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The Devil Gets His Due

~ Part One

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The room was light and airy; pale walls, beige or some other innocuous color, with huge windows, looking out on a striking rocky seascape. It was a peaceful room, calming. One could easily sit there for hours watching the sea birds, the changing sea, the clouds, the rains come and go; and one could be utterly content. The room had two occupants.

One was a healthy, hearty young blond man. He sat watching out the window, as you could only suppose any inhabitant would. He seemed pleasant, if somewhat innocuous. He had blond hair longish, blue eyes that sparkled with hidden secrets. He had a wonderful tan, obviously worked outside as much as inside. He was sprawled on a couch that faced one of the large windows and every once in a while he would glance at the rooms other inhabitant. He’d study the dark man for a bit, shrug and return his gaze to the sea. You could just see he was a thoroughly happy fellow.

The other person in the room was not nearly so content. He was dark, tall, thin, rakish, beautiful and full of unspent energy. He paced. He ran his hands through his hair. He’d perch on a seat for a moment, but suddenly leap up, as if on fire. He’d pace again. He rarely looked out the window. What was out there was nothing he cared about. It didn’t interest him. When he’d first come to this room, he sat on the couch and looked out at the sea with wonder. But he’d been here a very long time now. He had watched the room change, evolve. Nothing really ever changed – the colors, the furniture and even occasionally the residents; but nothing substantive.

He perched for a moment, and then returned to his current life’s work, his pacing. He marched back and forth, seemingly with purpose. He ran his hands through his hair. He wanted to scream, but did not. He had tried that as well. It served no purpose other than to make his throat ache. He looked at the blonde man. He studied him. He hated him. He thought of slapping him. He thought of all of the things he could say that might make the man cringe or cower. He had tried that. It didn’t work. He threw some of his mightiest phrases at him; telling him just how lowly, how crude, how pathetic, how useless he was. The other man remained unmoved. He smiled. He often pounded the dark haired man on the back, proudly, as a father, “That’s the spirit!”

So now he paced. There was nothing else to do. There was no paper to write on. He’d tried to write on the walls. Magically they seemed to erase themselves. They remained pale, bland, unmarked. It was a pointless task to try to write. He tried to sing, but realized that no one would hear his songs. There was no one else to talk to. He’d tried to write and failed. He’d railed at the outrageousness of his current status and failed. He tried to talk calmly and failed. Here he was. He was going nowhere and there was nothing to do.

So now he paced. He’d run his hands through his hair and he’d pace. Occasionally he would laugh at himself. His hair was long, curly and real. This was no wig. This was no fashion statement. In the past, he would have loved to have natural hair as flowing and beautifully curled as his own was now. He looked at his clothes; a white shirt and blue jeans; very practical. He would have loved to have had such practical clothes before. Instead he had worn knee breaches, laced shirts, silken jackets embroidered fashionably. He had been the man of mode. He had been important and he had been respected and reviled, envied and held in contempt. He had been someone. And now he was in a room with a view.

He strode up to the window and crashed his fast against the glass. It had no impact. The glass didn’t even shake. “Bah!” he spit at the window. He spun to face his room mate. “What’s the point??”

The blonde man smiled. “What’s the point of what?”

“Of being here? Of continuing? What’s the meaning of it all?” He asked, and while angry it appeared he expected an answer. The question wasn’t simply rhetoric.

“You’ve asked that before.” The smile stayed in place.

“Of course I’ve asked before you babbling baboon! Of course I’ve asked you moronic monkey. I want an answer. When does this all end? I’m tired of this daily routine of nothing!”

The smile continued. “Of course you are. But what did you expect?”
“Damn you and your vile attitude.”

“Precisely. But to be exact; I’m not the one who is damned.”

Rochester returned to his pacing. What was the point of talking? There were no answers to be had. Not any meaningful answers, at least. He’d been in this room for well over 300 years and in that amount of time he had figured out quite a number of things for himself. The blonde man had been his constant companion, but never a friend. He never said anything that would be of use. Rochester knew, for example, that he was in hell. This was not Dante’s hell, he knew that as well. He knew that counting angels on a pinhead had done him no good. He knew that he was with no one he had known or loved or hated for that matter. He was not burning in hell as he had anticipated; yet never had this room been pleasant for him.

He was no longer ill. He was no longer in pain. He looked perfectly healthy and he looked to be about 33 years of age. His hair now resembled one of the wigs he had often worn, and it did that without any help or harm from himself. He knew that too. He had taken a pair of scissors to the hair one day, out of boredom, exasperation, anticipation; out of the hope for something to be different. He awakened the next morning with it exactly the same as it had been the previous day, prior to the shearing. He sighed. He tried not to do that very often. It seemed to make the blonde man’s smile grow.

He knew he hated the blonde man. He assumed it was the devil. Hadn’t someone said he would assume a pleasing form? It certainly seemed apt. He thought of Elizabeth. She had been apt. Now the devil was apt. Perhaps aptness was in the eyes of the beholder. He wanted to smile, but didn’t. His own wit no longer pleased him. It served no apparent purpose here. He didn’t write; he rarely spoke. There seemed little point to trying to be clever. It was the devil’s game and he always won. Eternity. He did often ponder eternity. How long would it last? Was there to be a judgment day? Would he be with this smiling stranger for eternity?

He sighed again and very nearly snapped at himself. Twice in one day was a very bad day. “What is the point?”

The blonde man took one last long look at the sea and turned to Rochester. “You want to know the point, man? You want to know what it’s all about? What’s it all about Alfie? What’s the hurry, man? You going somewhere?” He laughed. He liked his own jokes. “I’ll tell you something important. But I’ll only do this once, man. And don’t start askin’ a lot of questions, bro, ‘cause I’m not di-vulging anything here that you shouldn’ta already figured out on your own.” He was getting red in the face. “You find one person who gives a damn about you, you find one lost soul who cares, and I don’t mean the weepin’ broads like the old battle axe you married, I mean some one with brains. You find just one person today who cares and I’ll let you go. Like a yard sale, man. One friggin’ person cares a rats ass about you, and I’ll send you to the guy upstairs. And you know what Johnny boy? I’ll do that happily. I’ll have a real smile on my face that day, because I’m tired of your whining. You think you’re important? Ha! You were nobody, and people were glad when you left the party man. So stop carrying on and give it a rest, eh bud?” He turned on his heal and headed back to the couch.

Carefully he sprawled across the couch and more carefully discovered something new outside to look at. He was alone in the room again. At least from his point of view he was alone. He could turn people off, and Rochester while physically there, had been turned off.

Rochester on the other hand suddenly felt full of glee. He found himself a reprieve. He had a way out. He sat down. For once pacing and hair pulling had been banished from his thoughts. How did he find someone who cared? How did he influence anyone? He ran a hand through his hair. He pinched his side. No pain. How could he say he felt no pain? Granted the fire in his innards had disappeared, but he was constantly, consistently in pain. Being in this room, facing his opponent daily, he felt unbearable pain. Yet he did bear it. How in the Kings name could he find someone who cared? How did he influence someone? He wanted to cry. He would be in this room for the rest of his… death. Another long sigh escaped him.

He lay down in the corner, away from the windows, away from the room’s other occupant. He needed to think. He needed to clear his head. What could he do? He slept.


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