At least I hoped I was safe. With every passing second, however, I got the sense I was in terrible danger.
“Don’t be afraid,” The Devil tried to reassure me. “I’m a master with this weapon.”
Lucifer stood in the middle of my living room, dressed as always in an impeccably tailored suit, swinging his pitchfork as if it were a baseball bat.
Powerful, violent swings of a powerful, violent weapon.
“I’d rather not be impaled,” I made my feelings perfectly clear. “Plus, it would be nice if you didn’t destroy my television. When you’re not around, it’s my only company.”
The Prince of Darkness finally caved to my incessant whining and set down the pitchfork in the corner.
“Don’t you just love Opening Day?” he questioned when he returned to the couch. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I’m so looking forward to that first pitch.”
I fished two bottles of Snapple out of the cooler in front of the couch, and handed one of them to my giddy friend.
“Of course I love it,” I confirmed after taking a long sip of my drink. “I miss the Yankees very much all winter, and I’m so happy that they’re back.”
I looked at him like he was crazy, but he just stared back and then slowly nodded to indicate that this was not a lie.
“You pitched in the minor leagues? As in the minor leagues of Major League Baseball?” I asked with my voice swimming in disbelief. “When? For what team? Is this legit?”
The Devil flashed me a most devilish grin and then slowly sipped his iced tea.
“I pitched for many teams over several decades,” he began to spill the beans as I hung on every word. “I really do love baseball, and just watching it stopped being enough to satisfy me a very long time ago, so I decided to live out every American boy’s fantasy and make myself a professional ball player.”
I stared at him and said absolutely nothing for the longest time. He didn’t seem to be lying, but this was Lucifer, after all, and the Nuns had warned me a long time ago to never trust him.
I wonder what they would think about my welcoming him into my home every Sunday and letting him help himself to my Snapple…
“How did you get away with it?” I had to know as if having the details would allow me to pass myself off as a minor league pitcher, too.
“This was long before everything was computerized and information could be pulled up with a couple of clicks on your smart phone,” The Prince of Darkness reminded me. “I would just show up at a team’s workout, ask for a tryout, and then dazzle them with my amazing fastball. Seemed appropriate that I’d be a fireballer.”
“I’d take the form of an athletic twenty year old, make up a back story about growing up on the farm and dropping out of school to help with the crops, which explained why no scout had ever seen me at a high school or college game, and then I’d blow their minds with 100 mph heat.”
“I was trying to be Nolan Ryan, who inspired me because he could throw so hard, but played for the Angels. Oh, it ate at me that he was an Angel, so I wanted to balance things out with a flame throwing Devil.”
I was at the edge of my seat now. As crazy as it sounded, I could tell this was the truth. A fantastic truth.
“But if you were so good, why didn’t you get sent up to the Majors?” It seemed only fair to ask the obvious question.
“I had that covered,” Satan bragged and flashed an evil grin. “I always made sure I had my wild streaks and gave up home runs in the most inopportune situations. As tempting as it would’ve been for the big club to call me up to be in their bullpen with my triple digit fastball, they couldn’t depend on me not to choke or meltdown in a big game.”
“And I never overstayed my welcome,” he continued. “I knew I was taking up a roster spot that someone else deserved, so I’d make sure to flame out, fake an injury, or just vanish without a trace when the time was right. Then maybe six or seven years later, when the bug bit me again, I’d come up with a new look and new name, and show up in a league on the other side of the country.”
“But didn’t being a part of a baseball team limit your ability to collect souls?” I tossed out another question for him to handle.
“Are you kidding?” The Devil shot back. “The minor leagues are the best places to collect souls. Those kids, and even the coaches, would do absolutely anything for just one chance to go to the big leagues. It was like shooting fish in a barrel.”
“You didn’t feel bad about taking their eternal souls in return for, knowing you as well as I do, what was probably just a cup of coffee in the Majors?”
Lucifer shook his head adamantly.
“If you could have seen their reactions when they got the news that they were going to the show, you would understand that I was giving them the one thing they wanted more than anything else in the world.”
“That trip to the Majors is the fuel that got those men through the rest of their lives. They told the story to everyone they ever met until the day they died. They probably never had to buy another beer in their local bars because they were the lucky bastards who actually got out of those two bit towns and got to play in the Major Leagues. They were heroes, revered by the dreamers, and beloved by everyone who ever saw them play on the sandlot as a kid.”
“You used to go back, didn’t you?” I finally asked him once I snapped out of my little trance. “You’d go back to those small towns and listen to them tell their tales at the local bars until closing time, right?”
The Prince of Darkness smiled. “Of course I did. I wouldn’t miss that for anything. Now enough talking. It’s time for the game.”
Before you get called up to the Majors, do you think you could follow me on my blog and on Pinterest? Thanks, Slugger!