There was evil, and there was memory and who knows when you first meet either of the two. He knew he saw her standing in the woods in the dark when he was little. Her black dress…long hands…
That was when he saw the lights in the sky.
He saw her again when he was house sitting for his grandfather after his grandmother died. He could hear her long dress moving through the hall at night. Always just catching a glimpse of her entering the rooms.
The night his father died, he saw her through the window, sitting in the rocker. He knew then he had passed.
Maybe it was when he drove the long drive to his father in law to tell him he couldn’t love his daughter anymore…
He saw her then…
He kept hearing the words
Sick in the stomach
Weights around his neck
“You’re not the victim here, if you do this, it will end in destruction, you’re on a dangerous road.”
“He’s just lost. He’s lost.”
He sees her now, every night. In his door. Just like he did before…
She just stands there and then floats away. Sucking all of the light and air out of the room.
Who knows when you meet evil…
There was also a different figure
Blonde red hair
Blue eyes like stars
And fire wings
She was there when he had a seizure in a ditch
She was there, reading, when he was in the hospital, she was there always…
But lately she just smoked and made fun of his poetry…
Because all they have-all they’ve experienced, is now…
– you think you have something to offer humanity? You don’t have anything. . . They’re hungry for a shortcut to happiness… and I can give it to them. A life without discipline. Without goals, without effort. Just do whatever whenever however, for as long as ever. But quickly. The day before yesterday.
The devil sat back in his chair…the bar was empty…this was our third meeting…
There were no cars on the street…
No chill in the air…
I rolled my sleeves up…
Drank my gin
– look, I’m a salesmen, like you, I make deals… I made one a while back…a guy wanted to be the biggest president in history…
– I don’t think this is what he had in mind…
– he’s going down in history isn’t he? He should of read the fine print. Hell, he should’ve read period.
– if you’re confident enough people believe anything…
– the old rules don’t apply, the game is changing. I’m collecting souls. You still think there’s hope for these people? They made their beds. How’s yours?
– I sleep fine.
– are you sure? That’s not what she says…you do see her don’t you? Tell me, how is she?
“She” was a figure who appeared in my door…every night…since I was a child…I would wake up and she might rush toward me or float away.. this tall dark figure…or she might just be mumbling over and over again something I could never break.
I ignored this statement
– there’s a changing of the guard, I still believe in people, in free will, in peoples ability to change. And to choose, so yes…I think our tomorrows are better than today.
– you really don’t learn do you…if you give people the option to grab what they want now? They will take it. People don’t change. Even if it’s against their best interest. They will gratify today and suffer tomorrow. They like to feel like they have options, so they come and go and change their minds a lot, but they are really just circling around their individual grave… never accomplishing much, never really loving, never really growing, just talking. Loudly, about nothing, just themselves. And the world suffers.
If I can keep them distracted and self indulgent, they will gather and fight and self destruct. Arguing about nothing. Consumed with themselves. Feeding this appetite. It’s almost more than even I can take. I hate this whore of self. She drinks the blood and has no discipline no plan…you do know,she’s older than any of us…she’s been here since the beginning…I don’t know, I might have to kill her.
– I didn’t think you had it in you.
– I’m a guy with a plan. That’s why I need you. I can’t do it without souls. I need a statement.
I dreamed I was having a beer with the devil. The bar was empty, it was just us, and the bartenders…
So how are you feeling
I sat there, saying nothing. Listening, feeling the room. Knowing there was something else there as well.
It’s so easy, you know, to dismiss, all of …this…(he waved his hand gesturing) this God thing. Don’t you think? But with a year like …this…you really outdid yourselves.
-what do you mean?
Oh, this? I had nothing to do with this. You should ask that guy, he’s been here the whole time.
He pointed across the room. A shadow sighs, and steps into the light. His eyes are tired. He looks about my age. I didn’t understand.
I told you last time, you think you’re so righteous and self important. When you’re just vain. People serve themselves. You can’t win. Not when they can get immediate satisfaction. And the best part? I didn’t even have to do anything. You, you did this yourselves. With your toys. Your free will and creativity. The worlds you built yourselves with social media…
You’re all little gods…
With your own personal Genesis…but you’re destroying your worlds…and there’s only hell here. They forgot that…didn’t they…every paradise has a hell. Where else do you put the misfits? The rebels…
Your Guard knows…
(He motions to the figure.)
I don’t know him, I’ve never seen him.
I shook my head
Oh but you do, he’s been with you the whole time, and all these dreams you’ve had? “Past lives” that’s just his previous assignments. stories if you will. Isn’t it cute how you prayed for him to win battles when you were growing up?
I drank my beer and looked at him again. He looked tired.
Oh he’s not almighty no. He has a branch of banks. They’ve been here the whole time. And he makes withdrawals so he can blend in and live. But he is a warrior. Vietnam, WWll he’s even seen the future.
I thought he wasn’t almighty?
Listen, we can move through time but we can’t make the Mona Lisa appear out of pizza.
My point is, I’m not to blame here and if you think it’s going to get better. You should really see the future. It’s a real kicker. An X-File if you will. Everyone wants to blame me. But the truth is. The things you’re afraid of? The darkness you pray to keep out at night? It’s inside you. It always has been. And that’s what scares you. You and me? We’re not even the same. I wanted to be God. But you guys, you guys wanted to kill God.
The room grew cold.
My glass chilled.
I looked around
The room was filled with people again. Everyone was on their phones. Reading their own profiles, their own newsfeeds.
I closed my eyes and thought about the past. Tried to grab hold of something that was textured and pure. No, sure. Something sure. . .
Believing in god was easy. Or at least in something more. When you had seen a storm or a fire.
The chaos. I watched all of the college students…Anne sat down. She was saying something to me, something about breaking up with someone. “There’s just too many options, too many people in the world…I’m keeping my options open. Who tells anyone that they’re the best thing that’s happened to them this year? That’s lame and now standards.”
I smiled…we were shot through. Our parents fought and died and we were bankrupt. I thought about sitting outside watching the city getting bombed …or maybe it was another dream. There was another girl there …she was a dancer…we were drinking and watching the fires…
I wondered how soon we all would realise that we’re lucky to meet anyone that really looks past their own nose and sees us. Really …really sees us. And I thought about how poor we were. And how happy we were. And I thought about how empty we all are…constantly reinventing ourselves chasing change until we die.
It’s hotter than the drive thru at McDonald’s on Sunday. The Screen door slammed as he was leaving, Everyone saying their second goodbye for the evening.
The older man walking him to his car. Extending the conversation to the front yard.
He smiled again, and said goodbye, backing out of the driveway. Checked his speed as he made his way down the mountain. The road twisting ahead of his vision.
He was thinking of how peaceful it really is, up in the mountains. Just to drive, the trees, the way they change color in the fall. He rolled down his windows, letting his hand ride the night air like he did when he was younger. Reaching for the stars.
His radio went to static, strange, must be the satellites. He glanced again at the sky, this far up you were away from the city and could see just about any constellation if, you know what to look for. Or thought you knew what to look for. Most people just made things up to keep a girl looking at the sky while they were focused on other things.
Odd thing out…
The stars were gone…
A perfect patch cut out
He pulled off the road onto the bluff.
Lights flashed passed his car from off the side of the mountain.
He checked his phone…the signal was gone
It seemed as though this repeated itself three times.
Driving endlessly, yet still under the dark spot. He stopped his car again. Getting out, he held his phone out, hoping for a signal.
“There’s a favourite mistake.” I said nodding to the girl on the little stage.
“At least she’s trying.” Sam laughed. “I’ve never seen you with a mic in your hand.”
“You never will. That’s my power.”
We made our way to the back. Knocked on the office door. It opened. Men in suits moved to block the door. “Holden Caulfield” I said.
“There’s a password?” Sam asked as we walked in.
“No one told ME a password. Why didn’t I know the password?”
The smoke wasn’t so bad in here.
We sat at the table. There was a card game going on. Someone offered a drink. Sam started for a yes.
“We’re fine.” I said. Taking the drink and stirring it. I handed it to the head of the table.
“What’s the case, How did he die?”
The younger one in the middle kept cutting cards. He always handed out a card for a case. He wasn’t a big talker. Each agent knew his assigned neighborhood. And each card had a meaning. Like a fortune.
” Middle age is a Dead Sea filled with quiet waters. That is no place for passion. His wife knew she could never match an erotic affair. How could she?”
“You’re saying his wife had him killed?”
He lit a cigarette. Rubbing his forehead. “No. I’m saying. The dead seeds bring a dead harvest.”
“You have to think ahead. Short term vs long term. What did this do for the long haul. What were you thinking?” I said.
Sam poured another drink. I sat down and turned a card over. Looking him in the eyes. There was sweat on his face. He was nervous.
“Eric was – impulsive. Yes, but this is just bad business. He handled your cards well.”
He stopped shuffling…
“You’re not here for a job …”
“You are the job.”
His eyes panicked. Before he could move he fell face down on his own cards. Cold.
No one moved. Sam and I slowly got up.
I looked around the room. Setting the drink straw on the table.
“We don’t have to make a mess, but remember who watches your assets. Your family could be broke in two hours.”
We made our way out. Back through the crowd. The music a low hum.