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The Devil and the Thief
The man shivered as he stepped out into the night and the first cold breath of the night air hit him. He stood still for a moment; looking around as if he didn’t know when he’d be back. His dark eyes took in the scruffy looking neighboring houses with their peeling paint and unkempt yards; the crumbling sidewalks; the burnt out streetlights and the small, dark house from which he had come. He knew what was inside. A bunch of hungry mouths to feed; long overdue bills to pay and a small unemployment check sitting on the kitchen table that wasn’t enough- was never enough. The man sighed heavily and picked up the small bag by his feet.
His footsteps echoed throughout the streets as his heavy feet led him downtown. They stopped at the front of a darkened store with a closed sign in the window and jewelry in the display case. The man sighed again before reaching into his bag.
“Does it hurt?”
The man dropped his bag, and whirled around; startled. A man wearing a black, hooded cloak stood serenely in front of him; as if he had popped up from the ground. The man instantly knew who it was. The devil had come for him at last.
“Does what hurt?”
“Knowing that you have failed, and will fail again at your very last hope.”
The man winced, then said, “I have not yet failed at this. And how would you know? Failure is never guaranteed.”
“Neither is succeeding.”
“I don’t have to succeed. All I have to do is survive.”
The devil eyed the man warily. It had been a long time since he had seen the likes of someone like him. He would have to tread more carefully from here on in if he didn’t want to lose him.
The man was also sizing up his opponent. A sudden, unexpected urge had overcome him not to give in; it was not over yet.
The devil spoke again, breaking the silence. “You know why I am here.” It was not a question.
“Yes.” Then man paused, then added, “You will not win.”
“Win?” The devil feigned shock. “But wasn’t I the one asking you if you know you will fail? You losing results in me winning, you see.”
“As my success would be your failure.”
“But you can’t pull it off. You’re done; you have failed. Why not just come quietly with me?”
“Because I haven’t done anything wrong – yet.”
“Yet you, yourself admit it is inventible. There’s no denying fate. Why not give in now?”
“My time will eventually come. But when is for me and me alone to decide. Even you can have no hand in it.”
“Your actions have brought me here, nothing else.”
“My actions? I have done nothing wrong – yet. Truly if I belonged with you, I would have committed my crime by now, would I have not?”
“My presence has delayed you, nothing more.”
“But still, you came too early. The worst I have done is considered the crime. Man surely cannot be condemned for his thoughts or opinions, now, can he?”
The devil glared at the man; fire suddenly burning brightly in his eyes. “We shall see.” He said and disappeared as quickly as he had come.