The young devil walked up to the elder Satan's knee and proclaimed, "Uncle, I want to go to that Old Fiddlers shindig upstairs in Oregon."
The elder looked over his beak through his new bifocals and in a booming voice asked, "and why might you want to do that?"
The younger one beamed, "Why to catch a soul or two. I can play a devil of a fiddle, and I have some great ideas I can use to corrupt their minds: young girls all hot for sex, great ideas for rigging elections, some places for a red-hot real estate deal. It will be easy."
The old devil shook his head and mused to himself, 'How do these little twerps get this way. We try to explain the dangers of harvesting from a spiritually diminished society and the words just go through their heads like so much cold water.'
"Well," he snarled, "if I stand aside and let you go, will you promise to bring a soul back just for me? And if you fail, will you promise to give me your soul?" The old giant of a devil cast an evil eye upon the youngster. "And you are still on curfew so you will have to be back by midnight."
The young one quaked a moment, and after thinking over his plan said, "Sure, I can't fail."
"So be it," boomed Satan.
The young, handsome man in western wear and a bright red kerchief around his neck appeared at the door of the hall with a golden fiddle in his hand. The sound of "Old Man Tucker" was streaming through the door from a motley band of fourteen fiddlers, three guitars, and a zither. "What a target rich environment," he chuckled to himself.
Approaching an elderly lady holding a fiddle he said, "I want to play."
"Go sign up and wait your turn, sonny," the old hag responded looking him up from head to toe. "But you're just too young for this competition.". She turned back to the action on the band floor. He walked over, signed the log as "Kid Beauty", and surveyed the scene. He saw many old fiddlers, some men, some women, and some it was not so clear. There were those in hoe-down clothes and those in beautiful clothes. There were only a few young ones. He began to wonder if his plan had a flaw.
He sat down next to a middle-aged woman dressed in glitz and glammer and sitting by herself. "Do you play?" Kid asked as an opening ploy. He smiled his most engaging smile and wriggled his body suggestively.
"No," she barked at him, "he just drags me along to these things to carry the cases. I don't even like the music." She turned away and did not seem to be interested in continuing the conversation. He turned his charm up even higher, but the stiff back simply ignored him.
Kid moved over to sit next to one of the resting fiddlers, an old man with a scuffed old fiddle. "How do you like my fiddle?" He held up the golden fiddle for the old man to see, and it sparkled into the old man's eyes.
"Mine is better," the old man replied through toothless gums. "Found it in a garage sale in Salem. Got it for a song. Hee, hee. Get it, got it for a song." The old man spasmed in laughter at his joke.
"But wouldn't you like to have a new fiddle? Wouldn't you like to have this one? It plays so beautifully." He put it to his neck and drew the bow across the strings. A mournful wail came from the throat of the instrument and wafted across the hall. He was immediately barraged with a chorus of abuse. "Wait your turn! Shut up! Ugh! Get out of here!"
Taking the suggestion of the crowd, Kid backed off. Looking over the hall, he saw a young man of twenty holding a fiddle and looking intently at those playing. Kid walked over and sat beside the young man. "How is it going?" he asked. "I don't see much in the way of girls our age here. But I can roust some up young nymphets just outside. Interested?"
The young man turned to him. "After all the flap on TV, I have just about heard enough of sexy young interns giving free sex to last me a lifetime. No, I am not interested. I came here to fiddle, and besides, you're not my type." He scowled at the Kid and turned back towards the sound of the music.
'Hum, maybe there is a politician or two around.' He spied a jocular fellow holding a glass on high and expounding to the disinterested fellows beside him. Sidling over he was about to speak when he heard the man say, "I say we load all the politicians in the world on the Titanic, wish them 'bon voyage', and then pray for an iceberg." It did not sound like this was a good political convention for stealing elections.
Pulling out the deed to a piece of prime property, he confronted a young couple watching the bands and tempted them with, "You folks look like someone who could really enjoy this prime lot just over next to the river. My uncle has died, and I have to sell it immediately to pay for his funeral. And you could sell it for a huge profit." He put on a mask of grief and pleading.
"Thanks, but I don't do real estate, I am into derivatives. And if I need more money, I'll just exercise some more of my Microsoft options. Besides, this area is too boring." The young fellow took the hand of his companion and they waltzed out the door.
Kid was beginning to get desperate. So far, nothing had even started to work. Then, spying a young girl sitting in a secluded corner, Kid adjusted his kerchief, put on his best smile and sidled over to greet her. "Hi there, and how do you like the music?" He turned his charm up several notches until he was simply exuding it like grease.
"Hi handsome. Oh, this music is okay I guess, but it drags a little. Sit down." Kid felt the stirrings of success approaching as he sat on the couch next to the young lady and scooted nearer. "Oh, what a nice fiddle. It is so, so smooth and shiny. Can I touch it?" She reached out and stroked the neck of the fiddle and then around on the top of the box.
"Uh-hum, you really like it? Would you like to play with it? It really has a beautiful sound when you get it aroused." Kid was beginning to close in to clinch the deal.
"Well, maybe just a little. My mommy always told me not to talk to strangers or play with their fiddles, but I guess it is okay at a fiddlers convention." She reached for the fiddle.
Just then the announcer called, "Kid Beauty, you're on." Kid looked up and realized it was his turn to play for the assembled crowd, and if he was to capture more than one soul, he had to play for them all.
"I'll be right back. Don't go away. Just stay right where you are and then you can play with my fiddle." He smiled, backed up off the couch and taking his fiddle in hand headed for the stage.
Adjusting the mike, he announced "Howdy, folks, I'm Kid Beauty from down under. I am here to play for you my rendition of the latest hit by The Putrid People Eaters," and with that introduction he launched into his version of the latest punk song he had heard played in Oregon. His fiddle wailed and moaned and burst forth in a cacophony of sound. His fingers ran over the neck and the bow stroked the strings. Louder and louder came the sound, building to a full climax of discord. With a final stroke of the bow, he finished and dropped the bow and fiddle to his sides. He bowed.
The crowd sat in stunned silence. Not one hand was raised in applause. In fact, some of the old women were already turning to their neighbors to talk about trivia, and some of the old men were turning their hearing aids back on. He was stunned as well; he thought there would be some in the crowd that would respond to the music he played.
"Well, that is different, so what do the judges say?" The announcer turned to the panel as they held up a row of 1s and 2s. "Thanks, Kid, but guess you need more practice to be any good."
Kid stumbled from the stage in bewilderment. He had been sure his music would captivate some if not all in the crowd. Maybe it was their age; so many of them seemed somewhat ancient. His eyes searched for the young girl on the couch. She was not there, there was only a young man.
He walked back to the couch and asked, "What happened to the girl that was sitting here. I was supposed to come back and talk with her." He continued to look around.
"Oh, that was me," said the same sweet voice he remembered coming from her lips. "Your uncle just sent me along to be sure you did not forget your curfew, and I do like to cross-dress some of the time. By the way, it is time to go. We have one minute to get back."
Kid was dumbfounded. He followed the young man out the door and they passed through it to the gates of hell. Entering the gates, Kid walked up to his uncle and said, "they didn't seem to be interested.'
His uncle smiled. "You should know by now that the people up there have been exposed to so much overload, they are past corruption or feelings. They just want to get back to basics, like listening to fiddle music. Oh well, as they used to say in the movies, 'ce la vive' -- 'ces la pool'." And with that he reached down and plucked the very soul from the young devil. He popped it into his mouth and crunched down. His face lit into a smile, "Younger souls always did taste better," he mused to himself.
Copyright 1998, sjp