Brian Collier
The Devil made a visit to West Virginia one evening to check on the progress of his mountaintop removal mining operations. A couple of local environmental groups kept throwing EPA regulations at them and had been slowing things down in court, but he'd arranged for a Republican named Griles to loosen the regulations and get things back on track.

The Devil thought it was one of his better plans in recent years. He had made deals with several politicians and lobbyists, giving them a little earthly power and they agreed to put their names on a document or two. The end result made Griles deputy director of the EPA long enough to approve revisions to the Clean Water Act, and then his connections to Abramoff landed him in prison. It never ceased to amuse the Devil how humans would still make deals with him after he'd been screwing them over for thousands of years, but everything came together in the growl of giant yellow machines that chewed mountains flat, swallowed their coal hearts, and spat their bones into the river. 

On his way up Kayford mountain, the Devil smoked a cigarette and kicked at the loose gravel with the cap-toe of his calf-skin Oxfords. He heard that locals were causing problems because the bulldozers threatened an old cemetery. Funny how they would sell the mountains for a few dollars, but some worn out headstones got their moral hackles on end.

He was musing on ways to deal with the dead and buried when he came across a barefoot girl scurrying along the edge of the dirt crossroads with a bundle in her arms. She looked about sixteen, one of the mountain folk who squatted in cabins that clung to the sides of the mountains.

But something didn't seem right about her.

He squinted and cocked his head, but she just looked like pretty white trash in a sack dress. Of course, the Devil loves a mystery more than anyone, so he flicked his cigarette butt aside and strode up to the girl determined to find out what was the matter with her.

"Where ya' goin' sugar?" he asked in his deep honey voice.

"To visit great-grand-daddy."

"You shouldn't be out here in the woods alone, child. How about I give you a ride? My pickup truck's just around the bend."

"No thank you." The girl didn't break her stride. "I'm just going up to Stover."

"The cemetery?" The Devil fell into step beside her.

"Yes sir."

"It's dangerous up there, what with the mining and all. You could fall in a hole."

"Ain't no hole up there I'm scared of."

"It's gettin' dark, I'll walk with you."

"Suit yourself, mister."

"What's your name, darlin'?"

"Ruby Nell."

The Devil looked her over like a cheap used car, but he couldn't put his finger on anything amiss. "You don't have any shoes, Ruby Nell. I bet I have some pretty red shoes that'd fit you."

"No, thank you."

"I wouldn't charge you for them."

"Ain't a matter of money. A man once gave my aunt Macy a pair of red dancin' shoes, and she nearly danced her legs off before Daddy thought to stand her on her head and tie irons to her feet. I'd just as soon go barefoot."