“The Devil is a liar” calmly replies an 11 year old boy, obviously irritated with the questions of two old men. “That boy is a trip ain’t he?” asks one old man to the other, but there is no reply from his drinking buddy. His buddy just stares at the boy curled up on the floor, trying to make sense of things. The boy is clutching his head due to a terrible migraine; and his nose has a trickle of blood slowly making its way down his face. The old man who did not answer the question, asks one of his own. “What’s wrong with this kid?.. Is he crazy?” he asks. “These kids wouldn’t be here if they weren’t” replies his friend as he reaches into his pocket. He pulls out an old handkerchief as he makes his way over to the boy sitting on the floor. He can barely walk for he’s as drunk as a sailor lost at sea. Now standing at the boy’s feet, he sways back and forth as he stands towering above him. He doesn’t fall, even though he looks like he will with every sway of his unbalanced body. He slumps over, offering the boy his handkerchief with his outstretched arm. The boy can barely bring his eyes to focus on the offering due to his splitting headache. The sunlight in the room seems ten times too bright. His eyelids are dry, making any movement of his eyes a painful one. Even the tear drops do not sooth his pain. The boy forces his dry painful eyes to focus anyway for he knows he will need them shortly.
He knows the evil he will soon see.
He knows what he must do so that his pains will go away.
He sees the handkerchief dangling from a hand that’s worked hard over a long span of time. The fingernails are yellow, dirty, cracked and 2 inches too long. His hands are terribly dry with huge knuckles that look like giant marbles. His fingers are bony and veiny, obviously arthritic and brittle. To top it off, his hand stinks of pork rinds and whiskey. The handkerchief is certainly in the same condition. None the less, the boy takes the offered handkerchief and wipes his nose with it. In doing so, he can see the smeared blood on the white of the linen. Even though it wasn’t clean to begin with, the boy feels embarrassed. He is hesitant to give the old man his handkerchief back. The boy is also scared not to for he knows this man all too well. The old man drinks to escape his own ugliness. He is moody with or without alcohol in his blood stream. I minute he can be laughing in the midst of a game of “UNO” The next minute he can be slapping the boy across his face, accusing him of cheating during the game. As predicted and as expected, the old man doesn’t take kindly to the boy keeping his handkerchief. He is also upset that he’s got blood on it as well. Petty? Yes, but this is who he is to the core.
“Now ain’t this a bitch?” asks the old man, while doing his best to keep his drunken body upright.
His question again went in the direction of his drinking buddy, who again is a man of few words. His buddy just stares at the boy curiously. The boy looks back at him, and as he stares into his manikin-like face, another drop of blood runs from his nose.
(Feeling like there is nothing to lose, they boy wipes his nose again)
“You have got to be kidding me!” says the old man as the boy vigorously finishes what he started. The old man and the boy are in an open archway that separates a hallway from a dining room on the first floor of a group home. The old man is the grounds keeper and the boy is one of the home’s newest guest. The boy is sitting in the fetal position. His knees are at his chest with his back is pressed against the wood beam of the archway. The old man is staggering directly in front of him with his silent friend in the hallway besides him. The old man hunches over to snatch the napkin from the boy’s hand but he stumbles off balance. He trips over the boys sneakers and falls head-first into the dining room. He hits his head squarely on the dining room table. It spins him around onto his back on the floor. He is not unconscious. The boy knows this because the old man is cursing him up and down, blaming him for what happened.
“Calvin! I need you to go get my pills and my cane from upstairs!” the old man says while clawing his way up a chair from the floor.
“But Ms. Nana said not to take your pills when you’re drinking!”
The old man was slumped over in the chair, looking like he was going to pass out. Until Calvin got mouthy with him that is. The old man’s name is Stratford Hall and he’s a shell of his former self. Life has dealt him the same random cards it deals to everyone else. Stratford has not played the game very well and he knows it, yet he still blames the dealer.
“If you don’t march up the damn steps and bring me my shit. I’m going tell the rest of the boys to beat your ass when they come home!”
Calvin looks at Stratford’s drinking buddy, but he’s as quiet as cat in a window. His face is void of expression and his eyes are lifeless like that of a doll. He stands in the hallway at the foot of the stairs. Calvin knows that he must go past him to get the pills, but he is afraid to do so. Calvin looks back over at Stratford just as he falls asleep in the chair. As soon as he does, the old man in the hallway speaks.
“How is it that you can see me?” asks the old man.
“I don’t know I just can” says Calvin while squinting his eyes as his headache intensifies.
“Do you know my name as well?” he asks but Calvin doesn’t answer this time. He rises up from off of the floor and starts to make his way around the old timer towards the stairs. The area around the old man is stale and without life. It feels 5 degrees colder in the space that’s around him. Calvin tries not to look him in the face but he cannot help himself. He looks up at his face as he walks past and notices that his eyes have even less life in them than before. They are totally black now. The old man also has a nose bleed same as him…
Calvin starts running up the stairs but his headache stops him halfway between the top and bottom tier.
“Do you know my name?” The old man persists with his voice sounding like his position has changed. Calvin does not want to look behind him, but his curiosity gets the best of him. The old man with black eyes and a nose bleed no longer stands in the hallway. He is now a few steps down from him on the stairway. What stands at the foot of the steps is not a man at all. His feet and legs are that of a goat, with black hoofs and furs of silver and gray. His Pelvis, belly and chest are that of an old man who stays in shape. He is muscular, without clothes and without anything to define his gender. His neck is curled to the front of his body like that of a buzzard. He has black wings coming out of his back that look dingy and broken. His head is the skull of an Ox without horns or the black eyes he saw before.
“Do you know my name?” says the creature with a voice far different than that of the old man that was.
“We both know that if I say your name it will give you power” finally answers the boy, before he finishes running up the steps. He runs into the bathroom which is the first room at the top of the steps. No quicker than he can start closing the door, he sees the creature floating up the staircase. He slams the door and presses the button lock inside of its handle. No sooner than he does this, he hears the creatures voice through the door.
“If you truly know who I am, then you know this door cannot keep me from entering” says the creature in a voice that sounds like it is on Calvin’s side of the door.
“You fascinate me Calvin… I don’t want to harm you, I just want to talk to you”
Calvin’s not sure if he’s speaking the truth. But he is sure that it will be hours before anyone comes back. His eyes can see clearly now, without any pain. His head is still killing him, but not as much as before. So he knows he is on the right path. He turns his back to the door and slides down until he is sitting in the same fetal position he was in downstairs. Then Calvin answers the creature on the other side of the door…
“And what is it you want to talk about?”