Daddy died two weeks ago, the same day sixth grade ended for me. I've never met him and I don't know what he was like. He was on a fishing boat somewhere. They sent us his suitcase. They said that was all he owned.
Mommy didn't open it, but I did. Found some old clothes, a lot of cigarettes, a well-used fountain pen -- and a battered spiral notebook. A lot of scribbling in tiny handwriting.
A page dated July 2, 2009 caught my eye.
He showed up unannounced at the door. He wore tweed and a beard and grey hair. And he wore these round glasses that looked like they were made out of brass. He reminded me of Ernest Hemingway.
"I am the devil," he said.
"Oh," I said. I was twelve then.
"You can see me but nobody else can," he said.
"We're going to the store together."
I think he sensed that I was about to tell him to fuck off. He didn't say anything, but he made sure I could see that beneath his jacket was a very large blade in its sheath.
We walked down the street to the corner store. While we walked he told some story about bullfighting but I wasn't interested.
When we got to the store there were no other customers. The owner wasn't there either. He was probably in the storeroom.
"I want you to lift some candy bars," he said.
"Shut up and do it."
"No! What you're trying to make me do is wrong."
"You're confusing thinking with doing what you've been told to do."
The devil took out his blade and made a small cut between my eyebrows.
"Everyone goes through this. This is the start of the rest of your life."
Blood flowed down both sides of my nose and into my mouth. But, my blood tasted differently than it usually did. It tasted sweet.
"Now lift that Snickers bar."
I grabbed a Snickers bar from the shelf and stepped out to the street.
I did. Its caramel sweetness was far more intense than it usually was, so much that it warmed me from inside.
Lifting no longer felt so evil.
"It feels like a choice," I said.
"That's all it really is."
Dominos, that's what it felt like after that. Smoking, drinking, lying without remorse, talking back at authority figures. All with the devil/Ernest Hemingway at my side, making little cuts between my eyebrows.
Only I could see it, but between my eyebrows was a pentangle carved by the little cuts the devil had made. It would eventually fade, but on certain cloudy days with the right kind of light I could see it not only on myself but also on others. They've met the devil, too.
Before long I would be telling the devil about the ones he had missed. I'd become a snitch for the devil.
When I tried to tell my friends about what'd been happening they looked at me with odd expressions and asked if there was something wrong.
I didn't know the answer then and I don't know the answer now.
I wonder what my son will do when he meets the devil.
A son? I had a brother? I'll bet Mommy doesn't know about this. And didn't Daddy care about me, his daughter?
And about this devil/Ernest Hemingway . . . he showed up this morning and he's sitting on my bed and he's smoking a foul-smelling cigarette. When I told him I liked to write he taught me the difference between an n-dash and an m-dash. He types incredibly fast using only two fingers.
Daddy, you're dead, but I want to tell you that after you abandoned Mommy and me, we had some hard times. Really hard times. Ernie here might not have much to teach me.
He just told me we're going to the store. Oh boy.