Photographs: The Devil
Mark Twain once asked who had the sympathy to pray for the devil, but I find it hard to pray for someone that routinely hides my mustard at three a.m.
It’s always a jarring shift, leaving the bar after closing and tapping up the stairs to my loft apartment. The music is no more, and the soft, bare bulbs are replaced by the blinding light over my kitchen island. My hands are sticky and covered in the dregs of drinks and the germs from spare bills left crumpled like fall leaves on the counter. All I want is to shower and eat.
By the time I’m clean, the devil is back in my kitchen, sitting in my double sink. His feet are in one half, his ass in the other as he smiles prettily, all teeth.
He asks me how my day went. He asks if I want to sell my soul. I sigh, say ‘No,’ and demand he tells me where he put the mustard. Usually, it’s somewhere up high. This time it’s on top of the fridge.
He’s not red like the kids’ books say. He’s annoyingly human, obnoxiously pretty, and distractingly pure-looking. Apparently, hellfire is good for the skin. He smells like cigarette ash, though.
The devil doesn’t care about my job, just what I’ll do next. The questions are only a farce. He doesn’t get out of the sink until after I’ve toasted two bagels and cracked two eggs into the pan. He watches over my shoulder.
The eggs spit angrily in hot oil. I spread mayonnaise on the bagels, then three slices of cheddar cheese. Season the eggs and flip them so the yolk cooks almost all the way. By the time I’m done putting mustard on mine, the eggs are ready to slide onto the sandwich.
The devil doesn’t like mustard, hisses when I try to spread it on his sandwich. Maybe that’s why he hides the bottle.
The fried egg settles onto the cheese, and I plate the bagel sandwiches. He sits across from me at the kitchen island and bites into the meal.
“Are you sure I can’t have your soul?” A bit of salty, barely-runny yolk falls onto his plate. It turns into a small, gold coin, glittering on the blue plastic. He’s in front of me, but he talks into my ear. His voice is sweet, polite. He sounds like everything I could want, and nothing that I don’t.
“Eat your sandwich,” I tell him. I don’t want anything right now. I haven’t for a long time. This, what I have, the salt, the mellow, the grease, and the smell of almost burnt bread, is enough for now.
If I want something tomorrow, I know he’ll be there.
He takes another bite and sighs happily. The coin is yolk again.
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash