Starbucks, Halfway House Shopping Precinct, Purgatory; Sometime post 13th. August 1910: Famed for her acts of kindness nursing the injured British troops during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale has since her death been stuck in Purgatory. St Peter had taken it upon himself to deny her access to Heaven on account of perceived Health & Safety issues at the field hospitals she ran during the military campaign on the Crimean Peninsula. Despite her protests that she cleaned up the horrific conditions for the wounded there and saved countless lives the view from above is that she could have done more on the hygiene front. And so it is with a sad and weary heart that she has requested via Facebook a meeting with Satan to discuss her circumstances as she rightly feels that she cannot exist in limbo for eternity. We join Florence and Satan in Starbucks;
Satan: “Well nice to meet you Flo luv. What’s your poison girl?”
Flo: “Oh I suppose an espresso please – with an extra shot I think. I got used to stronger coffees whilst the war was on. I must say that was the only good thing to come out of battling the Ottomans. You could stand a spoon upright in an enamel mug the way the Turks dish it up.”
Satan, ever the gentleman, joins the queue and shortly thereafter returns with the drinks.
Satan: “I must say that I think it was a bit of a rum deal you not being allowed in upstairs. Health & Safety issues you say?”
Flo: “Yes unfortunately.”
Satan: “Still Flo His loss might just turn out to be my gain.
Flo: “How so?”
Satan: “Well down in Hell we hold no truck with Health & Safety issues. You can keep the place as filthy as you want. Look luv I’ve got a problem at the moment with the sex offender’s wing at my gaff. You see no one really likes those dirty buggers one little bit so we torture them good and proper under the supervision of the Marquis De Sade and his team. Obviously we can’t kill them what with them all being banged up on ‘whole of eternity tariffs,’ yet mostly we rip them apart limb by limb. Now I don’t mind them screaming all bloody day but the echoes of their anguish are giving me such insomnia I can tell you. I think that night times they’d cherish a little solace from a girl like yourself. Interested? You’ll have your own rooms and no worries about having to stoke the fires of hell or anything like that – I save all that nastiness for the billions of low life to do.”
Flo: “It’s got to be better than Purgatory. Some of the types you meet here – well I don’t know what to say.”
Satan: “Don’t worry luv the gigs all yours. Now I heard they call you The Lady of the Lamp. What’s all that about? In my world talk of your ‘lamp’ implies you’ve got one hell – so to speak – of a right hook!”
Flo: “I’m left handed actually.”
Satan: “OK then left hook. Whatever. And there’s other bits and pieces you might want to take on. For example take old Oscar Wilde. He keeps going on and on that he can’t find it within himself to wax lyrical until he’s got his leg across and there’s not a tortured soul that’s caught his fancy lately. I’m missing his words of wisdom. Maybe you two could meet up and see how you both get along?”
Flo: “Rather you than me.”
Satan: “Crikey I never thought of that – clever girl.”
Flo: “If it hadn’t been for Facebook ‘so called’ friends slagging me off I’d have been in Heaven you know. It irks me so. All I did was post a few pics of the horrendous wounds incurred by our brave soldiers following the Charge of the Light Brigade and it all went pear shaped. Someone even said it was disgusting I posted all that ‘full on’ stuff – even the shots of the food parcels from Blighty bombed. Really I was only trying to let people see what it was really like and look where it’s got me?”
Satan: “Don’t take it to heart luv. Look you’ll have a whale of a time down below. The world’s your oyster now. Remember there’s evil and evil – like those sex offenders you’ll be quietening down. Now that’s not a form of ‘evil’ the boys and girls in my neck of the wood take kindly to. So we just fight evil with evil if you get my drift Flo. That’s how we hand out justice where I come from. Look you can put up whatever Facebook posts you like in Hell – sicker the better. You really ought to take a gander at some of the videos on my home page – that’ll lift your spirits. Anyway when can you start?”
Flo: “Well anytime I suppose – I am keen I really am.”
Satan: “Good on you Flo girl you might as well come back with me now. Oh just one thing. Now I’m not being overly critical you must understand that but the way you dress for work isn’t quite what we expect in Hell. I mean in your free time dress how you want – we’re all libertines after all. But I’m thinking here that your nurse’s uniform should reflect the mood of the place so maybe you should go for the shorter skirt, low cut blouse and without a doubt sexy black stockings and suspenders rather than tights – you have after all got a fine pair of pins girl. You’ve got no problems with that have you?”
Flo: “Well I’ve always been a bit conservative yet when in Rome……..”
With that Satan and Florence take the down lift from the Halfway House Shopping Precinct.