Cyril Spriggs (1 to 4 chapters)A Story by Ron
Set in the home of C. Spriggs and his parents at Crouch End in North London. Is it possible to be truly honest for an entire day?
Cyril knew that it was the devil, that stood at the end of his bed, as soon as he opened his eyes! He didn't feel fear as such. After all the devil was only about five feet three tall and looked every inch a pensioned off army officer. It was also remarkable to see that the devil had a dose of the flu. When he coughed and spluttered puffs of coal smoke chugged from his nostrils. The devil stirred himself to his full size, attempting, but failing, to adopt a most superior demeanour.
"Cyril Spriggs? I am Beelzebub! Otherwise known as the great and almighty Satan. The dark, fallen angel of the deep."
"Yes " replied a very curious Cyril.
"I am here to secure your soul. I have chosen you because, frankly, your life is so wretched you may well want rid of it." Satan convulsed with a pompous, sooty spasm of chuckles. A purple jet of steam fizzed from his right ear. "Why, you live a virgin's life in your parent's home. Parents who bore you to death. You have a dead end job with a manager who detests you. The girl you pine for constantly rejects you. You may as well just give me your soul and put yourself out of all this misery!" A bead of boiling mucus dripped from a pink nostril as he convulsed with more laughter.
"I want to keep my soul. I am bewildered why Beelzebub, the ancient deity of the Philistines, wants my soul in particular?" bridled Cyril. Satan flushed with anger. In order to cow the young Spriggs he attempted to colour his eyes satanic, scarlet. The only effect was to make alternate eyes flash intermittently rather like pedestrian crossing orbs. "You've got the flu! How come the devil can get the flu?" Questioned the stoic Cyril.
"How come? How come?" exploded the furious, but elderly, prince of darkness. "If you ran, back and forth, from white hot, hell fire, to cold, damp places like this, wouldn't you get the flu? I want your soul Spriggs because that is what Devils do you ninkompoop. Your soul Spriggs is the easiest soul to steal in Crouch End, so I am reliably informed."
After one or two sulphurous seconds Satan calmed down. " Right now Spriggs! Here is the deal. For the next twenty four hours you must speak the truth and only the truth. Any lie; tiny, white, whopper or perjury and you forfeit your life and I take your soul. If by a miracle you pass the test, you get the obligatory three wishes. I shall be close by you all day and night to win my prize" At that trying to look imposing and terrifying Beelzebub puffed into a belch of sooty coal smoke. Then made an exit, dramatically as he could, by trickling through the open sash of Cyril's bedroom window.
Cyril was somewhat rattled and perplexed. The Devil certainly knew a lot about him. Certainly life with his parents was strained. Cyril felt that a man in his twenties should be independent and frankly his parents were getting on his nerves. Work was a major strain. The job had prospects and he could achieve so much more if only his bone idle, immediate manager would stop behaving like a mad woman. It felt like, during business hours, he, and his teams, attempts to work , were hampered like being shackled to a lunatic.
Cyril's love life was a shambles. He detested the vulgar, painted, vodka-swilling, girls that posed and pimped around nightclubs. Simply talking to girls was a Herculean task. There was only one girl for him, Effy! His attempts to impress her had proved futile. He simply had no idea what to say to her. None whatsoever!
One thing that Cyril did every day, was tell lies. No more than anyone else you understand. Just the myriad of lies one has to tell to keep the peace, to be polite and sometimes to gain an advantage. Like the rest of civilization lying was part of daily life. Cyril watched the last wreath of smoke linger at his window. Yes! This was all real. It may be that Beelzebub, old and sickly as he seemed, could still snatch a soul. So truthful is what he would have to be for the next twenty four hours.
His first and major problem would be facing his parents for breakfast. Being untruthful was a ploy he used with them just to avoid the drudgery of parental discourse. Not too deep beneath the surface Cyril raged at his parents for inflicting him with his Christian name. Cyril! Good God! Why? Daily he passed himself off as 'Cy' Spriggs. His alternative, first name sounded fresh as Barbados air. How the name Cy contrasted with the ancient, chapel wall, name of Cyril. What were his parents dreaming of at his Christening?
Perhaps it was his name, that so heartily disliked, that gave him such a pererse interest in names. Over the years he had shown an uncanny interest in the meanings and origins of them. Cyril had become something of a keen onomastrician. For examplr he knew immediately the origin of the name Beelzebub. He knew his own name meant 'Master' or 'Lord' from the Greek 'Kyrillos'. He thought his parents may have been influenced by this when they named him. How he wished the name Cyril had ceased to exist at the moment the ancient Greek civilization failed.
The surname Spriggs was Old English for 'twig like.' Cyril's slender frame meant there could be no argument with that. In any event it was not easy to see how his useless knowledge of onomastrics would help him through the challenges of this day!
"Morning Cyril Dear!" Was his Mother's cheery morning welcome. The same old boring salutation thought Cyril.
His Father stood wafting smoke from the toaster. "Did you put some bread in here love?" enquired the bemused Father.
"No, I'm sure I didn't" said a mystified Mother.
Cyril recognised that odd sooty, smoke that hung above the toaster. The 'Devil' was hidden in the toaster; poised, watching and listening.
"Like my new hairdo Cyril " chirruped a happy mother. Cyril almost replied spontaneously in the affirmative. He stopped himself in the nick of time. His Mother's hairdo meant little to him. However the reality was he did not like his mother's hair at all! His first collision with the truth had arrived!
"It's dreadful Mum. Just dreadful." Cyril's words pricked her like a needle.
"Why on Earth is that?" She piped.
"It looks like someone's dropped an omelette on your head to be frank Mum!"
"Dave" she shrieked at her husband. "Why did you tell me my hair looked nice?"
"Well dear" the flustered husband began, " I didn't want to upset you?"
Joyce Spriggs bridled , wrapping a head scarf over her disgraced locks. "I wasn't sure before but I am very sure now, and upset now. I am off to the hairdressers. And you David Spriggs will be paying. And, not just for the perm!" The door slammed behind her!
"Crikey Cyril!" announced his startled father. "Any more bombshells like that?"
"Dad! Why did you call me Cyril?"
David Spriggs slumped back in his chair and with an air of resignation began the explanation. "Well I did tell you once when you were younger. You are named after my father's brother. We called you after him hoping you might inherit some of his moral fibre. Don't you remember? He was the sergeant in charge of a two pounder, anti tank battery at the battle of El Alamein. His three gun team knocked out five German panzer tanks. The tanks had broken through the British defences and had they got through the whole battle could have turned. Cyril's team were the last defence line. To stop a tank with a two pounder anti tank gun you had to wait till point blank range. Then you had minutes to get them all, one miss or delay, you were dead. Cyril was awarded the Military Cross! He was the family hero. From a bank clerk to battle hero. Who would have thought it" Mr. Spriggs words faded to nothing.
Cyril's brain whirled with this refreshed information. He felt a pang of pride and a stab of regret of his stupidity for not retaining such fabulous information about his great uncle. For a moment his minds eye saw panzer tanks roar up on their tracks over a gun sight. He shuddered. Goodness! What a man the gunner, Cyril Spriggs, had been.
At times stress makes thoughts twist together and can torment ones mind. So it was with Cyril. He thought of the devil and the task he had to achieve. He thought of his war hero relative. Simultaneously thoughts of Effy tortured him. Effy! That wonderful, fresh, clever girl. She hardly wore make-up and was interested in art. She swatted away his pathetic chat up lines as she would an intoxicated blow fly. Effy was polite to him and sometimes to his utter joy, said 'hello'. It was hopeless, the awe that gripped him in her presence made him bumble like a thirteen year old. Here he was twenty two years old, in a vicious job, with the devil at his throat!
© 2010 Ron
Added on February 16, 2009
Last Updated on October 7, 2010