By Dan Blankenship
© 2008 Dan Blankenship
It’s been three years since I first heard this story. I’ve told it many times. People often asked me to put it down on paper, so I decided I better do just that. In case something happens to me, I might be the only one who could have ever written it just the way it happened.
It was the coldest day I can remember, middle of February, and I had cut firewood all afternoon till my hands were numb. Eventually, I made my way to Janet’s Diner off of Highway 83 to get some grub. Can’t remember last time I had been so hungry.
Well, inside the diner I saw Henry Habbert and Delmar Johnson. I hadn’t seen those old coots in more than a year. I saw they had an empty seat at their table, so I asked if they’d mind some company.
“Sure, Larry, have a seat, we ain’t even ordered yet. Good to see you. How’s Frances doing?” Delmar asked, scooting his chair over a bit to make more room for me.
“She’s doin’ fine; watched me cut firewood for about four hours. Didn’t seem to bother her a bit,” I said with a wink.
Well, I sat down, and we ordered our food. From that point on, well, things got a little weird.
Henry got a puzzled look on his face and said, “Tell him Delmar, go ahead, tell him.”
Delmar, in his late sixties and sporting a beard that looked like an avalanche in progress, waved his hand and offered, “He don’t want to hear about no superstitious stuff.”
“Delmar, there is absolutely no one who wouldn’t want to hear this story. Now go on, tell him.”
By this time, I had to admit, curiosity had gotten the best of me. “C’mon, Delmar, tell me what happened.”
“Okay, Larry, but it ain’t like nothing you ever heard before.”
“Shoot, you old coot, let’s hear it.”
“Well, you know how in the Book of Revelation…in the Bible…it talks about the how the Antichrist and how he’ll have dominion over the whole earth for a while?”
“Yes, I do believe I’ve read that.”
“Well, I read the Bible every night, just before bed. Well, last night, I was reading Revelation and I kept thinking about how fun that would be to have power over the whole world. Then I would think about how wrong it was to think such thoughts. Then I though about it again, having all that power. I swear I thought my head was going to explode. See, I ain’t never been in charge of no one. Always been a laborer, all my life. Never been a boss. This guy who gets to be the Antichrist, well, he will be so powerful that no one can even buy food lest he says they can.”
“Yes, I’m aware, the Antichrist will be a powerful fellow,” I replied as the waitress delivered our dinners.
“Well, it wasn’t long till I was fast asleep,” Delmar continued. “And it wasn’t long after that, I heard a huge commotion coming from my kitchen.”
“Your kitchen?” I asked.
“Yes, the kitchen. And when I got up and ran in there, you won’t believe who was in there!”
“Who?” I asked, leaning forward over my steaming pork chops.
“It was him!”
“The Antichrist was in your kitchen, Delmar?” I asked a little too loud as I noticed others in the diner look my way.
Delmar spoke in a hushed tone now. “Yes, the Antichrist was in my kitchen.”
“Fixin’ up a bowl of oatmeal?” I asked.
“Laugh if you want, Larry, but I’m tellin’ you the truth. And, the scary part is, he ain’t one man, ain’t one demon, and he ain’t one time,” Delmar said, his eyes wide as I’d ever seen them.
“One time?” I asked.
“The Antichrist in my kitchen doesn’t belong to one time. He was really there. I saw his face; it changes, changes all the time. One minute he had the face of Hitler, next minute, Joseph Stalin, next minute, Pol Pot, and on and on. The devil ain’t limited to Revelation appearances. And that power I though I’d be so fond of, well it ain’t the kind of power I’d ever want.”
“Did you talk to him?” I asked, not sure if I believed a word of what Delmar was saying.
“I didn’t say anything to him, but he spoke to me. Said I should stop reading the book, start living the good life. He said I should stop worrying about right and wrong and do what ever I feel like doing. He said that he loved to discover people like me, people who crave power cause they ain’t never had any. He grabs the insecure and the rebels to be his soldiers of disorder and chaos. He bragged about the pro-abortion movement, gay-marriage legislation, and kicking God out of most public institutions.”
“So how long did he stay?”
“About ten minutes.”
“He just left after appearing to you?”
“Well, I ran out of the house after he said what he had to say. By the time I turned around, my house was burned to the ground. Never even saw the flames! It went down that fast!”
“Oh, c’mon, Delmar, you’re joking, right?” I replied.
About that time two firemen, Douglas Walker and Timothy Shackley, walked into Janet’s Diner and made their way to our table. They were in full uniform and looked as though they had been working for a long time.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, Delmar,” Douglas began. “Home fires don’t burn that hot. It’s almost like your house was put into an incinerator. Nothing’s left. No pipes, no steel, and not even the foundation. It’s as if your house was never there.”
“We did find this, about fifty feet from where your home used to be,” Timothy added, handing Delmar a ragged looking Bible. “It has your name engraved on the front. Seems to be the only thing left intact. Smells like sulfur, though.”
“I imagine it does, Delmar added.”
Three weeks later, the story of how Delmar Johnson’s house got destroyed appeared on the cover of one of those tabloid magazines. They got the story all wrong, claiming Delmar called Satan into his home with a Ouija board and they argued over his last bottle of rum. Angered by the fact that Delmar wouldn’t give up the drink, Satan burned down his home. I’m not sure where they heard such nonsense, and that’s why I decided to put this down on paper.
Henry and Delmar have both passed on since that day at Janet’s Diner. Most people who hear the story of how Delmar’s home got destroyed don’t believe it. Even Douglas and Timothy refuse to believe the devil was the cause. But ain’t that how it always goes? We want to see proof evil exists, and then when we do, we run from our responsibility to tell others about it for fear they’ll have the same disbelief we did. That’s why I figured I best get this story out there for all to read.
And if you ever make it to Seeley Lake, Montana, make sure you visit 1601 Horse Street. At the time of this writing, no one has ever successfully built a new home on Delmar’s lot. It seems the devil has put a lean on that property.
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What a story! Love this character and the eerie tale he tells, Dan. Very entertaining.
Very good story, and good writing! Thank you for this piece. Thought provoking.