I’m packing to go somwhere. I’m not sure. But I know I have to finish before the Devil shows up. Of course, I can’t find my toothbrush. I can’t leave without my toothbrush.

There’s a knock on the door. I tell her not to open it. She can’t hear me because of the TV. The door opens and there he is. He steps through. He’s smoking one of those wrapped cigars. “It’s time,” he tells me.

“But I’m almost finished,” I say.

“Not soon enough.”

“Can I make a deal?” I ask.

He laughs. “You don’t have anything to bargain with that I don’t already own.”

“You let Casanova have a chance.”

He sucks on the cigar. “That’s right, I did.”

“Let me, then.”

He thinks about it. “Casanova lost.”

“Just give me a chance.”

He looks at me through the smoke. “All right,” he says. “Here’s the deal. That Casanova story; it isn’t exactly how it went down. Here’s how it works.”

He told me to sit down. She brings me a Coke. He has a Pepsi. I always knew Pepsi was evil.

“You win this little thing and I’ll let you go.”

“Okay,” I say, waiting for the other shoe.

He sips the Pepsi, sucks on his cigar. “You lose, and you come back here.”

I point at the house. “Here?”

He nods. “Yes. Earth. You come back here.”

“I don’t go to Hell?”

He smiles. He has white, white teeth, despite the cigar. “You come back here, except I get to make you. Not Him.” He points up. “And you come back here for my purpose. To fuck with everyone around you. To make you such a shallow, evil bastard that you’ll do nothing but bring others pain, misery and sorrow.”

I think about it.

“Don’t think too long,” he says. “I’m almost done with my cigar.”

I see her moving in the background. She’s watching Friends. I’m wearing my wedding ring. I look at the copies of my books on the shelf. There’s a thought brewing in my head. Something dangerous and ugly. I have to ask.

“I’ve been here before, haven’t I?”

He nods. “You have.”

“I’ve made this choice before?”

He smiles. “You have.”

She’s in the other room, watching Friends.

“I’ll pass on the deal,” I tell him.

He puts out his cigar. “Good boy.”

Dream Journal: To Beat the Devil
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