Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Christmas Story

by Thomas

(This is the first installment in the series entitled 'The Spontaneous Gospel', short pieces I have challenged myself to write in an hour or less.)

Once there was an angel who got fired from his job at the lumber mill. He looked in the paper for employment opportunities. He didn’t find any, and he was a little discouraged. After a few days, there was a knock on the door. It was another angel. He wore a nice suit and said he was calling to talk about employment situations. The first angel let him in and brought him a cup of tea. He wondered what this was all about. His guest was very confident and looked around the rather shabby apartment.

“Er, your digs aren’t exactly top rate.”

“I’ve done what I could on modest means,” the first angel replied. “I wasn’t exactly getting rich at the mill. It was difficult work, but regular.”

“Yeah,” said the second angel, not paying much attention. “They loved you so much they gave you the sack.”

The first angel didn’t know what to say to this, so he didn’t say anything.

“Mind if I smoke?”

“No, no. Go ahead.” The second angel offered the first a cigarette, which he politely declined.

“So, ah – it looks like you’re looking for a situation. Am I right?

“Well, I was going to follow up on some leads today. I’m not hurting yet.” It was a bad lie and the first angel knew it. So did the second angel, but he didn’t play the card further.

“Anyway, me and some other fellows have got a nice little thing going. We’re starting our own religion and we need front men, see?”

“What do you mean?” The first angel was becoming repulsed with the second angel, but he had to admit, he was curious. Rent was due soon. Could it hurt to hear a proposition?

“You know. Pyramids. We attract investment, promising future bliss, people join, tell their friends and pretty soon things get a little tight and we offer to trade up, brokering positions, levels, you name it.”

“But that’s dishonest,” the first angel said.

“It’s business. And you look like you could use a little business, friend.”

“I’m not your ‘friend’,” the first angel said. And I want no part of your scheme.” And with that the first angel showed the second angel, who did not appear disturbed at all, the door.

By the following week the angel had a job at a local restaurant washing dishes. It was hard work, but with tips and a few free meals here and there, it was tolerable. He met a pretty waitress and found love. She was tall and careless, but she returned the angels affections. They went out together after work. She was rather naïve, but as few people had ever been kind to the angel, he didn’t mind too much. He wasn’t looking for brains, anyway. They were shortly engaged.

It turned out that the waitress came from a very wealthy family. Her father owned many large companies. She had become a waitress just for fun and her father, who saw that it might do her some good to learn about the world and get tired from physical work, had allowed it. Her father had bought a new apartment downtown for the couple and planned to give it to them as a wedding present when it was found that the waitress was pregnant.

“Listen,” said the father to the angel, “I’m a reasonable man. This kinda stuff happens in life and just to let you know there are no hard feelings, I’ll throw in some baby stuff with the apartment. I’ll even give you a job at one of my companies to boot. ”

“I am a virgin,” said the angel. “I am not the father of this child.”

“Hey,” said the father, “I was young once too, and really, there is no big deal here. Just marry the girl so I don’t look too stupid in front of all my business associates and you can keep your virginity for as long as you want.”

The waitress gave birth to a baby boy with wings, but still the angel insisted that he was innocent of any misconduct. The father grew impatient. The relationship between the angel and the waitress broke down and a scandal threatened. The angel was very unhappy, but agreed for the sake of the child to marry the waitress. His new job was well paid, but boring.

The couple moved into their new apartment which was a pyramid. There was a knock at the door. It was the other angel, somewhat fatter and in a more expensive suit. He shifted a cigar around in his mouth.

“So, congratulations chump,” said the second angel. “Looks like you got in on the pyramid thing after all.” He winked at the waitress, who showed no emotion but held the crying baby. The wings on the baby looked oddly like those on the second angels back.

“What are you talking about?” said the first angel, “is this your pyramid?”

“Yup,” said the second angel. “I’m your new landlord!” With that, his new father-in-law appeared behind the second angel, also smoking a cigar. He wore little plastic devil horns on his head. “You know,” he said grinning to the second angel, “my son-in-law is still a virgin!” and they second angel and the father-in-law laughed their heads off. The first angel saw that his father-in-law also had very large wings that had been hidden by his suit. They left the pyramid, smoking, their mobile phones buzzing.

It turned out that the waitress, sullen and silent, also had wings. She was very witless and immature, but he felt sorry for her even though she had betrayed him. She smiled weakly, “At least we’re not working in that restaurant anymore, dear.” The memory of her kindness, brief and simple as it had been, was a little cork in his head that kept the echoes of evil laughter out.

The angel went back to the lumber mill and by begging, got his old job back with reduced wages. He took the waitress and they moved out of the pyramid into a trailer on the edge of town. They were very poor. It was Christmas day. They woke up and their wings were gone. The waitress began to cry feebly. “Look what has become of us!” she moaned. They saw that their young son, who still had wings, was flying about the trailer, laughing with glee. “Look mom,” he said, “look dad, I can fly! Wee!”

The angel, who had become a man, was tired from lack of sleep. He looked at his wife, who had become an imbecile. He took the child outside, speaking fatherly kindness to the boy. He held fast to the boy’s legs and they flew away leaving the trailer and the pyramids far behind.

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