The devil sitting across the table from me leaned back, one hand lazily twirling a finger about an inch above the brim of his coffee cup. Even though there was nothing physically extending down into the cup itself, the liquid beneath his finger seemed to be moving along with his motions.
In front of me, both of my hands were wrapped around my own coffee cup. Even after years of working here, of pouring coffee every day for the angels, both holy and fallen, that wandered in here, I still got nervous when talking to them. Call it mortal nerves, maybe. I waited for the devil in front of me to respond.
“See, here’s my theory,” the devil across from me finally started. His voice was cultured, with only the very faintest little hint of a sneer giving any sort of allusion to his true nature. “We all know that God exists, somewhere, in some form. Right? We,” and he waved one hand around in a little circle to encompass the two of us, the coffee shop, the world in general, “wouldn’t be here if He didn’t exist.”
“But we never see him,” I countered. “And even the angels and devils I’ve talked to haven’t ever spoken with him directly.”
It was true. Ever since I’d started working here, since I had realized who the real customers of this coffee shop were, I’d begun asking around. My inquiries were surreptitious at first, but as I grew more comfortable with the immortal agents of Heaven and Hell who filed through here every morning, grumpy and in search of their caffeine fix, I grew bolder.
The devil across from me held up a finger, as if I’d just made his point for him. “Ah, but that’s just it, isn’t it?” he announced triumphantly, as if he’d scored a point. “We know that He exists – but at the same time, we don’t know! We’re doubtful!”
I narrowed my eyes at the man. Was he just trying to be flippant with me? He did look the type – if it weren’t for the black clothes that marked him as a fallen angel, he could have fit in at a fraternity house, dressed in a polo with a popped collar and hollering for shots. His blonde hair was pushed back in a loose curl across his forehead that would generally take hours in front of a mirror.
“What’s your point?” I said shortly.
The devil crossed his arms and looked smug. “Doubt,” he announced.
“Yeah, isn’t that what I just said? See, I think that this God guy lives on doubt. He exists, but He can’t demonstrate that He exists, or else He removes all the doubt. And He must need us to be doubtful for some reason!”
I didn’t feel convinced. “So God exists… but He is powered by doubt?” I reiterated.
“Yup. And if He was to start messing around directly, throwing lightning bolts and such, well, that would remove all the doubt!” The devil looked pleased as punch with this theory.
“Okay…” I paused, trying to decide where to go next. I still didn’t feel convinced, but I didn’t see how this devil could help me any further. He was a fairly low ranking devil, but he had been one of the few that seemed agreeable to talking with me. I was stuck with the customers who seemed friendly, low-powered as they might be.
We sat there in silence for a couple more minutes – I was trying to digest this theory, and the devil was gloating, apparently believing he’d landed another convert.
“So, what does this mean for us?” I finally asked.
“It means we can do whatever we want!” the devil exclaimed. I almost expected him to add a ‘bro’ onto the end of that sentence. “See, God can’t jump in and stop us, or else it would prove that He exists – and He can’t do that!”
“But what if He intervenes indirectly?” I countered. “Like, God doesn’t appear and throw lightning bolts, but there happens to be a thunderstorm in that same place that struck just then.”
The devil across the table frowned. “Nah, that wouldn’t work, would it?” he mused, looking a little rattled.
“Remember the general who got shot by a cannon after mocking the enemy’s ability to hit anything?” I countered.
The devil looked a little ill. He lifted up his coffee, but slopped a little as it rose up to his mouth. “Uh, maybe my theory needs a little detailing,” he stammered, as he rose up quickly from his seat, brushing drops of hot liquid off his black clothes. “Maybe I’ll let you know once I’ve worked it all out.”
I watched the devil scurry away, and sighed. Another servant of God who didn’t even know if his boss existed. Sometimes, I despaired that I’d get anywhere on this.
The bell above the door jangled, jolting me out of my reverie. Well, at least I could serve coffee. I hopped up and hurried back behind the counter, putting on a smile as the newest angels entered.