Me & Mr. Devil

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Pulp philosophy about talking to inner-self in the middle of the night. Spiced up with a pinch of mystery, the story reveals the dialogue that has never happened and the thoughts that have never been thought about.

I woke up in the middle of the night and found myself lying across my bed, face down. I was dressed, only my coat was missing. I must have dropped it off somewhere in the corridor or so.

My head was killing me. Thirst was killing me. My blocked-up nose was killing me. I’d been having a cold for a few weeks now.

I did my best to turn around and tried to take a deep breath. With every single move, my head was about to blast. I decided it was better to remain calm.

I was staring at the dark of the room, recalling the previous evening. It started as usual: I was drinking some shitty booze, trying to write a page or two. For a long time, I’d been working on that story about the man who has sold his soul to the devil. Not much success there. I couldn’t find the right purpose for the action. I wanted to justify the character, to reveal his desperate need, his ambitions. I was creating a deadlock situation around him… However, it always came up to the guy being simply greedy. Maybe that’s how it really works?

Then I’m pretty sure I had finished that bottle of scotch, ‘cause I remember I somehow ended up at the local bar. If so, it was an explanation I went to bed having my clothes on.

I got out of bed to reach for a cigarette. Matches were missing.

“Hell…,” I hissed and slowly walked to the kitchen to get a spare matchbox. It was a challenging road. Each step pulsed in my head, giving me extreme pain.

I lit a cigarette and reached the cupboard to get a pill for a headache. I slowly threw two pills into my mouth and opened the fridge - there had to be some beer to wash that nasty medicine down.

Luck was not by my side. I must have drunk all the beer the previous afternoon before I started stretching my writing borders with scotch.

“God darn it,” I hissed again, chewing the pills.

I glanced at the window and noticed a dark figure of a man. The guy leaned his shoulder against a dead light pole, holding two bottles in his hands.

“Lucky bastard,” I thought. It seemed like the guy grinned, even though I couldn’t see his face in the dark.

I looked at the watch. It was two in the morning. I was standing behind the curtain, smoking, and glancing at the stranger. I had no idea why, but I could swear he was looking at me too. I felt it. I strongly felt it. I was still hiding behind the curtain but did my best to keep an eye on the guy. The only time I took my eyes off him was when I smashed my stub into the ashtray. Then I raised my head again - the stranger was gone.

“Oh sure,” I mumbled and headed back to the bedroom.

The doorbell rang. The massive and loud sound filled the silent place up. It went off so unexpectedly that it completely freaked me out!

“Who the hell is there?” I thought and changed my way to the corridor instead of the bedroom. My missing coat was lying on the floor right next to the entrance door.

I looked through the peephole. That regularly-darkened stairwell was all dark that time. No wonder, I saw no one there. Then there was another loud doorbell ring, not less unexpected than the first one.

“Who’s there?” I shouted through the door.

“I live in the apartment downstairs!” the voice replied.

“What the hell are you doing here? It’s two in the morning!” I felt perplexed.

“You’re flooding my place!”

“Hold on, let me open the door.”

The lock clicked, and the door squeaked open.

“Care for some wine?” asked the voice from the dark.

“Who are you?”

“It doesn’t really matter right now. Let’s say - I’m just a stranger who saw you smoking in the middle of the night and decided to share a drink with you.”

The man smiled. His smile looked unbelievably sincere, with a slight shade of naivety. He seemed like no harm at all.

“So, what do you say?”

“I say – you’re a sick bastard!”

“There’s no need to be rude.”

“I’m going back to sleep!” I replied with anger and was ready to lock the door…

“With this kind of headache you’re having right now, you simply won’t be able to fall asleep,” the man added and smiled again. He completely confused me, if not scared. How could he possibly know about my headache?

“What? How…?”

While I was trying to find the right words, he’d already had the answer.

“How do I know about your headache?” he performed that naive smile again. “Well, I saw you at the bar last night. And after drinking that much that you’d drunk… Oh boy, I really wonder how you’re not being passed out now,” he grinned. “So, why don’t you let me in, and we’ll cure you with a bit of wine?”

I looked around the stairwell in hope to find one of my buddies, who’d decided to play a joke on me. However, the man was alone.

“Get inside,” I answered.

“That’s what I wanted to hear!” another smile and the man headed inside the apartment.

As soon as he’d walked into the corridor, he stepped over my coat, turned around, and asked, “Where should I go?”

“Kitchen, I guess,” I replied, locking the door.

“All right.”

When I walked into the kitchen, I saw him sitting on the chair, pouring wine into glasses. I was scrolling through different images in my head, trying to understand who the guy was. He didn’t look like any kind of criminal. He was well dressed and gave the impression of a quite rich man. Even more, he had a black cane with a polished round handgrip! It surely added some grandeur and splendor to his appearance, but, comparing to these days fashion, made him look slightly ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the man finished pouring wine and handed one glass to me, “Cheers!”

We clinked glasses and each of us made a long sip. Then I put my glass back on the table and stuck a cigarette into my mouth. Matches were missing. Again. God darn those matches!

“Let me help you with this,” said my night guest. He searched for a little while in the inner pocket of his jacket and then handed me a fancy matchbox. It was black with some bloody-red patterns at the front. At the back, there was an address. LA, if I’m not mistaken.

I opened it. Inside, the box was decorated with black material. Looked like velvet. And all those thin and wide matches had the same bloody-red color heads. The matches were placed as a comb - you had to break one off before setting it on fire.

“Look at this,” I said, examining the box, “it looks like a piece of art! I feel kind of unsure to mess it up.”

“Go ahead. It’s a special treatment for clients,” replied the man.

“As you say,” I mumbled back.

I lit a cigarette up and waved my hand to put the burning match out. Then I carefully placed it in the ashtray.

I was ready to give the matchbox back, when the man suddenly interrupted me, “Keep it. As I said, I have plenty of those.”

“Well, thank you.”

I made a puff and blew out a thin stream of smoke.

“Would you finally mind introducing yourself?”

“Let’s say, I’m an agent,” the man replied looking into my eyes.

“An agent? Don’t tell me you’re here because of my novel, ‘cause it’s bullshit!”

“I’ve told you, I’m here to share a drink with you. Besides, I have never read your stories.”

“However, you somehow know that I write…?”

“I do,” he nodded.

“But how…?” I felt kind of awkward.

“Why don’t you get published?” he interrupted me again. It was a tough question. Probably, the thing I wanted to talk the least about.

“Why do you ask?”

“We can’t just sit here and drink in complete silence, don’t you think so?” The man smiled, “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but, come on, it’s a simple question. Besides, your headache seems to be retreating.”

I made a sip of wine, “I’d say - I’ve done trying…”

“Really? You’ve done trying? Have you tried at all?”

“I have. A long time ago…”

“What happened?”

“Nothing happened. That’s the main reason I stopped making attempts.”

“That’s a shame…,” he replied with slightly sensible sadness in his voice. “Do you still write?”

“Hardly… I mean, it happens… Honestly - it’s been a while…”

“You have nothing to write about?”

I only shrugged, “You never know. It just pops up in your head… All of a sudden… But, lately, I’ve been only thinking and overthinking those sudden thoughts… But no writing… No, unfortunately…”

“Does it make you sad?”

“I don’t know.”

The man lit himself a cigarette too and made another sip of wine. “Why did you start writing in the first place?”

“Oh, being a teenager, I thought I could make living by writing. You will laugh, but I badly didn’t want to work,” - we both started laughing.

“That’s quite a fair answer,” the man was smiling, “but the reason is too cheesy!”

“It is indeed.”

“It’s all right. I have worked with enough people to tell that all of them wanted only two things – wealth or power. Mostly wealth, of course…,” he made a pause to puff his cigarette and take a sip, “people love you when you’re rich!”

“Greed is an eternal wickedness.”

“Oh yes! You won’t believe what those guys have done to reach for their desire!” the man made another pause, and I noticed that his incredibly green eyes began to sparkle as flames. He lowered his voice, leaned towards me, and whispered, as if he was frightened someone else would hear him, “They have sold their souls to the devil!” Then he leaned back on his chair and was just staring at me, waiting for a comment, I guess.

“Well, it’s an easy way out, don’t you think?” I asked.

“Definitely! But the price!”

“Everything has a price, and we all pay it in the end. Not to mention that death itself is the final payment for life. The rules are pretty standard. In my opinion, selling your soul - is signing a lifetime contract with the best agent ever! You get the best royalties, you get the best benefits, but in the end, you pay the highest commission fee. And I know that a man must be sorry just for considering the opportunity, but hell, it sounds like a bargain. Most of us are fucked hard day after day, so, if offered a flute of ‘Cristal’ before another fucking, I have no idea why one should refuse.”

I smashed my stub into the ashtray and immediately lit another cigarette, for once again admiring that fancy matchbox. The man uncorked the second bottle of wine and poured the ruby-red liquid into glasses.

“Cheers!” he said.

“Cheers!” I replied.

“I like the way you think!”

I jokingly made a bow as an answer.

“I’ve asked you about publishing, but you have never answered… excuse my curiosity, but I’d like to hear your story.”

“It’s as simple as it can be. Being too optimistic, as soon as I had finished working on my first novel, I started sending tons of e-mails to all sorts of agencies, ‘cause, obviously, I was a new-born star. Only in my mind, of course.”

“All right…”

“However, most of those agencies have never replied. Although there was a couple that has replied back, the messages were almost identical: ‘We don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts.’”

“That’s standard. I wonder you thought they would talk to you in person… I beg you pardon. Go on.”

“Yet, I was burning from the inside! I had to get through! I was hitting that brick wall with my forehead over and over again…,” I made a long sip from my glass, “it took me about two years to realize, there was no way to reach out to them. Then I started working in a factory, ‘cause, obviously, I had to have a job to make living. It was about time I wrote my second novel. That time, I decided I would try self-publishing, and still, honestly speaking, money was the primary goal. And so I did. I’d been working hard on editing and stuff, and then I have finally posted it online. I’ve e-mailed my buddies to let them know they can get a copy, but no one gave a shit. So, I’ve spent another year scrolling through those statistics to see that not a single person has read my book! It was a breaking point for me. It was the time I knew - I simply wanted my stories to be read, and I didn’t give a darn about money anymore,” I made a puff. “I gave it a little more time, and then shifted to free platforms. Here! Take it for free! Just read it! Just let me know there’s something but blank emptiness in front of me. Still nothing. It was a long chain of failures, so basically, I ended up writing just for my personal fun,” I took a glass of wine and drank it up, “See, the road to success appeared to be not as straightforward as expected. Actually, there was no road at all…”

We had been silently smoking for a couple of minutes. Then the man asked,

“What was your cherished dream? Don’t tell me you wanted to become rich because of trivial greed!”

“I’ve told you, I didn’t want to work.”

“Cut the shit,” he laughed, “I’m serious.”

“It’s… you know… it’s LA.”

For some strange reason, I felt a little coy revealing it.

“LA? The city?”

I nodded yes.

“You wanted to move to LA?”

I silently nodded again.

“What was the problem?” the man seemed to be genuinely surprised.

“Money, visa, legal immigrant status, and so on. Mostly money, of course…”

“That’s a shame…” he pensively said once again. “What is it about it that you love so much?”

“You know, a long time ago, I’ve been to San Francisco, and I saw the Pacific Ocean. It was the most magnificent thing I have seen in my life so far… And I really want to go back there someday… Why exactly Los Angels? I don’t know,” I shrugged and smiled, “dreams don’t have to be reasonable.”

Then we were silent again. Much longer that time. And, for some reason, that sweet silence felt unbelievably cozy. Only hissing of our cigarettes interrupted it, but it was not an imperfection… not at all…

“Let me see your stories,” the man interrupted the quietness of the room.

“What?”

“Let me see your stories,” he asked once again.

I went to the bedroom and got a couple of binders out of my drawer. There was everything I wrote in there.

I came back to the kitchen and set those binders on the table, in front of him.

“Let’s see,” he said.

He opened the first binder and flipped through all of the pages. He did the same with another binder too. I was silently sitting and observing the process. I felt like I was at the trial, about ready to hear the judgment.

In a little while, he put both binders away and mumbled,

“This may work…”

Then he looked straight into my eyes,

“I don’t want to frighten you, but it’s finally time for introductions.”

“Don’t bother,” I replied, “I do realize who is sitting in front of me. I don’t often have sharp-dressed strangers with walking canes and burning eyes coming to visit in the middle of the night… Have to mention, you’ve picked a pretty nice look.”

“If so, I’ll cut to the chase,” he puffed on his cigarette, “as far as we have already talked the price… I can make you a successful writer and a millionaire in one year. I’m pretty good at that… you only have to say ‘yes’.”

“So, what now? A drop of blood to sign a paper?” I grinned.

He started laughing.

“It’s kind of old-fashioned way. Just say - ‘yes’. That will be enough. You, people, have forgotten how valuable words really are.”

“I appreciate it… However, my answer is ‘no’.”

The man’s face changed. He looked confused.

“No? Think hard! You can make your dream come true right now, and, starting tomorrow – live a different life. I’m not offering twice!”

“My answer is ‘no’,” I repeated. “Look, I don’t want all this wealth you’re offering. I want to have a chance to earn it. I simply want a chance. Otherwise… I wouldn’t know what to live for.”

“You’re being silly! Only imagine – you can have everything you’ve ever wanted and even more! Live for your personal joy! Have fun!” he started laughing again.

“Joy is precious when you have fought to earn it. Having everything you want makes one’s life boring, and, don’t get me wrong, there’s no joy in bore… I have to move to be alive…”

“Are you scared of consequences?”

“No, I’m not.”

“I don’t get it then!”

“I’m ready to say ‘yes’ for a chance, not for the outcome.”

“Technically, if I got you published and people wouldn’t buy it? What’s then? What if it doesn’t get you anywhere?”

“Then at least I’d know that I suck. Look, I have no idea what’s behind the locked door. And I badly want to break through to find out… If it’s nothing there, it’s OK. I mean, it happens, no hard feelings…”

“But you’ve said you had no idea why one should refuse the offer, remember?!”

“That’s right… I’ve also said that I’m saying ‘yes’ for a chance to see what’s next…”

”Are you conscious about the opportunity you’re about to blow? I’m offering you the whole world!”

“I don’t want the whole world. All I want is to write well enough to pay the rent, and have something to drink.”

“I knew the writer who originally said this! The old man has managed to get me blitzed a couple of times!” he laughed. “So, your answer is ‘no’?”

I only shrugged.

“You’re driving me crazy!” he started nervously tapping the surface of the table with his fingers. “Fuck it! Let’s have it your way! I’m giving you a shot! I will make a call, and get you in touch with one nice publisher!”

“Is it a deal?” I asked.

“No! It is not a deal! I’m not taking your soul for making a call!”

He finished his wine, having some undisguised aversion on his face, and looked into my eyes, “I can’t get if you’re a wise man or an idiot! One thing I can tell – you’re a dreamer! That’s amazing! Don't lose it!” Then he got up from his chair, “I have to be going!”

“All right then…” I replied, got up on my feet, and added, “Thank you!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

He walked past me into the living room and said over his shoulder, “If you make it to LA one day, you can find me by the address you have at the matchbox. Come to visit. I have plenty of decent wine to try,” then he made a little pause and added, “I wish you luck! Don’t bother locking the door behind me!”

He tapped the floor with his cane and vanished into thin air…

I woke up and found myself lying across my bed, face down. I was dressed, only my coat was missing. I must have dropped it off somewhere in the corridor or so.

The sun had already risen and drowned the bedroom with its warm light.

I got out of bed, thinking about my dream.

“It may work as a nice story,” I thought. For the first time in a while, I felt I had a complete story to write. I had to write it down. Immediately! While I still remembered every single detail! I had no time to hesitate.

I opened my laptop and was ready to start typing, moving my right hand over the nightstand to find a pack of cigarettes. There were no matches again!

“CRAP!” I shouted, moved the laptop to the side, and headed to the kitchen to get those freaking matches.

As I walked into the room, I saw an ashtray full of cigarette stubs and two empty glasses. That fancy, black matchbox was sitting on the table too.

“It’s just impossible!” I whispered, breaking one of the matches off and lighting a cigarette. “It is insane!”

Then I went back to the bedroom and typed: ‘ME AND MR. DEVIL”.


Submitted: May 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 MikePky. All rights reserved.

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spˈɔːn ɒv sˈe͡ɪtən

Very good read ! Keep them coming !

Sun, May 16th, 2021 7:11pm

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Thank you very much! I'll do my best!

Sun, May 16th, 2021 12:13pm

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