When the devil's gaze fixed upon me, I didn't see it so much as feel it. And it was covetous.
For weeks I had passed the old man without incident. Each morning as I walked by the decrepit building he called his home, I noticed him there — hunkered against the brick wall, bottle in hand, eyes closed against the bright morning sun
In a neighborhood wasting away into spilled bricks and graffiti, this building's mass of knotted pipes made it stand out like a sentinel. But it was a sentinel that the old man could not see.
As I walked by this day, I felt a curious chill like a tiny death, and my vision was drawn to the old man. His eyes were open, and the sight of one of them stunned me, pulled the breath from my lungs. The eye was dead — a milky, pale blue — and motionless. And it was looking at me.
Oh, how I wish that eye had been closed! But once the eye found me, the end was already written.
When I was a child, my Tante once said, "The devil is active in this world. Trust yourself to recognize him when he is revealed."
I became acquainted with evil when I met that gaze. I had been seen, my content exposed, and the only response was to blind the eye forever.
From that moment forward, I made my choices with care — so rational, so aware. I carried myself as a man of God, knowing His plan.
Each day as I walked by, I studied the man's face. The eye was always closed, the old man asleep. For seven days this occurred, and each night I prayed for the Lord to give me the strength to close the eye when the moment came.
On the eighth day as I approached, the eye fluttered briefly, a glimmer of white. The street was deserted; my opportunity had arrived.
I swiftly rushed to the old man, hauling him up from the ground by his thin frame. He cried out just once as I dragged him toward the heavy wooden doors, threw back the latch, and shoved him inside the darkened building.
It was pitch black as we fell to the floor, I on top of him. He was small beneath me, all bones and ribs.
"Who are you?" he cried. "Why are you doing this?"
I hesitated for a moment then, only for a moment. I could hear his breath, a gentle wheeze with each exhale.
What is the cost if you're mistaken?, I asked myself. What price will be extracted from you?
But by God's will, a beam of light in that moment shone through a hole in the door and settled upon the man's face, upon the man's eye. And the eye flickered there, searching for me.
In the darkness, he did not find me.
I know what the Good Book says, I know about the fear that overtakes a man when he's asked to perform a difficult task. I know about being tested. And in this knowledge, I began to squeeze the old man's neck.
He struggled for air, but his gasping only provoked me to tighten my grip. I held on until the eyelid stopped its desperate movement and was fixed open. I squeezed until my existence was erased from its memory.
Then I rose and escaped the pale eye. I had lifted its weight from my soul. I felt invisible again, and free.
For three days I walked past the building without fear. I admit I even experienced pride, so sure of myself and of God's presence in the world.
But on the fourth day as I walked by that place, I felt the familiar chill, the spotlight gaze.
As I focused upon the building, upon that sentinel, I saw it. A mere flicker in the darkness.
From behind the hole in the door, I saw the shimmer of an unblinking gaze. And from within the darkness, I knew it saw me.