The Invitation

Venus, Mars, and Saturn.

The Invitation
By Timothy Price

Jake was high as a kite when he walked into the convenience store. After looking around nervously to assure himself there was no one there besides the clerk, he walked up to the counter, pulled out a pistol, and demanded all the cash in the drawer. Before the clerk could react, Jake heard a voice to his right ask, “Are you sure you want to do this?” He turned and saw a rather nondescript man standing about six feet from him. “What did you say?” Jake asked, jerking his head nervously between the mysterious man and the clerk. The man didn’t answer Jake. He asked the clerk how much cash was in the till. “Less than one hundred dollars,” the clerk told the man. The man turned back to Jake and asked, “You want to commit a felony and possibly murder for less than a hundred bucks?” Jake stood dumbstruck, trying to think of something to say.

The man continued, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you two hundred dollars if you put your gun away and go to the coffee shop across the street with me. Over there you can tell me your story over a cup of coffee, on me, of course. If I find you suitable, I might offer you a job.” Thoroughly confused by the man and his offer, Jake continued looking back and forth between the clerk and the man before he pointed his pistol at the man and said, “You’re messing with my head, man! Are you like a cop, man? Or maybe the Devil? Or what? Well, it’s like it doesn’t matter, man…”

Jake started to squeeze the trigger when he felt his finger breaking against the trigger guard as the pistol was ripped from his hand before he felt the back of his pistol tearing at his face. He only heard the first of three shots that sent bullets ripping through his heart. He hovered over his body that was slumped on the floor at the feet of the man holding his pistol. He heard a voice say, “Never turn down an invitation from the Devil.” Darkness fell all around.

The man ejected the magazine from Jake’s pistol and racked the slide, sending the chambered round tumbling through the air before it bounced off Jake and splashed into his blood pooling on the floor around him. The man stepped over Jake’s body as he laid the magazine and pistol on the counter in front of the clerk, who stood like a statue in shock from the scene that had unfolded before him. “The police will want these for evidence.” The man told the clerk as he turned and walked out of the store, disappearing into the street.