Originally posted on my old blog coderonin. This was inspired by a lot of Garth Ennis Hellblazer and Gaiman’s Lucifer from Sandman, as well as his short-story style. The notion of the devil as a sympathetic character has been done plenty before though I really wanted to marry it with the pestilence often accompanying demons in horror.
The urine ran slow and warm down my leg when I realized who he was.
“Pleased to meet you,” he said, extending a hand. The Devil grinned. “I see you guessed my name.”
He laughed at the joke. A braying honk of laughter passed crooked, yellow teeth. A smell on his breath; not enough to drive you away, just enough to torment you. It finished the job of sobering me up, and I didn’t take his hand. He kept it out there for a few moments before shrugging and grabbing a drink in front of him.
“Another round?” he asked urgently, offering the glass.
So much for sobriety, as my first instinct was to shout “Hell, yeah!” But who knew how The Devil would interpret that. I managed to choke it off to a hesitant grunt that turned into a panicked headshake. The Devil caught the reaction change though. Surprisingly, he looked hurt.
“Oh c’mon,” he urged. “I promise, it’s on me. Won’t cost you a thing.”
He placed the drink in front of me.
“I insist,” he said.
Oh God, he insisted. What was I to do? Literally damned if I did, damned if I didn’t. My focus shifted nervously between the glass and The Devil.
“Won’t cost a thing,” he said again, nodding with that charming, awful smile.
I decided to take the drink. Slugged it back.
“Except your SOUL!” said the Devil.
The drink spewed from my mouth. Coughs wracked my body. The Devil roared with laughter.
“Oh, oh, that’s always classic!” he said. “The look on your face!”
I said nothing. Too scared shitless. Funny thing is I believe that’s what quieted him down so quickly. His laughter died out and he again appeared to be in some pain.
“Hey, hey,” he said. “I was only kidding. Your soul’s fine.”
He stared at me anxiously, waiting for a response. Felt hot under that stare, so I nodded to get it over with. That seemed to please him. He clapped his long, pale hands (a kind of wet sound) and giggled.
“Good, good,” he said. He waved over the horrified bar tender. “Another two for me and my friend here.”
“Sir, I … I think you’ve had enough,” began the bartender.
I will never forget the heat, sight, and sound of that poor man’s head melting in flames. Lucky to have its smoking remains crash turned away from me. The scalded back of his skull was bad enough.
The Devil looked significantly at the other bartender and nodded once. Our drinks were prepared.
I couldn’t stand it any longer.
“What do you want from me?” I said. More like whimpered.
He turned to me with surprise.
“Why, nothing.” An offended tone. More urine down my leg. “You came to me.”
He was right. I did come to him. Drunk from a night of trying to forget her. Looked over to see the first face that seemed to understand the blackness in me now that she was gone. Needed that understanding, so I came over. We shared a few great drinks, shared many great laughs. Until he clued me in to who he was. I wasn’t laughing anymore.
Which was what was irritating him. Nothing had really changed, had it? Just who I knew him as. It was still true that he understood the blackness in me. Who could ever understand it more than The Devil? And it still had been my decision to come over for a drink.
“But I never wanted to drink with the Devil,” was all I could say in the end.
“No one ever does, buddy,” he sighed. “No one ever does.”