An Excerpt About the Devil

Lord it has sucked around here lately, I know. But here’s a little of what I’ve been working on instead. I’ll set the scene. Hannah has just acquired the Devil’s baby from the police in Greenwood, Mississippi, and stopped at the Walmart in Grenada to pick up some things. She meets the Devil in the Baby aisle:


“Hell is no place for a baby,” he walked on as if it was a matter of fact, but I noticed that he clenched the side of the cart as he said it. “I want her to have a different life. Who I am now is not who she has to be.”

I didn’t know what to say. Like I said, I wasn’t really brought up with a concept of the Devil as a tangible actual being. According to our family, and thus religious, upbringing, he was simply the personification of the force of Evil and not someone you would run into in Walmart.

But what’s one more weird thing, right?

I  just hadn’t been prepared for a grieving demon.

“But you’re the boss,” I said. “Couldn’t you keep her safe?”

“That’s the thing,” he explained. “You’re never the boss. Not completely. No matter how powerful you are, there’s always someone looking for a chance. And that someone, even if you don’t know who he is yet, has power over you. Once you realize someone out there is watching, you start to change your behavior, you start to imagine what they might do to you, what you might do that gives them an opening.

“Half of their hardest work is done for them by you, once you start to imagine them out there, plotting against you.

“And if she stayed? How could I not teach her to do the same? What kind of life would that be?”

“One wonders,” I said. By this time, we were deep in the grocery aisles, rolling past brightly colored boxes of things you eat only when you’re a child or stoned, which was slightly different than the aisle of brightly colored packages of things you eat only when you’re a child, stoned, or stressed. “This is pretty selfless of you,” I pointed out the obvious. He was cooing over the baby now.

“It’s the chance I give all my kids,” he shrugged.

“You do this all the time?” I said, starting to get annoyed.

He grinned slyly at me and said, “Condoms feel funny.”

14 thoughts on “An Excerpt About the Devil

  1. I had thought this was a historical novel, so seeing the devil in Wal Mart brought a little twinge of excitement! Of course the devil shops in Wal Mart.

  2. Ha, well, for the amount of research I did on Methodists in the 19th century, you’d assume it would be a historical novel, but no, it ended up being set now with lots of discussion about the past.

  3. This excerpt is fun. But I am maybe embarrassed, but must truthfully admit that with my religious beliefs I am personally having trouble with the concept of Devil as Character. Not that I think it is not a good idea or that the prose doesn’t work.

    It’s just that I am squicky with the idea.

  4. Yeah, I hear you. It’s a fine line.

    Probably the whole book is a fine line in a lot of regards, since I’m dealing with people’s fundamental beliefs.

    I know people will be uncomfortable and I hope that folks who can and want to read the book will understand that that discomfort is kind of at the heart of the book–are ministers’ kids who want to talk about our experiences ever not playing with live wires?

  5. And I should say, that though he seems nice and charming here, it’s a long con designed to get her up to Hendersonville so that his followers can sacrifice her to him.

  6. Of course the devil shops in Wal Mart.

    Since he INVENTED it, that makes complete sense.

    Up to Hendersonville? Are you sure you don’t mean Castalian Springs? ~winks~

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