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(No, no apostrophe. It's a whole sentence.)

Dreamed 1995/10/9 by Chris Wayan


In San Francisco, a big downtown university hosts a regional conference for high-level guardian angels, the kind who guard whole communities and states, not individuals. This year's keynote speaker, God, announces the new spiritual budget. Every angel gets a truckload of stuff for its community--grace, luck, ideas, dreams--loaded on open carts like mining-train cars. They rest in the lobby. Unguarded, of course--guardian angels don't steal! Dream: profile of a skinny guy's face, with glasses. He looks guilty--with good reason.

Or do they? An angel from the Deep South sneaks out and rummages through one of the cars. A tall gangly man, this angel, with black body-language and accent, but white skin. The guardian of a poor Appalachian region. Wow, a white-trash angel!

He moves all the valuable stuff from one cart to another, leaving only the bulkiest items.

His victim comes out--a local angel, shorter, middle aged white guy with glasses, could be a professor at a California college. He immediately senses things are missing. Digs thru the cart for his community and finds half a million dollars worth of aid is missing--but worse, his personal baggage was in the cart too. His history with his wife and his son and even his dog--all stolen! The ones he loves won't know him--as if they'd never met. The aid package was nice, but his California coastal town was well off--they can do without the goodies. But the theft of his loves... fills him with rage.

Rather than reporting the crime, he goes after the other angel personally.

He goes to the other angel's home district and finds what he most loves and steals that relationship. Then, in the tunnelish lobby, by the trucks, he confronts the thief. Who has a novel defense:

"You just think it's me 'cause I'm black."

"What? You're WHITE, you idiot! You just talk black. Quit the act." Doesn't even ask why he did it--assumes it's just because his community is so poor, in such pain. But to steal another's love... "Keep the subsidies, I don't care. But GIVE ME BACK MY DOG!" He doesn't ask for his wife and child--they go without saying? Or does he sort of relish winning his wife over again from scratch? But that poor bewildered dog...

The poor angel drawls "Make me. I know you. You won't go publicizin' your problems or snitchin' to God like a schoolboy."

"I have your relationship with your son!"

The Southern angel freezes and then slowly, poisonously says "All right. Your relationships. But not the money."

"You can keep it-- if you can escape with it. But I'll do my best to prove it was you." They part, faces hard as handguns.


Their hatred festers until they set up a duel. Each one will pray to his patron deity (God, the Devil?) for one wish. They'll see who wins. It doesn't matter which god is more powerful--ANYONE can grant wishes! Miracles are no proof of superiority--even the large-scale prayers of archangels are no big deal to grant. It's WHAT you pray for, and how that interacts with your enemy's wish.

The California professor angel goes to find God. He's under a freeway overpass, incarnated as a bum, looking through a dumpster. "Look! A gum wrapper! How beautiful!" Very distractable, is God. But the angel has thought out his plan. He asks for a delay of sunset in one eye--that is, the left eye will see the sun just squat on the horizon like a bird on its eggs, for a full half an hour. The other eye will see sunset and dusk... Or is it ears? Big, round, Mickey Mouse ears. They are what cause eclipses. He chants "One is the sun, and the other, we call the moooooon..."

Well, the wish was clear to God and the angel, and that's all that counts.

God is so amiable! A little hard of hearing--or is that from the prayer, from messing with his own big Mickey Mouse ears? Lots of traffic noise down here too. The angel must speak up, but once he gets God's attention, he's all ears--so to speak.

I have no idea how this will work out--what's the other angel getting from the Devil? How will their wishes mix?


God or the conference bureaucracy finally sends an angelic inspector to unravel the problem. I talk with her a long time--she's cute as well as smart. I assumed she just flew in for the conference, like most, but she lives in town, in a dorm--she's going to night school for at least a semester, even if she wraps up the case early. Heaven knows, cases against angels aren't built in a day. There's a housing shortage, so she's camping on a friend's floor.

This angel limps. A dog bit her on the leg, it's inflamed. She shrugs "I always get dog bites"--the way others say "I always react to flea bites." The dog isn't rabid--though it's a stray that attached itself to the dorm. Something about her story nags me... Only later do I recall that the thief took a dog's memories. This could be it--the amnesic dog's trying to get the inspector's attention, trying to get home! Have to tell her next time I see her. And I plan to make that soon.


Predawn. The Southerner sets a trap for the investigator. The big trucks are about ready to move out, with this year's shipment--over a thousand tons of answered prayers. The tall man slips around a truck and finds a driver alone... and garrotes him! Ties the wire to the side view mirror, leaves the dead man standing. Soon his co-pilot, a short woman, comes round the corner looking for him--why isn't the engine on? Should warm it up... She finds him all blotchy and horrible.

The murdered man looked a lot like the Southern angel. Was it done so he could impersonate the guy? No, he let the corpse be found right away. It's bait.

The inspector comes right away. She follows the karmic trail, right into the truck, up a slick spout or funnel, into a huge intricate maze of pipes and chambers, all cozier to an angel than the head of a pin. I'm afraid the Southerner will be waiting to kill her. She's brave, though, I admire her for that--no hesitation. Dream: A scorched, scowling angel sits next to a trucker in his cab. He looks guilty--with good reason.

For me, the biggest shock is that an archangel would casually kill. Stealing for his community, I could sympathize with, if not justify. But murder?


The Investigator goes into the machinery and calls out "Well? Here I am." He doesn't answer. Goes out other end, slips around to the cab, and starts the truck engine with her inside! Even an angel can be killed by being ground up in a diesel engine. But she's smart enough to become instantly infinitesimal--she floats in the cloud of gas, enduring compression, heating, fire, explosive decompression... As long as she's mindful, she can stay alive in this portable hell.

But the Southerner may have had something subtler in mind than simple murder. Angels are distractable--remember God! And that was just a bright-colored gum wrapper. A complex, perfectly meshing machine can hypnotize an angel. He hopes to trap her mind in a fascinating esthetic loop! She may not even notice she's being crushed, set on fire, exploded...

But in the end, she whisks out the exhaust as a soot-speck, grows to Tinkerbell size and flutters like a scorched moth around to the front of the truck. She grows to a splotchy, dishevelled, scowling fullsized girl, and opens the cab door and climbs in. She sits alongside the killer, looking silently a long minute before she says "I tracked you here straight from one murder. You just tried to kill me. You've destroyed all chance of public sympathy for your position. You're through."

And he has nothing to say. He never dreamed she'd escape! Angels just aren't like this. Even God's not like this.

Merciless undistractability.




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