“I was born in 1886,” he told her.
“Very funny,” Marielle replied. Cicadas hummed in the restless night air.
“I’m serious. Just let me explain.”
“Go right ahead.”
“My family lived in Galveston, Texas. It’s beautiful there. The weather is always warm with a breeze off the ocean. But I left for college in the east. It was some small Christian school. That were the days when I thought God had my best interests at heart,” Enoch paused here and thoughtfully scratched the stubble on his face before continuing, “I had been out of college for two years and I was working a job at a printing company that I hated. My girlfriend left me for another man. I guess I knew deep down that she would leave me. Even at Praise-God-Hallelujah-Jesus University she was a closet slut. Sort of… ironic…”
“Continue,” Marielle told him nonchalantly, scooting closer and putting Enoch's arm around her waist, as though to try him on for size, just to see what it might feel like to fit close beside him.
“What are you doing?” Enoch asked. His voiced cracked and he cleared his throat, embarrassment coloring his face.
“Hmm?” she asked, looking him right in the eye. His eyebrows took the liberty of coming closer together, like they might discuss the situation privately.
“What is this?” he tried, experimentally letting his fingers trail a few inches down to the top of her thigh and then back to her waist a couple times. She stroked the back of his hand with the palm of her own and sighed.
“Have you ever heard of Stockholm syndrome?” Marielle said out of the blue.
Enoch hesitated, “Yes. I think so.”
“Mm. Continue your story. Please.”
It was then that he noticed his mouth had been hanging slightly ajar and he closed it, trying to figure out where he had left off.
“The slut,” Marielle said helpfully. Enoch tried to keep the strange expression from his face and began again.
“I was 24. I was tired of work already and I decided the best thing to do was to go back home. So I quit my job and arranged to travel back to Galveston the next week. That weekend… the hurricane struck. Everything was dead, and ruined, and gone. My mother, my brothers, my father; they all lost their lives to the tides that Saturday. The city was changed forever.”
“That’s so sad.”
Enoch nodded, “It would have been huge. Like New York is today… I never saw any of my family though. They were buried by relatives. I slept in a church that night with survivors. I remember being so cold…”
He stopped here, until Marielle caressed his knuckles, bringing him back to the present.
“…that was the night I met the Devil. He told me I just needed time to start over. So, I sold him my soul.”
Marielle soaked in his tragic visage. She was not afraid. Only sad. Many questions entered her mind, but she asked only one.
“Were you able to start over?”
He thought about it and then answered, “Not really. I’m the same prisoner in a different prison. I collect souls for him and I get anything I could want or need in return. I’m not sure it’s much of a life.”
“So why live it?”
His stare was distant, but he tightened his grasp on her waist.
She rephrased her question and asked it again, “What is there to live for?”