An angel teams up with a demon to save his sister from an early death at the hands of a goony drug dealer who is eager to pull a trigger.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
A lot of humans think that angels don’t swear. That’s fucking stupid. Angels swear all the god damn time. We are sworn to uphold anything that accentuates the raw, timeless beauty of life. And I’ll be fucked if swearing doesn’t add a messy splotch of color to the black and white pallet humans believe to be existence.
See, that’s the problem with you fucking humans. You have to define and compartmentalize every little action so that it fits in with your delicate understanding of right and wrong. And if it doesn’t fit in with part of the plan, part of the neat little picture of how things go, well then, you don’t want it. You don’t even acknowledge it. If it can’t be explained, you think it doesn’t exist.
Take my sister for example; a beautiful young girl in the prime of her earthly life. She could probably be happy and be with someone who treats her right, but to her, that life doesn’t exist. Because she can’t explain it. She has no point of reference. Dad split when we were young and her and ma’ never did really click. Then I got shot. Jackie just wanted someone to protect her. And so she fell for the guys with the biggest arms and the loudest mouths. Guys like that no good street hustler, Cody Ross.
From the roof of the convenience store I watched them both in the alleyway. Cody looked panicked and Jackie looked tired. Her hair was greasier than I remembered it and even from the roof, I could see the dark circles under her eyes. The pain in my stomach that had led me to her was getting worse. That wasn’t a good sign. Jackie was in danger.
I wished that I could float down to where they stood, grab Cody by his oversized neon tank top and tell him to get the fuck away from my baby sister, but unfortunately, one thing angels don’t do is interfere with the doings of the living. We can’t, even if we wanted to. It’s forbidden. Angels can influence, but they can’t interfere.
“Where is he?” Jackie asked, concerned.
Cody looked upset to be bothered. “He’ll be here. Just relax. Have a smoke or something.”
Her voice raised in pitch, “Well, can I have one then?”
Cody pulled out a dented pack of Player’s Light’s and tossed it at her. She fumbled the catch but got a grip on it before the pack hit the ground, looking back to Cody as if expecting praise for her reflexes. It was not received. She opened the pack and slid a smoke out from the deck. Her hands were shaking pretty bad.
She spoke softer this time, “Lighter?”
Cody scoffed and shook his head. “You want me to smoke it for you too?”
He pulled a lighter from his jean pocket and held it out until Jackie came and got it from him.
Soon after she took her first puffs, another person joined them in the alley. A large man, with a shaved head, and a brow line that protruded over his tiny eyes like a neanderthal. Despite his intimidating form, both Cody and Jackie looked relieved to be seeing him.
The man pulled out a small package from the breast pocket of his leather coat and handed it to Cody, saying coldly, “Money by Friday, you understand?”
Cody nodded and assured him he had nothing to worry about. But worried was the last thing that this man looked. Once he had left them alone, Jackie skipped over to Cody and wrapped her hands around his waist. “We got it,” she giggled. She suddenly didn’t look very tired. “Let’s go do a line in the car. I’m dying…”
That’s when it became clear why Jackie looked so rough. She was hooked. I should have guessed as much with her kicking around Cody and all. He was the type of guy who liked to keep his girls on the powder. That way they needed him. I’ve dealt with those kinds of guys my whole life; the ones with low self-esteem, the ones that lash out and belittle the people around them to make themselves appear bigger than they really are. My father was one of those guys. So was the guy that killed me. Those kinds of guys won’t get their wings when they die. Jackie deserved better than that.
As the two of them walked out of the alley, I took off my jacket and let my wings span out. It felt nice, like the first big stretch when you get out of bed in the morning. I stepped off the edge of the roof and gently sailed down to the pavement below. If the living were able to see angels I’m sure it would have been a sight to be seen, a man with a six-foot wingspan, floating in the sky. But unfortunately for them, angels can’t be seen, nor heard, nor touched. Demons, however, are a completely different story…
I followed close behind Cody and Jackie, sailing just above the sea of lunch traffic rushing manically through the city streets. The living are always in a great, big hurry, though for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you why. They were all going to the same place in the end. Jackie and Cody got into Cody’s old, rusty Honda Civic and pulled out into the street, driving away down Main Street. The further they got from me, the worse the pains in my stomach became.
My wings cut through the wind as I picked up speed, sailing just over one of the many yellow taxies patrolling the city. I caught up with Cody’s Civic in seconds and hovered just behind the beat up car all the way to the east of town, to a Motel 6 just beside the exit to the freeway.
When they got out of the car, Jackie looked a lot better, more calm and content than she had been in the alleyway. I knew why. I followed behind as they jogged up the staircase at the side of the motel, to the second floor, and entered a room, closing the door shut behind them. I stopped by the window to their room. The curtains were drawn but the window was cracked just a bit for air and I could hear them inside.
“Cut us out some,” I heard Cody order.
I decided it was time for me to go in. I could use my power of influence to wake Jackie from the drugged-out trance she was under. But just before I walked through the walls and into the room, the front door swung open and Cody walked out with his cell phone pressed against his ear and a cigarette dangling from his lips. He closed the door behind him and leaned over the railing, looking down into the parking lot.
“Joey…” he said to the person on the phone. “It’s Cody…yeah, I got it…It’s a quarter ounce…I’m at the Motel 6 on Windrex Road…alright…okay…If we’re gonna skip town we need to do it now. They want the money by Friday. We need to get out of here before the bullets start flying…The girl? She’s just some junkie, don’t worry about her, she doesn’t know a thing…Okay, I’m leaving now…See you soon.”
Cody hung up the phone and walked inside the motel room, closing the door behind him. From the crack in the window, I heard him say, “I have to head out for supplies soon, babe. You stay here, understand? I’m taking the package with me to make a chop, so take some out for yourself…not too much…”
It was right then that I had a vision and it was clear to me why the pains in my stomach had led me to Jackie. When the Neanderthal from the alley came for his money, Cody will have already skipped town and Jackie would end up paying for it with her life. I had to save her, but how? Angels are forbidden to interfere with the doings of the living.
But then it hit me and a smile stretched across my face. Angels may not have been able to interfere with the living…but I knew someone who could.
I took a seat at the bar beside him. I didn’t need to expose my wings for him to know why I was there. He didn’t even break his gaze from the bar television as he said, “Why you gotta fuck with me here? It’s my day off…”
The bartender stepped over and pointed at the empty shot glass in front of Telly. “Another gin?”
Telly nodded, continuing to watch the game.
I chuckled. “A demon drinking gin…”
The bartender came back with the shot of clear liquid and left just as fast. Telly put it back and slammed the shot glass back down on the bar, breaking from the television to turn to me and shrug. “It’d be funnier if you were Muslim…what the fuck do you want?”
“I need your help.”
Telly laughed at me. “That’s not how things work. We’re not exactly on the same team, you know?”
“I know,” I said. “I’m an angel and you’re a demon. But you can interfere with the living. I can’t.”
Telly grinned with pride. “Yeah, fucking with these flesh-bags comes pretty easy. But why would I help you?”
I knew that question was coming. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my Gold Card, placing it in front of Telly on the bar. His eyes were locked on it from the moment he saw it.
“Is that what I think it is?” he asked.
I grinned. “Yup. The Gold Card.”
He picked it up with great care and examined it. “And this little thing will absolve you of your sins and get you into heaven?”
“When the time comes to cross over…yeah. And I’m willing to give it to you. All you have to do is help me.”
Telly’s mouth closed shut and a look of distrust followed. “Why don’t you want it? Don’t you care about getting into heaven?”
I told him about my sister, the vision I had, and the dealer who would end up killing her. Telly started to understand.
“That’s some notion,” he replied. “You’re willing to spend eternity in hell just to save this girl’s life?”
“Sounds fucking crazy,” he said. “But I guess that’s why you’re the angel and I’m the demon. But sure, you got a deal…what’s the plan?”
“You ever wonder who’s right?” I asked Telly as we sat on a curb in the Motel 6 parking lot that Friday. Cody had been gone for more than a day and Jackie had sniffed through her stash and was starting to come down. I knew because we’d watch her pace back and forth outside the hotel room on her phone trying to get a hold of Cody. But Cody wasn’t coming back and soon the goon from the alley would be there to collect his money. Money that Jackie didn’t have.
“What do you mean, who’s right?” asked Telly.
“Like, what religion is right. I mean, we’ve never actually seen God. So how do we know what religion is the right one?”
“Does it really matter?” said Telly, not very moved by the question. “You get pains in your stomach until you help people, I get pains in my stomach until I fuck shit up. Does it really matter who’s up there?”
“I guess, no. Not really.”
“Then stop asking stupid questions,” he concluded.
Right then, a black SUV pulled in slowly to the parking lot. It came to a stop in front of the Front Office and the Neanderthal from the alley stepped out.
“There he is,” I said to Telly. “Did you bring it?”
Telly reached behind him and pulled a small, black revolver from his waistband. “Yeah, I brought it,” he said, gripping it tight in his palm. “Let’s go fuck with destiny…”
We got up from the curb and followed the Neanderthal as he headed up the stairs to the second level of the Motel. We stayed a good distance behind so Telly wouldn’t be seen. I didn’t have much to worry about in that department. When we got to the second level, we could hear him banging on Jackie’s door before we even turned the corner. And once we did, there was no turning back.
Telly raised his revolver and yelled, “Back the fuck up, motherfucker!”
The Neanderthal turned and saw the gun pointed at him. He reached inside his leather jacket and withdrew a firearm of his own, firing off a shot at me and Telly. The bullet pinged off the railing and a flock of birds quickly flew away from where they were perched on the roof. Telly fired off a shot in return but the Neanderthal had taken cover behind the far corner. A moment later, his stubby hand appeared and his firearm shot off another loud blast. It missed.
Telly hadn’t even flinched. He held the revolver in front of him, his aim steady. And when the Neanderthal poked his head around the corner to place our position, Telly squeezed on his trigger and sent a bullet whizzing through the Neanderthal’s beefy neck. He collapsed to the floor.
Telly grinned, proud of himself. “And they say I wasted my life on video games…”
We jogged over to where the Neanderthal laid, spread out on the ground. He was gripping his neck with his hands, struggling to breathe. He looked up at us, trying to say something, but his words only came out as a gurgle. Telly dropped to one knee beside him and pressed the barrel of the revolver against his lumpy forehead. Then Telly pulled the trigger. The Neanderthal was still after that.
“There,” said Telly, getting to his feet. “Problem solved.”
The sounds of sirens appeared in the distance, getting louder and louder with each passing second. I looked over the second-floor railing, down into the street. A trail of flashing blue and red lights were racing towards the Motel parking lot.
“You better get out of here,” I said. But when I turned back to Telly he was already gone. Vanished.
I let my wings stretch out, then I jumped over the railing and slowly floated down to the parking lot just as the parade of squad cars squealed into the property. The car doors swung open and a gang of blue uniforms exited the vehicles with their guns drawn.
“Drop the gun, now!” yelled the officer closest to me. He seemed to be looking right at me. They all did. “I said, drop the gun!” he repeated.
I looked down and saw Telly’s revolver in my hand. How I had gotten it, I had no idea. And even more confusing was the fact that the humans could see me.
“Drop the gun or we’ll shoot!” yelled another one of the officers.
Didn’t they see my wings? Weren’t they afraid?
I let the revolver fall out of my hands and before I could say a word, a couple officers tackled me from behind and brought me to the floor.
“No! Stop it!” I heard a woman yell. Though a fleshy palm was forcing my face into the asphalt, I had no problem recognizing that voice. It was Jackie.
“Stay back!” ordered the officer whose knee was dug deep into my back. I didn’t understand why my wings weren’t getting in his way.
“You don’t understand,” begged Jackie. “That’s my brother! He’s been missing for years! He’s sick mentally. He’s not right! He sees things! Please, don’t hurt him!”
The officer pulled my hands behind my back and I felt the cold steel of handcuffs tighten around my wrists. What was Jackie talking about? I see things? I’m not right? And where had my wings gone? How did they just disappear?
Suddenly it all made sense. I had given Telly my Gold Card. The switch had been made. That’s why he disappeared. That’s why my wings were gone. Telly was the angel now. He would be the one going to heaven. And I…I would be the one going to hell.