A Belated Lesson

Dennis cringed and turned away as the girl laughed in his face and walked. It was the fifteenth time in two weeks. He supposed he should be getting used to it. He ordered another scotch and soda and noted the odd look the bartender have him. Unable to resist as he poured it the bartender spoke.

“Never had a guy your age order this drink. Was it your dads favourite?”

Dennis gritted his teeth. “No.”

He stood and looked for a quiet corner to disappear into. He settled into a booth and nursed his wounded pride along with his drink. He was looking over his shoulder at a group of young people when he got a distinct whiff of sulphur and whipped his head back around.

“You. What do you want? I’ve only been alive again for two weeks. A deal is a deal, no?””

“Oh yes Dennis. Indeed it is. I just thought I’d pay a courtesy call and see how you were doing. I must say you don’t look happy.”

Dennis took a gulp of his scotch and sneered. “You could try not to sound quite so happy about it.”

Satan grinned. “It’s my nature to be happy.”

“Yeah, well…”

“So tell me, what’s bothering you? You were quite satisfied with our arrangement, what was it, forty-five years ago?”

“Forty-seven. I just thought it would be different.”

Satan leaned back and put his elbows on the red leatherette and oozed contentment. Dennis wanted to reach across and strangle him but he knew that wouldn’t be possible.

“Well Dennis, perhaps I can be of some assistance, what seems to be raining on your parade?”

It galled him to give Old Nick what he was certain would be the satisfaction but he felt the need to unburden himself all the same.

“Well, these kids today, they don’t accept me as one of their own. The crap they think is cool! Who’s this Usher guy? The slang, I just don’t get it. They think I sound funny. Look at these clothes I have to wear to try to fit in.

Satan nodded. “Well you’re not twenty-one Dennis. You were, what, seventy-five when you died?”

“Well yes, but the deal was I could come back and live one more year as my twenty-one year old self having all the knowledge and wisdom I gained over the years of my life.”

“Well that’s exactly who you are Dennis, a twenty-one year old man with the life experience of a seventy-five year old. Just as you wished. I’ve honoured our contract.”

Dennis slammed his glass down. “Well then why is it not working out? Why can’t I score any chicks? Why do the guys call me grandpa? I look like them, I dress like them, what the hell is going on?”

Satan chuckled. “Interesting wording.” He leaned forward and frowned. “You know what makes it so easy for me collecting souls? People never understand what’s so right about being in the moment. You all want to be somewhere you’re not.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Dennis, the experience you have, the wisdom you’ve earned at any given point is all that you need to be happy. People fail at happiness because they think it’s outside of them. If they realized that weren’t true I’d be out of business.”

“You mean…”

“Yes, you made an unwise decision wanting be the young you with the knowledge and wisdom of the old you.”

“So you knew it wouldn’t work out and let me do it anyway. You bastard.”

Satan laughed. “Free will, Dennis. Free will.”

Dennis put his head in his hands and sobbed.

“Now, now. I never said you had to go through with this. You can leave with me now if you like.”

Dennis looked up and knew all at once it was the best option. Something he would never have thought possible. He nodded his head. Satan snapped his fingers and they both disappeared.


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