The air is alive in the small Spanish restaurant tonight. Most patrons have come to see an important boxing match that is, despite its significance to the sport, obscured by concurrent events.
From the laughter, the clinging of tequila glasses and cheap beer bottles, a sense of normality greets those who have come here to do more than watch the boxing match. But, what is normal to those same people makes most others question reality fundamentally.
From its unobtrusive entrance, the place shows faces that are the stuff of psychological thrillers and horror books.
The table, where some of the demons the Devil enjoys await, sits seven, and the empty chair reserved for me beckons an all-too-familiar sense of danger and asymmetry. Off-balance, always ready to move, understanding that things can and often go awry. I’m home.
From the table, six people look at me with regard. My entrance signals that the evening will meet their expectations or exceed them if they know how to ask for what they want.
Fidel, the Cuban dissident whose name he’s heard mentioned in conversations about fighting injustice, stands up to shake my hand with a beaming smile. We laugh at the irony of his given name, a name he hasn’t changed because of the value that irony brings to the fight for independence.
Dee, my old billionaire friend, starts to pour a celebratory shot for my arrival. “Tequila is expensive in Russia; it’s all I drink in my house,” he submits with a smug half-smile. “You and I will drink anything we find, expensive or not,” objects Mark, a Ben Affleck lookalike who allegedly made his way from Belfast to New York illegally only because he wanted to experience the fear of asymmetrical travelling. He admits that it wasn’t scary, but the experience taught him how to help people to freedom.
To the right of Mark sits Art, a well-dressed Jew from Southie, and he has the scars to show for it. “I thought I’d seen the Devil growing up, and then I met you, brother. It’s been too long. Cheers!” Says Art, bringing his shot glass up.
“You’re still growing up, Art,” pipes in Jan (pronounced Yawn), with the same typically non-rhotic accent of the South Boston folks. We all laugh as we put up our glasses and down a shot of a surprisingly soft tequila. Art and Jan run several organisations together. Rumour has it that they can get you in and out of any country for the correct cost or the right motivation.
And to my left, a face that has already intrigued me after only twenty seconds of arriving and starting a poisoning sequence that will lead the conversations to where we all need them to go.
“This is the person you’ve come to see,” says Dee, motioning to the woman in the blue blouse, who sits between Fidel and me. “She doesn’t trust anyone, and I’m sure she knows more about you from looking at you these last few seconds, than most of your fiends know.”
“Hello, person I’ve come to see,” I says as my introduction to the woman in the blue blouse.
“You move and sound like the Devil,” she replies, “And you almost look like him.”
“Almost?” I ask, taking a chair and positioning myself to have the conversation I’ve anticipated for weeks.
“You looked perplexed that I am a woman. The Devil wouldn’t give two shits about my gender if I could help with his project.”
“I’m only perplexed by how calm you are around these imps,” I retort to her misrepresentation of my apparent bewilderment. “I’m also excited to understand what you can do for the Project. I can’t give one shit about your gender let alone two.”
“Well put,” she says, “now you look like what you are.”
“I was there, on the inside, on both sides of the game. I can help the Project by double-dealing the people you’re looking for because they trust me.” She says this as she reaches for Dee’s bottle of tequila to pour another round of shots. She continues to explain how the duplicity she entertains makes her happy – lying to the degenerates we need to find gives her a feeling of balance.
“Will you punish them, Devil?” She asks, leaning closer to me and handing me an overflowing shot-glass. “Will you punish them or hand them over to the law?” She continues.
“Yes,” I reply, moving closer to her and hitting her glass with mine before ingesting the poison she served.
“Thank you,” she says softly, “for not asking my name, I won’t give it, and you know that.”
“I don’t care for names, and you know that. Besides, where you’re taking me names are only a problem.”
The night was a celebration of old and new friendships – of the people willing to take us where they need to go – it was a great night. It was a ceremonial evening of the things some are willing to do, the chaos some are ready to face to ensure that others live in peace.
As the prince of lies, as many call me, I often celebrate deception and fraud in the name of fairness.
From my dizzying heights of his ecclesiastical seat of power, I admire people like the woman in the blue blouse for understanding the importance of duplicity in defence of the truth – in defence of justice.
— The Devil Unbound.