Archive for April 3rd, 2012

3rd April
written by amber

Devil On My Doorstep

The Devil was on my doorstep. I don’t believe in the Devil but there was little doubt that it was him. The horns, the tail whipping around like the tail of an angry cat, the way smoke rose up from the wooden step where his black hooves glowed like coals.

“I just came in on the Greyhound,” he told me. “I need a place to stay. Can I come in?”

I admit it, I was afraid the neighbours might see him. “Yeah, if you can keep from setting my house on fire.”

He looked down at the charred holes his feet had drilled into my doorstep. “Oh, my bad.” And he stepped into my house.

“Been a long time, Jeff,” he said as he plunked himself down on my couch. “You got any beer?”

“I don’t know you,” I protested, standing by the door with my arms crossed, already regretting letting him into my house. I mean, I don’t believe in him and I’m not superstitious, but isn’t there something about inviting the Devil into your house?

“Yeah, you do. We used to be real close. All those years you were drinking so much, I was right beside you.”

I hadn’t seen him then, I was quite sure, but most of the time I’d been blind drunk. “But I quit drinking.”

“Yeah, well, sometimes I win one, sometimes I lose one. But anyway, you owe me. I saved your life. So what about that beer? I know Kimmie drinks a bit.”

I stumbled into the kitchen to grab a beer. He knew my name, my wife’s name, he knew that she drank and I didn’t, and he knew about the accident. The night I gave up drinking, after finding myself a hundred feet away from the totalled car, totally unscathed.

I returned to the living room and threw the can of beer to him. If he didn’t have enough power to keep it from spraying all over him, I didn’t care. “You say you saved me?” I asked him. “Why didn’t you save Caroline too?” Maybe I could start blaming him and stop blaming myself.

“She went Up, so don’t worry about her. And you’re probably going Up now too. In fact, letting me stay here will be another star in your chart.”

“Why don’t you just go back…Down?” I muttered, still not able to get past my last look at Caroline, bleeding out on the stretcher before the helicopter could arrive. Was Up better than the life she had ahead of her?

“I’ve been kicked out of Hell.” The Devil drained the beer and shoved past me into the kitchen where he grabbed three more out of the fridge.

“How the hell did that happen?”

He shook his head. “No one believes in me anymore, so they’re unpleasantly surprised when they wake up to the fact that they’re in Hell. But their disbelief doesn’t totally fade. They haven’t been brought up to fear me the way humankind once was, so they’re disrespectful, disobedient, and dissatisfied with the conditions.”

“Isn’t that the whole point? Payback for all the wrongs they did while alive.”

“That’s what I thought too! But they don’t see it that way. They keep petitioning me for appeals, because it wasn’t their fault, blah blah blah, mommy didn’t love them, they never had a break, everyone hated them. And yesterday, they rose up and kicked me out! They think they can run Hell better than I do. I only need to stay a few days, Jeff, they’ll be begging me to come back. Without me around, the demons will run amok, and don’t even ask me about the succubae.”

“What’s in it for me?”

“My g–” He seemed to strangle at the word. “You sound just like all the damned souls in Hades. Here, look at this.”

He grabbed Kimmie’s photo from the wall and shoved it in front of my face. I knew what she looked like, but suddenly she was hot hot hot. Not blazing fires of Hell hot, but so sexy I couldn’t wait until she got home. Then I remembered that the Devil would probably still be here when she got home. And then I noticed that what he’d done to make her look so good to me was make her look a little bit like Caroline.

“Cheap trick, man,” I told him. “You’d better go.”

He slouched out the door, his hooves glowing again and leaving scorch marks on the carpet. “Oh well, I had to try. You were one of my favourites, Jeff, that’s why I came here first. But I’m still pretty close to Annabelle next door.”

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story.

This story was inspired by the title of a classic blues song.