Day 63: The Middleman

“How did you make your fortune?” asked Jesse. He had his doubts about this man, Wilson, dressed in cowboy finery, bragging about his riches. Girls kept coming over to get close to him, but he shooed them away.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Wilson said. “I made a deal with the Devil.” He smirked and watched the admission set in.

Jesse scoffed. “Right.” He wiped the condensation off his whiskey glass and took a drink. “And I conjured my truck with some fairy dust.” The one thing he knew about the Devil is that every negotiation is built on lies.

“I’m serious.” Wilson lit a cigarette. “I delivered certain services and he set me up in business for life. I can broker a deal with him for you, if you like.”

Jesse was approaching fifty and he barely had a paycheck in his savings. The idea of a profitable business appealed to him.

“What’s your business?”

“Potato chips.” The man pushed away his empty glass and signaled the bartender for another. “After seven failed businesses, this one took off.”

“All he wants is your eternal soul, right?”

“That’s folktale bullshit. A man can’t trade his soul away, and the devil can’t touch it.”

Jesse turned his glass in contemplation. He didn’t know how much of what Wilson said was truth and how much was lies. But maybe something could be gained of it. “What services did you have to provide?”

“Oh, this and that. Odd jobs. Nothing difficult.”

“Nothing immoral?”

“No—not at all. I’m telling you, the Devil gave me a fair deal.”

“What do you get out of a deal with me?” Jesse asked.

“Ten percent value of whatever you get for him.”

It still seemed like bullshit, but Jesse thought he could negotiate something worthwhile. “Make the introduction,” he said.

Twenty minutes and another bourbon later the cowboy returned.

“He’s not coming,” he said.

“Whyzat?” asked Jesse.

“Says he already owns your soul.”

Jesse put down his drink. “What the hell are you talking about? I’ve never sold my soul to anybody.”

“Apparently you have,” he said. “People sign away their lives without reading contracts every day these days. It makes his work easier.”

“No way.”

“I wouldn’t worry. He wants to give you a chance to get it back. He’s got a little task for you.”

Jesse’s blood ran cold. That was the play. He swallowed the last of his bourbon, turned and stalked out of the bar. The man was a liar. No ordinary liar—he was a master liar, claiming the devil was fair, and Jesse wanted to believe it. But it was just like the devil to make you believe he had something so he could get something else from you for nothing.

Jesse wouldn’t fall for it. He knew all about those kinds of deals. He was a Loan Officer.

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