(Note: this story originally appeared in the comment section of YSaC Vol. 977 in response to an ad asking for someone to come to the poster’s house dressed as Satan to scare their child into behaving.)

 

 

:ding-dong!:

He was here, the guy from CraigsList! Now all of Merle’s parenting troubles would be over. With a glance down the hall towards his son’s room, where a thick fog of cigarette smoke lingered and the the muted click of glass against glass was nearly drowned out by the flood of curses, he headed towards the front door. It was Junior’s poker night; Merle had seen him only minutes before in the kitchen, dressed in his SpongeBob pajamas, getting more ice out of the freezer.
Merle hurried to the door, hoping the bell hadn’t disturbed Junior. He didn’t want to get the belt again. Flinging open the door, he noticed that Junior had been practicing carving his intials into the wood again. Better that than when he had used their living room furniture to perfect his tagging techniques.
On the steps was a large lumpy shape, vaguely man-shaped and man-sized, that smelled strongly of garlic and soy sauce. It resembled uncooked bread dough and had been splashed generously with a thick, dark red liquid. A drop fell on Merle’s wrist and he absently licked it off.

Barbecue sauce.

“Hey, you Merle?”

Merle nodded.

“Finally! Do you know how many Deffenberks there are in this town? I’ve been getting all kinds of strange looks. Where can I plug in the smoke machine?”

Merle’s mouth, which had been working as frantically as a hairdresser on meth, finally produced words.

“What…You…But…But you’re suppose to be Satan!” The lumpy thing seemed to roll its eyes, but it could have been a couple of sesame seeds shifting position.

“Of course I’m seitan! That’s what you asked for, right?”

“Not seitan,” Merle hissed “I wanted Satan! Satan!”

“Geez, you don’t have to get upset. Look, I printed out the ad. It says “satan” right here.” From somewhere within the creases in the brown mass a hand produced a crumpled piece of paper, speckled with sauce.

“Yes! Satan! The devil! Old Scratch, the Prince of Lies, Mr. Mephistopheles! Not seitan!” Merle was trying to keep his voice low but he could not help twitching his arms about like a gaffed trout. The stranger studied the sauce-dampened paper for a moment.

“Oh. I just thought you misspelled seitan. No one spells anything right on CraigsList.” He paused. “Listen, since I’m here already and I built this suit, do you want me to try scaring the kid?”

“No! He regularly terrorizes biker gangs! Nuns weep blood when he passes them on the street! Every pet within a ten mile radius has run away! An animate lump of boiled wheat gluten isn’t going to scare him! Why would you think that?!?”

The drippy lump looked down at its shapeless shoes.

“I thought he might have celiac disease or something like that.”

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