As the saying goes, you can be in Heaven a half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead. However, sometimes you can already be in the deepest, darkest pits of Hades when he finds you right where you belong.
I did a terrible thing.
As I futilely attempt to continue my life, I fail. While drowning in a sea of all consuming remorse, he has come looking for me. The Devil has come to collect his due.
The second time I saw him was a month ago. At least I think it’s been a month. It has been hard for me to keep track of time since my release from prison. I was riding the bus home from the custodial job I got downtown. The only place that would hire a monster like me.
He was sitting in the back of the bus. Initially, I was shocked. Horrified in fact. The grotesque visage seemingly portrayed for my eyes only. His wide open jaw baring his teeth.
The horn like protrusions sticking through the blood red skin of his scalp. His cold, lifeless eyes focused on me with such intensity.
I got off at the next stop and ran hoping to bide my time.
She began the session as she always does by inquiring if I could recall the events of that night. I told her no. Then, I proceeded to tell my court appointed therapist about this encounter. I kept it vague saying that someone knows who I am and what I did and is following me, but she insisted that this is perfectly normal. Seeing this person was just a manifestation of the guilt I felt. I was willing to buy this explanation. Praying that this rationalization was truth, but by the third time I saw him, I knew better.
He found me again. It was after visiting my parents.
I tried to show up with a brave face. I attempted to ease the continuing pain of the amazing people who raised me. They don’t deserve the hurt that I have put deep into their hearts. However, I faltered. Immediately, they could tell something was profoundly wrong with me. The tears began to flow. I tried to articulate the awful, cancerous hole that guilt had bore into my soul, but the words escaped me. They asked if I had finally began to remember the events of that night. I flat out told them no.
When I got home, I opened the bottle of vodka and began to drink. I know drinking got me into this mess in the first place, but it is the only thing that can numb the inescapable feelings of remorse. As the liquor took effect, I stared long and hard at the bottle of pills. Would tonight finally be the night I ended it?
No, not tonight I decided.
I sensed movement out of the corner of my eye. I dropped my glass onto the floor when I saw his face staring at me from outside my window.
It was even more twisted and horrifying than the first two times I saw it. The sunken, dead eyes staring at me. His face even redder than it appeared before. His gnarled hands began to beat on the window pane threatening to smash the glass. I wasn’t quite ready yet, and closed my eyes. I prayed to God for him to leave.
To give me a little more time.
I turned my head to see he was no longer there. I fell asleep that night thankful for the brief abatement, but knowing for certain that this wouldn’t be the last time I would see his twisted little face.
I visited the grave the next day. Through tear soaked eyes, I begged for forgiveness hoping that would appease him, but it had the opposite effect. The audacity of this act only enraged him further. Whenever I would turn my head, there he would be. His tiny red frame punctuated by those sunken, dead eyes followed me wherever I went. Refusing to allow me to forget.
To move on.
After a month of seeing him everywhere, my guard was down. My mind was in tatters. Before I realized what I was doing, I broke down and told the psychiatrist the truth..
I remembered every horrifying detail of the accident.
I knew my time was coming. I visited my parents one last time. I let them know how much I love them and how sorry I was about everything. They held me tight and attempted to comfort me. Sometimes unconditional love can hurt the most. It can serve as a reminder of how undeserving of any kind of affection you truly are.
When I got home I sat in my bedroom despondent and drunk. As always, drowning in the miasma of my guilt, when I felt something grab my leg from under the bed. It felt cold.
I looked down to see the little red hand clasping onto my calf.
There is no hiding from it anymore. I allow my mind to go back to that fateful night. The first night I saw those blood soaked fingers.
The day began with such promise. I met my buddies at the bar directly after class to celebrate another week of college in the can. I approached the bouncer nervous my fake ID wouldn’t pass muster. Victorious in my admittance, I celebrated by drinking myself into oblivion.
I remember so vividly stepping outside of the bar. The waning light of dusk playing tricks with my glazed over eyes. Even as I struggled to stick the key in the ignition, I was resolute in driving home. It’s funny how a decision seemingly so small can forever alter so many lives. That a miscommunication from my intoxicated brain to my wrist cost somebody their life.
I looked up and saw him in the road. A little boy riding his bike without a care in the world. I attempted to swerve out of the way, but it was too late for my inebriated brain to accomplish. There was a split second where the child looked directly at me before impact. He didn’t have time to process what was about to happen.
He had the serene face of a Cherub. I watched in absolute horror as he flew through the air.
In disbelief as to what I just saw, I got out of my car to check on him. The alcohol reassuring me that he was fine. Nothing in the world could prepare me for the horror I was about to see.
The boy was covered in blood from head to toe. So much so that his skin appeared to be red. As I scanned upward and my eyes came upon the child’s head, I literally screamed in shock.
His face had imploded.
His skull smashed deeply inward causing his dead, lifeless eyes to sink in. The front of his skull was split in half and protruded through the top of his head.
Like two horns.
As I look down now to see that same face staring at me in my bedroom, I know what I have to do. The boy points to the bottle of pills I keep on my shelf.
Not much time left.
I look at the shattered face of this little darling, this Angelic being whose life I extinguished and once again beg for forgiveness. None is given.
None is deserved.
I’m sure Satan himself comes to collect his fair share of souls. God knows that is what I merit. However, for me it isn’t the Devil that will be ushering me to the other side, but a little Angel whose wings were clipped before they were ever given a chance to fly.