Ian Pfremmer: ip551428@uni.edu/319-292-3058 3131 Franklin St., Waterloo IA, 50707
The Devil's Den




                              The Devil’s Den

                                                          By Ian Pfremmer


 I’ve always loved my family, my brother James, my sisters Carol and Indigo, and my mother and father. They have been the most precious gifts I could’ve ever asked for. Forget peace, cures for cancer, freedom for all; I just want my family. Father died over eight years ago in an accident at a factory, when I was still pretty young, about nine I guess. Don’t remember much, just that we were gone seeing him a lot, and mother was always crying, leaking like a. I was confused about the whole situation, and I ended up having to take care of the rest of the family while mother was gone, days on end. Whenever I saw father at the hospital, I always remember the sterile smell, like nothing could penetrate those whitewashed walls; smell, happiness, or peace.

            School’s gone pretty fast since all that, and I don’t remember much, other than a lot of family over, and the dense smell of food and sometimes sadness, mixed with strawberry perfume and that musky crap James likes to put on to mess with those dumb girls. After some time, the family let us be, and we started getting back to a normal routine. We lived with modest means. We had a three bedroom house, wooden paneling trimmed with green shoddy strips that interlaced the walls like the top of an apple pie, or a lattice. Sundays at church were the norm, as well as the first Saturday of the month pot luck. The roof leaked when the snow fell, and during the summer the mulberry bush invaded the air, smelling like a cheap air freshener. Things were good, and we were happy.

            I was doing quite well in school, and my mother was proud, finally having something good to enjoy in life. She was a large woman, fairly dark skinned, except for her legs, which lightened all the way down, until her feet were almost tan. Sweating was normal for her, even during the winter, but her large toothed smile melted many winter days, passing the time, telling old stories, reciting poems, and playing many board games, with Sorry as her favorite. Always asking my friends if they were hungry or needed anything, she quickly became a block darling, with friends at every porch and business, everyone asking me how she was, and if she needed anything. Good people.

 It was the end of my junior year, and my grades were good enough for me to get into college, and being from Rochester, I decided to look into the University of Minnesota, just a few hours away, trying to stay close to my family. Finally the acceptance letter came, and both my mother and my sisters jumped around in a circle with me, dancing and singing, songbirds serenading the rising sun, proud of every moment of life.

            About four weeks left of school, and I was bustling with energy, beams of light shooting from every tooth bursting from the perma-smile that enveloped my face. Having someone braid my hair, taking a shower, even listening to my idiotic brother talk about some video game, that smile was supplanted on my cheeks, as regular as the tides. I couldn’t wait for the fun stuff about college, like meeting my roommates, getting a car, and finding cute boys, and my mother nonchalantly chuckled every time I walked by, because she knew that I was ready to take over the world. I could feel my eyes widen every time one of my friends started talking about college. My pulse would quicken, and after awhile my face started to hurt from hours of smiling. This was my time, my time to grow, to stand on my own, shoot . . . maybe even find some man to settle down with, some cute guy with round lips, strong hands, and good hair.

            Indigo drove with me up to Minneapolis to look at housing, and we found a few bars that might be frequented during my stay. My sister had a nice car, a Solaris I think, silver and faded black leather seats that smelled like cigarettes. She never smoked in front of mother, cause she would get a quick whooping, and I would probably whoop her too. I brought my canvas backpack and Armani suitcases, fake ones, but nobody really notices the difference, which is in the stitches. Armani’s stitches are strong, with more than one pass of the needle, whereas mine are falling out daily. We were listening to Sean Kingston most of the way, laughing about how we looked when singing. Indigo’s lips pouted out like she was crying when she came down after hitting any high notes, and she laughed at how my faced looked when I was done, face looking surprised like I just survived an earthquake or something. She had on an old Kangol hat, brown and white trimmed, with a sexy lavender short cut shirt, with her belly button ring exposed. She had on some perfume that smelled like salt water, or maybe taffy, but I sure didn’t like it. But the crème de la crème of her outfit was my shoes, which were Vera Wang, thank you very much. Almost stiletto heels, with an open toe. Sexy! I had on my best Beyonce dress, gold sequence with gold hoop earrings, five inch gold heels, and an attitude to boast. We were not only looking for our housing residence . . .

            The second time around I drove myself, in my new Neon. I guess it’s not a 3000 GT, but it’s better than a Beetle. It was lavender, and I tinged the windows with lavender tinting. I had a black leather bra on the front, because about a week after I bought the car, I accidentally rear ended a Suburban in the mall parking lot. My car was scratched a bit, but nobody stayed around to see if the other car had any bruises. So now a bra straddles the front of my car. The interior was spotless, and she smelled like sunshine and apple trees, whatever sunshine smells like, but I’m sure it’s good. Just a few hours ago, this same car was brimming with crap, from designer lamps, to boxes and boxes of clothes. Okay, maybe more shoes than clothes, but hey. Now she was in cruise, free from luggage, Calvin Klein, and high heels. The only luggage my car carried home this time was a cell number from Kwame, a dark skinned young man with amazing pumpkin eyes and a curl to die for, begging me to put my hands in it and play. Yeah, this was my only luggage, for the time.

                                    *                                  *                                  *

“Mahina, what are you doing home so early?” Her look devastates me. Almost a look of suspicion, but more of confusion and care in those eyes. She felt me standing there looking at her from the screen door before I entered the house. Beautiful woman, great mother, strong friend.          

          I open the front door to my house, and Taneisha, my mother, greets me warmly. I grab a hold of her, just to feel the strength of her being surrounding me. I sigh forcefully, then I tell her the craziest tale she has ever heard. I tell her about the hitchhiker I picked up last night, a young white man named Jeff, who relished this most amazing tale to me. I tell her all I know, beginning from the start when I found Jeff at the rest stop. This is his tale . . .

             Shawn and I had been on the road for about two hours, aimlessly driving towards our destination. A red Jeep pushed us to party time, with damn cold cracked brown leather interior to make every movement uncomfortable. We were making our yearly trek to Minneapolis, to party and just blow off steam after a hard semester in Graduate School. This had been in our agenda for the last four years, to enjoy doing nothing for a weekend, maybe meet some hot chicks, smoke some pot, ecstasy, beer bongs, whatever.

            We were in our last year of Grad school, and both on our way to becoming lawyers. Shawn will be going to New York and a respected company doing criminal law, and I will be going to Iowa to try and find work doing anything, and this is because of a little incident that happened on our entrance exam. The day before the exam, Shawn had a devilish, shitty grin on his face all day. He seemed to know something nobody else knew. He hadn’t studied or even looked at the book because I was with his sorry ass all the time, let alone come prepared to the most important test of the year. Test day came, and I knew something was fishy. I ended up with a 98% on my test, and Shawn a 93%. Since I had the better score, the professor thought I cheated, which was ridiculous, because I had been an A student all the years of being his student! Something was wrong. But I really just studied hard, unlike Shawn, who ended up with the answers to the test somehow. He said he got the answers from Satan himself, and I thought he was just exaggerating because this answer made me think he was smoking trees or drinking crack Kool aid saying stuff like that. But, he somehow always seemed to be overly lucky with all aspects of his life. He got the hottest girls, the best scores on tests, and he constantly got his way no matter what and when, but all coincidence I’m sure. The way he passed the test was pure luck, because he just put the wrong answer on seven of the questions. This made him look innocent compared to my two mistakes. But I always thought his luck would run out someday, and I was correct in my assumption. The professor made me retake the test immediately, and I passed with a 94%. I felt he was still suspicious, but he can kiss my ass!

            “Damn, what a terrible day. One thing after another, I tell ya. I can’t believe I got in trouble for you getting caught cheating. What a rip-off! I can’t believe what you get away with! How do you keep pullin’ off this crap?”

           “Quit your whining, Jeff! I can’t help that you always get the shaft. Just because I’m lucky and you’re not doesn’t mean the end of the world. So what if you got in trouble. It doesn’t mean that the world is going to end. Man, if you could only live on my side of the world!” squirmed Shawn, a smirk grabbing his face and making his canine teeth show, making me squirm for a second, but he was my driving partner for road trip and my best friend, and someone who had the world by the short and hairy’s, so I figured I could grab some luck by hanging around. About halfway on our trip of titillation, we both needed to stop to use the bathroom, especially Shawn, with his tweaked out legs, jumping up and down like a six year old. I think he remarked something about pissing in his pants, but that doesn’t matter. We stopped at a rest stop off Highway 35, just south of Owatonna, and although I needed to pee and buy a few items to snack on too, I thought we could get a hundred more miles out of it, but Shawn demanded that we stop. When we got out, the air had a sentiment of laughing at us, because every breath demanding full attention, with the air so cold it was cracking our lungs with quick and short breaths. The rest stop was red brick, modern in design or basically square, with lots of street lamps glowing, giving an eerie feeling to our stop. We started our trek to go back to the car when Shawn heard a funny noise.

            “Jeff, did you hear that? I sounded like it was coming from those bushes,” as Shawn pointed to the area in question, and finally I heard the noise as well. It sounded like a bear or somebody doing the nasty, with a huffing and puffing noise followed by some bush rattling. We looked at each other with a glance of confusion and we giggled, and proceed back to our car. But the noise seemed to follow us, moving from the bush to behind the building. I felt like we were in a scary movie, so I just turned around and walked straight to the car, giving Shawn that “hurry-the-Hell-up” look, eyes bulging, brows furrowed in triangular formation.

  I heard Shawn scream in horror, and I whirled around. Shawn was being attacked by a large dog, or maybe a wolf, or what. I couldn’t tell because I started to run for the car. I then stopped, pirouetted around again, and started after the beast, hoping to help Shawn somehow. The beast was atop of Shawn, pinning his arms by sitting on top of them. It was biting Shawn about the face and neck, and I panicked and started looking for something to knock the animal off, my knuckles scraping the ground in search of anything. I grabbed a large stick, and proceeded to beat the hell out of the beast with it, when I stopped and realize what it was. The beast stopped mid bite, and craned his head to the sky, looking like a reverse question mark, letting out a terrible howl, piercing the wind and the trees. It was a werewolf, and I began to really freak out, crying with a lot of shaking. My eyes wavered for a few seconds that seemed to be breathless, and then the hands slowly inched forward, finding my face, covering my mouth with dirt while encircling my face. What the hell do I do? I’ve seen movies where the man tries to help his friend and gets mauled himself, but Shawn was still moving; slow claws at the ground were all his fingers and body could muster, blood searching for an escape from his body like a flood rupturing over its banks.                                                                                   

  “Get off him, you son of a bitchin’ Devil beast! I’ll kill you with my bare hand if I have to!” I began to swing the stick with all I could muster, quick burst of pain and fear, but the beast turns to me with a grin and speaks with gristle in his voice, strong inflections in his growly rumble, almost a tinge of an accent.

            “You are not chosen, so leave while breath still pushes your lungs. I will not destroy you. Save yourself from the evil I bring upon the unjust.” The monster looked at me with yellowish eyes, searching me over like I was meat in a grocery store, and I knew that what I was about to do was stupid.

            “Why did you kill my friend? He did you no harm! What … why the hell are you doing this?” I knew my voice was cracking, half from fear, half from passion. Talking to a beast was not on any test question.
        “Hell is correct, boy. I am doing the bidding of my master, Lucifer. Be gone if you still value your life!” The beast’s lips began to terse, stretching, inching along until the whites of its teeth shone like the full moon. Its body was fully erect, large clawed hands elongated, with one finger directed towards me.

      “Please, don’t kill me. I just want to understand why you killed my friend, and what the hell do you mean you’re doing the bidding of Satan?” I was slowly closing in on Shawn, who was weakly wheezing now, blood spurting from his wounds. Intrigue had grabbed me now, and bravely stooping before the beast, I took off my shirt to wrap around Shawn’s neck.

        “Are you that intrigued, my boy? Do you know with one swat of my hand, I could take your head off?” The beast raised his hand in anger, ready to backhand my face off. “Now leave, before death finds you with open arms!”

            “No! Kill me if you have to, but I want to know why … Why the hell did you kill my friend? What did he …?”

       “Your friend has sold his soul to the Devil, and I am here to collect. I am Lucifer’s hand of death, the left hand of the Damned. I fulfill his wishes by leaving the Den of the Devil to hunt and consume the souls of the damned. Your friend paid a price by being at the top of the world, selling his soul to become great, for he will now bathe in hell fires and sleep in damnation for his barren wishes. Do you understand now? This is my destiny for the crime I committed, to be the consumer of the corrupt, the annihilator of the accursed.” The wolf man turned his back to me, the knotted hair and dirt facing my eyes and the strong smell of earth fading away with every movement, and began to descend back to the wilderness, when I stopped him.

            “Please, Mr. Werewolf . . . sir. I want to help you, for some reason that I can’t understand. I feel I need to help you find redemption . . .  if you don’t kill me first.”

            “If I wanted to kill you, you would not be alive at this very moment. And my name is Jakob, for I was once a human as you were.” The beast stopped and his head lightly dropped, eyes to the ground, almost shameful. “But I had an evil secret. I enjoyed the flesh of the living,” a far off gaze of trepidation came over the animal, “and for being a usurper of the flesh, I was forever doomed by Lucifer to become the deliverer of the Devil. I now feed off the flesh of the damned to forever nourish my infernal desire. And if you become any more curious, I will show you what death tastes like. Now leave me to my malevolent ways, for I cannot stop my conduct nor stop the wishes of the dead, unless I want to feel the hot whip of Beelzebub.”

             “Look … I want to assist I think, but I want to understand, and for some reason, maybe even help you. I’m a lawyer, and I’m sure there is some way out of your hellish destiny. Can’t you repent, or something? Can’t you run from the Devil, or find some other way of fleeing?”

            “How do you run from something that sees everything? Can you run from the wind, can you run from the sun? I think these are impossible to flee from.” Its eyes searched the sky, hoping for an answer from the winds. Every breath from the beast heaved massive lungs, and the beast’s body lurched up and down. The restless animal slowly rocked back and forth with every answer, blood searching for the ground with every drip from its face.

            “God can see all, can’t he? If the Devil can see everything, than so can God. Why don’t you do honorable things, like saving people or something like that?” Sincerity was in my throat, and truth searched the ears of the beast. The cold grabbed my again, and I bent over, noticing the hot breath from Shawn’s mouth had disappeared a few moments ago. Death had found him like Jakob promised.

            “I don’t know. I have never tried to accomplish good under the eyes of the One.” A tear of blood fell from the eye of the monster, and I stepped back to admire the change beginning in the beast. Could this be real? Was I trying to talk a Werewolf into becoming a decent “person”? Man, if I could talk Jakob into becoming benign, then maybe I could definitely save some other people, or do some good in the world. But what if these people were really doing the work of the Devil? Should I be the one to stop the destruction of the Devil’s minions? Yes, people should be given the chance of redeeming themselves.

Part Two: Next Month

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