“It was nothing like the movies, y’know?” Cameron Hodge wrung his hands together and stared at my desk.
“I expected, y’know, a contract. Like one written in blood. Or like this giant thing a thousand pages long that’s impossible to read through.”
I nodded in what I hoped he would take as sympathy. I could already see where this was going.
“Instead, he just asks me what I want, smiling like—like a car salesman.”
I wanted to chuckle, not because Cameron’s story was funny, but because his simile was dead on.
“So I told him that I—”
“Your exact words,” I prompted. “It’s important.”
“I told him ‘I want to be rich and have a beautiful wife.’ Just like that.”
I rubbed my chin, already jumping to the consequences, but I nodded for him to go on.
“Then he hands over this knife and tells me to put a couple of small slices in my palm, like an x, enough to make it bleed. I did, then he held out his hand for me to shake, and I did. Then he said, “Bargain sealed. You will have what you want.” And then he walked away.
“And you got it, didn’t you.” I said. “That’s when you won the lottery, and you got married shortly after that. So you got everything you asked for.”
“But not the way I wanted. People are always after my money, and I . . . I’m not happy with my wife. Which is why I came to you. Is there some way I can get out of this? I mean, there are loopholes, right? There have to be loopholes.”
I did my best to contain the sigh. Everyone thought that demons operated according to the law. There were no contracts, no legal loopholes. There was no body of laws governing the bartering of one’s soul for material gain. These were simple handshake deals.
I was set to tell him he was stuck, but something about his face, the despair written there, softened me.
“Mr. Hodge, I’ll see what I can do.”