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  • John Staley

Angels and Demons


"Do you believe in demons?", he asked from the passenger seat. It's a helluva question to pose to the guy giving you a ride to the airport but I knew the answer without hesitation.

To me addiction is a demon. It starts as a little larvae burrowing around in my brain. A maggoty itch at first as it gnaws. Thoughts of drinks flash and images of long sleek bars with glistening bottles appear in the mind. Illusions of ease and comfort. The itch turns to a burn as cravings kick in and become urges. The burn begins to swell as that grotesque and egregious grub widens the hole growing and feeding on my weakness and fear. The urge becomes too much to ignore. I must attend to it. If the malignant larvae is not dealt with early it very quickly becomes too late. The demon sprouts wings and burst through spots of ulcerous oatmeal forming all over me breaking free and demanding its feed. And then it's over. It owns my brain. It is my master. I am drunk and everything is ruined.

As I am explaining all this in the carpool lane it occurs to me that if I believe so strongly in demons that the converse must be true as well.

Angels are not so ravenous for my attention but they are twice as powerful when called upon. They seem to begin in my breathe. There is a small point of light in my chest that also must feed. Yogis call this breathe, this life force prana. Inhale. The first breathe in stillness awakens them. Exhale. They stretch and yawn. My prana does not require sight so I close my eyes and continue to breathe into it. Inhale. Allowing it gently and slowly to grow. Like a glowing snowflake it begins to radiate out. Exhale. Pressing into my back and aproposly up and out through my shoulder blades in rays of warm sunlight. Inhale. Filling my core with light it reaches further out. Exhale. My extremities buzzing like power lines. Inhale. A calm presence of infinite power rises up my neck. Exhale. Fireworks in slow motion fill my sightless vision and that ruddy tapeworm averts it's eyes and cowers. Inhale. It recoils and crawl backward getting smaller and smaller. Exhale. I lock it back in its cage. Inhale. This won't be the last time an archetypal battle in a mundane moment unnoticed by the world is fought inside of me. I open my eyes and imagine the day I will set the demon free completely but for today the brightness in my alcoholic soul prevails. Exhale.

We reach Domestic Departures. My friend hands me some gas money as I pop the trunk. We say a brief good bye through the clicking of the hazard lights. My shoulders are free from burden today as I look behind me and merge back onto the freeway and for this I am grateful.


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