The Devil's Iphone - Poem by Brian Mayo
“You’re the Devil, ain’t ya, mister? ”
He grinned. “What gave me away? ”
I pointed at the ground behind him. “Those aren’t the tracks of a human being.”
The Devil turned and looked down at the sandy soil. “Well, aren’t you a clever fellow...”
He seemed to have appeared from nowhere, like a wolf. He was just standing there at the edge of the tree-line, looking fresh and crisp in a double-breasted seersucker suit with a light-blue shirt and a narrow silk tie, the color of fresh blood. He wore no shoes or socks, but his feet looked clean- -too clean for someone who had supposedly just been walking through the woods…
The sun was fading fast, peeking through a smear of evergreens that picketed the western ridge.
My campfire was in its early stages, but a steady breeze sweeping through the valley kept it alive.
I was sitting on large hunk of driftwood, and had been poking at the fire with a stick.
“Do you mind if I sit down? ” The Devil didn’t wait for a response. He chose the log across from me, and the fire danced in his large, black eyes.
I tossed a pebble towards the stream, but it fell short, landing on the flat, stony shore. I felt sick.
“You’re a little young to be out here all by yourself…” he tested.
I shot a glance up the side of the ravine. “My dad and brother are hunting rabbits just beyond that ridge. They’ll be making their way back soon, I reckon.”
He smiled broadly and rubbed his hands together. “Ahhh, rabbit stew! Maybe I’ll hang around awhile…”
I got the feeling my lie delighted him. I kept tending the fire and remained silent.
He changed tactics... “I thought your dad was in Santa Monica- -‘sticking it to some bimbo…? ’” He used the exact same words I had spoken yesterday to my little sister. Inside, my guts were turning to water.
I shuddered. “Look mister, what do you want? ? ? ”
The devil, too, selected a suitable stick and began to prod the fire.
“It’s not what I want that matters- -it’s what YOU want. Surely, you must want something…?
“Like what? ”
He became expansive. “Oh, dear me… why, just anything at all, friend. Do you want your daddy back home? Just say the word. Do you want your mom to land that new job? Piece of cake. Would you like to know when you’re going to die? I can tell you the exact date.”
I stared at the fire and thought about my dad coming back. I thought about the drinking, and the snide remarks, and the way he always made my mom cry. But now he was gone- -almost a year- -and she hadn’t cried for a long time. A few days ago she was actually laughing. No… I wasn’t in any hurry to have my dad back.
Did I want her to get that job at the ad agency? Yes, of course. But I was pretty sure she could do it on her own—she’s very talented; she doesn’t need help from the damn Devil.
But this third thing…
I was intrigued. “You know when I’m going to die? ? ? ”
“Well, no, not offhand… but all I have to do is look it up on this little gizmo here.” He held up a small electronic device made of red plastic.
“What’s that? A Blackberry of some kind? ”
“No. This is made by Apple” He smiled secretively.
“I didn’t know the devil had gone digital…”
“Well, one must keep up with the times. It’s really a pretty amazing tool. I don’t know how I managed for so long without one.”
“And you can look on there and find the date I die? ”
“Oh, YES! Without a doubt…” He paused expectantly, fingers ready to start punching buttons.
“What else can you do with that thing? ” I was a bit of a geek… and loved handheld devices.
“Ummm, well… it helps me keep tabs on souls, er, I mean, people… that I have a special interest in, and it reminds me of appointments; keeping me punctual… oh, and it points out hot-spots on the planet…places where maybe I could help out- -ease folk’s suffering- -you know, that sort of thing.”
“May I see it? ”
“Maybe. What do you have to offer in return? ”
I opened my knapsack and pulled out a foil package. I peeled the foil back a little and took a deep sniff. “How about a few of my mom’s prize-winning cookies? ”
The Devil’s eyes got wide… he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“Well, I guess I don’t see the harm… just for a few minutes, though.” I got up, side-stepping the fire, and extended the package.
He handed me the square of plastic with a hand which appeared perfectly normal, but it must have been an illusion, like his feet, because when my little finger brushed against his palm I felt coarse hair, like the bristles along a wild boar’s spine, and heat…intense heat. I noticed later my fingertip was numb, like it feels the day after hitting it with a hammer.
I returned to my log and studied Satan’s smartphone, or whatever it was. It did indeed say “Apple” on it. And the Apple logo had a bite out of it, but it was on the wrong side. It seemed very simple, however. It had a four-inch screen with three large buttons beneath it; green, red, and blue. I began to experiment; I pressed the green button. A globe of the Earth appeared, slowly spinning. Beneath it was a box waiting for a password.
I glanced up to see how the Devil was enjoying his cookies. “Those are pretty special cookies, you know...” I said. “My mom uses only the freshest pecans, and those chocolate-chunks were imported from Germany.”
“They’re fantastic, ” he said through a mouthful of crumbs.
“A lot of people have begged for the recipe, but they’ve all gone home disappointed.” I was making small talk. I wanted to keep the Devil distracted as I worked with his gadget…
I had his password cracked in less than 30 seconds- -John 3-16 (backwards) .
He was on his third cookie as I began downloading his files to the internet.
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