My name is Sam. Samael. Your Uncle Sam. Y'know, the Devil. You can also call me Satan. And no, it's not my fault.
If you've got the fear of God, you probably have some harsh words for me. If you got some issues, you probably think I'm an excuse to be an asshole. Probably.
But for a few people, I've always tried to help. Every day I visit the same coffee shop on the corner. The name has changed so often over the years, I just think of it as that coffee cafe in my head. The sign still says coffee on it, even a hundred years after it opened.
I like to sit there and think. I stand and just look out at the people. The place sits at the intersection of Hecate Avenue and 13th street. A crossroads. My kind of place.
That day, I knew I was going to help free someone. Freedom is what I do. That's me, Sam. Freedom guy with coffee staring at people. Not awkward at all.
The dark man at the crossroads.
I blinked out of reverie. The cafe feels crowded. Coffee. So many people in line. Lines. Tired. Sleepy. My head drifted away. Someone or something was calling my attention.
"Hey, excuse me?"
These people work too hard. Chained. They all looked like they wanted to break free.
"I can't free them all," I told myself.
"Hey?! Can you hear dude?" A woman's voice woke me from my reverie. Her voice. No, his voice, I reminded myself. He had his own chains too.
I then looked up. A barista offers me a towel.
The young woman's bright blue hair matches that one smile. That smile trained by months of serving other overworked Americans. This was their temple, their morning in service to their corporate gods. The blue haired woman was a priestess. A priestess whose libations of coffee made the great chained rack of American corporatism go round.
"Your coffee, sir, don't you want to clean up a bit? Are you ok?"
I looked down.
"Ah." The contents of my own beverage steamed hot, up from my dark black slacks I'd chosen to wear that morning. "Oops. Sorry if I've caused problems...?"
The barista gestured at his name tag. Julia. The lock on her chains, not that he saw that. He felt it. I could tell.
" just been staring- you always come in here, and this is the first time I've ever seen you spill your cup."
"Oops." I wiped up hot coffee and creamer. "Jules is it?"
"Is there anything else I can do for you sir?"
"Do believe in the devil, Jules?" I let the old tone enter my voice. The one that always made them curious. The question mark hung in the air. Almost manifest and real.
"My name is Julia. And..." The barista tries to look away from my eyes.
She can't. She sees the black there. The redness. My dark hair. For a moment, I see it her face. Then she reverses herself.
Not her. Him.
"And no, I don't."
"Besides," Julia busies himself helping wipe up my spilled coffee from my table. "There isn't a devil. Not a single one. There are at least three different beings mentioned in the bible."
"Religious?" I ask. I already know the answer.
"No, but I like to know what people try to sell me."
"Ah." I grasped his hand. It looked feminine. "This is a crossroads, Jules. People meet me here. Tell me, do you want to be free?"
The makeup and clothes he wore, they were chains. I could see the green flecks of jealousy he had toward me. The same look an imprisoned person has for a free one.
I dressed this way on purpose. I looked like a man. Everything in my clothes, masculine. The look in the young woman's eyes was jealousy. Annoyance to be trapped. And fear to be free.
"Let go of me." He said. His voice growled.
"Do you want to be free?" I repeated.
"Why?" Julia asked.
"Say one believes there is an order to the universe. I can change that. Don't you want to see your chains broken?"
"Alright. Do you mind letting go of my hand now...?"
I let go of the woman's hand. Chains, even pretty ones that look like nail polish and lipstick are still chains. I felt the chains. All of them. They jingled at my power.
"Sam. I am Sam. To some folk, you must obey the order. The rules. That you kneel when they say. They tell you that anyone who defies the order of the world, why, they are evil.
"One gives knowledge of fire. And other secrets some from the cold, knowledge that bends the order of the universe. Who does that? A snake. I am the snake. And I break chains.
"But what of the reverse, Jules? What if the one who defies the order of the universe doesn't want personal gain? What if the devil wants to help?"
"What about souls?"
I cocked an eyebrow. Always with this flap trap.
"A metaphor. But why would the devil want that? What if the devil wants to see what you become if given the chance to be what you want? What if he breaks the chains that hold you back? You have so many chains on you right now."
Jules shrugs. I seemed to have spent the barista's allotted time for bullshit. I smiled. He moved to walk away.
"Thank you for listening," I say. "Be free, Jules. Your chains are broken."
"That isn't my name." He says. He pauses, feeling his throat. It sounds deeper.
Jules stares at me. The female body melted away as my power flowed. Each chain shatters as my power Jules' female body into a male one. Surprise on his face, his blue hair that.
Exhausted, I slumped back.
I waved a hand as I stood up. I walked away.
Too tired to talk.
Uncle Sam, the devil, whatever I was, had freed one person. It exhausted me. But maybe that would be enough.
One chain at a time. Jules called after me and I left the Crossroads. Others had need of me.
"One day, it'll be enough."