The excerpt you are about to read is in my anthology A Gathering of Butterflies. Get the book here.
Devil Does Dallas
One, two, three
The devil’s after me.
Four, five, six
He started throwing sticks.
Seven, eight, nine
He missed me every time.
Hallelujah, hallelujah. Amen!
— Children’s song
“It’s time again,” Lucifer said aloud, “to remind them that I’m still here.”
Pay It Forward with Kindness, Oprah’s Angel Network, Feed the Hungry, Save a Tree, Adopt a Child from a Third World Country, Live Greener. And the Debauchery Report was pitiful. Murder was down fifteen percent, lying twenty-five. Adultery numbers plummeted a whopping forty percent.
Lucifer’s cloven feet clopped on the hot, stone floor as he strolled to the cages that held his three pet snakes — Slither, Hiss and Fangs.
“Daddy’s going away for a little while, babies. You be. . .bad.”
Saddam Hussein caught sight of Lucifer walking out of Hell.
“Where are you going, Boss?”
“Up there to recruit,” Lucifer told him, “Keep the fires burning until I get back.”
Lucifer liked Saddam. He reminded Lucifer of himself when he was expelled from Heaven. Whenever Lucifer’s internal fires dimmed, he recalled the incident. It helped him keep his venom.
God frowned when Lucifer rolled around Heaven on roller skates.
God shook his head when Lucifer tie-dyed his white frock.
God scowled when Lucifer got the rebel angels together and played what would later be labeled The Devil’s Music – Rock ‘n Roll and jazz. Not everybody wanted to hear harps’ incessant plink, plink, plink.
“Lucifer,” God had said, pursing his lips, when he got called into the office, “It’s just not working out.”
“What?” he had asked.
“Souls are here for peace and serenity. You and the other angels you associate with are disruptive.”
“But, God, not all people lived their earthly lives the same, so why should everyone live the afterlife the same?
“Son, please give me your wings,” God retorted, his voice keeping its even cadence. His voice hadn’t wavered, but Lucifer saw God’s face had That Look. It was the look He had when someone begged Him to help, but He couldn’t because the person’s prayers weren’t destiny. Then God’s sad face became His omniscient one.
“You think I’m trouble,” Lucifer had growled.
“I didn’t say that —“
“You didn’t have to, God. I’ve known you an eternity!”
And with that, he had removed his wings from his back, thrown them in God’s face, and stormed out of Heaven. Lucifer had even scared himself with the sudden display of temper, but he felt happier and freer than he had ever felt in his afterlife. But Lucifer hadn’t wanted to steal God’s glory. He only wanted fun.
Lucifer treaded the murk to Earth’s portals, his scaly lips curling in annoyance. Recruiting would be so much easier if it weren’t for the rules. He could only stay on Earth each time in terms of 6 – 6 years, 6 months, and 6 days; 6 months, 6 days, and six hours, and so on. Lucifer could not makeanyone do anything. He could only tempt, that is, dangle the bait and collect those souls that bit. Once a person realized who he was, he had to leave Earth – even if his term of sixes had not been finished.
His anger had pushed aside his focus. Where was Lucifer going on Earth? Did it really matter? Potential sinners were everywhere. Here was as good a place as any. Lucifer rose from the earth, taking gentle care to brush off the grub worms and beetles that clung to him; he had a soft spot for creepy, crawly things in decaying matter. He scanned the sable of night until he found the pot of bubbling decadence. A city. Pin points of candy-colored lights, tall buildings, and the faint roar of car motors.
He was so excited that he did not even take note of the sign: WELCOME TO DALLAS.
Lucifer stood under a lamp post in the thick of downtown. Sometimes a small child or a dog spotted him, but there was no chance of that here.
Lucifer zeroed in on a Latina, waiting for the bus. Esperanza. She was twenty-eight. Esperanza was the oldest of six children. Growing up, her mother had given her slaps and ugly words when her younger siblings got into mischief or she burned the food. A hole. She had lost her father at seventeen. The hole widened. After her father’s death, Esperanza spent her adult life helping her thankless mother, who never learned to speak English. When the lack of love and validation yielded self-loathing, she swallowed a whole bottle of pills at twenty-one. Esperanza spent four months in a mental hospital. When her mother had died of a stroke two years ago, she had thought, “Madre, may you eat a burnt dinner with el diabloevery night.” She was single and worked as a maid cleaning warehouses in downtown Dallas. Esperanza did nothing more exciting than eat Hot Pockets and watch American Idoland Spanish soap operas at home.
Lucifer could hardly wait to see what came next. But just before he could get more information, Esperanza reached into the neck of her blouse, pulled out a rope of beads. She fingered the charm on the end of the necklace absentmindedly. Let it dangle, exposed. Lucifer recoiled. A crucifix. Damn, Esperanza’s name meant hope and she had the faith!
Her bus came. Esperanza climbed on and it pulled away. Lucifer looked after her, his beady eyes glazed with disgust.
But the night was yet a baby.
Lucifer relaxed and waited. Nearly four hours later…
The excerpt you just read is in my anthology A Gathering of Butterflies. Get the book here.
I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.
Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…
It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision. The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.
Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!