By Matt Galletta
The devil is waiting for me in my favorite chair when I get home from work. He wants to know why I never write about him.
“I’m a compelling character,” he whines. “Why are you ignoring me?”
I tell him I guess I’ve just never seen the appeal.
“Norman Mailer wrote about me,” he says, like that’s going to change my mind.
I just shrug, ask if he doesn’t have something better he ought to be doing. Torturing some freshly dead celebrity or something.
“What’s it gonna take?” he wants to know. “Fame? Fortune? Women?”
I mention that he’s usually known to be offering things like those in exchange for a person’s soul, not some half-assed short story.
It’s his turn to shrug.
“I’m lousy with souls,” he tells me. Stretching out, reclining in my chair, he says, “Everybody and his uncle comes offering me his soul, but what use do you really think I have for that? No thanks, I’m trying something new. It’s art I’m after.”
I tell him then he’s really in the wrong apartment.
He waves a cloven hoof at me. “Screw the false modesty,” he says. “Just do this one story, you’ll never have to work again, and I’ll be on my way.”
I settle on the old couch, sink an inch farther than I’d like into the cushions. I ask what kind of story, hypothetically speaking, was he looking for me to write, were I actually interested in writing a story about him.
He smiles, flashing ugly yellow teeth.
“Up to you,” he says. “I’m giving you complete authorial control. Whatever works for you. I ask only that you make me tall.”
I wait. Tall?
I ask what he’s really after, what the catch is.
“There isn’t one,” he says. “Nada. Fame and fortune await, at the cost of one measly story.”
It doesn’t make sense, I tell him. Why does he want this so bad?
“Call it vanity,” he sighs. “And I’ve just been wondering about you for a while. Young guy, full of angry little stories, but none with yours truly. What gives?”
I pause, a little embarrassed. “Well,” I finally say, “I guess I just don’t actually believe in you. No offense.”
“But I believe in you!” he tells me. “Listen, just think about it. Mull it over. And make me tall.”
He gets up, winks at me, and leaves without another word. I sit there, dumb look on my face. Then I hoist myself out of the couch and fix a drink in the kitchen. I bring it back and sit down in my chair now, still warm from Satan. I’d say it smelled faintly of brimstone, but I’m not sure what that is.
I think about my strange visitor while sipping my drink. I think about the strange deal he was offering. What nonsense. I’m glad he’s gone.
Though I have to say, when he left, when he walked out, I could swear he’d had to stoop just to pass through the doorway.
Matt Galletta lives in upstate NY. He brews his own beer so he never has to leave the house. Say hello at www.mattgalletta.com.