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Meeting with the Devil

by  placy

Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2006
Word Count: 984

It is one year, to the minute, since I met the Devil. 11:00, July 23rd, the summer of ’99. I’d recently been fired from my job— an argument about petty cash— and I was alone in my two-room flat in Bradford.

The kettle steamed while I tried to get a decent picture on the portable TV. Peter took the widescreen last week when he left me for a boy half my age. So much for true love, eh?

My hangover hadn’t lifted all day, and I wondered whether it actually was aspirin I’d found in one of the boxes. Maybe I’d found some of Peter’s weekend pills instead.

“Hello Richard.” Almost falling over in shock, I turned round.

The Devil sat on my sofa, legs crossed, arms outstretched. Wearing a pinstripe suit and red power tie, he reminded me of a lawyer who once tried to prosecute me.

“Hi,” I said. The image on TV was frozen. My flat no longer rattled with the passing of cars. Steam hung above the kettle.

“I didn’t want to use up your time,” said the Devil. “Do you know who I am?”

“Yes,” I said. Standing there like a dummy, I put my hands in my pockets, took them out again, rubbed them together.

“Good,” he said. “I have a contract for you.”

A single piece of typed paper appeared on my table. Spilt coffee seeped through at the corner. He gestured for me to read it quickly.

“I don’t believe in souls,” I said. Unsteady and light-headed, I felt myself swaying.

“Then you won’t miss it,” said the Devil.

I read the contract again, forcing my eyes to focus.

“So I get Peter back?”


“And the infection clears itself up?”


“And the rent-boy he ran off with?”

He smiled. “You choose the mode of death.” I thought about this. Did I actually want him to die? A little.

“Can’t he just get my infection?” I asked.

“Very noble of you, Richard.”

I put the contract down. My flat had no chairs, but I didn’t want to sit next to the Devil, so I sat cross-legged on the carpet between the table and the gas fire. He watched me, totally at ease.

“But I have to go to hell,” I said. That brought a smile to his face.

“Think about your life. Do you really expect t make it into heaven?” he said.

“Good point,” I said. “They don’t let gays into heaven.”

“Actually they do. Just not gays who live your kind of life.”

“So what’s in this for you?” I said. “If you get my soul anyway?”

He leaned back in his chair and pulled a cigarette, already lit, from his pocket. Taking a few slow sucks on it, he stared up at the smoke.

“That doesn’t concern you. Everything you need to know is in the contract.”

“So what? I’m just some little guy who should do what he’s told,” I said.

“Exactly,” he said. As he spoke, I realised he had no teeth. His mouth was an empty hole, framed by nicotine-coloured gums. “You don’t matter, and, as you’re mine anyway, I decided to let you enjoy your last 526099 minutes on earth.”

By this point, I didn’t like the Devil. Not because of who he was, you understand. To me, God was no better. I mean, if he created me with all my flaws then why should he punish me with Hell? Know what I mean?

No, it was the way he talked to me. Like he was so superior to me. Here he was supposedly doing me a big favour, and I should accept, grateful, without asking questions. Condescending prick!

“Careful,” he said. “Don’t make me angry.”
My back was roasting this close to the fire. Sweat began to form in my armpits, staining my crumpled tee shirt.

“What happens if I don’t sign?” I said. I didn’t like the Devil’s eyes. They were manic. Is this what so long in Hell does to you? I wondered.

There’s something about madness that draws me in. It’s like trying not to stop and stare at a dead body after a car-crash.

“Then you’d be making a mistake. Do you really want this,” he gestured at my poky flat, littered with unpacked boxes, “to be your life. Staying here? With no-one?”

I gazed around the room, really seeing it for the first time. Everywhere I looked seemed to have flaking paint and the wallpaper was gradually peeling itself from the walls. This was the first place I’d ever lived in by myself. Throughout my life, I’d been terrified of living on my own. I went from one guy to another, even shacked up with a couple of girls, willing to live a lie if it meant being with someone. Now someone was giving me a chance to get Peter, my old life, back.

Still I looked around. At the African horn that Peter always hid from sight. At the painting (my painting) that he said was too ugly to have on the wall.

“Yes,” I said.


“Yes, I do want this life,” I said.

“You’re turning me down?” he said.

“I am.” He laughed at this.

“You disappoint me,” he said.

“I get that a lot.”

For the first time since he arrived, the Devil’s gummy smile seemed genuine, warm even.

“I can believe that. If you change your mind,” he flourished a laminated business card, “ring this number.”

“The Devil,” I read. “666 666”. Classy.”

But when I looked up he was gone.

Trevor McDonald began to read the news again, still the same greenish hue. My kettle clicked off and I made myself a coffee, scouting around for some sugar.

Shuffling to the sofa, I flicked onto Neighbours and sat back on the sofa, using the Devil’s business card as a coaster. My hangover seemed to be clearing.