“This is the story of Steve, or, as he likes to tell it, ‘How I became the Demon Inspiration.’” I smiled out at my audience, scared to death that one of them was going to ask me a question. I hated public speaking.
Steve, all four feet of him, sat on a rocking chair in front of me, his tail weaving back and forth, trying to distract me. My foot was on the chair as well, giving the impression that I was causing it to move. I did not think the crowd was ready to actually meet the demon himself.
I took a sip of the water that rested on the oak table to my right and motioned to MJ, my wife, who had insisted on being there for my first reading, to bring me another bottle. I was going to need it.
I surveyed all of the smiling faces in the audience. None gave any indication that they saw Steve, and so far he was content with just trying to trip me up. I was unsure of how MJ had pulled this piece of deviousness off without Steve knowing, but she had, and I was waiting for him to realize it.
“Are you going to tell them about the time I chased President Nixon on the goat through the Watergate building?” He asked.
“That didn’t happen.” I managed through gritted teeth.
“Sure it did. Or the four years I impersonated Reagan?”
I looked at the demon. He was beaming.
“Which four years?” I asked.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” He jumped out of the chair without warning, and my foot, still resting on it, sent the chair skittering away from me. It came to rest upside down, amidst a chorus of giggles and laughs from the attendees.
“I’m sorry, I’m a bit nervous. How about we take a five minute break for me to collect myself.”
The librarian came up to the stage I was sitting on and began going over some of the upcoming events while I escaped off to the side. I took the bottle of water that MJ handed me and downed it in one long, drawn out gulp.
“Why are we here again?” Steve asked, slinking up beside me and causing me to jump out of my skin.
“To tell your story,” my wife replied.
“Yep, now get your ass up on that stage and do it.” He prodded me with his tail to emphasize the point.
“And don’t forget to tell about the time I ransacked Rome on the back of a camel.”
“That isn’t in the book.” I chuckled as the image of Steve, nestled in between the two humps of a golden bactrian camel came into my head. He bore a shield on one arm and a spear in the other.
“Why the hell not?” The image changed and he was atop the single hump of a black dromedary, a large curved sword strapped to his back, and a scarf covering his face revealing only black eyes and red horns.
I nodded my head at the improved image and explained to him that he had not told me that story.
“Oh well, we’ll do it on the fly. You’re on hotshot,” He nudged me with his tail again, and I looked to see the librarian staring at me. I took the stage.
“So, you’re in for a treat tonight,” I began, “I’ve just thought of a new Steve story and am going to share it with you.” This brought a small round of applause from the almost thirty people gathered in the back corner of the public library.
“But,” I added, “I will not have time to read any of the book.” This was greeted by many disappointed groans as well as a few glares from some of the older audience members.
“Ok, fine, the book it is.” More applause. “How I became the Demon Inspiration” I began, the book open in my lap so Mrs. Feldman’s first grade class could see the pictures that my kids had drawn to go along with the story my wife had written.