Written for Sleeps With Coyotes, on the occasion of her birthday.
The devil's in the details.
Zeke is reasonably sure that isn't how the saying is supposed to go,
really, fuck it. 'Supposed to' has never been 'is,' even when he was alive
and well and reasonably sure of his place in the universal scheme of
Death had been an introduction to endless, half-conscious chaos, the
sort of thing that belonged in one of those art films Roz used to drag him
to, back when things generally made sense. He can see it. The lighting
would be soft and vague, like something out of a vintage photograph
viewed through a smudged, filthy store window.
He would be dressed in vaguely period clothes, and his hand would be
out, a smile on his face both knowing and artfully imbecilic. And the
devil would take it in his own, and...
There are madmen in the streets who know his name.
The sun is bright and warm and trapped beyond a hazy blue filter,
demanding the acknowledgment of a reality that he doesn't live in,
His right hand stinks of cordite, all the time.
This isn't the first distrssingly human-shaped scorch mark he's stood
over. It won't be the last.
None of it is real enough, none of it is true enough, and all of it
"You don't give yourself enough *credit*, Ezekiel," says the devil,
sidling up into existence beside him and lounging casually against the
alley wall. "My imagination simply isn't nearly as powerful as that
delightful guilt of yours."
The thing is... the *hell* of it is... he's probably right.
The universe is bound and determined to show him everything, teach
him everything he might have asked about himself if he'd been smarter,
or more thoughtful.
And Zeke is bound and determined to... what?
"Deny? Repress? Push grimly forward like some hard-boiled antihero?"
The devil rolls a fedora across his fingertips, and smirks around a cigar
that Zeke can't smell, can't entirely see...
There. It smells like honey. It's the thick, choking stench of rancid
The devil laughs, with something Zeke would call genuine happiness on
just about anyone -- anything -- else. "There are a *few* things I've
come to enjoy about humanity, in all of its *soulful* glory."
The devil taps his forehead with the tip of his index finger, and smiles.
(The devil takes his hand, in both of his own)
The devil taps the center of his chest, and the fondness is
(and doesn't let go)