Give That Man a Hand, Ladies and Gentlemen


JA Howe

Dear Satan

I really hate our baseball team. If the batters have any idea what they’re doing half the time, I’m a fucking fairy. Especially that guy Teleros. He’s too fat, he couldn’t field if you planted him. He actually looks like a plant out there -- certainly doesn’t move, that’s for sure! And why we have to keep playing the stupid Angel teams is beyond me; they won’t even cheat. That hundred-year game when nobody would steal bases or throw spitballs was too damned much.

T. C.

Dear T. C.

Listen, I’d play ball all the time with other demons if I could, but you know we have to do interleague play for the Ethereal Series. What do you want us to do -- play with humans? They’re only fun for a little while.

Satan, Prince of Darkness

Dear Satan

I think you’re missing possibilities here. Sure, last time you got a player to sell his soul it ended badly, but surely…

T. C.

Dear T. C.

I think you’re barmy, personally. I’m going to get your Demon Master to limit your writing times and amounts.

S., P. of D.

Dear Satan

fdasfidasfoaurwe8 r9204 82525245!!!!!

T. C.

Dear T. C.

I can do anything I want to do; I’m the Devil.

S., P. of D.

Dear Satan

You know, I’ve played better games than this last one! Where’s the defense? You gotta stop that catcher from snatching buns off the stands during play; we’re missing key points where he could actually throw someone out stealing. That is, if he can still move quick enough. And that fricking first base bub, who thinks he’s so hot just because he’s an Archangel, let’s be honest, he’s only there for show. Irritating as anything, though; I mean, does he really have to have his own concession booth for fans?

T. C.


Satan stared at the last letter, written in blood as usual. Who was this guy? "Hey," he said to the perky little secretary demoness who was sitting on the edge of his desk, "who is this T.C.? He said that he was a ballplayer."

"Uh huh, he is, Sir. It's Ty."

"Ty? Ty who? I can think of at least three hundred different souls named Ty…"

She stared at the Devil blankly. "I don’t know that much about sports. His last name’s Corn, if that helps…"

"Corn? We have him here?"

Satan was a huge fan of Corn’s work. Then again, all the things this guy had done in his lifetime, yeah, it figured. Of course they had him here. "But he’s not on any of the teams here."

"No, Sir. He refuses."

The Devil blinked. He remembered the good old days, the story of murder and abuse and swearing and sharpened spikes. He remembered the whoring around. And such a fantastic player, too! So -- so evil out in the field. So nasty to the press, so wonderful. And he wouldn’t play for Satan’s own team?

"Have him brought here."

Corn appeared in a flash. His look of surprise melted into a condescending smirk when he realized who had summoned him.

Satan was taken aback. Even Count Vlad the Impaler had been humbled at the great, imposing sight of him, the very essence of Evil. But not this guy, who stood in this lanky, lackluster pose, his hair all combed back neatly, his rags as fine as could be. Like someone was just about to ask for a picture, he was in pose. He owned that room. It made Satan feel uncomfortable, like a lowly demon again and not the Big Guy himself. Despite the fact his visitor was bloody from lashes from the whip.


Ty Corn shrugged. "I peed in the bushes."

"My oh my. You. You were some ballplayer! I am such a fan…"

"That’s nice."

Satan blinked. This was not going well. He tried a new tactic. "Why won’t you play ball for us?"

Corn shrugged again. "Nothing to it down here. I’m already dead so I can’t be killed out there, or really seriously injured. I’m currently in torment but hell, I’m used to pain from bar fights and broken appendages back when I was playing ball. There’s no money here so I can’t really make any, and I can get a girl free whenever -- he winked at the secretary -- and I don’t even have to worry about getting her pregnant because I can’t. In short, no challenge!"

"But this is ridiculous! Can I change your mind?"

"Doubt it."

"You could play with some good cheaters…"

"Mister, that’s all I ever did. Besides, I’ve seen your team. They suck."

The Devil blinked. "You will play for us!"

Corn spat in his face.

"Get him out of my sight!" Satan roared. "I want him in uniform next time I see him!"

The man spat again, whirled, and walked out of the office to the sound of the Devil howling.


"You think you have problems?" God said. They were playing their weekly chess game while they waited for the demon in charge of limbo to choose who went where. "I have to keep up that ass Moler and his glowing halo. He’s the perfect ballplayer, he just keeps getting upset if fans say anything close to a swear. The guys poured salt on him in the clubhouse the other day and have taken to calling him Job."

"Check. Yeah, but this guy -- you’ve heard of him?"

"Sure, who hasn’t? He was a great player, Lucifer. Too much ego for my taste, but perhaps that was all a front against a crying soul inside."

"You know, ever since you’ve been talking to that wacko Freud, you’ve become really annoying."

God grinned. "Aren’t I supposed to annoy you, Lucifer? Checkmate."

"Argh!!" Satan threw the chessboard into the stratosphere and stalked off. He hated it when God called him that.


Ty Corn had disappeared.

"What the hell do you mean, he’s not here anymore? Find him!"

"Can’t, sir, he’s got a freedom clause written into his contract. He can go where he wants to, if the moon is in Saturn."

"Damn lawyers," Satan grumbled. "What time is today’s game?"

"Five, Sir."

Satan flicked on the TV and stared. There was a commercial for baseball -- for the Howlers, by Ty. Satan blinked. Then he started to roar, so loud that all demons and souls for miles around covered their ears and crouched down.


Ty Corn was really enjoying this. His ballclub was in the papers far more now than Satan’s ragged bunch; what did they know about baseball anyway? Corn accepted only the best, and he made sure that he got the most vicious of people to train his folks, guys who’d been sent down here exactly because they were so bad to their teams, to their wives, to their fans. Spitballers be damned, he wanted real evil. He got Blister Boy, who used to throw right at people’s heads on a regular basis and was constantly getting in fights on the mound (and off). He got Farewell Frank, who’d killed two people charging the mound and was a reputed gangster in real life before someone finally got him. He even got Satan’s team to trade him Rose, biggest jerk of ‘em all, who constantly rigged games, along with this guy who’d sneak first to third right across the infield when the umpires weren’t looking.

"What could we do, Sir?" whimpered the manager when Satan lashed at him for that last deal. "We really needed the guys they offered, and Corn had them locked in for eternity. They had all the power --"

"You idiot! I’m Satan! The Prince of Darkness! No one can be more powerful!" But there was already talk of Ty being a possible replacement, being more devious. He already had a lot of fans who admired his ruthlessness. More demons and tormented souls and fallen angels came to his games now than to Satan’s team…

Something had to be done, it was obvious. Satan couldn’t very well have Ty’s club going to the Series, now could he? He paced around the office, lashing his spiked tail. Oh, he’d been tricked by saints and normal idiots up there in the human lands, but this was too much. He could deal with all the stupid human movies about their idea of The Devil, and with God calling him on the phone as soon as each one came out to make fun of him -- yeah, like that stupid Moses movie they played every fricking Easter was any better. He could deal with the "Satan worshippers", who wore black bodices and suits and half of whom pretended to be vampires (actually some of the wimpiest creatures he knew of). He could even deal with Satanic Bibles and whatnot that were really full of crazy drivel but at least entertaining to read, if you wanted to read fluff. But this was too much. Nobody took on Satan in his own territory. That lunatic Dante had been a fluke. It was not going to happen again.

"Get me Corn on the line," he barked at his secretary who scurried off.


Corn picked up the phone after letting it ring about fifty times. "Yassir, Ty Corn here." He was enjoying himself. He had a nice stolie smoking, some fine alcohol in his office, and a very good team that was giving him a lot of profit. He almost didn’t care that he couldn’t really get money down here. The fans who poured into the stadium, the cute little demonesses he got to play with in the back rooms, the days on the field when he always went out of the dugout for a good ten minutes to bow and accept their applause and cheers, that was thrilling. And now Satan was on the line -- probably begging for some of his action, a chance to ride on his coattails, and of course an autographed picture. Framed in gold. Ty thought carefully; what would be the price for a picture of Satan and himself shaking hands? Couple souls, a few favors, he had to think about it. Meanwhile… "So nice to hear from you again," he said.

"Why hello, Mister Corn," Satan said silkily over on the other line. "It has been a bit of a trouble catching hold of you, since you -- moved…"

"Ohh, that. Wal, y’know, needed a bit of a change of scenery," drawled Ty.

Satan muttered something to himself about "prima donna prisoners". People just couldn’t take their punishment anymore, not since this lawyers’ union had come into action a hundred years ago. Now it was all "tortured souls’ rights" and so on with that garbage. He should really do something about that, he just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. And what with nearly every lawyer who had ever died his to command, he definitely had the staff to tackle the job.

"Right," Satan said finally. "In any case, I called because I have a proposition for you."

"Ohh, well, we’re probably going to be busy for a bit…"

"I actually think you might like this one," Satan said. "It’d give you a chance to corrupt someone."

"Oh, well, I’ve already got the token for that, I’m sure," Corn said, but Satan could hear the interest perked up back there. The Devil picked his next words very carefully.

"Ever heard of Stealing the Hand?"

There was silence for a good few minutes on the line. "No…"

Satan chuckled to himself. "Well, then, you have a thing or two to learn, yet, don’t you? But really, it isn’t something that’s done very often," he said slowly. Carefully. "And of course, I don’t teach it to many creatures… last one was over two hundred years ago -- or so."

"I’ll have to think about it," Corn said, but Satan could tell he’d snagged him. He cut off the line and sat back, humming to himself.

Okay, so he’d be rid of the nastiest creature he’d had in millennia. But in return, if this went through correctly, he would snag hold of a perfect person up there in human lands who was just begging for corruption. Mister big shot, the guy who was the biggest hero in Maryland. Golden Boy. And Satan would have him. And Corn would be floating around in Limbo, unable to go either way. See you at the playoffs, he muttered to himself happily.

He had to admit Ty had put together a good team. They cheated properly, they swore, they littered all over the field and played horrible tricks on each other. His favorite was the guy who would dash across the infield base to base in any direction when the ump wasn’t looking. Have to ask where Corn dug him up. "Good game," he said afterwards as they sat smoking in the media box while various players extolled their own virtues.

Corn winked at him outrageously. "Ohh, sure. We do our best," he said with a chest that was way too puffed up for such modesty. Satan wanted to strangle him. Instead he mentioned the Hand deal again.

Corn perked up immediately, taking the bait. "Oh, yes, that. Now who was it that we’d be traded for that?"

"Oh, this player upstairs. You know, it’s a soul theft kind of thing -- very hush-hush," said Satan confidentially.

Corn nodded with a knowing look. "I think tomorrow’s as good a time as any. Just don’t talk it up too much, you know…"

Satan nodded. I have you now, you disrespectful twit.


Baltimore had been doing fairly well lately. As usual, it had its fans who crowded the station, reveling in Ruth’s statue and spending hundreds at the dealers. And there was the shortstop, mister Can’t Do No Wrong, greatest ERA in the league (and probably the biggest ego). Satan’s target.

What is it about perfect people? Satan wondered, as he and Corn stood outside the stadium among the crush of fans, listening to the noise and smelling burned hot dogs. He was more interested in the smell of the kill. Ohh, he wanted this soul sooo badly… it always got him in trouble, he knew, but he couldn’t resist it.

"Come on." He and Ty headed inward, unseen by the others. "Now the deal is, we cut a deal with this guy…"

"I’ve played here, you know," Corn said thoughtfully. "Bitch hitting out to right field, I remember. I like this new park, though."

Good, because you’ll be haunting it for the next millennium, Satan grinned to himself.

"Ah, there we are." He finally spotted player 47, laughing with some other guys. Gametime wasn’t for several hours. "He’s up for free agency this year, and he didn’t get any good deals at winter meetings."

"Oh, well then," Corn said and headed over. And as he got into a long conversation with 47, Satan started working on the exit spell he’d planned with the Hand he had.

The Hand that Corn’s lawyer had switched on him.

"See you after the game? Okay, good luck…" Corn slapped the guy on the back and headed toward Satan. "I’m telling you, even with that bum shoulder!"

"If you’re right, I’ll sell my soul," said the guy laughing and headed off to practice.

Ty grinned at Satan.

"Good going. We have him," Satan said, grinning back.

"Yeah, we do," Corn said in a curious. "Let’s go find seats."

Baltimore won 8-0, and the fans went nuts over Golden Boy. He made some outstanding plays that game -- almost inhuman, the announcers and the media guys called it. And when he came out of the gate finally at the very end, thrilled with himself, there was the Devil. "So, you’d sell your soul if you won," Satan said smoothly. "You realize that a spoken contract is still binding?"

"Uhh…" 47 was thinking that he’d run into a crazy fan and he felt very relieved when he saw Corn coming up behind the guy. "You know, I wasn’t talking to you…"

Ty grinned at Satan. "No, he wasn’t," he remarked to Satan who then saw that Corn had his fricking lawyer with him.

"Ohh, not again…"

"Article VIII of Part LX of the Agreement says that the party in question must deal with the party in question when answering the agreement in question," intoned the lawyer. "Said party will then be the sole charge of said party, which under habeus corpus is doomed to at least two thousand years with a negotiable three thousand years at which point the soul in question will be carefully examined for possible good conduct and possible change of location therefore…"

Satan stared at him. "You have to be kidding me! I’m the Prince of Darkness! Only I can conduct the finals of these agreements!"

"Not any more," said the lawyer. "While you’ve been up here, a coup d’etat has been going forth downstairs, if you see what I mean…"

Satan could feel his soulless hulk boiling with fury. A roar was growing in his throat, certainly. Number 47 just stood there calmly, apparently all right with his fate. "I can still nullify this!" he cried, bringing out his Hand, and then he saw that it was the wrong one. "Ohhh, sh….."

"Satan, I hereby strip you of your previous status of Prince of Darkness and demote you to Creature In Limbo, doomed to haunt this ballpark for an indefinite period of time," Satan’s own former lawyer intoned, appearing beside him in the haze. The last thing he heard was Corn being sworn in. "I now pronounce you Ruler Indefinito of the Kingdom of Hell, not to be distinguished from…"

Corn grinned to himself as he settled into his office a few seconds later, to determine the correct torment for Golden Boy who was already tied up in a back room and being lashed by his secretary. Cute thing, she was; he’d have some fun later on.

Golden Boy meanwhile, was thinking hard, as he tuned out the pain from the lashes. He was thinking about the part of the contract that the lawyer had told him about, the nullifying part where if he himself only did a good deed, a "selfless act", he’d be moved…

He smiled engagingly at the demoness. "So, what’s your story? How many years you been down here?"

"Oh, well you see, I was a suicide, a prostitute who caught AIDS and well, I met this guy, who turned out to be Satan, and -- well…"

The smile of Number 47 widened. "You poor thing. Maybe I can help you out."

"Ohh, I don’t know, the last guy said that to me…"

"Trust me," he grinned, his teeth sparkling. "I think we can get somewhere with this."


© 2005 by JA Howe


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