“Did he really think he could get away with it?” With his foot on Paul Simmons’ corpse, Harry Caine scowled at Simmons’ widow. “He broke the rules, he paid the price.”
“Get away with what?” Still incredulous, Marla Simmons stared at the body. “All I asked him to do was bring me the scissors and be careful! Then he laughed and said if he could blow off sixteen parking tickets, he could certainly run with scissors—and he did! And then he fell—”
She began to cry, staring down at the open scissors, which had thrust through Simmons’ eyes and into his brain.
“Your husband was a fool,” Dan Parker said curtly, adjusting his tie as he stood beside Caine. “Some things you can’t get away with: Failure to clean up your room, running with scissors, traffic violations—”
“Can’t get away with them any more, my partner means,” Caine said. “Not while we’re on the job.”
Marla stared at the two men in shock. “Is that some kind of sick cop joke?”
“It’s not a joke, it’s the law of the universe,” Parker said.
“And I didn’t say we were cops,” Caine added. “I told you we represented justice.”
“What the hell?” Marla’s expression hovered between bafflement and rage. “I thought you were detectives, you damn—”
“What kind of a lady uses profanity?” Parker frowned. “Maybe your mouth should be washed out with soap. A lot of soap.”
“She’s grieving, Dan.” Caine laid his hand on his partner’s arm. “We’ll overlook it this time, ma’am, but be warned: God marks every sparrow, especially the badly behaved sparrows. Watch the potty mouth.”
Before Maria’s eyes, the two men vanished.
With the tips of their wings brushing the buildings on either side, Parker and Caine soared invisibly through the city. “This is the life, Dan. All those years, watching sin run rampant in our society, and now we finally get to strike back.”
“The world is a cesspool, but we’re flushing out the filth.” A dozen yards below them, a skinhead shoved an old woman to the pavement then snatched her purse. “Throwing that jerk down on his scissors was pure poetic justice.”
“The Lord told us to take delight in serving him, remember?” A young man tossed a candy wrapper to the pavement; Parker swooped down and shoved him in front of an oncoming truck. “But sometimes people make me too mad to be creative.”
“Like that vermin having dinner down there?” Caine pointed through the window of a five-star restaurant.
“The one who’s using the salad fork for his steak?” Beneath them, a smirking man steered a frightened fifteen-year-old towards his car, his hand around her breast. “Crass, but we’ve seen worse.”
“His girlfriend just walked back to the table from the bathroom and he didn’t stand up.” Caine gave a low snarl. “Makes you wonder why the Lord doesn’t send down thunderbolts on a daily basis.”
“Why bother when He has us?” Parker flexed his muscles. “If the bozo’s legs broke and he couldn’t stand at all, I think that would teach him nobody’s above good manners.”
Seconds later, the man in question fell screaming, clutching at his legs. Caine smiled as his friend flew back out through the restaurant wall.
“I don’t know what our old pastor was talking about, Dan” Parker said, flying ahead. “Every time we tried to straighten out the congregation, he’d blah-blah-blah about how it was God’s place to judge. Not ours.”
“Oh, if he could get a load of us winnowing the tares now,” Caine said with a laugh. “I always knew we loved God more than he did!” He paused and stared around. “Sometimes I can almost feel Him watching…or maybe it’s Michael or Gabriel. Either way, they must be pretty impressed.”
“You sure? They never say anything about the great job we’re doing.”
“We’re not in this for praise, partner, we’re in this for duty, remember?” Caine clapped his friend on the back. “So how about hitting a frat party next? Probably plenty of sluts getting publicly drunk there.”
“Whatever happened to ladylike behavior, eh?” Parker sighed. “I say the first one we see having sex drunk—particularly if she does it while she’s unconscious—we negate her birth control. That’ll teach her!”
In a window to their left, a woman picked up a crowbar as her husband settled in front of ESPN. “I always knew sin was running rampant, but I never imagined how badly until we got this job.” A proud smile formed on Parker’s lips. “If more Christians were truly willing to serve God and confront evil the way we do—”
“It’s easy to punish murderers and rapists,” Caine said. “But cracking down on the little sins that lead to the big ones, that takes faith! Faith to know that no matter how harsh it seems, we’re doing God’s will and He is just.”
“And so are we,” Parker said, clasping his friend by the shoulder. “Like you said, if people overlook the little niceties, pretty soon it’s Sodom and Gomorra all over again.”
“Not on our watch.” Clenching his fists, Caine plummeted towards a teen who’d just farted in public. “I hope He’s watching us right now!”
“I am,” Lucifer said, smirking at the image of Caine and Parker in the pool of lava he used for scrying. “And you’ve made me so happy, boys. Not to mention richer by a few dozen souls, right?”
“I can’t believe I was dumb enough to take the bet.” Beelzebub groaned, turned away from the crystal and tossed a vial of writhing mortal souls in front of Lucifer. “When you said you could turn those pious prigs into monsters without using Lust, Wrath or Avarice—”
“How could you overlook Pride? Look what it did to us, after all.” The Prince of Hell smirked and stretched. “When I told them I was God, and how much I liked their looking down on everyone else, they swallowed it hook, line and sinker. And when I shifted the goal posts on what ‘sins’ deserved punishing, they didn’t hesitate. Being holier than thou was just too much fun.
“Now, would you like to see what I can do with Envy?”
© 2006 Fraser Sherman
This story originally posted at Anotherealm in 2006.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
A Florida reporter by day, Fraser Sherman writes fiction for a break from covering city council meetings. His stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Tales of the Talisman, AllegoryEzine and Byzarium. He's the author of the film reference books Cyborgs, Santa Claus and Satan and The Wizard of Oz Catalog. You can find out more at Fraser's Myspace.