The Devil we met in San Francisco

The last stop in a long line of bars he came out of nowhere disguised as the asshole we all went to high school with.

He could have come from anywhere, like the bathrooms at the bottom of the stairs blocked by a caged gate the bartender had to open if you dared descend.

He could have come from inside the music playing on the jukebox which always has the potential to do us harm because  of what it recalls…

He could have rolled in off the smoke of the cigarettes outside the front door where the bartender took a break and told inappropriate jokes and everybody laughed, sort of, at the Asian making jokes about Asians.

He could have come right out from of the strangely hypnotic blue bottle featured behind the bar with the light in the bottom.

Anyway, he just walked up with a smile and said he wanted to fight our friend.

At first we laughed nervously, sure we’d heard wrong, and then a flood of different emotions–confusion, irritation anger and finally fear when it didn’t look like it would stop.

He pointed at each person in turn and called up the things we fear being.

The things we are.

The things we hate to be.

“Who do you think you are?” someone asked, but I think I know because words have a way of taking on flesh and dwelling among us, and those thoughts in us became words, took on flesh and there it was, as real as anything.

Katie said, “I need you to step back from me.”  Though smart and strong, I think she should have said “Get behind me.”

Then he was kicked out of the bar, but he was still smiling, promising to be back and I believe his words, and that is all it takes to know he is right–he will be back. Even if we never set foot in that bar again, never see that guy again.