“The Devil Gives” by John Yohe

Near Lufkin fighting East Texas wildfires, three weeks of humid hell, and Dale served at a restaurant in town: tall, dressed in black, hair in pigtails though older, and being from out of town can give me courage with women, so I said she looked great, and before I asked, she wrote her number down. Called the next night and she picked me up wearing a long black lace dress, taking me back to her apartment where she had pictures hung on her wall drawn by a boy on death row somewhere in Florida, who wrote her dirty letters, and she owned some books on witchcraft but she said she didn’t think she was a witch, that she worshipped Satan, and we kissed, and I grabbed her throat (though softly). She closed her eyes and moaned and said that I could do whatever I wanted to her, which was frightening, but I did. She said she was a prostitute when younger, married to two different husbands for twenty years, and her current third was paying for the place, though she said she didn’t like him and hadn’t let him fuck her for eight years. I asked if she let Satan fuck her, and yes, she said, he did, and she described what he did, and Satan gives as well as takes. She asked me what I liked, so I told her the darkest things I’ve thought, and she encouraged me, and kissed me afterwards, and back home six weeks later, I called her late at night and told her more things which other women would not like, and she was glad I talked that way, was glad I said she scared me, and said to call whenever, asking me if she had a lot of money if I’d want to live with her, that she had a plan she couldn’t tell about. I told her no but called every week until one week her phone was disconnected. Two months later I called again, to information Lufkin, but her name wasn’t listed. Last night I saw her name again in my notebook and called the number, and it rang this time, and rang, and I don’t know what I wanted to say, except no, I lie: I wanted to say more dark things, and to have her say yes. The fear perhaps better than the loneliness of this dark silence.


Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, bike messenger, wilderness ranger, and fire lookout. www.johnyohe.com

Photo by Luke Flynt.