On a front porch in Louisiana,
there sits Old Man Hackensack
With a shotgun at his feet
and the corner of his lips turned up.
He recognizes the dapper figure
coming through his gate as the devil.
Hackensack’s worked out the ending
from the puff of smoke the barrel puts out.
Still, he welcomes the devil in,
tells him to sit a spell until the tea is ready.
The devil ain’t one to pass up sweet tea,
so he says hell can wait.

“Dying ain’t the bad part,” Devil assures him,
“it’s really more the wait.”
He says he’s looked forward to meeting
good old Hackensack.
The old man wrinkles his nose at this,
but knows he’s good and ready.
He doesn’t feel like arguing now that his time is up.
He pours the tea and they sit in rockers in silence. They look out.
It’s surprisingly pleasant having tea with the devil.

“Alright, I give up.” Moment of silence ends
when he addresses the devil.
“This foolishness is done. Why wait?
What’s so great about an old man
with his brains blown out?”
“Dreadful,” the devil cringes
and hands a picture to Hackensack.
“I may be evil, but I pity the beautiful souls
who give up
So close to when the big picture’s made ready.”

“You were almost there, Hackensack,
and everything was ready
But you must have wanted to see me more,”
said the devil.
The old man ran his fingers
along the side of the picture and looked up.
“I told her to leave without me.
I begged her not to wait.”
On the back of the picture was a name:
Anne J. Hackensack,
With a birth date too faded to be made out.

“She didn’t die in the fire,” Devil smiled.
“She made it out.
She knew that the children inside
would never be ready.
She was going to reunite today
with her Old Man Hackensack.
You woulda seen a miracle,
but instead met the Devil.
So I delayed her cab ride over.
I figured you’d appreciate the wait.”
Old Man Hackensack shook his head.
It all felt too made up.

“Oh, but it’s true,” the Devil insisted,
just as his Anne came strolling up.
She closed the gate quietly,
and pulled her own gun out.
She saw the carnage and said,
“Guess you just couldn’t wait.”
She spit, and lowered her gun from the ready.
Satan laughed and the old man cried
when she called the corpse a devil
For starting the fire that ended
the pitiful name of Hackensack.

With the tea all finished, Satan stood up
and asked him if he was ready.
The old man, worn out from the day’s events, sighed and thanked the devil.
The wait had been enough, and too much, for Old Man Hackensack.