We did not suffer much the night they arrived — they were tuckered by the time they got in at 11 p.m. The torment began the following morning when, at 6:30 a.m., Lucifer began yelling at the children. Not the usual kind of parental yelling one might overhear, but really mean shit, like, “You’re a moron; you’re not even supposed to be here!” to a kid I assumed was not his blood, and “You idiot, why are you wearing those socks!? Stupid moron!” The yelling didn’t stop. David and I sighed heavily and complained to each other, and still, the assault continued unabated. I stood and stomped around, thinking that since their footsteps vibrated in our room, mine might give the man pause. But here’s the rub — if a person doesn’t stop to think that screaming at dawn might offend neighboring guests, or to consider whether spitting such vile things at kids who couldn’t have been more than seven years old might be unnecessary and/or damaging, he sure as hell is not going to have some kind of epiphany prompted by the sound of a few footsteps. After all, this was the Beast of the Underworld I was dealing with.
I wanted to rail into him, to humiliate and emasculate him in front of the children. I could tell from the brutish and juvenile things he was shouting at kids that it would be easy for an adult with a substantial vocabulary and a shred of psychological insight to make short work of him. But I didn’t want a scene, and from what I had heard so far, it was probable that Beelzebub would end up taking out his embarrassment on those poor wretches, demonstrating his strength in order to compensate for his weakness. So I muttered, “Jesus!” under my breath and continued stomping, to no avail. David, lying on the bed, looked as exasperated as I felt. I needed to be more direct.
I stepped up to the wall and slammed my fist against it in three deliberate thumps. The Prince of Darkness scrambled across the floor, and his voice fell, but I could still hear every word: “Shush, shh, I said be quiet, dammit!” When he was finished shushing and I was sure I had his complete attention, I spoke in a forceful tone, emphasizing every word so as to be sure he realized just how thin that wall was, “Can you please keep it down.” It was not a question. As I suspected, the devil turned out to be no more than a dog, and the yelling ceased. I climbed back into bed beside a grateful David, and realized, with relief, that my proverbial hand had finally stopped burning.