I wanted to play the music of the devil but Mandy wanted to meet him. We both knew we were already living in hell the day we stepped into the school building. It was like being at an unfriendly country club with so many kids sporting polo shirts and carrying golf clubs that it was downright sickening. All that made life tolerable was going over to her house and playing guitar together when her hippie parents weren’t home. We were there in the basement one afternoon when we started talking about the devil.
Mandy always said, “The one thing I want in life is to be in tune with the devil.” She wanted people to be afraid of her. She always wore black, complimenting her dark hair and pale complexion but what scared people off was when she verbalized her morbid fantasies of death and destruction. “The way to find the devil is to play the music of the devil,” she’d say.
Mandy really had the perfect room for playing music. Cold and dark with spider-webs in every corner, her black boots cracking on the floor as she walked. When Mandy pulled her guitar off the stand, I stared at the skeleton tattoos on her arms, powerful and so vividly drawn, as if they could jump to life at any moment and attack.
We plugged our guitars into our amps and Mandy grinned. She had red lips the color of blood and she smiled as if she had a demon inside her ready to burst out. She reached over and turned my volume switch all the way to the right so the sound would shatter every piece of glass in the house.
I tried to play along with her but with the volume cranking she strummed so viciously and her tiny fingers moved so fast I couldn’t keep up. The room vibrated as she played and jerked her head, but through her hair I could see her smile.
Drenched in sweat, we stopped. I heard a knock at the door. Then the pounding started, loud and forceful and chaotic. I ran up the stairs and opened the front door.
On the doorstep stood a frowning middle-aged man in slacks, skin so folded up it looked like his face might cave in. His face was red with rage and with his eyes fixed on me with such intensity, I wondered if there was ever a time when he’d been young and light hearted. He carried a golf club in his hand and his brittle fingers gripped around the handle were white.
“Will you do me a favor and stop playing that music?” he said. His voice was hoarse and lifeless and devoid of all music.
I knew then that the true devil had arrived.
published 11 January 2012