Over time, for most, is a wonder idea. A good way of making a little extra pocket money. All you need to do is come in on your off time, do the same job you have been doing all along, and collect a nice fat paycheck for your troubles. When it comes to Mr. Smith’s idea of overtime, it’s more or less on the level of suicide missions for the Navy Seals. If the Messenger of God himself comes to your door you asking for help, you might as well stand in front of the firing squad; blindfolded and with a cigarette in your mouth. My life had just gone from complicated to downright malignant in the time it took me to brew a pot of tea.
I took the envelope from Mr. Smith’s weathered hands; my own were slightly shaking as I undid the metal clip. The shaking was probably from the cold breeze that got in when the angel opened the door to leave; my story and I am sticking to it. Inside the yellowish brown envelope was a small piece of glossy white paper, about the size of a business card. On one side of the card written in black ink were a name and a location.
Rebecca Porter- Myers’ Memorial Hospital, New York, NY.
When I turned it over to the other side, I saw a short message elegantly scrawled with the utmost care in what looked to be gold leaf. It read.
‘Please God, I don’t want to lose her. Let my baby girl wake up.’
My stomach did somersaults like an Olympian gymnast. I stared at the card for a while; perhaps some answers will leap out of it if I was patient enough. It did not happen. The paper just stared back at me.
I was not sure how long our mutual staring contest lasted, and I was startled when a firm hand grasped my shoulder.
“Ready to go?” Mr. Smith asked. There was no rush in his tone; he would wait forever for my answer. I was not going to give him forever, though. I was going to speak my mind on the subject right now.
“Ready to go?” I stood up suddenly, my voice displayed what I believe was the appropriate level of pissed the situation called for. “This is a Christian prayer; we don’t answer these. You said after the last one we would not take on any more.”
“This one is different. It is something only you can do.” Mr. Smith said in a stern voice.
“What does that mean?” My grip on the card tightened, but it did not crinkle. “Why can ‘only I do it?”
Mr. Smith just gave me a blank stare. His gaze kept mine until I glanced back down at the card.
“She will die if you do nothing.” Mr. Smith said to me. It was not a threat; he said it with an air of certainty.
“Damn it.” He was right, Mr. Smith never lied. If the angels saw fit to come to us with this, that meant heaven had already washed their hands clean of it. If I didn’t do something…
I gave a heavy sigh and headed towards the door.
“You know if you look at it this way...” Mr. Smith started to say, but I cut him off before he finished.
“Not a word sir. Not. A. Word.” I slapped the glass door shut behind as hard as I could, it did not break; it never does.
The outside cold autumn air bit into me as I made my way down the street to the intersection. Now that I think about it, I should have grabbed my coat, but I committed damn it. I was not going to give him the satisfaction of turning back after a real storm off like that.
Mr. Smith could be such a stubborn jackass at times. Were all gods like this? Give just enough information to frustrate you and send you on your way to certain peril. I bet none of the others had to deal with this. They probably received straight answers and a gold star for good behavior.
After a couple of weird looks from passersby on the street, I realized that my internal monolog was not internal at all. I muttered one last swear under my breath and hailed a cab.
The ride over to my apartment was not going to be a long one, but at least I will have some time to clear my head. The prayer was for a sleeping child, a little girl. Somehow I need to wake her up. Seeing as how I do not have a medical degree there had to be a supernatural solution to this problem. I wish I had more information. There were many different ways this could happen. My head swam with all the possibilities, everything from ghost possession, hexes, curses, and a hundred other different ways it could have happened.
We arrived at my building in short time, and I asked the cabbie to keep the meter running. I bolted up the stairs to the second floor. I needed to hurry; cabs are expensive. The door to my apartment opened with a quick turn of the key.
“Hello?” I shouted and paused for a response. Nothing, Kevin had not come home yet. I bolted into my room to collect what I would need for this job.
My room is an orderly mess, I had a system in place and knew where everything was. So it only it me about 10 minutes to gather up everything. The first item I needed was a thin aluminum briefcase that I keep stashed away behind the broken wall heater in my room. It takes a little prying, and more than a few nails on a chalkboard squeaks to move the heater. After a little elbow grease, I had moved it just enough to get my hand in and put the case out. Next to the foot of my bed was an old fashioned doctor’s bag I got from a second-hand store. Over the years it had gotten heavier as I have added to the collection of knick-knacks from other overtime jobs, I knew of one in peculiar that would help narrow down what was going on. I grabbed the bag with the same hand holding the briefcase, for there was another piece of equipment I needed to bring with me. From my bedroom closet, I produce my umbrella, an old style wood stick model with a curved handle. It is thicker than normal and has no visible springs or mechanics. I tested the weight; it is always good to have some protection. With the umbrella placed securely it in the crook of my arm. The medical bag was transferred to my other hand, it was time to head out.
My progress was stopped when the apartment door opened, and Kevin slumped in, head down in weariness. He seemed not to notice me until I was within arm’s reach. It took him an extra second to see what I was holding.
“Another antique show?” He asked, trying to keep his eyes open.
“Nope, heading out because an angel told me to save a little girl,” I responded.
“Haha, and I thought I was the tired one. All those long days are messing with your head.”
I smiled and let Kevin pass me so he can head off to bed and pass out; some have all the luck.
When I first started out, I spent lots of time trying to convince Kevin the crazier aspects of my job. At first, he thought I was playing a joke on him but I more I pushed the easier it became to call me a liar. Now he just chalks it up to an inside joke and calls it a day. I shrugged if Kevin spent the rest of his days thinking I was telling stories then good for him.
I locked the door behind me and headed downstairs. Faithful to his word, the taxi driver was still there waiting for me. I told him my next and final destination, and we were off. Telling the taxi to leave the meter running while I grabbed stuff from my place was one thing, taking a cab around town for the next day of so is another; I am not made of money. I needed my own set of wheels, I just hoped it was fixed. I had a bad run in with a gremlin a couples weeks back, and the transmission fell out of my Jeep. I called Detective Frank to let him know I was on my way to his place, he grunted at me and hung up the phone. This was going to be pleasant.
The ride over was a little longer than the quick jaunt to my apartment. Frank and his family live out in the suburbs. The house looks like any other of the two-storey house in the neighborhood, save for a fresh coat of paint and newly paved driveway. Frank had spent the last few years renovating the place, and if it were not for an unfortunate twist of fate, we would probably never have met. I paid the driver his fee, brought my bags up to the door, and rang the bell.
The sound of pattering feet echoed through the home. The porch light flicked on, and I could see a fuzzy head through one of the side windows. After a few moments the door opened, and a small head poked out.
“Hello,” said Sophie, one-half of the Frank twins. She smiled when she saw me, and I noticed she was missing a tooth.
“Hi, Sophie.” I knelt down to her level. “Did the tooth fairy come see you?”
“Nuh huh” She shook her head and the tiny beads that were woven into the ends of her shoulder length hair rattle a little. “I lost it this morning. It’s my first tooth.”
“Well make sure you put it under your pillow tonight, okay?”
I smiled at the little form in front of me. If Sophie was losing teeth that would make her around six or seven, right? Has it really been three years? Doesn’t feel like it.
“Is your daddy around?” I asked politely
Another figure appeared at the door, a thin woman dressed in a long pink nightgown and matching fuzzy slippers. She picked up the little one with no effort at all and looked down at me.
“Henry dear, how are you?” Mrs. Frank said in a cheerful voice, she was always happy to see me.
“Doing well Mrs. Frank, how is everything?” I stood up straight and dusted the dirt off my knees.
“Everything is good.” She smiled one of those smiles that could light up a room. “My husband is in the garage, and he wants to talk to you.”
“Great,” I said, extending the vowels. “As if I don’t have enough on my plate.”
“Now Henry, Joe is just worried about you and wants to help as much as possible.”
“I know Mrs. Frank, I appreciate everything your family has done for me but between you and me. Your husband can sometimes be intense.”
“That just shows how much he loves you.” She said with another smile. That woman could not be rattled.
“He has a funny way of showing it,” I said rubbing my rib cage.
“Now stop Henry.” Mrs. Frank said. “Haven’t those lessons come in handy.”
“Yes, Ma’am. I should go see what he want then I have a job and need to grab my car.” I turned and headed to the back of the house to the garage.
“Be safe Henry and call us if you need anything.” she hollered back to me.
The first thing I noticed when I approached the garage was the sound of muffled rhythmic pounding, Frank was working on his bag. As soon as I stepped into the garage/home gym Detective Joseph Frank delivered a series of quick jabs followed by a hard punch to the midsection of a defenseless punching bag that almost pulled it off the wooden beam it was suspended from.
“Evening Frank,” I said, hoping that most of his aggression was directed at the bag.
“Morgan.” Frank turned around and pointed to an early 2000’s Jeep Cherokee. “I changed the clutch, just don’t strip it out again anytime soon, okay.”
“It’s not if I did it on propose.”
Frank held up a gloved hand. “I know, I know. Just saying, Morgan. Now before you leave, I want to talk about what happened today.”
I took a deep breath and popped the back of the Jeep to throw my bags in.
“I checked in later today about the case, and you know what I found?” Frank asked.
“The charges against you boss were dropped, all of them. The guy can’t seem to remember who tackled him and not only that, he doesn’t even think he was sacked. The officer on the scene claims he only saw one drunk, but his paperwork reads two. None of the paperwork changed, it still as John Smith as the second perpetrator but nobody knows anything about it. Doesn’t that sound strange to you?” Frank gave me a wide-eyed stare like I was the one responsible for the cover up.
“It does sound weird, and unfortunately I can’t give you an answer that will satisfy you,” I said to him trying to ease the situation. “What I can say is that I notice that too, people can’t seem to keep Mr. Smith in their memory for very long. Hell, most of our customers think that I am the only one that works there. Long standing customers sometimes greet Mr. Smith as though it is for the first time.”
“That doesn’t disturb you?” He asked. “People can’t remember him, that is down right scary. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for what you did for my family, and you will always have a special place in Joyce’s heart, but I’m worried about you.”
“I understand where you are coming from. Yeah, dealing with my boss is sometimes a little disturbing, but I’m used to it. I got this Frank.” I looked at him in the eye to let him know my sincerity.
Frank glanced over to a fist-sized blacken metal pyramid sitting on a shelf before speaking to me again.
“You do good in this world, but you are too young to be doing it. There are guys on the force twice your age that don’t see the things you do.” He gave me another hard look, sigh and tossed me a set of keys “There is no stopping you, I know. Just be careful out there.”
“Thanks, Frank.” I meant it, I really did.
“Here.” Frank went over to the fridge and produced a brown paper bag. “Joyce made you a sandwich.”
I smiled and gave Frank another nod of thanks.
“Take care Frank and thanks for the repair.” I hopped in the car, threw it into reverse, and back out of the driveway.
Mrs. Frank and both the twins looked on through one of the first story windows. I gave them a small wave, and they returned it with more enthusiasm. The new clutch worked like a charm. I was off.
In middle school, you get your first look at Mythology. Where Demigods and noble warriors ride to battle on their mounts to save the day; fight the forces of evil. They get to show up with winged horses, griffons, magic carpets and all I get is four cylinders and a five speed. Well, at least I have four wheel drive.
With traffic the way is was, the trip was going to take about half an hour, meaning I was going to have a while to think about where my life was going. I drove without the radio on, with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company.Why me, came up quite a few times.No seriously, out of everyone in the world why me?
I am not special. This was supposed to be a temporary job as a clerk until the market picked back up. There are over five thousand deities in this world, more if you include divine beings like angels, and each one of them can choose a mortal to stand as their champion. I never wanted any of this. Hell, the majority of The Chosen have their own little club, a place where they do not need to face the terrors alone. All you need to join is a Deity backing you and you are in, well except for me. I am not welcomed to play in their reindeer games.
The biggest part of my life, currently, and I can not talk about it to ordinary people. Not without the fear that they would call the nearest psychiatric ward to set up a room for me. On top of that, the only group of people that can understand what I go through views me as an outsider. I am truly on an island.
My mental skirmish was put on hold as my stomach growled. Had I not actually eaten since breakfast? I opened the paper bag Frank had given me and pulled out a sandwich and took a sizable bite. Turkey and rye, thank the gods for the amazing person that is Joyce Frank.
Okay, maybe not fully an island, some people do look after my well being. I ravaged the remains of the meal like a hungry wolf and thought happy thoughts straight into the hospital parking lot.