The Deal: A Cold Night In New York Part 2

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

‘I always thought you were the master of this domain. Hell or purgatory or whatever you want to call it. What I mean is…’
   He cut me off by raising a languid finger in to the air.
   ‘You mean slaves Samuel. My kingdom is overflowing with them and I simply cannot manage them all on my own. Argatol is one of a few Angels who help me manage those countless souls. I need him back where he belongs. Here and by my side. And that is where you come in.’
   Here it comes, I thought. As the Mafia would so elegantly put it, I was about to be made an offer I couldn’t refuse.
   ‘I will grant you eternal life on the earthly plane if you return Argatol to me by midnight. If you refuse me I can promise you that all the human imaginings of life in hell will pale in comparison to the things I will personally do to you.’
   His voice, although deep, was strangely quiet. The words he spoke, although fierce some, where said so softly that I had no misgivings when it came to him following through on his promise.
   I could feel his eyes burn holes in my head as I sat there, blankly looking at my shaking hands. There wasn’t really a lot to think about in this case, and to be honest it wasn’t as if eternal life was such a bad thing to have, at least not that I could fore-see for the time being.
   I still hesitated and he must have sensed my inner turmoil.
   ‘Let me sweeten the deal.’ He said eventually after a few agonizing moments. ‘On top of everything I have already promised I will also grant your wife Lisa the freedom to go to heaven.’
   Suddenly, all the fear, anticipation and everything else I was currently feeling left my body and my mind was flooded with images of Lisa. I had tried for many years to put her to the very back of my mind, after all she was dead and I was still very much alive, but in that instant all I could see was her.
   I could clearly see the way her long blonde hair danced in the wind as she made her way back from the phone box and across the road to where I waited patiently in the old ford we had rented for the day.
   I also remembered the sound of the flatbeds horn sounding in the summer air moments before it struck and sent her mangled body crashing back against the phone box with enough force to render her face unrecognizable.
   By the time I had gotten out of the car and made it across the other side of the road she was gone. The last thing I held on to about that day, and it was still the one moment which, if I thought about it long enough, would bring tears to my eyes, was when I sat next to her crumpled remains, holding her hand and softly praying that she would survive even though I knew in my heart that she had probably died on impact with the flatbed.
   Lisa had been one of those rare people in my life who actually cared about others. As a kindergarten teacher she loved children and we had often talked about having one of our own someday. She was a truly gentle soul and what puzzled me was why she was suffering in hell for it.
   ‘She shouldn’t be here.’ I tried to force back the tears as the image of her remains faded from my thoughts.
   ‘Samuel, there is not a soul in my kingdom that does not deserve to be where it is. However, if you accept the deal then you can put an end to her suffering.’
   It was in that moment that my mind was made up. Even though I knew the deal was pretty much rigged against me, if Lisa was suffering then I had to put a stop to that. She had been the one and only good thing to ever come into my life, and she had given me five years of a normal life with all the peace, happiness and love I had ever wanted.
   It was the very least I could do for her and Satan knew it because I was slowly nodding my head as the memories of her faded to the back of my mind.
   ‘So, do we have a deal’ His tone was final and there would be no more opportunities to question him.
   ‘Yes, we do.’ I said, firmly and with as much determination as I could muster.
   ‘Very good Samuel. You have made the right choice.’
   I watched as he rose to his feet, a small wisp of a smile on his face as he turned and looked down at me.
   ‘You have until midnight to bring Argatol back to me. You will need this…’
   I watched as he reached into his jacket pocket and produced a small calibre bullet made of pure gold. He held the bullet out to me in his open hand.
   ‘You will need this to succeed, so whatever you do, don’t waste it.’
   ‘I’ve got plenty bullets of my own.’ I said, noting how cold he was to touch as I picked the bullet from the palm of his hand.
   ‘I can assure you that your earthly bullets will not inflict the kind of damage that this one can. If that was not so then he would not have survived your attempt on his life. Now go. You have thirty minutes to complete our deal.’
   The last thing I heard was Satan clicking his fingers and then for the second time that night everything went black.

Unlike my transition into the underworld, my return to the world of the human race was abrupt. Pain wracked my head and the left side of my body. I could hear the crumbling of broken glass and sirens in the distance.
   It took a few seconds for me to realize that I was still seated behind the wheel of the Mercedes. The gurney Jim Mancini had occupied, took up most of the space where the windshield should have been but I quickly noticed that the man himself was gone.
   I could feel all the muscles in my body tighten as I unclipped my seatbelt with far more effort than it should have taken. In my right hand I could feel something cold and hard, and once I mustered the energy to bring it up for inspection I could see the small gold bullet resting there in the palm of my hand.
   It hadn’t been a dream at all.
   I really had made a deal with the devil, and for the first in a long time I could feel my stomach lurch.
   It was then that another realization dawned upon me. The sirens I thought where coming towards me where actually moving away from me. Sure enough when I looked between the shattered remains of the windshield and gurney I could see an ambulance driving off.
   Grimacing in pain I forced the door open and quickly as I could I made my way to the front of the car. The ambulance I had crashed into was gone, and so was Mancini, or Argatol as he was to be called. I noticed there was gouge marks on the hood of the Mercedes and assumed that the para-medics probably tried to free both the gurney and the patient only to give up and settle for taking the patient instead.
   The whale of the siren was almost gone now and I knew I had to make up for lost time quickly. Mustering up all the energy I had, I climbed on to the hood of the car and yanked at the bed. At first nothing seemed to happen, it was well and truly stuck.
   Another tug and then another and still nothing. Then fin-ally after one last release of energy I was able to pull the gurney free enough so that it slid the rest of the way off the hood and clattered to the road under its own weight.
   Sliding of the car, I got back behind the wheel and tried to start the engine which simply wheezed and then died on me.
   ‘God, fucking damn it!’ I screamed, more out of frustration than anger.
   I turned the key again and nothing. Not even a wheeze this time. More frustrated than I had ever felt in my life, I slammed my fists against the steering wheel.
   The deal had been rigged. The devil must have known I was never going to get the damn car started in time. He was probably sitting in his chapel of horror laughing his ass off at my puny attempts to give him what he wanted.
   Sam, remember when it comes to working with cars you need to treat them the same way you would a woman. Rough housing them just won’t work and you’ll be left even more pissed off when you first started.
   It was the voice of my old mentor Clark. He was long gone now, another dark spot in my past, but his advice was always solid when it came to cars.
   ‘Okay, please start for me baby. Please.’ I begged as I turned the ignition key.
   For the briefest of moments there was nothing, not even a sign of life, and then like a punch to the jaw, the Mercedes roared to life and I couldn’t help but smile as the instrument panel lit up in its gentle orange glow.
   The digital clock situated at the top of the dashboard stated I had no more than twenty minutes before my end of the deal would be broken, so without further hesitation I threw the car into gear and steered it in the direction of the ambulance.

Someone must have been on my side as every set of traffic lights I reached where green which in turn meant it took only five minutes of driving before I was able to catch up with the ambulance.
   I found it hard to believe that it was the same ambulance I had ran into only moments ago. In the back of my mind I had envisioned a recovery crew coming to take it away and a new ambulance arriving to recover the patient and restart the journey from where the last one left off.
   As I got closer though, I was actually quite surprised to see the battered and bashed doors of the emergency vehicle. It only served to make the whole night all that more bizarre. First I fucked up with the hit, and then just to add insult to injury I had to make a deal with the devil just so I could complete what I had originally started out to do; only with the added bonus that I get to live forever if I can pull it off.
   Then there was Lisa. My beautiful wife. The woman who had gave me five years of real love and not the shit I had to pay for from the girls on the street. My heart ached for her, it never really stopped aching, but I tried my best to ignore it, hoping that it would eventually go away.
The problem with that way of thinking is that you simply can’t ignore what your heart feels. If it wants then you must give it, otherwise you only end up torturing yourself. It was in realizing that that I knew I wasn’t trying to save myself, I was trying to save the woman who had given me so much and asked for so little in return a chance to enjoy the heaven she so truly deserved.
   It seemed totally unfair that she had been in hell all this time, while I was out roaming the streets and killing people for money like I had done for so many years before I met her, and probably would continue to do so even if I did manage to pull off the impossible.
   I tried to change my mode of thought and concentrate on the job at hand, which for now was following the ambulance. This time I kept a safe distance. The rain outside was slowly turning to snow as had been forecast earlier this morning.
I had to narrow my eyes as the snow began to fall faster and harder, almost blinding me at times due to the speed of the car which was fast approaching seventy miles an hour. The glimpses I caught of the outside world where nothing more than a stream of blurred buildings and the occasional blurred face of a homeless person scavenging for food or shelter or both.
   For what seemed like an eternity I kept a cars distance away from the battered emergency vehicle, knowing that for some reason the breaks on the Mercedes where not working as they should and if I had to stop suddenly then it was going to involve hitting something hard.


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