15/03/2016 by paulinebsc
The grey skies overhead mocked her. It was obvious to Bernie that the clouds were gathering themselves up to dump all their rain on her new coat. Emily had turned up at work earlier that week in a similar coat, complete with designer name. Bernie has sooo wanted it but no way could she afford it. Browsing through the market on Sunday she had seen a knock off of the coat on a market stall and had found it a perfect fit. One glance at the price ticket had scotched that idea until she had had a wicked thought. Bernie blushed thinking about it. She had waited until the stallholder was serving somebody else and walked away with the coat still on, carrying her jacket over her arm. She had never done anything like that before, and the guilt hung heavy.
Her bus drew to a stop in a shiny street of glass office buildings. Bernie stopped worrying about the coat and began to take notice of the world around her. She glanced at her watch as she queued to leave the bus.
‘Goddamn it! I’m going to be late again.’
As she stepped off the bus her heel broke. Bernie teetered in a desperate attempt to stay upright, but gravity won in the end and she fell backwards into the road. A car swerved to avoid her and she felt a sharp pain as it caught her hip. She had a feeling that her life should be flashing before her, but instead she was being held tightly against a leather coat. She looked up and saw the most gorgeous man she had ever seen; he could have stepped out of any magazine advertising men’s wear. His chiselled jaw bore enough stubble to be sexy but not scruffy, his eyes were a warm chocolate colour, with a hint of mischief to them. He was sex on a stick. And he’d saved her ass. Suddenly the day looked a lot brighter.
‘You alright there?’
Bernie brushed down her coat.
‘Yeah, yeah I think so.’
He smiled at her putting her totally under his spell. She realised she still was still clinging to this gorgeous man, but she was in no hurry to let go. Bernie completely disregarded her fiancé, Jimmy, off risking his life in Afghanistan.
‘How about a coffee? For the shock.’ The man offered. ‘I’m Luke by the way.’
‘Hi Luke, I’m Bernie’ she stammered.
Never mind work. Bernie was suffering from a bad case of lust. Of course she went with him.
The nearest coffee shop was a well known brand. Bernie wasn’t actually terribly keen on their coffee but she followed him in. Sat across from him at the table she noticed how incredibly pale he was. His skin looked like it never saw the sun. Bernie was nervous talking to new people but luckily Luke was easy to talk to. He asked her questions about herself, leading her into the conversation.
‘Where do you live, Bernie?’
‘I can’t afford my own place, so I’m living with my parents in Wareton. Mum’s okay, we get on alright.’
‘How about your father?’
‘Dad? His mind cannot handle anything more complicated than football. Never thinks about anything else, never talks about anything else. The only time we get any peace from it is when he’s at a match.’
‘I could tell you some tales about my dad too.’
‘Do you live with your dad?’
‘Nah, I haven’t for a long time. I’ve got a flat just round the corner from here. We argue with each other all the time though.’
It was the first bit of information Luke had provided about himself. Bernie wondered if she should ask him about it, but the moment passed as Luke asked her another question.
Before long she was telling about Emily and her coat.
‘I expect she had to sleep with somebody to afford such a coat. It wouldn’t be the first time. She gets through a new boyfriend every week. All of them rich. She’s a right gold digger.’
Emily had made it all up, but it sounded good to slag off her workmate to this stranger. It got rid of some of her own bad feelings about the coat.
‘Perhaps.’ He looked doubtful. ‘Not all people are as bad as others think them. I know a bit about the subject.’
It was a strange remark. Bernie looked at him intently, trying to work out what he meant, but he changed the subject.
‘Who’s your favourite film star?’
‘Leonardo DiCaprio, every time. He’s my god. Did you see him in ‘The Revenant?’ or ‘The Wolf of Wall Street?’’
‘No I didn’t, I don’t get to the cinema much.’
‘What do you like to watch when you do?’
‘Blood and gore. Lots of it.’
‘Now you’ve found out my guilty secret.’
Rain hit them in the face as soon as they walked back into the street.
‘My place?’ Luke shouted over the wind.
Bernie wasn’t going to say no, even if she wasn’t so keen to get out of the gale-driven sheets of weather.
What happened next was inevitable. Luke didn’t hurry Bernie, but he didn’t need to.
‘Do you want to see my etchings?’ he joked.
‘In your bedroom?’
‘Where else?’ he laughed, lifting his eyebrow sexily, teasing her.
Bernie held her arms around him as he unbuttoned her shirt.
‘What’s this?’ he lifted the pendant she wore.
‘I made it at night school. Jewellery class. It’s an angel.’
‘So I see. I don’t like it!’
His voice sounded angry and he ripped it from her, breaking the chain, and threw it across the room. Bernie stood back and rubbed her neck where the necklace’s chain had grazed her. She was spooked by the show of temper. He quickly recovered though. When his lips pressed against hers, she forgot about the uncomfortable moment. She undid his shirt without breaking the kiss but drew back as their chests met.
‘Are you a vampire?’ She was only half joking.
‘What?’ his beautiful eyes looked at her, puzzled.
‘You’re so cold.’
‘No I’m not a vampire, they’re a myth.’ He was amused.
‘Then what are you?’
‘Horny’ he laughed pulling her onto the bed.
Afterwards Bernie lifted herself up on locked arms and ground herself against him, trying to arouse him again.
He laughed in pleasure and ran his hands over her breasts. Bernie pulled away in alarm as white light reflected on his face from above her.
‘Not now, Dad. I’m busy! Don’t be such a killjoy.’ Luke grouched.
‘Bernie clung to him in terror as a booming voice came from over her head.’
‘Let go, son. She’s mine.’
‘Not yet, she isn’t. I’ve got a few seconds more to get her to break all ten Commandments.’
Bernie sat completely still. This couldn’t be what she thought it was.
‘She isn’t going to kill anybody in the next four seconds.’ The voice crowed. There was a sound like an old fashioned shop till. Ker-chink!
‘Oh, yes! Thank you!’ Luke roared with glee. The bright light above them disappeared with a booming groan.
Luke’s face turned from male model to a mask of devilish evil.
‘Luke is short for Lucifer, Bernie. The noise signified a death. It was the driver of the car that you forced to swerve. He hit a lamp post. You killed him Bernie, you’re all mine.’
Darkness fell. The driver’s parents grieved. The steady rain had washed Bernie’s blood from the street.
Far, far below Bernie started to scream in the heat of Hell. Lucifer looked on. It was so easy to lead mankind into sin. Too easy sometimes.
None of this is meant to be serious. This is not how I see Heaven, Hell, Lucifer, God or death. I consider myself a reasonably good Christian, but on thinking about the story it was embarrassingly easy to think of ways the commandments can be broken.
The commandments can be translated in many ways (and interpreted in many more). I based this on a list I found on-line which quoted the King James Version of the bible, and only later discovered that more modern translations use ‘Thou shalt not murder’ rather than ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ This seems much better as a code of practice but didn’t suit my story so well, so I’ve used the old translation.
For the commandment spotters among you:
Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Bernie told Luke that Leonardo DiCaprio was her god.
Thou shalt not make idols
Bernie made an angel pendant The full version, in Exodus adds: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth’. A bit tenuous this one.
Thou shalt not take the name of the lord your god in vain
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Bernie went to the market on a Sunday, buying the coat there. It wasn’t mentioned, but she didn’t go to church either.
Honour your father and your mother
Bernie’s disrespectful rant about her father’s love of football is in no way honouring him.
Thou shalt not kill
This is mentioned in the story.
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Bernie’s boyfriend was out of the country, which is no excuse for her to let Luke into her pants.
Thou shalt not steal
Bernie’ coat at the market.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbour
Bernie knew what she told Luke about Emily was untrue.
Thou shalt not covet
That is exactly what Bernie did with Emily’s coat.
I hadn’t realised when writing the story how many of the commandments were broken because of Emily’s coat.
It could be argued that her inattention on leaving the bus, and thus swearing (and killing) was because she was thinking about the coat. She bought it on the Sabbath. Her interest in the coat was coveting, and her guilt led her to tell untruths about Emily. All the other sins except the making of an angel (and that is arguable) were induced by questions and actions of Lucifer. Thou shalt not covet thy workmate’s coat!