Malibu Beach, California.
April. It’s spring break. Mariana, the 1,000-year-old archangel perches upon a mountain cliff. She is overlooking the beach with her legs crossed and two fists under her chin. A white, 18-inch drone slowly flies past her, buzzing from its four propellers. Twenty feet later it comes to a stop, high above an alter.
There are about fifty guest sitting on white fold-up chairs on the beach, all decorated with strings of roses. There’s a man with a microphone. He is dressed in a raven colored suit. Silver, short curly hair and a round face. He is the Officiate. Next to the officiate, is the groom. A big, burly man, half Puerto-Rican, half-Hawaiian. He is wearing a white suit, shirt and white tie. He tops it off with white leather sandals.
The officiate presses a button on a portable speaker and the music starts. The bride is half-phillipino, half-Mexican. An aspiring model with a stunning smile. Her hair is long and jet black. She walks down the sandy isle with her father, who is wearing a cream colored tuxedo and Cream leather sandals.
The photographer is wearing a white shirt and white shorts. He is operating the drone as well as his two cameras, which are strapped to his body like a cowboy straps two guns to his hips. One camera has a short lens, the other has a long lens. This way he can switch shots, without the hassle of switching camera lens and risking getting sand inside the camera. The drone is capturing video and photo, simultaneously.
Mariana crashes the wedding just so she can watch it. I wish I could get married. It’s exciting to see two people make vows of love to each other the way God would want, yet very sad to witness, forty or fifty times, but never actually go through the steps. She thinks to herself.
An angel is not meant for such things. They are created to sing praises, uplift God and oversee his favorite creatures, not experience their lives and enjoyment. She is fairly very far away, but due to her gifted sight and hearing, she is experiencing everything. She smells the salty water, hears the gentle waves climbing up onto the beach sand, then sliding back down to the sea.
As part of the ceremony, both the bride and groom grab a slim glass bottle. One has pink sand; one has white sand. They represent coming together to form one magnificent union. They attempt to pour the sand into a wider glass jar, but the wind is against them. They manage to get ninety percent into the jar. The bride thought, I wonder if that’s a sign. The marriage will not go as perfectly planned, but can still be marvelous with work.
Mariana glances at the wedding party. Who would be my maid of honor? Dasia?
Inside the perfect house for a family of three to five, lives DoctorAnthony and his sixteen-year old daughter named Dasia. It’s just them and their pets. Sasha the German Shepherd, the exotic birds and Albert, the pygmy marmoset. There are multiple sets of wedding albums. One set which is huge in size and full of memories.
Another album is small and condensed. The third is a DVD box set of three. It includes all the pictures and video footage of the wedding, downloaded onto disks. Before that was made, they have a VHS set of videos that hasn’t been used since the format is outdated.
There are a few small and large family portraits in the living room and dining room. In the master bedroom, there used to be a box of jewelry, but now Dasia has it in her room. It’s April and DoctorAnthony is already walking through the house shirtless, wearing only black jeans and leather sandals. A midnight colored leather belt is used, but not needed. His loose fitting jeans are snug only around his waist.
DoctorAnthony has a few scars, a flesh wound on his left arm from a bullet he almost dodged during a SEAL deployment. Two small wounds that look like two small bullet wounds on his left ribcage. Both shoulders bare the scars from his multiple needle punctures the military gave him when he first enlisted. DoctorAnthony used to work for the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration as a Behavior Detection Officer (BDO).
After 9/11/2011, it was the only job he could think of that he could help keep people safe. A Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) is like a human lie detector. They are extremely amazing skills to have, but according to congress they are too costly for the Government, so they absorbed the whole department back into regular checkpoint screening. Twenty-one layers of airport security, reduced to twenty.
Where did Dasia put those breath-freshening dog biscuits?
He does a quick search through the kitchen cabinets. Aha! Yes. She needs these, right now.
He is the proud owner of his own home, a great father and role model to his energetic daughter, Dasia. Dasia is a bright girl with a good head on her shoulders and a passion for being behind a camera. Dasia and DoctorAnthony lost the woman they both loved. She was a doctor at the same hospital and a doctor in the National Guard. Unfortunately, on her last deployment, she was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
It’s been a couple of years since her death but the memories still linger. In fact, Dasia was going through her mother’s belongings recently and found something that made her weep of depression, so she took matters into her own hands.
DoctorAnthony is a close friend to Mariana (who he secretly loves). She is a warrior of uncanny skill and strength. She once was jealous of humans, but now she is passionate about them. She is most passionate about one in particular. The good ole doctor. He is the new owner of a dog who used to be owned by a man who once tried to kill him, then saved his life. How ironic, right?
DoctorAnthony has a collection of souvenirs from all over the world and an assortment of birds that he owns. Dogs are new to him. So new, that he has to watch videos on the internet on how to take care of them. He also had to soak up as much knowledge as he could fine on military dogs.
He stops in the hall with elbow length gloves on. With his cleaning supplies, he is cleaning up dog vomit. The German Shepard sits next to him with a guilty look.
“I thought I could just feed you leftovers, give a weekly bath and a daily walk and that was it.”
He is wrong in so many ways. To give the proper diet, he has to use a certain brand of healthy dog food. It comes in huge sacks.
“I almost forgot.” He pulls out two small packets from his jean pocket. “Time for your de-worm pill and flea and tick medicine.” He reads the label, “… on a monthly basis. A tablet in the mouth, drops on the scalp from head to base of spine (Anywhere else and the dog may eat the medicine).”
He learned to use a cotton ball to clean the ears and to check in-between the toes for bumps, dirt, gravel or glass. He has to check the padding of the feet for cuts or roughness. A special lotion is used on the dog’s feet before bedtime.
DoctorAnthony is definitely not ready or willing to check the dogs stool for worms, blood or anything else strange, and to carry plastic bags to dispose of the stool (doggie poop) but he has to. The dog has all of it’s shots, but DoctorAnthony had it micro-chipped in case it got lost or stolen. Not a chance of that really happening. The dog is a trained beast and now part of the family.
Sasha, his German Sheppard is watching his every move. He notices, but pretends not to. He loves her and feels sorry that her previous owner died while protecting him. He speaks to Sasha like she is a human. Sometimes, it seems as if she understands.
He reaches into a container under the sink and pulls out a doggie snack. She immediately sits, ears perked up and drooling. He tosses it into the air and she jumps four feet off the ground and snatches it like she is in the Olympics, then gobbles it up in five seconds. Not bad for a medically discharged Military k-9.
There is pop music playing low in the background. When the song ends, a dramatic piano tune plays. Then a guy on the radio is screaming about angels flying around and the radio host laughs and ask if the angels hang out at the club with vampires. DoctorAnthony picks up a stereo remote control and changes it to LECRAE, a Christian rap artist. Sasha patrols the house.
There’s a small black object with a small candle burning underneath and thick red oil on top. Dragon Blood, one of his favorite scents. On the front of the object is a Chinese symbol that means “peace”. The phone rings, so he turns the music very low and he answers the phone. It’s his boss, Chief Reginaldo.
Chief Reginaldo has been like a father figure to him. Not only his boss, but a confidant. He is a middle aged, wise man, trying to quit smoking. He is a fair employer who inspires not only his hospital staff, but the church he attends and the local community. Some would say he is a pillar of the community.
The doctor talks while making a pitcher of lemonade, by hand. His earphones are cordless.
“Chief, I just came back from my rehab-cation. The one yousent me on. I really don’t have much spare time outside of work.” He cuts six lemons in half on the white cutting board with what looks like a military tactical knife. His family crest shines on the black background on his ring of gold. The feather in the middle of the crest shines the most from every angle the hand moves.
“Anthony, I’m not asking you to go on a golfing or fishing trip…”
Doctor Anthony squeezes the lemons with both hands into the pitcher.
“Okay, explain it to me again.” He adds honey from a huge honey jar the size of a five-gallon jug of milk. He then grabs a large black sweater from the couch and puts it on. It reads, “Resilient” on the front in red letters.
“It’s just a monthly men’s luncheon of role models. We get together to discuss current world issues, local problems and what we can do to help. I love you like a son and really want you to be part of this.”
At first, DoctorAnthony is taken back for a second, then He stirs, puts on his new glasses, plops some ice cubes into the mix and then pauses.
“Okay Chief, you took care of me when I was down and guided my career. How could I help? Do I need to write a check?” He pours two glasses, places them on a tray and walks to the backyard. The glass lens turn dark. Sasha is right behind him.
“You are a good man, with world experience. Young men, fatherless boys need to see role models that care. Come eat, meet the fellas and we will take it from there.”
“Okay, Chief. I’ll be there,” He confirms.
“Great, see you tomorrow,” The Chief says happily.
“It’s tomorrow?” The doctor asks.
“Yes sir, I’ll text you the info.” The Chief detects his reluctance, but keeps his optimism strong and quick.
“Okay, later sir.” The doctor sighs.
Elsewhere, in mid-air, higher than most planes fly.
An angel names Raquel is suspended in mid-air, rather than floating while his wings seem to look like they are floating in wavy water with small ripples from shoulder muscle to wing tip. “Mariana, you’d better be careful. You’re walking on thin ice and could get hurt or hurt someone else. You have a mission that will take forty days and forty nights, with no contact with humans, at all.”
“What? You’re kidding, right?” She is obviously frustrated. He just looks at her. No facial expression for her to read from. No sudden body language or movement. Once she is calm, he continues.
“Ask the doctor how he met his wife before leaving for the mission.”
She replies, “Okay.”
A look of concern comes across her face after the angel leaves her. Forty days? Is this punishment or a test? I know my duty is to combat evil, but spending time with Anthony doesn’t change that.
Back at DoctorAnthony’s.
DoctorAnthony sits the tray down on a little table, then pops open a long cardboard box with the knife he used earlier. The phone rings again and he taps his ear while he starts pulling out rope and wood. He had been looking forward to this call.
Dasia speaks enthusiastically, “Hi dad. How are you doing?”
“I’m okay, I guess.”
“The Chief called again about some luncheon, then Mariana just called me and told me she has to go away for a month.”
“Sorry daddy, but you know all about deployments. Oh, I guess this is not a good time to remind you, but I will be leaving in a few days for my video/photo outing.”
“Oh, yeah. Dasia, I forgot.” He sighs.
“I’m worried about you. I want to have lunch before I leave. Is that okay?” She asks.
“Okay? Of course Dasia! I look forward to it.”
She basically wants to make sure he is okay being alone. She knows he gets a little lonely, still dealing with losing his wife.
“I love you, dad.”
“I love you too. Have you finally caught up on your rest?” He asks.
“A little. Oh, Albert says hi!”
He laughs, “Okay. See you soon.”
Sasha looks up and barks a few times while wagging her tail. She is excited. DoctorAnthony’s eyes rise as he admires Mariana’s display of aerial brilliance as she swoops in, but does not collapse her wings. She sees the cut-up cardboard box, plastic and instructions on the neatly cut grass and throws it in the bin nearby.
“Hi there,” He says, as he watches her excitedly climb on. They are lying on a two-person hammock, in the backyard of his home. He is lost in the raptures of her kiss and her intoxicating scent. He loves spending time with Mariana, but he has an uneasy look on his face.
“What’s wrong, Anthony?” She says as she places a delicate hand on his cheek.
“It’s this house. Too many good and bad memories. I need to sell it,” He says as he looks around, as if the memories are still playing in his head.
“Anthony, you need to get out more and make friends,” She says. He lays down besides her, on top of her left wing. She looks at him as he runs his long fingers across her wing tips. For a moment, she daydreams while looking at them.
“Mariana, maybe you are right. If I don’t get out more, I’ll never make friends.”
“You know, I hear there’s an app for that.” Mariana says.
“Oh great. There’s an app for everything. Is there an app that makes me an angel?” He jokes, knowing it’s the only way they can truly be together.
They stare into each other’s eyes for at least five minutes. A gentle breeze brushes through the yard. Her feathers dance to it. The low growling of his stomach disrupts the moment. She almost forgets. She reaches under her free wing and pulls something out.
“Taste this!” She gives him manna, the bread of heaven.
“I’m not even going ask you where you had that hidden,” He replies. He takes the manna and bites into it. His eyes widen. “Oh, wow. Enchanting.”
He continues eating it. A few seconds later when he is just about done, she has a question.
“Anthony, I have to ask you something.”
“Yes, anything,” He replies.
“Tell me about your wife.”
“What about her?” He says.
“How did you meet her?” She asks with her beautiful latina accent.
He sits up and sips on the lemonade. No matter how much honey it had, at that very moment, it tastes bitter. She sits up and looks at him, before taking a sip of lemonade, herself. Her wings fold and morph into her wing tattoo. Many different angels have various ways of hiding their wings. She hides them in her stunningly detailed artwork, on her back.
You could tell DoctorAnthony didn’t want to talk about his wife, but Mariana blinks her eyes, flirts a little and convinces him to talk. He takes a deep breath and starts stretching out his body.
“Okay, fine. I hit a major pitfall in my life. I was falsely accused of something that I did not do. Someone claimed that I threatened them. I was employee of the month and employee of the year in the same year, but my job did not support me or have my back. They just jumped the gun and fired me without giving me a chance to clear my name.
“I’ve helped so many people and in my time of need there was nobody to help me. I was alone. I lost my home and sold almost everything that I owned to take care of my responsibilities. I was homeless, jobless and drowning in debt. I lost everything. The only escape I could think of was to re-enlist in the Navy. The only problem was that the military would not reenlist me even though I had multiple, successful missions as a Navy Seal.
“I could not get a loan to cover my debt. My car loan company kept asking me where I physically parked my car. I’m glad it didn’t have a tracking device. The only reason they asked was because they wanted to repo it.”
DoctorAnthony sit’s back up and starts rubbing his temples. Mariana rubs his back and continues listening and she tries to soothe him.
“No matter what I did, I could not bounce back. I had decided that I must be punished for something but did not know what. Maybe I was being punished for the sins of my father, who knows. I even started to believe that the lives I took as a Navy SEAL were catching up on me. I was just following orders, doing what I could to build a future and go to college, but I did very bad things to get missions accomplished. The nightmares have not gone away.’”
DoctorAnthony balls up a fist and rubs his knuckles.
Mariana feels sorry for him. She is eagerly waiting to hear the rest of the story.Was this why the angel told me to ask him?
DoctorAnthony continues. “I started to lose faith in heaven and God. I knew a very tall building that was grand. Whenever I saw the city skyline, that one building would stick out to me. It was alone. It reminded me of myself for some reason. One day I put on my best and only suit and decided I would take an elevator ride to the top floor and jump off the roof. “
Mariana is startled. “Wait, what?”
The doctor continues, “I believed I was just a burden in life and in society and I would get out of the way of everybody.” His eyes slowly starts to water.
“I was clean shaven and fresh from cologne. Even though it was my last day, I still took care of myself and even flossed and brushed my teeth for a full song on the radio before I left the house. I walked through the rotating doors to the building lobby. I admired the marble floors, podiums and front desk. The windows were always cleaned with perfection.
“I walked to the elevator and hit the up button. I’m not sure why I never took an elevator ride in my favorite building, but that was the day. I was in no rush; I was ready to go.
“The doors of the elevator were just about to close when I heard the fast tapping of high heels and a young lady stuck her foot in the door. It tripped the sensor and the doors opened back up. It hesitated, but it did open. She came in sweating. She had a black leather portfolio with a gold zipper. She clutched it as if it was full of money. I asked if she was okay, but she just rolled her eyes.
“Even she knew that I was worthless. I had no watch or nice jewelry on. I used to have custom jewelry. Every necklace or ring that I owned had my name spelled out. All I had left was my family crest ring. I don’t even know much about my family. But right there in the elevator, it was just me in my suit, and my one ring. I asked her what floor she wanted and she hurriedly pressed seven.
“I had no problem pressing the button for you since your hands are full”.
She looked at me and says, “I apologize.” Then there was a loud buzz. The elevator jerked and we shook and lost our balance, but I caught her before her head hit the wall.
She was on the way to an audition for a new record label. She said she only wanted two things in life, a warm spotlight on a stage with an audience of a thousand or fixing the damaged bodies of soldiers, because she believed that soldiers were our modern day heroes and deserved the best.
She asked me where I was going but I deflected and changed the topic.
Eventually, I asked her to sing for me. She wouldn’t. I told her that if she wanted to get to know the stranger in the elevator with her, she’d have to sing something soothing. She thought about it and finally agreed. She turned her back to me and began.
A second or two later she turned around and really showed off her vocal abilities. The sound of her voice made my heart skip a beat. She should have already been a star. The song seemed as if it was for me. I fell in love right there. A tear escaped my eyes. This time, I turned around. She dropped her stuff and held me. She wanted to know why I cried. I told her why I came.
She sniffed. Her eyes were watery. She put a delicate hand across my face, cleared her voice and said…
“You need help soldier.” She said with a very soft voice.
She turned me around with the same hand. We stared at each other for at least an hour.
She said, “I will help you get through this”.
A moment later, the fire department opened the door with a massive claw-looking tool. She grabbed my hand and we left. The manager was trying to apologize, but she just shoved him out of the way. Her demo, portfolio and papers stayed there on the floor.
“Months later, she joined the military so she could follow one of her dreams, pay off college and take care of me while I continue to advance my education in the medical field. She did nine years of full-time service and five years in the reserves. If it wasn’t for her, I would not be here right now. She saved my life that day.”
After hearing of how they met, Mariana’s throat tightens. This is such a heavy and sad story. Mariana turns her head and lets a tear out. Anthony gets up. He is frustrated. He doesn’t want to relive the story.
“I’ll be right back,” He says.
As he walks into the house, Mariana cries. She wonders to herself, how could I ever fill those shoes? She wipes the tear away as DoctorAnthony comes back out with his hands in his pockets. He is trying to look relaxed, but he is still a little tense.
“I need to thank you.” He says.
She looks confused.
“For what, Anthony?”
He replies, “For everything. For intervening, multiple times. The alley, the ship, Angelo. My daughter is alive because of you.”
“I know you would have done the same for me,” She says before kissing him on the cheek.
“Well, without the flying around part. I’ve always dreamt of flying, then I met an angel.”
“Anthony, I’m glad we met.”
He hugs her and gives her a serious look into her eyes.
“I’m glad we spent the afternoon together,” He says.
They close their eyes and kiss for the very first time. She coughs and places a hand on his chest.
“Are you okay?” He says.
She put a hand over her mouth, “Oh my, that felt like a warm wave of water washing over my body. I lost my breath.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t…” She grabs him with both hands and pulls him on top of her for more kissing.
Sasha cocks her head and then leaves. She starts walking around the yard. Mariana stands up and DoctorAnthony follows. She put one hand over his heart and the other hand palm up. The hand slowly illuminates and then emit a pulsing light that matches his heartbeat.
“Wow!” He is amazed.
“I will always know how you are doing. I’m linked to your heart. When I see you next, I’ll take you on a flight, anywhere (on Earth) you wish to go. She turns around and departs for her mission. A mission that she is sure to be punishment for her recent behavior.
He heads over to do laundry in his garage. DoctorAnthony has a convertible in the garage as well as two motorcycles. He drives the SUV most days. He would have to do some work to ride the bikes. First he has to put air in the tires, fill the oil, check all fluids and charge the batteries.
Since he lives in a place that has seasons every winter he winterizes the bikes, then in the spring he updates the bikes. He hasn’t ridden the bikes since his wife was alive. One bike is purple and one bike is green and they both have lights emanating from the interior frame and underneath the bike.