Every day, Jack cleaned the wrought iron bars of his master’s gate.
Polished them ’till they were black and shining and smooth. Top to bottom, spikes first, bottom rail last, clean side of the cloth up.
Dip, wring, wipe, dip, squeeze the soap bottle,
and so it went on.
People always looked him sideways as they passed through. He supposed he wasn’t a sight anyone expected. His tail wasn’t impressive and his horns weren’t that sharp. If he wore his bucket hat, they might have passed for nubs.
The best part of the day was when the master came home. Jack made sure he stayed late just for that. The flames always turned the most deliciously crimson shade of red on the horizon before the feeling of ultimate doom would set in. If anyone happened to be by just then, they’d tense up and Jack would enjoy watching them speedwalk on their way down.
“Evening, lordship sir,” was what Jack normally said.
“Good evening, your majesty Asmodeus,” if he was feeling particularly talkative. Or Syaitan, or Zabulos. Anything but the common names. Anything but banality for his master.
Contrite, bent over on his knees, Jack would listen
for heavy footsteps, for the rustling of scales or for the clop clop clop of cloven hooves, would feel the heat envelop and pass over him before he dared to raise his head. Chilled and terrified to his very hollow bones.