Ernie was at liberty for the entire weekend. It was the second week of August and while economic engines roared in the overworld, business in Hell was, frankly speaking, a bit soft. So it was that he had, on that Saturday night of 10 August 2019, dived deep and without reservation into a bottle of Cuban rum. He had every intention of growing blind drunk and falling into unconsciousness, yet that blissful state had somehow eluded him. Now it was Sunday morning and finding all bottles within his residence sadly emptied, he had made the trek to his office where he had locked down a reserve cache. He expected to slip in quietly, collect two bottles and depart with none ever knowing he’d been there. Upon entering the outer suite of the executive offices from the hall he was chagrined to learn that this would not be the case. Instead of finding the offices abandoned he was treated to the view of his secretary, Amy, pressing a drinking glass against the wall of the Big Boss’ office. In such a drunken state his reaction was delayed, until finally he hissed to her from the doorway.
“Amy! What the hell are you doing?”
She bolted as though her body had been given an electric shock, barely preventing the glass from falling and shattering on the floor. Her head instantly swiveled in his direction, her eyes wild with panic, a deep breath and then… finally relief, seeing that it was him.
“Judas Priest guv! Like to’ve scared the shite right outta me!”
“What the hell are you doing? Is he in there?”
“Right ‘e is. ‘e paged me to come, said I ‘ad to keep watch.”
“Watch for what?”
“Fook if I know. ‘es got someone in there wi’ ‘im, ‘e ‘as.”
Finding Amy and the Boss in here on a Sunday morning was disturbing enough. The last revelation he found particularly troubling, causing any lingering alcoholic sedation in his system to rapidly fade. He checked himself from asking out loud “why wasn’t I called”.
“Well if I can creep up on you you’re not doing a very good job of it. Any idea who it is?”
“Not a bloody clue.”
The more he thought upon it the more disturbed he became. All he wanted was his fucking rum, dammit! “Tell you what, Amy. I’ll take watch for a minute. Go into my office and fetch me a couple bottles of the Santiago Caney, will ya? Bottom file drawer, the key is in top drawer of the desk.”
She could scarcely conceal the mischief from her eyes. “Wotcher give for it then?”
Hemingway fumed silently for a moment, then merely rolled his eyes. “There’s a bottle of Stolis in there too. Help yourself.”
At this Amy’s lips settled into a satisfied smirk as she skipped away towards his office door. His feelings about his secretary remained ambivalent, though he had developed an odd fondness for the girl that could tolerate stunts like this one. She had pluck. Ernie took the opportunity to creep quietly to the door of the Devil’s office in the hope that he might hear any clues from within. Listening intently he thought that there were voices, but they were muffled, indistinct. And there was also music playing, piano as best he could gather. In concentration he peered down at the floor and spotted the glass Amy had held at his entrance. He bent down to retrieve it and gently placed it against the door, pressing his right ear close to find what secrets this might reveal. After just a few seconds he quietly placed the glass back on the floor and stepped away from the door. The blood fell from his face, he was left ashen.
When Amy returned with the bottles he hastily took them and then in a hushed, but urgent voice, “Fuck me Amy! He’s listening to Rachmaninoff!”
“Yeah? So? ‘oo’s ‘e anyway?”
“Rachmaninoff? He was….you know what? It doesn’t matter Amy. The last time he cued up Rachmaninoff was ‘68. I know you weren’t around then, but trust me. Shit’s about to get weird around here!”
“Yeah? Well….it’s fookin’ ‘ell, innit? Right?”
“Oh Amy. You have no idea. I’m taking these, going to find a dark corner and get blind drunk. You didn’t see me, I was not here. Got it?”
“Yeah. Got it guv. Thanks for the vodka.”
“Yeah. You’re welcome. I’d start drinking it now, if I were you.”
Hemingway hastened his exit to the hall without a further word. From that moment his whereabouts would remain unknown for the next thirty-six hours. Or four-hundred years, depending upon which time piece one uses in Hell. It is rather difficult to properly calibrate any timepiece in a realm where there are no time zones. Any references to times and dates within these chronicles are provided solely for the benefit of the reader. Versions in concordance with Hebrew, Gregorian, Hindu and Chinese calendars are available upon request. Now, to return to our narrative in the Julian calendar…
Just a little over twelve hours before this brief encounter between the Chief of Staff and his secretary, there had been a dramatic event in Hell’s intake center. R. Lee Ermey, now Senior VP of Human Resources, was notified of a “Code D” (Disputed Suicide). These are actually fairly common, a couple scores daily in fact, and they are usually resolved without incident by screeners during the reception process. Ermey, or “Sarge” as he was affectionately known by the staff, was not happy to be disturbed. And especially for a Code D.
“There had better be a fucking good reason why I am on this phone right now! A Code D!? Who the fuck is this asshole? The Pope?!”
The unfortunate underling at the other end of the call did his best not to stammer in his reply. “N-no sir! It’s not him. The Pope I mean…Sir, we don’t actually need you to resolve the dispute. This man had a sealed pass from the top, instructing a Code D. Since Director Kinison is not available the chain of command dictates that you escort directly to the Boss. Sir.”
“Very well, son. If that’s what the orders say. I’ll want to see that fucking pass when I get up there! What’s this asshole’s name anyway?”
“Epstein, Sir. Jeffrey Epstein.”
“You don’t say? Well, I’ve been waiting for this cocksucker! I’ll be right there.”
Well what do you know about that, Sarge thought to himself as he began his trek up to Hell’s central processing floor. The pantie sniffing prick had finally bought it. To most of Hell’s inhabitants this arrival was of little consequence, but Ermey was not so far removed from the overworld that he did not know who Epstein was. Boy was that piece of shit going to be disappointed when he discovers there are no little girls in Hell!
It should be noted here that this exclusion of girls is not out of any consideration of the fairer sex. It is instead a practical matter, as the bulk of pedophiles in Hell are represented by Roman Catholic priests who have a rather decided preference for little boys. Despite ongoing expansion efforts, Hell is a place that is still experiencing overcrowding. Some of the reforms instituted under Directer Kinison were beginning to make some difference, but the lines were never ending. They were just one global pandemic away from the spilling point.
It wasn’t a long trip up to reception, but enough time for a little further musing over the circumstances of Epstein’s recent demise. Based upon what he already knew the Sarge reasoned that this was actually a legitimate Code D. Having Jeffrey Epstein out of the way would be a matter of convenience for a lot of so-called important people, a few of whom were long known for their suicide staging talents. Of course at this stage he could not completely rule out that it was a suicide. If, somehow, Epstein should have been facing the prospect of real prison time he might have taken this as his out. In that instance his dispute of the suicide ruling would be curious, but if some of his associates also began to turn up then perhaps there was more to the story. It didn’t really matter to Sarge one way or the other. He was just quite satisfied to learn that Epstein was dead.
Unfortunately in the brief time that it took Ermey to arrive at the appropriate section of the central reception hall the situation had grown more complicated. His entire earthly career had been spent dedicated to maintaining the KISS principle. Men like R. Lee Ermey do not like complicated.
“Well looky here! Robert Maxwell! Or should I say Moishe? Now it’s a party! What’s you’re concern with beetledick here?”
Maxwell’s cherub cheeks swelled and grew rosy from that insincere grin. “Hello Sergeant! I am here to extend the protections of the Israeli Consulate for Mr. Epstein.”
“Hunh! You should have stuck to sailing, Maxwell! And that’s Mr. Ermey to you.” Ermey brushed past and addressed the intake screener, “Alright Torquemada, lemme have a look at that pass!” He had the full Gunnery Sergeant face on and, standing within an arm’s length of Epstein, fixed him with a malevolent scowl. He saw an arrogant bastard who refused to make eye contact (he’d fix that!), and noted incriminating ligature marks about his throat. In his mind the Sarge in him waxed nostalgic for a moment, for how many times had he seen those same marks in the barracks? Ermey accepted the leather bound document and quickly read the official writ contained therein:
Official Satanic Writ
Issued from the Executive Offices of Hell, Inc.
on this, the 20th day of January, earth year 2017 (JC)
The bearer of this writ; one Jeffrey Epstein, late of NY, NY and W Palm Beach, FL, USA,; regardless of circumstance
upon arrival at the properties of Hell, Inc., is to be designated as CODE D. Further, upon receipt of this writ the
Hell, Inc. associate shall without delay contact the Director of Human Resources. Subject shall be retained in custody by
the attending associate until such time as the Director of Human Resources should arrive to personally escort subject to the
CEO office of Hell, Inc.
Signed, CEO and Persecutor in Chief,
Ermey forced an abrupt grunt when he’d finished reading. “ Nice work, Torquemada! I’m going to recommend they return you to the pits.” He turned to address Epstein. “Well shitbag! Looks like you’ve rated the V I P treatment, but I gotta say I am not impressed!”
Epstein stood perfectly still, staring straight ahead. God damn if there wasn’t a little smirk at the corner of his mouth! This made the short hairs on the back of the Sarge’s neck stand on end. He darted a venomous sneer toward Maxwell first. “You can pound sand, Jew Boy! Your flea merchants don’t hold any pull down here!” Ermey squared off in front of Epstein. “You’re gonna look me in the eye when I’m talking to you or I’m gonna plant my boot in your nutsack! You copy me Epstein? Good! Now that I have your undivided attention it is my distinct privilege to inform you that I will be providing your personal escort di-rectly to meet the Boss. There will be no chit-chat and we are not going to be pals. If it were left up to me you’d be gagging on diseased donkey dicks for the rest of eternity, but lucky for you we’re gonna follow the chain of command.” He stopped just long enough to draw a breath and, holding up the small leather pouch, he continued. “I will remind you that there is not one damn word in this thing that says anything about what condition you are to be in upon delivery. Alright. Let’s move out.”
Sergeant Ermey distinguished himself yet again as one of the finest hires of the entire decade. In any successful organization one will find that they are populated with people who truly love their work. What’s that? Oh, the Israeli Consulate? Yes, I suppose that does call for a bit of an explanation. It is a little known fact, in both Hell and the overworld, that the more influential governments of planet earth maintain some back channel diplomacy with Hell through a highly secretive consular system. For example, the Israeli Consulate is connected by the cellar of a Deli in Brooklyn, NY. Sorry, I can’t be more specific than this. The UK maintains theirs through a compartment beneath stall 6 of the Ladies’ at Arsenal FC Stadium. Or maybe that was Liverpool….somewhere up Norf FC way, where the Westminster toffs never dare to tread. But I digress….
Now Epstein was indeed delivered to the Boss’ office. The Devil had interrupted summer holiday in St. Tropez with the rest of the beautiful people. One might have thought that he would in the very least be mildly annoyed at this, yet he actually appeared to be rather pleased at Epstein’s arrival. He dismissed Sarge cordially, congratulating him for stepping up in Director Kinison’s absence. Ermey’s observations in his relative short tenure were that brass, here or in the USMC, were essentially the same. They were welcome to their peacock parades; he was happy to be rewarded with liberty and a chance to go play with his pal, Rommel. They had some new armor piercing rounds to try out.
After dismissing Ermey the Devil had reached the office’s executive secretary, Amy Winehouse, to please come and mind the lobby. Just in case. With that final bit of business concluded he spoke to Epstein for the first time.
“Jeffrey Epstein. My, what a pleasure it is to finally have you on board. Really quite an impressive resume, I must say. Why it’s almost as if you were family, ha-ha! Would you care for a cigar? Brandy? No! Scotch is in order here, wouldn’t you say?”
Epstein seemed to decline each and spoke for the first time since entering the Devil’s inner sanctum.
“I really did not commit suicide…”
“Oh Jeffrey! Don’t be droll, of course you didn’t commit suicide. You don’t actually think that is why you are here, do you? Oh! Ha! No, dear boy! Why, I have big plans for you. I can’t wait to introduce you to Caligula. And King Leopold. Yes…you’ll all get along famously, I’m quite certain.”
“Will I be permitted to see the Consulate?”
“Oh dear. Was Maxwell up there? Damn it! Jeffrey, really I am surprised that you, the treacherous serpent, should be so naive! They are not looking to help you. You do realize that?”
Epstein appeared puzzled. “What are you saying?”
“Jeffrey your power on earth was derived from what you knew. Lots and lots of secrets. Secrets hold great currency in the overworld. Always have. On earth secrets ultimately become one’s undoing. When you know too much then everyone is gunning for you. You were the master, for a long time. Until you became a liability. All you need do is ask yourself this question: to whom do I, Jeffrey Epstein, pose the greatest liability? “
The Devil did not need to spell it out any more implicitly. The look on Epstein’s face said he understood clearly.
“You needn’t ever worry about that here, Jeffrey. Here in Hell you will never be penalized for knowing too much”, the Devil added. After that there remained an awkward silence of some minutes, until the Devil abruptly exclaimed, “Ah! We shall have some music then. Do you fancy Rachmaninoff, Jeffrey? I’m thinking Prelude in C sharp minor. It helps me think.”
Epstein had been doing some thinking of his own. Ever the player, he was already scheming which angle to play. If he could find one. The crashing keys of Opus 3, No. 2 had begun. He had accepted that he would be here a while and it seemed that he was being extended a rather warm welcome. He remained guarded, though. This was Hell, after all. Probably best not to open too strong. “What will be my duties here?”, he asked. It seemed a safe opening.
The Devil’s brow creased into a thoughtful frown. “Your duties…. yes, good question. Mmm-mm. I have so many in mind, but where to begin? Plenty of time for that later. For now we shall have to keep you under a low profile, I’m afraid. Why even down here you’re toxic! You’ve managed to piss off a lot of people, Jeffrey.”
“What difference should that make here?”
“Well in nearly every respect that is quite true, but…er…how shall I explain this? You see Jeffrey, just as in the overworld, Hell has it’s own homeostasis. It’s impossibly complicated, I barely comprehend it myself and you could not begin to understand. There is a delicate concordance, if you will, between what happens here and certain events up above. In your case, for instance: I know that you didn’t kill yourself, Jeffrey. You know it, and I assure you nearly 99.62% of the living know it. The official record, as it stands with the authorities and the propaganda ministries, however, states that you committed suicide. As part of that delicate balance we will need to hold you in our DS Ward until they get all of their stories straight.”
Epstein made a calculation of all of the competing interests that would be involved in that process. It was not very long at all before he had to conclude that this process would take some time. Probably years. The Devil read that this created some consternation.
“You shouldn’t trouble yourself over it. They may never get it sorted, but something else will change in the formula and you’ll be out. You know the way they all keep pouring in here we’ll be spilling over soon enough. Then we’ll have to begin annexing up topside. That is where I envision you will come in Jeffrey. I’m going to need a solid deputy up there. With this skin I just can’t do it! I’ve been down here so long I’ll never last through those UV rays.”
At word of being in charge, up above, at some future date Epstein felt a sudden rush of optimism. He was careful not to betray too much zeal. “Would there be….pussy? In the, uh, deputy position, I mean?”
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll be able to work something out with your friend… what was his name? Lester?”
“Les? Les Wexner?”
“Yes! That’s the one, isn’t it?”
“Well this isn’t going to be so bad.”
“There! See! That’s the right attitude!”
“So, what is this DS Ward like?”
“Mmm….rather boring I’m afraid, but, uh….let me see I need to make some calculations. Right, they’re still socialist in Venezuela, barometic pressure over Iceland is 29.77 and rising, European birth rate still in decline, following year is a leap year, times 7, carry the four……uhhhh. Hmmm. Did I factor the drop in oil prices?….no, wait. It was times 5, not 7…..Yes! That’s it. Then I add the Trump factor, annnd…..okay, now I have it. We’ll have you in the section with Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Kilgallen, Jim Forrestal and…..there was one more, ahhh. Oh! Vince Foster! That’s right. He’s probably getting out soon. Those others have been there a while, I guess. So….yes, that’s where we’ll get started then.”
“Uh, okay, but what’s it like?”
“Well, it’s a bit, uh…what’s the word I’m looking for here? Spartan, I guess one might say. We keep up appearances for the Red Cross and actually the food isn’t that bad, I’m told. Shrimp cocktail on Fridays!”
“I don’t eat shrimp.”
“Ha! Oh Jeffrey. That’s funny! A lot of people come here swearing they don’t suck cocks either, but….well, you’ll see. Oh! I almost forgot! Terribly sorry….there is one other thing. Just a minor, minor detail, but bears mentioning nonetheless. The, ah, DS Ward is adjacent to the Ministry of Angry Beavers, so…ahh. Well, damn it all! No easy way to put this, really. It’s a bit noisy when the females are in heat. Then there’s that smell…”
“Oh, it’s a lot to try and learn all at once, I know! You’re quick on your feet. Really, you’ll be out in no time at all! Probably thirty-six hours. Four-hundred years, tops.”
“Oh! Sorry! Right! There’s that time thing again. Don’t worry, Jeffrey. You’ll get the hang of it. If you were just another ordinary schlub you’d have just been pitched into it. You know! Just one more turd in the skillet. But you’re not a schlub; you’re a player. Destined for great things, you are. There is a simple rule you can follow that will help you find your bearings. Just remember this: in ways you can never see or understand, things are always worse than they appear; but, they are always better than you think. If you learn to apply this rule in every situation things will begin to make sense.”
Epstein twisted his brain into a knot trying to make sense of it. He was still wrestling with it when the Devil added, “Hey! Would you like to do some coke?”
“I thought you’d never ask”, Epstein replied. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. It sure beat prison.