Bad: A Memoir of Good & Evil
Couldn't Call It Unexpected
Cyn & Tangents
Lead Paint Double Date Set Diaries
Moving to Mars
New Roman Times
Saint Red
Suspension of Disbelief
What Fools


What Fools

By Jordan D. White

I looked them over again. Travis was wearing a Grateful Dead tie-dye T-shirt while Andrew sported the more recent Phish model. Both wore homemade hemp necklaces, sandals, and their faces were covered by the overgrown and untrimmed scraggle that passed for a beard in their subculture. I had judged them as pot-heads, and correctly so, the moment I saw them. Easy targets. Not the brightest boys in town, either. They thought they were ripping me off.

"So, do we have a deal?" I asked them. They gave each other a glance, smirking.

"An ounce?" asked Andrew, "Each?"

"That's right," I said.

"In return for our souls?"

"Yep, that's all."

"Sure, man," said Travis. "No problem."

"Great," I said, "then we're in business." I offered my hand to Travis. He took it and we shook. I could feel the exchange begin even if he couldn't. I held out the bag with the goods inside and Travis took it. "One for you... and one for you," I said, shaking Andrew's hand, giving him a similar package. "It's been a pleasure, guys."

"Whatever you say, man," Travis mumbled. The duo pushed their way through the doors of the men's room, laughing all the way. I don't know what the hell they thought I was doing. Maybe they figured I was a beginning dealer, trying to win their loyalty for later business. Who knows? Fucking idiots.

Once they were gone, I checked myself in the mirror, smiling. Charismatic as ever, short brown hair, blue eyes twinkling, teeth clean. I looked good. A face you could trust. Everyone who knew me said so. Warren Parsons was a good guy, a guy you could trust.

I swung my book bag over my shoulder and headed out of the fine arts building, going towards the dining hall. I went through and got myself dinner and brought my tray over to the table me and my friends like to sit at. Steve D'Angelo, Pandora Rieper, and Sarah Woolfsons, they're my friends, already sat eating. Steve sat at the head of the table, backwards cap covering most of his short blond hair, white T-shirt with some team or other on it. Sarah sat to his right, long blond hair going over her shoulders in waves, wearing a white tank top and shorts. Pandora sat across from her, her red hair short, just framing her face. She was wearing a pair of black overalls over a pink T-shirt.

"Tell her," Steve said to me as I walked up, gesturing towards Sarah.

"Tell her what?" I asked.

"He," Sarah said, "is being a loser." I sat next to her and gave her a kiss. She and I had a sort of thing, if you couldn't tell.

"Good to see you honey," she said to me.

"Well, it is wrong," said Pandora.

"What is?" I asked.

"Well," Sarah said, flipping a blonde tress out of her face, "I forgot my ID card, so I just brought my food out the back way."

I mock gasped. "You mean you didn't pay!" Obviously, I didn't really care.

"Oh, shut up," Sarah said, rolling her eyes.

"Seriously though," said Pandora, "Maybe you're not paying for it, but when the dining halls are ripped off they charge the whole student body."

"No," I said, "no, I remember reading somewhere that they charge everyone fifty dollars at the beginning of the year to cover theft throughout." It's true. I checked.

"Yeah," said Sarah, "I'm just taking what's mine. And, since you don't steal, I have to make sure I steal enough to cover you, too, or else you'll be getting ripped off."

Pandora kind of frowned and took another bite of her macaroni salad.

"I didn't mean to start a war here," said Steve, "I was only joking."

"It's no big deal," said Pandora.

"So how's your soul collection going, War?" asked Sarah. They knew about it. Well, they knew a little about it. They knew it existed, that's about it. They thought it was funny, you know.

"Oh, not so bad," I answered. "I just got a couple more a minute ago."

"What did you give them?" asked Steve.

"I can't reveal my methods," I said. Like I said, they didn't know everything. They were generally easy going people, but I don't think they would have been cool with large drug deals.

"What do you do with people's souls?" asked Pandora.

"That's my secret," said I, "But I know one way you could find out."

"What's that?" she asked.

"Give yours to him!" said Steve, laughing.

"No thanks," she said, "I'd prefer to keep mine where it is."

"Aw," said Sarah, "Pandy's too holy to lose her soul?"

"No, I just want to hold on to what makes me my own person."

"You don't actually believe in souls do you?"

"Yeah," said Sarah, "I didn't think you were religious."

"I'm not," Pandora said, "But, I don't know, it's my soul. It's the essence of my being, the source of me, right? I don't want to take a risk with it."

"It's just a gag, Pandora," I said. "Just on of my little quirks. It's not like I'm evil, or something. I'm not collecting souls for Satan or anything, it's just a joke."

"I know, I know," she said, "I don't think you're evil, I just want to keep my soul."

"No problem," I said, returning to my turkey cutlet. Those things are good.

"It's no big deal," said Sarah.

"If it's no big deal," Pandora said, "Why don't you give him yours?"

"OK, what will you give me for mine, Warren?" asked Sarah.

"What to you want?" I asked.

"To be your slave forever," she said, draping her arms around my neck.

"Oh, love," I said, "You already are."

We all laughed. "Well, then you can have my soul." She was beautiful, but I suppose she never was as smart as she tried to seem. But who cares? As I said, she was beautiful. I kind of prefer blondes. Not to say there is anything wrong with redheads or brunettes, I like those too, but if a blonde and a brunette are equally hot, I'll go with the blonde.

"Thanks," I said, shaking her hand, "That makes five in one day."

"See?" said Sarah. "I trust him. I know he would never do anything bad to my soul, right Hon?"

"Of course, love," I replied, and I leaned in and kissed her. She was a good kisser. She was good at a lot of those sorts of things.

After dinner I told them I was busy and walked back to my dorm. I went into my room and shut the door behind me. For a few minutes I lay on my bed trying to do my Calculus II homework, but after a few minutes I got bored and decided to summon up His Satanic Majesty.

I lit my candles, drew out my symbols, and after I completed the chant, the center of the dorm room floor erupted into an enormous billowing pillar of fire and brimstone, which, after a dramatic bit of swirling, congealed into Satan himself. He's a big man, if you could call him a man, but I think it's important to stress that he isn't. We're not talking about Jack Nicholson or Al Pacino with an evil grin and malicious intent, no, in actuality, Satan is a huge, inhuman monster. He's red in color, his eyes burn yellow/orange, and he's got terrifically large horns growing out of a head which, itself, is much larger than a human's. He could probably fit an entire human head in his mouth if he wanted to. He probably has, now that I think of it. His teeth are much sharper than any I've ever seen, he's really ripped, probably works out, and his legs are similar to those of an enormous goat who is strong enough to kill an elephant with one kick. He had to crouch in order to fit comfortably in my room.

"Oh, unholy master!" I said prostrating myself, "You honor me with your presence!"

"Thank you. Get up," he said. "Do you have any souls for me?"

"Yes," I said as I rose, "I got five more today. They are yours." I gestured and could feel as the souls flowed out of my being and into the possession of Satan.

"Not bad," the Dark One said, "You shall be rewarded. How did you get these souls?"

"Two were a couple of pot-heads," I said, "I just gave them weed. I saw a couple of bums on the bus on the way back from the mall earlier. They wanted money. The last one is my girlfriend's. She gave it to me for nothing."

"It never ceases to amaze me what fools these mortals be," said Satan, "present company excepted, of course." I just smiled, pleased to have pleased. "I have a request, however."

"Anything, my liege," I said. Yeah, you know, we all kiss our boss's ass.

"These souls, although nice and relatively innocent, are not the most pious things. I want you to bring me the soul of Pandora Rieper. Her soul is very pure. I like getting the good ones. It really makes God mad. I love that, as you know."

"As you wish," I said, and in a brimstone burst much like the first played backwards, His Unholy Lord was gone. I sprayed some Wizard Air Neutralizer so my RA wouldn't think I was burning incense.

The question everyone always has about now is "Why do you do it, Warren?" Well, to be honest, I don't really want to get into it. Suffice to say that Satan and I first got in touch with each other after my parents died, there was some confusion there as to what was happening with them, but it's all worked it out now. Plus, you know, I get all the traditional minion of Satan benefits, earthly wealth and power, etc., so this is a good deal for me. It's really none of your business.

The next day, Thursday, I was fortunate enough to get Pandora to go to the mall with me. Satan wasn't joking, she really was a sweetheart. Wouldn't hurt a fly except to feed a sickly spider, you know? She wanted to go to the mall to buy her mother a mother's day present. I hadn't picked one up yet either, so I figured it was a good opportunity. Not for my mother, obviously, but for my grandma. She raised me after they died. I bought her a couple of Star Trek books from Waldenbooks. She reads them a lot, loves those shows, you know? I read them once in a while. I'm not a Trekkie or anything, but I think they're ok. Pandora hadn't picked anything out yet.

"Let's try Hallmark," she said.

"Sure," I said, and the two of us immediately headed for the card stand devoted solely to mother's day. I started looking at the Garfield cards. Pandora was looking at the more generic ones, they type with poetry in them.

"So how are things going with you and Sarah?" she asked, making small talk.

"Good," I said. "She seems happy. I know I am. Oh yeah, by the way, we're going out to the movies on Saturday, you want to come?"

"No thanks," she said, "I don't want to be a third wheel."

"So, why don't you bring someone?"

"What," Pandora asked, "like a double date? No thanks, I don't have anyone to ask."

I let the subject die for a minute. Let her brood on it, I figured. I picked up a card with an angel on it. On the outside it said, "On mother's day I promise to be your little angel again..." and the inside says, "As long as you forget why I was cast out of Heaven in the first place." Stupidest card I've ever seen.

"I'm all set," I said, grabbing the envelope that went with the card. Pandora stood looking into a glass display case with all those little porcelain children inside of it. I can't remember what those things are called for the life of me, but they're all dolled up from way back when, looking all sweet and innocent like adults always fantasize that children do. I'm glad my grandma doesn't like that stuff, I wouldn't be able to stand being around her. Star Trek I can take, but these? I walked over to her.

"Oh, come on," I said, "I'm sure there's someone."

"Well," she said, "there is someone..." Told you she'd keep thinking about it.
" But I could never ask him out."

"Why not?" I asked her.

"He'll say no," said Pandora.

"Why would he do that?" I asked. "You're a beautiful girl, you're great to hang out with, I'm sure there are lots of guys who'd love to go out with you." I wasn't bullshitting her. She really was hot. I mean, I already had a girlfriend, but if I didn't, I'd have hooked up with her.

"Well, if these hundreds of guys won't say anything, why should I?"

"Because it'll be fun! What have you got to lose?"

"My pride," she said, crouching down to see the price on the bottom of one of the statuettes. A sad little porcelain girl knelt as a little porcelain boy kissed her on the forehead.

"Oh, come one," I said, "people ask each other out all the time. I think Steve is going to ask someone to come with us, too." A lie. But I figured, peer pressure, right?

"Who?" Pandora asked, looking up at me quickly.

"I don't know I just..." Duh! She had the hots for Steve. To be honest, I'm a little ashamed that I never noticed, but, oh well, too late now. I smiled knowingly at her.

"No, no," she said.

"It's Steve, isn't it?"

"No!" she said. She stood up, instantly defensive. I gave her a look. "Ok, yes. But you can't tell him!"

"Why not?"

"Because, Warren, that would be betraying my trust!"

"Ok, ok," I said, "I won't tell him. I just, you know..."


"Well," I said, looking away, "I might be able to get him to ask you to the movies."

"Yeah, out of pity," she said, rolling her eyes.

"No," I said, "We've talked about you before. He has an interest. There is a definite interest there." Mostly true. Well, it is true, I'm just making it sound more active than it was. It was really one of those things where we were listing girls we knew and saying what we thought of them. He thought she was hot. I think I gave her a better grade than he did, but that's not important.

"You're kidding," she said eyeing me skeptically.

"Nope." I put my arm around her. "I guarantee you, if you ok it, I can get him to ask you out."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Yes, positive."


"You're a friend," I said. "I like to help people."

She looked me in the eyes. "You want my soul, don't you?"

"Well," I admitted, "It would be nice..."

She smirked at me. "No way."

"Alright, alright," I said, laughing, taking a step back from her. "You don't have to give me your soul. I'll do this one pro bono. But if you ever reconsider..."

"I sincerely doubt I will," she said, chuckling. "Are you serious about this?"

"Completely," I said.

"Alright, talk to him," she said, smiling, "but be subtle!"

"You can count on it," I told her.

So, I told Steve that she was nuts about him. Ok, I wasn't subtle.

"Really?" said Steve, sipping a Bud from his hidden stash.

"Oh yeah."

"Wow..." he said. "What do you think I should do?"

"Hello?" I said. "Ask her out."

"Are you sure, man? I don't want to ruin our friendship."

Jesus Christ, can you believe this? This guy is supposed to be a college male? "Don't worry about it. You like her, don't you?"

"Well, yeah," he said, shrugging, "I mean, she's hot, and she's nice, I just never thought about it so much, you know?"

"Well, try thinking now. Can't you imagine what she'd be like in bed?"

He laughed. "Dude, what's gotten into you?"

"Nothing, I'm just trying to hook up a couple of my friends who have both been lonely for too long," I said. I hit him on the arm. "You're not still hung up on Veronica are you?"

"No fucking way," he said. I knew how to touch a sore spot. "I'm over that bitch."

"Well, then, what's stopping you from this?"

"Nothing..." he said.

"It's been, what, two months?" I asked him.

"Yeah... yeah, I'm going to go for it."

"Yeah!" I said, hitting him on the back. "Give her a call. She's home now. Take her out tonight."

"Tonight? To what?"

"Whatever you want. Dinner, I guess. Or take her to the pool hall. Whatever."

"Yeah, ok," he said. "It's gonna be fun. We can go out to the Underground, maybe. Does she like clubs?"

"Probably. And if it goes well, why don't you ask her to double date with me and Sarah tomorrow. We're going to the movies."

"Cool, yeah I will," he said.

"I've got to get going," I said, taking a speedy leave while he picked up the phone.

"Hey," he said, stopping me, "Thanks a lot man."

"No problem," I said. "I'd do anything for a friend."

It was not so long after that, a mere twenty-four hours, when I stood in my room mixing up a potion to slip my good friend. This Satanic Mickey Finn was a fun one. The basic idea behind it was simple; Steve drinks it, he wants to have sex with Pandora. Very badly. Various ingredients were in it, most of them easily obtainable through supermarkets or local occult shops. The only thing I needed was Pandora's blood. No big deal, right?

So, over to Pandora's dorm I went. I brought a couple of CDs I had borrowed from her. It was the two Best of the Beatles sets, you know, the red and the blue one that each have half of their career on them? I like the Beatles. Except it really bugs me how the two CDs in the red set would have easily fit on one disc. They just put it on two CDs to rip people off. That really gets me. Record people are the scummiest people on earth.

So, anyway, Pandora. I called her from the front of her dorm on the little intercom and she came down to let me in. I wish you could have seen the look on her face. I've never been in love. I've had relationships, of course, and I've had my heart broken, pretty much, but Sarah is the most serious girlfriend I've ever had. It's been, what, six months now? The point is, I'm not in love with her. Pandora wore a look that morning that I can only assume was the look of one who is madly and helplessly in love.

I'm not exaggerating here. I have never seen another person seem so happy. She let me in and rushed me right upstairs to her room. She took the CDs from me and set them aside, dispensing with all pleasantries in favor of the most humongous sigh I have ever heard in my life.

"Warren," she said, "Thank you so much!"

"Well, I told you I'd bring them back," I said. Nothing wrong with playing dumb. Gets peoples guard down.

"Not that," she said, "I don't care about that, I'm talking about Steve!"

"Oh, yeah!" I said, "So, how did it go?" I sat down on her bed.

She fell back into her desk chair. "It was the most fun I've had in such a long time! We went to the Rendezvous Café first and he got us coffee and we just talked and talked until about eleven, then we went over to the Underground and danced until about two."

"I'm so glad you had a good time." I checked out her nightstand. Tissue box, alarm clock, candle, copy of Jane Eyre. Nothing I could use there.

"I had a spectacular time! And then afterwards we came back here, and we talked some more, and we kissed a lot, but he didn't pressure me at all. After he left, I just lay on my bed thinking about how the two of us just seemed to click together, we both seem to go at the same speed. I think I dreamed about him. I'm not sure what happened though, something like I had a baby that died and he was there... I don't know, but he was in it, and I loved him."

"You love him?" I asked.

"God, I don't know," she said, "You can't ask me that!" She got up and started pacing, looking up at her posters, a couple bands, one with a unicorn, and one of Titanic with Leo and Kate dancing. "I'm way too emotional right now. Isn't it a bit early to ask me that? I have to wait until we've gone together for a while, right? I shouldn't even think about things like that yet." She stopped again, and looked at me. "I think I do."

I smiled at her and stood. She grabbed onto me and hugged me for ages.

"I'm so happy for you!" I said, "What about Steve?"

"Well," she said, releasing her hold on me, "He seemed to have a really good time. Why, did he say anything?"

"Yeah," I said, "He told me it was the best time he's had all year." Sometimes I lie just because I can. I hadn't seen Steve all day. In retrospect this was a dangerous thing to say. What if she had talked to him about it later? I mean, she didn't but still. I guess I was getting a little cocky.

"Are you serious?"

"Yeah, of course," I said, "Why would I lie?" Her desk didn't help me either. Computer, keyboard, monitor, calculus book, French book, a couple of pictures of her family and friends, Cathy coffee cup with pencils and pens in it.

"This is too much. I never thought he would ever be interested in me. This is the best thing that ever happened to me!"

"One thing, though," I said, sitting in her chair, looking her right in the eyes, "I think you might want to reconsider giving me your soul."

"What?" she said, caught off guard. She laughed it off. "No way!"

"Ok, no pressure," I said, looking away. "I just figured you'd be better off without it."

"How's that?"

"You know, you'd have nothing left to lose." I spied her garbage can next to the chair and tried to subtly glance into it while I talked. "You might get hurt otherwise." Tissues, plastic spoon, Chinese food carton, Coke can... pay dirt! A Band-Aid.

"No thanks," she said "I've got too much to look forward to." She turned her back on me, picking out some earrings or something. I figured it might be my only chance, so I went for the trash can. "If I didn't know you so well, I'd think you seriously wanted my soul for something." Got it. She turned back, putting her choice into her ear. "You have a weird sense of humor, that's for sure."

"You know it," I said, pocketing my treasure. I got up. "I've got to get going, I've got lots of work to do. Oh, hey, are you two going to come to the movie tonight?"

"Oh yeah," she said, "Definitely. We're both looking forward to it."

"Cool," I said, on my way out the door, "Then I'll see you around sevenish, ok?"

"Yep," she said, "See you then!" and I headed back to my dorm.

This is too good: on the way back home, I was kind of bored. I saw this guy, what's his name... Peter something. Something with an S. He was in my Brit Lit class. I didn't really know him so well. Anyway, he was there talking to his friend Jackson, and when I get to them, I go, "Hey, uh, Peter, can I have your soul?" extending a hand towards him.

"Uhhh..." he's looking at me like I'm nuts. Probably didn't recognize me at all. "Sure..." And he shook my hand. Can you believe it? For nothing. When I walked away I could hear him laughing at me. What a fucking idiot.

Anyway, I get back to my dorm with my ill gotten and fairly gross prize and set about trying to scrape off enough blood to make it useful. Then I mixed well and let sit for at least three hours in a cool place, namely my fridge. It was just about seven when Steve popped over to get ready to go to the movies.

"Hey, man, you want a beer?" I said as he came in.

"Sure," he said. I took two out of the fridge and gave him one, which he opened and started to drink. The other I opened myself and subtly slipped in my concoction. Then I mock sipped it, very careful not to really sip it, obviously.

"Oh, shit," I said, "I forgot. I can't drink this, I'm driving. You want it?"

"Uh... ok," he said. He finished off his Bud and took mine, not being one to pass up free beer. I had to work pretty hard on it to make sure the taste would be masked, but it payed off, he seemed to like it. "Thanks a lot. I've give you one later, ok?" He was wearing a Dave Matthews Band t-shirt from some tour or other, a regular old pair of jeans, and another cap. I think it was a Yankees cap. He was on the track team. He got some sort of scholarship from it, too. He was in really good shape. Ok, I'll admit, he was better looking than me. Happy?

"Don't worry about it," I said, "I've got plenty. So how did it go last night?"

"Oh," he said, "It went well. We had a really good time."

"You think it will turn into something serious?" I asked him.

"I don't know," he said, "It's too soon to tell. She's pretty cool, you know? I like hanging around with her."

The plan was that we would decide on the movie when we got there. Steve and I took my car over to get the girls. First we grabbed Sarah, who looked great as always, then Pandora. She was still aglow and she and Steve kissed hello. My potion takes a while to get up to strength, but it had started to work its charm already. Steve was beaming at Pandora.

I had a pretty good night out that night. We let the girls pick the movie we saw, but to be honest with you, I don't remember what it was. I wasn't really watching the movie, I was paying attention to the show next to me; Pandora and Steve. Sarah sat to my left, but she was a fan of whatever attractive male starred in the film, so she didn't notice. Pandora was on my right, and Steve was on hers.

He wasn't paying attention to the movie either, but for different reasons. My handiwork had kicked in and his hormones were raging for Pandora. As I said, I was tuning the film out completely, so I was able to make out most of what was whispered. When the movie started, he had his arm around her. He leaned in close.

"I'm so glad we ended up getting together," he whispered to her.

"Me too," she said. "I never even knew you liked me."

"Of course I did," he said. "You're so beautiful. You're so smart. You're so... sexy."

That's when he put his hand on her leg.

"Steve," she whispered, but she said it in that giggly, nervous-but-happy kind of way girls have. She didn't take his hand away.

He started kissing her neck after a few minutes. She kissed him back, but when he made a subtle move for her breasts, she deflected. "Slow down," she whispered, "Let's watch a little of the movie."

There was no way he could focus on the movie. His hand was rubbing her knee seductively and his head, close to hers, kept moving, brushing their skin together. After a moment, I think he must have been blowing on her ear, or maybe licking it, or biting it, because she giggled and put her hand up to her ear.

"Stop that," she said, laughing.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I just can't stop thinking about you."

She kissed him again. They made out for a couple of minutes. I was amazed by his restraint; he only went for her chest once. He got a good grope before she moved his hands away, but once she did, he kept his hands down for the remainder of that kissing session.

It went this way on and off for the rest of the movie. I am proud to say I did not laugh. He said a lot of 'You-are-so-beautiful's and even some 'I've-always-loved-you's. The problem is, Pandora was less amused with each attempt. She was flattered, obviously, but she's not the type to have sex on the second date, let alone before she left the theatre. He kept growing more and more passionate for her, trying so hard to get into her pants, or even her shirt, while she became a little more nervous each time.

By the time the credits rolled and the lights came up, she had let him feel her up, but that was as far as it went, much to his disappointment. When we all got up to leave, Pandora was... flustered is a good word for it. The evening hadn't gone as she had expected, that was for sure.

"So, now what?" I said as we walked to the parking lot.

"Let's go to Denny's!" suggested Sarah.

"No thanks," said Pandora, "I'm too tired."

Steve had his arm around her waist. He leaned into her and whispered into her ear, but I couldn't hear what he said.

"No," Pandora said, "I think I'd better go home. I have to be up early."

"No problem," I said.

Steve looked really disappointed.

In the back seat of the car, while I was driving home, I could tell he was trying something. I couldn't tell you what, I was mostly watching the road, but Pandora's whispered 'Stop!'s gave away the fact that something unsavory was up.

She put on a happy face as we pulled up to her dorm. "Thanks for a wonderful night guys," she said. "I had a good time, Steve, I'll call you later." She turned and went inside.

"How was date number two?" I asked Steve as I backed out of the drive.

"It didn't go as well as I had hoped," he said. "Why didn't she want to come over?"

"Don't worry about it, Steve," said Sarah. "Some girls like to take it slow. They can't all be like me." She smiled and kisses me on the cheek and rubbed my chest.

"Whatever," said Steve, slumping back in his seat and turning in a brilliant performance of the college-age version of sulking.

We got back to our dorm in about three minutes. I wished Steve a good night and Sarah and I went back to my room. When she stepped out to use the bathroom, I called Pandora.

"Hello," she answered.

"Pandora?" I said. I had put on a sad voice.

"Warren," she said, "hi." She sniffed.

"Were you crying?" I asked her.

"No," she lied. "What's up?"

"Sarah and I just got into a big fight," I told her. As we talked I lit a candle and began putting some herbs into a little bowl.

"What?" she said, surprised. "Why?"

"She was mad at me for fixing you two up," I said, "She said you obviously had an awful time and it was clearly a bad idea from the start. She said I probably ruined your friendship with him, and then she stormed out. I'm... I'm so sorry." This is when I started doing a crying sound. I used my razor to cut my fingertip and added it to my mixture.

"Oh my God..." she said, "It's not true Warren, you didn't ruin anything..."

"Pandora," I said, "Do you think you could come over? I really need someone to talk to."

"Well, I... sure, Warren," she said, "I'll be there in ten minutes."

We got off the phone just as Sarah was coming back.

"Who was that?" asked Sarah.

"Pandora," I told her.

"Is she ok?" she asked.

"Yeah, sure. Can I see your hand?" She put her hand in mine and I quickly cut her index finger.

"Ow! Shit!" she said, pulling back.

"Oh, man, I'm sorry! Let me see it," I said. She gave it to me cautiously. "It's alright. It's not too bad." I gave her finger a squeeze, coincidentally dripping her blood into the little bowl. "Here's a Band-Aid," I said, giving her a fresh one.

"What are you doing?" she asked, putting it on.

"Nothing," I said, using my mortar and pestle to crush the little mixture I'd created. Then I sprinkled it over the large candle, doing a little chant I know. When I finished, Sarah was properly mesmerized. "Ok, sweetie," I said to her, "here's what you're going to do. Go to Steve's room and have sex with him. A lot. You got that?"

"Yes," she said, and left. People without souls are so easy to control.

A few minutes later, Pandora came knocking at my door. I had to become all sad again. No big deal, it's not hard.

"Hi," I said as I opened the door.

"Hi," she said. She came in and gave me a hug.

"I'm so sorry," I said.

"It's alright," she said. "You didn't ruin anything, War. Tell me what happened again." She sat me down on my bed and sat facing me on my desk chair.

"Well, after you left," I coughed, "After you left, Steve was upset. He was like, 'Oh, man I screwed that up so badly, she'll probably never talk to me again,' and I was like, 'No, man, she said she'd call you,' but then when Sarah and I got back to my room she was like, 'He was right, she obviously had a rotten time, now they can't be friends ever again.' So I said, 'Why not?' and she's like 'That's just the way it is,' you know, 'Too bad.' And then she walked out." I was really playing it up, looking at the floor, rolling my head around, going all out to look really upset.

"Shhhh... honey," Pandora said, "Calm down, shhhh... You were right. She was wrong. Maybe the date didn't go perfect, but I'll give it another shot. I've had feelings for Steve for a long time. I've never seen him act that way with any other girl, I'm sure it was an isolated incident. And even if it doesn't work out, I'm sure we can still be friends. I'm still friends with my last boyfriend."

"Really?" I asked.

"Of course," she said. "Have I ever been the kind to hold a grudge?"

"No," I said. It was true. She'd forgive anything.

"See?" she said, taking my hand and bringing my face up to look her in the eyes. "You haven't ruined anything. I know you had only the best intentions. You just wanted to make your friends happy."

"Yes," I said, slowly coming around, "I guess."

"What can I do to help you?" she asked, really concerned.

"Well," I said, "can we go talk to Sarah and Steve to let them know how you feel? I think they both are mad at me..."

She hesitated for a minute and then decided, "Sure, why not. Come on," she said, standing. "Talking things out is the best way to get through them."

We walked out of my room. "I guess we'll go see Steve first, he's closest."

"Sure," she said.

We walked down the hallway to his door, her leading me by the hand, and she quietly knocked. There was no answer. "Steve?" she said. She knocked again. A strange noise emanated from the room. "Steve?" she repeated. The noise sounded again.

"What is that?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. She reached down to try the knob. It was unlocked, so she slowly and quietly opened the door. There on Steve's bed lay Steve and Sarah, both completely naked, still making love pretty vigorously. Pandora shut the door so quickly I don't think they could tell who opened the door on them. They showed no signs of stopping, that was for sure.

Neither of us spoke. She dropped my hand and walked back to my room. I followed her. She sat in my chair again. I just stood next to her, staring down at her. Eventually, she looked up at me. Then she started crying and looked away.

"Does it hurt?" I asked her.

She looked back up at me, astounded. She nodded.

"Why?" I asked.

"I..." she said between sobs, "I don't... know..."

I crouched down to her level, to look her evenly in the eyes. "I told you it would," I said.

She couldn't believe I was saying this. She couldn't say a word.

"Didn't I tell you?" I asked her. No reply. "Didn't I?" she nodded. "Yes. I told you. 'You could get hurt,' I said. Do you want the hurting to stop?" Again, she didn't reply. She just cried. "Do you want it to stop?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Good," I said. "You know what I want, right?" No answer. "Trust me," I said. "You'll be much better off. No one will ever be able to hurt you like this again. You'll be practically invincible. You know what I want?" She nodded. "And you're ready to give it to me?" She waited a moment, then nodded. "Good," I said. "Give me your hand."

She put her hand in mine. I think she even felt it this time. What a soul! I had never felt a thing of such beauty. So pure, so untainted, so sensitive. I could feel every ounce of pain I had caused her. She must have felt it leaving her, it was very powerful. I wonder if she regretted it. I wonder if she forgave me.

I hugged her then. "It's going to be ok now," I said, trying to calm her tears. I kissed her on the forehead. "Cheer up," I said softly, "Things can only go up from here." I held her for about five minutes, just talking to her, comforting her, trying to ease the pain and subsequent emptiness she felt.

Eventually, without a word, she stood and left, a shell of her previous self. I lay back on my bed, content.

Fucking idiot.