Even the Devil Waits in Line This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

August 22, 2012
I stood in line, waiting for my pizza. It was yet another Saturday night, and I was, as always, alone. And let me tell you, it wasn’t for lack of trying. It was more for lack of someone else trying back.

And it didn’t really help that I knew almost all the people who worked at the pizza shop. Whenever I’d make it up to the counter, I’d have to put up with the jeers of my fellow jerks from behind the counter. For some reason, I’d never brought up the fact that they’re the ones working on a Saturday night, and I’m the one who could be doing something. If I had a life to be doing something with, that is.

But, tonight, something different had happened. Due to the large storm on its way, everyone was wanting a pizza to kick back with, throwing off my time frame. That and a party had come in and taken up residence. A party of ten yelling children.

The line was now 15 minutes long, and the building was getting hot. The sound of screaming children didn’t help my mood. It was shaping up be to a night where I was going to have to hurt someone. And that someone would most likely be me.

I was almost to the point of choking one of those damn rug-rats if they touched me one more time, when I began to mutter to myself, “Damn kids, going to break something. Jesus, if only they’d shut their little mouths …”

And it was then that the stranger in front of me, the one in the ominous trench coat and black fedora, decided to speak to me.

“You know, I don’t think He’d be the best person to help you right now,” he said, over his shoulder.

I stood silently, not knowing who he was talking about. He turned to face me, and continued. “Jesus, I mean. He loved children. I’ve never been able to figure out why, though. Pesky little brats. But, hello, and, you are?” he said, extending his hand.

“I’m Axel.” I said, caught off-guard by his up-front attitude. This was getting very weird, very fast. “And you?”

“Well, I have many names. You can call me Lucy.”

“That’s an interesting name,” I said, not really wanting to bring up the fact that I knew a kid with that nickname, and he wasn’t exactly someone you’d want to be compared to.

He took off his hat, but his short red hair didn’t even move. He reached up with one of his gloved hands and stroked his short beard. I began to blush, remembering the small piece of peach-fuzz I had growing beneath my chin. And something I’ll never forget – his eyes were like black pits, sucking in the light.

He continued, “You know, there’s an easy way out of all of this.”

I braced myself for the worst. This guy was going to start selling me some piece of junk, and I was going to be stuck listening to him until I got my pizza. Trying not to let this show, I said, “Really? What’s that?”

“Simple. Find an exit,” he said with a stupid grin. I let out an uncontrollable laugh, not expecting anything even half as stupid. When everyone in the store stopped looking at me, he continued.

“But, seriously, I can help you out. And for a reasonable price, too.”

Here comes the sale, I thought. “What can you do? And how much will it cost me?”

“Look over there,” he said pointing to the parking lot.

My internal monologue continued its rant. A car salesman? Car wax? But I saw something I never expected.

It was another pizza place, just like this one, only different. There I was sitting in a booth, a girl I had been chasing after sitting on the other side. We were sharing a pizza. And it looked like we might be sharing a little more than that later. It was amazing. It was exactly what I had been looking for.

Lucy continued, my eyes glued to the image, “That’s just the beginning. It can all be yours. Money, fame, all you have to do is ask.”

This wasn’t any jerk trying to sell me car wax. This was Satan. And he was offering me a deal.

“And the price?” I asked, trying to concentrate, but not succeeding. The vision in front of me was filling my brain, making it hard to think.

Lucy let out a big sigh. “Honestly. You’re not a stupid kid. What do you think it is? It’s your soul.” I could tell that wasn’t the question he’d expected me to ask. “Sometimes I ask myself why I even bother with you mortals …” he muttered.

“So, I give you my soul, and I get everything?”

“Yes, that’s the deal.”

The image disappeared and I felt empty, like I had to have that again.

“How do I seal the deal?” I asked, ready to get this over with.

“Right here,” he said, pulling a contract and a pen from his coat.

I bent down, ready to sign. This was the life I wanted. This was how it should be. It’s all I ever would need.

But a thought popped into my head: What fun would that be? Half the fun is the chase. It’d be a lot easier, but not nearly as much fun. Let life come as it may. I straightened. “I’m sorry, Lucy, but I think I’ll pass.”

His grin grew even wider. “Good, You’re the kind a guy I like to see get away from me. And besides, The Man Upstairs has plans for you.”

I stood shocked. “Plans? Like what?”

His grin continued to grow. “If you had sold your soul to me, you’d know by now.”

The rest of the wait passed in silence. Lucy was leaving with his order, when I stopped him. “Hey, you’ve been nice about this whole ‘soul’ thing. Do you mind if I ask one more question?”

“Not at all. What is it?”

“Why did you wait in line? It’s not like anything was stopping you from getting what you wanted.”

“It’s like you said. It’s not fun if it’s just handed to you. That, and like tonight, I can sometimes get a soul out of it. Now hurry, your pizza’s getting cold.” With that, he turned and walked out the door.

I stood there, staring, not quite believing what had just happened. The jeers from my friends brought me back to reality, and my life was normal once more. For a while, anyway.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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