A Two-Way Conversation
Submitted by David

My story is one of fiction, and yet...I wonder how many such conversations take place all around us.

Max walked through the park, watching the children as they played. Although the day’s schedule called for an amount of…unpleasantness, he always loved visiting places where the children ran free. If only they were allowed to do so more often.

A ball rolled over to him and he bent down to pick it up. A young boy almost ran into him. Max handed the ball to the little boy.

The boy smiled at Max. "Thanks, mister."

Max returned the smile. "You’re welcome." He watched the boy as he ran off, then continued on his own journey. His thoughts traveled to the mission at hand. The Master’s ways are wonderful and mighty, of this he has no doubt. Still, he sometimes wonders why He allows such meetings with…filth. Max came out of this line of thinking as he found his destination. It was an old park bench set back in the trees, away from most of the park’s activities. Max took off his hat as he sat down on the bench. He laid his hat on his lap and looked around. He watched. He waited.

The wait didn’t take long. Max could smell the scoundrel before he even saw him. He came in the form of a man. Dark. Foreboding. Mischief. The man walked nervously, like he had done something wrong and was waiting to be found out. "Well," thought Max, "he’s done plenty wrong, and he’s been found out."

The man saw Max and headed over in his direction. The two clashed in comparison. Max was attired in his usual blue jeans and blue cotton button-down-the-front shirt. His dark and not fully combed hair added to his pleasant demeanor. Max was one who looked trustworthy and friendly. He seemed…nice.

On the other side of the spectrum was this dark stranger. He walked slowly, cautiously. His long black coat that draped almost to the ground looked completely out of place. His eyes were set back into his head. He had a long, drab face. While Max came off to the casual observer as the proverbial best friend, this man was one that would cause others to cross the street and walk on the other side, for no other reason than to simply get out of his way. And there was the other matter, for as the man walked, the "area" around him was wrong, eerie, and out of place. Even the immediate sky above him seemed to take on a grayish hue.

He sat down right next to Max.

Max scooted down a few inches on the bench before he spoke. "You have a lot of nerve demanding a meeting like this." Max looked around. "At a place like this."

"The master requested it."

Max quickly turned and looked at the man. "You will not refer to him or anyone else as master. Not in my presence, not around these humans." Max gave him a hard stare. "Make no mistake, there is only one Master."

The stranger smiled. "Enough with this foolishness." A young couple walked by and the stranger whispered with just the right touch of menace as he watched them walk by. "I request a soul."

Max’s laugh boomed. "Hah! You are in no position to request anything."

This time the stranger turned and stared. "You believe you’re the all wise, do you not? If you think you have this battle won, why are you here? You want to…negotiate perhaps? Barter?"

Max’s impatience showed. "There will be no barter today. No negotiations. The Master desires that none perish, not one. You go back and tell your…master," the word tasted bad in his mouth, "that you will not use the Lord’s creations as…toys."

The man rose up from the bench, and turned again to face Max. "This is not over, you know that, don’t you. Our paths will cross again."

Max smiled. "I’ll be ready."

The stranger turned to leave.

"And Lucius?"

The demon stopped in his tracks and turned to look at the angel, surprised that he had called him by name.

"I will not have you hurting anyone on your way out. You will take no souls today."

Lucius frowned and slowly turned to walk away, not daring to look back.

Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. - 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

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