Soul Café

I saw a prompt once that was “What would happen if a sandwich maker accidentally summoned a demon because he made a summoning sigil on the bread via mustard.”

Prompt from friend

The café was bustling. The bell tinkled every time another came in and the man sighed but kept the smile on his face. Oh, how he wished that he could have hired more help. The door tinkled again and the line grew.

“Welcome to Soul Café!”

They smiled at him as he rushed to make the current orders and take the next ones. There was one lady, though a regular, who seemed agitated at the long wait. The others greeted each other with familiarity and conversed while he worked. He was a small shop in the middle of a busy courtyard. All around his small building were large corporate offices. Glittering glass towers that sprinkled rainbows through the café windows when the sun hit the towers at the right angle.

Routine had brought most of these customers back each day. It helped that he offered a small discount to the workers in the buildings around him. A little give back to those that came so frequently. Absentmindedly, he slathered the mayonnaise onto the sub. Meats and cheeses were piled onto the sub while he spoke with the next customer. The sub was placed into the warmer and he wrote down the order absently.

Ching.

The register slammed open as the cash was deposited into the drawer. He washed his hands after giving the change and snagged the sub out from being toasted. The top was a little darker than he normally preferred, but was still a nice brown. The owner grabbed the bottle of mustard. He began to squirt it onto the bun when the bell tinkled again. It drew his attention.

I really wish I could have hired help.

Lights flickered and he paused for a second. There was a lull in the conversation of the room before it went back to normal. The bun was slapped onto the top and he rolled it as fast as he could. Her taped it closed and handed it to the impatient woman with a smile. Another order. Right.

He bent down and grabbed the jar of pickles to refill. Standing, the jar crashed to the ground as the owner stared in horror at the being leaning against the door frame to the back room. His skin was darker, almost a purple color. He was barely clothed but what struck the owner as shocking was the casual way he leaned against the doorway eating a sandwich.

“Are you okay?” Shocked and concerned voices pierced through his fog of surprise. The demon was casual as he saluted the owner with his half-eaten sandwich.

Without taking his eyes off the demon, the owner stuttered out. “Yes, of course. Just slipped right out of my hands. Let me clean this up really quick.”

It took a few moments of which some of the regular customers offered to help him out. He waved them off with a smile, all the while keeping a sharp eye on the demon who was helping himself to the bar of meats and cheese.

He wanted to confront the demon but his workflow had already been interrupted.

“They can’t see me. Not unless I want them to.”

The man continued to ignore the demon for the time being. As he continued to make the orders that had been placed before the purple skinned anomaly appeared. The owner felt a bit of pride at how calm and collected he appeared even though internally he was only slight panicked.

“You’re the one who summoned me. I’m not going to harm you.”

The bell continued to ring as more and more business people came in. The stress began to show as the owner ran around to fulfill the orders as fast as possible. He ignored the demon, not wanting to draw attention to himself or the fact that he had summoned a demon.

The demon gave a suffering sigh and sat on the counter. The owner twitched and threw a roll in the direction. The demon ducked as it sailed over his head and into a trash can in the back.

“Impressive. You can’t ignore me forever. Besides, you’re the one who asked for help and summoned me. I can’t leave until you let me.”

The owner ignored the words. He stopped caring about the demon being a nuance and instead was concerned that he would lose business. The room was getting packed and the customers were getting antsy and annoyed.

“I apologize folks. Thank you all for your patience. I’m a bit short handed today.”

They calmed a bit but some were still standing with their arms crossed.

“You’re making that sub all wrong.”

The owner stopped and looked directly at the demon. The man smirked and threw up his hands.

“Finally, some acknowledgment. Fix that. There is too much cheese and not enough of the horseradish. You also need to salt the au jus a bit more. And add more kick to the dressing. It’s too bland.”

The owner stared and there were some uncomfortable murmurs. He smiled at the customers and looked. Yes. There, he was out of pickles.

“Give me a moment. I have to run to the back to get some more pickles for you folks. I broke the other jar.”

Dashing to the back, the owner turned sharply as the demon followed.

“I don’t know why you are here but you have been nothing but an annoyance. If you think that you can do it better,” the man angrily took off his apron and shoved it at the demon, “put some clothes on and do it then. I’ll handle the orders and the customers. Might as well make yourself useful.”

He turned on his heel and grabbed a jar from the walk-in fridge, he paused as the demon’s attire changed to more casual. The apron was on and the demon smirked.

“Can you uh–,” the owner waved uncomfortably, “change?”

The demon looked down in confusion before laughing. It took a moment before the purple skin faded and darkened into a smooth ebony. He smiled kindly. The owner nodded and strolled out with the jar, the demon following behind.

There were smiles as the demon moved with efficient speed to complete the orders as the owner got the orders and cashed out the customers. The line moved swiftly and without complaints. When the rushed died down, the man rested against the register. The last sub of the lunch rush had walked out of the door.

“Thank you. I would not have been able to do this without your help.”

The demon crossed his arms and smiled, though there was a hint of a smirk.

“My name is Rueben.”

The owner burst into laughter before seeing the serious eyebrow raise from the demon.

“You are serious.”

“Of course I am. My real name is not pronounceable to humans, so that is the name that I was given.” The demon rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment. “Although the little girl who gave it to me like to call me 625 on the occasion. I do not understand humans.”

The owner burst into a belly laughter that had him bent over in half.

“Why did she name you that?”

The dark demon shrugged nonchalantly, “I helped her to make sandwiches when I visited.”

Knowing the origin, the owner left it alone. It was funnier that way.

“I appreciate you help today, Rueben. Do I need to release you? I apologize if I brought you away from something important.”

“I am without entertainment most days. This was a change that was welcomed.”

The owner nodded and moved to clean the place before the dinner rush would hit. He paused with that thought.

“Are you busy?”

The demon raised an eyebrow, “I am not.”

“Would you be willing to help me with the dinner rush in a few hours? I could use the help and this was the easiest shift I’ve had in some time.”

The demons smirked, “So what do I get in exchange?”

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