This is some serious bullshit, thought Ricky as he sat on the hard wooden bench. He looked over at the bum sitting by the collect call phone in the big cell, muttering quietly to himself (“spiders so many spiders bad spiders”). He looked over at the kid in the corner trying to sleep on the hard bench, using a toilet paper roll as his pillow. Ricky crossed his arms. The cops took his jacket before they fingerprinted him, and it was fucking cold in lock-up.
Ricky was seriously pissed off. Here he sat in jail and the fucking pigs let the white-boy go, even though he started the fight. Ricky was just standing at the bar with Allie and the fucking puto comes out of nowhere and tells Ricky to go back to the hood where he belongs, to leave the girl alone so she could talk to a real man. Ricky was about to tell him to fuck off when Allie did it for him. The white-boy didn’t like that, and started making some racist comments.
“Fucking beaners should stay in the hood,” said the white-boy before he walked away.
“Rich white-boys should learn to handle their booze,” said Ricky with a smile. Allie jumping in on his side had calmed him down.
“What’d you say to me?” said the white-boy, his face turning red, “You wanna step outside, Pedro?”
Ricky laughed and said he was busy enjoying himself.
“Fucking chickenshit Mexicans,” said the white-boy, apparently to himself but plenty loud for everyone around to hear.
Ricky didn’t respond. He didn’t need to. The bartender had come around and Allie was ordering them both tequila shots. The white-boy was still there, a few steps away, with one of his friends talking to him. He was apparently still steamed, because he kept gesturing toward Ricky, but the friend was obviously trying to get him to forget it.
The shots arrived and Allie picked them both up and put one right in front of Ricky.
“Here’s to you, Pedro,” she said with a laugh.
Ricky chuckled and clinked the little glass with hers, and pulled the lemon off the edge before slamming the shot down. He bit into the lemon, and as he did, he heard the white-boy shouting again.
“Fine, if the hood-rat slut would rather hang out with a Mexican faggot, that’s her problem.”
Allie had just finished her shot too, and she froze when she heard it, face coloring with just a hint of red.
Ricky pulled the lemon out of his mouth and dropped it on the bar, his fists starting to clench by his side. The white-boy had just touched a nerve and he knew it. He and Allie had grown up neighbors in a seriously rough neighborhood. Allie had been working her ass off for years, making sure she could get out, and helped out little Enrique, 4 years younger, the whole way. Allie was as sweet and chaste as they came, and the white-boy couldn’t have said anything worse about her. Ricky knew it, too.
She put her hand on his shoulder, and said, “it’s not worth it, Enrique, just let it slide.” but she had a tear in her eye, and that tear made Ricky shake with anger. He shook her hand off of him and stepped toward the asshole.
“You still want to step outside, cabron?” he looked right at the white-boy, who suddenly had a grin spreading across his face.
“Oh, you wanna go now, Pedro? Let’s go then!”
He followed the white-boy outside to the patio, then around to the side of the building where they weren’t visible from the street. Allie was with him the whole way, telling him it wasn’t worth it, begging him to stop. She reminded him that he was in there on a Fake ID, he was only 17, and she didn’t want him getting in trouble. She wasn’t worried about him getting hurt.
The white-boy threw his jacket to one of his friends and said, “you ready, Pedro?”
“I don’t like to fight,” said Ricky, “but an asshole like you needs to be taught a lesson.”
That pissed the white-boy off. Ricky was a little guy. 5’6″ and about 140 pounds, and the white-boy was quite a bit bigger. But Ricky grew up in a very tough neighborhood, and knew what he was doing in a fight. The white boy came forward too quickly, and threw a punch that Ricky ducked. As Ricky ducked, he punched the white-boy hard in the gut, and pushed him away. The white-boy was half bent over, but decided to charge at Ricky again. Ricky side-stepped the fist and brought his own in an uppercut to the white-boy’s chin. The white-boy staggered back from Ricky and fell on his ass, just as the cops walked down the alley, breaking up the crowd.
And now Ricky sat in the drunk tank with some high-school kid and a fucking bum, pissed off and shivering. He knew how disappointed Allie was going to be. He knew he just blew his chance at proving to her that he could be more than her little brother. It wasn’t FAIR!
Ricky heard the low growl of a disembodied voice and it made him shiver again, nothing to do with the cold.
“The fuck did you say?” he said to the bum. The bum looked at him, surprised, a little scared, and then looked away and continued muttering to himself.
Ricky looked around. The kid was clearly passed out drunk, and there were no cops around the cell door. He looked down at the floor and watched a spider crawl across the floor as he went back to his dark thoughts.
“Little soul…” he heard the voice again, and now he was getting pissed. He looked at the kid, still asleep, and looked at the bum, still muttering.
“Little Enrique Alvarez, such a bright little soul…” said the voice, like a chorus of menacing whispers, and Ricky jumped up off the bench, fists clenched again.
“Who the FUCK is that?” he said, louder than he meant to, “where the fuck are you?”
“I am all around, little soul.” said the voice, and it did sound as if the voice was coming from every direction.
“I said who the fuck are you?” answered Ricky, now feeling more than a little scared, and that pissed him off worse.
“I am Legion,” said the voice, “for we are many.”
A quote directly from his mother’s bible, he remembered. Jesus forced the demon to name himself, then banished him into a herd of swine, then drove them over a cliff.
“Fuck you, ese,” Ricky said, trying to keep the edge of fear from his voice, “Where you hiding?”
Ricky was looking around, looking for speakers where someone might be speaking through, looking at the bum, who was muttering crazily now (“no more spiders! No no no!”), and the kid, who was staring at him.
“The fuck you looking at?” he said to the kid, who promptly threw his hands up, palms out, and laid back down on his toilet paper pillow.
“Little soul,” said the voice, no louder, but clearly audible over the bum’s rambling, “spiders… bad spiders.”
“I am here to offer you a bargain, little soul.”
“What bargain,” Ricky heard himself say, “What are you talking about?”
The bum was nearly shouting now, and the kid in the corner was shooting nervous glances between Ricky, the bum (“so many spiders”) and the door to the cell.
“I can give you power, little Enrique Alvarez, fourth son of Carlos and Camila Alvarez. I can offer you what you desire,” the voice went on, sending chills through Ricky’s body, “I can make you stronger than any man who would fight you. I can give you the cunning to become rich, to become respected and powerful… I can give you her.”
Images flashed through Ricky’s mind of his fist sending the white-boy and all his buddies flying back. Images of the drug dealers and gang members in his neighborhood nodding at him with respect. He saw his brothers look at him with respect, and his enemies look at him with fear. He saw in his mind what he had wished for so many times; Allie, looking at him like she wanted him. But this was different. The respect from his brothers came with an edge of fear, the drug dealers’ nods were too friendly, the gang members’ nods were too conspiratorial. Allie wasn’t dressed like Allie, she was dressed in a skimpy dress, licking her lips seductively like Allie never would.
“STOP IT!” he roared, forcing the images out of his mind. Picturing Allie as she was, dressed respectably and smiling at him like a brother. He pictured his mother, with her bible, going to church every week and praying before dinner every night. He remembered years of Catholic school, before he quit, and tried to force the demon out. It didn’t work, and the seductive image of Allie forced itself back.
“GET OUT!” shouted Ricky, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HEAD!”
Ricky had both hands on his head. He looked around and saw the spiders all around the room. The kid was shouting for a cop to come help. The bum was screaming now (“SPIDERS GET AWAY SO MANY SPIDERS RUN EVIL SPIDERS”) and the noise of his shouts mixed with the kid’s and the bum’s and the noise was making him crazy. But the voice, no louder, but as if coming from hundreds of voices, cut through the noise.
“Do not fight it, Little Soul. I will give you what you want,” it said, calmly, sounding almost amused, “Just agree, Little Soul. Just let me in, and I will give you everything you want.”
Then the jail cell seemed to fade, and it was like a background now, and Ricky clearly saw the stacks of hundred dollar bills in front of him. Then he saw himself driving the Cadillac Escalade he had always wanted, with twenty-four inch rims. Then he saw himself with Allie, naked in his bed, her riding on top of him and screaming his name. When his vision cleared and the jail cell returned with all its hellish racket, he wanted the images back.
“Just let me in, Little Enrique,” came the voice, “just say yes, and it will all be yours, Little Soul.”
Ricky tried to remember Allie as she was, tried to hold on to the image, but the bum’s ranting (“Spiders so many spiders evil spiders demon spiders”) and the kid shouting for the guards and the images he so wanted stopped him. He tried to think of his mother but all he could see was the car and the stacks and the woman he wanted more than anything, and Ricky’s resistance broke.
“Yes,” he whispered back to the voice, “I want it all.”
“Just say the words, Little Soul,” said the voice, and edge of tension in its tone, “you know the words. Just say them to accept the bargain, to seal the pact between your soul and us.”
Ricky nearly asked what words, but then he knew them. They surfaced in his mind as if they were only covered by his resistance, which was now boiled away.
“I accept your bargain, Legion, Duke of Hell,” said Ricky in a voice he didn’t recognize, “for the terms you offer, I will share my body, share my mind, share my soul.”
The demon voice seemed to sigh, and for a moment, the kid in the corner looked at Ricky silently, with terror in his eyes, and the bum stopped his ranting, and just stared, shaking his head, as if disappointed. Then Ricky noticed the spiders.
Dozens, no, hundreds of spiders crawling toward him. He tried to move, to run away from them or climb up on the bench, but he couldn’t move. They swarmed toward him, climping up his shoes first, up his legs inside his pants on on them, crawling up him, covering him with an opaque black cover. When they reached his face, he opened his mouth. He couldn’t help it. He tried to stop. He just couldn’t. They crawled inside him and he screamed.
Ricky fell on the floor. He was thrashing violently, and the terrified teenager in the corner shouted desperately for one of the cops. The bum was screaming, jumping up and down, screaming about the demon spiders.
Officer Davidson heard the commotion in the drunk tank, and snapped into action mode.
“Dobowski!” he shouted and waved the other officer to come with him as he jogged over to the cell. The two cops arrived and saw the Mexican kid they picked up earlier laying on the ground, writhing and thrashing and screaming.
“Call an ambulance!” Davidson shouted to the officer manning the desk before he opened the cell door and rushed in the room, Dobowski behind him. The two officers rushed over to the thrashing kid, but when they arrived, they had no idea what to do. They stared for a moment in indecision. Davidson knelt down next to the kid, about to hold one of the arms down, and he was about to tell the other officer to try to hold the legs, but before he could, the body went rigid.
“Kid!” said the cop, “Hey kid! Can you hear me?”
No answer. Ricky laid rigid and unmoving on the ground, eyes shut. Davidson reached toward him to check his pulse. Just as his fingers touched the neck, he saw a blur of motion, and felt a grip like a vice catch his wrist. The kid had grabbed his wrist. The shock of the grab made him freeze for a moment, but it wore off quickly, and he pulled back. But his arm didn’t budge. The pain of wrenching against that grip shot up his arm, and he grunted in pain. As he did, the kid’s head snapped toward his face and the eyes opened wide.
Black, reflective eyes locked with his, and Davidson couldn’t look away. He stared transfixed and unmoving as the eyes bored deep into his soul. Then the kid’s hand released him. Davidson just stayed there for a moment, motionless. Dobowski, who had been watching, confused, now asked him if he was okay.
“Fine,” answered Davidson as he stood up. Dobowksi noted the dazed look Davidson still wore. Then he saw the kid stand up next to Davidson.
“I’m taking Enrique out,” said Davidson.
“What?” Dobowski wasn’t sure he’d heard right. The bum was in the corner, muttering what sounded like the Lord’s Prayer over and over again. He heard the bum mutter, “Deliver us from evil…” but then the kid shot him a look, and the bum huddled deeper into his corner, just whimpering.
“I am taking him out.” repeated Davidson.
“To meet the ambulance?” ventured Dobowski, trying to make some sense. He looked over at the kid, and when their eyes met, Dobowski understood why the bum was now whimpering. It wasn’t… quite… physical pain that coursed through his body when he met the kid’s eyes, but it made him freeze in place.
A few minutes later, Ricky stepped out of the police station, Davidson holding the door open for him. He stepped into the brisk night air. Dobowski, who had recovered just in time to chase after the pair, called to Ricky as he stepped out.
“Wait!” he shouted.
Ricky turned to face him. Even from this distance, which had to be ten yards, the eyes nearly froze Dobowski again.
“What are you?” it took all his effort to get the words out.
A smile spread across the kid’s face. A smile that contained no happiness or humor. A smile that sent a cold chill down Dobowski’s spine.
“I am Legion,” said Ricky.
“For we are many.” came the voice of Davidson, who wore a matching evil grin.
The demon turned away, and walked into the city.