The Devil’s in the Details

The Devil’s in the Details

“Why is it that some artists just as talented and hard-working as the next guy never make it, while the next guy goes all the way to the top?”

That question has haunted musician Mathew “Maz” Zolbe  ever since his neighbor Old Lady Ivy told him the story of Robert Johnson and the Crossroads:

Robert Johnson

“When Mr. Johnson disappeared one day, folks thought he’d finally gone and drank himself to death on moonshine. But he turned up again, only now he could play that guitar like all the angels and demons of heaven and hell both had come together in one wailin’ crazy hallelujah. Mr. Johnson would sit all night long in the graveyard, right on top of the tombstones, raisin’ the very dead outta the ground with that guitar. Nothin’ could account for such a change, and that’s what got people talkin’ ‘bout how Mr. Johnson had gone down to the Crossroads just before midnight when the devil rides. The devil promised to tune Mr. Johnson’s guitar with the fires of hell itself in exchange for his eternal soul… ”

When Maz travels into the Delta to cut his own deal with the devil, instead he finds a most unusual character with an even more unusual offer–one that requires a trade-off more unthinkable than even Old Lady Ivy could have imagined…

 “So this isn’t the place where the devil rides by the Crossroads when the clock strikes midnight?”
“The devil, you say? Lots of folks ‘round here go by that name.” The old man leaned forward and Maz had to force himself not to step back. There was some strange vibration coming from that withered body, like a downed live wire sending deadly electric pulses out through the ground. “Which devil in particular you lookin’ for?”
 “The one who knows how to tune a guitar with the fires of hell itself.”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so, boy? You’s looking for the Trickster, then.”
“The Trickster?”
“That’s right.”
“Is the Trickster what the devil’s called down here?”
The old man slapped his knee and roared with laughter again. “We’s all devils down here, boy. Nothin’ but.”
“But the Trickster can help a musician become the best there is, right? Make them the best at whatever kind of music they’ve got in them?”
“That what you’ve heard, boy?”
Maz started ticking off some of the many names he knew by heart. “Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding. Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Lennon. Cobain, Tupac—
“Whoa, now, boy! You think all them folks come from all over the world just to visit this here little Delta?”
“Not all of them. But some must have.”
“Well, some folks do need a little extra sugar in their bowl, and some don’t. ‘Course there’s more than one kinds of sugar, and more than one way to get it…”
To read “The Devil’s in the Details” and twelve other tales of gothic terror, chilling suspense, and uncanny occurrences, click here to purchase The Knife and the Wound It Deals in paperback or e-book version!