Can you imagine what it’d be like if the majority of the human population really believed in souls as some sort of quasi-tangible energy? And then the government acknowledged souls so that everyone ever born got a soul certificate after they passed a soul examination? Like the doctor flips the baby around and is all “yep, this baby’s got a soul” and you get your birth certificate and your soul certificate and go on your merry way.
And eventually an underground souls market would develop where you can sell your soul (certificate). There’d be worshippers of Satan in the underground, but there’d probably be clean-looking, middle aged Christian men walking around in suits with suitcases, looking for a dealer or a seller, for their first bought soul, because hey you never know when you need a little extra insurance for a rainy day, right? I mean, what if the man’s wife is held at gunpoint and the robber won’t let her go unless he forks over his soul? Then he’d never get to meet up with his wife in heaven.
Or maybe he just wants it around for the thrill. The thrill of having two souls. Or maybe, when he gets to heaven and turns in two souls instead of one, he’ll get some sort of bonus, be promoted to like second-tier of heaven.
So he dips into his spoiled daughter’s college funds and does business with some new-age hippie in a dingy bar on the bad side of the city, and everything’s lit in red and the music is just a little disturbing, like really slow dubstep. And this hippie looks way too high on something, the middle-aged business man starts to wonder whether it’s right to take a soul from this kid while he’s so far gone. Then the man thinks, well, this kid wasn’t getting into heaven like that anyway, he doesn’t need it, I need it, I need it for my wife and kids and for… well, whatever perks I can get out of it.
So the man spends a ridiculous amount of money on this piece of paper, and the kid’s kept it in really good condition, it’s laminated, letters sparkling and all, the one-and-only official document of this guy’s soul. He smooths out his tie, brushes his hair back, and thanks the kid, the soulless kid, smells a little like marijuana and cheap women’s perfume.
And he leaves, and the business man goes about his life. And one day, wouldn’t you know it, his wife is held at gunpoint by some maniac, some scrawny quiet white kid from the local college who went haywire, and he’s got this excessively large weapon against his wife’s head. And the kid as haywire as he is, looks over the wife, notices that she was probably just a trophy wife at some point in time. She’s still got a good body, she isn’t old, rather, she’s mature, and she’s not tired looking like all the rest of the old fucks in that town. And the kid’s yelling at this fuck in his business suit, carrying a golf bag, probably off for a game and some fancy dinner with his boss, and some promotion, and they’d drink expensive wine and treat the waitresses like shit…
He yells at the husband, give me your fucking soul old man and I’ll let her go, and the business man looks nervous, distraught, says he’s only got one soul, says he wants to meet up with his wife in heaven one day. The kid yells, pulling the gun closer to her face and she only lightly flinching, that one day’s gonna be sooner than you think he yells.
But the crazed young man doesn’t pull the trigger, he steals their Porsche, the Porsche that the spoiled daughter likes to call hers when her similarly spoiled friends are around, and he drives off with the woman, and the man’s standing in the driveway, clenching that second soul certificate in his pressed, clean, lined suit jacket pocket with his hands sweating.
The business man never sees his wife again, the police never find her. The woman’s bank account and material possessions are given to the daughter who started university in London that year, and she barely sees her father, and she knows that even though her mother died in that driveway a year ago that her dad’s doing alright. He’s with a new woman and she’s in her new life and she’s happy and he’s happy so why bother questioning it.
The new woman is younger than his wife, but looks rather similar. She’s not as smart as his wife, and she doesn’t come from as wealthy a family as his wife, but she lets him do things he couldn’t do before, he adores her youth. He wants to absorb her youth. He’s at that age where you begin to cling to youth and it’s a little depressing for most older men but this guy can actually pull it off. He dresses like the young, eats and drinks like the young, fucks like the young and he’s not that bad at the act. He adores her, spends all his money on her, he’s got plenty, but he needs plenty more – he’s taking her to Paris. He gets out the second soul from his bottom drawer, his sock drawer, smooths out the wrinkles he made that one day, finds a buyer – there’s always plenty of buyers – and he and his girlfriend make love in a bathroom at Le 58 tour Eiffel. He’s happy, she’s happy. His daughter’s getting piss drunk in university, she’s happy.
He comes out of the washroom after brushing his suit out straight and clean, she fixes her stockings and touches up her bright red lipstick and slinky dress. The restaurant is crowded, the patrons are all smiling and drinking, the city lights below glint off the large windows beside their table. They sit, eat, converse. His girlfriend points directly behind him and says, oh, doesn’t that older woman look a lot like me? But she’s so much prettier. She carries her maturity so well. I wish I could be that pretty when I’m older.
The man doesn’t even look behind him before choking on his seared duck foie gras with quince and barberry marmalade, and there’s a commotion eventually, when the waitress realizes this man’s really choking, and his girlfriend is making all of these Hollywood sobs, honestly dramatic with smudged mascara and heaping breaths. Nobody at the restaurant orders the foie gras for a while, no matter how many souls they’ve got packing.
Both the wife and the girlfriend attend the funeral. It goes how funerals go, stiff body in a box, bright and lovely day, flowers blooming, trimmed green graveyard trees, everyone’s in suits, daughter’s in a tight black dress sexting on her phone. It’s all over, they go eat bad finger sandwiches and drink expensive wine.
The man doesn’t get into heaven. Heaven doesn’t exist. Neither does hell. He’s just a rotting body in a box who threw away a fuckload of money on a worthless piece of paper, then got it all back for a trip to Paris to screw in a bathroom and choke on forcefed, fat, dead duck.
People buy and sell worthless pieces of paper for crazy amounts of money in any universe. In the universe where we all believe in souls, in the universe where nobody believes in souls.