The room was quiet except for the machines. Nobody said a word. Nobody was winning. All they did was watch their money go in beeps. It was a room full of men living for their luck. Nobody smiled. The wind had changed and their faces were stuck like that. The room smelt of sadness and BO. I looked around and I felt sad. I know that I didn’t but it feels like I spent half my life waiting in the car for gambling. I used to pretend that the gear stick was the control of a fighter jet. I flew around the world. I looked around the room and saw emptiness. All the people in there were devoid of hope so they gave everything to chance. I kept looking around the room and didn’t see a smile. It was a room full of old men, head bowed to their fate. Their mouth’s looked like they had been scrubbed off with steel wool. I asked the man next to me if he had any luck? He turned from his machine to face me and I saw that his mouth was sewed shut with fishing line. He held his hand out so I went to the other end of the room

My friend gave me twenty dollars for the poker machines. The first game I doubled my money. Shall I take it, I asked? No, they said, keep gambling, so I did. I won one hundred and eighty dollars so I took the money out of the machine and gave them back the twenty. Don’t you want to keep gambling, they asked? No, I said, that machine right in front of you tells the odds of a jackpot. One in two and a half million doesn’t seem worth it. But you’ve got to be in it to win it, they said. I’m going for a piss and a beer, I replied as I headed for the bar. We all escape individually. I get confused easily so I escape easily

I got to the other side. There was no disabled toilet so I pushed open the door of the men’s. As I was going in a man was coming out. Watch out, he said as he squeezed past. For what, I asked? He nodded back into the loo. I got in there and saw a short bald man standing with his back to the urinals nodding while talking to himself. He was wearing a red white and blue pin-stripe tuxedo and was staring at the floor. He looked up and gesticulated to an invisible friend on his right and said, exactly. He pulled out his dick and started pissing on the tiled floor. What, I asked, is it Bastille Day? No, he said, it’s your lucky day. Lucky how, I replied? I’m going to let you sell your soul, he said as he shook it and put it back in his pants. He looked up at me and I saw the right sleeve of his jacket suddenly catch on fire. I yelled at him, you’re sleeve’s on fire. He said, I know. I thought, you’re not the devil. He looked down and his puddle of piss caught on fire. You can have whatever you wish in return for it, he added. I already sold it to you, I said, don’t you remember? You gave me all those women. That wasn’t me, he said, I had the night off and left my brother in charge. So how did I get to fuck all those women? That was your own luck, he said as he bit the end off a cigar, not mine. He brought his arm up and lit it from his sleeve and breathed a plume of aromatic smoke in my face. The man reached into the right pocket of his jacket and pulled out a frothy pint. This is my luck, he said as he winked. I reached for it and said thanks

The pub means different things to different people. For me it has always been the escape. I used to go there to forget. My friends and I would get wasted every time. We would drink to forget that we are human. The people in the gaming room were all escaping too. I used to work with one bricklayer. He earned more money than I did a week but would always come to work on a Monday morning and ask me “if I was flush for a quid”? What, I’d ask, do you spend all of it? He would look at me sheepishly with his hand extended. He lived upstairs and down in a pub. I can appreciate that some men study form and technique but he studied defeat. I studied the gambling room thinking of how many ways a man can lose. It is easy to understand a man when you are one. We are waiting for the chance to elevate ourselves from routine. We need to forget to remember

The man in the tux walked out of the pub and pulled it out. He started pissing as he walked and I thought, how cool. I saw the moment his piss caught on fire. I watched the burning trail turn into an alley. An old man staggered towards me. He was holding on to the end of his dick. He leaned on me to steady himself and said, the vig’ is killing me. Well it’s not just the vig; it’s also the devil. We are all, I said, at his mercy. The devil is killing us all in our own way. He’s walking right behind you pissing flames. His eyes narrowed as he stared at me. The end of his nose was covered in big blackheads. Why don’t you squeeze all those things on your nose, I asked? What things, he replied? His breath smelt like stale vinegar. He could not see himself and that is all I wish for. Tux ran out of the alley. He picked the old man up and threw him across the road. I only heard him scream half way. You know I am the Devil, he said, I spunked on a sewer rat yesterday. I masturbated and the sperm landed in the hole for my SPC, I replied. I don’t want, he said, what you’ve got for sale. It never was for sale, I replied, you were just fishing. He smiled then I smiled. We simultaneously reached out and shook hands then he walked away










. The Devil is a man





Andrew Stuart Buchanan

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