Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Spitting Devil

There's a mean-spirited man who lives on Auckland Street in Dorchester. He stands out in a crowd because most people who live in Dorchester are good-hearted. This man never has a kind word to say. He is constant complainer for whom nothing is ever good enough. He rails against the street sweepers, he kvetches about the temperature of his coffee, he returns everything he buys because he says it is stale though the expiration is far in the future and it must have been good enough for him to eat 49% of it before he noticed. It is unpleasant to hold a conversation with him, obviously, but it is made doubly so because he spits when he talks. He is Dorchester's Spitting Devil.

Neighborhood children bestowed this name on him first but the moniker spread like wildfire through every age group. Say that you ran into the Spitting Devil in Dorchester and people will fetch handkerchiefs so you can clean up after the encounter. He can spray like the sprinklers that water lawns in Harbor Point when he gets worked up. This is to say, he spits in any weather, under any circumstances, whether the occasion calls for it or not. He is always in a lather.

People in Dorchester like a good complaint as much as anyone else, the more justified the better. To complain for the sake of it, however, is considered bad form. Dorchesterites prefer to count their blessings whether they have hatched yet or not. The Spitting Devil is a bad egg spoiling the bread basket. He taxes the patience of Dorchester's other citizens with his endless harangues. He is all vinegar, as if he has never tasted honey. Even if he has, we are sure he found it not to his liking.

I ran into the Spitting Devil at the Harp & Bard on Dot Ave. He was at the end of the bar, alone, complaining that his stool was too hard. I wasn't interested in interjecting on his monologue. The mahogany bar in front of him was wet, as if he had spilled his Budweiser more than once. One of the Keno players shouted at him, "Why don't you shut up? If you are unhappy here, why don't you go somewhere else? You can go there and die. Nobody will miss you, you devil." This insult got a round of polite hand-clapping from around the bar, but noticeably not from the Harp & Bard staff who are known for their exceptionally indulgent customer service.

The Devil looked up and sputtered. "You know why I don't move? Because nowhere is good enough. I'm happy here, happy being perfect in a rotten little burgh like this talking to stupid mugs like you. When I die, I'll go to Heaven and you know what? It will be just like here."

The Devil's spittle hung in the air under the glow of the Bruins game on the HDTVs that surround the bar. Little black and white and yellow stars floated out of his mouth. He was right. If he ends up in Heaven, which many people doubt, it will be like Dorchester. No matter where he goes, he'll find something to complain about.

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