Today’s little ditty was super fun to write and really just rolled off the edge of my brain like it was nothing. I love it when I have those sorts of days, they’re usually so rare. My writing prompt for you guys today is: write about an unexpectedly likable character. It doesn’t have to be your narrator, mine isn’t, just take someone that on paper sounds terrible and make them someone that people can care about.
I wrote a list of things that I find repulsive and naturally the words ‘demon’ and ‘salesman’ just seemed to go together once I had them down on paper. Again, I reiterate that this is the perfect prompt for people that enjoy science fiction or fantasy because it gives you a much larger range of character types to work with. I just couldn’t pass up the idea of making a likable crossroads demon.
In a sea of black and tears he stood out like a blazing sun. A silk Italian suit would have stood out anywhere. Perhaps it wasn’t the suit I noticed first; maybe it was how lost and awkward he looked. As the processional moved along and I shook hands my acceptance of their condolences he wandered around the house aimlessly. It was like he was aiming to be at the very end of the line.
Once I had noticed him I had trouble looking away. He was stunning, svelte and completely confused. People had been coming out of the wood work since my father died to tell me what a great man he was and how much he would be missed. I had become acquainted with every face present over the past five days. Some of them had even helped me to make funeral arrangements. It was mostly fathers old band mates, but I had never seen the aimless man before. He looked like the kind of man whose job description would have the word ‘broker’ attached and I began to panic that he was someone my father owed money and he had now come to collect.
Finally there was nobody else in line and I began to get up out of my chair before the suit could corner me, but I wasn’t quick enough. “Excuse me,” he said halfheartedly. I turned back and gave him my full hesitant attention. He cleared his throat and made a face as though he was were looking for the right was to word something. “Is Clive dead?”
I’m not sure if my jaw actually hit the floor, but my look of disbelief must have been been enough to make it apparent to him. “It’s just that – you see -,” again he was waiving his hands around and contemplating his dialogue. “He sort of sold me his soul. I don’t mean to be rude, I was just hoping to collect is all. You’re absolutely sure that he’s dead then?”
My father had often joked about selling his soul to the devil to play the trumpet the way that he did, but days of stress, grief and family had made me unwilling to play along this time. “Yeah, he’s dead. Sorry, I guess.” He exasperatedly seats himself next to me in the chair I’ve been desperately attempting to get out of. “Oh no, quite alright. My fault, I should have dropped by before he buggered off, but I got – caught up. Take it from me, never trip peyote in the badlands. You’ll end up wandering the dessert for three days communing with spirits and wake up covered in turquoise.” Clearly this was all a joke I just wasn’t getting. “I’m sorry, who are you again?”
“Oh, I’m Damien. I was a – friend of your fathers.” “And you’re suppose to be what Damien? The Devil?” He looks at me completely aghast and I’m left feeling as though I’ve just committed some great taboo. “Oh heavens no, I’m just a lesser demon. I was a greater demon, but one failed apocalypse and you get demoted to crossroads duty and some brown nosing usurper takes your job and starts telling you how it’s done.” Three days with my aunt Claire and her eight feral children has totally fried my brain and I can feel myself reaching the end of my patience. “What failed apocalypse?”
“Exactly!” His emphatic gesturing is drawing attention and I’m beginning to feel desperate to get away from the delusional stranger. “I really must go attend to other guests,” I begin to tell him, but he cuts me off at the pass. “It was only suppose to be ten years you know. That’s the term of the contract. You get what you want, have a decade to enjoy it, and then at the end of that time we get your soul. That’s how it’s suppose to work. But your father – I just couldn’t. He made such beautiful music. I could never bring myself to reap his soul. I kept putting it off and off and eventually he got sick. I though ‘Perfect, I’ll just swoop in right before he dies and pick it up then.’ Then I got – busy.” “Yeah, with the peyote and the dessert. You mentioned that bit already.”
In five day, with outpourings of love and loss, nobody had just talked about my father as a person. Nobody, but this insane stranger. A funny thing happens when people die: they suddenly become perfect. Every grudge is forgiven, every trespass forgotten and everyone loves them in a way they never had in life. Suddenly, Damien is the only person in the room I actually want to talk to.
“So, my father sold you his soul huh?” “Oh yes, some thirty years ago or so.” I think I’m beginning to understand it now. “And in thirty years, you never once came to collect?”
“Well, I did, it’s just -.” “Yeah, the music. You mentioned. So if you didn’t collect his soul and he died of natural causes, where does that probably put him now?”
“Heaven, I expect. The bastard,” by now Damien’s ministrations were only halfhearted. “And you’re absolutely sure that maybe you didn’t just like him and let him get away from you so his soul wouldn’t be trapped in hell forever?”
“Absolutely not! It’s my job to make sure that the halls of hell are filled with the souls of the damned and eternally suffering.” “Right. It would be wrong of you to save people you do like from said suffering and damnation, all the while undermining that authority of certain brown-nosing usurpers.” His practiced outrage gives way to a small cracked smile and an acquiescent shrug. “I assure you, I’m an excellent employee.” “Oh, I have no doubt of that Damien.”
“Well, I suppose I should be off then. Souls to reap and whatnot.” He gets up to leave and his suit is so impeccable that I’m almost tempted to believe he might be an actual demon. Before he reaches the door he turns back to me and asks: “You wouldn’t happen to be interested in selling your soul for anything would you?” Ever the salesman. “Not yet, but feel free to check in and ask me again some day.” He brightens and in a blink he’s gone.
‘God you had weird friends dad.’
Lots of Love,