Chapter 12

I slowly drew my hand away from the 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…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 moved closer, I shrank back against my pillow.  I felt like I should do something…like run…to avoid this death thing.  Could I…?

But I was not going to be that dumb girl in the stupid horror movie who runs down the basement to hide…and subsequently becomes many pieces.  Does this building even have a basement?

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

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

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

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

“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 sounded like…with a heavy Southern accent.

She then licked my nose, dropped her paws, walked down my legs and curled up at the foot of my bed…in ‘her’ Drake tee-shirt.

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

“No.”

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

“His name is Fred.  Like in Rogers.”

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

“No…Fred.”

 

 

 

Chapter 13

Fred?  What kind of weird angel name is that, I was wondering to myself when suddenly ‘Fred’ spoke.

“I know right?  I would have preferred Sebastian…but I’m not in charge.”

Fred’s voice was thin, high and reedy…kind of like Truman Capote just before he died.

“And may I just point out, right from the get go, that… it is 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 dumbbell…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 be…and then he went on…

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

Fred seemed really anxious and upset.  I was feeling kind of bad for old Freddy.

I, on the other hand, was becoming more and more relaxed.  Realizing you are not dead after thinking you ARE dead can be extremely soothing.

Hmmmm…I wonder if it’s too late to order pizza?

 

 

 

Chapter 14

“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 not dead.  That was good and great…but maybe…nuts?  Maybe I’ve slipped a cog.

“You are perfectly sane, Tobey.  Don’t concern yourself with that 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 fluffed my hair in the mirror on the wall at the end of my bed.

(I feel it’s important to see just what you look like first thing in the morning.  I know.  I know.)

“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…honestly.”

Suddenly, Emma sat up and held up her one white paw and pointed it at Fred first and then at me.

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

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

As she spoke, I brushed my hand against my lips, just to make sure…nope…no movement.  Emma was talking again.

 

Chapter 15

I looked from Emma to Fred and blinked several times and let out a huge sigh.

This was crazy…maybe not really crazy, crazy, according to Fred but…you know…crazy.

It appears I have a talking cat…who is talking to my guardian angel named Fred who also talks…and…

I glanced over at the clock on my night table.  Crap!  It was almost 2:00 a.m. and I have 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.”

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

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

“Well look,” I said very slowly, 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 pointed 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, sweet dreams…it’s been fun.”

And I carefully laid back down on my pillow…somewhat sure of my sanity.

“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 at the corner of my bedroom.

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.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 16

 

“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 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 rule obeyer.”

I sighed, totally exasperated.

“But…but…I can’t have you watching me,” I persisted.  “All…the…time.”

“You’re bothering me…”  I tried to go the sympathy road…a little wheedling can go a long way, I thought.   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…what a great idea.

I slipped out of bed, turned the overhead light on and walked down the hall to the kitchen.

I knew there was an almost full bottle of Jim Beam in the cupboard that I occasionally used for just this purpose…to sleep…perchance to dream.  Hah!  What a joke that was.

I reached up and took the bottle down and turned to open another cabinet to get a glass.

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

Fred was hovering behind the breakfast bar!

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

 

Chapter 17

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

“And what part of guardian ‘watch over you’ angel do you not get exactly,” said Fred almost snippily.

“I ‘watch over you’ ALL the time.”

I pulled out the breakfast bar stool and started to sit down and paused to give Fred a not so friendly, meaningful look.  He wisely drifted away toward the patio door.

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

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.

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

“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.  But then he said, “I don’t know, maybe.  And yes.”

I took a bigger sip.  Not too bad now with the ice.  I swirled it around a little more.

“I’m not sure I can handle this,” I said hesitantly.

“Oh…you’ll be fine.  You’re tough.  Remember I’ve seen you in action…good times and some very bad times…”

“…I held you when you cried…helped you create new swear word combinations when you were furiously angry…tried to steer you away from people who were not good to you or for you…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.”  Fred swayed from side to side…obviously proud of his accomplishments.

“Wow!  That is impressive!  And you didn’t need any permission for all that, right?”

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

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

Chapter 18

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

“What kind of things?  Like miracles?  Magic?  Can you change things?”  I rattled off  questions rapid fire.

“Don’t get too excited.  GA’s, if I may abbreviate, work in the background.  Think of us as agents…like the CIA…we have powers but we have limits.”

“So,” I said.  “No miracles.  No magic.  No changing the world…right? ”

“Right.” answered Fred.

I thought for a few moments and then hesitantly asked, “Can you make it possible for me to visit Heaven to see Iris and Rain?  Just a short visit…or can they come down here?”  Unwanted tears were forming in my eyes.  I missed them so much.

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

“Is that what you do?  I asked.

“That is what we do mostly.  But sometimes we add extraordinary amounts of a laxative to a very mean boy’s punch when he is treating one of our  ‘people’ badly.”

“OMG!!!…like Albert Simmons, my creep date to the 11th grade Snow Dance?”

“Precisely.” said Fred.

“He never lived down the embarrassment of that night.  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’m going 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.