I beat the Devil last night.
That’s the wrong phrase, I know; no one can beat the Devil. After all, everyone dies.
I was with a friend. I didn’t recognize him, but then I didn’t recognize myself either. I was in my friend’s car, a large SUV beast, entirely more room then anyone who isn’t a logger or parents to sextuplets needs. We had been out for a drive and stopped at a scenic overlook to talk and think and reflect. He was going through a divorce and I was experiencing a rough patch in my marriage. He would vent, I would question issues and actions, we would be silent.
And then I said something. I almost wish now that I could remember what it was – almost. But when I try to recall it’s as though someone dubbed over my voice. It was hastily erased and then crudely dubbed over in an obvious manner. What ever I did say had depth and weight and seemed to echo or reverberate in the car and change the air itself.
When I went to continue my companion held up his hand to stop me.
“Shhh!” He seemed to be listening for something, but didn’t want to look around for its source.
“What?” I demanded, nervously chuckling.
“He’s here.” My friend, visibly shaken, started the car and began barreling down the road.
“…Wha?…” I asked slowly, stiffening as I realized what I had done. I simply felt it, as my friend had.
You see that sentence I spoke, the one I can’t remember, conjured the Devil. Back in the ‘80’s there was a TV series called The Storyteller and one of the episodes featured the tale of a man who could look through a glass of water and see Death sitting at the foot of a person’s bed. I remember thinking about that, thinking if I looked in the back seat I might see the Devil, but if I looked into the rear-view mirror I knew I would see him staring at me. I couldn’t bring myself to do either.
Satan as depicted by Botticelli
Photo credit Fishing
As we flew down the road, destination unspoken, I gripped the side of my seat.
“What do I do?” I asked wide eyed, scared.
“I don’t know, but he’s here for you.”
“What?! What did I say? Will he go away?” I practically shouted.
“I don’t know!” my friend barked. He was scared, too. “Maybe,” he continued forcing himself back to calm, “Maybe you have to be content. You’re looking for new and shiny things to make you happy. He feeds on anger and unrest. Maybe you have to prove that you’re happy with what you’ve got.”
I thought about this as we drove, digesting each word, feeling the Devil’s stare boring holes into the back of my head. What my friend had said was all true and looked to be my only option, for the time being. After all, most times you see the Devil it’s because somebody wants something so bad they’re making a deal with him. I was going to have to figure out something. It wasn’t my pride that made me want to rid myself of the Devil. It was a feeling of being spoiled and desperate for humility.
My friend dropped me off at my house. I stood a moment outside looking nervously at my home. I thought of my boyfriend inside. Though I hadn’t heard him exit the car, I knew the Devil had gotten out of the SUV when I had stepped out. I knew he was standing just behind my right shoulder. And though I couldn’t bring myself to look at him, I knew he was smiling.
I walked to the front door and let myself in. There was my boyfriend: kind, warm, and welcoming. Though he doesn’t normally cook, he had dinner made and was preparing to dish everything out. And my boyfriend, so naturally truly happy, couldn’t see the Devil as we walked in together.
This is where things get disappointingly hazy. I could feel a malcontent emotion welling in my stomach. I had the sudden desperate urge to shout at my boyfriend while he was setting the table, like I needed to get something out.
I needed more.
The house projects needed to be completed.
We needed to spend money.
He lacked motivation.
My boyfriend didn’t argue, he just listened. Each word I spat made me angrier, I didn’t know where it was all coming from and yet it had all been there the whole time…and at the same time each comment made me heavy with guilt. I had to stop. I stepped back, though a shadow of myself remained shouting.
The guilt; everything I said was needless and wrong. It was then, while watching myself attempt to argue needless wants and justify unnecessary needs with a boyfriend who was willing to give me the world, that the Devil became satisfied. I could feel him content, so sure was he that he had won – that he would be taking me away – that he called his mistress to my home to join in my downward spiral.
I looked at him this time. I needed to see the smile I could feel spread across his etched and leathery face. I could see his mistress merely watching and standing at the door, disappointed in her own existence, but not above watching the destruction of others.
I looked at my boyfriend, who had all the while been trying to please me for no other reason then he loved me. My throat closed so fast I struggled to swallow. I looked down in shame and the shouting shadow was gone.
“No,” I said quietly.
“What?” asked my boyfriend politely. The Devil cautiously dropped his smile and knitted his brow.
“No, Chip, I was wrong.”
“What?” repeated my boyfriend, confused.
“I’m sorry I want so much. We have so much already – everything else is superfluous. I see that now. I want simply because I have nothing else to do. I feel stuck and just want things for happiness, but that’s wrong and I see that. I see what’s created from it. The projects we started will get done eventually. We don’t need anything new. I’m – I’m sorry. I’ve been so wrong.”
The Devil was angry now. I watched him move toward the door. I sat down in my chair at the dining table and took a breath. I closed my eyes believing prematurely that it was over, that the Devil would leave me be.
When I opened my eyes there was the Devil inches from my face. Only now my boyfriend could see him as well and was frozen in fear. Moving so quickly it took all of a moment the Devil shaved my head. I stood up, leveling his glare, not angry for the loss of my hair, but angry for knowing that I had done the right thing and the Devil just wanted to have the final move after the game had ended.
“Went for my head? Miss his?” I tilted my head toward my boyfriend’s shoulder length locks, much longer then mine even before the shave.
The Devil picked up on my sarcasm and seemed nervous. I took a quick stomp toward him taking advantage of the upper hand while I had it. Speaking as wholly as I could, I shook as I told the Devil “Stay away from my home and stay away from my family.” I half shouted, half growled.
Angry now the Devil pounded to the door. With one look back he and his mistress were gone.
And that’s how I beat the Devil, though I know that’s the wrong term.
Archangel Michael slays Satan (Raphael)
Photo Credit Logoi
This is a dream I had this past Autumn and my reasoning for it’s clarity, yet bizarre aspect was this:
I blame that funky dream and others I’ve been having (like the cupcake-jello race car from two nights ago) on the heat. My boyfriend and I are from the Northeast, but have lived the last few years in Texas. At halfway through October I am really bitterly against the 90 degree days and I’ve found us both “willing” the season to actually become autumn. I’ve been burning candles called Fallen Leaves, Chip has been drinking Pumpkin beer and we’ve been trying to sleep with the windows cracked instead of using the AC. I hate the AC, but sleeping without it means I wake up at 1am, both Chip and I drenched in sweat, the blankets kicked to the floor and the thermostat reading in the mid 80’s.
So it must be the heat.
Though I could have had this particular dream because it’s true.
“I really wish you hadn’t told me that.”
I stared at the ceiling. Nothing makes your fear escalate like finding out that the person who is normally the voice of reason in your life is also very scared.
Mark Twain once said “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I am afraid of them.” An excellent sentiment indeed.
My boyfriend’s father owns the original West Redding train station, and lives in it. It was built in 1852 and it’s beautiful. Converted into a home decades ago, it still contains the original flooring, paint, and various items and debris in the basement. I won’t enter the basement, but that’s most likely because I’ve been groomed as a child of the ’80s and ’90s to associate basements and attics with horrible secrets and misdoings (thank you Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, War of the Worlds, etc). The basement contains the original foundation of hand laid rocks, all wet and moldy, and the cat box was down there at the time of this particular story, so it smelled awful, though I prefer the term “foreboding”.
The main floor consists of a living room and a large kitchen. The upstairs contains two large bedrooms and a bath with a gorgeous claw foot tub, which my boyfriend hates. Not because the tub is haunted, but because when he was fifteen or sixteen he had to carry that beast up the narrow 1852 stairs. There is a short narrow hall that ends with stairs that continue up to the attic. The house isn’t huge, but it’s wonderful.
I had not experienced any kind of super-natural anything in my life time. Not up until this particular night, anyway. It happened in the hall of the upstairs area. I had spent countless days in this home up until this and was never worried, never scared, never nervous. So when I woke up one evening to use the bathroom it hadn’t even occurred to me to be the slightest bit frightened about anything.
I climbed over my sleeping boyfriend. I didn’t even pause to turn on a light as I squinted toward the outline of the bedroom door. There was no need. I knew this house well. I padded softly toward the hall in my striped pajamas and quietly pulled open the door.
The next thing I knew, I was on my back on the floor, the wind completely knocked out of me
Photo credit ForkParty
I honestly have no idea how to describe what happened. I had opened the door, which didn’t even make the slightest creak, when I saw a thin man staring down at the boxes of things piled by the attic stairs just to the right of the doorway. Or rather the silhouette of a man. A black, but perfect shape of a man, thicker than smoke, but not any more tangible.
Then suddenly it was like someone socked me powerfully – yet softly – in the stomach, knocking me onto the floor and crushing all the air out of my body. I wasn’t hurt, but I was shocked.
And there I sat, my heart pounding, breathing, trying to comprehend what happened. My boyfriend didn’t even stir.
And I still really needed to pee.
I must have been mistaken about what I saw…right?
I stood, closed my eyes and sprinted toward the bathroom. I’m positive I made the Guinness Record for fastest pee in the dark, washed my hands without looking in the mirror, closed my eyes and half sprinted-half groped my way back to the bedroom.
I climbed back into bed as quickly as I could, smooshing myself between my boyfriend and the wall. That way if whatever I saw was going to come back and come into the bedroom, it would get my hubby first.
I calmed myself. I must have still been dreaming, I must have fallen out of bed, I couldn’t have seen what I thought I saw. I eventually calmed myself enough to fall back to sleep.
But I didn’t stay asleep for long. And I wish I could say the experience ended there.
Photo credit AimeeLikesToTakePics
I woke up about an hour or so later and my boyfriend was no longer in bed. I sat up. There were no lights on, no lights coming from the hall, and I couldn’t hear him in the bathroom.
I didn’t mean it when I said that what ever I saw could get my boyfriend first if it came back.
I forced myself out of bed. Eventually I made myself stride confidently to the door. I could take down a ghost. Sure I could. I had muscle and pent up anger from working on my bachelor degree while working full time. I could muster rage to take down a super natural being.
I opened the door. There was nothing in the hall. This was good, because that’s right about the time any confidence and courage I had mustered left me.
“Chip?” I squeaked. “Chip!?…”
Thanks, honey. A disembodied shushing wasn’t super creepy at all. I turned to see at the top of the stairs was the very solid silhouette of my boyfriend. I moved toward him.
Then I heard it.
The wooden grind of chair legs shifting on the floor.
I froze. If I hadn’t peed before I would have peed then.
Scrape on the wood floor.
Clink of silverware and glass.
“Come to bed,” I whispered. I begged.
I went back into the bedroom and crawled as deeply under the covers as humanly possible. After a few moments, my boyfriend joined me.
“It’s just mice,” he lied. What a nice gesture.
“I saw a man,” I blurted it out, like saying it would release me. “Before… I went to pee and – In the hallway. I saw a man in the hallway and he knocked me to the floor.” The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop them.
I heard my boyfriend sigh deeply. He waited what felt like an eternity before saying something I thought for sure would comfort me.
“I really wish you hadn’t told me that.”
That response did not comfort me.
He was already scared of the “mice”. He didn’t want to hear that there was more going on in the house that night.
I hadn’t told anyone about this until Chip made me tell his father. His father was very unconcerned and didn’t seem surprised in the slightest. I was thankful for his calm manner regarding the story; it wasn’t a reaction I ever thought I would receive. If whatever I saw was in fact real, I don’t think he meant me any harm. I think I maybe surprised him as much as he surprised me. And I think he was fed up with the clutter of stuff in that house, as I often was.
Since this has happened I’ve told this story maybe three times, because I feel so silly about it all. But it’s a good story nonetheless.
Photo credit AllFromWeb