A.K. Barak | Maybe the Devil and Johnny Were Secretly Fond of Each Other

Maybe it wasn’t all fiddle-business. Or maybe it started that way, until they got to talking, and after a while the Devil let slip that he was way behind, and Johnny said Behind? Who do you have to answer to? Then the Devil would have said Well, who do you have to answer to, Johnny, to which Johnny paused before he shrugged. God, I reckon. And the Devil shrugged too. There you have it.

Maybe that gave Johnny some thought, enough that the next time the Devil showed up, Johnny was reading a Bible with his bookmark in the Old Testament. Doing your research? The Devil would ask. Somethin’ like, Johnny would say. I was thinking that the Lord might have given me over to you, like he gave you Job.

If you were Job, you would know.

Guess I would. Why’d you go and do all that stuff to him anyhow? He didn’t do nothing.

Don’t ask me. Ask God.

How do you mean?

I only wandered and came home. It was Him who then told me to consider His servant. Don’t be unfair to me, Johnny—find me one thing I’ve done that wasn’t according to His will.

Maybe Johnny would say Huh and not much else. Maybe the Devil would realize how defensive he sounded and feel awkward, so he’d try to fill the silence. Are you a pious man?

Could have been. Johnny might flip to Matthew, thumbing pages ‘til he got to a heading in thick black ink. “The Crucifixion of Jesus.” But bad things happen to pious men, looks like.

Looks like.

But if I’m not pious, and I’m not Job, and I’m certainly not Christ…why are you still here?

I asked God the same thing, back when I first crossed the Chattahoochee. It might feel like a confession. It might be quiet for a long time after that. I asked Him why He had made you in His image, but not me. And if loving you meant damning you.

The Devil might have looked so damn small that Johnny could nearly think that he was Job, and that God had given him over to Johnny. But he wouldn’t say none of that. Instead he would say, I thought everything you did was according to His will. But if the Devil averted his eyes and made no response, maybe Johnny would try again: Hey, Luce—tell me, when you talked to God, what did He say?

Well… Nothing. But it started to snow.

Snow in Georgia, Johnny would say. Maybe that was your answer.

Snow in Georgia, the Devil would echo, and he might finally look at Johnny again, really look at him. Or he might not. Maybe it was.

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