The Way-Station
by Julie Barman

There exists, between Heaven and Hell, a building known as the "Way-Station". It is here that spirits must travel to get evaluated and sent either Upstairs or Downstairs for all eternity. On this particular night, St. Peter was working in the inner office, doing the evaluations. As usual, there was a large crowd of the newly departed in the waiting room, hoping their good deeds outweighed their bad, and they would be sent up.

Peter sent an elderly ladyís spirit Up, and pressed the intercom on his desk. "Send in the next spirit," he told his assistant, Archangel Gabriel. Over the speaker, he could hear some kind of commotion in the waiting room.

"Uh, sir," said Gabriel hesitantly, "thereís a slight problem out here. Could you come out for a second, please?" Peter wasted no time. He left his office, walked down a long corridor, and entered the waiting room. Before him was a group of four people. Two men, a beefy biker type in black leather and a white scarf, and a skinny sort with curly black hair and - strangely enough - red womenís lingerie, were on the floor in a knock-down-drag-out-fight. A petite, red-haired woman and a blond, muscular man - both in black womenís lingerie - were trying to pull them apart. The leather-clad man was on top of the red lingerie man, beating the hell out of him and screaming at the top of his lungs.

"You killed me! You bastard! You fucking killed me!!!" Leather Man yelled. The woman was holding on to Leather Manís shoulders, trying to pull him off of Red Lingerie Man. "Eddie!" she cried. "Stop it! He canít hurt you anymore!"

"Damn right he canít!" cried Eddie, " ĎCause Iím gonna teach him a lesson right now!" "Heís already dead," Peter pointed out. "You canít do much else." The room went silent. Everyone turned and looked at the great saint. Eddie and Red Lingerie Man scrambled to their feet. They all looked both awed and scared. Peter glared at the troublemakers. "Now, WHAT is going on here?!" he demanded. All four started talking at once. "Enough!" cried Peter. "Everyone in my office! NOW!!"

The four went meekly into the inner office. They sat in a row on a long wooden bench, Eddie and the woman holding hands. They turned and looked nervously at the two doors, side-by-side, on the far wall. One was white, and the other red. They had a pretty good idea where those doors led to. There was also a third door, a blue one. They didnít know where that one went.

Peter sat back down at his desk and turned to his fancy computer. "All right," said Peter, "I want full names, so I can pull your files up and read about your lives. You first, ĎEddieí." Eddie gulped. "Edward A. Nonymous," he replied. "Whatís the ĎAí stand for?" Peter asked. "Alan." Peter brought the name up on the computer. The list under "sins" was quite long. "Youíve broken a lot of laws, young man," Peter admonished him. Eddie gulped. "Yes, sir," he said softly. Peter kept looking at the list. "Hmmm ... under ĎCause Of Deathí it says, ĎMurdered With Pickaxe.í" "By him!!" Eddie yelled, pointing at Red. "He killed me in cold blood!" "Cold blood?" Peter looked at Red for an explanation. "Well, sir," Red began, oozing with confidence and defiance, "it happened in a freezer, so I guess it was in cold blood." He burst out laughing.
"Silence!" Peter barked. Red sobered up. "Name!"
"Dr. Frank-N-Furter," he replied. Peter typed it into the computer. Frankís list of sins wasnít quite as long, but they were of a more serious nature.
"Murder, kidnapping, coercion of sexual acts, torturous whipping as a punishment, cannibalism for purposes other than survival, brainwashing ... and that was all in the 8 hours before you died!" Peter glared at the man in disgust. "Such sins!" "And he cannibalized with my body!" Eddie screamed in rage. Frank was indignant. "Who did I kidnap?!" he demanded to know. Peter checked the data. "It says here that a Brad Majors and a Janet Weiss came to you for help, and you forced them to stay in your house against their will. That constitutes kidnapping!" Frank slumped in his seat, sulking. Peter turned to the muscleman. "Whatís your name, Blondie?" The man only grunted. Peter turned to the others. "Whatís with the gorilla talk?" he asked. "He canít speak, "the woman replied. "Lovely singing voice, though," Frank spoke up. "I see." Peter beckoned the muscleman over to his desk and gave him a small tablet. "Here, swallow that and go back to your seat." The man did so. "Now," said Peter, "tell me your name." Blondie slowly opened his mouth. "R ... Ro ... Rocky ... H ... Horror. Rocky Horror." He was delighted. "I can speak!" Peter pulled up Rockyís file. It was nearly empty. Peter looked at him in surprise. "How old are you?" "A little over seven hours," Rocky replied. "Frank created me." Peter nodded. "That explains why Ďcreated lifeí was on his file. Well, you donít appear to have sinned too much. It says you even carried Frankís body away when he died and got yourself killed in the process. Thatís quite heroic." Rocky smiled. "Now, whatís your name, little miss?" Peter asked, looking at the lady. "Columbia Bolivia Venezuela," she replied in an impossibly squeaky voice. Peter pulled up her file. "Hmmm ... youíre pretty innocent, except for lust - one of the seven deadly sins, you know," Peter said to her. "If lust is a deadly sin," Eddie spoke up, "then Frank should have been banished to Hell a long time ago!" Peter glared at Eddie. "I have made note of Frankís many sexual acts, and they will be taken into account. Now, if you donít keep quiet, Iím sending you Downstairs for all eternity! Is that clear?!" Eddie looked shaken. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir," he spluttered. "Good. Now," Peter continued, "Normally, I pass judgment on where to send people based strictly on their files. But, due to that little fracas in the waiting room, Iím going to give you all a chance to explain whatís going on. Then, Iíll make my decision. Now, letís get started."

The quartet of spirits sat upright on the bench, trying to look as dignified as possible. St. Peter looked at them quite sternly. "Now, who started the fight? Truthfully?" "Eddie did!" Frank shouted. "He saw me and he just attacked me!" "Did you do that, Eddie?" Peter asked him. Eddie shifted in his seat. "Well ... I guess. But I was mad at him! He killed me, for heavenís sake! What was I supposed to do?" "Hey," Columbia interjected, "How come you have to ask us all these things? I thought you were all-knowing and all-seeing." "Oh, no, not me," Peter explained. "Thatís my boss. Iím just your average saint. Now, Columbia, can you tell me about Eddie and Frank?" "Well," she began, "Iíve lived with Frank for a number of years. I was walking down the street, and he passed by in a pickup truck. He stared at me, and I was drawn in. The way he looked at me with those eyes - they were like the devilís eyes." "Must you compare me to the devil here?" Frank wailed. "Quiet, Furter," Peter admonished. "Go on, dear." "Anyway," Columbia continued, "The way he looked at me, I just felt a change. He offered me a ride, and Iíve been with him ever since." "And how long ago was that?" asked Peter. "Four years." "OK. When did Eddie come into the picture?" "About two years ago. He was delivering candy. Frankís handyman, Riff Raff, just loves candy. Anyway, Frank saw him and fell for him. Drew Eddie into his inner circle. In fact, he dumped me for Eddie! He broke my heart ..." Columbia began to cry. Eddie hugged her and whispered, "Itís OK, baby." "Well," said Peter, "itís pretty obvious that Frank and Eddie arenít so close anymore. What happened?" "Simple," explained Eddie. "Iím straight. To be quite honest, Frank repulsed me. I only stayed because ... because I was in love with Columbia." "What?!" screamed Frank. "Then why did you let me pleasure you?" "So youíd let me stay, of course," replied Eddie. "I couldnít bear to leave Columbia." "All right," Peter broke in. "So, Columbia, you fell for Eddie, I take it?" Columbia smiled. "Yes, sir. We carried on a secret affair until about six months ago, when Frank found out. He was so furious that two of his lovers loved each other, he decided to create a lover, one that would be programmed to love only him." Columbiaís voice started to waver. "He ... he took Eddie, and knocked him out, and then ... took out half of Eddieís brain to use in his ... creation. Then Frank placed Eddie and all his belongings on his motorcycle and sent him into the freezer. Frank told me ... that if I ever let him out ... heíd kill us both." Columbia started crying again. "All right, calm down, dear," Peter said kindly. "How did you get out, Eddie?" "Well, sir," Eddie began, "I worked with the wiring of the freezer so it wasnít too cold, and so that I could control the door. I created a small hole so I could breathe more easily and hear what was going on. "I knew Frank was going to reveal his creation at the Transylvanian Convention. I figured that would be the time to make my entrance. On the big night, I waited until Frankís voice was very loud. Then, I knew he was right in front of the freezer. I opened the door and rode out on my bike. I had my saxophone with me, so I sang a rock-and-roll song. I had everybody dancing. They were all having fun, and I figured theyíd let me stay out. But Frank was angry at having attention taken away from him, so he chased me back into the freezer and killed me." Eddie was getting angrier. "And then, he had his servants cook my body, and he served it for dinner! To my own uncle! Your saintliness, you have to see the evil in this man! Send him to the Hot Spot, I beg of you!" "All right, all right, settle down," Peter commanded. "Rocky, whatís your side of the story?" "Well ... sir," Rocky started slowly, "Iím grateful to Frank for creating me, and I did carry him away when he died, but ... well, Iím straight, too. I mean, I got Eddieís brain, so I got his hormones, so Frank repulsed me, too - sexually, I mean. Until he brainwashed me, that is. Actually, I was starting to fall for that Janet lady, who came on to me in a BIG way after she saw Frank in bed with her fiancť. But Frank treated me as a thing, a sex toy, not a human being. He even chained me to the bed! It was terrible!" Rocky was on the verge of tears as well. Peter sighed. "OK, Iíve made my decision. Frank-N-Furter, stand up." Frank stood. Peter looked him straight in the eye. "Do you repent or show any remorse for these sins which you have committed in life? And I know if youíre lying, so be truthful!" Frank gulped. "At the very end, sir, I did." "Only because thatís what got you killed!" cried Columbia. "Well ... yeah, I guess thatís true," Frank admitted. Peter pressed a button, and the red door slowly creaked open. Flames shot up from a destination that was clearly a long fall. Frank stared at it in fear. "No!" He cried. "Please!" "Relax," Peter assured him. "Iíve decided to be lenient. Iím sending you down there, but your punishment is to be strapped to a bed and whipped by handsome devils for all eternity. Now, go!" "Cool!" Frank ran and jumped into the flames. The door slammed shut. Peter continued. "Rocky Horror, stand up." Rocky stood, trembling. "You have had much too short a life," Peter told him, "and Iím going to give you a chance at another one - a full one, this time. You will be reincarnated as a baby. Live your life as a good, just person, and you will go Upstairs the next time I see you." The blue door opened, and white mist came out. "Go on, now, Rocky," Peter encouraged him. Rocky went in, and a babyís cry was heard before the door shut. Peter turned to the couple on the bench. They were still holding hands. "Edward A. Nonymous and Columbia Bolivia Venezuela, stand up." They did so. "Now, usually, Eddie, I send a sinner like you straight Down, but I have a soft spot for couples who come to me still together. So ..." The white door opened. Columbia and Eddie looked overjoyed. "But if I hear of any sinning up there," Peter warned them, "Down you go! Got it?" "Uh, sir," Eddie asked nervously, "does, you know ... Ďthe actí count as a sin?" "Hmmm ... " Peter looked at them, then stood and raised his hands. "By the power vested in me by the order of the saints, I now pronounce you husband and wife." Eddie and Columbia were ecstatic. "Thank you, sir!" Eddie cried. "Thank you!" "But donít do it where other spirits can see you, OK?" Peter requested. The newlyweds skipped through the white door and were immediately lifted into the air. Peter sighed, sat back in his chair, and pressed his intercom. "Send in the next spirit, Gabriel," he requested. The door opened, and in walked a middle-aged man with torn, bloodied clothes and a stunned look in his eye. Peter had seen it a million times before car accident. "Drunk driving?" he asked wearily. "N-no," replied the man. "I was driving home from visiting friends in Denton, when I passed a young man and woman walking along the side of the road carrying an older man. But, the weird thing is, they were all in their underwear black, lacy womenís underwear! I was so surprised that I kept looking to make sure I wasnít seeing things, and my car ran off the road and hit a tree." Peter sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Julie Barman Criminologist Bawdy Caste, San Jose, CA