Friday, July 8, 2011

Deal With The Devil: A Boulder Story

A few years ago, I published a spoof on Robert Johnson’s deal-with-the-devil. Many laughed, and many emailed me to see if I was alright. I repost it here, but if you don’t know the story of the Robert Johnson myth, this won’t makes sense. Any readers falling into that category, I suggest you read this first. 

I wanted to share a recent experience with you (for those of you not familiar with Boulder, we used to have an eyesore known as the Crossroads Mall).

Ok, something happened to me on my way home on the night of October’s full moon. I couldn’t be sure if what I think happened actually happened. I needed some time to process. Well, now I think I can let you in on it, freaky and unbelievable though it is.

I’d been at the Outlook listening to some great, soulful blues and decided to walk home. I was Walking up the road with my laptop in my bag propped up on my shoulder on an October cool night, a full moon filling up the dark sky. I was thinking about the blues preaching to me, when I heard, "Put that laptop down, girl, you drivin' people nuts." It was a quiet, dark and lonesome road, with a crazed, poisoned dog howling and moaning in a ditch alongside the road sending electrified chills up and down my spine, as I was coming up on the ghost of the demolished Crossroads Mall just south of home. Then I saw a man sitting off to the side of the road on a log at the heart if the old Crossroads Mall, and he says, "You're late, Honey Sepeda." I dropped to my knees and said, "Maybe not."

The man stood up, tall, barrel-chested, and black as forever, and walked out to the middle of the old Crossroads Mall where I kneeled down. He says, "Stand up, Honey Sepeda. You want to throw that laptop over there in that ditch with that hairless dog and go on back to the Outlook and just listen, because you just another blues reviewer like all the rest, or you want to write about the blues like nobody ever wrote about it before? Turn phrases nobody ever heard before? You want to be the Queen of the Blues Writers and have all the whiskey and men you want?"
"That's a lot of whiskey and men, Devil-Man."

"I know you, Honey Sepeda," says the man.

I felt the moonlight bearing down on my head and the back of my neck as the moon seemed to be growing bigger and bigger and brighter and brighter. I feel it like the heat of the noonday sun bearing down, and the howling and moaning of the dog in the ditch penetrates my soul, coming up through my feet and the tips of my fingers through my legs and arms, settling in that big empty place beneath my breastbone causing me to shake and shudder like a woman with the palsy. I said, "That dog gone mad."

The man laughs. "That hound belong to me. He ain't mad, he's got the Blues. I got his soul in my hand."

The dog lets out a low, long soulful moan, a howling like I never heard before, rhythmic, syncopated grunts, yelps, and barks, seizing me like a Grand Mal, and causing the keys on my laptop to vibrate, hum, possessing me, taking me over, spinning me around, losing me inside of my own self, wasting me, lifting me up into the sky. I looked over in the ditch and see the eyes of the dog reflecting the bright moonlight or, more likely so it seems to me, glowing on their own, a deep violet penetrating glow, and I knew and felt that I was staring into the eyes of a Hellhound as his body shudders from head to toe.

The man says, "The dog ain't for sale, Honey Sepeda, but the words can be yours. The words of the Blues."

"I got to have those phrases and interviews, Devil-Man. They are mine! Where do I sign?"

The man says, "You ain't got a pencil, Honey Sepeda. Your word is good enough. All you got to do is keep walking north. But you better be prepared. There are consequences."

"Prepared for what, Devil-man?"

"You know where you are, Honey Sepeda? You are standing in the middle of the old Crossroads Mall at midnight, and that full moon is right over your head. You take one more step in the direction you're headed, you going to be in your office under this full October moon, and you are going to write about the Blues like never known to this world. My left hand will be forever wrapped around your soul, and Boulder's Home Of The Blues Blues’ weekly Blues Letter will possess all who read them. That's what's going to happen. That's what you better be prepared for. Your soul will belong to me. This is not just any old Crossroads Mall. I put this "X" here for a reason, and I been waiting on you."

I rolled my head around, eyes upwards in their sockets to stare at the blinding light of the moon which has now completely filled the pitch-black Front Range night, piercing my right eye like a bolt of lightning as the midnight hour hit. I looked the big man squarely in the eyes and says, "Step back, Devil-Man, I'm going to my office. I am the Blues Reporter."

The man moves to one side and says, "Go on, Honey Sepeda. You the Queen of the Blues Reviewers. Go on home to your office. And when you get to your office, you get you a plate of hot tamales because you going to be needing something on your stomach where you're headed." And that’s what happened, I swear. It was my Meeting with the Devil at the Former Crossroads Mall. 

Now, forward this along and let’s get the legend started. 11/07

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