Bewildering Stories

The Critics’ Corner

Danielle L. Parker writes about...

Beverly Forehand’s “Acquisitions

Stories about deals with the devil have been around since my Anglo-Irish forbears spun stories of Auld Nick and before, but all the same, I enjoyed Beverly Forehand's spoof. I think what I enjoyed most was the Everyman tone of its protagonist, our Demonic bag-boy, who's just doing a job, just like any blue-collar job in the world.

In fact, the story can be read as an allegory of Ordinary Grunt Life as Hell. That's the sly fun of it. There's Joe Blow, a.k.a. Chuck the Demon, putting in his eight hours a day at his nothing job, suffering the abuse of uncaring superiors and meaningless brain-dead toil. Having recently departed a similar sort of servile slavery, which I shall refer to forever in my mind as That Cockroach Job, I surely sympathized. Do we have to go to hell for the punishment or do we make our own? I think I can guess Beverly's answer!

The notion of the Soul as a sort of animating force without individual substance, as a product that can be re-used and re-sold, was also novel. Beverly apparently hits on the same logic issue I always had with those deal with the devil folk tales. If someone's willing to sell his or her immortal soul for well, anything, then why does His Horny One have to buy it? It's his for the taking anyway. Time, as my mother is fond of saying darkly, will take care of them. But Beverly cleverly solves that issue: those re-usable souls have a nice capitalist mark-up awaiting them!

The story could use a little tightening-up in its lead-in, although Chuck's monologue does set the tone of the story nicely. It's page 3 on the printout before we got to any forward action of the plot. But the ending where Chuck indulges in one spit-in-their-face, chocolate-flavored act of rebellion made me laugh. Keep up the good work, Beverly!

Copyright © 2005 by Danielle L. Parker

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