Monday, July 7, 2008

The Devil and Isabella

Well, I am back from the hell of moving! I thought you all would enjoy another wonderful story from local Dallas writer diesel to brighten up your Monday morning:



The Devil and Isabella
by diesel


I wanted to sell my soul. It wasn’t worth a shit anymore anyway. It was as empty as the eyes of a dead snake. It had been sucked dry from the blood-sucking umpteen ex-girlfriends, drugs, cops, and bar customers. I wanted to sell my empty soul to the Devil. I would sell it in exchange for glory. No money. Glory. I wanted everyone in the world to know my name as the greatest story-teller of all time – diesel Warren Conway. If the Devil didn’t want it, I’d sell it to someone or something else.


Soul for sale: who’s buying? I posted the sign above the mailboxes with my loft number on it.

I knew I had some pretty crazy neighbors so I sat back and waited for a response.


There was a lady who lived down the hall from me. She lived at the very end of the long old looking hallway. The tonalities of light and dark around her door creeped me out but somehow welcomed me. Her door glowed at me every time I looked down there. The light bulb above her door was always broken. When the landlord came around to change the bulb every month, she’d peek out with a broom handle and whack the light out. Her name was Edith.


Edith was a Witch. Everyone in the building knew it. We never saw her though. She had the only loft equipped with a fire escape. That’s how she came and went. Once a month after the bulb was broken she’d lay a dead sparrow outside her door. Sometimes two depending on her mood, I guess.


It had been three months since I posted the sign above the mailboxes and six since I’d written anything. I could tell people had looked at the sign because there was dried up spit on it. One wad of spit was fresh enough to still be dangling afraid to drop to the ground. I left it there.


I made the two flights of stairs and walked towards my door. The door before mine swung open unexpectedly startling me. It was my neighbor, Daisy, the hippie. She was excited to see me,


“Hey neighbor!” She screeched.


“Daisy you scared the shit outta me.”


“Sorry man. Hey, you got any papers?”


“NO. Hell no. I’m not walking to that gas station anymore for any reason. You know, they should lay a bomb on that area, clean the place out.”


She chuckled and went on, “I saw your silly note on the mailbox. Someone spit on it.”

That’s no silly note. That’s for real. I’m going to sell my soul to the Devil.”


“I want to give you another massage. You’re losing it.”


“Daisy, I lost it long ago. Hey listen, do you know that old lady down the hall?”


“Who, Ms. Smith? The landlord’s friend?”


“No the old lady at the very end of the hallway. You know, the Witch?”


“Not really. I said hi to her once and she hissed at me.”


I looked at her door while we talked, “I wonder if she can help me…”


Just as I said that, she opened her door and stood stiff in her doorway looking back down at us. She stood strong and tall like an oak tree. A thousand year old oak tree. She gazed like an evil Gargoyle for so long it was scarily obvious. Daisy ducked back inside her door and locked the six locks loudly leaving me standing there. I didn’t take my eyes off her. We were locked in a stare-down.


I began to get tunnel vision but kept a cool demeanor. She spoke but I could hardly hear her, “I heard you were asking for me.”


“Uh, yeah, did you see my note downstairs?”


“I saw you write it.” Then her door closed without her even touching it. It slammed loudly echoing throughout the empty hallway.


I threw my hands out keeping my balance looking side to side and behind me. Nobody was around to see what had happened. Beads of sweat formed on my brow. I kept my head on a swivel still looking around. My head snapped from one side to the other several times. I was still standing outside Daisy’s door.


My door was only a few feet away and I made it inside. I locked all my locks too. I snapped the lamp on next to my couch and sat down. My dog sat in front of the door with his ears perked up staring at the bottom of the door. Do I really want to do this, I thought? Even the old lady down the hall scares me, I thought. She probably has a spring on her door that automatically closes it, I thought. She was probably tired of the noise or something and decided to scare us, I thought. I thought lots of shit to justify what just happened.


I looked at my laptop sitting there on the table in front of me. The screen was blank. The screen would always be blank if I didn’t do something drastic. The screen would never hold another word if I didn’t turn my soul over to that damned old Devil.


I had never NOT been able to write a story. Ideas and thoughts just flowed out of me for years. For the last six months I couldn’t even get one line out. I was going crazy. I had to write. I’d settle for anything at this point, hence the selling of the soul idea. I sat and I sat and I sat, thinking.


FUCK IT! If anyone in this fucking god awful city was going to be able to help me it was that old dusty Witch down the hall. I mean, who else did I know that could introduce me to Satan? I waited till everyone in the building was asleep and ventured down the hallway, soul in hand.

It smelled funny in front of her door, like stale smoke, or burning embers. Maybe I’m being too dramatic here. Let’s just say something smelled funky.


Just as I thought how to knock I paused and looked back down the hall. I turned back facing the Witch’s door. Should I knock HARD like I was the fucking boss? Or should I knock light and politely as not to wake anyone. Maybe I’d kick the bottom of the door with my toes…the door creeked open and that smell was suddenly an offensive odor. I pinched my nose with my thumb and fore-finger on my left hand and reached out with my right as if to shake her hand, “Hello, I’m diesel in 207.” My voice sounded funny as I pinched my nose.


“I know who you are,” she said in a gravelly voice.


“You never really told me if you read my note downstairs.”


“I know about the note diesel.”


“Listen, can I come in or are we going to stand out here all night?”


“Do come in,” she said and turned on her heel like a pirouette.


There were skulls hanging all over the place from chains. Skulls sat on tables with dust all around. There were jaw bones and pieces of bone lying around everywhere. She wore a skull necklace and dangly skull earrings. There were candles lit on a couple of tables. The main concentration of candles lit a book written in a different language. The candles were stabbed into the tops of skulls. It made me very aware of my own bones. My very bones felt naked as old billets of wood. My bones felt like stacked and quartered wood. I felt cold.


“What is it that I can do for you diesel?”


“You got something on the stove?”


“NO.”


“Well something is sure as fuck burning.”


“Get to it!”


“Ok, Edith we both know why I’m here. You’re going to help me sell my soul to the Devil.”


“My name isn’t Edith, it’s Isabella.”


“But the mailbox downstairs says Edith on it.”


“I’m aware.”


“Is Edith in there cooking? Is she in the oven?”


“GET TO IT!”


“Ok…Isabella…I’m a writer. I don’t know if I have writers block or what but I have to write. I HAVE to write. You got that?”


“I understand. But I can’t do anything for you without you directly asking me. You got that?”


“I’m willing to sell my soul to Satan himself if he’s willing to make me the greatest writer of all time. I want everybody on the face of the planet to know the name diesel Warren Conway. I want to write the most captivating words anyone has ever read. I don’t want money, unless someone gives it to me, I want the glory of being the top dog. And I don’t want to live forever either.”


“Slow down my new friend. Let me look at you up close,” she moved close to my face with a skull-candle. “You have great sadness in your eyes. You’ve lived a rough life.”


I had a candle flame in my eye, “You’re telling me. My last girlfriend, Annette, almost killed me.”


“I see that, and worse.”


“Isabella, if you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?”


She looked past me with sad eyes and answered, “I’m over twenty-five thousand years old.”


“Really? You don’t look a day over a thousand.”


Then her eyes widened and her nose and forehead scowled at me viciously. I thought about running out of there for dear life but I was frozen solid. There was no way I could’ve moved from that spot. Her voice got deeper, “This is no joke asshole.”


I cowed and said, “You’re Satan aren’t you?”


“I’m everything!” She said in an even deeper voice.


“I’m sorry if I insulted you Satan. Take my soul. Take my rotten old soul and give me the glorious life of writing. Allow me to write freely for as long as I live and my soul is yours!”


“You’re pitiful!” Satan said with a rumbling and thunderous voice. “What would I want with a scared little empty soul like yours?”


“I must define myself! This is my destiny! I’m forging my destiny!!”


“I’ll take your soul and hold it over the flame for eternity!!”


“TAKE IT!! TAKE IT AND GIVE ME WHAT I WANT DEVIL!!”


Wind was swirling around the room like a tornado. Fire swept out of the cracks in the walls. Isabella’s face transformed into the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. High pitched voices swirled in my head and low voices at the same time. The heat was excruciating. And then two last deep words, “IT’S DONE!!!!”


The next thing I knew I woke up on my couch with a splitting headache. My clothes were singed and my dog, Max, was licking my face. It was daytime, around noon . I tried to re-play the night before in my head but the thoughts were jumbled and crazy. Surely not, I thought.


I sat up on the couch and noticed my laptop was on with the blinking icon calling me. Calling me to fill the screen. I did, fill the screen that is.


I wrote for a week straight. Then two weeks straight. Then months. Soon, every publisher in the country wanted a piece of me. They called day and night. My mailbox was always full of checks for hundreds and thousands of dollars. The more stories I sent the more money they sent.


I finally made my mark and I knew who to thank.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So what happens if the devil re-nigs on the deal? Back to bartending?