Alex put his newborn son back in his bassinet and tucked his blanker around him. He stood there marvelling at the wonder of this new life that he and Susan had created when he felt a presence in the room. His heart sank and he turned to face the inevitable.
“He’s quite something Alex. A shame you have to give him up I must say. However, a deal is a deal.”
“So here you are. I’m surprised it took you this long. He’s two weeks old.”
“Oh come now Alex, I’m not that bad am I? Did you really think I’d come for him on day one?”
Alex’s pulse was racing but he kept his head and tried not to let his anxiety show. He had been thinking for many months about how he might get out his predicament. He stood and looked Satan in the eye.
“Could we please go somewhere else and discuss this before you take him away?”
Satan bowed and then snapped his fingers. Alex found himself sitting at a table in an elegant club with a beer in front of him. Satan took a sip of his and gestured for Alex to do the same.
“So then, what is it you want to say?”
“Look, I know we made a deal. I’m not trying to get out it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that…well…”
Satan put his hand up and leaned across the table. “But you were young and you had decided you’d never marry and so you figured you’d never have a child anyway so when you asked me for health and wealth beyond imaging you thought you were being clever.”
Alex felt his face go red. “As you say, I was young. What did I know?”
Satan chuckled. “I always win Alex. Even with your youthful folly you should have realized that.”
“Well I know a lot more now and I’ve had a lot of time to think about all of this. I’m asking you to consider a fact you may have overlooked. You made a deal with me Old Nick. My first born in return for the life of wealth and privilege you granted me.”
“That’s correct. So your point is…?”
“So my point is that you made a deal with me and me alone. You did not make a deal with Susan. If you take my son you’re also taking her son. I’m sorry, but I can’t see how that can possibly be right.”
He sat back and watched Satan’s face. Satan said nothing for several seconds, then his eyes narrowed and he drummed his fingers on the table, his sharp black fingernails making a horrible racket. No one seemed to pay it any mind. It was as if they weren’t there.
At last a smile came to Satan’s lips.
“Well now Alex, you make a valid point. It wouldn’t be fair in the least to Susan to take the baby would it?”
Alex allowed himself to hope he had found a way. “That’s right. So what do we do now?”
“Well, you made a deal Alex. And as you well know a deal is a deal. You’re going to have to make a proposal here. The onus is on you.”
Alex turned his palms up. “Fair enough. Here’s what I propose. Take anything from you like except for my wife and child. I don’t care. I know you’re not going to let me out of our deal, I only ask that you leave my wife and child out of it.”
The devil stared at him for many long moments and then smiled.
“All right Alex. Our deal is hereby amended. I will take something other than your child.”
“Okay, so what are you taking?”
Satan laughed, snapped his fingers and vanished.
Susan stood up as the doctor came out of surgery. His face betrayed nothing.
“Is he going to be all right doctor?”
“Yes Mrs. Bennett, he is. At least I hope so. He’ll definitely make it but we’ll have to see when he comes around if there will be any complications. It was a bad crash and he’s got some brain swelling. You can see him in an hour or so, he should come out of it then.”
Two hours later Alex came to and looked up at Susan standing over him. He was confused.
“Oh darling you’re awake. Thank God. I’ve been waiting for you to open your eyes. How are you feeling?’
Alex blinked and stared at her. “Who are you?” he asked.