DINNER WITH THE DEVIL
The room was dark and dimly lit, I looked around but could find no evidence of a timepiece. Unable to tell what time it was, I resigned myself to staring back at him, studying his features and trying to deduce what he was thinking.
He studied me in the same way and I had to put up a poker face, not that I had ever been so good at the game anyway.
He sat across from me on the other side of the desk, much like the type the police had in interrogation rooms. The room was bare save for the desk and two chairs which we occupied, sitting on either sides of it, opposite each other.
He didn’t have to introduce himself, for I seemed to know who he was even though the name tag above the breast pocket of the dark suit he wore was clear.
‘Devil’, it read.
He was far from how popular opinion described his looks, rather he was handsome with soft endearing features. The kind that was easy to trust even if he was a stranger but I wasn’t fooled.
I believed I knew him for who he was, he was the devil, the father of lies and a deceiver. Nothing true could ever come from his mouth.
Something told me he was here to broker a deal and I had already made up my mind that whatever he was selling, I wasn’t buying no matter how attractive an offer it was.
Suddenly his eyes crinkled and he smiled, his features transformed, getting me all the more alert for any trick he might have up his sleeve.
“So you think you have it all figured out, don’t you?”
He asked but I remained mute for fear that I might fall into some invisible trap he had set.
He shook his head before saying, “it’s not that simple, Dan. It’s not all black or white, you know? There are grey areas.”
I kept mute, watching him but I knew he was talking about my resolve not to fall into temptation.
He must have read my mind and was toying with it, trying to explain to me that sometimes we couldn’t be blamed for our actions.
Grey areas, indeed! What’s wrong is wrong and no amount of meandering could make wrong appear as right.
” I am going to get straight into it as I hardly have the time to waste. I have many others like yourself to tend to. So Dan,” he called and I raised a brow acknowledging his call.
He continued, “I have a simple deal which I am very sure you would agree to.”
I stopped him here, “then you would be very wrong,” I said, “because I am not interested in whatever deal you are on about.”
Getting up from my seat, I was about to leave when he called me back.
“Dan, you haven’t heard my proposition yet, how can you be so sure you wouldn’t be interested?”
That smile on his face irked me. It was too sweet, too open, too fake and calculating. I chose to look into his eyes instead, the eyes never hid much, not even the devil’s. He hungered for something, that was clearly obvious.
“I would be the greatest fool if I got into a deal with you! ” I spat.
His smile was still up but he sat back in his seat, leaning back on the back rest. “Just humour me, will you?”
Humour him? I thought and decided there would be no harm in listening to his story. I already knew my position concerning whatever he hoped to put forward anyway.
I sat down telling myself I was strong, I knew his antics, I would definitely rise above whatever he was playing at.
“Okay, I am sitting now, can you get on with it already?” I asked brusquely, losing patience with his slow and manipulative tactics.
“Alright, I..I have a proposition for you, a juicy one…one that would be awfully dangerous to resist.”
” Yeah right.” I scoffed.
“First let’s talk about Deborah, or Debbie as you like to call her.”
I frowned, my eyes narrowing with suspicion suddenly perplexed at what in the world might connect Debbie to all this.
Debbie had been the love of my life. We had known each other all our life. We had begun dating in our early teens until adulthood.
We had just begun preparations for our traditional marriage when she’d been diagnosed with that dratted disease, cancer. Things had gone downhill quite quickly after that. My once beautiful, healthy and boisterous fiancee had been reduced to bones, unable to keep anything down.
She had withered away, the disease claiming her barely four months after diagnosis.
It was six months ago but for me it felt like yesterday. My life had been a mess since the day she had breathed her last.
Her last words to me had been to live my life to its fullest as in the twinkling of an eye it could all be taken away but where would I begin?
I had been haunted for the first few months, cursing life, God, everything and everyone. Just trying to place the blame on something hoping that if I could transfer my anger at something, I would feel less of it inside.
Now, six months after, I hadn’t fully gotten over it but it seemed I was in the beginning stages of accepting it.
“What about her?” I asked, my voice laced with suspicion.
Why had the devil brought her into this, what was his game really?
“You love her.” He told me.
“I loved her, she is dead.” I stated.
” Yes, I am aware she is dead but you are still in love with her? Don’t bother lying….I am the father of lies so naturally, I can spot your lies easily.”
I shrugged, “Okay? What if I do? It’s not a sin to be in love with a dead person, is it?”
He grinned, shaking his head. ” No it’s not, of course. “
“Okay, so what is the problem? Can you just get on with it?”
“Okay, okay.” He gestured with his hands for me to keep calm “I have watched you these past months and I have seen how hard it has been for you.I have felt your pain, Dan. Your pain of loss, and it was like none other.
You took a big hit when Debbie died, your world was shifted rudely and abruptly. Your business, your family, you took a break from everything as you couldn’t cope. Even now, you are still unable to piece it back together. “
The past six months had been really rough indeed, I agreed with a nod. It still didn’t explain what Debbie’s role was in his proposition.
He continued “When she died, it was like she took a part of you along with her l, wasn’t it?”
It had been like she took all of me with her. I realised after her death, I couldn’t figure out who I was without her. I had built my life around her, she had been my best friend, confidant, business partner, everything. Everything I did, saw or touched reminded me of her.
How could I move on when she was still everywhere around me?
“What if you could have her back?” He asked suddenly and everywhere went deathly quiet.
I wasn’t sure I had heard him right. I looked up sharply, “Come again?”
“What if you could have her back?” He stated again, clearly and I knew I that was my cue to leave.
I should get out of here, I thought. I should get up, walk out and leave him behind with his tricks but I couldn’t. I still wanted to know if he was serious, could he really bring back someone from death?
“You can’t do that.” I said disbelievingly.
“Trust me, that is nothing for me to do.” He replied now smug.
I regarded him quietly, the last thing I would do was trust him but if he was serious that he could bring Debbie back, I wanted to hear all he had to say about it. Just so I would know what I as turning down, I told myself.
“Imagine she was back here with you, you both get married, kids in the nearest future, your business thriving again? Your parents wouldn’t be worried about you anymore because you would be back to normal….think about it….it seems like a great deal, doesn’t it?”
As he spoke, I pictured it all in my mind and it was beautiful. Beautiful Debbie as my wife, we would have our kids…..I wanted it.
“It can happen, Dan.” He spoke as if on cue. “I will reverse it all like it had never happened and no one would be the wiser, except for you. Your wedding would go on as planned but you would know what happened, you will remember everything.
Her death, your sorrow and most especially our conversation here today.”
His gaze searched mine and I tried to hide my weakness. I tried to fight temptation but I heard myself ask, “what’s in it for you.”
He flashed that unnerving grin once again as if he knew he had me.
I told myself he didn’t, I just wanted to know his price.
” I am in need of souls for my kingdom, grant me yours and you shall have every lovely thing you desire on earth. Your fiancée, a wonderful family, money and wealth.”
His voice was suddenly hypnotic and I closed my eyes as thoughts ran through my mind.
My soul for Happiness on this earth? My soul for my wonderful, beautiful Debbie? My soul for my sanity? My soul for everything I ever wished for? My soul for a wonderful life on earth.
I had no answer to that.
Opening my eyes, I looked back at him. It was as if he knew even before I had made my choice because he grinned knowingly. He didn’t hide his joy, he had gained another soul for his kingdom.
I wondered how many times he had done this before? I wondered how many souls he had captured through his difficult to resist deals.
What happened from then on was almost a blur, I guess I was just moving through the motions automatically.
He probably already had my soul then but when I heard the sound of my love’s voice rousing me awake and into reality, that was when it hit me and I knew for a fact what I had just done.
Opening my eyes, she came into focus. Her smile so beautiful, her eyes so innocent and expressive, her lips….. I had missed them. I had missed her and right then and there, it all seemed worth it.