When the Devil Comes a’Knockin’

There’s a song that goes with this story that I haven’t written yet. It’s to the tune of “She’ll be comin’round the mountain.” Just replace those words with “Oh when the Devil comes a’knockin’ on your door…” you get the idea.

***

Oh that ol’ devil,
Lives on the outskirts.
Lives like an animal, in their den.
Knows the forest ways, and the forest secrets.
Knows where to find the rarest medicine,
But just as likely to kill you and eat you.
Most of the time, that ol’ devil, she stays out in the woods.
He‘s happy keeping company with the plants and the creatures.
She‘s the cougar’s midwife, and he‘s the hyena’s undertaker.
They’re the shapeshifters and the hucksters, the charlatans and the thieves.

AND WHEN THE DEVIL COMES A’KNOCKIN’…
You’re’a quakin’ in your boots,
You bolt the doors, draw down the shades.
You shut the lights and pretend that you are not at home.
But the devil is wily and not so easily fooled.
They can smell your fear, they can hear your strained and ‘baited breath.
THEY KNOCK AGAIN. (sniffing like a dog)
You know you’re had, and there’s just no gettin’ round it.
You’re gonna have to open th’ door…
And your hands are shakin’ fierce.
Your breath is shallow and you’ve probly peed your pants a bit…

You don’t want the Devil in your house.
They’ll turn the dogs feral, they’ll break the fine ceramics.
She’ll hump your cat and smear menstrual blood on the rug.
He’ll seduce your rooster and eat all of your house plants.
But you know better than t’ignore the Devil when its got somthin’ to say…
So ever so carefully, gingerly, you crack open the door and peer out at the monster.

AND IT’S EVEN MORE TERRIFYING THAN YOU IMAGINED.
But you muster your courage, and you say, “Hm. Oh pardon me, I was out back, weeding the begonias… How do you do? Would you like to come in for some tea…?”
The Devil glares down at you with arms crossed, and replies ominously… “YES.”
Y’op’n th’door wide, and you let the monster in your home.
Where it walks on the carpet, thistles sprout up ’round its feet.
You put th’ kettle on.
The Devil sits down on the couch.
“Shugar?” you ask, in a quavering voice.
“NO.” The Devil says ominously.
You serve the tea, shaking and shuddering, and you sit down in your favourite chair, its familiar lumps conform comfortingly to the shape of your denial.
And the Devil says, “YOU KNOW WHY I’M HERE.”
“I, I, I, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about…”
There is a long, awkward pause.
More ominously, “YOU KNOW WHY I’M HERE.”
“I mean, I just, well, I’m really not sure… everything seems fine…”
More ominously still, “YOU KNOW WHY I’M HERE.”
And you hide your face as you begin to weep.
As you weep, the shadows come out of the closets, the monsters come out from under the beds, the ghosts float down from the attic.
The Devil surveys the assembly of your demons and says, “THAT’S BETTER. NOW WE CAN BEGIN.”

And one by one, the Devil asks each ghost and monster and shadow their name.
You weep some more, ‘fore the names of these demons are your deepest fears, your biggest shames, the things you vowed you’d never tell a soul.
You are paralysed, your gazed fixed on the faces of your demons.
But then you notice…
As each one names itself, it deflates a bit, as if the air were taken out of it…
They’re still there, but they become caricatures of themselves. They loose some of their power.
Suddenly, you begin to realize that some of them do not belong to you.
They are parasites, viruses, some are even robot-assasins.
“GAAAA!” you jump with a start. “What do I do with them all???”
“YOU TRANSFORM THE ONES THAT DON’T BELONG TO YOU, AND YOU HEAL THE ONES THAT DO BELONG TO YOU.”
“Transform them into what? How do I heal them?”
The Devil sighs with thinly veiled impatience, “ALLIES, TEACHERS, SIGNPOSTS GUIDING YOUR WAY. HEAL THEM BY LISTENING TO THEM. YOU CANNOT BE WHOLE BY DENYING AND SUPPRESSING THEM.”
You bristle, “Oh you just watch me. I was doing just fine at it until you showed-up.” And you cross your arms and cross your legs and cross your face.
The Devil begins to laugh. A chuckle at first, then deeper and deeper, until the room shakes and the ceramics rattle, and the demons turn back to their scary faces and begin to jump about and cavort in the most horrible monstrous ways.
Slow-fade into death metal music, and the Devil speaks over the ruckus:
“OH, THEY’RE OUT NOW AND THEY AIN’T GOING BACK IN… ‘FORE EVEN IF YOU DO STUFF THEM BACK IN THEIR HIDING PLACES, YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO UN-SEE THEM, NEVER BE ABLE TO NOT NOTICE THEM. It’s like seeing the image in one of those 3-d eye things where you have to unfocus your eyes to see it… those things are neat! IT’S LIKE THAT…
And when the dancing monsters begin stomping on the coffee table and trampling your tea cups, you scream “STOP!!!
Everyone freezes, and there is silence.

In the pause of your outburst you lock eyes with the devil. You stare into it’s eyes. The Devil no longer has the faces of your monsters… its face has become a mirror image of you – the selves you could become.
But in a moment, the Devil’s visage shifts again, into the self of you now.
The mirror shows what IS.
You stare into the mirror of “What Is” for what seems like an eternity… learning both humility and faith, for as you stare, your perspective broadens beyond your self, beyond your house, beyond your community, beyond your ecosystem… the Devil is here to help you re-remember your Self.
Slowly, the mirror fades into the Devil’s own face, the face of the Horned One.
Shaggy and wild, half human and half animal.
It stands to leave… you are still frozen in your chair.
As the Devil walks toward the door, a crowd of animals that you’d not noticed rush our past it, knocking over everything that could possibly be knocked over on their way out…
Just before the Devil’s heel is about to pass out the threshold of the door, you yell, panicking, “WAIT! How do I tell the difference between the ones who are mine and the ones who are other?”
There is a pause. The Devil lights a cigarette…
“LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN LISTEN TO YOUR SELF
YOUR SELF KNOWS SELF KNOWS SELF KNOWS SELF
WE ARE ALL ONE, ONE IS ALL, ALL IS ONE
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW; AS BELOW, SO ABOVE
IN THE END, HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION ARE THE SAME.
SEEK BALANCE. SEEK RIGHT RELATIONSHIP.
SELF AND SELF
SELF AND COMMUNITY
SELF AND ANCESTORS
SELF AND DECENDANTS
SELF AND SELF.”
~long pause~
You are still paralyzed, terrified. Shell shocked. Stunned.

“AWE FUCK IT, JUST FOCUS ON BREATHING, YOU IDIOT.”
Still paralysed.

Suddenly, the Devil roars, “BREATH!” shocked out of your sock, you scream and start panic-breathing, panting heavily. The Devil leaves.
You keep breathing, eventually catching it and slowing it down to a careful, even pace.
There is silence, but for the sound of your careful breathing.
You look around, at the faces of your demons and they stare back at you.
For a moment, they seem almost as scared as you are.
and then you pass out on the couch.

In the morning, you awake. You sit-up, survey the damage.
Your demons are still there… right where you left them.
In the daylight, they are barely there, but you see them.
They’re there, in the shadows, making the darks more complex. And, you realize, they make the lights shine a bit brighter. Reality feels more… real.
You may not be ready to embrace your shadows… but now that the gig is up, and you can no longer deny their presence, a great weight is lifted from your shoulders.
You take a moment to gaze into the eyes of each demon, and as you do, you remember each and every one’s name.
They stare back at you… waiting to see what you will do.
You heave a big ol’ sigh.
“Well, I suppose it could have been worse… at least the Devil didn’t have to burn our house down… Looks like we’ve got some work to do…”
You begin to pick-up the mess, humming while you work…

“Oh, when the Devil comes a knockin’ on your door…” in a reluctantly cheerful tone.

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