The Last Laugh – D.L. Greenwood [Fiction]

The Last Laugh

The Devil is a fat man with no sense of humour.  It is this observation that makes me dislike him intensely; I think a sense of fun is essential when dabbling with the satanic.  We have an understanding, the Devil and I, if I walk on the left side of every street and avoid the cracks; if I wash my hands 35 times each morning and evening; if I check the locks on my doors fifteen times each day, then he will not drag my soul to hell.

It’s a tricky alliance but it’s worked well so far.  He makes no secret of the fact that he follows me.  When I see him greasily loitering in alleyways or smoking putrid cigars outside coffee shops, he nods and smiles.  But I am very wise. There will be no stepping on cracks or unwashed hands and I will not follow the devil into hell.

A pigeon is squatting in the road as I carefully tread a left-slanted path: a sinister path. The Devil is behind me.  Today he wears a trench coat and sunglasses; I wonder if this is a joke but then remember his lack of wit.  I continue on my way; I have washed profusely and my way is clear, I have nothing to fear.

The sound is a wet pop and suddenly I am splattered.  A black Toyota stops and the driver gets out of his car to view what he has driven over.  It’s only a pigeon and it is now flat and dead.  The driver shrugs and speeds off.

I am wet with red and something that feels like snot trails down my cheek – pigeon entrails.

Panic drills into my heart. The bloody filth takes on a life of its own; it seeps into my pores and burns up my nerves.  I open my mouth to scream but something soft and wet plops onto my tongue.  I bend over and puke onto the street.

I start running and I am clawing away the muck from my skin, ripping off my T-shirt and throwing it into the street. And then I slam right into the Devil who feels more muscular than his fat gut suggests.

The Devil takes off his shades and stares at me with eyes filled with greed and triumph.  He nods in the direction of the path behind me.  I see what he sees and I understand.  The pavement is filled with cracks and I have stepped on each and every one of them.

He takes my arm and his fingers burn into my flesh.  For the first time I hear him laugh.  It is loud and infectious.  It would seem that the Devil does indeed have a sense of humour.  The joke is a good one and I find myself laughing along with the Devil.  I laugh and I laugh and I laugh until I have no breath left in my lungs and the world turns black.

 

by D.L. Greenwood

 

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