The devil looked a lot like the old man who owned the cigar shop back home, except I knew that it wasn’t him, as old Mr. Sullivan had been dead for at least a decade or two. Old Scratch here, on the other hand, was most definitely alive, and was sitting right next to me and enjoying a nice cup of coffee and a cruller.
“So, how are you today?” he asked between bites of cruller.
I shared with him my dissatisfaction with things – a whole bunch of things. The economy, the Yankees getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Tigers two years in a row, and my growing sense of uselessness in life.
“Oh…don’t worry,” he said, “everything is just fine.”
“But how about my job?” I asked. “I feel as though I’m wasting my time. I feel as though I’m wasting my talents and throwing away my dreams…”
“Oh, come on, now,” he said, “you’re just fine. You are doing a great job. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Here…have a cruller.”
I accepted the cruller that he handed to me, and I was about to bite into it. I paused, though, remembering a friend of mine who had been given a piece of fruit once and lived to regret it. I was starting to hand it back when he interrupted.
“If you don’t want it, just give it to someone who does. It’s nice and fresh.”
“OK,” I said, wrapping the cruller in a napkin and stuffing it into my jacket pocket. “Thank you, anyway, though.”
“Sure thing,” said the devil. And then in the smallest, tiniest, most quiet voice, he whispered two words in his pasty, crumbly, cruller-scented breath.