October Lit X entries


Earl DeMott

Do you ever get that feeling where your heart just goes “DOOP DOOP”, when you look at someone or something?
That feeling when you either have butterflies in your stomach or a deep feeling of admiration?
Like you feel like you can’t breathe, and yet you feel like laughing and smiling, getting rid of even more air you took in?
I hate that feeling.
It’s awfully terrifying and disturbing.
I feel like I’m having a heart attack and my insides are trying to eat its way out.
And yet, I love that feeling.
The exhilaration of it, the adrenaline.
I love the way it makes me feel, even if it pains me.
I hate that I can’t control it, yet I love that it can’t be controlled.



Fire and Ice
Breon Payton (Ed. EDM)

I played guitar all my life but never seemed to get the hang of it.   I believe I was the worst there was, no better than a do nothing scallyway.  I was down on my luck, mired in the piteous mindset, longing for more.  I set my eyes to the heavens: I wanted to become the greatest player in the history of guitar players .

I don’t know what it was that set me off on this course, maybe it was the red dress she wore, how she danced like she herself was painting the musical notes that came out of the guitar with her movement, or the way she looked up to the musicians on the stage, or maybe it was just the way she  nonchalantly chewed icecubes from her drink, her index finger tracing the cold mouth of the glass.

I ached for that look, that movement, that flash of red, so every weekend I went down to the juke joint and played my heart out, just to get booed by the crowd and kicked off stage . Townspeople taunted me, describing my playing as unbearable, a blasphemy against the blues.

I was in a dark mood, darker than the midnight moonless sky.  I ambled out in worse shape than the beaten down dog I  was.  It was in that darkness that I saw the shadow tracking  me.   A strange man approached me, wrapped his arm around my torso like a raven to its fetal chick, and told me I wouldn’t have to worry about getting booed anymore . My downtrodden eyes looked up to him.  He smiled an indescrible smile; flashing his red beady overtired eyes at me, whispering in an almost snake-like fashion an address: “Meet me at the crossroads of Highway 322, North State Street, and Desoto Avenue, and bring your new strings.  You’ll play like fire.”

My eyes danced with possibility.

“I’ll be waiting there for you tomorrow at midnight”

The day’s wait was immensely tortuous, and I spent my time finger picking the guitar strings and drowning my impatience in the free flowing gin from the area gin joint. Before I knew it, the time had come to work my way to the meeting point.  The walk was longer than I expected, but as if by magic my feet did not traverse the ground, but seemed to float as if I was a driftwood floating on the big ocean, and I did not control my own movement.  Finally, though, I made it to the crossroads, it had to have been midnight.  The soles of my shoes were tattered and held on by a string .   I was unsure of what I had to do, so I just sat and waited for him with my guitar .

Suddenly, a hand slithered its way onto my shoulder . It was cold, inhuman, not warmed by living blood, but rather reptilian and deathlike.

I turned around in astonishment at the appearance of a very tall dark man dressed in an all black suit and top hat.  I became entranced by his devilish glare and monstrous height . He leaned over me with an abnormally nimble arch and told me, “I know why you’re here, I’ve been waiting for you, my child , are you ready to make the ultimate bargain?”

He seemed to glance down at my guitar, so I too looked at it, and I couldn’t help but notice that it seemed to glow, its strings nearly vibrating, calling out for my touch, and out of nowhere, I thought of her doe like eyes drilling into me, the curve of her smile creeping up the corners of her red blush lips. The guitar seemed to be singing.

I blinked away the image, attributing it to the gin, and my eyes returned to the silhouette who was now speaking to me, taking me in with his smooth tone.   His voice, somehow, had a sort of persuasion to it.

Confidently , I said “I’m ready .“

He grabbed my guitar and and started to tune it . He played my guitar, it was a sound unheard, more beautiful than anything I’ve ever witnessed . He then handed me the guitar.  “Now you…”

I touched the guitar.  Suddenly, I felt a burning sensation at the tips of each of my fingers, as if the strings were playing my fingers and not the other way around.   I played the guitar like I’ve never before ; this was the best feeling I’ve had in awhile.   It was exactly how I had imagined it.

The man began to laugh “that’s a soulful rhythm, son.”

I nodded back to him, savoring the notes burning out of my fingers.

He leaned into my ear and whispered, “a soul for a soulful sound?”

My fingers slide hot across the neck of the guitar; the red hunter’s moon peaked out of an onimous cloud.

“A soul for a soulful sound?” he repeated.

My eyes were closed; the music took me far away from the crossroads.

“A soul for a soulful sound?” he echoed hypnotically.

I sang out an answer; I wanted this moment to last forever. “Yes. Yes. Yes. A soul for a soulful sound.”

The man’s laughter increased “that soulful rhythm comes at a cost , the cost of your soul.”

My music stopped abruptly and my eyes jerked open.  I looked around, and slowly came to the realization that I was no longer at a crossroads, but rather I was surrounded by my own bedroom walls, my body like a trapped fly intertwined in the sheets of my own bed.  The man, his laughter, his slithering touch, his soothing voice all began dissipating, the way a dream disintegrates the longer you are awake, and it was only a brief moment that I was trying to reconstruct the details of it all.  The crossroads remained the only image in my head; everything else sank deep into my subconcious.

I sat up still shaken by the surrealism of the dream and my eyes hit a flash of red at the foot of my mattress.  It was my guitar that was for sure.  I’ve had it for years, but, but somehow, it was different.  Out of instinct, I grabbed it and began to play.  My hands were guided by a firey sensation at my fingertips . I was perfect .   I closed my eyes as I played and mouthed the words: “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

That night, I had journeyed to the old hangout to test out my new power . The first time I played, since my journey to the crossroads, I had jaws dropping in the juke joint . The folks who used to call my playing an annoyance were the same folks shuckin and jivin’ to my tunes.

From that day on, I returned to the crossroads, met up with the demon from my dreams.   The devil was my road dog.  He helped me make all the songs that he folks loved to shake to.  I became the best guitar player in Mississippi .  I began to play in various clubs, entertaining  crowds with my devilishly good tunes. Never would I have thought I would be that good. Soon, every woman was in the palm of my hand and every man envied me.  I was invincible with the help of the devil.

The power of the music was unmistakeable, but after some time, the devil  had become more of a burden then he was a crutch . Many women were in my life, but they were all loveless relations.  Being bound by the devil, I had no option for love.  In fact, I was married twice and both women died, and my own child died alongside my young wife, no doubt as a divine punishment for my dealings with the devil .

I refused to settle down with any girl ever again . I took shelter in women’s homes, but by the morning I’d always be gone. I didn’t want anyone else to fall victim to my bargain.  I became a traveler moving from place to place still playing guitar.  All that I had left was contained in my tattered guitar case, somehow held together by frayed strings of a burlap sack.

I had become a rambling man across the delta.  My travelings took me down many crooked roads, narrow alleys, dead ends, cul de sacs, treelined avenues with autumn branches hanging on for dear life the final deadened leaves of the waning season, and it was at this time,  I began to feel that the end of my bargain would be fulfilled soon.

Everywhere I went, I felt as if there were hellhounds on my trail.   In the heart of the delta, at a small juke joint called The Legba Club, my assumptions became true; I became victim to a murder .  A jealous husband poisoned me for flirting with his wife after a performance .   It was, however, his wife who had given me a venemous drink, undoubtedly with the fatal liquid extracted from one of the six poisonous snakes of the region.  Within thirty minutes,  my vison became severely blurred.  I swayed, grabbed for anything that could keep me steady, and to my good fortune it was early enough for gin to not be running through the folk’s veins.  A starry eyed dancer noticed me stumbling, then upon trying to help me up spotted the telltale foaming at the mouth.

“Give room, give room, no time for lollygagging” she screamed.

The music stopped and I now could hear clearly the fragments of sentences urging a runner to fetch the good doctor from down the road.  “He can perform miracles,” they whispered; ” he could cure the devil himself”, they chattered.
The townfolk stretched me across a table, and I knew it was my time to go. No doctor in the world could have been able to save me.  In spite of their faith, of that I was certain.

My consciousness danced like a flame fighting the extinguishing wind.  I felt excruciatingly cold.  I felt very uneasy.  I knew something was going to happen , something bad.  Even in my struggle, I scoffed at the townfolk’s confidence in this doctor, but my own doubt and faithlessness dissipated when I saw how confidently this medical doctor approached, how assuredly he recognized the poison, how optimistically he gathered the necessary materials.  He was smooth and liquid in his movement; I turned my face to his, saw a flash of firey red in his eyes.   He smoothly and ominously slithered over to me with a devilish grin and placed his hand on my chest . I felt the same sensation I felt at the crossroads, this time I felt the burning throughout my entire body .

I reached for his hand with mine.  It was cold, inhuman, not warmed by living blood, but rather reptilian and deathlike.