Wretched or Divine – Sample Chapter
Earth year 11.27.2015
The city of New York is quiet in the early morning hours. The moon is dimly lit and barely visible behind the thick cloud cover at 2:27 am. A row of street lights flash out of sequence from red, yellow, and green down a long street and the colors glisten on the wet pavement. It has rained most of the night, and at this hour, there are no signs of life; all are tucked away in bed sleeping where it is warm.
The clouds become electrified and small lightning bolts streak across the sky. Suddenly, there is a bright flash of light above the clouds and the sky cracks with thunder. A massive lightning bolt bursts through the clouds and slams to the ground with the explosive sound of a bomb hitting the Earth. The thud shakes the ground and startles those sleeping nearby, but they quickly fall back asleep. The people of the city are used to hearing gunshots, sirens, and loud bangs throughout the night and think nothing of them as they are the nightly norm.
On the outskirts of the city limits is an empty dirt lot surrounded by a chain-link fence. Outside the fence, late at night, people use the area as a dump. The area around it is stacked high with worn couches, piles of garbage, old tires, stripped vehicles, and indoor appliances such as stoves and refrigerators. Inside the fenced lot is where the lightning bolt made an impact with the ground.
A large bright yellow, orange, and white ball of light pulsates for many minutes until it fades away. Once the dust settles, a golden glowing figure of a man is bent down on one knee. His head tilted downward, rises toward the sky. His solid white eyes roll forward, and iridescent green pupils appear. He lifts his hands and places his index fingers against his lips. He exhales and a light blue mist forms around his fingers. He crosses his arms and glides his fingers down the massive wings attached to his back. The white wings turn light blue and then disappear. A six foot, four inch, man, slightly taller than the average human, stands upright. The man is muscular with the body of a warrior. He is beautiful with long, satin black hair. Raphael is on Earth.
Raphael walks to the fence. He turns his head from side to side, assessing the area where he landed. He looks forward at the fence; there is no expression on his face. He takes his right hand and places it on the chain-link. His hand slowly moves downward. Bright sparks shoot out from under his hand as the fence is ripped open. He steps through the shredded chain link. A barb of wire catches his shoulder and tears open his earthly flesh. He feels pain. Pain is something that is not familiar to him. Raphael looks at his shoulder as blood begins to dribble down his arm. “This will not do,” he speaks in a deep, demanding, yet soothing voice. He places his index finger against his lips, exhales, and then rubs his finger across the wound. The wound heals instantly.
Raphael rummages through the garbage. He finds a torn black t-shirt with a faded logo of the famous heavy metal band “Judas Priest” on the front. He reads the words out loud with his eyes scowling, “Judas Priest?” Raphael chuckles, “If these earthlings only knew the truth.” He stretches the shirt that is a size too small over his muscular torso. Raphael continues scavenging, throwing the garbage one direction to the side hitting the fence and tossing more to the other side into the street. He finds several green trash bags filled with clothes. He rips them open and finds a pair of black pants and black leather boots inside that fit him, “Good, a large earthling. What else did the big man discard?” He tears open another bag and inside he finds a long black leather trench coat with blood stains on one sleeve. He places the coat against his face and smells the blood, “Oh, big man. I won’t be seeing you in Heaven.” Raphael puts on the trench coat and walks into the shadows of the night.
Raphael walks the streets for weeks seeking an example of unconditional love; the task, his Lord, and creator, Yahweh, has sent him to retrieve. He’s becoming frustrated. He thought that surely it would be easy to find instances of pure love – in the past centuries it was widespread. He comes to realize that this era is on the wrong path. All he sees is hate, bigotry, hypocrisy, self-loving, self-indulgence, and murder. It sickens and infuriates him. Elohiym’s creation has gone astray. The seven deadly sins, lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, and greed are more prevalent than any other time in the Earth’s short history. Earthlings see no wrong in what they do, and sinning is favored in this culture. Raphael continues searching even though he is thoroughly disgusted by human behavior. He knows he cannot return home to Heaven empty-handed.
A snowstorm has blanketed the city in white powder and ice. It’s Christmas Eve and closing in on midnight. Strings of twinkling Christmas lights line the inside of windows of old brick buildings.
In a seedy part of Brownsville, Brooklyn, there is a bar on the corner with an old neon sign that is on the verge of burning out. The flashing sign reads, “RED’S TAVERN.” Inside the dimly lit bar filled with a haze of smoke, and a damp mildew smell that burns at the lungs, are a few dozen strangers; individuals that no one would ever give a glance at and try to avoid. Each person is sitting alone with their thoughts buried in the glass below their sagging chins, containers filled with little more than broken dreams. Red’s Tavern has become a place where bums gather on Christmas Eve.
A large burly man wearing a red and black plaid flannel shirt with a scraggly gray beard stands behind the bar serving drinks to the handful of bums that panhandled money during the day from people that gave out of guilt rather than kindness. The man behind the bar with a scar down the right side of his face is the owner, Red. Red is a loud, grumpy elderly man that hates everyone. Life has not turned out the way he hoped, and he’s incredibly bitter. He’s far beyond lonely, and all he has is the bar. When it’s closed, he goes upstairs to a room full of clutter, eats a frozen dinner, and watches an old black and white television until he passes out. He cares about nothing and no one. He only exists while waiting to die.
Usually, Red doesn’t allow bums in his bar, except on this night, Christmas Eve. He figures it’s better than going upstairs and wanting to put a bullet in his head. Also, on this night, the bums have money to drink, and since the regulars don’t come in on Holidays, it’s a way for him to keep money coming in the door. Red is greedy. He never spends the money the bar earns. He stockpiles and hordes the cash. Not that he cares, but for one particular night, it gives the bums a place to go in and get warm from the cold outside.
The homeless bums, dressed in rags, sit on stools at the bar. Most have not seen a shower or bathed in years.
One of the bums, named John, asks, “Red, is there any food here? I have money to pay.”
Red barks, “Does this place look like a fuckin’ restaurant to you?” He reaches under the counter of the bar, “Here, I have a bag of chips, and here’s a bowl of peanuts.”
John is hungry, and grateful for any morsel of food, “Thank you, Red. God bless you.”
Red’s deep scratchy voice grunts, “That shit ain’t free. It’ll be two bucks, pal.” Red pauses for a brief moment and then disgruntled, he says, “God? There is no God. A god that claims to be a god of love would not let children suffer and die in agony before they got to experience life. If there is a god, he’s demented, and I do not need or want a god like that.”
John reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a wad of crumpled up dollar bills, and he says, “Red, God is there. God is everywhere. He’s always watching. Who knows why he lets people suffer, but there must be a reason.” He looks at the money as he slowly counts it, hands it to Red, and says, “I would like to buy a shot of whiskey to warm up the old bones.”
Red pours the drink into a shot glass and sits it in front of John, “That’ll be another eight bucks, pal. And don’t speak to me of a god!”
John unravels the crumpled bills and hands Red ten dollars. “Thank you,” says John.
Red hasn’t always lived in constant misery and greed. Twenty years ago, Red, then known by his birth name, Frederick, or Fred McAlister, he was living the American dream. Fred married his high school sweetheart, Catharine, a year after graduation. He got a job as a stock boy at a warehouse for a local chain of mattress stores.
Living in a small apartment, Red worked six days a week at the warehouse, and Catharine worked as a receptionist at a Dental office. Two years after their marriage, Catharine became pregnant, and she gave birth to their daughter, Meagan Ella McAlister. The doctor handed newborn Meagan, wrapped in a soft white blanket, to Fred. He cradled her in his arms holding her close to his chest. For the first time in his life, he was frightened; he was now responsible for a new life, an innocent child. The fear only lasted for a brief moment, and then his entire being overflowed with love. His eyes swelled with tears, “Hello, Meagan. I’m your daddy.” Baby Meagan smiled. At that moment, Fred instantly fell deeply in love with his baby; a love that nothing would ever be able to disrupt. He said to her in a shaky voice, “I will protect you, take care of all your needs, and love you until the day I die.” He bent over and placed Meagan in Catharine’s eagerly awaiting arms. He got down on his knees to be eye level with Catharine and Meagan as they lay in the hospital bed. Fred raised his arms; with one hand and lovingly combed Catharine’s sweat drenched hair with his fingers. He reached out with his other hand to touch Meagan. Her tiny hand grasped his finger, and his heart melted. Catharine smiled, “She’s beautiful.” Fred had a huge grin on his face, “Yes she is. She’s a princess.” Fred stood upright, leaned forward, and kissed Catharine on her cheek. He smiled, looking into her eyes, and said, “I love you, Honey. You did fantastically.” Catharine’s tired eyes turned to look at Meagan, and she grinned, “No… we, you and I, did an amazing thing. We made a beautiful baby girl, together.”
Within a few years, Fred was promoted to a manager position and obtained a loan to purchase a charming little house located in Canarsie, a suburban neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Fred and Catharine’s entire world revolved around their precious daughter. Fred loved his family more than anything. He couldn’t wait to finish his day at work to get home to them, especially Meagan; he cherished every moment spent with her.
From the time of her birth, Fred had a tight bond with his daughter, and it increased even more with each year. When Meagan turned thirteen-years-old, she was growing into a beautiful young lady. She was definitely a “daddy’s girl” and wanted nothing more than for him to be proud of her. Meagan was quiet, stayed away from school drama and cliques, and excelled in her classes. She was quite stunning for her age, classy, petite with long brown curly hair.
Together as a family, they were constantly on the go. Fred and Catharine wanted Meagan to experience life to its fullest. Every other weekend, they would take Meagan out of town to places of culture, history, and amusement. They taught her to be humble, caring, intelligent, and how to enjoy all life has to offer.
One day, Catharine had to work late. Fred and Meagan wanted to surprise her by cooking dinner and having it ready for her when she got home. Fred and Meagan were laughing and enjoying their time together when the phone rang. Fred answered the phone while still giggling and put it to his ear, “Hello.”
A man with a composed tone of voice on the other end, asked, “May I speak to Mr. McAlister?”
“This is him, speaking. Who might I ask is calling?”
“This is Sergeant Doyle from the NYPD, 69th Precinct.”
Immediately, Fred’s heart started pounding extremely hard, “Sergeant Doyle, how can I help you? Is something wrong? Did something happen at the warehouse?”
Sergeant Doyle replied, “No sir, I hate to be the one that has to inform you of this.”
Meagan had her back turned to her father as she mixed a salad in a bowl, and didn’t see the frightful look on her father’s face.
Fred panicked, “Did something happen to my wife, Catharine? Is she okay? Where is she?”
“Mr. McAlister, there has been an accident. Your wife was crossing an intersection when a drunk driver ran a red light at a high speed and crashed into the passenger side of the vehicle your wife was driving. The impact was severe and spun your wife’s vehicle into a light post.”
Fred’s body trembled. His hands shook uncontrollably, and he could barely keep the phone to his ear. His voice shuttered, “Ohh… m, m, myyy…g, g, godddd. Catharine, where is she?”
“Mr., McAlister, when the paramedics arrived, they found your wife critically injured inside the vehicle. Her head went through the door glass and then hit the windshield. Broken glass was everywhere. Upon impact, the vehicle bent around the pole, crushing her inside. She was unconscious when the paramedics arrived. They had to cut the car apart to get her out. The paramedics immediately went to work on her. She somewhat regained consciousness. She was in shock. Her words slurred, she told the paramedics, and me, I was there with her as well, to tell her husband and daughter that she loves them very much, and then her heart stopped. The paramedics used a defibrillator to try and get her heart pumping again, but they were unsuccessful. Sir, your wife, is gone. She died at the scene of the accident. I’m sorry for going into such detail, but I thought you should know what her last words were.”
Fred dropped the phone and fell to his knees.
Meagan heard the thud on the wooden floor. Startled, she turned around, and yelled, “Daddy!”
The salad bowl fell out of her hands and onto the floor, breaking the glass dish. Lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and mushrooms mixed with glass shards scattered around the kitchen. She ran to her dad.
Fred cupped his face with his hands. Tears flowed out of his eyes as he gasped for air. Meagan got down on her knees next to her father. She reached out and held his hand, “Daddy, daddy, are you okay? What’s wrong? Please tell me what’s wrong so I can help.” She was scared. The phone receiver dangled from the wall on a cord; a muffled voice repeated, “Mr. McAlister. Mr. McAlister, are you there?”
Fred didn’t need to say a word, Meagan could sense what happened. Fred sat with his back against the wall, and he held Meagan tight as they wept until she fell asleep. Fred called a close friend of the family and asked if she would come over to stay with Meagan while he went to the morgue to sign papers and collect Catharine’s belongings.
At the morgue, Fred asked, “Can I see her body?”
The mortician took him to the room where recently deceased bodies are kept. The room was frigid. The mortician opened the door to the chamber that was marked #1258 McAlister – Female. He pulled the cold steel table on tracks out of the chamber, and on the table was Catharine’s body covered with a blue sheet.
Fred asked, “Can I please have a few minutes alone with her?”
“Of course you can. I’ll be outside in the next room. Just let me know when you are finished.”
Fred stood over the covered body of his wife for a few minutes; afraid to pull back the sheet and see her lifeless face. He grabbed the edge of the sheet behind her head and slowly removed it to her waist. His stomach heaved, and he fought the urge to vomit. The horror was more than he could have imagined viewing his wife’s face covered with cuts from glass shattering. He reached under the blanket and placed his hand on top of her cold hand and began gently rubbing it. His eyes burned with the unstoppable tears. Once he was able to clear his throat, he combed her hair with his fingers, and began to speak, “Catharine, my love, I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you. If I could, I would trade places with you.” He sobbed, “What am I going to do without you? I don’t know what to do.” He continued combing her hair with his fingers. A big lump formed in his throat and he couldn’t speak for what seemed like an eternity as his mind scrambled with dozens of thoughts overlapping each other. Nothing made sense, except, “Meagan, she is number one. I will make sure our daughter has the best of everything in life. I have to be strong and help her get through the loss of her mother. I will protect her and make sure she is always happy. I will do everything possible to make sure she feels an overabundance of love. She will feel your love for her through me.” Fred gently touches Catharine’s cheek, “You will always be my love, Honey. I promise that there will be no other. I’ll see you in Heaven one day. I love you.” He was unable to say anymore and covered her with the sheet. Fred walked to the door, opened it, and said to the mortician sitting at a desk, “I’m done now. Thank you very much.”
The mortician stood up and walked to the door, and before going inside, he said, “I’m sorry for your loss, Mr. McAlister, my deepest condolences to you and your family.”
“Thank you,” replied Fred, and before the door closed to the morgue, he looked into the room and quietly uttered, “Goodbye, my love.”
Over the next three years, Fred did as he promised. He dedicated his life to his daughter and made sure she was happy. He learned to become both father and mother to fill the void. When she experienced moments of depression thinking about her mother, Fred was there to comfort her. They would reminisce about the good times when Catharine was alive, and in time, the memories made them both joyful again even though they never stopped missing her for a single moment.
Meagan was involved in several extracurricular activities at school. She was in the drama club, and one night she performed in the school play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the character Helena. Fred arrived at the auditorium early to secure a seat in the front row. He was extremely excited and a very proud dad.
When the curtains opened, the audience went silent, and Fred smiled from ear to ear; a smile that remained as the play progressed. Out walked his daughter, Meagan, dressed in a peach-colored Victorian dress, and her long hair braided in the back with curls twirling down the sides of her face. She was absolutely beautiful. Fred’s left knee nervously bounced up and down in anticipation of his daughter reciting her lines. She moved to center stage and quickly looked for her father. When she spotted him, she smiled and winked an eye in his direction. Fred smiled and blew her a kiss. Her expression immediately turned to sadness as she went into character. She sat on a bench and began,
“Call you me fair? that fair again unsay.
Demetrius loves your fair: O happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars; and your tongue’s sweet air
More tuneable than lark to shepherd’s ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear.
Sickness is catching: O, were favour so,”
Act I came to an end with Meagan/Helena alone on stage,
“If I have thanks, it is a dear expense:
But herein mean I to enrich my pain,
To have his sight thither and back again.”
The curtains dropped, and the crowd applauded. Fred stood up on his feet and clapped as hard as he could until his hands hurt. He turned his head to the woman at his right, “That’s my baby girl playing Helena.”
Act II was midway in progress, and Meagan was flawlessly executing her lines.
“And even for that do I love you the more.
I am your spaniel; and, Demetrius,
The more you beat me, I will fawn on you.”
Suddenly, a look of excruciating pain was on her face. Her hands clenched and she went silent for a few seconds. Fred saw her expression and became concerned.
She struggled to continue,
“Use… me,” she groaned.
She tried to continue, “But… as your…”
Her eyes closed and her face scrunched forming deep wrinkles. She exhaled, “Ouwww,” and she buckled over.
Fred began to rise off his seat. Something was wrong. All of a sudden, Meagan collapsed on the stage.
Fred leaped from his seat and jumped up on the stage rushing to Meagan. He pushed the other actors away from her, got onto his knees and held her hand, “Meagan, Meagan, Daddy’s here. I got you, Baby Girl.”
He yelled, “Call an ambulance!”
The ambulance and paramedics arrived. Meagan was dazed, but they couldn’t find anything wrong with her with their equipment. The paramedics loaded her into the ambulance on a stretcher and Fred demanded he stayed by her side at all times. Upon arrival at the hospital, Meagan was admitted. She was exhausted and went to sleep.
Dr. David Hensley walked into the room to examine Meagan and asked Fred what happened.
Dr. Hensley was unable to find anything wrong with Meagan visually; he said to Fred, “We’ll need to run a series of tests in the morning. But for now, I’m going to have a nurse come in and draw blood so we can get it to the lab tonight and we might know more at that point.”
Fred replied, “Okay, please, do whatever it takes to find out what happened.”
Dr. Hensley assured him, “We will. You can go home and get some rest. Meagan will sleep all night. A nurse will be right outside her room and check on her frequently.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” said Fred. “I will not leave my daughter’s side. He paused for a moment, and then said, “If that’s okay with you?”
“Sure it is,” said Dr. Hensley. “That chair reclines, and I’ll have a nurse bring you a blanket.”
Fred tried to grin to show his appreciation, “Thank you, doctor.”
Fred picked up the chair and quietly sat it next to the bed to be as close to Meagan as possible.
Hours later, he was awakened by a soft voice saying, “Daddy.”
Fred stood up and rubbed the top of her head, “Good morning, Baby Girl. How are you feeling?”
Her eyes twinkled, “I’m feeling okay. My back hurts a little, and I’m thirsty. Can you please help sit me upright?”
Fred looked at the bed control pad, pushed a button and the bed slowly raised until she was sitting up. He poured a cup of water from the pitcher the nurse brought in and held it up to her lips. Meagan sipped the water, and then asked, “What happened, Daddy?”
He sat on the bed next to her and held her hand, “You passed out on stage. The doctors want to do some test today to find out what caused you to have the pain that made you faint.”
She frowned, “Oh, Dad, I hope I didn’t embarrass you.”
His right eyebrow rose up, “Embarrass me? Baby Girl, there’s nothing you can do to embarrass me. My only concern is you.”
A nurse came in to check on Meagan. She asked how she was feeling and if she was in any pain. The nurse then said, “It’s going to be a long day. We are going to be running several tests and scans. Would you like me to have some breakfast sent in for both of you? The food is pretty good here.”
Meagan replied, “Yes, that would be nice. I’m a little hungry, and my dad needs some food too. Thank you very much.”
There was a look of concern on Meagan’s face. Fred asked, “What’s wrong, Baby Girl?”
“I don’t know, Daddy. I’m a little worried. What if there is something seriously wrong with me.”
Fred assured her, “You are going to be okay. It’s probably something simple like not getting enough rest. You have been pushing yourself kind of hard lately with school and getting ready for the play. Whatever it is, I will be by your side at all times. I promise.”
A few hours later, they took Meagan for a CT scan and X-Rays. She was able to walk on her own without having to be moved from floor to floor in a wheelchair. While she was in the claustrophobic, tiny tube of the CT scan machine that is extremely loud, Fred was allowed in the room. He wore earplugs and earmuffs because of the loud banging sound the machine makes, and he held onto Meagan’s foot, so she knew he was there with her. They released Meagan that evening and were told to come back for the test results in two days.
For two days, Fred and Meagan were nervous inside, but it could not be seen on the outside. When Fred came home from work at 5:30 pm, they went for a stroll in the park and stopped at an ice cream stand. They each had a cone with two scoops of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate. Meagan liked to have hers topped with a rainbow of tiny candy sprinkles. They giggled telling stories, enjoyed the warm spring air of the night, and most of all, enjoyed their time together.
The next day, they arrived at the hospital and nervously sat in the waiting room. Fred patted Meagan’s knee, and said, “Everything is going to be alright, Baby Girl.”
The receptionist opened the door that leads to the Doctor’s office and examining rooms. They were escorted to Dr. Hensley’s office where he was waiting with a folder in front of him on the desk. He stood up from his chair and reached out to shake Fred’s hand, “Hello, Mr. McAlister. Hello Meagan. Please take a seat.” They sat in the two chairs facing the desk.
Dr. Hensley sat back down in his chair and opened the folder. He wasted no time getting to the results, “The tests came in, and a panel of doctors examined them. Meagan has Osteosarcoma. Sarcoma is cancer in the bones. The pain experienced gets worse at night or with activity, and this is what caused Meagan to have severe pain and collapse.”
Fred asked, “How is this possible? She’s young, eats right, physically active, and lives a healthy lifestyle.”
“Sarcomas can develop at any age,” said Dr. Hensley, “but some types occur most often in older children and teens.”
Fred reached over and held Meagan’s hand. His body nervously shook, and his lips trembled, “Okay, what do we do to beat this?” His eyes welled with tears.
“We’ll begin immediately with Chemotherapy treatments. There are tumors in her spine, right shoulder, and pelvis. I’d want to attack those with radiation to shrink them and slow their growth.”
Fred looked at Meagan. He could see the fear in her eyes, but she was holding her composure. He said, “Alright then, whatever it takes. We will beat this.” He reached out and held Meagan’s hand. He looked directly into her eyes, “We will beat this.”
Meagan smiled, “Yes, Daddy. We will beat this.”
She asked the doctor, “Is there a restroom here? I really need to go.”
Dr. Hensley replied, “Yes, go out the door, turn left and walk down the hall to the fifth door on the right. I’d like to talk with your dad a little more.”
After she left the room, Dr. Hensley walked from his desk and closed the door. “Mr. McAlister,” he said, “I didn’t want to frighten Meagan any more than she is before going in for Chemotherapy, but I have to tell you she has stage-three Osteosarcoma. The survival rate for Osteosarcoma is only 3 percent.
Fred was overcome with fear. His body temperature shot up; his heart pounded so hard that it felt as it would burst from his chest, and he felt every nerve ending painfully pulsate. The thoughts in his mind were scrambled, and then he said, “Is there anything you can do? Are there other treatments – experimental treatments, anything that could give her a better chance of beating the cancer?”
Dr. Hensley slightly moved his head from side to side, “I’m afraid not. You have good medical insurance, but they will not pay for more than the standard treatments. All we can really do at this point is try to make her as comfortable as possible. Thankfully, your insurance will pay for in-home Palliative Care.”
Fred asked, “What’s palliative care?”
Dr. Hensley explained, “It’s an in-home hospice. The insurance company will set up your house to accommodate Meagan’s needs as the cancer progresses. They will teach you how to administer the pain medication she will need, and a nurse will visit you twice a week to check on Meagan.”
Fred stood up and paced the room, “There has to be something out there, somewhere, something that can save my little girls life.”
Dr. Hensley hesitated, and then said, “There is a treatment down in Mexico that is getting good results. Their survival rate is above 30 percent.”
Fred’s attitude livens up, “Okay, so, what will it take to get Meagan down there for treatment. I’ll do anything if it might save her.”
“You do understand that it’s not a 100 percent guarantee, right? And then there is the cost for the procedure,” said Dr. Hensley.
Fred nodded his head, “Yes, I understand. What are we looking at? A hundred grand?”
Dr. Hensley informed Fred, “No. I’m afraid it’s much more than that. The procedure starts at $700,000, and could go up from there.”
Fred raised his voice, “Seven hundred thousand dollars? I could sell everything I own and can’t come up with that much money nor would I be able to get a loan for that much. So, if I cannot come up with the money, my daughter is guaranteed to die?” Fred became infuriated, “It’s all about money, isn’t it? Hospitals, the government, Big Pharma, no one really cares about human life. It’s all about the mighty dollar! Because I’m not rich, I have to sign my daughter’s death certificate? It will be my fault my daughter doesn’t get the chance to live because I’m not wealthy. That is complete bullshit!”
Fred reluctantly asked, “Without the treatment in Mexico, how much time does my daughter have remaining?”
“It depends on how aggressive the cancer is, and it’s obviously very aggressive since she hasn’t felt any pain or discomfort until the night she collapsed. Now, I’m just going to give an estimate from the cases I’ve seen over the years and say six months, maybe eight if the Chemo slows it down.”
The door to the office opens, and Meagan walks in. Not another word on the subject is spoken in front of her.
For the first couple weeks, Meagan didn’t show any signs of sickness, and she handled the Chemotherapy exceptionally well.
Four months later, it was mid-September, the pain was wearing Meagan down, and she stayed in bed most of the time. Fred took a leave of absence from work. He wanted to spend every moment with his daughter. The insurance company set up a bed in the living room – that way Fred could be with her at all times, and she was never out of his sight. The cancer progressed to the point that Fred had to help his daughter walk to the bathroom. He learned when to administer her medication. He became her caregiver, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He tried to stay cheerful at all times in front of her, but it was killing him inside watching Meagan dwindle away, and at night when she was asleep, he cried until there were no more tears. He prayed day and night, “God, please spare my daughter and heal her.”
Every day, Fred sat next to Meagan, and they talked about many subjects. He read books to her, and they watched movies. At some point during the day, Fred would take a short nap in a reclining chair not far from Meagan. As he slept, Meagan pulled out a journal that she hid under the mattress. In the journal, she drew pictures, wrote about her fondest memories growing up and the loving times she had with her mom and dad.
She wrote a letter to her dad,
“Daddy, I love you. I have loved you with all my heart for my entire life. You are my inspiration, my hero, and my best friend. When you read this, I will be with mom in Heaven. Please, don’t be sad for too long. Be happy that she and I are together, and one day, we will all be reunited. Live your life, Daddy. Do great things. Experience the things we talked about and planned on doing together. I want you to tell me all about them when you come to Heaven. It hurts my heart badly as I write this knowing that you are alone right now, sad, and in pain. Please, don’t be. I am so happy that I got to live for the time I did. I couldn’t have asked for anything better in a father, or mother. You filled my life with non-stop happiness, and most of all, love. Take care of yourself, Daddy. As I lie here, I worry about you. I worry about if you are going to be okay. I love you so much, Daddy. I can’t even find the words to tell you how much I love you. Just know this, if I had to choose one father in the entire world, I would have chosen you.”
The morning of December 16th, Fred woke up and walked over to check on Meagan. She was breathing slow and hard with shallow breaths. He placed his hand on top of hers and rubbed her head. He softly said, “Meagan, Baby Girl. Meagan.” She was unresponsive. Absolute fear overcame him, “Oh no… no… no… oh, my god.” He rushed to the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of liquid morphine and a syringe. He knew she was in pain. Fred inserted the syringe into her mouth and pushed the morphine inside her cheeks. He pulled a chair to her side and held her hand. He softly spoke, “Baby Girl, I’m right here with you. I love you.” He continued repeating, “I love you. I’m here with you. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Her breathing continued to slow down. An hour later, Meagan was gone. Fred leaned over the bed and held her. He kissed her forehead. He kept his composure long enough to call the palliative care nurse who would come out to the house to pronounce her dead and call the mortuary. When he hung up the phone, Fred fell to his knees. He yelled out a blood curdling, “Noooooooo!” Unstoppable tears poured out in a steady stream until his eyes burned and were bright red. He hyperventilated and vomited onto the floor, and as he waited for the nurse, he stared at Meagan’s lifeless body. He knew it would be the last time he would ever see her. He looked upward, and cursed, “God, I hate you.”
Six months after he laid his daughter to rest, Fred sold his house. He had to because of the memories that haunted him in the house that was once full of love, had become a tomb. When he bought the bar, some people thought it was demented since his wife was killed by a drunk driver. However, there was a method to his madness. Fred no longer wanted any part of who he was in his past life and started going by the name Red. One thing he did do after opening the bar was never to let someone leave the bar intoxicated. Anyone intoxicated that wanted to leave had one of two choices. Either they allowed him to call a cab or he would call the police and report the person before they got the keys in the ignition. This caused many fights between Red and irate customers, but then Red gained a reputation as a big man that felt no physical pain. He had become numb to feeling anything. After his daughter’s death, Red was filled with anger, an anger that never subsided.
A few blocks from the bar, out in the cold, Raphael slowly walks the snow-covered sidewalk on the opposite side of the street of the bar. As he passes each window and doorway, he listens inside for a sign to the thing he seeks on his quest. He sees the blinking neon sign for Red’s Tavern down the street. When he reaches the doorway of an abandoned building with the windows boarded up, he stops. Something is not right. He senses fear inside. He sniffs the air and listens closer. Unable to see inside, his eyes roll backward, and they turn solid white. Raphael can feel what is inside the abandoned building. There are two boys inside. Eddie, a 21-year-old of Italian descent is a tall and muscular loud mouth kid with short black hair. Jason, 17-years-old of Irish descent – average height, skinny with short spiked up blond hair. And a female, Melody, 17-years-old, Caucasian, petite with long curly brown hair.
Eddie and Jason have lived in Brooklyn all their lives. Melody was born and raised in a small town in Wisconsin. Six months ago, Melody was at home going to high school. She is a quiet girl that keeps to herself and has excellent grades in school. She attended church every Sunday with her parents and loves God. She met a boy named Brad, and they started dating. Her parents didn’t approve of Brad. They didn’t feel he was right for her or her future and forbid her from seeing him. Brad convinced Melody that he could get work in New York and they could be together always. She loved Brad and believed him. One day, she emptied her savings account of five thousand dollars, and in the middle of the night, she ran away with Brad to New York driving in his beat up old truck. Brad lied to her. He used Melody for her money, and once they reached Brooklyn, he took her money and left while she was in the restroom at a restaurant where they ate breakfast. She was left penniless and too afraid to call her parents. She couldn’t even pay for the meal they ate, and when the restaurant was calling the police, she ran out the door. Melody roamed the streets for a few days, digging in trash cans for food and sleeping under cardboard boxes in alleyways.
After a few days on the street, Jason saw her begging for money and started talking to her. He took her to an abandoned building and told her she could stay there to get out of the cold and stay fairly warm. He told her that there she would be safe, and he brought her food after he got out of school. Christmas was approaching, and all she wants is to go home. Every night she prays to God asking him to save her. She wants to go home but is afraid that her parents are so mad that they would throw her out on the street.
Back in Wisconsin, Melody’s parents are devastated. Her mother, Alice, cannot function and has to be medicated. The anxiety in her father, Paul, is so severe that he can barely breathe as his body trembles while placing missing person ads on the Internet searching for his daughter. Neither can go to work, and their income is suffering. The only time he sleeps is when his body shuts down; he will destroy himself to find his precious little girl.
Raphael is troubled when he hears screaming coming from inside the abandoned building. His eyes roll forward, and the solid white disappears.
Inside the abandoned building, the room is basically empty with graffiti covering the walls. There is a torn mattress on the floor with a few blankets that have rat eaten holes in them. The room is lit by a few candles placed on top of a wooden crate.
Eddie pushes Melody onto the mattress and uses his body to hold her down. He clutches her hands above her head, and his grip is so tight that her wrists are bruising.
“Get off of me!” yells Melody.
He tries to kiss her on the lips, but she evades him by shifting her head to the side, but he licks the entire side of her face with his tongue. She’s afraid to fight him because he’s strong and could seriously hurt her. However, she struggles trying to break free of his restraint.
“Stop! Leave me alone!” She screams, “Help… Help!”
Eddie rips off a corner of a blanket with one hand while handing both her wrists with the other and shoves the piece of fabric into Melody’s mouth to silence her. The blood vessels in her eyes burst as she gasps for air with tears pouring out and flowing like waterfalls down the sides of her face. Eddie demands, “Jason, get over here and help hold her down.”
Jason, standing a few feet away, steps backward. He doesn’t say anything.
“Get over here, man, and help me out,” Eddie says with his head turned to look at Jason. You said she’s beautiful. You like her. This is a freebie, man. Let’s do her, no one will know. What’s she gonna’ do, go to the cops?”
Jason backs further away toward a corner of the room close to the doorway without a door. He mumbles, “Eddie, this isn’t right, man. I think you should stop.” He wants Eddie to stop the assault on Melody, but he too is afraid of him. Eddie has a short fuse, triggered easily, and can become violent. He has no fear and has beaten up and injured many people. That’s why Jason hangs out with him – for protection in the rough neighborhood.
Eddie becomes infuriated, “Jason, you fucking wimp! Fine, just stand there and watch, you pussy!”
While holding Melody’s wrists above her head with one hand, Eddie reaches down between them, unbuttons her pants and forcefully pulls them off her one leg at a time. He rips her panties from her body, cutting into her flesh, and lifting her several inches off the mattress. Melody struggles and squirms trying to break free from his restraint. Jason hears Melody’s muffled screams filtering through the fabric in her mouth. He’s frightened and closes his eyes.
Eddie clumsily fumbles around to unzip his pants and pushes them to his ankles as Melody thrashes around. Jason, with his head hung low, hears the barely legible, muffled words coming from Melody, “Please, God, help me.” She repeats the words as her entire being is subjected to the horror of rape in progress.
There is a moment of clarity when Melody realizes her right leg is between Eddies. With all her strength, she thrust it upward and makes contact with his genitals.
The immediate pain forces Eddie onto his knees. His teeth grit and his face turns bright red. He shouts, “You fuckin’ bitch! I’m gonna to enjoy hurting you. I’m gonna split your ass wide open.” With his right hand, he makes a fist and punches the side of her head, knocking her unconscious. Eddie lifts up her shirts and pulls her bra down. He roughly squeezes her breast, and says, “That’s more like it. You want it rough? I’ll give it to you rough, bitch.”
Outside the doorway to the next room, glowing iridescent green eyes appear and watch as the large ominous figure lurks motionless in the shadows.
Jason is standing next to a wall a few feet away from the doorway. His body is trembling, and his eyes are closed. He doesn’t see the tall figure dressed in black quietly enter the room. Eddie doesn’t see him because he’s facing the other direction.
Raphael stands still. He turns his head toward Jason. He takes a few steps and looks down at the boy. Jason opens his eyes and looks upward into Raphael’s face. Jason is terrified and soaks the front of his pants with urine.
Raphael brings his right hand to his face and places his index finger against his lips. He exhales; a blue mist blows around his finger, “Shhhhhh.” Raphael reaches out with his other hand and touches the boy. Jason’s legs give out, and he falls to the floor.
Eddie is startled by the thud sound of Jason falling to the floor, and he shouts “What the fuck!” He turns his head around to see what happened. Eddie sees Raphael and leaps to his feet pulling his pants up. He puffs out his chest trying to appear intimidating, and says in a disgruntled tone of voice, “Who the hell are you, man? What are you doing here? What the hell?”
Raphael doesn’t talk for conversation – he speaks directly to make his point. “Hell? No Hell,” says Raphael in a deep yet subtle tone of voice, “No Hell for you.”
Eddie lunges toward Raphael, and shouts, “Get ready for pain! I’m going to kick your ass!”
Raphael raises his left arm with his palm open facing Eddie. The palm of his hand begins to glow a fire ice blue and a light blue mist swirls around it. He places the index finger on his right hand to his lips, “Shhhhhh.”
Eddie is swiftly lifted off the ground and thrust backward by something unseen, slamming him into the wall and breaking the rotting drywall.
Raphael walks to the mattress where Melody lays unconscious. He gets down on both knees next to her. Raphael reaches down to the bottom of the bed and picks up her pants from the floor. He gently puts her clothes back on her mostly naked body. He puts his left hand on her head. The light blue mist comes out from under his hand. Raphael tilts his head upward, and his eyes roll backward, turning solid white. He speaks, “You are a child of our God, Yahweh, and our mother, Sophia. I take away your memory of this night and the horror that has been inflicted upon you against your will. Your body is now cleansed and healed. The time has come for you to go home, child.” Raphael’s eyes return to normal.
He stands up and walks to where Jason is on his knees frozen in fear. Raphael speaks, “Rise up.” Jason doesn’t hesitate and quickly stands up. Raphael towers over him. He reaches out and places his hand on Jason’s forehead. Raphael can see inside a person’s heart and soul. He speaks, “You did nothing to save a human in need, but you wished no harm to her. By the good grace of our Lord, you are granted a chance for redemption. You will carry the female out of this place, never to return. This night, you will find another human to help her.”
Raphael removes his hand from Jason’s forehead. He points to Melody and then the door. He speaks, “Go. Go now. You are not to see what comes next.”
Jason hurries over to Melody. He’s a weak boy but musters up enough strength to put his arms under Melody and pick her up. Cradling her in his arms, he hurries to the door. Before exiting, he stops and turns around, and says, “Thank you.”
Raphael simply replies, “Go.”
Raphael walks to where Eddie is sitting with his back against the wall. He reaches down with one hand, grabs Eddie by the front of his shirt. Fear is in Eddie’s eyes. In one swift move, Raphael roars, “Aarrrrrr!” as he lifts Eddie over his head and slams him onto the floor. His spine breaks upon impact and blood spurts from his mouth.
Raphael leans down onto one knee next to Eddie who is lying on his back. Raphael tilts his head with a probing look on his face and then puts his hand on Eddie’s forehead.
In excruciating pain, Eddie moans, “Help me, please. I can’t feel my legs.”
With his hand still on Eddie’s forehead, Raphael brings his other hand to his face and puts his finger to his lips, “Shhhhhh.”
Eddie moans again, “Help me, please.”
Raphael speaks, “Your soul is rotten and worthless. You were created for destruction.”
“Come on, man. I’ve done nothing to you,” Eddie pleads, “Help me get to a hospital. Call an ambulance or something. I’m in very bad pain. Don’t hurt me anymore. I don’t want to die.”
Raphael cares not for anything Eddie has to say. His words are meaningless.
Eddie feels heat emitting from Raphael’s hand that is on his forehead. Raphael tilts his head upward toward the sky, and the pupil’s of his eyes disappear. Eddie watches in horror and cries, “What’s happening! What are you doing? God, help me!”
Raphael speaks, “God cannot hear you. I, Raphael of the Celestial Hierarchy, one of the sixteen Archangels, with the authority of our Lord, Yahweh, sentence you to extinction. Your soul will now cease to exist.”
Raphael’s hand, held to Eddie’s head, glows and increasingly gets brighter. The room is filled with a blinding blue light and a loud humming sound. Blue rays of light shoot through the cracks of the boards covering the windows and project outside to the empty street.
Eddie screams, “Aaaaaaahhhhhhh” His body begins to wrinkle and shrivel up like a prune in the desert heat. He lets out one last high pitched scream before all his bones crack and internal organs collapse. Streams of red mist rising upward come out of Eddie’s body, twirling in the air and intermixing with the blue mist as the insides of a living creature vaporize into nothingness. The humming sound becomes increasingly louder. After a few seconds, all that remains is a flat flesh carcass. The fire ice blue glow from Raphael’s hand and the loud hum immediately disappear, and the room is deafening silent. He stands up and walks to the door. Before exiting, Raphael puts his finger to his lips. He exhales, “Shhhhhh.” A blue mist comes out of his mouth and goes around his finger. Behind him, the flesh that was once Eddie burst into flames and burns until nothing remains but ashes.
It’s an hour before midnight. In Wisconsin, Melody’s parents, Alice and Paul, are in their quiet living room. There is a Christmas tree strung with silver tinsel and strings of twinkling lights by the front room windows that can be seen from the street. Underneath the tree are gift-wrapped presents; many of them have Melody’s name on them. A night that should be full of joy is filled with worry and sadness for them. Paul stands at a window next to the tree blankly staring out at the cold as snow falls from the sky. Alice walks up from behind and puts her arm around him. Paul says, “She’s out there somewhere. I hope she’s safe and warm.” Alice reaches down and holds his hand. He turns to look at her. A tear drips down his cheek. Alice says, “Let’s pray for her safety and ask God to bring our daughter home.”
Jason struggles to walk through the snow with Melody in his arms. He can’t hold her any longer. He sees the neon sign in the window of Red’s Tavern that flashes “Open.” He knows he won’t make it across the street without dropping Melody into the snow. He lays her on a bench under a street lamppost next to a broken pay phone. Jason uses all the energy he has remaining to get across the street, and bursts through the door of the tavern.
Red shouts, “Get out of here, kid!”
Jason, panting hard, trying to catch his breath, says, “I need help.”
Red doesn’t care in the slightest and he grunts, “Use the pay phone across the street and call the cops.”
Jason, bent over with his hands on his knees, looks up, and forces the words out, “Sir, there’s a girl across the street. She’s unconscious and homeless. Someone tried to rape her.”
Red comes out from behind the bar and looks out the window. He sees young Melody on the bench. Red rushes out the door, almost breaking it off the hinges and runs across the street. He takes off his shirt and wraps it around Melody, picks her up in his arms, and hurries back to the bar. The bums in the bar stop what they are doing and take off their coats to make a soft pad on top of a pool table. Red lays her on the table. He turns to John, and says, “Watch her for a moment while I run upstairs and get some blankets.”
Red quickly returns with the blankets and a new shirt for himself; he puts the blankets over Melody. He notices the resemblance between her and Meagan. He gets an ill feeling in his stomach.
He asks Jason, “Do you know her name?”
Jason nervously answers, “Yes, her name is Melody.
Red has more questions, and asks, “Where is she from? Do you know?”
Jason replies, “All I know is she’s a runaway from Wisconsin. She has no money and has been staying in the abandoned building down the street. A guy tried to rape her, but he’s gone now. I pretty sure no one will find him or see him again.”
Red can’t help but to stare at Melody; she reminds him of his daughter Meagan, and he thinks that somewhere her parents are in misery worried about her. He remembers how incredibly painful it is to worry about a child. At that moment, something changes inside Red. He feels warmth in his heart that he had long forgotten.
Melody groans and her eyes open. Red smiles, and says, “Well, hello darlin’. Welcome back to the living. Don’t be afraid. You are safe and among friends.”
She tries to sit up. Red says, “Allow me to help you.” He puts his hand on her back and lifts her upright.
Melody is dazed and confused, she asks, “Where am I? How did I get here?”
Concerned for her mental state after an attempted rape and homeless, Red says, “You are in my tavern. A boy named Jason brought you here. You were unconscious. Do you hurt anywhere? What was the last thing you remember?”
Melody’s eyes shift from side to side as she tries to recall her last memories. She says, “No, I don’t hurt anywhere. Actually, I feel really good. The last thing I remember, I was trying to get warm in the abandoned building where I’ve been staying. I was hungry. I was praying to God to find me a way home. I was praying that my parents would forgive me for what I had done. It’s Christmas Eve, and I just want to go home to my family.” Her expression shows great sadness.
She doesn’t seem to remember an attempted rape, so Red decides not to bring it up. He asks, “Are you hungry?”
Melody rubs her stomach, “I’m starving.”
Red grins, “Let’s get you off this hard table and into a nice comfy booth.” He holds out his hand to help her. She smiles and takes his hand as she leans forward to hop off the pool table. Red wraps a blanket around her and escorts her to a large booth with a table next to a wall across from the bar. He scurries behind the bar, fills a glass with water and quickly makes a cup of hot chocolate. He turns on the radio and finds a channel with Christmas music and then brings Melody the water and hot chocolate.
Melody clasps the warm cup in her hands and takes a sip. She grins, and says, “Ahhhh, this tastes so good.” She takes another sip and realizes she had forgotten the simple pleasures of life, and the warm cocoa with melted whip cream reminds her of cold winter days with her mother and father. Holding the cup, she says, “Thank you…. I don’t know your name.”
“I’m known as Red around here, but you can call me Fred, that’s my real name.”
Melody holds her hand out to shake his, “Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Fred.”
Jason is standing far off to the side of the bar away from all the people. He feels that Melody is in good hands and that they will take care of her. The feeling of guilt inside for not helping her when she was getting assaulted by Eddie is eating him up inside. While all focus is on Melody, he sneaks out the front door. Once he’s outside in the cold, he sees Raphael across the street standing under a flickering lamppost. Jason runs away as fast as he can.
“So, where are you from? Where is home?” asks Red.
Melody smiles as memories from her hometown enter her mind, she tells Red, “I doubt you’ve heard of the place. It a small town in Wisconsin called Chippewa Falls.”
Red straightens up sitting tall and smiles, “I know Chippewa Falls.” He has a happy grin on his face, “I took my wife and daughter there on a trip one spring. There is much natural beauty and local charm there; a wonderful town.”
Melody nods her head, “Yes it is. I don’t know why I would ever want to leave there. I guess I had to see for myself just how rough and ugly the big city can be to appreciate home.”
Red quickly changes the subject, “I know you are hungry. I’m going to run upstairs and make you some food. Will you be okay for a few minutes?”
Melody happily replies, “Oh… that would be wonderful. I am famished. My tummy is grumbling.”
Red stands up from the table. He looks around the room, and then says, “John.” It’s the only name he knows out of all the people in the bar. “John, can you please come sit with Melody while I run upstairs to make her some food?”
John walks over to the table, “Absolutely. It will be my pleasure.”
Red hurries upstairs. He flings open the freezer door and rummages through the boxed meals. He finds a chicken pot pie, “Perfect!” He tosses it in the microwave oven.
Twenty minutes later, Red returns downstairs with a plate that has a hot pot pie and a buttered roll. Melody is very happy and thankful. She hasn’t had a hot meal in weeks. She says with a smile, “Thank you, Fred. You have made Christmas Eve so very, very special for me. I can’t thank you enough. This is much better than being hungry, cold, and alone in an abandoned building.”
Melody shovels the warm food into her mouth. Red grins from ear to ear and his eyes twinkle, “Melody, I have one question I’d like to ask you.”
She is not unnerved or frightened by what he might ask. He’s been exceptionally nice and hospitable. She says, “What would you like to ask?”
“Do you feel that you might be up to traveling tonight?”
She’s bewildered by the question, but replies, “I suppose so.”
Red smiles and nods his head once up and down, “Good.” He explains, “A cab is going to pick you up here in about 20 minutes. There is a plane ticket waiting for you at JFK. A man will meet you at the cab and escort you through the airport. By morning, you’ll be landing at Chippewa Regional Airport were a cab will be waiting to drive you home. I’ve paid for everything.”
Tears pour out of Melody’s eyes. Her lips quiver and words stutter as she speaks, “Oh my. You are an angel. You are the answer to my prayers. How can I ever repay your kindness?”
Red stands up, “Hold on. That reminds me.” He walks to bar, and behind the counter, he opens the register drawer and takes out all the money. He returns to the booth and sits back down. He reaches across the table with his hand full of cash and hands Melody $2,500 in one hundred dollar bills, twenties, tens, and ones.
Melody stares at the money, and says, “I can’t take this.”
Red grins. There is a small tear in the corner of his eye, “Yes you can, and you will; I insist. Merry Christmas, Melody.”
Melody leaps up from her seat and throws her arms around Red. She kisses his cheek, and cries, “You are truly a godsend.”
A few minutes later, a cab pulls up to the front door.
Red says, “Your ride is here.” He walks Melody outside and opens the door to the cab. Before getting inside, Melody hugs Red one more time. Her soft voice says, “Thank you.”
Red whispers in her ear, “You don’t need to thank me. Just go home and live life to its fullest. Be good. Be special. Do great things and love with all your heart.”
Through the tears, she says, “I will, Fred. I will. I promise you.”
Red stands in the snow, waving as he watches the cab drive away. The bums inside the bar watch as well.
When the cab can no longer be seen, Red walks inside, and without a word spoken, he goes behind the bar.
He walks back inside, picks up the phone, and dials, “Hello, I would like to have three dozen pizzas with everything on them delivered to Red’s Tavern. Do you have chicken wings? Great! I’ll also take two dozen orders of those as well. You have my card on file. Twenty minutes? Wonderful. Thank you.”
Red starts putting glasses on the counter and begins filling them. He shouts, “No one pays for drinks the rest of the night. I ordered food for everyone, and it’s on the house. Also, I insist that you all stay the night here in the bar. It’s Christmas Eve, and it would make me happy if you didn’t go outside into the cold. I would also like to get to know all of you by name.” He raises a glass filled with whiskey into the air, “Merry Christmas, everyone!”
A few hours later, Red has gathered anything that can be used as a blanket and covers the bums in the bar that have all found places to lie down and sleep. He walks to the front door to lock it and turn off the neon “open” sign. As he reaches up to pull the cord on the sign, he decides to leave it on and unlocks the door just in case there is anyone else that needs to come in out of the cold. He walks up the stairs to his cluttered room. Only a lamp by the window lights the room. He walks over to turn it off when he sees Meagan’s journal collecting dust on a shelf. He picks up the journal and blows the dust off. Holding the journal, he closes his eyes and bows his head, “Father in Heaven, I ask for your forgiveness. I’ve been a horrible person. I’ve cursed at you for taking my wife and daughter. Forgive me. I know now that it was not your fault. Bad things happen here on Earth that no one can control. Protect Melody on her way home and watch over the forsaken men downstairs. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”
He opens his eyes and turns to walk toward his bed. He’s startled by a large man in black standing in his doorway.
“Don’t be frightened,” speaks Raphael.
“Who are you?” asks Red. “Do you need food or shelter? You are welcome here.”
“No, Frederick. I am in need of nothing.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Frederick, I have known your name since before you were born. My name is Raphael. I am an Archangel sent from Heaven on a mission for our Lord, Yahweh. Tonight, I witnessed you demonstrate acts of unconditional love, kindness, and self-sacrifice toward other humans. I must retrieve something vital to take back to Heaven. Please sit.”
Fred sits on the recliner chair, and Raphael pulls a table over to Fred and sits in front of him.
Raphael speaks, “Frederick, due to your acts of love, I can offer you something in return, but it must be your free-will that decides.”
Fred responds, “Like what? Riches? A better life? A new wife and daughter? No thanks, I’ll pass.”
Raphael tilts his head and blankly stares at Fred. He speaks, “No, Frederick. Release your resentment and free your heart. What has been done cannot be undone. However, there are two options for you to choose from. Do you want to stay on Earth, continuing to live in misery or would you like to end your suffering and I send you home to be reunited with your wife and daughter?”
Tears pour out of Fred’s eyes. He sobs, “My wife and daughter are in Heaven?”
Raphael speaks, “Yes, they are. They are happy and waiting for you. For you, Earth time moves slowly – For them, it’s just the blink of an eye.”
Fred smiles and his heart overflows with joy. He sobs, “I think about them every moment of every single day. All my love resides in Catharine and Meagan, and my heart has been in constant agony since they’ve gone. I love them more than my own life – I always have. There’s nothing more for me here. There hasn’t been since they passed away. Well, except for helping the young girl tonight and doing what I could for the homeless. So, please, if you can take me to them, I’d happily die to be with them again.”
Raphael speaks, “Then it is time to end your suffering and take you home to be reunited with Catharine and Meagan.”
Excited, relieved, and nervous, Fred asks, “Will it hurt?”
Raphael speaks, “No pain. All you will feel is warmth and comfort. Our mother, Sophia, will cradle you in her arms. You will not die. You will only perish from this place and be reborn.”
Fred takes a deep breath and slowly exhales, “Okay, I’m ready.”
Raphael stands and positions himself facing the right side of Fred. He extends his left hand and places it on Fred’s forehead. Raphael tilts his head up toward the sky, and his eyes turn solid white. He brings his right hand to his face and presses his index finger to his lips. He exhales a long breath that lasts for over a minute, and the blue mist flows out of his mouth and around his finger. The entire room fills with the light blue mist, the essence of mother Sophia.
His left hand begins glowing fire ice blue and continues to increase in brightness. The blue glow pulsates and fills the room with a blinding light that can be seen miles away on the outside. It cannot be seen by human eyes, but the angels roaming the area see it and stop what they are doing. The angels know what is taking place and get on one knee.
A loud humming sound swirls through the room, but cannot be heard by the bums downstairs.
Raphael speaks in the language of angels, “Shiena modrea kahla neakta.”
A golden yellow glow encases Fred’s body. The glow pulsates as it gets brighter. There is a smile on Fred’s face – one of pure joy. A blinding white flash of light bursts over Fred, and then instantly, the blue glow and mist are gone. The room is silent and dimly lit except for the low hum of the yellow and orange ball of energy hovering over Fred’s lifeless body.
The glowing ball is Fred’s life-force, his soul, and pure energy of love. It is the one thing that only an angel can hold which Yahweh spoke of before Raphael departed from Heaven. Raphael reaches out and grabs it with his right hand. He has achieved his quest and will return to Heaven with it as requested by Yahweh. He walks out of the room, down the stairs, and out the front door unnoticed.
When he steps out into the cold, another figure dressed in black with long black hair sitting on the bench across the street under a lamppost with a flickering light, loudly claps his hands.
“Bravo, brother, you found an example of unconditional love to take back to Daddy. I’m honestly happy for you,” smirks Samael.
Raphael walks across the street to face him, and speaks, “Why are you here, Samael? I am not like most of the other Archangels. I will not hesitate to go to battle with you. In fact, It would be a great pleasure ending your existence.”
“Harness your hostility, brother,” chuckles Samael. “I didn’t come here to interfere or harass you. Actually, I honestly want to congratulate you for finding an example of unconditional love, and exterminating that worthless rapist human. I’m impressed with how you destroyed him. His obliteration was exquisite. And you, brother, think I have a demented spirit? However, I’m not sure how Dad is going to feel about you making that decision on your own. It’s against the law for an Angel to take a human life, but hey, we all make mistakes. Right?”
Raphael speaks, “Be gone, Samael. I have no patience for you.”
Raphael turns around and walks down the snow-covered sidewalk and disappears into the shadows.
Samael shakes his head and laughs, “Nice talking to you too, brother.”
Christmas morning, approximately 10 am in Wisconsin, Alice and Paul sit quietly in their front room drinking coffee. The lights on the Christmas tree are blinking, and the snow is falling outside. Paul flips through a photo album viewing pictures of past Christmas’ with Melody. Her smiling face saddens him even more than he is already. Their hearts are broken into pieces, and they cannot suppress the fear and worry.
Paul hears a car pull up outside the house and then a door opening and closing. He gets up off the couch and walks to the window. He thinks he’s dreaming when he sees Melody standing on the sidewalk. Paul shouts, “Melody! Alice, Melody’s home!” They rush out the door. Paul runs to Melody with a huge smile on his face, hugs her, picks her up off the ground and spins in circles. He sets her down. Melody, with tears flowing down her cheeks, says, “I’m sorry mom and dad. Please, forgive me.”
Alice tightly hugs Melody, her voice shakes, “There’s nothing to forgive, Honey. You can do no wrong in our eyes. We are just so thankful that you are alive and home where you are safe.”
With their arms around each other, they walk back to the house where it is warm inside to celebrate a truly wondrous Christmas where the best gift is the answer to their prayers.
Melody turns her head in both directions to look at her parents who are happier than they’ve ever been, and she says, “I must tell you about this man, my guardian angel that got me home.”