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Monthly Archives: February 2010

By Reid Wright

I made a deal with the Devil.

He said I misquoted him.

I said I’d come down to hell and watch the speech on TV.

Because I don’t have cable.

If he spoke true, he could collect his due.

So I drove down there after work. It reeked of cigarettes cheap beer that erodes away at the liver, kidneys and essence — flushing souls away through the urine stream.

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

I know that somewhere in the catacombs of that run-down bar he has a secret room covered floor to ceiling with thick plastic tarps to catch the blood splatter. Eyes watched me from behind closed circuits.

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

I risked it all by coming down here. But I had to know.

A lie is an open wound — bleeding into a flat-line horizon.

The truth is an antiseptic. It hurts, but it heals.

There was something wrong with the television station. The devil sent a messenger to fetch a DVD.

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

Night fell. The wraiths stirred then thundered down twisted alleys on stallions of steel and chrome, brandishing their colors of black, red and gold.

The one percent.

I’d sacrificed their honor on the front page. They hunt me. And it is here, in this rotting bar, that they come to play.

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

He spoke of politics and better times. He probed me with questions and his eyes burned my skin.

He summoned his laced-up bar maiden for another round.

“I think I may trust you,” he said, drowning another cigar stub in a plastic cup of putrid tobacco tea. “When this thing comes, we’ll see.”

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

A wraith drifted in through the smoke, wearing his colors and flashing a yellow grin. Then another. They circled, the  green felt reflecting off their dark glasses.

The room grew smaller, the stale smoky air grew thicker.

We sat, the Devil and I. We drank. We waited.

At last, a messenger arrived with the disk. I snatched it and made for the door.

But the Devil cut me off.

“Hey Stinger,” he said. “Come here, there’s someone I want you to meet.”

A burly wraith strode over with grey eyes and a squint dried by a thousand years of desert wind.

On his vest the word “President” was stitched with threads of red and gold.

“You remember that article about you guys? — He wrote it,” the Devil said, scornfully thrusting his tobacco-spotted finger my way.

I took a half-step back. My exits were blocked — my fight already lost.

So I shook Stinger’s hand.

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

He flashed a smile and chuckled.

It was all a joke.

I left the room and watched the disk. I had misunderstood the Devil, but only because his silver tongue had slipped. I owed him an apology, but not my soul.

He accepted.

I also told Stinger I was sorry. I’d wronged his men and I knew it.  He smiled and said his clan had moved on since the days of brawls and bloodshed.

Just then, a tattooed bar doll walked up.

“Stinger, there’s some guys down at Lucy’s talkin bad about you guys,” she said. “I just thought I should say something.”

A smirk reached for my lips, but I stopped it dead.

I’d pressed my luck far enough for one night.

I nodded at the Devil and walked out of hell with my life and soul.

He believes he’ll  use me — on the surface.