A Demon's Regret
Everything seemed to be going pretty smoothly. Almost all of the border skirmishes had been quieted. Hellam Township in York, Fengdu County in China, Murgo in Kashmir- all had settled down. Mount Osore in Northern Japan was a minor deal- kid’s stuff. Only part of the Karakum Desert in Derweze was still a considerable irritant; I was going to head up a party for diplomatic negotiations in the Black Sands that would leave tomorrow. I thought fondly of how, soon, I’d be able to send Andy in my stead for such things. He just needed to finish up his quest/penance/whatever it was exactly. I grinned happily to myself. Things were really on the up and up!
I twisted off the top of an Arrogant Bastard Ale and extended the legs of my recliner, ready to queue up the Packers game. I had timed it perfectly- the game wasn’t finished yet, so no one could spoil it, but I’d still be able to fast-forward through the ads on my DVR. I chuckled at the satanic genius of it, picked up the remote, and-
The main door opened and someone came shuffling in quickly. I set down the remote and turned to see a skinny orange demon in my livery that had dropped to one knee. His eyes were glued to the ground, with arms rigidly extended, and he was holding an old-fashioned scroll. “My Lord and Commander, Darkest King of Kings, forgive my intrusion! I come bearing an urgent message.” He looked terrified; his whole body was trembling.
I sighed. I didn’t recognize him; kid had to be new. Feeling lazy, I motioned him over, but he was still staring at the ground. I was comfy and didn’t want to move so I cleared my throat, “ok, bring it here.” He obeyed and when I spotted the seal on the scroll, I waved him away. This was a message to be read in private.
I scowled at the stupid little dove in pink wax. Dennis sure was turning into a major hippy as he got older. I gritted my teeth as I popped the seal. The text was brief:
“Hi Chris! You available to come hang out tonight? We can watch the Packers game! They’re going to lose, but it would still be great fun to watch!
I groaned from the very deepest reservoirs of my lungs. Why me!? My mood turned even sourer as I realized this meant an end to the Packers’ three game winning streak.
‘Great fun?’ ‘Love, Dad?’ And what exactly about this was urgent? This was from Baha, the Supreme Being, and this was urgent?
As I thought about it, I did have to acknowledge that such a batshit message was in keeping with his general MO, I just never seemed to get used to his antics. Over the years Dennis had done very little to quell the incessant warring between our peoples. He was far more prone to bizarre, grand gestures and mysterious shenanigans. More than likely the game invite was just a front for some other reason he wanted to talk to me. If that was the case, at the very least, he could have helped the Packers’ win! I gave myself the petty satisfaction of scorching the stupid scroll in my hands instead of recycling it. Hmph!
I didn’t particularly want to ‘hang out,’ but I did want to know the real motive behind the message. Besides, the premature disclosure of a game result deserved an ‘urgent’ complaint in person! Quickly locking the doors (though not bothering to put away my wings, horns, or tail), I popped rapidly through the dimensions, directly into my Father’s den, where I sensed him waiting for me. He was sitting on a lavender loveseat (in the same matching tracksuit he had been wearing the last time I’d seen him, but with the addition of a Cardinal’s baseball cap), with a dorky smile on his face that calmed some of my anger. But I was still really fucking pissed. “Dad, you-“
The Great Maker rose, now beaming, “Chris, you called me ‘Dad!’” I cringed at my slip. He clapped his hands and gestured to the paisley futon to his right, “have a seat!”
I stifled a snort and remained standing. “Look, I don’t really want to watch the game anymore. Is there another purpose for your summons?”
He winced, “yes, but I really did want to watch the game with you too.” He gestured to the futon again, “look, now I know not to spoil games for you.” He sighed when I didn’t budge. “Come on, Chris.I’m trying.” He looked so hopeful that I caved (though, for the record, I’d told him countless times before not to ruin games for me) and took a seat in the surprisingly comfortable futon. He looked pleased and nodded as he sat back in his loveseat, “I’m glad you like it; I just got it. It’s memory foam.”
I watched him expectantly as he held up a shushing finger and bobbed his head slightly as though he were counting. “Just a sec…” Abruptly his grin widened and he shot me a triumphant look, “there! There we go!”
I looked around, expecting some sort of biblical-style surprise, but saw nothing unusual. He looked so fucking pleased with himself though- I knew he was up to something. “Ok, I give. What is it? Do I even wanna know? You do something?”
He smiled like a sly, silver-haired, wrinkly cherub, “Sure did! But so did my grandson!”
Andy! My boy! The terror only a parent can feel for their child’s safety filled me briefly before I instinctively sensed what he meant: Andy’s hunting contract with (Y/N) was gone! All of Andy’s contracts with his marks were gone! The only bonding agreement that remained was his declaration of love for (Y/N)!
I raised both fists and snorted a small victory fireball. “Yes! He did it! Yes, yes, yes!”
Adonai raised his hand for a high-five and I took him up on it. He nodded gleefully, “Yep! He’s free, she’s immortal, and everything is all set for their happily ever after.” He opened a drawer and surprised me by pulling out a colorful glass pipe with a half-smoked bowl of cannabis. “Time to celebrate!”
I watched, shocked, as Shàngdì took a big draw, then blew the smoke out in an impressive, perfect ring. He nodded to me conspiratorially, “CBD, man, I love this stuff. Helps me stay centered.”
He offered me the pipe.“Er, no thanks.” I couldn’t help but wonder if Brahman smoking pot was such a good idea for the reality as a whole. On the other hand, if it helped him ‘stay centered,’ it was all good in my book, I suppose. Things went a lot more smoothly when the Almighty was feeling mellow.
“So, there you have it- Andy has passed my test.” He held up one finger, “he has learned to be kind, to love, and to nurture that love.” Then he held up a second finger, “he chose to sacrifice his short-term happiness for a better future. Despite his fears, “ another finger, “he put his trust in (Y/N), just as she put her faith in him. And, though he has a long way to go,” a fourth finger, “he is no longer so heartless and cruel as he once was.” He made a little flourishing gesture with his hand, ”he is learning wisdom and empathy. Andy has proven himself worthy to be your heir.”
I let out a deep breath. With it I let go of much more anxiety and fear than I had realized I was carrying. Andy had become the man I had always hoped he would, and now that his memory had been restored, I had my son back! For the first time, I found myself glad that Allah had placed (Y/N) in Andy’s path.
But still… though I knew (Y/N)’s ultra strong reactions or thoughts (or something) had drawn Andy in, I felt like that wasn’t enough to explain why Andy had more than a passing fascination with her. Why did he love her, over so many other women, over even an angel?
Tiān chortled good-naturedly. “You’ve basically got it right. (Y/N) is definitely very, very rare in terms of the strength of her emotions. And Andy was definitely completely captivated by that, but only in the predatory sense, as a hunter. The reason he loves her, the real reason?“ He shook his head, “that can never be explained using logic or words. Eternal, undying love is a great mystery, my son. Nothing can synthesize the truest forms of love, not even me. All I can do is make sure two folks find one another if I suspect it might happen. And, for the record, I’m almost always right. Coincidences are overrated.” He smiled before taking another toke. “It might be best explained simply- he loves her for her, and nothing else. Just like you and Amy.”
Though it might have seemed like the most obvious thing in the world, hearing that blew my mind. I loved Amy because she was Amy, no more and no less. Of course Andy loved (Y/N) for that same, universal reason! There didn’t need to be some sort of complicated, metaphysical explanation for Andy’s feelings for his woman. The power of love was its own potent force.
“Eh, it’s cashed.” I was woken from my reverie as Waheguru tapped the ashy contents of the pipe’s bowl into his palm, where they promptly disappeared, before putting the pipe away.
Only one thing still puzzled me. It just didn’t fit in with Yahweh’s rather conveniently simple, hippy-dippy explanations. “But why a proxy?”
Jehovah rolled his eyes, “I mean, of course for the obvious reason- I wanted to test (Y/N) as well! I don’t just hand out immortality to any old crusty passerby! And to a lonely woman like (Y/N), there’s no greater temptation than another desire demon, especially when it comes to hanky-panky. But… also for another reason.” He paused theatrically. “(Y/N) would have been murdered during Andy’s penitence if Ashley had not been there to protect her.”
My jaw, more or less, hit the floor, and Jah reacted with a gleeful giggle. “Clever, no?” I nodded, impressed, as I made a mental note to send Ashley a bottle of the best scotch in the Royal Cellars.
It seemed that everything really had turned out perfectly. Well, there was, sort of, one more thing, if we really were talking about a picture book situation here. I decided to go for it, “any chance Amy is going to change her mind and agree to be my Queen? As in, officially?”
“Ahahaha!” His laughter echoed off the vaulted ceiling, “ahahaha! Oh my god, no, of course not!” I blinked. Had he just said ‘oh my God?’
Embarrassed, I changed the subject, “so, do you think you should come to Andy’s coronation, or would it cause too much upheaval? Should I have it at home, or does it need to happen up here?”
Elohim chuckled contentedly, “Chris, your son is very young and newly in love! He’s busy- give him some time. He’ll probably be out of that foofy new-relationship phase in a century or so, maybe even sooner.”
He looked at me hopefully, “now that that’s all set, and Andy is on the path to supreme happiness, and I miraculously turned sour grapes into champagne… any chance you’ll watch the game with me?”
I raised an eyebrow. “No.”
Not giving up, he took on a conspiratorial look, “what if I mean next week’s Packers game?”
I grinned ear to ear, “now you’re talking my language.”
His smile widened and his eyes shone with excitement, “can we invite your baby brother?”
Of course he could, it was his house (if you thought about it, really all houses were), but I decided to raise the stakes, “can we have chips and dip?”
In the next moment, two things happened simultaneously. Firstly, a coffee table covered with gametime snacks appeared, complete with scoopable-style chips and both onion and queso dip. Secondly, I heard little J’s voice call from the doorway. “Hey Chris! Game time? Cool beans!”
I hope someone enjoys this.
Happy holiday season to those of you who celebrate during this time of year.