Act two had begun even though Joaquin had hoped that another encounter with the hounds of hell would never happen. What made this act all the more difficult had nothing to do with self-doubt or a lack of faith. This time he had to worry about the safety of his family, which concerned him more than Nero's threat to take his soul to hell because unlike the last time that he dealt with Lucifer’s minions he already knew the cosmic rules that put limits on the activities of both the angels and the demons.
Nero, however, was a man so Joaquin knew that he did not have the same boundaries that the demons had to be concerned with. Therefore, Nero could inflict more harm on Joaquin and all of his loved ones for that matter because cosmic law did not forbid Nero from taking physical action on another human being.
The elevator door opened and Joaquin nodded to an older gentleman who offered a slight smile as Joaquin stepped onto the elevator.
“Lobby?” asked Joaquin before he reached for button marked with an L.
“Yes. Yes I am heading there. Thank you.”
“So where are you from young man?”
“Ah, I remember that town. I lived there during my college years.”
“Really? Where did you go to school?”
“Ah, the mighty Bruins.”
“I work with a lot of people that went to school there.”
“Really? What do you do?”
“I’m a teacher.”
“That’s great. What do you teach?”
The elevator door opened prior to reaching the lobby and immediately Joaquin noticed an angry young woman who glared right at him. Then she surprised him when she took a step forward and took a swing at him.
“You son of a bitch! You still haven’t paid me for doing you last night!”
Joaquin easily avoided the attack and then grabbed the lady’s arm as she tried to swing at him again. “Excuse me?”
“Excuse nothing. I lay down and bent over for your cheap ass and you just split on me when I went to wash myself!”
“Lady, I don’t know you. You have me mistaken for…”
“Bullshit!” she swung again only to have it slapped away. She then took a step back before grabbing her arm. “What, do I have to describe what your dick looks like in order to prove myself?”
“I have never met you in my life. Now please…”
The elevator door started to close before the woman grabbed the side of the door in order to force it open.
“I came to your room and did what you asked me to do. I even let you make a mess all over me and then you just split on me without paying me!”
Joaquin lowered his head in frustration as he was also completely humiliated by this disturbance. “Look, I’m sorry but I don’t know you. You obviously had too much of something last night and are mistaking me for someone else who obviously mistreated you.”
“Fuck off,” she said before she turned and left. She then placed her hands behind her back and gave Joaquin the finger with both hands.
Joaquin slowly looked at the older gentleman. “I’m so sorry, sir. Honestly, I don’t know that woman. I was all alone in my room last night.”
The gentleman smiled. “Not to worry son. You’re a good looking guy. I’m sure the woman in your room last night was willing to do what she did without expecting payment in return.”
The elevator door opened and the older gentleman greeted Joaquin one last time with a nod before he departed. Joaquin was totally stunned that the older man that he assumed was someone with class would even think that he would participate in such behavior, whether it was for payment or not. Sure, the older man didn’t know that he was married but Joaquin did and his conscience just ate away at him because he certainly didn’t want even a stranger to think that he was the type of person that the young woman was referring to. He just took a deep breath before he stepped out of the elevator.
Once Joaquin took a turn he stepped right into another adult male. As he stepped back he saw that it was Nero.
"Excuse me," said Joaquin as he tried to walk away.
Nero reached for Joaquin's shoulder. “No Joaquin. It's quite alright." Nero then looked at Joaquin's throat. “How’s the throat? I hope I didn’t hurt you too bad.”
“I’ll live,” said Joaquin as he moved away.
“Good. So, how was the whore?”
“I wouldn’t know,” said Joaquin with a disgusted look on his face. “I can’t believe she believed that her and I…”
“I meant her performance as an actress Joaquin! I know she didn’t fuck you. I sent her to irritate you and embarrass you in front of a stranger.”
“Well it worked.”
“I know that it sort of turned on the old man but that’s because he was a pretty wild past. You see, you’re all like that so it will make my job that much easier once it’s time to take you all home.”
“So I should continue to expect these little bits of theater?”
Nero smiled and shook his head. “No. It’ll get worse.”
Joaquin looked around for a moment and then glared back at Nero. “This can end right now, you know that. You have the freedom to make that decision.”
"I know but that is not the ending that I want so you’ll respect my freedom to decline, right?”
Joaquin took a deep breath and then shook his head before he walked away from Nero. Nero watched as Joaquin exited the hotel and then hailed a cab. Nero smiled as he realized that he made more progress than he expected. He expected Joaquin to be much more composed and for him to look so scared was beyond his wildest expectations.