Devil at the Crossroads
My name is Marius Jackson, and I want to be a world famous writer. I've thought up a lot of great ideas for stories, characters, places, heroes and villains... all in my head.
I grew up in Mount Vernon, Texas. It's a tiny town off Interstate 30, less than a hundred miles from the Arkansas border. There wasn't much to do in such a small town so I spent a lot of time reading books and daydreaming. I’m only twenty-five so I got a lot of time to get my writing down. I just wish a publisher would give me a chance.
Anyway, that’s why I’m here sitting in the back of my pickup truck out in the middle of the night where two dirt roads cross probably a good thirty miles North of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Supposedly you can do this at any crossroad, but I got tipped off that this particular crossroad is especially lucky.
I check my watch... 11:36pm Central Standard Time.
They say if you go to the crossroads and wait there by yourself at the stroke of midnight the devil will appear and give you whatever you want in exchange for your soul. There was a man that went by the name Robert Johnson in the early 20th Century. Supposedly he was a terrible guitarist that went to visit the devil at a crossroads out in the middle of nowhere one night. The devil took Robert’s guitar, did something magic with it, gave it back, and after that Robert Johnson went on to become a world-famous blues musician. There was another guy name Isaiah Zinnerman who learned guitar from the dead in graveyards at midnight. Now I’m not a musician, but I’m sure I can strike up a deal with the devil. I’m not using my soul, so why not sell it for some Earthly pleasures?
I check my watch again... 12:06am... still Central Standard Time.
Normally in the middle of the woods at night there are little animal sounds all over the place. Crickets chirping, leaves rustling, cicadas making the most god-awful racket ever. But tonight it’s deathly quiet, and that is what’s unnerving about this whole thing. Not to mention I could be cut to ribbons by a stealthy summer camp killer in a hockey mask. Sure I’d try to start my pickup, but it’d have a dead battery. I could have installed a fresh battery that morning and it still wouldn’t start due to “mysterious circumstances”.. Then I’d get out of the truck and run into the brush. He’d chase after me by walking casually behind. I’d keep running, trying to get as far away as possible. He’d continue to walk casually behind me. I’d come into a clearing and fall down, and he’d be right behind me somehow. Of course I wouldn’t even make it that far, cause I’m the token black guy who gets killed off really early in the movie... I shouldn’t be thinking about things like this right now... gonna creep myself out even more than I already am.
I really want to leave this place. At this point I’m less concerned about the spiritual and metaphysical dangers than I am about the real dangers that are out here. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and cougars to be more precise. I really wish I brought a gun with me. But firing blindly into the forest at every strange noise is going to stir up some trouble and probably get one of the locals killed. And that’s the last thing I want on my conscience.
I shut my eyes for a moment and take a deep breath. I could’ve sworn my eyes were closed for only a minute, however the next moment I open them there’s a dark figure standing at the foot of my truck bed, staring me down with wild and fiery red eyes. I’d scream with fright except I know it won’t do any good. He’s a tall and slender man wearing what appears to be a neatly-trimmed gray suit with a thin black tie, topping off the look with a snappy black fedora. He’s well dressed for any funeral.
He smiles a sharp-toothed grin from ear to ear. This would be an opportune moment to try and jump into the truck and get the hell out of there, but I can’t help but stare, fixated on his burning gaze.
“Good evening, Marius,” the slender man says. “You know who I am and why I’m here.”
“W-Who are you?” I whimper, while nearly crapping my pants in fear.
“Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Señor Diablo... whatever name you use. It’s all the same to me,” he says mockingly. It seems he got my unspoken and unasked summoning.
"Then you know what I'm here for," I reply trying to not squeak like a little girl.
"Yes I do," the demon responds. "Whaddya play?"
"Play?" I ask.
"Have you even started playing an instrument? How you gonna be a great blues musician if you don't have an instrument to play?"
"There must be some misunderstanding, Mr. Satan..."
"Don't call me that!" the devil barks.
"But I thought all the names were the same to you..."
"Except THAT name," he growls.
"Anyway, Mister... um... Sir. I don't want to be a blues musician. I want to be a world famous writer."
The devil gives out a hearty laugh, or whatever the horrifyingly evil equivalent to that is, and sighs. “A writer?! You want to be a writer with that name?! Marius Jackson?! That name just screams ‘blues musician’!”
“Now that’s just racist!” I huff.
“Marius, my boy, everyone is racist to some degree or another whether they want to admit it or not.”
“You don’t have to be racist!” I retort.
“No, you don’t, however part of the job of a performer is to give the audience what they want and what they want is what they expect. What they expect, if you’re pandering to stereotypes is ‘Marius Jackson, the blues singer’. Now if that sounds a little racist, well then so be it.”
“Come on, man, nobody listens to the blues anymore.”
The devil cocks his head and smiles. “Okay, Marius Jackson, world-famous writer, what books have you published?”
“Well, nothing so far...”
“What have you written?”
“Nothing, but I would if they would give me a chance...”
“So you haven’t published anything, nor have you ever written anything. How is it you’re a writer again?”
“Well I want to be a writer so...”
“Wanting to be something is not the same as actually being that something. If you want to be a writer so bad then why the hell aren’t you writing anything?”
“That’s why I came to you! How can I write anything if a publisher won’t give me a chance?”
“A publisher won’t give you a chance if you don’t write something,” the Prince of Darkness blurts out. “Publishers don’t run on blind faith... well unless they’re printing hymnals or something.”
“So why you keep trying to sell me on a blues musician?” I ask, now thoroughly confused.
“Because you got a pretty face, and I can see a potential performer a mile away.”
And here’s where we get the full-on sales pitch.
“Kid, I’ve been in showbiz for a long time. A good artist without a good producer is a broke artist. I can turn anyone into a successful performer with a gimmick, some polish, and some marketing buzz.”
“Don’t I like have to sacrifice a virgin or something?” I jokingly ask.
“You can if you want to, but it won’t affect your chances either way. Take my card and think about it,” and with that the devil disappears into the shadows of the forest leaving behind a fancy looking business card decorated in black and gold.
So that’s my story.
I’m Marius Jackson, a world-famous blues musician.
Looking for a little more?
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