The Five People You Meet in Hell: An Unauthorized Parody

The Five People You Meet in Hell: An Unauthorized Parody

by Rich Pablum

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743279611
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 09/24/2007
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 823,543
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Pier Pressure

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the conclusion of a story comes at the beginning? Not just in pretentious movies from the seventies, either. In literature (that's "books," if you're under thirty), it's a manipulative ploy designed to pique the reader's interest in what is basically a shopworn detective story, dreary science fiction saga, or clichéd Western.

Or, in this case, a hackneyed morality tale. But, hey, one man's "hackneyed" is another's "profound." Who even knows what the word hackneyed means? Some movie critic probably dreamed it up, and now every amateur Roger Ebert drags it out just because he got sick of reading subtitles and fell asleep.

But I digress.

Edgy's final few hours on Earth took place at Angeli Pier, a midway that should have been condemned sometime during the Harding administration. The pier was located near Mykell Bay, a tourist trap that was expensive, shallow, and culturally insignificant.

Like most such eyesores, the pier was a magnet for social misfits. You know, the types you find pouring sugar directly into their mouths at Starbucks. Delusional transient philosophers who claim the end is near, and have the body odor to prove it.

It didn't take a DNA test to figure out that in addition to steroids and growth hormones, the carnival life was in Edgy's blood. He loved it all. The rickety rides. The unfair games and their deceitful operators. Children with the innocence of an Anne Geddes calendar shooting twelve-inch basketballs at eleven-inch hoops. Ah, yes. 'Twas ever thus. Not a thing had changed at Angeli Pier in decades, from the carnies' filthy clothes to the rancidoil the french fries were cooked in.

It was all wonderful to Edgy. After a shift at the pier, nothing thrilled him more than taking off his shoes at night, feeling something sticky on the bottom, and not knowing its origin. He experienced moments like this with the fervor of Bill O'Reilly in a private office with a free calling card.

The new attraction at the pier was a ride called Do Not Enter -- Under Construction. It looked exactly like a ride that had occupied the same spot for years, the Krazy Kozmic Koaster. Edgy wondered why the powers-that-be at Angeli thought a name change would boost attendance. But his was not to reason why. He had lobbied for a position in management years ago, but one slip -- filling out the application in pastel sidewalk chalk -- had cost him the job. Listing Mickey Rourke as a personal reference probably didn't help, either.

Edgy refused to be bitter, however. What did he know about decision making? Do Not Enter had proven to be wildly successful with the young and illiterate.

Edgy was a sprightly ninety-one. Though his skin had long ago taken on the texture of a petrified Domino's pizza, his eyes still burned with a crimson that even hourly applications of Visine couldn't fade.

His neck was sturdy and his arms were strong. He wore a stylish brown shirt and shorts. The resulting look was every bit his own -- think UPS meets Abercrombie & Fitch. Perfect for back to school. Sorry, no X-Large. Free shipping on all orders over $100. Visa and MasterCard accepted. (No sales tax in Florida.)

"Stay away from that guy," a wary father hissed through his smile, warning his little girl as Edgy waved at them. Everyone at the pier knew him. They could smell him from twenty paces. Several patrons had applied for restraining orders.

Edgy just had one of those faces you thought you might recognize from the convenience store, or behind the counter at the D.M.V., or the post office bulletin board. These were unpleasant associations for most people, but the man himself was unaware of inspiring such negative feelings. To Edgy, people were just people, and if most of them felt like hurling hard plastic souvenirs his way or running in the opposite direction when they saw him, then so be it.

The last few letters had worn off his PARK UPKEEP shirt, right below his embroidered name, making it difficult to read. Consequently, many of his regular acquaintances had their own moniker for their least favorite pier employee. "Edgy Kreep," they would mutter after he'd belch with his mouth open, or stick out his foot in an effort to trip one of their kids. "That guy is one Edgy Kreep."

Copyright © 2005 by Billy Frolick

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