“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.”

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 20

The Paperback Edition…

My eyes flew open and I could hear Fred talking to me.  What did he mean?  The room wasn’t even smoky and there was no alarm…

      BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP 

Oh…there it was…my sleep-fogged brain was slow to function.  Gosh that’s loud, I thought.

I’m always shocked how loud the fire alarm is…we must have at least 2 false alarms a month…some people never learn how to cook…

But…now there was a smokey smell in my room!  No false alarm this time.

I shrugged on my slippers as I walked after Fred who was floating down my hallway and I followed him out the door into the apartment hall.  It was super smoky.  I’d never seen anything like this before…it was scary…

No one else was out there…just Fred wafting down the hall…almost blending into the smoke.

“This way,” said Fred.  He was leading me toward a foggy light at the end of the hallway.  WTF!…had I really died?  Was this the “light” that everyone keeps talking about when they die?  Was everything that had happened tonight just a ruse?

No, no of course not, I told myself.  It’s just the apartment emergency light.  WAKE UP TOBEY!!! I shouted to myself and shook my head and blinked my eyes.  There was a lot more smoke now.

Then I stopped short…

“Wait!  Where is Emma?  Do you have her?”  I hollered ahead to Fred.  Now I couldn’t see him very well.  He was hard to see with all the smoke.  But then I sensed he was right  beside me…seemingly touching my elbow.

The alarm was so much louder in the hallway…I could hardly hear my own voice…but Fred’s voice was unmistakable in my ear…

“She’ll be fine, Tobey.  You have to leave now!”  His presence was more insistent but he wasn’t actually grabbing me.

“No! Wait!  I can’t leave Emma.  I’m going back Fred!”

I turned away and felt his touch on my arm disappear.

I quickly made my way back down the now smoke-filled hallway until the dim glow  from the EXIT sign showed I was at my door.  It hadn’t locked when I had closed it.

“Thanks God!!” I said out loud.

I pushed the door open and then quickly closed it, making sure that Emma did not run out into the apartment hall.

I knew exactly where that little squirt would be…under my bed…where she always went when that damn alarm went off.

The smoke was creeping into my apartment and getting thicker.  I ran into my room coughing loudly.  I shut the door in case Emma tried to slip out.

I clapped for my light to go on.  It did.  But then all the lights went out!

 

“Quite by Accident” Chapter 21

The Paperback Edition…

I ran over to my bed and dropped to my knees.  I started pulling out all the under-the-bed bins I used for storage…calling Emma’s name…but only hearing the deafening and increasingly irritating blare of the fire alarm.

Tears were streaming down my cheeks…my heart felt like it was literally breaking.

I sobbed, “Dammit Emma, where are you?  I’m not leaving you!   You’re my best friend, Emma!!   You’re my…my only friend.”

Oh God, I thought…where in the holy hell is she???

I laid full out on my stomach so I could reach farther under my bed and then suddenly I felt that soft fur, so familiar to my touch, and I grabbed a bunch of it and held on tight.  I scooted backwards and dragged Emma out from under the bed.

Her little blue eyes popped open and she looked at me and coughed.

“Did you burn dinner again, Tobey?”

“C’mon you little rascal, we’re blowing this pop stand.”

I sat up and put Emma under my tee-shirt and tucked it into my sleep pants and then pulled the drawstring tight underneath her.

I was only taking little breaths but they all felt like pure  smoke.  The only light in the room was from my laptop on my desk…thank God for battery mode….

With my left hand firmly under Emma, I pulled up the window blinds, climbed up on my desk chair and then onto my desk.  Crouching low, I slid open the window and cold, fresh air rushed in.

I took a couple of deep breaths, backed up to the edge of my desk and then I ran…head and right shoulder down… full force through the screen!

There was so little resistance…I flew through the air!   My butt landed with a smack on a snow-covered bush.

I looked up and there was Fred…shimmering on a snowbank…about three feet away.

“Well…I see you two made it.”

“Quite by Accident” Final Chapter…

The Paperback Edition…

“What the hell were you doing?”  I shouted at Fred as I struggled to stand up.

“Were you going to let us almost die and then perform some kind of ‘guardian angel’ magic crap and save us?  Was this some kind of cockamamie plan of yours?”

“Well…actually miss,” said a deep voice from behind me.  I turned around and found myself looking up at a very tall fireman holding a blanket.

“As I came down your hall, I heard someone…I guess that was you…screaming from your apartment.  I thought  someone was looking for a child or…” he paused and looked down and saw Emma’s head pop out of my tee-shirt.

“Then I saw you go flying out the window.”

“So, no…that wasn’t my cockamamie plan.  Are you and your… cat okay?”  He tried to put the blanket around the two of us.

I was starting to get really cold and shaky .

I managed to free one hand and brushed the tears from my eyes and looked up again at this tall man.

He was smiling at me and he was pretty cute.  (Hey…it’s going to take more than a fire and a near death experience to stop me from appreciating a good-looking man…)

Married, I bet.  Two kids.  A dog, of course.  And his loving mother probably lives with them.  All one big happy family.  Rats.

“I’m fine…now.” I said…a little too briskly, perhaps.  “Thank you very much.  Is the fire out?” I asked, trying to sound a little more normal…and less filled with rage.

“Yes.  It started in the dryer right above your unit.  The resident had left the building to go to work, so it went unnoticed for quite a while.”

“The other tenants are meeting in the lobby right now.  I think management will have some kind of plan or announcement.  They usually do in cases like this.” he said helpfully.

“Well…thanks again,” I said and I started to turn and walk toward the pine tree where I had last seen Fred wavering earlier.

“Oh here…” said the fireman.  “I grabbed these for you.  I hope they’re yours.  They were sitting right by your front door.”  He held out my UGG boots to me.

“I figured you might need them after I saw you jump out the window into the snow.”

I walked back to him and without even thinking twice, I just leaned against him and kicked off my wet slippers and put on my boots.

“Well, I better……” I started to talk but the horror of the night suddenly sunk  in and no more words would come.

Fresh tears started to stream down my cheeks and I turned quickly away and headed off to find Fred…hugging Emma’s little warm body as I walked.

“Why can’t they shut that damn horn off!” I yelled to nobody in particular.

And then somebody did.   Suddenly it was so quiet I could hear my heart beat.

“FRED!!  Where the hell are you?”  I yelled loudly.

And then from behind, I felt a slight touch on my shoulder.  Finally!!!!

I whirled around, ready to give Fred a taste of my full fury…many brilliant swear word combinations forming in my brain…

“Actually, miss,” said my helpful fireman in a quiet and soothing voice, “I’m right here.”

And he pointed to his name badge.

It was hard to read since my eyes were so blurry from crying.  I squinted but I couldn’t make it out.  I looked up at him with a puzzled expression on my face.

“What?”  I asked.

“That’s me…my name is Fred.”

“I don’t have a dog but I do have two cats.  I’m single…my mother lives in Paris…and I have absolutely no idea why I’m telling you all this…”

Epilogue:

And here’s the ‘partly true’ part that I referred to in the beginning:

One night about 15 years ago I did wake up unexpectedly and as I was rolling over I saw a “black ribbon, shimmering in the corner.”

I looked at it for a few minutes…and felt no fear at all.  But I did know I wasn’t dreaming or ‘half-asleep’.  I remember smiling and then I went back to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning I realized I had seen one of my guardian angels by mistake…it doesn’t happen often…but it does happen.  You can Google it.

This has happened about 3 more times since then…

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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.