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The Devil's In The Details

The Meeting of Kid and Mr. Beasley

By Heather HagyPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 8 min read

Mr. Beasley moved into 11 Fairview Lane on a sticky July afternoon. Mama and I watched from our living room across the street as our new neighbor replaced the battered mailbox in front of his cottage with a bright, fire engine red one. He then proceeded to paint his last name on the box in big, black capital letters.

Mama shut the curtains and clucked her tongue. “Red mailbox. Who on earth has a red mailbox? Very strange, I say.” She moved into the kitchen. “Kid, you want a sandwich?”

“Sure,” I mumbled, peering through the curtains again.

Mama kept talking. “Ain’t nobody been in that house for five years, not since ol’ Bill Dodd died and left a stinkin’ mess. Can’t imagine what it looks like inside. Probably as bad as the outside. And that Mr. Beasley puts up a red mailbox. He must be a crazy man.”

I closed the curtain and went into the kitchen to eat my lunch – a tuna sandwich and bottle of cola.

Mama leaned on the table as I sat down, her face pale. “Think I’ll take a little nap,” she said. “Feelin’ a little queasy.”

I nodded in understanding. Mama napped a lot more now, ever since she quit treatment. She told me not to worry but of course I did. Mama was all I had.

After she left, I ate a few bites of the sandwich then put it back on the plate, appetite lost. I couldn’t stop thinking about Mama. But I also couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Beasley. Curiosity was getting the better of me, and I wanted to go see if he really was a crazy man like Mama said.

As soon as I heard Mama start to snore, I slipped out the front door and hurried across the shimmering asphalt to the front of Mr. Beasley’s house. I admired his shiny mailbox, running my fingers across the black lettering. I felt eyes on me and looked up. Mr. Beasley stared back at me from his porch.

“Well, hello, young fella,” he said in a raspy voice. He wore faded jeans and a plain gray t-shirt that had splotches of red paint on it. “Ain’t she pretty?”

“Yessir, she is.”

“Sir!” Mr. Beasley whooped, rocking back on his bare feet. “Son, you got some manners. Ain’t nobody called me sir in a long stretch.” He squatted on the top step. “Come over here. Lemme have a look at ya.”

Sweat running down my back, I shuffled up the cracked concrete path to Mr. Beasley’s porch, noting the abundance of weeds and overgrown shrubs in the yard. The picket fence surrounding the house was missing several boards and in need of a paint job. An idea started to form in my head.

I stopped at the bottom step and held out my right hand. “Welcome to Fairview Lane, Mr. Beasley.”

Mr. Beasley grinned then leaned forward and shook my hand. He was a wiry man of average height with olive skin and a shock of unkempt black hair. He had a narrow, fox-like face and sported a short black goatee. He didn’t look like a Mr. Beasley at all. He looked like he should have a more exotic name, though I couldn’t think of one at the moment.

“Red’s a power color,” Mr. Beasley said, nodding at the mailbox. “Red’s the color of life, the blood flowin’ through your veins. And where there’s life, there’s fortune.” He pulled a cigarette out of his shirt pocket and stuck it in his mouth. “What’s your name, son?”

“Kid. Kid Hart.” I wiped my brow. It was so hot out, I felt like I was sweating buckets. Mr. Beasley didn’t seem to be perspiring at all.

“Kid Hart!” Mr. Beasley exclaimed, lighting his cigarette. “Sounds like the name of a hero in a story.”

I blushed. My sperm donor (as Mama liked to call my absent daddy) ran out on Mama while she was pregnant with me. As the story goes, after Mama gave birth to me, she looked at me and said, “Well, it’s just you and me, kid,” and that’s how I got my name.

I didn’t tell that to Mr. Beasley. And I didn’t ask him if he was crazy – that would’ve been rude. Instead, I ventured forward with the idea that had been brewing in my head for all of five minutes.

“Mr. Beasley, I’ve been lookin’ for a way to make some money this summer. To help out my mama. And me, I guess. I was wonderin’ if maybe you’d hire me to clean up your yard.” I wiped my brow again.

Mr. Beasley pondered me, cigarette dangling from his mouth. “Hmmm, lemme think a minute,” he said, stroking his goatee. “To help your mama?’


“And you?”


Mr. Beasley grinned, and his dark eyes sparkled. He stuck out his hand. “Kid, you got yourself a deal.”

We shook on it and discussed the work that needed to be done, agreeing that I would start the next day. Mr. Beasley brought a small black notebook out of his house and wrote the details of our agreement in it. He even had me sign the book.

“Our little contract,” he said, patting the book cover. “See ya tomorrow, Kid.”

I had estimated that the job would take one week to finish but it ended up taking two weeks because I had to help Mama. Headaches began to accompany her stomach pains, and she got dizzy and fell down twice. I figured the disease was spreading but she wouldn’t confirm it.

“I don’t wanna burden your eleven-year-old soul with my problems,” Mama said one night after a particularly bad day. “You’re a good son, and I thank you for helpin’ me. And I hope that Mr. Beasley is treatin’ you right. You’re workin’ so hard for him.”

“He’s real professional, Mama,” I said, placing a cool, wet rag on her forehead as she reclined on the couch. “He even made out a contract and had me sign it.”

“Did you read it before you signed it? Sometimes the devil’s in the details, Kid,” she whispered, closing her eyes.

On the day I finished the job, Mr. Beasley instructed me to come over after dinner. I could barely sit still at the table to eat, excited at the prospect of receiving payment.

“Come in, door’s open,” Mr. Beasley called out after I knocked on his screen door. I opened the door and entered slowly, remembering what Mama had said about the house probably looking as bad on the inside as it had on the outside.

Mama would’ve been surprised. The house was spotless – small but immaculate. Fresh paint on the walls, wood floor scrubbed clean, not a speck of dust or cobweb in sight. In fact, the house appeared empty, save for a small card table in the living room with two folding chairs on opposite sides. A simple lamp hung above the table, burning bright.

“Good evening, Kid,” Mr. Beasley said, appearing from the shadows. He didn’t sound raspy anymore. His voice was smooth and low. He was dressed in a plain black shirt and black pants. His feet were bare and though I knew it was impossible, it sounded like his toenails clicked on the floor as he walked toward me.

He motioned to one of the chairs. “Please, have a seat.”

Suddenly nervous, I sat down with my hands in my lap, unsure what to do. Mr. Beasley sat across from me. He’d brought a black briefcase with him. He put the case on the table and slid it over to me. “Your payment, if you wish to accept it.”

After a brief hesitation I opened the case and gasped. I’d never seen so much money in my short life.

Mr. Beasley spoke. “That’s what $20,000 looks like, Kid.”

I bit my lip to keep from yelping and stared at him, bug-eyed.

Mr. Beasley grinned, teeth gleaming white. “That’s right, I’m offering you $20,000. You’re a good boy, Kid! A hard worker. Take it and make life a little better for you and your mama . . . for whatever time she has left on this earth.” His face turned solemn. “Or . . .”

“Or what?”

“Or I can offer you something else.”

The room was warm; I thought I might faint. What else could top $20,000?

Mr. Beasley leaned forward in his chair. “What if I said I could make your mama better? What if I told you that I could make the cancer go away?”

My mind raced. How did he know Mama had cancer? I’d never told him. We barely spoke to each other as I worked on his yard. He would check on me now and then and offer me tall glasses of ice water or lemonade. But we didn’t really talk. In fact, the longest conversation I’d ever had with him was the day I met him. The day I offered my services.

The day I signed the contract.

I took a long look at Mr. Beasley. In the two weeks that I knew him, he’d definitely changed. He used to look weathered and wrinkled, always in worn clothes, hair askew. “Rough around the edges,” Mama would say. Now he appeared bold, sleek and new, like his mailbox.

I glanced out the living room window at the red mailbox. The black lettering that read BEASLEY had faded. Another name started to appear but I couldn’t quite make it out. Perhaps it was a trick of twilight but my mind and my heart said otherwise.

I looked back at Mr. Beasley, studying him. “Your hair. It barely covers the horns.”

Mr. Beasley looked surprise. Then he smiled again. Oh, how I hated that smile now.

“The mailbox always attracts them, brings the right ones to me. I told you red was a power color, did I not?” He wagged a finger at me. His fingernails had grown pointy. “So, shall we negotiate?”

“There’s nothin’ to negotiate,” I said dully. “My mama or the money. I’m supposed to choose. Simple as that, right?”

Mr. Beasley shrugged. “Pretty much.”

I closed my eyes and sat in silence for a full minute. When I opened them, Mr. Beasley was still there. This wasn’t a dream after all.

I shut the briefcase. “I don’t want the money. I choose Mama.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m sure.”

“Absolutely positively one hundred percent-“

“I’M SURE.” I stood up. “I’m sure, Mr. Beasley. Or whatever your real name is.”

“As you wish.” Mr. Beasley stood, picked up the briefcase, and slunk out of the living room, down the hallway leading to the back of the house.

“How do I know you’ll keep your word?” I called out after him.

“You’ll know in the morning,” came the disembodied reply. The voice belonged to Mr. Beasley but it sounded . . . different. “See you around, Kid.”

Mr. Beasley was right. Mama woke the next morning and said she felt like a new woman. Her pains disappeared, and her appetite and energy level increased. Her doctor declared her cancer-free a few weeks later. Mama declared it to be a miracle.

Mr. Beasley disappeared from 11 Fairview Lane on a hot August night, hours after our last meeting. The red mailbox disappeared, too.

“Crazy after all, like I said,” Mama proclaimed. “Ain’t never gonna see him again.”

Mama was wrong, of course. Mr. Beasley and I were destined to meet once more. A week after he left, I woke to find a small black notebook on my nightstand. Inside was indecipherable lettering, a language I didn’t understand. But I recognized my signature. And the words that followed would forever haunt me:

If you’d taken the money, you’d be free

But now your soul belongs to me


About the Creator

Heather Hagy

Stephen King fan (but not like Annie "I'm your #1 fan" Wilkes cuz I'm sane and she's not)

Horror/supernatural are my favorite writing genres

Wife to 1 and mom to 4 humans, 4 dogs, 6 cats, and a dragon

"Jaws" is the greatest movie ever

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Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (1)

  • Mike Singleton 🌜 Mikeydred 🌛2 years ago

    A wonderfully dark story , love it

Heather HagyWritten by Heather Hagy

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