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We spotted our neighborhood demon while driving to Santa Monica for our tenth high school reunion. We had been making stilted conversation about our jobs, our relationship statuses, and our families, and we almost passed him by until the light turned red. Kenny, who now lived in Arizona, pointed at him and asked, Hey, isn’t that the demon? That man over there, the one with the giant WE BUY GOLD sign.

Back in high school, we’d see the demon cruising around town in his blue Lamborghini with all the swagger of someone cosplaying as either Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby or The Wolf of Wall Street, we could never agree on which. When he’d spot us, he’d roll down his window and wave and flash the grin of his golden grille. We had wondered what happened to him—Rishi had stayed around and said he hadn’t seen the demon even once after graduation, so we pulled up in the empty parking lot beside him and rolled down the windows of Lara’s dusty Prius and flashed our grille-less grins.

’Sup, kids. Long time no see, he said, giving his golden sign a twirl, the same one he showed the current high school kids. Can’t talk now, but my shift’s ending in a minute. Turns out demonic immunity to summer afternoons makes me perfect for this gig.

He gave us a rundown when we took him out for drinks. Cecilia, the one we remembered as too shy to answer teachers’ questions, managed to get the most answers out of him. Back then, they gave our demon the Sinner of the Year award for scamming aspiring actors and musicians in his two-hour seminars on how to break out using only the power of positivity and willpower. Then he got scammed. Another demon who went by Josiah wanted to make a quick buck, promised an eighteen percent year-over-year annual return if he joined in on a secret investment opportunity. Josiah took his title too, had won Sinner of the Year for the past eight. Our demon’s bank account balance hit zero. Got slapped with overdraft fees, just like any other mortal or immortal in America found guilty of the sin of poverty. Now he was twirling signs and delivering pizzas in his 2005 Mazda to make rent.

Our demon turned down Rishi’s offer to use his HR resume-screening skills for help finding another job, snubbed Lara when she said waitressing kinda sucked but the pay was better. Kenny, the one who earned his place on Ms. Stevenson’s shit list by showing up to Algebra 2 after the morning bell every day, checked his watch and announced we weren’t going to make it on time and had to go. We thanked the demon and left him there, told the bartender to not let him have any more drinks since he was raging about the unfairness of it all after only two shots of whiskey. Back in high school, our bartender brothers and sisters and cousins said he could guzzle down ten in an hour because of his infernal liver, and we wondered whether they’d recognize him like this.

We piled back into the Prius, thinking about the demon. Lara missed the turn for the highway ramp and needed help finding a detour. We resigned ourselves to being the last ones at the reunion, even though Lara had been legendary for knowing the roads as well as she knew the layout of any tennis court, never needing a GPS or directions back in our glory days. When we finally pulled into the hotel parking garage, none of us made any move to unlock our doors. We stayed until Lara remembered to turn the headlights off, looking at our fragmented faces reflected in the rearview and side mirrors, wondering what else had changed in the past ten years.


Tina S. Zhu lives in California. Her words have appeared in or are forthcoming from Lightspeed, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Fireside Magazine. Find her on Twitter @tinaszhu or at

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