Charlie had always had horns. He’d had them since birth apparently, little nubs sticking out of his head in the normal place that horns grew. They weren’t sharp, although when he grew up his mother made sure to tell Charlie that she’d felt every inch of his delivery. “Like giving birth to a headbutt.” Cruel woman.
“Are you going to tell a priest or the police or something?” Charlie’s dad had asked the midwife.
“Are you going to sue the hospital?” the midwife asked his dad. They both agreed to just sort of let it go.
Charlie wasn’t under any illusions that horns were normal. “Do other children have horns too?” he asked Dad as soon as he was old enough to ask the question.
“Not a fucking chance” his father cheerfully replied, throwing back a whiskey sour.
So they gave him one of those adorable woollen hats to wear until his hair grew big enough to hide the horns and that was that. He was just Charlie, the nice little boy who didn’t take showers at school and really didn’t like it when you ruffled his hair.
But then he grew, the horns grew and his hair started to fall out. People noticed. Well, he wasn’t going to be a guy who wore a hat indoors, was he? He wasn’t a MONSTER.
“Mum,” he said over the phone. “I’ve got this interview with The Independent tomorrow. Mm mm. Yup. No, it’s about the horns. Listen, I was just double checking – they’re gonna want to know why and, are you and Dad sure there wasn’t any … you know …”
“What?” his mother asked. “Any what?”
“Like, deals that you made, anything to do with … you know … souls?”
“Listen, you were conceived at the Radisson hotel in Bromley, and that’s all there is to it.”
“No blood or virgins or anything?”
“Look, if they want to kick up a fucking tit about it, they can bloody well call the Radisson. We didn’t even get a pillow mint. I REMEMBER THINGS, CHARLES.”
And she hung up.
Things were tough for a while, lots of people throwing bibles at him, lots of musicians inviting him to weird sounding clubs for ‘gatherings’, and mothers just kept slapping him. But after being on Daybreak, The One Show, and the whole press circuit, the worship, fear and the hate calmed down pretty quickly. Truth was, he gave a very boring interview. “No charisma at all,” said Philip Scofield when he thought Charlie couldn’t hear him. “Aren’t devils supposed to fucking smile or something?” His PR guy resigned and the calls stopped coming.
Jobs were hard to get. No one in the media cared about his horns anymore, but people still didn’t want him around the office. He never left crumbs in the office butter, or stole milk, not once, but when you’re apparently ‘descended from the Lord of Lies’, no one’ll cut you a break. He limped on, doing what he could.
“Copperstone’s devilled eggs” he said, flatly into the camera. “For the,” he paused to awkwardly flick one of his horns. “….devil in you.”
“How was that, Steve?” he asked the director, smiling weakly.
Steve just looked at him.
“Yeah, Charles” he sighed, walking away. “That’ll do.”