Someone has lost a patch off their jacket. Alex stoops to pick it up. The Devil, if he notices, keeps talking.
“You take these things too personally. It’s not PERSONAL. I enjoy my work, as all good craftsmen should, but I wouldn’t take it seriously, if I were you.”
The patch is faded, victim of a thousand washings. Whatever message it held — whatever band or political cause it once advertised — it’s just a long weave of thread now. Perfect. Alex begins to unravel it, coiling it in his palms, still half-listening out of politeness.
“I will destroy your father. I’m not sorry for that — it’s what I am for — but I do feel for you. You won’t believe this, but I don’t bear you any ill will, in fact I even like you in my way, but even so…”
Alex slips the thread over the Devil’s head and pulls the loop taut. The Devil sticks his tongue out mockingly, then goes cross-eyed as the pressure grows. “Neglect,” says Alex. “Forgetfulness. Apathy. You won’t die, but you still have to follow the rules while you’re here, don’t you? This may buy me some time.”
The Devil’s eyes glint in approval, then go dark. Of course he understands.