tagNon-EroticSympathy for the Devil

Sympathy for the Devil


(This story was a challenge put down by my friend and editor patientlee for her birthday. To turn on the radio and make a story from the next song heard was the challenge. And what did I get? See the title of this story for that answer. Okay lol, here we go. Best I could do with what I got. Happy birthday, you wonderful lady. And many more.)

Walking into the bar, I breathed in deep the air of humanity that permeated the walls of this libation establishment. I smiled at all the simple pleasures I saw the denizens indulging in around me. The harmless sins of the flesh and the minor detriments to the mind that are my gifts to give.

And I give them out so freely. By doing nothing.

As I crossed the age spotted floor, I watched the slim, but buxomy waitress walking towards me, her hand balancing a tray full of shot glasses. Her simple shirt, tied in a knot under her breasts, was emblazoned with the bar's obnoxious logo in a shocking blue. She smiled, despite the dulled tried look in her eyes and began to speak; perhaps to ask me for what I would care to drink. Then she shuddered, those exhausted eyes fell away from my face, her whole body shook in fear. I grinned and passed a hand before my face letting the fingertips stroke my goatee and with the hidden power of that gesture she calmed. Her mind now at ease. She had not seen what she thought she saw; simply a passing of shadows no doubt.

"Can I get you a drink, Sir? A table?" she asked, after blinking like a startled awake owl.

Smiling, I shook my head. "I'll do my drinking at the bar."

She nodded and left to deliver her small drams of distilled poison to the table of young people so eager for its bitter burn. Happily, anticipating the mind altering effects of the "Devil's Cut" bourbon they had ordered. I chuckled aloud to myself at the irony of that as I walked to the bar. I glanced at the dance floor, enjoying the sex simulation that was this modern worlds dancing. The tribal samba rhythms of the music giving them their beat, unknowingly copying the heartbeats of their mother's that they heard in the womb.

The bartender was busy. He didn't notice me but I was long used to that. Most in this world didn't see me unless I am all but in their faces, as I had been with the waitress. I settled onto the worn smooth leather stool, resting my arms on the ancient, alcohol-permeated, wooden bar. In this dark wood I could feel the ghostly memories of the thousands who had sat here before me. This place was old by mortal counting, and those memories were stacked as leaves on a forest floor. More than a century deep, they were rotting at the bottom, turning into the very soil that fed the mother tree they fell from.

Here alone those old memories lay, in this great city of new glass and polished stone that surrounded this tiny bar, held it in its bright heart like a dead seed.

"Hey buddy, what can I get you?"

Rotating around on the stool, I looked at the bartender. My smile is shocking, I know, bright white above the red goatee I was wearing. He, I noted, was a genuinely well put together man, robust but not too much so. A dark beard, a quaint affectation to this modern fable gave him the look of a woodcutter. He would have not been out of place in a tale by the Brother's Grim I thought as I leaned forward.

I slid four one hundred dollar bills across the mahogany bar to him.

"Blow the dust off that twenty-five year old bottle of Glenmorangie single-malt you have under the counter. And a freshly washed Glencairn glass, cleaned with ice water, please. Keep any change for yourself of course."

"Yes, sir."

I smiled at his polite manners. They were delightfully old fashion. I watched him move about doing what I had asked of him, noting he was a true master of his trade, stuck here in this forgotten place. His talent appreciated, yes, but not understood by the people who came to this bar. When he stepped back in front of me holding the glass upside down so the last moisture was still caught I smiled and reached into my inner coat pocket. The smell of the oiled-leaf robusto when I popped open the cigar case was a heady contribution to the scents in this place. And it was a familiar one here, I could feel this old bar take notice that someone had returned to it with a scent from its past.

"I hate to tell you, but you can't smoke that in here." He told me in sincere apology.

Pulling a second of the stubby, fat, hand-rolled Havana Cohiba cigars out I passed it to him. Spinning my chair around, I looked at the patrons of the place.

"Ladies, gentlemen? If I might ask for your indulgence for a moment." I held the dark nubby roll before me. "I have been told that I may not light this in here, a place where the walls once bled nicotine when it rained. Now the reason for that is the collective pussies in Washington wanting to tax and set laws to govern the enjoyment of poor people, while they themselves indulge and get rich. Now I do not wish to offend anyone with my habit. That is not my aim. I simply desire to enjoy myself tonight. To have a drink and a smoke. If that offends anyone here, I'm more than happy to not light this ... however ... If the smell of a fine cigar does not offend any, in this wonderful place, I will gladly buy all drinks served until this cigar is ashes. So ... Yes? No?"

"Buddy, if you're buying the drinks you could light a trash fire in here and I wouldn't piss on it to put it out," said one man from a nearby table. When I looked at him, I saw a working man, the common clay still black under his nails. He was on his last few dollars and I had offered him a good drunk to make his night. Simple pleasures, simply fulfilled. He wants nothing more than for the world to leave him to his drink, and a place to sit while he forebodes on the coming day.

Around the bar his sympathies were expressed over and over. No one cared so long as I was buying drinks. I turned to look at the bartender. He still held the cigar I had given him.

"If the police arrive, for some obscure reason, it's all on my shoulders." I grinned white teeth at him from within the dark fire of my goatee. "And what's the worst they can do to me? Fine me? The cigars cost more than their fine. Jail me? For smoking? Last I heard you wouldn't walk the final mile for lighting up." I brought the curved glass to my nose and breathed deep the delicate fruit and peat smell of the fine scotch. "Not even in this state."

He looked at me for a moment, pocketed his cigar, nodded and pointed at the one I held. "I didn't say you could."

"Oh, of course not."

The wooden match with that flash of beautiful fire, the chemical stench of its ignition so reminiscent of cordite. I felt myself harden at the smell, such wonderful old memories. The Arden. Normandy. Berlin. St. Petersburg. So many good memoires to go with that odor. I sucked the flames into the tip as I turned the nubby cigar, letting the first hints of smoke coat my tongue and blend with the scotch. A delightfully deviant taste of oil, leaf, and age-blended smoked-peat filled my palate. Even older memories of the place where this whiskey was born came to me.

Closing my eyes I could see again the battlefield of Ancrum Moor. I heard again the gun powder exploding from arquebus barrels, the battle cries of the pike wielding Scots, and the sound of the pipes. Oh, that sweet cacophony of mad notes, now used only to entertain, it once brought such shivers of fear to all the men who heard them that were not born of Scotland.

"Glenmorangie? My dad drinks that. Expensive. A man of wealth and taste? In here?" The young woman's voice from behind me, filled with laughter as it was, was such a delightful melody. Carrying subtle hints of a submerged French accent to my ears. I turned to look only to find myself enraptured. Oh, no, no, no. I looked deep into her eyes then wanted to flinch away from the innocence I saw there. I saw it as easily as words upon a page, a master typesetters work was she. Perfection in her grace and carriage.

I followed her with my eyes as she slid in next to me and held her ID out for the bartender. No not hers'–her older sister's. Taken without her sibling's knowledge, to allow this stunning flower a night she was too young, by law, to enjoy. Even as I saw that, I perceived a shadow of malice lingering about her. Tied to her like a black string. I followed it back across the bar to where a cluster of young men were standing. Watching her. Laughing among themselves. A pair, one blond, the other dark and swarthy as myself, exchanged a non-subtle touching of hands, fists, in victory at their plans near achievement. I perceived their minds and saw their sexual intentions towards the young woman at my side.

I caught her obnoxiously-bright, pink sleeve before she could move away.

"Young Miss. I would give you fair warning about your chosen companions for the night." I looked deep into those so very innocent eyes and felt my insides burn, but I held her gaze none the less. "They intend your rape." Her eyes went round, and she began to shake her head. "When you return with those drinks they will place a drug within yours, already the blond has it in his palm. When the effects of it begin they will easily persuade you to go get some air. Then into that waiting blue van outside will you be lead. I do not believe you will enjoy their plans after that."

Her terror, uncertainty, and the primitive fear of any woman never having been with a man and hearing her virginity being threatened in such a violent way as I was suggesting flooded through me. To as dark a fiend as myself it should have been as sweet ambrosia as the scotch, but it was a bitter bile to be choked down. I turned from her seraphic, untainted innocence to the bartender.

"Her ID does not belong to her," I told him in a voice that brook no arguments. "This young girl should not be in here. Perhaps escorting her out would be a good thing. Verifying that she got into a cab ... even better."

The bearded bartender nodded. He walked from around the back of the bar, while I turned to look at the frightened young woman next to me. I could sense that her fear was as much directed towards me as to the men that had planned her rough use.

I smiled.

"You have many years ahead of you to drink, and to party in ways your parents wouldn't approve of...but of course did themselves in their own youth. No need to rush towards them. Revel in the youth you have, it will all too soon fade, my dear. Now go home. Go home and live through this night as the fates said you should not."

"Who are you?" she asked her elbow in the grip of the bearded man.

"Guess, if you wish," was my answer

As the bartender took her away I closed my eyes to the overlaid image of her body in a ditch, clothes disheveled or missing, body marked with days of torturous abuses. I saw it fade from my sight. I held those all-seeing-eyes shut tight until I was happy that vision was lost forever.

"Abashed the Devil stood and felt how awful goodness is." The melodic tones hit my spine with the impact of sledgehammers, making me sit straight.

"Quote not Milton to me Mikha'el." Disgusted, I looked at the tall figure standing next to me. "He was one of mine in body and in soul, and his words are too sinful for your pious tongue to bear with any style, least you offend the very meaning of them ... with thy sanctimonious prattle."

Taking my cigar from my mouth, I blew a thick ring of smoke into his face. But of course it passed through him undamaged and continued till the lazy spinning ceiling fan broke it up. Leaning back on the bar, I picked up my glass of scotch and looked at him, the being I had once called brother. He stared back at me with eyes that bespoke of his pity of me, and that sight brought up a gruel-thick miasma of disgust. I felt it arising into my throat a bitter Pease Porridge. The very sight of him an offence to my eyes!

"What do you want, Michael? Is your time not better spent raining fire upon the heads of sinners? Or perhaps someone is in need of large pillars of salt." Looking around the bar, I noticed the patrons were ignoring this little conversation. I smirked. "Afraid to be seen by the common man? Why not let your wings down, old boy? You're in need of more power to your failing wreck of a church are you not? Why not a few displays as of old?" I tugged at my ear lobe, grinning. "Oh, what was that? No? And why not? Ah, yes because these common men will see through your paltry displays of power as their ancestors were too primitive to do. Their sciences would explain it in mere days and then where would the lot of you be? Out on your feathery wingtips that's where!" I laughed looking around at the people surrounding me. "These are not the men that your power humbled. They could, if they but knew how, take that same power and shape it as Father did. A billion gods instead of one, and a sky so full of angels to rattle as the gates of Heaven."

"I came here not to listen to your blasphemy brother but to give you a warning. Perhaps your last."

"Oh, be silent with thy dire dreck!" I spun, putting my back to him, knowing he would never strike me. "Do you, you of all of them, think I care? This pitiful play goes on and I have already been given my verse. Perhaps, I shall speak the few lines, follow the stage marks and be the good little villain in your drama, but I will not be bored to death by the likes of you. Go peddle your time-worn-wares at another door, brother. I'm not buying them any longer."

"Your fate is foretold; escape it thy shall not."

Spinning the stool back around, aggravated, I rose up till I was in his angelic face.

"Oh was it? Tell me, when was that? Exactly what day of the week? Or what year, can you give me that?" I leaned back looking at his face. "You can't can you? None of you can, not even Father. Do you not know why? You are all puppets in a play. We thought we were the ones holding the strings, but oh no Mikha'el. I have been here and walked among the true puppeteers for long enough to know. You, me, even Father in his white halls, are all simply sad little wooden dolls, set in motion with strings. We are following a made up script and you still think it's true!" I moved back into his face. "I have no memory of the beginning!"

At his shocked face I grinned.

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Do you remember any of that? No, not any? How about when I was cast out from heaven? Any real memories of that? No? And neither have I, but it would seem that would be a rather memorable thing to me. Certainly for me it should be emblazoned upon my mind in letters tall as the sky."

"What are you saying?" His hand slipped, as if for a second, he was moving to go for the sword that hung at his side. "Speak plainly, not in riddles."

I smiled to see his anger. "I speak no riddles. We are not what we believed ourselves to be." I lifted the clear glass to show him the dark liquid it held. "We are not even as real as this, brother. You and I, even Father, we are but the stuff of human fear. We are dreams humans needed for protection from the darkness. Someone to curse when things went badly, and someone to praise when they went well. We were formed out of their need." I smiled at him. "And that need is dying."

"More of your tricks, Father of Lies."

"I have no need for them. The humans have given me all the power I could ever need to overthrow the gates of Heaven." Holding out my hand, palm up I showed him the single bright atom of atomic energy pulsing there. He flinched back from it, his hand on his sword hilt. "Their sciences far surpassed our power decades ago. Only fear still holds their attention to us. Their fear of death and they will soon master even that. The prayers to Father and the curses at me will soon grow silent, and as the gods that ruled before us, we will fade and be forgotten."

"There were no gods before us!" he demanded. I noticed that a few heads in the bar turned to look our way.

I chuckled.

"How? How can you stand there and say that, when I can still see the burned scar on your neck from where Apollo struck you?" I pointed a finger at him. "Has so little as a pair of millennia erased the battles, you and the others fought to overthrow the Roman Gods, from your memories?"

"They were not Gods. They were the fallen, your servants given form to corrupt the humans away from the true faith."

I belly laughed in his face. And oh, how wonderful it felt to be the one holding all the truth and to see this simpleton for what he is. An all but forgotten relic of a primitive past, trying to hold to those dark times with his own mind clouding him from the truth. At my mirth he grew enraged and his hand drew an inch of his sword. Other than an arm clutching my sides, I made no move, that very stillness bespoke to him that I feared him not at all. No longer. No longer was the power he clung to so much as even a point of starlight compared to the total power I held.

The blazing light of truth.

We are not real, unless men want us to be. And like the gods of old times, we are going to be forgotten. Fated to be added to mythology books. Forgotten names, in dusty tomes, in empty libraries. And when he looked into my eyes, Mikha'el Yahweh The Angel of the Lord had to come face to face with that truth, and could not.

"Be sure to tell Father I said hugs and kisses." I watched him fade from view as quickly as he had appeared. Glancing at my cigar, I saw it had gone out and was preparing to strike another match when a delicate hand held a point of blue fire to the ashy tip.

"Your friend was boring," the woman said as I puffed pure flame into the heart of the cigar giving it life again. "You're not as boring, but you're too old."

With a smoky smile, I looked down into the silver eyes of this new goddess. Her body was a sinful-joy to the eyes, and unlike the girl from earlier there was no innocence to her. She was simply human belief given form as I was, but she was new, fresh in a way I had never encountered before. I saw in her eyes the power I had shown Mikha'el but it was far more distilled, ready to be harnessed. She was born of Science, a god already as powerful as Father. But her mother was mankind...

"Time brings many things to their finest moments, my dear lady." I offered her my glass of scotch. She took it, sniffed at it and took a small sip. Retrieving my glass, I smiled. "It is such with me, now. It will be that way with you in the millennium to come."

"That was good," she said. The simplicity of her words a delightful feature of her youth.

Feeling both perverted old man and proud as a parent, I smiled at her. I wanted to look deeper into those silver eyes, to maybe catch even a minor glimpse of the long future she would have, a future where I would be forgotten. With that knowledge of my own mortality there was a terrible hunger, a burning need that arose. A need to take her, this young goddess, to turn her over this bar, in the dark squalid city, within this pitiful collection of mud and rock and wood. To bend her to my will. To use her in a way that would make the lust-ridden-plans of those boys that had left disappointed seem tame. Making of her little more than a simple sexual toy, but I knew even as I was thinking such black thoughts, that in no time she would slip such a pitiful bondage. I had no power that would hold her for any time that such as us would measure.

When she looked up at me, I gently caressed her cheek. She looked at my face with curiosity, unsure what my tears meant, no doubt.

"Have a moment's sympathy for an old man, my dear." Leaning in, I placed a kiss upon her golden lips, with all the skills taught to me in a thousand harems, brothels, whore houses and the smelly tents of camp followers. The endless line of slattern women that stretched behind me, to the point when my memoires started, were uncountable. Yet this single kiss would be the one I would take with me into the void from which I came.

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