January 3rd, 2005

Mask

Michael R. Belkin, 348 Springfield Drive.






The cabbies eyes glanced in the rearview, ashen blue, age rimmed, mischievous.

“Tell me, do you honestly miss your soul?” He said, and swerved, throwing me against the door. I banged my head on the glass and heard a crack. I thought it was the window, but it was the left lens from my glasses that fell into my lap.

“Fine! I accept Jesus Christ into my life!” I clutched at the strap over the window and searched frantically for the seatbelts, drowned in the cushions of the backseat.

“No, no.” The cabbie chucked “Its not like that at all.” He swerved again and I was flung to the cab floor. I touched my forehead and my fingers came back wet with blood.

“Stop the car!”

“Asking if you had accepted Jesus Christ into your life was just rhetorical, it doesn’t matter in whose God-house you have spent time. Nothing matters if your soul has been off without you, spending its pleasures in the devils work.”

“What the hell are you doing?”

“No, Michael R. Belkin, of 348 Springfield Drive, its not ‘What’ it’s ‘Who’.”

I wiped my forehead with my sleeve, head spinning, bile in my throat.

“Springfield Drive? I haven’t lived there since I was a kid.”

“Since you were eight years old, Michael R. Belkin, when your family moved to a condo on the better side of town. Don’t worry, despite the move, the contract you made when you were seven still holds, your soul sold to Adrian Harris for a Big Gulp, who sold it to Tara Anastasiou who sold it to me for a piece of peppermint candy.”

“What?” I searched the car doors for locks, for a handle, but there was only smooth plastic. I could hear the engine change gear, accelerating.

“Your mortal soul, Mr. Belkin.” The cabbie waved a small piece of yellow paper covered with illegible blue crayon scrawl. “It must have felt so hollow, without a soul. You thought it was just losing the magic of childhood, or the fact that you never found a partner that satisfied you. That feeling, it wasn’t your parents or lovers, Mr. Belkin, it was the fact that you are, in fact, empty.

“Please let me go.”

“No Mr. Belkin, I’m afraid not. But don't blame me, Mr. Belkin, blame the prostate cancer. Oh, I'm sure I could persuade this mortal shell to continue without a prostate, but I think you would agree, Mr. Belkin, that there are some glands, without which, it isn't really worth living. I need your body to die so that I can piggy back on your soul as it takes a joyride to hell. Never you mind that, Mr. Belkin, because after this, you won’t know anything at all.”

The sound of the road stopped and the tires spun frictionless in the air.
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