Coffee and Burgers
Devil and his girlfriend were sleeping it off in a massive tangle of sheets and
blankets in a lazy motel in southern California. She had her hand in his groin
and he in hers. She was giving him dozens of tiny kisses on his right shoulder
while they drowsed. He was scratching out a lazy rhythm in her groin, and
disturbed she pushed his hand away.
I keep it up,” he mumbled, “I can make a wish upon the stars and my wish will
it up,” Rafaela said, “and I’ll see God.”
wrapped herself deeper into the tangle of sheets and blankets.
you want to sleep some more?”
was noncommittal. But covered her head up with blankets.
never slept, unless they wanted. Sleep was optional.
you hungry?” he asked.
she maybe mumbled.
left their bed, dressed, and went across the street to an odd hamburger stand
that was open this early. The shady man behind the counter did not like having
a customer like the Devil this early. He looked like he had business other than
cooking burgers planned for this morning.
he took the Devil’s order and moved to start cooking.
that hot coffee I’m smelling?” the Devil asked.
Mexican coffee,” the shady cook said. “It’s very strong.”
two shots of espresso?”
cups to go, please,” the Devil said. “But make them each Americano size. Huge.
Massive. Add extra espresso. Make it strong. I’ll pay extra whatever it is.”
cook was surprised and began again.
a hundred bucks,” the Devil said. “I’ll be right back.”
that his order was in, the Devil turned to look around at the neighborhood.
Next door was a ratty junkyard filled with oh-so-interesting hardware. Across
the street was a white van that said in faded letters fish on the side. The Devil
found both very curious.
took cellphone photos of the junkyard, even entering the property to get close
ups here and there. He was very interested in a man-size pile of gravel on the
far side of the building. He was seriously interested in the skeleton hand just
poking from the gravel. He kicked at this, revealing the phalanges of a left
hand, and a large shiny red ring on one of the bones. He photographed it from
several angles and then took the ring.
the fuck you doing, man?”
Devil turned and saw three thugs flanking him.
gave them a big friendly smile. “My girlfriend gave me a new smart phone,” he
said, “and I am learning how to use the camera.”
is private property,” one of them said.
I don’t care,” the Devil said. “I do what I want.”
took a photo of the three of them.
you want copies?” he asked.
junkyard dogs, they advanced on him, growling.
took them one at a time, then two at a time, and he photographed them sprawled
on the ground. Then he grabbed each man and tossed him onto the roof. He threw
all three up there. He had in his left hand all three of their cell phones.
coffee, he turned to return to the small hamburger stand.
fourth man stood in his path. He had driven his shiny new Mercedes up. Not
being electric, the car was a bargain, but still frightfully expensive. The
man was hefty, stout, and heavily
tattooed. He was much angrier than the other three. This was his junkyard and
he conducted much illicit business here. Even if the stranger had said he was
the Devil, the junkyard owner would have shot him.
he had a pearl-handled revolver pointed at the Devil.
are my men?” he demanded.
threw them up there,” the Devil said, indicating the roof of the junkyard
junkyard owner disbelieved him, but glanced warily up at the roof.
ring do I have?” the Devil asked. “Who did you kill?”
was holding it up. The red stone in the ring glistened in the morning sunshine.
junkyard owner said nasty things to the Devil and called him out.
Devil smiled and took his photograph.
junkyard owner shot him five times and nothing bloody happened.
Devil called the revolver to him. The gun flew the fifty-foot distance and
landed happily in his hand. The junkyard owner was awed and backed up.
five bullets in this piece,” the Devil said, “but I reloaded.”
that the junkyard’s owner had seen him reloading. But being the Devil, he was
the most powerful being alive in this universe.
don’t believe me,” the Devil said.
shot the junkyard owner’s Mercedes in the radiator five times. Steam poured out
and rose like dying souls to the heavens and the blue sky.
Mercedes owner was horrified. His car was that precious and new.
Devil shot him in the thigh and the Mercedes owner cried and fell.
reloaded again,” the Devil said. “You didn’t see me?”
Mercedes owner gripped his wound with a bandana and howled like an angel cast
out of Heaven.
you’ll be okay,” the Devil said. “But you won’t enjoy it.”
marched around the bleeding man, snapping another photo.
at the shop, his order was ready.
the change,” he told the shady cook and gathered up his goodies.
the way back to the motel, the Devil saw the white van with the faded sign
saying fish on its rear and went over. He set the coffees on the van’s roof and
knocked on the side window.
nervous woman with her mouth opened wide appeared.
you have any evidence bags?” he asked through the glass.
lady cop lowered the window and he asked again.
slowly brought up a transparent quart-size baggie and he asked for one larger.
She brought up a gallon-sized one. The Devil dumped the red ring, the pearl-handled
revolver, and the three cell phones from the thugs into the bag.
should be able to get some convictions out of these things,” he told her.
drove up alongside in her white Stingray.
you get breakfast?” she said.
burgers and coffee,” he said.
good enough. Let’s get going.”
woman in the van said, “We will find you, you know.”
Devil laughed and pressed his hand against the glass of her window.
he said to the lady cop. “No fingerprints.”
has published more than a hundred stories, poems & essays and a dozen or so novels.
Most all of his writings are on Kindle or the web.
Note: Upon publication, we received word that Mr. Zackel passed away on Christmas Eve after a short and unexpected illness.
Our condolences and prayers are with the family...