the devil was hot
Well, it was after an argument with Flo and I didn't feel like getting drunk
or going to a massage parlor. So I got in my car and drove west toward the
beach. It was along toward evening and I drove slowly. I got to the pier,
parked, and walked on up the pier. I stopped in the penny arcade, played a few
games, but the place stank of piss so I walked out. I was too old to ride the
merry-go-round so I passed that. The usual types walked the pier--a sleepy
It was then I noticed a roaring sound coming from a nearby building. A tape
or record, no doubt. There was a barker out front: "Yes, ladies and
gentlemen, Inside, Inside here . . . we actually have captured the
devil! He is on display to see with your own eyes! Think, just for a
quarter, twenty-five cents, you can actually see the devil . . . the biggest
loser of all time! The loser of the only revolution ever attempted in
Well, I was ready for a little comedy to offset what Flo was putting me
through. I paid my quarter and stepped inside with six or seven other assorted
suckers. They had this guy in a cage. They'd sprayed him red and he had
something in his mouth that made him puff out little rolls of smoke and spurts
of flame. He wasn't putting on a very good show. He was just walking around in
circles, saying over and over again, "God damn it, I've got to get out of
here! How'd I ever get in this friggin' fix?" Well, I'll tell you he did
look dangerous. Suddenly he did six rapid back flips. On his last flip he landed
on his feet, looked around and said, "Oh shit, I feel awful!"
Then he saw me. He walked right over to where I was standing next to the
wire. He was warm like a heater. I don't know how they worked that.
"My son," he said, "you've come at last! I've been waiting.
Thirty-two days I've been in this fucking cage!"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"My son," he said, "don't joke with me. Come back late
tonight with the wire-cutters and free me."
"Don't lay any shit on me, man," I said
"Thirty-two days I've been in here, my son! At last I have my
"You mean you claim you're really the devil?"
"I'll screw a cat's ass if I'm not," he answered.
"If you're the devil then you can use your supernatural powers to get
out of here."
"My powers have temporarily vanished. This guy, the barker, he was in
the drunk tank with me. I told him I was the devil and he bailed me out. I'd
lost my powers in that jail or I wouldn't have needed him. He got me drunk again
and when I woke up I was in this cage. The cheap bastard, he feeds me dogfood
and peanut butter sandwiches. My son, help me, I beg you!"
"You're crazy," I said, "you're some kind of nut."
"Just come back tonight, my son, with the wire-clippers."
The barker walked in an announced that the session with the devil was over
and if we wanted to see him anymore it'd be another twenty-five cents. I'd seen
enough. I walked out with the six or seven other assorted suckers.
"Hey, he talked to you," said a little old guy walking next
to me, "I've seen him every night and you're the first person he has ever
"Balls," I said.
The barker stopped me. "What'd he tell you? I saw him talking to you.
What'd he tell you?"
"He told me everything," I said.
"Well, hands off, buddy, he's mine! I ain't made so much money
since I had the bearded three-legged lady."
"What happened to her?"
"She ran away with the octopus man. They're running a farm in
"I think you people are all crazy."
"I'm just telling you, I found this guy. Keep off!"
I walked to my car, got in and drove back to Flo. When I got there she was
sitting in the kitchen drinking whiskey. She sat there and told me a few hundred
times what a useless hunk of man I was. I drank with her a while not saying much
myself. Then I got up, went to the garage, got the wire-cutters, put them in my
pocket, got in the car and drove back to the pier.
I broke in the back way, the latch was rusty and snapped right off. He was
asleep on the floor of the cage. I began trying to cut the wire but I couldn't
cut through it. The wire was very thick. Then he woke up.
"My son," he said, "you came back! I knew you would!"
"Look, man, I can't cut the wire with these clippers. The wire's too
He stood up. "Hand 'em here."
"God," I said, "your hands are hot! You must have some kind
"Don't call me God," he said.
He snipped the wire with the clippers like it was thread and stepped out.
"And now, my son, to your place. I've got to get my strength back. A few
porterhouse steaks and I'll be straight. I've eaten so much dogfood I'm afraid
I'm going to bark any minute."
We walked back to my car and I drove him to my place. When we walked in Flo
was still sitting in the kitchen drinking whiskey. I fried him a bacon and egg
sandwich for starters and we sat down with Flo.
"Your friend is a handsome looking devil," she told me.
"He claims to be the devil," I said.
"Been a long time," he said, "since I had me a hunk of good
He leaned over and gave Flo a long kiss. When he let go she seemed to be in
a state of shock. "That was the hottest kiss I ever
had," she said, "and I've had plenty."
"Really?" he asked.
"If you make love anything like the way you kiss it, it would simply be
too much, just simply too much!"
"Where's your bedroom?" he asked me.
"Just follow the lady," I said.
He followed Flo to the bedroom and I poured a deep whiskey.
I never heard such screams and moans and it went on for a good fourty-five
minutes. Then he walked out alone and sat down and poured himself a drink.
"My son," he said, "you got yourself a good woman
He walked to the couch in the front room, stretched out and fell asleep. I
walked into the bedroom, undressed, and climbed in with Flo.
"My god," she said, "my god, I don't believe it. He put me
through heaven and hell."
"I just hope he doesn't set the couch on fire," I said.
"You mean he smokes cigarettes and falls asleep?"
"Forget it," I said.
Well, he began taking over. I had to sleep on the couch. I had to
listen to Flo screaming and moaning in there every night. One day while Flo was
at the market and we were having a beer in the breakfast nook I had a talk with
him. "Listen," I said, "I don't mind helping somebody out, but
now I've lost my bed and my wife. I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I believe I'll stay a while, my son, your old lady is one of the best
pieces I've ever had."
"Listen, man," I said, "I might have to take extreme means to
"Tough boy, eh? Well look tough boy, I got a little news for you. My
supernatural powers have returned. If you try to fuck with me you might get
We've got a dog. Old Bones; he's not worth much but he barks at night, he's
a fair watchdog. Well, he pointed his finger at Old Bones, the finger kind of
made a sneezing sound, then it sizzled and a thin line of flame ran up and
touched Old Bones. Old Bones frizzled-up and vanished. He just wasn't there
anymore. No bone, no fur, not even any stink. Just space.
"O.k., man," I told him. "You can stay a couple of days but
after that you gotta leave."
"Fry me up a porterhouse," he said, "I'm hungry, and I'm
afraid my sperm-count is dropping off."
I got up and threw a steak in the pan.
"Cook me up some french fries to go with that," he said, "and
some sliced tomato. I don't need any coffee. Been having insomnia. I'll just
have a couple more beers."
By the time I got the food in front of him, Flo was back.
"Hello, my love," she said, "how you doing?"
"Just fine," he said, "don't you have any catsup?"
I walked out, got in my car and drove to the beach.
Well, the barker had another devil in there. I paid my quarter and went in.
This devil really wasn't much. The red paint sprayed on him was killing him and
he was drinking to keep from going crazy. He was a big guy but he didn't have
any qualities at all. I was one of the few customers in there. There were more
flies in there than there were people.
The barker walked up to me. "I'm starving to death since you stole the
real thing from me. I suppose you got a show of your own going?"
"Listen," I said, "I'd give anything to give him back to you.
I was just trying to be a good guy."
"You know what happens to good guys in this world, don't you?"
"Yeah, they end up standing down at 7th and Broadway selling copies of
"My name's Ernie Jamestown," he said, "tell me all about it.
We got a room in the back."
I walked to the room in the back with Ernie. His wife was sitting at the
table drinking whiskey. She looked up.
"Listen, Ernie, if this bastard is gonna be our new devil, forget it.
We might just as well stage a triple suicide."
"Take it easy," said Ernie, "and pass the bottle."
I told Ernie everything that had happened. He listened carefully and then
said, "I can take him off your hands. He has two weaknesses--drink and
women. And there's one other thing. I don't know why it happens but when he's
confined, like he was in the drunk tank or in that cage out there, he loses his
supernatural powers. All right, we take it from there."
Ernie went to the closet and dragged out a mass of chains and padlocks. Then
he went to the phone and asked for an Edna Hemlock. Edna Hemlock was to meet us
in twenty minutes at the corner outside Woody's Bar. Ernie and I got in my car,
stopped for two fifths at the liquor store, met Edna, picked her up, and drove
to me place.
They were still in the kitchen. They were necking like mad. But as soon as
he saw Edna the devil forgot all about my old lady. He dropped her like a pair
of stained panties. Edna had it all. They'd made no mistakes when they put her
"Why don't you two drink up and get acquainted?" said Ernie. Ernie
put a large glass of whiskey in front of each of them.
The devil looked at Ernie. "Hey, mother, you're the guy who put me in
that cage, ain't ya?"
"Forget it," said Ernie, "let's let bygones be bygones."
"Like hell!" He pointed a finger and the line of flame ran up to
Ernie and he was no longer there.
Edna smiled and lifted her whiskey. The devil grinned, lifted his and gulped
"Fine stuff!" he said. "Who bought it?"
"That man who just left the room a moment ago," I said.
He and Edna had another drink and began eyeballing each other. Then my old
lady spoke to him:
"Take your eyes off that tramp!"
"Just drink your drink and shut up!"
He pointed his finger at my old lady, there was a small crackling sound and
she was gone. Then he looked at me:
"And what have you got to say?"
"Oh, I'm the guy who brought the wire-cutters, remember? I'm here to
run little errands, bring in towels, so forth . . ."
"It sure feels good to have my supernatural powers again."
"They do come in handy," I said, "we got an overpopulation
He was eyeballing Edna. Their eyes were so locked that I was able to lift
one of the fifths of whiskey. I took the fifth and got in my car with it and
drove back to the beach again.
Ernie's wife was still sitting in the back room. She was glad to see the new
fifth and I poured two drinks.
"Who's the kid you got locked in the cage?" I asked.
"Oh, he's a third-string quarterback from one of the local colleges.
He's trying to pick up a little spare change."
"You sure have nice breasts," I said.
"You think so? Ernie never says anything about my breasts."
"Drink up. This is good stuff."
I slid over next to her. She had nice fat thighs. When I kissed her, she
"I get so tired of this life," she said, "Ernie's always been
a cheap hustler. You got a good job?"
"Oh yeah. I'm head shipping clerk at Drombo-Western."
"Kiss me again," she said.
I rolled off and wiped myself with the sheet.
"If Ernie finds out he'll kill us both," she said.
"Ernie isn't going to find out. Don't worry about it."
"You make great love," she said, "but why me?"
"I don't understand."
"I mean, really, what made you do it?"
"Oh, I said, "the devil made me do it."
Then I lit a cigarette, laid back, inhaled, and blew a perfect smoke ring.
She got up and went to the bathroom. In a minute I heard the toilet flush.