Twice in this long life of mine I looked the devil in the and lied and got away with it.
The second time, I was in a car with someone carrying a large amount of marijuana in their vehicle, before it was legal. (I will protect the guilty and leave his name out of it.) I knew about the substance, but being young and reckless, I did not think it a big deal morally or as a risk, we were only taking a drive together. What I did not know was that their tiny triangle side back window, like cars used to have, was missing, and that that marked the car as possibly stolen.
Shortly into the afternoon ride in the West Village a cop car started trailing us. We circled the block to make sure. Yep, they were. Only then did the guy mention the back window, something I had not noticed. “Shit, they probably see the back window” “What?!” Asshole.
The cops called out to us on their speaker to stop the vehicle and get out! I was eating a spinach knish as we drove, and had just taken a bite when they made the announcement. I froze with fear, unable to chew or swallow, and the food sat in my mouth as I opened the car door and got out. My body was in fight or flight mode and my digestive system had shut down. I did not want to go to jail, particularly because of someone else’s stupidity. Standing on the curb I opened my mouth and let the half chewed knish fall to the ground. Oddly the cops did not pick up on anything that my action might have indicated.
The cops looked us over and listened as the driver gave his license and registration and explained that someone had broken into his car recently and he had not had the chance to fix the window yet. “Yeah, I figured that’s why you stopped us. Glad to see you are doing your job.” They looked me in the eye and I met their judgment with what I thought an innocent person might look like. I was acting. They believed me. They sent us on our way.
The first time was way worse. Sister Della Rita was the devil herself, the cruelest second grade teacher in Good Shepherd catholic school, and probably in the whole county, possibly the whole state. She would taunt us and attack us in her ancient cantankerous way, hitting our hands with her metal ruler, ouch! Bitch!
Della Rita had a great name but that was the extent of her good as far as I could see. The only other ok thing about her was that she had this little metal alligator clicky thing that she kept in her desk and she would click it every once in a while to get our attention. She’d press the object and it would “CLICK CLICK.” “CLICK CLICK.”. Clicking her alligator was the only time I ever saw her smile, like for a second she was a kid too.
One day we were on line at the classroom door waiting for the bell so we could leave for the day. I put my hands in my coat pocket and my fingers found a small metal button I had left in there, a yellow smiley face that should have had a pin on the back but the pin part was missing. When I pressed on the button, the metal indented and then popped back out, making the same “CLICK CLICK” that Della Rita’s alligator made. I could not help but press it a few times until the devil herself stopped in her tracks and slowly turned to us. “Who has my clicker?” She cackled.
Della Rita walked slowly down the line of children, pausing at each kid to look into our eyes to find the guilty face. She was getting closer and closer to me and I felt the fear of god in my stomach, that same fear they were trying to instill in us. She was three kids away from me when I pressed the smiley face in my pocket one more time. Della Rita’s demonic eyes rolled in her head, turning red, and two horns sprang from her forehead. I could see her ears working to trace where the noise came from. looking down,I saw her navy blue old lady nun shoe turn into cloven hooves and stop at my feet.
Time stood still as I looked up and met her stare with a defiance that I did not know I had in me, a defiance that looked like what I thought an innocent second grader might look like. The ancient nun paused for a second and I could see her nose hair move from her breath and then her gaze passed over me like the angle of death might pass over a house with the blood of a lamb smeared on it.
“If I find out… blah blah blah.” I didn’t hear the rest of the words because I was so elated that I had gotten away with something. I tricked the devil herself. She rambled on but was not able to achieve efficacy, and with no other choice of what to do, she let us go.
My very bones sang out in joy as I passed through the school doors and ran out into the sunny street. I had not only tricked, but defeated as well, the devil herself.