It was a wet, generally dreary day. The rain, while not powerful, was quite steady and soaking, as if the lazy but numerous raindrops were bored with their own storm's lack of thunderous pizzazz. As folks entered the diner they were shaking their umbrellas off and remarking to each other about how it was supposed to rain all day, all of them glad to be entering someplace warm and dry, a place where hot, steaming coffee was plentiful and cheap.
Good sat in his seat with his own cup of joe, enjoying the warmth of the cup and the steam rising into the air near his face. As each person came in he took interested notice, expecting his friend to arrive. After about a half hour the individual he'd been waiting for plodded in, ringing the cheery bell at the top of the door as he did so. He was soaked like all the others but he just gave himself a little shake and all the water droplets on his jacket vanished. He looked over and saw Good waiting there for him at a table by the window.
"Ah, Good!" he said. He strolled over and sat down. Anybody listening guessed that he thought it was good to see his friend there, where, if they had guessed correctly, they would have thought that he really wasn't all too pleased to see him there and that the guy's name was Good.
"I see that you're looking well, Evil," said Good, as congenial as he usually was. Evil just grunted in response as he sat down. "What's wrong?" Good asked.
"It's this rain," Evil said. "It's so depressing."
"I thought you would be enjoying it," Good said before sipping his coffee.
"We've been over this, idiot," Evil replied, "there's nothing evil in nature. Just like I don't like natural disasters. Sure lots of people die, but there was no evil involved. So, no, I don't like getting soaked by depressingly wet rain. I'd rather it be a sunny, bright day with plenty of homicides and gang rapes taking place."
"Well, it's been a while," Good said. "Not since, what? Early 20th century?"
"1929," Evil said, his eyes finally brightening up a bit, "the big Stock Market Crash. Boy those were some good times."
Good half-frowned. "Yes, indeed. Well, anyway, how's the 21st century going?"
"Marvelous," Evil said, cracking a smile. "September 11th, the wars in the Middle East, all that carnage and slaughter and warfare and death and destruction, one of the best centuries in recent memory. I've been doing some damn fine work lately if I may be a bit boastful. How's it been for you so far?"
"Well, it could have been better I suppose," Good said, shrugging. He sighed. "There's still plenty of good going on everywhere, but your horrible works is always overshadowing it. All they want to ever hear about is what you're doing, in the papers, on television, and now the internet."
"It's what I've always said, my job is so much easier," Evil said, "they're so inherently wicked. What'd you think of what they call the 'Holocaust?' That was my best work that decade. I just loooove mass slaughter and genocide."
"People are inherently good, Evil!" Good rebuked. "Just sadly easily manipulated. Well I know we're always manipulating them, but I'm talking about manipulating each other."
"Ah yes, I love it when they do my work for me," Evil said. "Sometimes all I need to do is give them a little nudge, y'know?"
"You forget, though, Evil, about my good work," Good said, "look at post-9/11 - I mean immediately afterwards - the outpouring of--"
"--sickeningly sweet and insincere sentimentality!"
"--people helping people I was going to say!" Good said, trying to hide his annoyance with a smile. "Your evil act was quite a catalyst for love and togetherness."
"Oh they held hands and sang songs together," Evil said, rolling his eyes up into his head and twirling his finger, "Whoop-dee-doo."
"You're myopic as usual," Good said. "Disasters bring out the best in people, in their goodness. Probably one reason you don't like natural disasters: big catalysts for good that have no evil origin. People will lay down weapons and misgivings and help perfect strangers. They're compelled to."
"Temporarily," said Evil quickly. A waitress approached the table.
"What would you like, sir?" the smiling mid-30's blonde woman asked him.
"Well it's about time!" Evil said. "I've been here for five minutes! Just gimme a cup of coffee would ya?"
The waitress' smile faded a little. "All right."
Evil giggled as she walked away. "She wants to pour the pot of hot coffee on me. I'd try to convince her to do it if that didn't hurt so much! I wish we didn't have to manifest in these fragile human bodies for these meetings."
"It's necessary to be among them," Good reminded him. "I happen to like them. The food they eat is really good most of the time."
The waitress returned with Evil's coffee. "Enjoy," she said, her smile and cheery disposition completely faked.
Evil chuckled under his breath. He began sipping it straight black.
"Nothing to sweeten it up?" Good asked as the waitress refilled his cup. He grabbed the sugar container and began pouring some in.
"The more bitter the better," Evil said, grinning.
"All right, let's get down to it," Good said, "I don't like to be in your presence any more than is necessary."
"Fine," Evil said. "You go first."
"Evil, Evil, Evil," Good said, smiling and slowly shaking his head. "You know you have to go first. You are quite evil, after all. I learned not to trust you to hold up your end in 1036. You have always gone first since then."
Evil sneered at Good. "Fine." He began lazily looking around. "Ah. That guy's not giving her a good tip over there. Maybe I can..."
"Oh come on, you can do better than that."
"In case you weren't aware this is not my area of expertise," Evil said.
"You know good because you know the opposite," Good pointed out. "You can't know one without the other. Think of something you'd normally do, then do the opposite. It's simple."
Evil sighed and looked around. He tried to think of a most vile thing he'd like to have happen right about then. He envisioned the dirty homeless guy in the corner - who was having the same cup of coffee refilled over and over all day - taking out his knife and running behind the counter and gutting the cashier girl for the till. Evil smiled broadly. Good gave him a frowning "be good" look. Evil sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Ah," Evil said. He looked at the cashier. Suddenly she looked over at the homeless man. The short brunette woman suddenly felt a great pity for him.
"Hey, Bill," she said to the cook behind her in the kitchen, "fix me up a... #1... no! Make it a #2."
"You got it!" the cook yelled back.
Evil grinned at Good smugly. "Giving a poor, destitute, down-on-his luck guy a free hot, steaming breakfast. It will warm his soul. Howzzat?"
"Not bad," Good said, nodding slowly. "I suppose it's the most I can ask from you. It's better than having that guy help the old lady cross the street last time, at least."
Evil rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "OK, your turn."
Good frowned. "You know, it would be pretty bad if our waitress got stiffed on a --"
"Hey, if I don't get to mess with a tip, you don't!"
"Fine, fine," Good grumbled. He looked down. He looked outside the window. A group of children were waiting to cross the street, accompanied by a woman - their babysitter.
Evil saw it, too. He pointed at them and grinned.
"No!" Good said. "No, no, no! Not children!"
"'Think of something you'd normally do, then do the opposite. It's simple.'" Evil mocked Good in a whiny voice.
"The street is wet anyway," Good said, "if they're hit by anybody, it's an accident."
"Hit and run," Evil suggested.
"Good, but scared, people do that all the time," Good pointed out. "Not very evil."
The children and their sitter quickly crossed the street.
"I don't believe it!" Evil said. "I'm the evil one and you're the one who's weasling!"
"I'll do it!" Good said, rolling his eyes. "This is harder for me--"
"Oh, please!" Evil said. "You don't know how utterly disgusted I was with my good act. I think I actually tasted bile in this human mouth as I did it. As a matter of fact I think I'll be ill unless I get out of this thing soon."
"All right, all right, point taken," Good said quickly. "But it doesn't have to be murder. Yours didn't technically give life, why should mine take it?"
"That old man is gonna live a little longer now!" Evil said.
"You've prolonged his miserable life, so what?" Good said.
"Look, I've got things to do," Evil said, looking at his watch. "I've got a guy killing his whole family and then himself at three in Cleveland. And then I have a hostage beheading in Iraq at six! Come on!"
"I have a brother and sister who haven't seen each other in twenty years reuniting at four, I'm busy, too!" Good said. He looked around again. He noticed a pedophile at the back of the diner. Then he noticed a little boy not being watched very well by his parents.
"Good one," Evil said, who noticed the same things. "Hey, he doesn't have to kill him."
Good planted a thought in the man's head. He got up, strolled across the diner, took the boy by his hand, and drug him out the back door.
"Nice work!" Evil said, grinning wide, giving Good a thumbs-up. He took one long swig of his coffee, then stood up. Good copied his arch nemesis.
"Nice to see you again, Good," Evil said, still grinning, offering Good his hand.
"Likewise," Good said, wincing as he shook Evil's hand.
"So, next time?" Evil asked.
"I dunno," Good said, still reeling from his act of evil. "Um. How about fifty years from now? After the Middle East becomes total bedlam and the economy of the United States completely collapses? It'll make interesting conversation for both of us."
"You got it," Evil said. "Sometimes you do have good ideas!"
After they began walking out a police officer tackled the pedophile. Then as the waitress handed the homeless man his free meal he yelled at her: "Fuck you! I don't need your pity, you slut!" He threw the food back at her.
"You're so predictable," Good said to Evil as they went out the door.
"As. Are. You." Evil said, sneering at Good. Good just chuckled cheerfully, turned, and strolled down the street.