Devil’s Coffee

Devil's imageAn innocent wish for a new start is granted, but in a way that makes Gabriel wish that he’d never wished it. Looking for an easy way out of a failed relationship, he becomes entangled in a mortal-conflict mind game with the Fallen Angel. There is no fire and brimstone with this immortal – the Devil is a corporeal being, and he walks among us. In the end, Gabriel’s perception of his adversary changes when he hears his story.

Devil’s Coffee is a fast-paced anthology of seven short stories that will stir your coffee as long as you like it hot – no decaf served.

Mariah

It was late; I’d had a tough day tiptoeing through life. My head was spinning from a bout of vertigo, and the scotch didn’t help. The shower did nothing to freshen my outlook. I tossed the wet towel over the glass shower stall and rolled myself into bed.

Sarah was turned away from me and coiled into a protective ball. Lately we weren’t communicating. Lately? Who am I kidding? It had been going sour for half a year. At times, we didn’t speak to each other for most of the day, and when we did it usually ended in an argument.

I lay there listening to her breath as the dark room slowly quit spinning. Should I wake her and have it out or wait until morning? Hell, there was no reason why both of us should have a crappy night. Tomorrow will be soon enough…

Devil’s Due

It was all quite innocent, the way these things often start. I wanted the easy way out, but had no idea what it would ultimately cost. It isn’t every day that you strike a deal with the Fallen Angel. I don’t know if I’ve mortgaged my future or sold my soul. Time has been blurred for me lately like when you take off your glasses and all the colors and shapes run together.

It’s been weeks since Sarah vanished from my life and a difficult situation was replaced by an impossible one. How could I have known that the Devil was listening to my thoughts? Sleep would be a welcome relief, but there was little of that to be had. My mind would not rest with the specter of hell waiting to time me out.

Mariah was doing her best to assuage my angst, but it wouldn’t break the spell. My live-in devil’s apostle bore the mark of the dark angel on her breast just above the heart. The scarlet red image was a constant reminder of the careless wish I wish I’d never made…

Quack’s

Her skin wasn’t exactly fair, more like a creamy white. Her hair was black, short and unruly. She was a knockout but did a good job of disguising it. Coffee in hand, she found a small table out front just on the other side of the window from me.

It was time to move my completed wash to a dryer. I moseyed over to the laundromat next door to Quack’s Bakery to switch it out. She was no longer seated there when I returned. I found her at my table.

“You left your tablet and cell phone, thought I’d keep an eye on them for you.”

She could easily have done that through the window.

“I appreciate your interest. My name is Gabriel.”

“Call me Dezi.”

“Thanks, Dezi, may I get you a refill?”

“Sure. Mind putting it in the microwave for 60 seconds, I like it really hot.”…

Disciple

Austin is an oasis in the middle of Texas. Its home grown culture is unique, and can be found in abundance in the local caffeine haunts. One day before an early tee-time, I stopped at Mozart’s on Lake Austin Blvd, my favorite open air coffee setting. Their expansive deck a few hundred yards from the low water crossing overlooks a marina on the constant level Lake Austin.

There were only a few patrons there at this hour. In animated conversation, with her back to me sat the unmistakable countenance of Desdemona, the Devil’s disciple. I stirred in a little cream and sugar while I eavesdropped picking up bits and pieces of her conversation. She and the guy who couldn’t take his eyes off her met on an Internet dating site. It was inevitable, the Devil was into social media.

Before she spotted me, I eased out and called Sarah.

“You’ll never guess who’s at Mozart’s.”

“An old friend?”

“You could say that. Mariah, Desdemona, or whatever she’s calling herself today.”

“Did she see you?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You keep running into her?”

“Maybe it’s my karma.”…

Last Call

It was exactly 666 days since Mariah renounced the Fallen Angel as her master. She moved right after that, had to get away from everything that reminded her of him. Her text read ‘in Austin mid-morning, have to see you.’ Sarah was visiting her sister in France. I was on my third cup of coffee and feeling it. Mariah’s Jag convertible pulled into the drive and parked at an angle. She was at the door before I could open it.

“He’s back.”

It was the last thing I expected to hear.

“Who’s back?”

“The Fallen Angel.”

“How do you know?”

She pulled back the collar of her blouse. A clear outline of the emblazoned Devil mark was over her heart. The last time I saw her, there was no trace of it.

“I awakened just after midnight, it itched here. Didn’t think anything of it. An hour later it itched again and this appeared. Gabriel, I’m frightened.”

“Don’t panic, there’s an explanation. Has he contacted you?”

“I could swear that I heard his voice moments before I felt the itch.”

“Do you remember what it said?”…

Till We Meet Again

Fifty years ago, I looked the Devil in the eyes. I had just condemned him to a life sentence of human existence. There was an unexpected sadness in his eyes. It moved me in a way I would never have imagined. The Devil’s spirit was broken and it affected me.

Mariah, Sarah and I parted company with him for the last time in the shadow of the Basilica Sacre-Coeur in Montmartre. Our celebration lasted for two weeks before we returned to Austin. It took a full year before I believed that we actually pulled it off.

Life was unbelievably sweet after that. If ever anyone had a new lease on life, on living in the moment, it was the three of us. Mariah became a writer and authored a series of fictional accounts featuring the Fallen Angel. Each was a best seller. Sarah and I tied the knot and did our best to live normal lives.

It’s the fiftieth year and Mariah was coming to town for the celebration and the Texas Book Fair at the Capitol. Her latest novel was doing well – she was the keynote speaker.

Hardly a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the look on his face, the despair. He looked human. Samantha talked me through it, but it still haunts me. I’ve wondered where he is, what’s become of him, but don’t share the thought with the girls…

Empathy with the Devil

Accepting the reality of my history came only with time, a lot of time. In the fullness of that time, I discovered that I have empathy with the Devil. This may strike you as odd, to me it was a natural evolution that took lifetimes to attain.

The odyssey began after my death. On the eve of my marriage to the son of a wealthy merchant, my portrait was completed by a Venetian artist of some repute. It rested on an easel in his studio. I had not laid eyes on it for the many weeks I posed in that uncomfortable dress that made it difficult to breathe…