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I Saw Goody Proctor With the Devil After Study Hall

When you prick your finger with the post of your sterling silver earring and sign your name in his black book—Mead brand, wide-ruled, 70 pages, which he keeps taped underneath the third lunch table on the left—the ramifications of breaking your promise are perfectly clear. Gone too soon, the yearbook will say. After that, fire and brimstone, or some less cliché form of torture. He talks a big talk—kinky, Arabella says, like she’s a real deviant, like her first kiss wasn’t last summer. But even before Minnie Sanders scored the lead in Bye Bye Birdie—your lead—you suspect clichés are all he’s got. The bottle black hair, the Sharpie pentagrams on the handle of his pocket knife.

Also perfectly clear: it’s a raw deal either way. For one moment of control—ten weeks if you count all the rehearsals and shows—you do his bidding for the rest of your life. Which he’ll probably cut short anyway, because this is the Devil we’re talking about. Not exactly known for his honesty. So why not sign? You’ve been trying out for the Spring musical since freshman year, and you always get stuck in the chorus. Villager #2, Dancing Fork #8. The icebergs are melting, there’s a mass shooting every other day. Might as well take the ten good weeks.

But what are the consequences for the Devil when he doesn’t keep his end of the bargain? You expect him to cheat, but he’s supposed to do the one thing you bled all over his notebook for in the first place. Now Minnie Sanders is swooning for Conrad Birdie, and he wants a blow job in the third floor bathroom. You have to do his bidding, but you never promised to do it well. You have teeth, and notebooks aren’t made to last.


Goody Proctor and the Devil Adopt Don’t Shop

Wish Jesus had never been born is your joke at the shelter, on everyone’s lips—except Sister Bridget’s, the nun who volunteers on Wednesdays—from November to January, when do-gooders adopt cats and dogs for Christmas, only to return them when they realize pets are work. It’s the least wonderful time of the year, putting them in the crates again once people’s stockings have come down from the chimney.

The Devil has to be sympathetic. You remember something about witches’ familiars, like they get a free pet as a signing bonus. He needs a supply—why not the shelter? Give the fur babies a forever forever home.

You’re no Sister Bridget—you struggle reciting ritual Latin through the cacophony of barks and meows. The animals know something’s up. You fumble through it, and he finally waltzes through the door, bell chiming in his wake. Then you notice his wings, and your first dumbstruck thought is we don’t take birds. His voice isn’t a voice, but with one utterance the animals go deathly silent.

“I didn’t kill them,” he transmits, infuses, infects, seduces. “I’m not a killer. I only present choices. Speaking of.”

Instead of the application and fee, he hands you a black book. Your second dumbstruck thought is whether you should ask the Devil to fill out the application, like you’re going to do a home inspection in Hell.

“I can fill it out,” he alarms, tickles, consumes, circulates. “But the important paperwork is yours. Got something to poke your finger? Your soul for all of theirs—it’s a good deal.”

After you bleed, he reminds you to pick your own familiar. You select a black cat with copious toes.

“Nice choice,” he emanates, seeps, wheezes, bites. The animals follow him to the door Pied Piper style. “Tell Sister Bridget I say hi.”