I was in too good of a mood, though, so I let my guest in the impeccably tailored suit act like he owned the place.
He made a beeline for the cooler in front of the couch, and pulled out two bottles of Snapple. After he handed me one, he held up his in a toast.
“To many safe, non-stressful years behind the wheel of your beautiful new car!” Lucifer proposed.
I was totally down with that, so I tapped his bottle and then took a long sip of my iced tea.
“You never asked me to take you for a drive before,” I pointed out as we took our usual positions on either end of the couch. “That was a nice change.”
“Well, you’ve never had a shiny new car on any of my previous visits,” The Prince of Darkness countered with a devilish grin. “There was no way I was going to volunteer to be a sitting duck in the death trap you referred to as Zombie Car.”
“I drove that vehicle for fourteen years and never lost a single passenger,” I shot back with a smile. “If that doesn’t make you believe in miracles, nothing will.”
“I’m glad you finally saw the light and got yourself a new car,” Satan tried to disguise his criticism as a kind comment. “You’ve needed an upgrade for some time. That other vehicle was causing you way too much stress and putting your life in danger.”
“You know how I am with making decisions on big ticket items,” I reminded him with a shrug. “Buying a car is a huge investment.”
“As would have been paying your hospital bills had that old wreck gotten you into a horrific accident,” The Devil answered. “Sometimes, you just have to invest in yourself. This was a case of putting your health and sanity ahead of financial gain.”
“I guess it was a good thing Zombie Car broke down as often as it did over the last week,” I had to admit. “It took that kind of extreme stress and intense fear of ever again having to get behind the wheel to push me into acquiring my new ride.”
There was an uncomfortable silence that went on for far too long after my comment. The witty banter between Lucifer and I is always very quick. It’s what the fans love about this feature, so when he doesn’t immediately volley back with some bon mot or snarky retort, I know that there is a problem.
“What did you do?” I asked very accusingly.
The Prince of Darkness fiddled nervously with his expensive silk tie.
I glared over at him, making it clear that an answer was needed right away.
“I might have left some Engine Demons under the hood after my last visit,” Satan mumbled so softly that I almost didn’t hear him.
“You did what?!?!?!” I demanded and snatched the bottle out of his hand because beings that plant Engine Demons, whatever those are, do not get to drink my Snapple.
“I could see that you were never going to get a new car unless the old one fell apart under you,” The Devil explained. “I was worried about you, so I assigned a couple of Engine Demons to make sure you finally had an epiphany about your future with Zombie Car.”
“You let Demons loose on a car that I was driving in rush hour traffic?” I screamed loud enough to be heard in Hell.
“They were under very strict orders to not do anything to put your life in jeopardy,” Lucifer shot back defensively. “All they did was stall your car a few times and keep it from starting. Enough to freak you out and push you to the brink, but nothing that was going to cause any bodily harm.”
I shot up off the couch like a rocket had just been launched in my shorts.
“Are you being serious right now?” I barked in a Brooklyn accent so heavy you could hear the rumble of the subway under Fourth Avenue. “It stalled on me in traffic. That could’ve caused an accident and gotten an innocent person hurt.”
“But there was no accident, no one was injured, and you realized it was time to give up on the car that you were never going to stop driving,” The Prince of Darkness insisted.
I just stared down at Satan and allowed him to read my mind. By the look on his face, my thoughts were coming in loud and clear.
“You should leave,” was all I was could get to pass through my lips. The angrier, filthier words were still stuck in my throat.
“Before I go, I have one last thing to say,” The Devil insisted on ignoring my demands and just doing what he wanted. You know, like usual. “Austin, there is no such thing as an Engine Demon. I was just messing with you. I’m sorry I took it so far, but it seemed like you just needed to get all the anger about your old car out of your system so you could finally move on and be a sane driver again.”
I had no clue what to say, but he was probably right. I was going to Google Engine Demons to make sure they weren’t a thing, and if he wasn’t lying, I’d probably just let it go.
That’s the thing about hanging with Lucifer. He can bother the hell out of you, but down deep, under all that expensive clothing, there was probably a heart that actually cared…