Meeting Again

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two ancient enemies in a bar.

Submitted: June 08, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 08, 2015



“Do you remember the first time we met?” the slender, dark-haired man asked.

The burly, gray-haired man that shared the bar’s back room waved away from his face the gray wafts of cigarette smoke that lingered near the ceiling. “Yeah,” the graying man said. “How could I forget. You were my first.”

Slender man chuckled, low and dark. “Your poor choosing of words hasn’t changed a bit.” The man looked towards the room’s sturdy door dividing the pair from the rest of pub, checking for eavesdroppers, as was common with business such as theirs. “We wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression…”

Graying man looked down into his cup, at his reflection. “Wouldn’t be the first time,” he remarked as he rotated his cup by the handle, swirling the liquid around to distort his reflection. “Nor the last.” When his reflection returned, he was a completely different man: a wizened forty-something with a dark beard and long, flowing hair.

Slender man raised a brow at the change, but withheld remark, taking a long pull off his own cup, waiting.

The graying man who had become near-middle aged--perhaps recognized now for appearing early to to his mid-life crisis, with all the requisite rebellious grooming choices--studied his new self in his liquid’s reflection for a moment longer before nodding, satisfied.

Middle-aged looked at his companion, asking, “Not this time?”

Slender man shrugged, his fine business suit’s fabric shuffling audibly in the near-silence provided by the back room’s sound-dampening blocking out most of the pub’s music, crowd noise, and the clinking of glass.

“Did you see all the day-trading kids out there who look exactly the same as each other?” Slender asked. “This is New York, and not far out there,” he nodded towards the wall, indicating beyond them, “that’s Wall Street.” He took another sip of his drink. “I’m a dime a dozen.” He eyed his drink. “And so is this swill they choose to drink.” Slender made a disgusted face. “Whatever happened to the good ‘ol days, when things were made with loving attention and dedication, hmm?”

Middle-aged leaned back in his cushioned seat, laying an arm over the back, staring outside as well, into the beyond. “I don’t know,” he mused. “Good things just don’t last.”

Slender leaned forward on the table between the two, resting his forearms on the bare wood. “One would have to argue what’s good and what’s bad,” he saluted the other with his drink. “It’s all relative, anyways.”

Middle-aged cocked his head slightly to the side to look at his other. “Don’t start with me again,” he told Slender. “I’m so tired of arguing with you, you don’t even know.”

“I do know,” Slender argued. “Hell, if there’s anyone that knows what you’ve--we’ve--been through, it’s me.” He pointed an accusing finger at Middle-aged. “We did it together, dammit.” Slender forced himself away from the table and back into his chair, though, and with a bare hint of hurt in his voice, he added, “And still you disagreed and rejected me. After everything we’ve been through.”

Middle-aged turned to stare full out beyond the walls. “You were wrong,” he said to the wall.

Slender threw his hands up in the air, sighing. “You know what,” he said. “I came here, again, because I thought maybe...oh, I’d learned something since our last meeting. I see now that isn’t true, and may never be true.” He raised his cup to his lips, but not before adding one more accusation, “You’re never not right.”

Middle-aged took a drink to match his companion’s drink. A long minute passed between them in the quiet, smoky room nestled deep within the pub not far from Wall Street, in New York, the United States of America, Earth.

Slender finished the rest of his drink and laid the empty down with an obvious show of restraint, but did not take his hand or eyes off it. Middle-aged took another sip of his drink in matching, but did not finish. Instead, both settled for another long waiting game.

It was Slender who finally cracked a broken laugh to end the game. “This is so fucking biblical,” he said. “Even this. A pissing contest that will end with us both pissing.” Slender leaned forward again, smiling. He was starting to slur, “Well, I have to confess, that process feels good when it happens, so you didn’t make wholly terrible decisions.”

“Oh?” Middle-aged inquired. “Are you actually praising me?”

“No,” Slender snerked. “I praised you, once, and where did that get me? Eternally damned, that’s what. Even if I did, now, would you forgive me? No, wait...don’t answer that.” He tapped the tabletop with his fingers. “I don’t need your forgiveness. I’m doing just fine on my own.”

Middle-aged took his turn raising a brow, questioning the other.

“Your lackeys talked shit about my place for hundreds of years,” Slender explained. “Hell, it’s so popular, people take its name as a curse, or just for emphasis.” He chuckled, eying his empty cup. “Just like I did. And how cool is that?”

Middle-aged waved a mocking celebratory finger around in the air.
“Yeah, you’re just jealous,” Slender retorted. “No one says, ‘To Heaven with it.’ or ‘Go to Heaven.’”

“‘Heaven help us’,” Middle-aged interrupted.

“Okay, you get one.” Slender raised a single finger. “One.”

Middle-aged lilted his voice, mimicking the devout, “‘Oh, God help me, God save me.’” He smiled at Slender.

Slender thrust a finger at the other. “See? That’s smug,” he accused. “And that’s why some people don’t like you.”

Middle-aged shrugged, lifted his cup to his lips, but stopped. He stared at what was left for a moment, then offered it to Slender with a half-smile and a compromise-seeking nod.

Slender eyed the offered cup, but did not refuse. He swiped it from the man’s hand and finished it off. “Oh man,” Slender sighed. “Wine. Good wine, at that. Red. Aged. Dark Ages?”

“That’s what they call it,” Middle-aged said.

“Well, I can’t argue with some of your tastes,” Slender said. “You should make more. You can. They even wrote a little story about that, if I recall.”

“If I did,” Middle-aged said, “would it be as good as if it came about naturally?”

“I hate it when you say things like that,” Slender claimed. “Why can’t you let me just hate you?”

“Because I do still love you, Lucifer,” God said.

“Yeah, and you showed that real well when you banished me to that dark place,” Lucifer countered.

God turned back to face the other being full. “You were acting like an asshole,” he said. “I could stand some disagreement, but not full-on revolt.” He moved the hand on the seat’s rest to point at Lucifer. “You need to learn how to compromise for the greater good.”

The Lord of Hell raised a finger to counter, but decided against it. “I need another drink,” he said. “A good drink. Where’s that little bell that summons the waiter? Ring it for me. I want something new.” He looked up and across the way. “They’re always coming up with something new. I still haven’t tried all the different ways to drink rum, you know.”

God ringed the bell and waited. When the waiter came in, he seemed taken aback by the appearance of the middle-aged man in place of the older man. It was obvious he had not seen either come or go, but the waiter had seen stranger, much more criminal things in his time, and he took both men’s orders and excused himself to fetch it.

Lucifer waited a few moments, then observed, “Good man, that Walter.”

God also observed, “He knows enough secrets from his job to damn a few hundred corrupt souls.”

Lucifer smiled. “And that’s why he’s such a good man.” He turned to his companion. “I’ll make a special place for him if he falls short of your standards. He can keep my Book of the Damned and even get my drinks.”

“He wouldn’t like that if he knew.”

“Pfaw,” Lucifer pawed at the air. “He just believes Hell isn’t my own Paradise because your lackeys, your faithful, your zealots, have thrown enough propaganda about me and Hell to think it’s all fire and brimstone, eternal torture and pain.” He unconsciously went to take a drink, but realized halfway up that it was still empty. “Bah.” He turned his attention back to his companion. “You align yourself with some pretty stupid people, if they think I’m dumb enough to be exiled to Hell to be your jailer and do your work for you. Not after what you did to me.”

God shrugged again. “It gave you purpose,” he claimed. “Something to do, and me some place to hold souls not worthy of Heaven until Time comes.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Lucifer said. “And when will that be, anyways? When do we get to finally work things out the Old Testament way, hmm? Settle our difference for eternity?”

“Are you looking forward to it, brother?”

Lucifer paused, thinking. Then, “Not really, no,” he admitted. “What happens after that? Eternal nothing? No more fun and games? That doesn’t sound entertaining at all.” He listened for the returning waiter for a moment, and when he did not hear, he leaned forward across the table again to ask, “So? End Times? Final battle? Yes? No? Gentlemen’s agreement?”

“No,” God said. “Not yet, at least. Not as long as we can have these meetings, I still have some hope that, maybe, we can work things back out, you know.”

“I… Wait.” Lucifer held up a hand, hearing the waiter coming back with their drinks.

The waiter named Walter returned with two cups full of the oldest wine in the house, setting the cups down in front of both men without a word, then taking his exit after a courteous bow.

“Wait,” God told the man on his way out, and flipped the waiter an ancient coin. “Get it appraised. It’ll be worth your time.”

Walter the waiter nodded his appreciation, then quickly scurried away.

Lucifer looked back. “That was Greek gold,” he said. “Pre-A.D. That’s got to be worth--”

God shrugged, picking his cup up. “He’ll probably take it to a local pawn instead of a historian,” he said. “He’ll get maybe a quarter of its value, if that.” God shrugged. “Free will. Choice.”

Lucifer sighed. “You are a real piece of work, brother.” He raised his cup, offering a toast. “To another mortal decade on this plane?”

God met the toast, clanging cups together.

“Ten more good years,” God raised his cup to his lips. “Cheers, Satan.”

“Cheers, Sovereign.”

Both took a long drink.

Ten more years.

© Copyright 2019 Jack Motley. All rights reserved.

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