? Probably. That means they liked games. Perhaps she would take the pie-paddle with her.

“Pizza out!”

………………………………………………………………….

She arrived at the Becker residence. It sat back in a gated community that was lined with the hallmarks of better money; impeccable landscaping, brick paved driveways and their own wine tasting hall with bouncy castle. She held her breath and rang the doorbell. Officially, case number 337 had begun.

The door flew open. “Please come in huntress”— Annie grabbed her hand and pulled her into the house—“It’s bad.”

“Are you OK?” Issabella questioned.

“Yes, I think. But he’s inside my husband, Brad.”

“What, oh?”

“Yes, sorry I contacted you at the pizza place, but I’m desperate”— Annie looked to the window and focused outside as if hoping her words would slither away on a breeze— “I… I normally wouldn’t tell you this because… well, we rarely go outside our secret circle of trust—”

“Yes?”

“As I started to tell you earlier, we are… swingers.”

Annie expected a pause of shame, or more-so, a gasp, followed by the pause of shame. There was none.

“I see,” Issabella said.

“It all started innocently enough. We had known this other couple for years. Then one night we were all doing jello-shots and playing Yatzee on their veranda, and the next thing you know we were all naked.

“You didn’t have to tell me, but thank you.” Issabella smiled warmly.

“Once a month, I’d have two guys lathering me in their passion.”

“Wow… but anyway, down to b—”

“Two hunky men, one was my husband Brad, god he feels so good inside me… all hard and strong. Then Josh on the other end, kissing my mouth and running my chin between his thighs. Veronica doesn’t mind at all, because she knows she’ll always get her turn. I wasn’t jealous. We are friends. And besides, it really turned me on.”

“And.. ahh.. you have a problem?”

“Oh yes sorry, I got carried away.” Annie continued. “So anyway, a month ago things started as normal, but instead of Yatzee, Josh brought out a Ouija board—”

“Oh no…”

“Yes! We used it, and it was like something strange came over us. We all went wild!”—Annie’s eyes were animated as she recounted—“Brad and Josh had covered themselves in confectioners sugar and were dancing around the room. Veronica was humping a stuffed animal. I found myself riding Veronica. Then the sugar spilled all over! I don’t know what happened? Even Brad and Jake got friendly!  By the time it was over, the house looked like it was hit by a snowstorm and the guys looked like powdered doughnuts.”

“Possession and hive influence… interesting.” Issabella nodded.

“But, I hesitated to get in touch with you due to our situation. If you don’t want to take the job, I understand. I mean… I know you have to be all pure for exorcisms.”

“I’m sure I can handle it,” Issabella spoke confidently.

“Anyway, the demon found a way to get inside Brad.” Annie continued, “And at first I liked it. Brad said he was possessed and wanted to make love. It was amazing, sexy, but a little strange… the first ten times.”

“Strange?”

“Yes. He wanted to use our dish-soap as a body wash.” Her face scrunched unpleasantly.

“Oh god…”

“Please. I said, we have shower gel! Then he tried to use the vegetable scrubber like a loofah a sponge.”

“Yikes. But when did you suspect Brad was a demon?”

“It’s the little things, we women notice. He started talking about underground lairs and world domination. Brad usually talks about golf.”

“Oh shit…”

“Anyway, I’d like Brad back now. Will you do it?” She put her hands on Issabella’s shoulders as if hoping to secure the anchor.

This was a woman, who despite her shared recreational interests, loved her husband. This made things more sticky for Issabella. It was an emotional powdered doughnut that would have to be eaten with nimble fingers. She knew what she had to do; to coax the devil out of Brad, and this made her relationship with Annie uncomfortable.

“I’ll pay you double!”

Also, she didn’t want ANYONE knowing about her tricks of the trade. After all, what happens in Vegas…

“I will need you to leave the house, Annie.”

“Why?” She questioned shaking her blond hair.

“Because… ah.. it could be dangerous.” Issabella returned the pact by placing her hands on Annie’s shoulders, then spoke firmly. “There could be icky Ecto-demon slime, it’s a fucking mess.”

“Will Brad be OK?”

“Oh yes, I’m sure Brad will be fine. So why don’t you take the night off, go relax, get your nails done, hit the spa?”

Annie looked at the huntress with admiration in her eyes. “I’ll be paying you triple.”

Issabella smiled. “Now… so where is this demon husband of yours?”

“He’s locked himself in the bathroom upstairs. He’s getting worse. He’s probably using Brad’s toothbrush as a pube comb.”

“He seems to be into hygiene.” She noted.

“I hope he doesn’t try to seduce you”— Annie hesitated—“I know you didn’t sign up for that.”

“I can handle Brad.” She spoke bluntly.

“Just bring my man back, huntress.”

With a turn to the door, she exited. Her expensive running shoes being employed to the fullest with a quick jaunt to the car, en route to the spa.

With Annie gone and the door locked, Issabella set her purse down by the couch and dropped her overcoat to the floor. She proceeded upstairs to the bathroom. She knew this would be tricky. There was a demon living inside a man… she would have to gain its trust. She would have to appeal to him, to draw him out. She’d have to get that monster out of Brad and into the real world so it could be trapped. This beast was different, and she knew it. Undoubtedly part wraith. Probably a third class, hitching a ride inside a human. A joy ride within a susceptible host. A party inside a Volvo.

Outside the white bathroom door, she heard nothing. Was it sleeping? She rapped on the door.

“Hey! Anyone in there!?”

An explosion of noise on the other side told her evil was well awake. It was times like these that the unknown was truly scarier than the known.

“My name is Issabella. I come to visit you.”

“Issabella?” A very male voice echoed from inside the bathroom.

“Yes. I’m here about a problem.”

“What problem would that be?” The very male voice was now dismissive.

“I understand there is a pesky demon in your body.”

There was silence, only for a moment. It was the pause of unsteadiness. Of unknowing. It was the instant just before a foot would touchdown on a slippery rock.

“I AM THAT DEMON!” It roared suddenly.

Issabella flinched. “I… I’m here to talk”—she regained control—“I need to see you.”

“If you dare.”

“Unlock the door.”

The sound of a latch bolt sliding through a faceplate broke the silence. Issabella hesitated for a few moments. She wasn’t sure what would greet her on the other side of the door. A man? A demon? A naked man? And then the variables, always the variables. An angry man? A normal man? A sexy man? Or… an angry demon? A dumb demon?… or even a sexy demon? Behind the door, the unknown, a stranger in the dark, but she was the light. She knew she must coax the demon out of Brad and imprison it. She faltered. Demons were tricky, they were hustlers. At the end of the hall was a mirror. One last self-check. All five-foot-six inches of Issabella, glowing in a short skirt, black stockings, sweater of protection and low-cut canvas sneakers. Ready for action. Ready for the hustle.

“Ok, I’m opening the door now.”

She held her breath and pushed at the door. It gently swung wide open.

To be continued.