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On this Kudzu-free day, I’d like to give you a little bonus story. One with entirely no kudzu, just a little tale about the unending and inexplicable battle between Good and Evil.

The Triple-Pierced Ear: A Cautionary Tale

When the devil first appeared on my right shoulder, he whispered suggestions into my ear that were, well, almost entirely unconscionable.

I tried to give him the old brush-off, but he was too nimble, dodging my hand and clinging to me with a good fistful of hair. He leaned on his pitchfork and leered at my girlfriend and her best friend, who were sipping pomegranate martinis and giggling to each other at the bar. It’s not that I hadn’t fantasized about the two of them in my bed, but I worried about the aftermath, that it might strain their friendship.

That first night, I told the devil to piss off. I was good. I treated Laura with affection and respect, and at the end of the night she and her best friend went home with another man to realize their unspoken fantasy.

The second time the devil perched on my shoulder, I told him I’d take his suggestions under advisement.

That’s when the angel showed up. She sat on my left shoulder, all glowy and beautiful with her translucent robes fluttering around her bare feet. Her toenails glittered a deep purply-red: the color’s called Sangria Sparkle, I later learned. She glared at the devil.

And really, I don’t know what I expected. Conflicting advice? An epic battle for my soul? Literature and cartoons are full of examples. Instead…

“Anyone ever tell you you’re beautiful when you’re angry?” asked the devil.

“Goshdarnit, Sam.” The angel leapt to her feet and gestured with her harp, which rang faintly under the sounds of Van Morrison’s Moondance blasting inexorably from the jukebox speakers. She frowned at the harp, then popped her halo off and impatiently stuffed the harp through the hoop. The harp vanished.

“I said I was sorry,” she said. “I was drunk. And he was… well, he was Gabriel. I mean, how do you say no to Gabriel? I mean, have you seen him? I know you’re hurt, but I never said we were exclusive. And it sure as heck doesn’t give you the right to ruin this poor schmuck’s life.”

She jammed the halo back on her head. It slid down over her eyes, and she pushed it back into place.

“Yeah,” I said to the devil, but I kept my eyes on the angel. I liked the way her robes draped. Aesthetically speaking, that is.

The devil nudged me with his pitchfork. “Hey, man, I’m just looking out for you. Give you a chance to learn from my mistakes.” He glared at the angel.

“Whatever.” She shrugged.

“You gotta be mercenary, my friend,” said the devil. “Otherwise people will tramp all over you, and your feelings be damned. Even the best people in the world, this one and the next. Ain’t that right, Deirdre?” He waved his pitchfork at the angel for emphasis. “Nothing like having an angel stomp all over your soul. They’ll hurt you and humiliate you without a second thought. But hell, after last night you already know that.”

I looked at the angel and thought long and hard about what the devil had said. She cocked her head in annoyance and crossed her arms under her breasts. She really was beautiful when she was angry. I wondered what she looked like when she wasn’t.

And really, wasn’t this what the devil had suggested? Figuring out what I wanted, and going for it?

“Hey, Deirdre,” I said. “Can I buy you a drink?”

A wicked grin slowly played across her face. She grew heavy and stepped off my shoulder to stand next to me at the bar. Her wings fluttered as she grew until her feet touched the ground. She took a moment to flash an impassioned finger at someone who called out across the room, “Nice wings!”

“Screw you!” she screamed across the room. Then she turned her attention to me, winking at the enraged devil as her lips brushed my neck. “Yeah. I’d think I’d like that.”

I’m lucky it was a small pitchfork.

Of course, Sam was right. Angels are willful and capricious things, and when they fly off where you can’t follow, if they look back at all it isn’t to see if you’re okay.

So here I sit, pacing myself with the martinis. Laura and her girlfriend were here earlier. We get along okay, I guess, all things considered. But I don’t really think about her all that much. I play with the three niobium hoops in my right ear, turning them in the holes the devil left me, and I remember Dierdre’s lingering kiss, the one she gave me as she sat in my lap, right before she grinned happily and showed me the engagement ring that Sam, that poor devil, had just given her.

Was it worth the pain? Absolutely not. And I wouldn’t trade those brief months for the world.

Talk to me after another martini, and I might give you a different answer.

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