My name
is Jeff. I resist photography. I haven't got feet. I have three decks of cards, but one of them is missing the two of clubs, so how shall I tell my fortune? Maybe I'll tell yours instead. I see aliens in your future, possibly Italians, strong men subtracting your parts from the numinous whole. They are an advanced species. They have no addition, only subtraction. They've found a cure for butterflies and ghosts. They dissolve souls in burning liquor made out of sugar and wet slag.

They are not Italians. They may not even be European. They might be giants. They might be hiding in the armpits of pewter demons. And speaking of Italians, the Devil is Etruscan and very sorry about the vases. He will smash your soul, how sorry he is! They don't shave under there, and they don't wear cologne, and they all speak with lisps.

Such is hell. You'll hate it here. It's no fun, and they're mean, and the only money is spare change, and it's never enough, and it's all nickels. That's how entropy works, in fives, nickel by fucking nickel. What they owe you doesn't add up, at all. It falls apart in threes and twos. They don't believe in ones. There are cameras everywhere. If I hadn't gotten out, I'd have hanged myself from a burning rafter. Everything burns forever there, and they never let you down if you hang yourself.

I took me a souvenir when I left. Do you know how valuable brimstone is on the black market? I grind a little up and tell folks it'll get them harder than Chinese math, or cure SARS, grow them hair, grow them a sense of purpose, or I throw it in their eyes and take their money while they scream. It's that kind of thing, my father told me, that landed me in hell in the first place. Well, I got out of there, didn't I?

Had me a ladder. I set it on fire and climbed up to a service tunnel in rural Amercia. The power went out in seven counties, and they brought in the national guard to help combat the flames that erupted across the wheat fields. Millions will go hungry. I didn't mean for that to happen. But when you're in hell, all you know is, you have to get out. You'd do anything.

I left the burning ladder behind. Imagine all the people...