Groggy and fretful, Simran Kapoor stood in line at the Steamin’ Zeal coffee shop as the middle-aged man in front of her decided to turn his order into a verbal thesis on coffee and its relation to human anatomy. How much sugar is in this? Will it give me diabetes? What does the FDA say about your expressos? It’s 8:30 am, should I order two shots or three? If I order three, will my bladder sustain it?
Simran took a deep breath and sighed. For the past two weeks, life had taken her on a pretty chaotic ride and Mr. PhD didn’t seem too eager to stop the rollercoaster anytime soon.
She waited a few more minutes and decided to settle for the stale coffee at work. She exited the coffee shop and crossed the street to head to the building she worked at. As she reached for the revolving door, Simran caught a brief reflection of herself.
A tear rolled down her cheek as she saw a broken and frail woman in place of the vivacious and bubbly woman who lived in her body for twenty-eight years. Her already short frame of five-foot-three seemed even smaller as the weight of the universe caused her to slump. Her hair, normally full of bounce, sat still on her shoulder as if in mourning.
All because of her new job.
Nearly a month ago, she was so excited when she first saw the ad online. Tycoon and king of the world, Louis Cifelli is now on the lookout for an Operations Director for his massive empire. Don’t miss out, schedule an interview today!
Everyone knew Louis Cifelli. He was as infamous as he was famous. Those who ostensibly were fighting to uphold the law hated him. Cops and prosecutors were just waiting for him to make one mistake so they could arrest the allegedly corrupted magnate.
Business moguls, however, swore by him. What had he done that was so bad? Sure, he was corrupted but wasn’t everyone in some form or the other? Weren’t we all selfish to some degree in this dog-eat-dog world? As far as they were concerned, his blatant corruption deserved much more respect than those who pretended to abide by the law but broke it every chance they got on the sly.
Simran knew this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Corrupted or not, Louis was known for taking care of his employees. Everyone who worked for him always said show a little loyalty and you’ll be set for life. Legend had it that those working for him gave up their soul but in return, Louis made sure to preserve it and keep it alive for eons.
If she had any doubts in her mind, all the past due notices and credit card bills that had accumulated in the last six months after being laid off from her last job buried the doubts six feet under.
Utilizing all the interview techniques she had learned over the years, Simran strutted in the office for the interview like the position was her birthright and let her confidence do all the talking.
She smiled and made eye contact. She made sure to shake Louis’s hand as firmly as possible. She displayed her loyalty by stating in no uncertain terms that if Louis hired her, her soul would be his. When asked about her previous experiences, she exaggerated and said she had done it all.
It worked. She was now THE Louis Cifelli’s Operations Director.
For the first week or so, everything was smooth.
But things went awry quickly when Louis handed Simran her first major assignment.
Reading it, Simran immediately started regretting the constant boasting and the exaggeration. What her new boss was asking for was a task and a half. It required much more experience than she had. While she was provided a step-by-step technical manual, which was supposedly written at a beginner’s level, much of the jargon still went right over her head. The assignment also posed an ethical dilemma. Louis had his ways of doing business but they weren’t necessarily her ways. Could she look at herself in the mirror if she went through with it? Then again, what was her reflection now? The old Simran was already dead.
As Simran made her way to her desk, she sat down and weighed her options. She considered telling Louis the truth, that she wasn’t up for the assignment.
Unfortunately, as famous as he was for taking care of loyal employees, Louis was equally notorious for firing anyone who proved to be incompetent within a blink of an eye. The aftermath of that was not pretty. If you weren’t good enough to impress Louis Cifelli, you weren’t good enough for anything or anyone else.
And Louis HAD been unusually accommodating to her needs. Otherwise known for his stringent and pertinacious demeanor, he agreed when Simran told him she didn’t want work in his fire division which was known to be the most demanding division of his empire.
Slumping and crying for a few minutes, Simran wiped her face and sat up straight. I have to step up to the plate, she thought. Louis has done everything he can to help me. He even gave me a gracious advance to clear my debts. I can’t betray his trust now even if it costs me my soul.
Simran looked at her assignment memo, typed up by Louis himself:
Your first major assignment is to up this empire’s reputation. Lately, our rival organization has been slandering us a little too much in the media. I want you to rectify this.
Design some new fraudulent pamphlets that highlight our similarities to theirs instead of focusing on the differences. Please do not let ethical dilemmas become roadblocks. After all, Heaven isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be either.
Furthermore, to make up for fraud, balance it with some honesty. In the latest press reports, Jesus asked the question of why I was using my nickname if I had nothing to hide? A valid question if there ever was one.
So after careful consideration, I’ve made a monumental decision to let the cat out of the bag. Going forward, I want you to advertise my birth name instead of my name here on Earth. Instead of advertising it as Louis Cifelli’s Hell, be forthcoming and say Lucifer’s Hell.
Of course, honesty too comes with a price if we don’t proceed with caution so let’s make sure to do it in moderation. Be discreet about our inside divisions like the fire room. Instead, enlarge the pictures of our entrance area with all those cloud-like recliners. All in all, I want you to make Hell look better and more appealing than Heaven no matter what it takes.
Simran read and re-read every word several times. Each time she did so, a new wave of confidence encompassed her heart and soul. I’ll do it Louis, she thought. I’ll do it at any cost. I pledged my soul to you and I won’t let you down!