Am I Evil?
I grabbed the sack from over the counter and watched a guy leave through the door. I barely missed it. I waited around for someone else to walk through. I breathed out and walked toward it. Nothing. I backed up, walked forward, nothing. I walked back by the bathroom, stared off casually, approached the door and tried to sneak up on it. Nothing. The woman behind the counter was watching. I stared off. She walked around the counter and played with the little sensor box at the end of the glass, “Strange, this has never happened here."
I glanced at her hairy mole, dead square on her nose, "This happens to me, always does. This is why I donʼt wear a watch."
She looked at me, "Why canʼt you wear a watch?"
"No, I can wear one, but it stops once I put it on. Iʼm cursed."
"So," she laughed, "if you wouldnʼt have come in here today, the door wouldnʼt have broken?"
"Think about it, every time I come in here, I always have to run up on somebody else coming in, or leaving. Maybe you could let me out the back."
"Sure, but hold on."
She waved a cook over. He knelt down beside the door and began working at the sensor. A couple stood behind us, waiting to get out.
"Okay," he nodded, "now try."
I looked at the woman and tried. Nothing. I backed away and told the couple to go ahead. The couple stepped to the door. It slid right open. I followed them out. The door growled at me. Up the sidewalk I threw my hands in my pockets. The food was warm against my side.
I let her catch up to me.
"That was crazy," she said, "you really break things like that? I mean, itʼs working fine now."
"Itʼs technology. In my old car, everything was manual. Everything. No electric windows or automatic transmission. No CD player. I had a new car once, for one minute, my ex-girlfriend's. Sheʼd just got it. I sat inside while it was running and everything shut off. She had it towed and they gave her another one, but the same thing happened. She broke up with me the next day. Well, we were on the skids long before that, so…"
We were at my front door. I took my hat off and wiped my hair back from my face, "Iʼm not. I was born with it. You can imagine the hell I grew up with."
I looked behind me. She had followed me into the house. She saw my typewriter and my desk, scattered pages and a full ashtray.
"Everything. Twice a week I help this girl mow and trim yards. But right now I do piece work for a London magazine."
"I freelance for them."
I looked in my room. My bike was in there. Her weed was gone and there was a note saying that she came by but I was gone. No shit. I threw the note in the garbage. It bounced off the can and hit the floor. I reached down to pick it up but it jumped up in my hand and I threw it away. It happened to me once in a while. The woman had seen it. She looked up to me and froze:
It dawned on me that she was Mexican. My neighborhood was Mexican, so I hadnʼt paid any mind. Then everything else dawned on me:
"El Diablo- wait. Iʼm not the devil. Itʼs my chemistry. You know how some people can pour acid onto their hands? I saw a guy on this show once, he poured acid on his skin in front of his students and nothing happened to him. In my case, anything electrical or technology based invented after I was born breaks around me. Itʼs just science."
I stared down to her and smiled. She backed toward the door, "No, no no no no. You're the devil. Stay away from me."
She slammed the door and walked back to work. She was crazy. I lit up. I sat down and hit the machine. I wrote a long poem about the bakery woman. I laid on the couch and read through a book I had started to write. I grew bored. I jacked off and took a nap.
After midnight I was laying around in bed. It was still raining. I heard someone knocking. I wrapped myself in my blanket and looked out my window. I didnʼt recognize the car. I opened the door. The bakery woman. She was wearing her bathrobe. I shook my head at her and laughed.
"What are you doing here?"
"You are the devil. I know it."
It was cold outside. I opened the door all the way.
"Alright, have it your way, Iʼm the devil. Come in before you catch something."
She came in. I closed the door and locked it. She followed me back into my room.
I walked into the kitchen and ran the hot water, "I have one pack of hot chocolate left. You want it?"
She hissed from my room, "No hot chocolate with the devil!"
I turned it off and sat on my bed, "Toss the devil his boxers."
She flicked them up at me with her foot. I dropped the blanket and dressed. I threw on my sweater and grabbed a pair of socks and walked to the bathroom, got warm and combed my hair back. I sat on my bed. She hadnʼt moved. She stood in the middle of the room and stared at me. I lit a smoke, "Look, sweetheart, you're starting to give me the creeps. Sit down or something."
"The devil," she said.
"Oh, Jesus Christ, how-"
"NO! Donʼt say that word! You are the most evil! I feel it off you!"
"Listen to me, if I was the devil would I be living here, in this shit hole, working for daily cash and writing for a British magazine? Seriously, get off my ass."
"I'll show you," she said.
I laughed, "Show me."
She reached inside her robe and around her back and pulled out a pistol. I jumped back on the bed:
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Calm down. Baby, you donʼt want to do this."
She screamed and pulled the trigger.
I saw the smoke leave the barrel. I saw the bullet spiraling in front of my face in slow motion. In slow motion, I cocked my head at it while it spun there and hung in front of me. Everything went back to normal speed. I didnʼt know how I did it, but I swiped the bullet from the air and threw it backward at the gun. It went back into the barrel and everything went down in reverse. The smoke went in and the gunshot went in reverse and there was a click and there and there was silence. Instinct came in. The gun broke loose from her hand and flew across the room into mine. I held it on her. She stared at me coldly, "You see, you are the devil."
I looked at the gun. I was sweating. I closed my eyes and the gun was no longer.
"You need to leave," I told her.
She ran out. I jumped up and ran to the mirror. I stripped naked and studied my body. I had a receding hairline and a gut. In the mirror I watched my hair become full and longer, and my stomach tightened to an athleteʼs form. I made my cock long and thick. I held it in my palm and smiled a mean smile. Was I the devil? Could it be that I was the devil? I searched my scalp for the number. Nothing. I searched my right palm for the number. Nothing. I tried to think evil, harmful thoughts against the world. Nothing. How could I be the devil? Then I got it. I was dreaming. A twisted dream. Iʼd had them before and regularly, but this one had them beat by miles. I walked back to my bed and made myself sleep it off.
Morning. Bright out. I thought about the dream and shook my head. Stupid. The Devil, The Lord, Santa Claus and the Great Pumpkin. I felt foolish over having the dream, over the drama of it. The bakery woman and the gun, the bullet. I decided I needed to get out more, go downtown and meet some girls, get a decent job and so forth. I was afraid that I was losing my mind. I felt good that morning, though. I usually woke up coughing. But I felt charged. I even felt virile. I didnʼt even stretch. I leaped out of bed and ran the water in the bathroom sink. I splashed some water on my face and wiped my hair back quickly with my reflection. I turned and opened the cabinet behind me to grab my contact lenses case. I slammed the cabinet door and turned slowly back to the mirror. I jumped out of the bathroom and approached the mirror piece by piece. There was my perfect body, long hair and eyes that could see through walls. I tried to feel fear but I couldn't. I extended my arm and watched the veinwork course smoothly down to my fingers. There was the new cock. I looked into the backyard of the house next door. I put my pants on and walked out back.
I had this neighbor. This tall, sexy, Mexican woman who was married with a little baby. Her husband was a big Mexican. I would sometimes peek through my blinds and masturbate while I watched her in her backyard, her bikini riding up her big brown ass while she bathed in the sun and smoked her long cigarettes, watching her baby sleep on the blanket across from her. She was out in her garden. I watched her out there, on her knees in a long bedshirt, nude underneath, picking those miniature tomatoes and placing them in the front of her shirt, pulled up just high enough to where you could see the front of her thighs and a small, magic tuft of hair. She had never shown interest in me, maybe a few disgusted looks as I smiled and waved to her from my backyard, while I played fetch with my dog, on the many afternoons she was out back, lying in the sun. I walked to the fence line. She looked up at me. I didnʼt see the baby. My guess was the kid was at her mother's, an old Spanish lady who drove a big station wagon. I stared at her. She looked me up and down. I walked over the fence like it was a small step. She had this look to her. She knew and I knew. I stopped in front of her and dropped my pants. She grabbed my cock and stuffed it in her mouth. It was genius. I pulled out and walked around her and dropped to my knees. I flipped her shirt back and drove it in, pounding into that hard flesh with a vengeance, pounding until she bucked and shook with orgasms, which I made last 20 minutes for her. I zipped up. Just for good measure, I gave her another one without even touching her. She fainted.
Back inside, half an hour later. I was watching from my bedroom window. She was doing work about her yard, singing in Spanish. I waved her over and gave it to her one more time.
I quit the lawn job. In the next couple of days I fucked whichever woman I wanted, wherever I felt like it. The corporate bitches riding the elevators downtown were good, as was the teller in the bank and even the older artist looking chick in the bookstore. The coffee shop girls were always fun, and the otherwise stuck up women who worked retail or restaurants or the lingerie stores. I wondered if I was really the devil, or if I had been blessed with a gift. I no longer had a problem with technology. After I had sex with a waitress in the womenʼs bathroom, I decided I was fucked out for the first time in my life.
I needed money. I would walk into banks and the tellers would hand me over envelopes of it. I never had to say anything to them. Iʼd nod and theyʼd smile and hand it over. Cameras were useless against me. Audio was useless against me. I had no fingerprints. I had no government. I moved into my mansion in West Austin, right on the lake. Paid cash. I had no bills, no hassles, no tax bullshit. Well, not after the IRS man came over in a shitty mood to audit and bust me. I showed him his whole family scattered, naked and gutted on my front lawn. Laid out before him was also his own death, his head on a post, his guts around the waist of his lower body, slid down the post from his detached head, his heart stuck in his mouth. He left and never came back, nor did his kind. I never actually hurt anyone, but what I could show them was horrifying.
I learned the full potential of my gift. I had the vision of a hawk, the gift of flight, the gift of invisibility at my choosing. One afternoon I was flying nude around a tall treetop in my back yard, when the lady who does my gardening caught me. She saw me, so I hovered behind a bushy branch and she shook it off and went back to her work. I could never expose myself to the mortals. That would end my fun. Years went by me like nothing. I had not aged. I had never felt better. I went in for a physical once, and the doctor was amazed at the perfection beneath my skin and blood and veins. My lungs were pink, though I loved smoking. My heart and liver were brand new, everyday. But I still did not feel evil. I learned to enter my television and fuck the actresses, the models, even a few anchorwomen. I was a famous writer now, doing readings in different cities and countries and writing at the top of my form. There were talk shows, magazine interviews, my phone ringing off the hook. I had no troubles with the paparazzi. Not after the first time.
I had 38 wives living with me, all sterile. They were between 17 and 23 years old, from all around the globe. I also kept a few older ones around, for when the mood struck me. Sometimes I had them all at once, all of them on all fours, in a big circle by the pool.
But I was not an evil devil. There was the crippled man I passed in the crosswalk downtown. I breathed on him and he straightened and walked normally. It caused an accident, after the woman in her car watched me fix him, but no one believed her, not even after the man I healed backed up her story. There was the blind person to whom I gave sight, on many occasions. The looks on the faces of the now seeing were truly beautiful. Never again was a child going hungry, never a cold person anywhere. I vanquished AIDS and cancer. I cured several problems and took no credit. A lot of hospitals were shut down, but I liked that, too.
My life grew dull with no enemies. I thought of ways to make the mortals resent me, but I didnʼt have the heart or desire. Every woman wanted me, men wanted to be me. I had used the gift to its fullest, the shower rooms at private girls schools, the flights through outer space, sleepovers on the moon, the soothing over of pain, the complete destruction of pain, whenever I heard of something in pain. My dog would never die now. I was never going to die.
I dropped by the bakery one day to see the woman. She told me that she knew I was behind everything but that I was still the devil. I blew onto her face and the mole vanished. Her body became thin and youthful. She screamed:
"GIVE IT BACK!"
I gave it back to her. She walked off.
I was turning the key to my house when I felt a chill. None of my wives were around. I dropped the keys on the mantle and walked around the corner in to my living room. Two men were sitting on my leather couch. I knew who they were. I just didnʼt want to believe it. But they had no other way into the house. The main guy was older, white hair and a white beard. The other was not as old. He wore a smooth-ass suit and wore his long hair casually behind his ears. His beard was just like it was in the paintings. They were completely beautiful. They stared at me. I sat beside the couch in my recliner. I went to light a smoke. No flame. I tried again.
"Not now, Benjamin," said the suit.
I placed the smoke on the table, "Look, you guys, I never asked for this."
The old man shot me a look. His son sat there, his hands folded on his knees. He spoke, "We know about you. There was an accident."
I sat back and stared at the old man, "I canʼt tell you how strange this feels. You two look human."
The old man stared at me, "We're not like them, but we need to talk to you."
His voice sent shockwaves throughout my body. It was shocking. Nothing had shocked me in years.
The son started:
"It began forty years ago, in this time schedule, you were in the hospital in Peoria, St. Francis Hospital, 6:23 p.m., half an hour after you were born. You know about the other one, the dark one, the fallen."
"Satan," I said firmly.
"Well, he sent his breath over the seas to find the chosen one, the one to who was born with his mark, the one to completely change then abolish life here. This has been planned since, well, you wouldnʼt understand. ‘Satan’ -as he is referred to here, does not have the power my father has. He had to physically make contact with the one born with his blight, though be it a powerful, formidable blight. Because of the laws my father made for him, he could not acquire flesh to personally touch the child, so he sent his breath as the deliverer, the way he has to operate from where he is, the way evil really works here. He can be seen to other immortals, but he could never walk amongst the people, thatʼs only a myth, but he can destroy them and see them at all times. Trust us, he knows everybody, this is still his world, and he runs it completely and mercilessly, but my father still owns it."
I looked to the old man. He rubbed his beard and stared at me. I noticed neither one of them had blinked the whole time. Then it occurred to me that I hadnʼt blinked in years. His son continued:
"It was a matter of timing for him. You donʼt remember this, but the nurse rolled your bed closer to the window for your family to see you, and in the process she had to roll the bed with the chosen one aside to get you closer, and at that moment, the travel of centuries and water and land the breath had journeyed hit you instead. And because you were oblivious to it, it made your life awkward. This is why you felt sick. This is why you would disable manʼs technology with your presence. This is why you healed instantly after you were hurt, why you donʼt age, and so on."
"Then why was I aging before that fat chick from the bakery discovered me?"
"You were aging because you were ignorant toward your purpose. The human mind is powerful, Benjamin. Note that once you accepted it, everything stopped dying in you. You had to be a man anyway, and the woman from the bakery was not sent by us."
"Oh, so she was sent by the devil. That makes sense."
"Sure, but she thought she was doing our work, thatʼs a pretty common trick for him to pull off here, and he was hoping youʼd destroy the world. But you donʼt have the vision the other would have had."
"Yeah. What happened to that guy?"
The old man cracked a helpless smile. The son nodded to the floor, "His family moved to Kentucky. He works at Auto Zone."
I broke out laughing. They did not. They wanted to, though.
"Let me get this straight. The Antichrist is selling starters in Kentucky, and I get to rule the earth."
"Yes, but you donʼt rule the earth."
"Wait, you two didnʼt come here to end me, did you?" I looked at the old man, "I mean, I'll change whatever it is thatʼs bugging you."
The son nodded to me, "We are not human. To see us in our natural state would kill you, even with the breath of the fallen you have in you."
"Thanks. I need a smoke, guys. Please."
They let me light up.
"I was always a non-believer before this."
"We know, Ben. But now we have a problem."
"What? The women? I'll cut back."
The old man rubbed his eyes. The son shook his head, "Itʼs not the women. We will never lie to you Ben, you wouldnʼt have made it to Heaven, anyway, but now we need to come to an agreement."
"I have questions first."
He leaned back and sighed, "I'll give you a few."
"Which religion is the right one?"
The old man smiled sadly. His son answered:
"None of them."
"Are all sins really equal?"
I looked at the old man:
"Have you changed with the times? Because if you havenʼt then everybodyʼs going to Hell."
The old man looked to his son. The son smiled, "Good questions, Benjamin. Heaven has always been for the pure, regardless. That hasnʼt changed. In this world there is no more purity. Religion, like faith, is all ego now, all self."
"So everybody goes down."
"Yes and no." The son glanced his beautiful eyes over my shoulder and continued, "At birth, everybody belongs to my father, no matter what the parents have done, whether the mother took drugs during the pregnancy, whether the life was a product of rape or out of marriage. But it never takes long for the life to become taken in by evil, even if, and this is almost every case, the life isnʼt aware that itʼs evil. Granted, it sounds unfair, but itʼs not, and itʼs the way it will always be. Benjamin, somebody else is here right now."
I turned quickly over my shoulder. I knew it. There he was, sitting at the table behind me: Dressed in black, dark hair combed back shiny, an angular, insanely chiseled face. He shot me the worst stare I have ever seen. I heard the sonʼs voice:
"I donʼt think you need an introduction, Benjamin."
I looked back to the son. I could feel the devilʼs desire to be near the old man. The old man wouldnʼt even look at him. The son told me this was the first time the three of them had been together since the first of time. I walked to my fridge, "This is too much." I pulled a beer from the shelf. I held it up, "Anyone else need a beer?"
The devil put his hand up, "Right here." He caught it. I twisted mine open and sat back down, "So, what, you guys hate me now?"
The son smiled, "No, Benjamin, far from it." He motioned to the devil behind me, "But he hates you."
I waved it off without turning around, "I donʼt care about that."
The devil threw his beer at me. I reached back and caught it behind my head without looking. I set it carefully on the table. Iʼd just bought that table. I tilted my beer at the son, "Alright. How do I stay out of Hell?"
"Well, you've given the world a new beginning, Benjamin, no more disease, no more pain, nice touch."
"But now you need to give it up. Itʼs your gamble."
I swallowed my beer, "Gamble?"
The son sat back, "Listen, Benjamin, to tell you the truth, I never planned on coming back here. I mean, can you blame me?"
"No, but all the believers were planning on it, the evangelists and their con, they bet on it, live off it."
"We have a special Hell planned for them, a very special Hell."
"But now my father is taking a second sight on this world. He sees goodness now. He sees that people are truly caring for each other again, caring without any thought of gain for themselves, and for that, heʼs reopened Heaven for the masses."
The room felt lighter. I smelled sulfur.
"Whatʼs that smell?"
The son nodded over my shoulder.
"He left," the son stared at me, "heʼs angry."
"Boo-hoo." I put out my smoke.
"Everything here will be yours, Ben. You will be in Heaven. You can keep the writing job. But you have to give back this gift you think you have, to let the people start on their own from here now, a clean start, to truly show my father that without trouble the world will be good."
"But this means I will die. Eventually."
"Of course. But I may come back again, and if I do, you go straight to Hell, to the inferno, the fiery lake or whatever itʼs called now. Either way, you will have a total and perfect separation from my father then, and believe me, youʼd rather die here first."
I looked beyond them, to my pool and my dog sleeping outside, under my pecan tree. I never wanted to give it up. The son leaned forward, "Listen, Benjamin. Why donʼt we just kill you, right here? I know you've been wondering about that. Contrary to what you are taught to fear, my father is not a murderer. My father is fair. But with this misplaced breath you have, which we need from you to continue Revelation, this gift will lead you into evil. Thatʼs unavoidable. You canʼt imagine that right now, but it is. Give it back and live normally within your born flesh. And pick out one woman and have children. Be a good man, Ben. Your heartʼs in the right place. Walk a straight line and you'll have a long, happy life. Iʼd advise you to stop smoking. You've done well, a few indiscretions aside. At least you didnʼt run for president, that was refreshing."
"I donʼt have to go to church, do I?"
"No. No one really had to go to begin with."
He sighed, "Most of the questions are misconceptions, Ben. Right now you know more than anyone else here has or will ever know. All other questions you have will be answered when you die, thatʼs one of the few facts mankind didnʼt misconceive."
I watched them stand.
"Wait, what do I do now?"
The son smiled, "You'll know, Ben. You're smart."
They walked by me. The father squeezed my shoulder:
"Do whatʼs right, Benjamin.”
As good as I felt the morning Iʼd first awoke with the gift, the touch dwarfed that feeling. I felt bright and weightless. I felt the purest sense of joy and warmth, of love and understanding the entire universe of time and beginning and end, all one motion, all beautiful. I also understood that when I was going to die, I would be old with all my senses, I would know before it happened and it would be painless. I watched them walk out of them room and leave through the front door. I thought it had style.
I spent the rest of the afternoon wiping out nuclear everythings, wiping out the order of stupidity an all forms, wiping out disgrace. Just after dark, I had this feeling gnawing at me. I jumped off my couch and let my dog inside. Out back, I walked far to the middle of my property, shedding my clothes with each darkened step. I stood in the middle of my life and opened my arms at the sky, leaned my head back and breathed in deeper than I ever had, so deep and hard that I saw colors going into my mouth. I took the breath in deeper still, and when I exhaled I could feel a crack beginning to open down my chest from my throat and I screamed out and the trees shook and the ground trembled, and it was only then, at the end of it, that I realized what I had been playing with. I realized why a visit from them was necessary. I realized that I had not been using the gift to even one percent of its potential. It was incredible and nihilistic, but mainly what I did not use of the gift, the meaning of it, was pure evil, unlike the little edges I had polished and used. No wonder the devil was pissed. I reached down and pulled my chest apart. The colors and the death and the blood of many who were to die from it but did not because of the way Iʼd used it, all of these were sent forth from my body and tunneled upward into the sky with a blast of color and thunder and deafening cries for souls, for the damned it would never harvest. I watched it explode sideways and cover the sky and for a second the whole world was a negative of a photograph and I collapsed to the ground and went into a small coma.
I awoke there, nude. It was daylight and I walked to the pool, dove in, swam underwater to the other side, jumped out and walked into my house. It was all over the news, the flash and noise from last night. The trembling. People thought it was either a meteor or the second coming. Or a bomb. Or alien holocaust. I let my dog out and walked to the bathroom and toweled off. I had my gut back and only a little less hair than Iʼd had before I was discovered. I think itʼs stopped receding. I keep it short now, anyway. I have a beautiful wife. Our kids are 6 and 8. The world, well, we shall see. No one can ever know what I know, but they wouldnʼt listen if I told them. Tonight my wife took the kids and some of their friends over to the school to watch a Christmas play. My kids arenʼt in it. I sat down in my study and worked a few hours through my 17th novel. I keep the devilʼs beer bottle on a shelf by my window. Itʼs filled with sand and used for a bookend.