It had been quite a long time since I had been back in Hell.
I grew up there and I guess you could say I grew out of it.
At a certain point, I was just hanging around with a bunch of friends who had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives.
Their families had money and they were okay just coasting by, despite all of the cultural humidity.
They were the kind of people to witness a mugging on the street, and to just drive on by, pulling up their coat collars, with eyes on the empty streets ahead of them.
See, everyone kind of has the wrong idea about Hell. Hell is not hot, it’s cold. But it is so cold that it brings this kind of heat out of you.
I pulled into the driveway of the house that I grew up in on Blaze Boulevard. My mother was there, waiting for me. Seeing her there set my heart into sweating palpitations.
She had a red, toothy smile that tinted my mind in a mass of memories passed. I had Skyped her a week prior and told her I was coming back to visit for a week.
I hadn't realized how cold I had gotten since I had left Hell. I guess that's why we come back to our roots.
Being in a place that I am so familiar with gives me a chance to assess everything that I had been doing in my life thus far.
Like a safe space to burn away the cold criticism of the world around me. Back in Hell, I can find my heat.
She waved with an energetic arm and called out to me:
"High heavens, Herb! How horrible you have been, holding such a distance between you and your mama!
" My mother's face was smeared in red lipstick and thick layers of blush were caked upon her wrinkled cheeks.
"Why don't you come on inside and say hello to some of your old friends?" I explained to her that this is just why I had come back and I trotted up the brimstone path, leading to the front door.
Damien, Lucas, Tyre, and BeelzeBob sat in the center of my old living room, cackling to each other, radiating invisible solar flares from the huddle of their poker game.
They hadn't seen me walk in the room yet. Damien tossed a handful of chips onto the table, knocking Lucas' neatly stacked tower into ruins.
"I raise two million!" Damien cracked up like a hyena, exposing his sharp canines. They were implants he had put in to further justify his vampire obsession. It's all he would ever talk about.
He continued. "And if you can beat that, then maybe I'll give you a little taste of my private blood stash. Blood of JFK, dated November 22nd, 1963. Fresh out of the body.
" He raised a smug eyebrow and smirked to one side of his face. "My buddy was the forensic pathologist who gave him the autopsy. Needless to say, he cut me a fresh deal.
It helps to know people." The rest of the poker players just mumbled to themselves while Damien shot a quick glance at me, finally realizing where all of the silence was coming from.
A fire kindled from behind his eyes and they seemed to twinkle. He stood up quickly, knocking the entire table to the floor.
Lucas, Tyre, and BeelzeBob starting yelling and punching one another. Damien walked away from them and towards me, with a hand in his pocket.
"What's up, you cheap motherfucker?" He slapped a hand on my back and knocked the wind out of me.
"Jesus, man. Take it easy would ya? I need this back so I can walk around." I straightened out my shirt and regained my breath. He acted apologetic but I knew he was full of shit.
"You always were the sensitive one, Herbie." He had the same smirk on his face and he shot a glance at his feet, then quickly looked back up at me.
"So what's up with the big surprise, man? What brings you back to these parts?" He dropped his smirk from his mouth and brought it into his eyes.
They were analytical lasers, fixed upon breaking every little thing down into a way that he could understand, for means of control and deception. He was a weasel and everyone knew it.
That didn't make him any less convincing.
"I'm back to take a break from work and feel out my roots a little bit. To see my life from its origin point, you know." Damien brought the raised eyebrow back to his face.
"You always were the strange one, Herbie. Why would you ever leave where you came from? This is where all of your people are. How do you expect to make it out there without a team?"
"Oh, I have a team." The raised eyebrow left Damien's face.
"Yeah? Like who?"
"I'm not here to talk about work, Damien. I came back to see my mother and to see all of you guys.
Can't we have a good time without letting business get in the way?" He smiled and clapped a heavy hand on my back.
"Of course, buddy. Let's go have some fun."
We rocketed down the Underground Autobahn at 666 miles per hour.
When everyone and everything around you moves so fast, you tend to forget how fast you are really going compared to the rest of the world.
Most people are used to driving at a top speed of 70-80 miles per hour, but everyone here had a much quicker mind.
Well, there is a much higher percentage of wrecks here than any part of the world, so maybe that should say something.
Damien was driving and I was in the passenger seat. Lucas, Tyre, and BeelzeBob were bunched into the back. They couldn't sit still.
They were constantly adjusting their arms, so they could be the one to have their shoulders on top of the the others'.
I turned to Damien, who chose not to wear sunglasses, despite the blinding rays of sunlight bleaching his irises.
"Are we going where I think we're going?" I asked him. He kept his eyes straight ahead and nodded slowly, with that characteristic smirk sneaking swiftly upon his face.
I adopted the same smirk and closed my eyes into fantastic internal reveries.
We stepped out of Damien's convertible Firebird, and he raised a hand of presentation to where we had arrived.
"Here we are, boys. The Sun Room. Hottest club in Hell." I rubbed my hands together and felt the heat that came out of them. I thought to myself, now this is what I have really come here for.
We walked into The Sun Room, which was made from black obsidian stone.
It was a rule to keep off of the walls, because they would scald anyone who touched them immediately, even those who had lived in Hell their entire lives.
No one was impervious to the heat held in the black obsidian stone.
A drunkard had once passed out back-first into one of the walls and had burned all of the connective tissue between his vertebrate.
He was never able to walk again but lo and behold, the very same man was in here rolling around in his wheelchair, buying rounds of Fireball Whiskey for everyone in The Sun Room.
I knew that this wasn't the best that The Sun Room had to offer and I nudged Damien, giving him a wink. He nodded his head and pointed to a curtain which was slightly ajar near the back rooms.
He whispered 'five minutes' in my ear and turned his back to me, continuing a conversation with one of the strippers.
Damien and I left the liveliness of the lounge and dipped into the shadows behind the curtains, into the back rooms. The largest man I had ever seen stood between us and a white door.
He raised an eyebrow and studied each of us, letting out a grunt which seemed to signify inquisition. Damien spoke.
"Puritatem volumus lunae tactus." The largest man I had ever seen gave a grunt of acceptance and opened the white door.
The room was a living inferno of white fire. It did not burn our skin. It actually felt rather cool to the touch. Perhaps it was so hot, that it felt cold.
A kind of reverse psychology proposed by the brain, to allow our cognition to keep its wits about itself. Regardless, the white fire was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
It had had been too long.
Damien smiled, exposing those vampiric canines.
"This is what you came back for right? Well what are you waiting for? It's only one person at a time and I would be rude to not allow you to go in first.
" He pointed to the destination: a spinning vortex of white fire in the center of the room.
The pores in my skin loosened and came to life. All of the toxins in my body seemed to pour out and my entire body seemed to sweat all at once. I walked into the fire.
It was great seeing my mother and catching up with all of my friends, but now I must get back to work. I now have the motivation to do any and everything. I feel reborn.
I just know that if I were to stay in Hell everyday, like those guys, I would never be able to get anything done.