His impeccably tailored suit was black this week, and I smiled at the gesture.
“I never doubted that Chip was destined for Heaven,” I replied with a half grin. “He lived such a good life that I’m sure he had some sort of EZ Pass that allowed him to skip all the lines and go directly to the Pearly Gates.”
Lucifer smiled as he sat down on the other end of the couch. “A little humor is always good at a time like this. However, you’ve been through a Hell of a lot lately, and I wanted to give you the opportunity to change your fortune once and for all.”
I looked over at him curiously because he had hit the nail on the head. Life had pretty much sucked of late, and the idea of getting the albatross of bad luck from around my neck was very intriguing.
“As tempting as that sounds, I have no intention of trading my immortal soul for a few years of happiness,” I told him firmly. “After the Hell I’ve suffered during my life, I deserve to spend eternity in Heaven.”
“Your soul is not required,” The Prince of Darkness assured me. “And before you turn down my offer, let me show you what I had in mind.”
He snapped his fingers, and I expected to find myself transported to some far away place, but I was still in the living room of The House on the Hill. Only it wasn’t the same.
The beat up couch, which I’ve owned since my marriage, had been replaced by a brand new leather one that did not smell of two decades worth of farts.
In fact, all the furniture in the room was brand new. There was the comfy chair that I’ve always craved. Cool tables and a gorgeous lamp filled the usually empty space. There were actual curtains over brand new windows. The god awful wallpaper had been replaced with something much more easy on the eyes.
“What happened?” I asked as I craned my neck to see that the dining room, forever barren except for cat toys, now had a table a chairs. Such a novel concept!
“Your future happened,” Satan explained as he handed me an ice cold Snapple from the mini fridge built into the table. “And these wouldn’t be the only changes.”
As if on cue, a miniature version of me mixed with the DNA of someone much more attractive, bounded into the room. She had to be about two years old, and she ran to me on wobbly legs as she clutched her teddy bear.
“Daddy! Bear wants a hug!” She hit the couch at a run and them propelled herself up into my lap. She looked up at me expectantly with the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen.
“I believe your daughter and the bear want a hug,” The Devil whispered.
So I hugged her. Long and hard because I had given up all hope of ever having a child of my own to hug and love.
“Bear, too, Daddy!” she insisted as she thrust the teddy bear at me.
So I hugged the bear, too. Anything for my little girl.
“I thought you were fetching Daddy for dinner,” said a voice so familiar that it sent chills running up and down my spine, and caused my heart to speed up.
I looked up and there she was. The woman with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life before everything had gone so terribly wrong. She was standing in the doorway to the living room, beautiful as ever, smiling at me, and wearing a wedding band.
I looked down at my left hand to discover a matching ring. Were we really married?
“I know you’re writing, but I’m absolutely famished, and since I’m eating for two, I really don’t think I can wait,” she implored as she gently touched her stomach.
She was pregnant, too? She wasn’t showing, but she seemed to be implying as much.
As if reading my mind, my beautiful wife added, “I’m sure this was one’s a boy. Even though he’s only a couple of months along, he has the appetite of a man! Now go shut off your computer and come in for dinner.”
My daughter kissed me and then hustled off to follow my wife into the kitchen.
“I’m married to her?” I asked in absolute disbelief. “We have an adorable daughter and there’s another one on the way?”
“Do I know you, or what?” Lucifer asked with a wink. “There’s still more, though. Let’s go turn off your computer.”
In this amazing version of the future, the room next to the master bedroom had been converted into a study. The desk held a shiny laptop and several family photos.
Two framed movie posters decorated the walls, but I had never heard of the flicks, so I walked over for a closer look.
“Check the name of the screenwriter,” The Prince of Darkness suggested.
To my surprise, I found my name on both posters. “I wrote these movies?”
“You’ve written several, but you didn’t want to appear conceited by hanging up all the posters,” Lucifer explained. “You framed these two because that one was your first major hit, and the other one earned you that item that’s hidden by your wedding photos.”
There was an Oscar behind the photos. Best Original Screenplay. And my name was engraved on it along with the name of the movie on the poster.
I collapsed into the desk chair clutching my Academy Award. I had to wipe away the tears that were rushing down my face.
“There are brand new cars in the garage. She has a job that she loves and allows her to spend plenty of time with the little one. There are stamps in your passport from an incredible honeymoon and subsequent vacations. You have so much money in the bank that you’ll never stress about finances again.”
The Prince of Darkness flashed his most charming smile.
“It’s everything I’ve ever wanted,” I admitted in a whisper as I stared at the statue in my hands. “The only problem is, I’d have to live with the guilt that I never earned any of it, and I only have it because I made a deal with the Devil.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Satan corrected me with a shake of the head. “You wrote the screenplays. You’ve always been a great writer, but you’ve never been able to get your scripts into the right hands. I’d simply facilitate that.”
“You love her and she loves you. Through a series of unfortunate events, those feelings were forgotten and the relationship derailed. She refused to speak to you, and you gave up. All you’ve ever needed is a chance to sit down with her to win her back. I’ll make sure that you get that opportunity.”
“And what do you want in return, if not my eternal soul?” I asked fearing the answer.
“Just a few years working for me as a consultant,” The Devil replied with an innocent smile. “You make me look good, you soften my image, and you think outside the box. You’ll be well compensated, which will allow you to quit your job and focus on your writing. Anyone who decides to trade their soul to me is going to do it eventually, even if you don’t work for me. So don’t let your Catholic guilt keep you from accepting a well deserved opportunity of a lifetime.”
“Can I think on it?” I asked as I returned the statue to its place behind my wedding photo.
“Take all the time you need,” Lucifer agreed. “I’ll even let you stay for dinner with your family to help sweeten the deal and make it far too enticing to decline…”
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