I want to share a story with you. One day I’ll use it in one of my works, but I just haven’t found the thread to weave it to yet. It’s been almost ten years since the night I will speak of and I still remember it as if it happened last night. I know that sounds cliché but it’s the truth.
For a short stent of time, I left active duty in an attempt to return to school. I never made it back to school; all I accomplished were numerous grave-yard shifts in conjunction with double-shifts or longer. There was one week in particular that I actually worked more than sixty hours and what was over sixty had to go on the next week’s pay.
It was during one of the overworked and stretched thin weeks that I meet someone I hope I will never meet both in this life and the one after.
Call “It” what you like (he, her it, Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness, etc.) but the fact remains, there is an embodiment of pure evil, the darkest of thoughts which has been pulled together, making a physical form and that is what walked into my store around 3am one morning. Feel free to call me crazy or tell me I’m reaching, it will never change my mind.
Most stores receive their shipments during the night shift. It’s probably because there is less foot-traffic the vendors have to compete with to drop off their goods. Regardless, it was a dead night and I had just signed the paperwork telling my managers the bread man made a drop off / pick up. The only other vendor I would be expecting would be the newspaper lady (it’s been years and her name escapes me). A short, slightly stout woman, the news lady would come in to drop of approximately 10 new newspapers and take what remained of the stack with her. During that time we usually discussed anything under the sun, or in our cases, under the moon.
It was close to that time when a man entered my store that was by far completely unremarkable in appearance. I know that sounds strange for someone I believe would be the devil, but the more I think of it, would the Devil flaunt his power and stature or would he make people believe he didn’t exist, like a stalking tiger? I choose to believe the latter. The man stood around six-feet tall with medium length, brown wavy hair. I’d tell you his eye color, but upon making first visual contact with him, something deep within my being screamed for me to not look him in the eyes and I’ve almost always followed my gut. He had semi-strong facial features, five-o’clock shadow and looked physically fit under his worn-out brown leather jacket.
Now that you have a picture of my unremarkable features, I will tell you that once he walked in, my nerves immediately became electrified with flight reflexes. Fight never once entered the equation. This would be easy to understand if I was a wimp or had no self confidence, but you have to remember, at the time I was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve, only 3-years since I graduated recruit training. Flight is not a reflex taught in boot camp! Yet I wanted to run to the swamps and hide in the trees.
Instead I stood my ground – a center island , raised three inches off the ground so the cashier can see the store and its occupants over the shelves – and watched as the man swayed through my isles. I say sway because he glided as if walking on air and acted as if he was bored by what the store offered, what the world offered. The entire time, each step, I felt that my soul was in peril, that one wrong word and the world would split beneath my feet and swallow me inside of its depths. I watched.
After what was only a short time of meandering, but what felt like an eternity to my heavily beating heart, the man chose a coke, paid and left my store. I know that during his time in the store he asked questions and I answered reluctantly, but for the life of me, I can’t remember one word spoken! I do know that once he left the store, my knees became weak and my legs shook as I sat in the small chair behind the register. I felt like I had after the very few fights I had been in while a kid. Blood began to dilute the adrenalin that had been feeding my cells during his time in the store.
I heard the bell ring tell me someone entered the store again and prayed it wasn’t him coming back to take me with his coke. Again I felt relieved when the news lady walked in with her waddle-like shuffle. She apologized for being late, and proceeded to tell me she didn’t want to come in with the guy in the store. That comment stuck with me. We both felt strange about the stranger. She even confessed she put a pistol in with her newspapers in case he came her way. A pistol she hadn’t touched in years, almost since its purchase.
Maybe I have a good soul and I like to believe I do, because I’m still walking the Earth and have never been confronted by the man or anything else that made me feel I would be stripped of my being forever.
Take it as you will, my mind is forever made,