June 10, 2012
This is from a prompt given last week via Flash Fiction Chronicles, on FaceBook. We were given some words and an aphorism to get us started.
FFC 2012/6/02 - CAFE-DEVIL-COURSE-PATH-OTHER-FIRST DAYS-CATCH-WARMTH-JUSTICE-APART
A man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother keeps for life the feeling of a conqueror - Sigmund Freud
Here's my story.
The Devil sipped on his coffee - delicious - he did like a good roast. He sat quietly in the cafe booth, gazing out the window, waiting for the catch of the day to walk in. It was a quiet morning in here, with just a few locals perched on stools at the counter. The waitress sat slumped at a corner table, idly flipping through a magazine, cigarette burning down to the filter in her ashtray. He checked his list - she wasn't on it. He settled back in his seat, and tapped his foot to the music. He'd triggered the juke box as he walked in, making it play a series of slow Leonard Cohen songs, faintly, in the background. They fit his mood today. His playlist held more than were actually in the juke box, but no one seemed to notice.
The bell over the door tinkled, he looked over and watched someone walk in, a large man, jacket buttoned tight over his stomach, face flushed, a big smile. The devil watched as the newcomer strutted and preened, full of confidence, greeting the few patrons by name, slapping them on the back. The waitress looked up and transformed, eyes wide, beaming smile, arms wide as she rushed towards him.
"How's my favourite little boy," she cried.
The man pushed her away a bit. "Mom, I'm the mayor, not your little boy anymore."
"Nonsense," she said. "You'll always be my boy - even as a famous and popular mayor."
He dropped his voice. "Thanks mom, I appreciate you always being here for me. I wish I had the same support from the press. They love to twist every little thing I do into the worst light possible, starting with the first days of my campaign. They even pick on my weight."
"Now Robbie," she said, "they're just playing up to their readers. They know the people are upset over all the cuts you had to make, so will support whatever they print against you. They don't understand you like I do."
"It's a tough job," he said," and it wasn't easy to get here."
Over the years he'd had to burn a lot of bridges, do a lot of back room deals, bend a lot of rules, upset a lot of people. But was worth it, he was finally here.
"And you do such a good job," she said. "You won't be long in this little town."
"Yeah, thanks mom," said the mayor. He looked around, then pointed. "Who's that guy in the booth, new in town?"
"He said he was here to collect someone," she said. "He must have meant collect something, like one of those repo mean I see on TV."
The devil had been eavesdropping from across the room - an easy trick for him. He rose as the mayor approached.
"Mr Mayor," he said. "I've been waiting specifically for you - do sit down."
"Really, for me?" said the mayor. "The waitress said you were here to collect something. If you're here for my limo, well this time it's the town's, and paid for."
"No, Robbie, I'm here to collect you," said the devil. "Time to pay up for all those rules you bent, all those people you stepped on."
The mayor started to get even more red in the face. "Now look here Mr ... Mr ... "
"Mr D will do," said the devil with a little smile. "Go on."
"Look here, Mr D, if you're another goon from Washington you can just turn around and get out. The press has been spreading nothing but lies. Your people have been through my office files, business records, personal finances, my wife's business, my brother's - and couldn't prove anything."
The devil smiled, and the room seemed to get a little darker. "No, they couldn't prove anything, but you and I know that you've been a bad boy."
The mayor sat back and waved a hand. "Pffft! Just talk. You don't know squat about me."
"You'd be surprised at what I know," said the Devil. "You chose this path years ago. Let's start with the puppy your sister had, the one you convinced her had just run away. But we know was more than that."
"It was an accident, I didn't mean it," said the mayor. He sat forward again. "Wait, how did you know about that?"
"Relax," said the Devil. "There's more. A lot more. I'll just give you the highlights for now."
He went through dozens of incidents, and as he did so the mayor sank lower and lower in his chair.
When the Devil finally stopped, he smiled at the mayor. "So, you see, with that record, it's time for me to collect you."
"You're not from the Justice department in Washington, are you?" said the mayor.
"No," said the Devil. "Another Justice government. Similar, but different. We tend to win all our cases." He casually stirred his cold coffee with his finger until it bubbled and steamed, then took another sip. "She makes excellent coffee, maybe I can offer her a job."
"You leave my momma out of this!" said the mayor, grabbing the Devil by the sleeve..
She had seen the ruckus and hurried over. "Everything all right here Robbie? Want me to call the sheriff?"
"No Mom, it's OK," said the Mayor. "You were right the first time, this man is here for someone, not something. He's here for me."
"But you can't take my boy from me," she said. "He's all I got. He's not that bad a boy really. Don't take him - I couldn't live without him here - my life would be worthless. Please - I'd do anything."
The Devil smiled."Anything?"
"Mom!" said the Mayor. "Be careful what you say, you don't know who this is."
"Why don't I give her some hints?" said the Devil. "One, I'm pleased to say that your son has been a very bad boy for most of the last forty some years, starting with the accident with his sister's puppy. And two ..." He smiled, then slowly his teeth sharpened into fangs, his skin reddened, and two horns appeared on his forehead.
She took a step back, then nodded. "I guess I sort of knew this was coming," she said. "Take me instead."
"It doesn't work like that," said the Mayor. "Or does it?"
"Contrary to what people say," said the Devil, "I can be a pretty reasonable fiend from Hell. Your mother here is not on my list, so she would have some value to me. You, you'll be mine eventually, but I could delay things."
"Would you really do that for me, mom?" asked the Mayor.
She smiled and held out her arms. "Yes, I would, for my favourite little boy."
The mayor jumped up and gave her a quick hug. "Mom, you're the best." He turned to the Devil and held out his hand. "Mr D, nice doing business with you, hope it's a long time before we meet again."
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