The bell ringing alerted David that he had a customer. Exiting the back room, he saw a young woman who looked vaguely familiar.
“Welcome. Are you looking for something in particular or just browsing?”
Rather than answer, she continued to look at the shelves in front of her.
“Well, please let me know if I can help.”
Perhaps she was looking for something to steal, David thought. There was nothing on the shelves that was particularly dangerous, and he hadn’t opened the store to make money. If she felt the need to steal, he wasn’t going to worry about it too much.
Wanting to be available but not act like he was suspicious of her, he stayed in the front room, but made a point to keep his nose buried in a book he was reading. In the end, it didn’t matter because she walked right up to the counter.
“Where is your Satanic stuff?” Her voice was hesitant.
Taken aback by the question, David replied, “Excuse me?”
“Satan. You have Satan stuff, don’t you?”
Now he recognized her. “You were with those protestors a few weeks ago, weren’t you?”
The question seemed to embolden her a little. “So what? Now I’m a customer.”
David had to repress a chuckle. “Is your plan to trick me into revealing my secret connections to Satanism in order to confirm your group’s grievances?”
“No. I’m just interested in Satan.” Her defiance from a moment ago had waned, and she seemed unsure of herself again.
David pulled a chair from behind the counter and sat down. One lesson Samuel had impressed upon him was to always be approachable, never intimidating.
“What’s your name?”
“Abby.” Now she seemed nervous, as though she might get caught doing something wrong.
“Abby, your parents, your community… would they approve of you being here?”
“I’m an adult. And anyway, don’t you want to tempt me away from them?”
“I’m not interested in coming between you and anyone, nor am I going to tell you what to do. If you need help getting away from someone, I will do whatever I can. But it’s not my place to tempt you into anything.”
“What kind of Satan-worshipper are you?”
“I’m not any kind of Satan-worshipper. I don’t believe in Satan. I just want to help people. That’s what this place is about.”
“Hmph.” She didn’t seem convinced, but David saw no benefit in arguing with her. If her group had indoctrinated her, there was nothing he could say. And if she had already begun to question things, pushing her too quickly might drive her back.
“You really don’t have anything on Satan?”
“I’m afraid not. If there is something else you are looking for, maybe I can help with that.”
“No.” Her disappointment was palpable. Whether she believed him or not, she appeared to accept that he wasn’t going to give her what she wanted.
As she walked toward the door, she turned back briefly. “You don’t seem evil.”
“Thank you,” he managed before she left.
David sat for awhile, wondering if there was something he should have said or done differently. Whatever happened to her next, he silently wished her well.