The Devil put down his newspaper and smiled. “I was beginning to think that Snapple was the only beverage your body would accept.”
I rolled my eyes at my impeccably dressed guest and then wiped away my chocolate milk mustache. “I always treat myself to a glass of chocolate milk after a run.”
“I really must applaud you on your new found dedication to running,” Lucifer said as he snatched a Snapple out of the cooler. “You’ve actually inspired me.”
Being sure not to get a drop of iced tea on his thousand dollar suit, he took a mighty sip of what had also become his favorite drink.
“So you’ve been running?” I asked in surprise.
“I keep forgetting you’re Satan,” I replied with a shake of the head. “You can change form at will. You don’t have to work to look like that. You just snap your evil fingers, and so it is done.”
That earned me a Devilish grin. “You sound jealous. Didn’t the Nuns teach you that envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins?”
“No, but I did see Seven, so I knew that,” I quipped and then finished my chocolate milk.
“What’s in the box? What’s in the box?!?!?!” The Devil asked in a spot on impression of Brad Pitt from the flick.
“So if you don’t run, how do I inspire you?” I asked to get the conversation back on track.
“You’re not going to like this,” Lucifer cautioned as he handed me a Snapple to help take the edge off whatever he was about to tell me. “I’ve seen how miserable running makes you, and I’ve read on your blog about how much you hate it. So naturally, I instituted mandatory morning runs in Hell.”
“Oh boy…” I sighed and took a long sip of my Snapple to dull the pain.
“I am so glad I’m not going to Hell,” I declared as I slammed my bottle down on the table in disgust.
“How do you know you’re not already there?” The Prince of Darkness asked mockingly.
I gave him a sideways glance. “Funny.”
“I’m not joking,” Satan insisted. “Give it some Deep Thought, Mr. Modern Philosopher. You are often in the presence of The Devil, are you not?”
“Sure, but there’s usually a Leprechaun running around here, too, and that doesn’t mean I’m in Ireland,” I countered in a surly tone.
“Your dating life is an absolute disaster,” The Devil continued as if he hadn’t even heard my amazing Leprechaun argument. “In fact, I’ve heard you say on numerous occasions that dating is Hell.”
“It is, but that doesn’t mean I’m in Hell.” I glared across at my annoying guest.
“Every time you think a date goes well, she wants nothing to do with you,” he reminded me as if I’d ever forget that fact. “When a date wants to see you again, you’re not interested. It’s as if the system has been rigged to increase your suffering.”
He flashed me a Devilish smile this time.
“While that sounds like something you would do to punish the Damned, you didn’t invent dating,” I stated with confidence even though, for all I knew, Satan had a patent on dating. It wouldn’t surprise me.
“You’re alone, which bothers you immensely,” he continued to pile on the facts like a prosecutor going after a defendant. “Dying alone is your deepest fear, and every night you go to bed all by yourself, you toss and turn in the dark thinking about how that phobia is looking more and more like your destiny.”
“Okay,” I said throwing up my hands in surrender. “You’ve made your point. Let’s watch the Yankee game.”
Lucifer snatched the remote control off the table before I could get to it. Clearly, he was not finished with this conversation.
“The love of your life is in another time zone and will not acknowledge your existence. That weighs on you every day, breaks your heart just a little more, and makes you question if you are ever going to be happy or loved again. If I were going to create the most Hellish experience for you, Austin, this would be it.”
I looked over at him, but could say nothing. I sensed that all the color had drained out of my face, and I felt lightheaded because for once in my life, only one Deep Thought occupied my mind…
“Maybe you’re right,” I muttered and then rose from the couch on shaking legs that could barely support me.
“I’m just messing with you,” The Devil assured me and chuckled.
“I’m not feeling well,” I mumbled as I headed for the stairs. “Make sure to lock up behind you. If this is Hell, I really shouldn’t trust anyone in the neighborhood.”
Lucifer looked at me in confusion, like he was waiting for me to turn around with a big smile on my face, and reveal that I was just screwing with him.
But I wasn’t. He’d given me a hell of a lot to think about…