“I knew these would be the perfect snack for the rubber game of the Subway Series,” he told me as he sat next to me on the couch.
“I didn’t realize you were so into baseball,” I commented as I passed him a Snapple from the cooler.
Lucifer pointed to the Yankees pin on the lapel of his $2,000 tailored Italian suit. “I don’t blemish perfection for just anything,” he informed me with a wink as he took a sip of his Snapple. “I am a fan of baseball, but even more so, I am a fan of the Subway Series.”
“Why is that? I never took you for a New Yorker,” I quipped as I grabbed a wing, no longer able to resist the delicious scent emanating from the table in front of me.
“I love the subway,” Satan explained. “It’s underground, it’s hot and cramped, people are completely miserable and don’t want to be there. It’s Hell on Earth.”
I’d never thought of the NYC Subway that way, but now that the Prince of Darkness had made the connection for me, it was totally obvious. I’d started taking the subway when I was thirteen and got accepted to a high school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The most efficient way to get there from Brooklyn was by subway.
And it was Hell. I had heard all the horror stories, and I was scared. The subway was sweaty, packed with strangers, and it was an underground maze into which a kid with no sense of direction could vanish forever.
“It’s been a lifetime since I was last on the subway,” I finally said when I snapped out of my dark and frightening flashback.
“I rode it yesterday,” The Devil countered. “They’ve cleaned it up so much, but it was still delightful.”
I couldn’t believe that Lucifer had just been to my hometown, a place I hadn’t returned to since I left for California a year after I got married. I was jealous.
“I miss New York,” I admitted. “Every day that I have to drive to work in the snow, I long for the simple subway ride that was rarely affected by weather.”
“I was there when they broke ground on the subway,” Satan told me nonchalantly as he grabbed a Hellfire Wing. “I posed as a worker and helped to dig the very first tunnels. I had a sense, even back then, that the subway was going to be my home away from home. I was also able to deal for the souls of the frightened workers who just wanted enough money so they wouldn’t have to dig in darkness to support their families.”
I was appalled and intrigued at the same time. The game had started, but The Prince of Darkness had my full attention.
“I’d deal for a man’s soul one day, and the next, he’d be replaced by another, who would trade me his soul after just a day or two in those scary tunnels,” he continued. “The city was rampant with tales of the Devil and his demons running loose because the planned subway had broken through the outer circle of Hell. Priests were dispatched to the tunnels with Holy Water and Bibles, and I just continued to dig. They had no idea how close they were to me.”
This former Catholic School student was mesmerized. The Nuns and Jesuits had never told me such tales. I’d just thought this was going to be a night of chicken wings and baseball, but I was getting a first hand account of the creation of the New York City Subway system.
“So you helped to build the subway?” I asked in astonishment.
Lucifer nodded. “I’d take different forms so as not to arouse suspicion, and just kept coming back over the years. I had a hand in digging tunnels in every borough through which the subway travels. How could I stay away when business was so good?”
“But why do you keep riding it today?” I questioned after I finally took a sip of Snapple. I’d been so focused on his story that I’d forgotten about food, drink, and the Yankees.
“Like I said, it reminds me of Hell,” Satan answered with a smile. “Plus, there are so many fond memories in those tunnels. I don’t know why people complain about the subway. I think it’s enchanting.”
The Devil was a trendsetter, as well as a master with a shovel and a chicken wing.
Now it was time for baseball.