“Quite By Accident” Chapter 10

The Paperback Edition…

My bedroom walls are covered with black & white blow-up posters of all the places I would like to visit but will probably not…Paris, London, Gloucestershire, anywhere in Scotland and  Stockholm.

Did I mention that I am just a teeny bit claustrophobic?   Oh.  Well, now you know.  Otherwise normal…very normal.

I also have huge posters of every animal I have ever owned…except for the 4 goldfish I once bought at Sam’s Club.  They actually died before I could come up with exotic names for them…

“Hello, Emma,” I whispered to my sleeping cat…most beloved cat…

She looked up at me from her favorite resting spot…the top of my bed pillow…and smiled.

“Are you going to have your customary glass of red wine tonight, Tobey?” she asked.

Do you think it’s odd to talk for your  pet?  I mean…to give a voice for your pet?Or…perhaps even to have a conversation with your pet? 

Well here’s the deal. If you ever move into an apartment building that has a lot of senior citizens who have pets, you will find that it is not odd at all.  It’s normal…very, very normal.

And besides…if someone asks you a question, it would be rude not to answer…right?

I turned on my bathroom night-light and politely answered Emma’s question.

“Not tonight dearest, I am exhausted.”

I was only able to read for about ten minutes which really ticked me off since the book I was reading was so exciting.

But my eyes were starting to close so I put the book on my night stand, turned off the floor lamp by my bed and cursed because I had forgotten to turn off the hall light.

I dragged myself out of bed and padded down the hall, hit the switch off and cursed again since I was now in almost total darkness…having also forgotten to turn on my living room night-light.  Using the light from the courtyard I went over and turned it on.

I literally staggered back down the hall to my bedroom.

As I sat on the edge of my bed, I apologized to God for being so tired as I said my nightly prayers.

“Dear God.  I’m sorry.  Thank you.  Please help everyone.  Amen.”

I put my head down on the pillow and rolled over on my right side…then I rolled over to my left side…almost unconscious at this point… but then…I rolled back over to my right side…AND THEN…

..here we go…

 

 

 

 

 

“Quite By Accident” Chapter 11

The Paperback Edition…

I slowly pushed myself up to a sitting position, keeping my eyes glued to the black form in the corner of my bedroom.

Emma was sound asleep at the foot of my bed…nestled in ‘her’ Bradley Cooper tee shirt… (it’s too long a story to share right now)…so I nudged her just a little so she would wake up.  Nothing.  She didn’t move.

“Emma!” I whispered and tapped her lightly on her head.  “Wake Up!”

But she didn’t wake up.  She didn’t even move.  She was, as they say, ‘dead to the world’.

And then it quietly occurred to me that I wasn’t scared…not at all…not even a little bit…what the hell was going on?

I was, in fact, feeling a deep sense of calm.  Remember that ‘Zen’ feeling I mentioned earlier?  Like that.  Then.  It hit me.

“Holy Shit! I cried out loud.  “I’m fucking dead!”

I hadn’t even felt sick!  No one had even hinted that I was dying…

Of course sometimes…not often…not very often…I don’t always pay attention to every, single solitary word  that people are saying to me…but still…

“I cant believe this!!” I screamed.

“Dead at 24!  I had so many things left to do…. I’m pretty sure of that!”

“Bucket List!  My bucket list!  Crap.  I haven’t even made a bucket  list…”

I tapped Emma a wee bit harder on her head.

“Emma!  We’re dead!  We’re both dead!  Can you believe that?”

“I’m not dead.” said Emma…using…NOT MY  VOICE...

Things were starting to ratchet up a bit now…as my heart started to pound furiously…

Do dead hearts pound?  I don’t know…I DON’T KNOW!!!!!

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 12

The Paperback Edition…

I slowly drew my hand away from the little head of my ‘apparently not dead’ cat.

“So,” I whimpered, “It’s just me…I’m dead alone.”  My eyes started to burn.

But then, out of the corner of my now watery eye,  I noticed the black ‘whatever it was’…starting to sway a little and change its shape.

It looked like it was extending a hand out to me.

“OH NO!!  OMG!!  IT’S THE HAND OF DEATH.” I shrieked.

As the hand appeared to move closer, I shrank back against my pillow.  I felt like I should do something…like run somewhere to avoid this…death thing.  Could I…?  Should I…?

But, hey…I was not going to be the ‘classic dumb girl’ in those stupid horror movies.

You know the one I mean…the terrified girl who stupidly runs down the basement to hide…and then…to no one’s surprise…gets chopped into little pieces..

Does this building even have a basement?

“Noooo,” I whined loudly as the ‘hand’  moved even closer.

And then suddenly, Emma stood up, turned toward me and walked up my legs.

She put her two front paws on my shoulders.  We were totally eyeball to eyeball.

“Relax, Tobey.  It’s not death.  It’s one of your guardian angels.  It’s actually your main guardian angel.”

“And…by the way, the correct phrase is ‘the Hand of God’ not…’the hand of death.'”…said Jennifer Lawrence.

…since that is exactly who my cat Emma now sounded like…and…I noted…she had a slight Southern accent.

Emma then licked my nose, dropped her paws, turned around and walked back down my legs and again curled up at the foot of my bed…in ‘her’ Bradley Cooper tee-shirt.

“Not dead then…?” I asked in a trembly, squeaky voice.

“No,” said Emma…very firmly.

I exhaled loudly.  “Okay good!  Really good and great.”

“His name is Fred.  Like in Rogers.” said Emma.

“Oh, Jesus.” I mumbled under my breath.

“No…Fred.”

 

 

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 13

The Paperback Edition…

Fred?  What kind of weird-ass angel name is that, I thought to myself…when suddenly ‘Fred’ spoke.

“I know, right?  I would have preferred Mikko or Sebastian…but I’m not the…you know…’person’ in charge.”

Fred’s voice was thin, high and reedy…kind of like the author  Truman Capote…or…Phillip Seymour Hoffman…playing Truman Capote.

“And may I just point out,  so that we are perfectly clear…that… it is absolutely, unequivocally not my fault that you saw me tonight,” he said.

“I have been watching over you ever since you were born…for every one of your 24 years, day and night, night and day, through thick and thin, through wind and rain and sleet and snow…through sickness and other people’s deaths…even that date with Carl…what a complete dumbbell he was …what were you thinking there?…” continued Fred in a prickly, slightly complaining voice.

He paused as if to take a breath but no…of course…that could not possibly be…and then he went on…

“And you have NEVER, rolled back on your right side after you have rolled over to your left side…EVER!”  His voice was becoming a little edgy now.

Poor Fred.  He seemed really anxious and upset.  I was feeling kind of bad for him.

I, on the other hand, was actually becoming more and more relaxed.

Of course, realizing you are NOT dead after thinking you ARE dead can be extremely soothing…and apparently…it also made you hungry.

Hmmmm…I wonder if it’s not too late to order pizza from Pizza Pantry?…

 

 

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 14

The Paperback Edition…

“Pizza Pantry stopped delivering 22 minutes ago…it’s 1:22 a.n.” said Fred.

I looked over at the black shape…okay…”Fred”…and it hit me…well, maybe I’m not dead.  That was very good and very great…but maybe…I’m nuts?  Just maybe I’ve slipped a cog or two…

“You are perfectly sane, Tobey.  Don’t concern yourself with such nonsense.  If YOU had just not rolled over again…none of this would be happening.”

“So…what you are saying is…that this is ALL MY FAULT?” I said indignantly and I sat up straighter and…because it is such a habit with me…I fluffed my hair in the mirror hanging on the wall at the end of my bed…still a solid B+.

(I feel it’s important to see just what you look like first thing in the morning.  I know.  I know…let’s not go there right now.)

“Yes.  Of course it’s your fault.” Fred said, “It certainly isn’t MY fault.  I’ve been at this job for thousands of years…I don’t make mistakes.”

“I am, as the young folks say…a GOAT.”  Fred said proudly.  (Yes.  he actually said “young folks.”)

“Fine.  Whatever.  I am  just a mere mortal.  You are the great angel from on high.” I said sarcastically and rolled my eyes.

“Did you actually think that I could not see that?” said Fred.  “And, I don’t appreciate your sarcasm.”

Suddenly, Emma sat straight up and held up her right paw.  First she pointed it at Fred and then at me.

“Hold it…”  she said, again using that super unnerving Jennifer Lawrence voice.

“Stop bickering.  It is what it is.  Deal with it.  I need my sleep.”

As she was speaking, I unobtrusively brushed my hand against my lips…they were not moving.  Emma was talking again…all by herself.

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 15

The Paperback Edition…

I looked from my dear ‘talking cat’ Emma to Fred my ‘no longer invisible guardian angel’ and then let out a huge sigh.

This was crazy…maybe not really crazy, crazy, according to Fred but…you know…crazy nonetheless.  I mean…really…what was going on?

It appeared I had a talking cat…who was talking to my guardian angel named Fred…who also talked…and… and…my mind was spinning.

I glanced over at the clock on my night table.  Crap!  It was almost 2:00 a.m. and I had to be up at 7:00 to get ready for work.  I had the early shift at  The Book Shop tomorrow.

“No you don’t,” said the all-knowing Fred.

“Margo closed the shop because of the snow storm…remember?  She called earlier…just before ‘Housewives’ ended.”

“Oh, right, right,” I answered quickly, remembering and then thought to myself, does he know everything?

“Yes.  Yes, I do.” said Fred…and his voice sounded like he was smiling…if guardian angels can smile…that is.

“Well look,” I said in a very matter of fact manner, trying to remain calm, trying to wrap my mind around this completely nutso night.

“I don’t want to dismiss the importance of you,” I said as I nodded to Fred.

“Or you, Emma,” I said as I scratched my little cat under her chin.

“But…I do need to get some real sleep after this strange dream…so…good night, sleep tight all, sweet dreams…it’s been fun.”

And I quickly laid back down on my pillow…still not completely sure of my sanity…but giving it a try anyway.

“Not a dream,” Fred whispered very softly.  “Not a dream.”

I took a deep breath and then another and then closed my eyes.  After a few minutes, I ever so slowly opened them and peeked over my covers to the corner of my bedroom where Fred had been hanging out.

He was gone!!!!  Fred was gone!!!!  It was a dream!  I knew it!  Thank God!!!

“Shall I pass that on to Him in person?” asked Fred as he floated in from the hallway.

Fuck.

 

 

 

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 16

The Paperback Edition…

“WHY AREN’T YOU GONE?” I screamed as I sat bolt upright in bed and leaned towards him, hands waving in the air as if to make him go away.

“I never leave,” Fred said very calmly.   “You are my job until you die.  That’s the rule.  I don’t make the rules.  I just do what I am told.  I am an excellent obeyer of rules.”

I sighed, completely and utterly exasperated.

“But…but…I can’t have you just watching me,” I persisted.  “All…the…time.  It’s already bothering me…”

I decided to try the sympathy approach.  I’m sure a little wheedling will go a long way…  I’ve been told I can wheedle with the best of them.

“Stop wheedling.  It won’t work.  I have to watch you.  Watch OVER you is the correct term..to be precise.”

“You are going to drive me to drink!!”  I shouted at him and then thought…hey…what a great idea!

I slipped out of bed, being careful not to disturb the now very sound asleep Emma, flipped the hall overhead light switch on and trudged slowly toward my kitchen.

I knew there was an almost full bottle of Jim Beam in the cupboard that I occasionally used if I was having trouble getting to sleep.

It didn’t happen very often…but still…I had the bourbon just in case…and now seemed like a very appropriate time…very.

I reached up and took the bottle down from the shelf over the sink and then turned to open another cabinet to get a glass.

“JESUS CHRIST!!!!” I yelled and almost dropped the bottle of whiskey.

Fred was hovering right behind the breakfast bar…not two feet away from me!

“I’m sure He heard that…by the way.” Fred said with a hint of reproach in his voice.

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 17

The Paperback Edition…

“WHAT are you doing out HERE?” I cried.

“And what part of guardian ‘watch over you’ angel…do you not get exactly?” asked Fred with just a hint of snippiness in his voice.

“I ‘watch over you’ ALL the time.”

I pulled out the breakfast bar stool and started to sit down and paused a bit to give Fred a not so friendly but rather meaningful look.  He wisely drifted slightly away toward the patio door.  He seemed to sense I needed some space…and why wouldn’t he?

I opened the bottle of Jim Beam and pored a couple of inches into my glass.  I took a sip…it was AWFUL!

I got up and walked over and opened the freezer.  I scrounged around and found some ice cubes in a bowl and tossed them into my glass.  I returned to perch on the stool.

“Here’s to livin’ the dream…” I said and I raised my glass in a toast to Fred.  He swayed a little.  I nodded back.

“If I go to sleep tonight and wake up tomorrow…will I remember any of this?  Will you still be here?” I asked.

Fred didn’t say anything for a minute or two.  I sensed that he might be thinking…or  perhaps not…

But then he said, “I don’t know…and…definitely yes.”

I took a bigger sip. It wasn’t that bad now…with the ice.  I swirled it around a little.

“I’m not sure I can handle this,” I said hesitantly…and stared at the bourbon in my glass.

“Oh…you’ll be fine, Tobey.  You’re pretty tough.  You have to remember…I’ve seen you in action…during the good times and some very bad times…I’ve been with you your whole life.”

“…I hugged you when you cried…helped you create new swear word combinations when you were furiously angry…I tried to steer you away from people who were not good to you or good for you…and I even let little words of encouragement and love from your mom and dad seep into your subconscious when you were sleeping.”

“I even helped you get this job and this apartment.  I could go on but I don’t want to brag…too much.”  Fred swayed from side to side…obviously very proud of his accomplishments.

“Wow!  That’s awesome!!  And you didn’t need…like…permission to do all of that…right?”

“Oh, no,” Fred said confidently. “That fell totally under my job description.  I can do a LOT of stuff.”

My glass paused on its way to my mouth…brain now seriously engaged in full speculation mode…

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 18

The Paperback Edition…

“You can ‘do’ things?” I asked quickly.  Suddenly, I was no longer so sleepy.

“What kind of things?  Can you perform miracles?  Can you cure sick people?  Can you grant wishes from…from really deserving people?  Can you change things?”  I rattled off  my questions like machine gun fire .

Fred swayed back a little…

“Hey, hey!  Don’t get too excited, Tobey.   GA’s…if I may abbreviate…work in the background.  Think of us like agents…like the CIA or MI6…we have many powers but we also have limits.”

“Oh…” I said with considerable less enthusiasm.    “No miracles.  No magic.  No changing the world…right? ”

“Right.” answered Fred.

I thought for a few moments and then very hesitantly asked…

“Could you make it possible for a person as in…me…to visit Heaven to see Iris and Rain?  Just a short visit…or could you arrange it so they could  come down here?  Just for a few minutes?”   But even as I was asking…I already knew the answer.

Unwanted tears were forming in my eyes.  I missed them so much.

“No, Tobey, I can’t do that.”  Fred said softly and then I sensed a comforting warmth on my arms and back that made me feel less sad.  It was like a very loving hug.

“Is that what you do?  I asked Fred.

“That is what we do a lot.    And…sometimes…we add an extraordinary amount of a powerful  laxative to a very despicable and obnoxious boy’s cup of punch when he is being very unkind to one of our “people”.

“OMG!!!…do you mean Albert Simmons, my super creep date to the 11th grade Snow Dance? ”

“Precisely.” said Fred.

“He never lived down the embarrassment of that night.  He had to have his parents come to the dance to take him home…he couldn’t even drive.”

I chuckled…thinking of that night so long ago…Albert thought he was so cute and so charming and God’s gift to all girls…

“He had to go to a different school for his senior year…someplace where he wasn’t called  ‘Poopy.'”  I smiled broadly and then yawned.

I finished off the Jim Beam, looked at my kitchen clock and saw that it was almost 3:30 a.m.

“I have to go to bed, Fred.  I need to sleep.”

Imagine this, I thought…talking to my guardian angel at 3:30 in the morning…just like I would talk to my cat Emma…or even a real, live person.

“Sure, I understand.” said Fred as he floated across the living room and down the hall.

I followed behind, turning off the lights as we went…so abnormally normal.

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 19

The Paperback Edition…

Here’s a Snapchat cartoon of my brain at work…let’s make it animated…perhaps 3D…if that is possible…telling me what to do.  I, of course, am the main character.

I am to follow my guardian angel down my apartment hallway to my bedroom where I will get into my bed with my now ‘not so normal’ cat, Emma,.

I am to fall asleep and said guardian angel…now named Fred…will watch over me until I wake up tomorrow morning…

AND…he will continue to watch over me for the rest of my entire life.

AND…I will see him in action…or inaction…and no one else will.

AND…if I tell anyone, they will either lock me up…or send me somewhere with…you know…padded walls and there will be lots of very friendly people there smiling at me .

AND…FRED WILL BE THERE WITH ME!!!  WATCHING.  OVER.  ME…….FOR FUCKING EVER!!!!

OMG!!!!  I will never ever sleep again…

And yet…and yet…I suddenly feel strangely peaceful and calm as I climb into bed and  begin my normal “go to sleep” ritual.

First lying on my right side and then turning over to my left side where I fall asleep instantly…as I have done for 24 years.

“Tobey!!!  Wake up!!!  The fire alarm is going to go off in a couple of minutes.  You have to leave now.”