i got drunk

i got drunk on rye whiskey

i didn't want to get drunk because getting drunk's bad but sometimes you've got to commit a small crime
to prevent an even worse one

so I got drunk so I could get the devil drunk. and when we were both good and drunk i smashed him over the head with the bottle. he fell to the floor so dragged him outside. he was still breathing so i went to the shed and grabbed the club, walked back and began clobbering his head with the club normally used for game

as i beat him, he moaned so i beat him more and more but his skull wouldn't cave. he kept groaning so I kept clobbering him until he said - all bruised and battered and slurry - you can't do away with me like this. it isn't that easy

i was hoping it would be that easy but my club kept bouncing off his skull like a stump instead of smashing it like pumpkin

so I looked around the dock and cut some rope and i tied his hands behind him. and i ripped a sleeve from my shirt and tied it around his eyes

what are you doing? he asked

taking care of this once and for all, I said

i dragged the devil along the rotting dock, his head bouncing off the uneven planks. i dragged him with his head bouncing all the way down to my rowboat. i rolled him off the dock and into the boat. he fell in with a crash. the boat careened like a pendulum. there was no use in treating the devil with care. he was the devil, after all

i waited for the boat to settle, then stepped in gently. i eased off the dock and into the boat. the boat swayed in the calm bay. i looked around for the gulls, wondering where they'd gone. the boat calmed. with an oar, i shoved us off the dock

where are you taking us? the devil asked

out to the deepest sea, I said

the devil laughed

as you like, he said. but i warn you. all the points below the geometry of the stars are the same out there

he continued laughing

shut up, demon, i said. your wicked tongue has fooled me long enough. but no more. i'm wise to the seduction of your poetry

mysticism. majesty. buddha. jesus. mother mary. mohammed. family. drink. solitude. which will it be?, the devil cackled. mere points of longitude and latitude on the same desolate sea

shut up, you silver-tongued bastard, I said, beginning to row and wishing i'd gagged the filthy beast too

i was drunk and so was the devil. the liquor had given me strength and courage but different strengths and courages than before. so I rowed and rowed for hours until I couldn't row any more, so single-minded in my flight that i hadn't noticed the devil passed out. i'd rowed beyond where even the gulls dare. land had long ago vanished. i'd maintained a general sense of our direction. when my arms finally gave out, i accepted that we'd arrived

i kicked the devil in his ribs

we're here, i said, pulling the oars inboard

the devil woke

you're weary, the devil said. very weary. you've rowed hard. for a long time

you weren't even awake, i said

my arms were so tired they didn't even burn. they felt like ghosts. but my mind had mostly sobered in the sun and with the effort of all that rowing

take a rest, the devil suggested. you're exhausted

temporary exhaustion is a small price to pay, I said. with great effort comes even greater reward. so i am fine

where is this? the devil asked, still blindfolded

all was silent, except for us and the gentle waves slapping our boat
it doesn't matter. far from anywhere. that's all that matters

true, the devil said. it doesn't matter. but being so weary, how are you going to get back to land?

the current will take me where it wants. to some new, exotic land or back home. wherever it likes. wherever i land, things will be better

no, the devil said. you need me to get anywhere

i tried not to listen

the world always turns me into a caricature. always. but I'm far more than hooves and horns, the devil said

shut up, demon

I am not only the hate, I'm also the love and trust that gives you hate. i'm the hate that will guide you toward better love if you are wise enough to accept it all

my God is all of it, i said. not you

yes, He is too, the devil said

you are sly, oh crooked one. and desperate, i said. always trying to save your scaley skin. but it's over now. you've tormented me too long. undermined me. ruined me in so many ways. here is my revenge and, with it, salvation

no. no. you've ruined yourself, the devil said. you need a scapegoat. you can see for yourself my skin is smooth and my hair, the luscious envy of any lass. you cannot accept yourself as evil, my friend. that is why you need me

i sat in silence, wishing there was more than just the devil to break it

i've been told i have the eyes of a fawn. did you notice? the devil asked

i'd been struck by his eyes. something about them reminded me of my mother. but i refused to answer

you've bound and tamed me, the devil continued. i've been bested. you're the victor. this is the victory of any and all men that go to battle with me. but to think you can destroy me? that is your folly for the divine haven't destroyed me so why should you imagine you can?

more deceptions, I said. you simply fear your demise

demise? the devil mocked. i exist in every man that has ever lived or continues to live or will live. that is how you were created. you were created with me inside

i cleared my throat, then stood. our boat rocked on the calm sea

you will regret this, the devil said. I promise

don't threaten me. besides, what could have less value than the devil's promise? I scoffed.

it's no threat. just the way it is

i stood, afraid of losing my courage

take me back, teh devil said. keep me bound. throw me in the shed. let me freeze in winter and swelter in the summer. starve me. beat me.

i am not that deranged or vengeful, i said

but you beat me like a savage already, the devil said. vengeance and savagery are in your heart and throwing me overboard won't change that. again, i promise you that

stop your lying, i said. my sins will be released once you are gone

satan scoffed again

no, my friend. it is not because you are too noble that you
refuse to torture me, the devil said. it is because you are too fearful that i may escape. and too lazy to pay careful 
attention so I don't

i am humane. i cannot willfully inflict suffering, i said. even a rat like you deserves pity

abuse me as you like, the devil said. i am eternal. i will not suffer. you know that

i began to tremble and cry

without you, all will be light, I wept. there will be no regrets within the pure light

the light feels fine now, the devil said. though blindfolded, i can feel it. it is warm and clean. let us bask in it a while

with that, i grabbed the devil by his hair - hair as black as the river Styx. i tried hauling him up but was too weak from the day's rowing. sensing my weakness, the devil stood of his own volition. i inspected the knot and rope that still bound him from behind. both knot and rope were tight

any last words before this ends? i asked

there is no pure light, the devil said. daylight always gives way to darkness

and from darkness back to day, i said. 

of course, the devil said. but pure light washes away all color. in the purest light, painted canvas fades to white

sometimes i admire how wicked and crafty you are, i said

you are just as crafty, the devil said. if you could only see it

standing with a fistful of the devil's mane - with my free arm, I smeared the tears from my eyes

wherever we are under the sun or stars, i can help you back to land, the devil said. it's not too late

snake, stop your groveling, i muttered. for one who is eternal, you really are low

not groveling, the devil said. you see, this is your curse for making of me a caricature

i took a deep breath. i shuddered

the face or the figure may be homely while the other is one of wonder. knowledge and courage are the opposite of denying or dismissing what shames you, the devil said

our union ends now, i said. you've been my accursed captain long enough

and with that, i shoved the devil overboard

but, as he toppled over, his boot caught the edge of our boat. our boat swayed and rocked like a flag in the wind. i lost balance. my weight shifted too far off center

our boat flipped. capsized. and i spilled into the warm sea too

i told you, the devil said, before sinking down

i was too tired to swim. my arms had already failed me. i went straight down with the devil 

panic burnt through the remains of my drunkenness, so I could hear the devil in my head again

without me you are nothing, he said 

curse you, i replied from inside. without you I am all good

ha. you are dying with me so you are nothing now. maybe a memory to a few. but before you were at least good and evil. without me you are just words and lofty feelings. you needed to battle against me, in the flesh, not the abstract. you needed that to be whole, which is the wholeness of both good and evil. the wholeness of true life. but you sacrificed the struggle over to divinity and when that failed, you took it upon yourself, which was at least noble and courageous, but ultimately foolish

the light faded as we descended. the warm sea turned quickly cold as the meters passed us

without you I do no harm, i pleaded to both the devil and myself

without me you create no good. without me, you do not exist as a man but as a dog who merely obeys some master of divinity or the moon and stars or, even worse, other men, i heard the devil say. 

curse you, Satan, i screamed from the depths

you needed to see me as pure evil, i heard. but i have sincere pity for you, which you aren't permitted to believe. but i pity you for wanting to be treated like an infant but i could not do that. you have far too much wisdom for that but, alas, you'd rather be tamed

stop, i pleaded. please, stop. if this is my end, then let it end in peace

but the devil wouldn't abate

you had me beaten, back at the pier. but it wasn't enough

you'd have still done evil, I said. you'd have tricked someone into letting you loose

my breath was gone. all that was left was the salty sea

of course. eventually

I heard him laugh. 

the game above goes on and on as it has and will for eternity. but the game between you and i ends here. and that, my friend, is why your victory is now mine

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