The Devil’s narrative in Stephen King’s story The Man in the Black Suit reveals a horror story different than the one told from Gary’s perspective. The intricacies of the evil mind reveal a horrible apathy and self-obsession lost in the boy’s point of view. Since the Devil is only physically present when Gary meets him in the woods, I focused on the interaction between the pair. The Devil’s insatiable hunger and desire to spread evil emerge ever more prominent in this narrative.
The Devil Went Down to Motton
I pride myself with Motton, Maine. Even though I’m not responsible for its existence, my accomplishments in the town are rival to none. I love the mosquitoes that plague the local folk as they hunt for moose in the woods, I love the stagnant smell of liquor and regret that clings to each house, but most of all, I love the inhabitants of this rural playground.
Though it has been years since I’ve manifested in the Motton woods, I strolled easily through the firs, stopping only to admire myself in the small puddles that litter the ground. Handsome. My tie straightened itself with the snap of my fingers, I licked my lips and blew a kiss at my reflection. Very handsome. My perfect hair streaked across my forehead with the breeze, and I caught a whiff of something new. My lips pulled back in a twisted smile at the thought of a tasty morsel, and I glided away from my patch of dead grass and towards the mystery snack.
At the crossroads of the river sat a delightfully small boy sitting in terror of a bumblebee. I smiled a toothy grin at the scene. The boy jumped at the clap I made, and then stared down at the unmoving body of the insect.
“Why, it’s a fisherboy!” I cried in a mellow voice creeping gracefully towards the boy.
“Hello, sir,” the boy looked shocked to hear his own voice, it all seemed too easy.
“Are we well met?” I could tell the boy smelled death on me, but that only excited me more. He carefully watched the grass die under my feet as I moved towards him.
“Please don’t hurt me,” his polite small talk quickly became a terrified plea that thrilled me as I loomed over the child. The fisherboy trembled. The scent of something new turned into something wet and I cackled.
“Opal! Diamond! Sapphire! Jade! I smell Gary’s lemonade!” I threw myself onto the ground and rocked with laughter. Too much fun! But enough was enough, I was still hungry and the tasty snack I found had a creel filled with fish. There were a couple of ways to get what I wanted, I just had to pick the perfect plan.
Like usual, I could offer the fisherboy a rod of gold. This tactic was always a hit in the south, but the last time I bargained with a boy, I ended up losing; I don’t think my pride could take another loss, and it’s a lot of work to manifest and tune an instrument. I could kill the kid with a clap right where he sits on the bank. Easy. That would get the job done, but there was no poetry in that, no dramatics. My lust for a snack is second to my love of theatre, and I need more than a corpse. I knew what to do.
“Sad news, fisherboy. I’ve come with sad news. Your mother is dead. It was the same thing that happened to your brother, Gary, it was a bee.”
“No, you lie!” the child screamed. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling while watching the delightful way the boy squirmed.
“Your mother simply went her entire life without being stung by a bee, she wept as she died. So although I don’t like to speak ill of the dead, it’s almost a case of poetic justice, isn’t it? After all, she killed your brother Dan as surely as if she had put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. It was her fatal weakness.” Fish and fiddle, rotten meat, you’re my snack that I will eat.
“No,” the boy whispered, “No, it isn’t true.”
“I assure you, it is,” I had him. I had his little mind and his sentiments. The boy quivered wet, afraid, and more alone than ever. He was wholly mine for the taking. “I’m starving!” I hastily said, my patience was wearing thin. “I’m going to kill you and eat your guts, little fisherboy. What do you think about that?” He didn’t move. “You won’t want to live without your precious mommy, anyhow. Your father’s the sort of man who’ll have to have some sort of warm hole to stick it in, and you’ll have to serve. I can save you all that discomfort and unpleasantness. Murdered souls always go to Heaven. So we’ll both be serving God this afternoon, Gary. Isn’t that nice?” I always try to calm the snack before I eat, consent is nice but not important.
The fisherboy didn’t move so I lunged, nails first. The thought of his warm flesh melting in my mouth marinated in his rich, flavorful blood caused me to salivate all over myself. There were two bites in the child, three if I took my time – which I never do – and at least 5 more in the bucket. Good snack. He held out a fish for me from his creel.
“Big fish! Oh, biiig fiiish!” I opened my mouth wide and crammed the creature in. It was cold and salty, but the satisfaction of its juices dripping down my chin left me in want of the boy. I didn’t chew, there wasn’t time. I was just so hungry. I could see the horror in the boy’s eyes as he grasped at his face in alarm. I could feel my heat warming up my next snack as he sat frozen in fear in front of me. I could feel something rising within me, something new, something beautiful. I love the inhabitants of Motton, Maine – they are all so delicious.
Then the boy ran. “Fisherboy!” I snarled as I chased the child across the forest. Selfish boy didn’t let me finish my snack, the tail of the fish still hung out of my mouth as I raced towards the child. He would feel my irritation, my anger, but above all, he would feel my hunger. Halfway up the hill, the fisherboy fell to his knees – where he belonged. Frantically, he looked around for help despite knowing that there would be none. I lunged a final time and grabbed his ankle. He cried out.
Somehow the boy managed to kick my hand free while back peddling up the hill. He grabbed his fishing rod and threw it at me. I batted the pole away, but the line and hook embedded itself into my leg. I roared at the insolence. The line wrapped itself around my ankle and I fell to my knees.
“You can’t get away, fisherboy!” I fumed as I violently tore at the fishing rod. “It takes more than a mouthful of trout to fill me up!” but he was already jumping over the bridge and narrowly escaping snack time. The scream I let out trembled my stomach and the trees. The birds that had been idly watching flew away, and I was left alone in the woods again.
When I finally kicked free of the line, I cleaned off my suit and stood tall. Gary would pay for what he did. I dallied back to the stream, kicking every rock and animal that crossed my path. The boy was gone but he left his creel of fish. Fish. Fisherboy had caught nice fish, big fish, better snacks than the one I let go. One by one I ate them slowly. I wanted to feel their bodies give way to my perfect predator teeth. I wanted the fish to know that this was real, and I wanted the boy to have no doubts. I sniggered.
The grass surrounding my picnic was dead and smelt of my fire. I ripped two handfuls of grass out and placed them in fisherboy’s creel. He would know that I was here. Run and grow and hide away, we were both here on this day.
In telling the story from the Devil’s point of view, a new level of horror is added to the short story. The horror of the story through Gary’s perspective stems from his desire to survive, to escape from the man in the black suit. He is a little boy still grieving the loss of his late brother who just wanted to enjoy a day of fishing. Once the perspective shifts to the Devil, the horror comes directly from the inner workings of the Devil’s mind. Gary is no longer viewed as a little boy, but rather nothing more than a snack being manipulated into death. The apathetic and selfish motivation of the Devil illustrates the evil present in the story in a more complex manner. Being told something is evil isn’t as effective as experiencing the evil in the text.
Furthermore, strewn throughout the rewrite I included the Seven Deadly Sins. Each one helps characterize the Devil further. Instead of the reader accepting the Devil is bad because of lore, the Seven Deadly Sins pinpointed seven ways in which the Devil has malicious intent. The trope of the Sins also enabled me to bring more lore into this portrayal of the Devil. Specifically his relation to the Devil that went down to Georgia in the Charlie Daniels’ Song. Both Devils deal with a little boy and both Devils lose awesomely. Through bringing this reference into the story, the Devil develops a richer backstory in which the reader can more fully understand the operations of this demon.
One of the operations I explored was the dichotomy between the Devil as the embodiment of evil and the metaphysical presence of evil throughout Motton. In my opening paragraph the Devils claims responsibility for mosquitoes and liquor, two things that undoubtedly have negative effects on individuals. Furthermore, he also jests about murder and abuse, two things that have been plaguing Gary. At the end of the story, the Devil leaves Gary but wants to make sure he is not forgotten. He leaves Gary dead grass and with an abusive father so that he may remember the undeniable and persisting role evil had in his life.
Lastly, I emphasized the role of hunger in the rewrite to further illustrate the selfishness of the Devil. Hunger is what leads the Devil to exploit Gary in the first place and say those terrible things. If it weren’t for the insatiability of the Devil’s appetite, the abuse from Gary’s father wouldn’t be alluded to at all, and the story would lose a deeper context. The Devil sought to exploit this relationship for his benefit, which once again successfully proves his complete vanity and obsession with himself. Overall, the changes I made to have the story from the Devil’s perspective serve to deepen the understanding of the demon who embodies evil in the context of popular knowledge and characterization.