PERFORMED IN FRONT OF A LIVE AUDIENCE NOVEMBER 2011
From "Arc of Passion" by Maura Stone
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Ghosts of Past Lovers
by Maura Stone
I made a pact with the devil this summer. Unwittingly.
“How could you NOT know?” cried my friend, “between the cloven hooves, tail, horns and goatee—”
“He’s a filmmaker,” I interjected. “I thought he dressed for effect.”
My friend guffawed. “Did the fact that he smelt of sulfur raise any flares?”
I attributed it to a slight gastric problem.
All I wanted was a small part in his documentary. And waved off his terms and conditions for a taste of fame. After the shoot, the devil left with a leer, wink and promise to return by fall to collect his debt, patting me on the buttocks. At that moment, I realized he didn’t want my soul. He wanted my flesh. Something I willingly granted to a bowlegged orange–tinted demon with a bad overbite and chronic flatulence.
My friend lent his support. “You definitely bit off more than you can chew.”
I sighed. “Thanks for stating the evident.” Imploringly, I asked, “What should I do?”
“Stock up on ice packs,” he recommended, “and perhaps a gas mask.”
I had two days of peace and quiet. Until I received a text message: “Woman, you are deliciously unique,” sending a frisson of fear up my spine. It was vintage Stephen from thirty–six years ago.
Another one came in. “You, my lady, are totally, madly addictive and I love it!” That was Keith, the loser after the Stephen debacle.
The devil taunted me, haunted me with past lovers. Fast and furious came the texts. Mornings. Afternoons. Middle of the night. Tendrils of memory tickled my brain. In ghostly fashion faces appeared, formerly forgotten in the mists of time. Overwhelmed, the rigid emotional barriers I created over decades burst open. Anew, I relived anguish. Rivers of tears. Pain, regret, loss and longing. Extinguished hope. Where did all those yesterdays go?
I didn’t need the devil to point out how freely I gave my heart away to so many undeserving men. That was my mother’s job! But did I listen? More importantly, did I really need two yentas now in my life?
“No wonder I’m a basket case in the romance department,” I confided to my friend. “I should close the door and hang a sign: ‘Out of Business.’”
He dryly said, “Perhaps after your date with destiny.”
That night, I broke down and finally texted the devil.
“WTF?” I eloquently typed.
He replied, “Your flesh is not enough; I want you to desire me with the same passion you expended on all those other shmucks in your life.”
“Sorry, bud,” I wrote, “it ain’t worth two minutes of fame after editing.”
He then called me on the Iphone FaceTime. It was either accepting that or receiving a hologram while I was on the toilet.
“Yes?” I said, greeted by his satanic buck–toothed grin, beret jauntily perched on one horn.
“Here’s the deal. I’m gonna text you using only my words. No one else’s. And, if you aren’t smitten in two weeks, then all bets are off.”
Gratefully, I accepted. Honestly, who in their right mind could get emotionally involved with flights of fantasy encased in text bubbles? And find passion in an exchange of a few typed words?
You’re all invited to the wedding.
* * * *
This is a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.