Fiction: A Fly In The Ointment

He sat in the center and waited. A fly buzzed into the center and dropped to the floor. It lay still. Something in the air shifted. There was the smell of burning. Paul, sitting quietly in the center of circle and pentagram, turned in the direction of the movement in the corner of his eyes.

He had a beard, was dressed in polished jeans and a black and gold paisley shirt, a gold coke spoon hung around his neck. His black hair was permed into a tangle of curls and waves and his skin was pale white in color. He smiled at Paul and his perfect teeth glittered in the candle-lit room.

“Good evening, Paul. You rang my chimes and I have come.”

Paul rubbed his hands together and stood up unsteadily. His legs trembled beneath him. He could not believe his luck. The Summoning had been successful.

“Sir,” Paul stammered, “I had heard that, when summoned in the manner that I have used, you would be mandated to grant me what I need.”

“Ahh, need is it now, Paul? Desire would be more appropriate, don’t you agree? Or mayhaps you do know better than I? Call me Louis please. Are we not friends? I, at least, feel that I have been in touch with you for quite some time.

“So, let us get to the point then. The point! How ironic! My time is very limited and there are many who desire my services. What can I do for you, young man, and even more importantly, what do you have to offer me in return?”

Paul felt the growing lack of heroin in his cells, wiped his runny nose, and did the best he could in the way of pulling himself together to present his demand.

“Sir, I mean Louis, what I desire is an unlimited supply of heroin. The more I shoot, the more I want, and so, with your help, the more I shall have.”

Ah, young man, the rub is that you wish to command a substance produced by plant Spirits. There must be concessions made to the living small. I speak of the tiny ones that live from the nectars of the plants and make it possible for them to sex each other. And there must be a concession made to the Lord of the Flies, Ar Lain Ta, who oversees this kingdom.”

Paul looked askance at Louis and said,” I don’t give a damn about lord of this or that. I’m getting sick and want to close this deal. What do you want from me?”

“Normally,” Louis said, “your soul would be the legal tender needed to seal the deal, but your frayed and tattered spirit leaves me feeling that I would get the short end of the stick. The eternal possession of a raggedy coat is not on my priority list.”

Paul’s eyes were watering and he wiped his runny nose with his coat sleeve. He felt his gut twist and knew he would have to run to the bathroom any minute. But he knew he could not. Paul could not leave the protection of the circle. The sweat beaded up on his face as he spoke.

“But what else can I offer,” he pleaded with all the urgency of his sickness shining through his eyes. “I’ll give you anything I have.”

Louis smiled at him and pierced into his very soul with his glittering pupils. “This is the kind of deal we both can live with. I shall offer you a great favor because of all the hardships and pain you have suffered. Never let it be said that the Demon has no compassion for the sick and suffering addict.

“I shall seal your soul into your flesh for all time. You will never have to face the wrenching separation of Spirit from the flesh. The other Principalities that I am beholden to also concur that this is acceptable to them. You will do much good for the Kingdom and, because of your nature, you will provide homes for many.”

Paul winced with pain and anxiety. He could barely keep within the circle. At least that was how he felt.

“Yes, yes,” he said. “Let us seal the deal. I need to be fixed. Now, where must I sign?”

Louis stared at Paul for a long moment and then looked away. Although he was no longer looking at the forlorn junkie, Paul’s frightened gaze peered forth from within the Demon’s eyes.

“The deal is closed!”

Somehow Paul did not feel that all was well. He stared in amazement as a spoon, syringe, and a pile of powder appeared on a table across the room. A great sense of relief came over him.

Paul ran across the room and sat down at the table. He took the corner of an ID card and dumped some powder into the spoon. His hands would not stop shaking. He squirted water into the spoon. The powder, with the heat of a lit match, dissolved and he drew it up through a small piece of cotton.

He poised the point over his vein and plunged it in. He drew back on the plunger and his life fluid mixed with the potion. He pressed it into his bloodstream, felt the warmth flush his body and looked up.

The Demon was still in the room. Paul had forgotten the Spell of Closure. The Demon was smiling at him.

Suddenly Paul felt an intense itching throughout his entire inner body. His skin began to move of its own volition as if there was something alive underneath its surface.

Paul glanced down at the spoon, the syringe and the pile of powder. Something was moving. The pile stayed white and turned to maggots and the heroin that was left in the spoon and syringe began to turn to flies. Paul tried to scream but the wings of flies were clogging his throat.

As the Demon vanished his last words were, “For all time, Paul, for all time.”

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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