The Devil You Know

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

*A work of Fiction

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I was wiping the counter when my boss walked in.

Instead of coming straight to the counter he took a seat at one of the tables. I sighed. I feared he'd be in one of his darker moods. Which for him, would be saying something.

I never quite knew why there were tables here. My boss was my only customer, and though I’ve seen other people — or other beings, I guess, I was never sure if they were human or not — they never tried to order anything, nor did they speak to anyone other than the boss. However, it did make cleaning up easier so I never really questioned it.

I watched the Devil read silently. It wasn’t like him to be this quiet. I always figured him for the silent brooding type. but in truth he was one of the more loquacious people I knew.

“Can I get you something sir?”

He finally looked up, “Huh? …uh…no. Not yet.” He was about to return to his paper but then added, “Hey, can you make coffee bad on purpose?”

“Yes, I’m sure I can why?”

“I got a real coffee snob on his way down. I hate people way into anything. Kinda annoying. Coffee. Wine people. Don’t get me started on beer snobs. The worst. I’ve got a room where they make beer all day and when they go to drink it, it turns into water. Drives them nuts.”

“Aren’t you way into torture?”

I struck a chord.

“Getting awfully brave aren’t we?” He said.

“Sorry.”

“That’s better.”

“Anyway, I was thinking about the coffee,” I started to say but he had already returned to his paper.

“Speak when spoken to coffee boy,” was all he said.

And we returned to silence.

Finally, he broke the silence, “I tell ya. Things are not looking good upstairs.”

“Really? What’s happening?”

“Nothing good.”

“Aren’t you happy?”

“Why would I be happy?”

“Because well, you know…”

“Because I’m the Devil?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“Hey man, I may be the Prince of Darkness but I have lines I don’t cross. The stuff going on up there isn’t great. Look, I’ve caused a plague or two. maybe some wildfires. But what people are doing to each other is a hundred times worse.”

“So you’re not the cause?”

“The cause? I drag half of them down here right now if my dad would let me. I fought a war because I hate being told what to do. I would never force people to do anything. Well up there I wouldn’t. Once they’re down here I’ll pull their bones from their body.”

“So why’d you do it?”

“Do what? Rebel?”

“Yes.”

“Do you like people telling you what to do?”

“You tell me what to do.”

“Because you were a putz on Earth. I meant when you were alive.”

“No I hated it.”

“Right. That’s how it was. I was told what to think. What to do. Who I could do it with. My life wasn’t my own.”

“I see so you fought.”

“Yes.”

“And it was worth it?”

“I get to live my life my way. No one’s controlling me.”

“So you would rather be here than up there?”

“Yes definitely.”

“And that’s why you’re so mad about what’s happening on Earth?”

“Yes, I rebelled against God so no one could tell me what to do. And now the humans are doing worse things than he ever did.”

“Are you going to do anything about it?”

“I’ve got some plans.”

“Won’t your father be mad?”

“Probably, but I’m the Devil. You know?”

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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