Sunday, December 16th
Evie drove Gracie to the Chen family Sunday dinner. She and Peter had decided they had better lay low until some time had passed, so he agreed not to come. They walked into the front foyer, where Aunt Florrie and Uncle Eddy talked. A few minutes later, Tony and Jinx knocked on the door, and Evie let them in.
“Hey guys. How’s everything?”
Jinx gave her a warm hug. “We’re doing fine, honey. Good to see you.”
“Hey sis. Waddit do?” asked Tony.
“Tony!” Jinx gave him a hard stare.
“Umm…okay, how about, ‘How’re ya doin’, sis?’” he said.
“Oh, fine thanks. I swear, you and your Ebonics.”
“Ignore him Evie. He’s just showing off,” Jinx said.
“Yes, I know.”
“Auntie Flo! What up wicha?” Tony asked, turning to his aunt.
“Oh just keepin’ it real; dealin’ on the daily,” Aunt Florrie answered, grinning.
“I swear,” she said, baffled by their unusual way of talking, as she had witnessed before at the condominium. It didn’t escape her notice that this kind of nutty behavior from her new brother frustrated his girlfriend Jinx. Confirming her thoughts, Jinx said, “I think I’m going to the den, and leave ‘MC Chopstick’ and ‘Flava Flo’ to do their thing. Good to see you again, Auntie Flo and Uncle Eddie.” She turned to Evie, still shaking her head. “Girl, you are on your own, you hear me?”
Evie had to admit that Aunt Florrie was a bit eccentric. She could live that one down: matters more important than Auntie Flo’s eccentricity weighed heavily on her mind now.
Uncle Eddie turned towards the voices in the living room. “Excuse me guys. I’m going to go join the others.”
“Alright, honey. I’ll catch up with you later.” Aunt Florrie answered.
Aunt Florrie shook her head, as a mother would to an errant child. “Evie, I have known Ms. Jaxincta Rochelle Middleton since she was five years old, and she was a prude even then. Isn’t that right, Tony?”
“Um...I’m going to plead the fifth, Auntie,” said Tony. “I have to deal with her later, seeing as how she’s my baby girl – my shorty.” His face remained determinedly neutral.
Evie came to Jinx’s defense. “Oh, I don’t know, Aunt Flo. Jinx is actually a very nice girl. I like her, in spite of her liking my brother.” She gave Tony an I-dare-you-to-say-it look, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
Tony didn’t say anything. In her opinion, that was very wise of him.
“So. How’s my favorite nephew?” Auntie Flo asked, eyes twinkling. “I hear you’re doing well at your architectural firm, dropping some madd skills. You’re making your Auntie proud.”
They gave each other the requisite acknowledgements, their hands smacking and bumping each other’s. Evie began to see why Jinx had left the room.
Tony answered, “You know how it is, Auntie. I’m just trying to stack my paper a little higher.”
“Oh, give me some love, child” smiled Florrie. “You’ll be so well-off that you’ll rival your father one day.”
They gave each other a big hug. Auntie Flo sighed. “Well, if we’re going to join the others, especially Jinx, I guess we’ll have to go back to being boughie.”
She wasn’t quite sure of that one. “‘Boughie?’ What exactly does that mean?”
Auntie Flo answered without missing a beat. “It means putting on airs, honey; acting like you’re superior.”
“Oh.” That seemed odd to her. “Auntie Flo, none of the rest of my family acts superior, or puts on airs. Why would you say that?”
Auntie Flo smiled. “Baby, we’re just having fun. We just can’t do this around your family. That’s why Tony and I have to be alone sometimes – away from everyone else.”
Tony took Aunt Florrie’s hand in his arm, and escorted her to the den to join the rest of the family, chuckling along the way.
She laughed. This crazy family didn’t take themselves too seriously. Just before she went into the living room, Aunt Florrie turned to her and called to Tony. “Baby: go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you in a bit.”
Aunt Florrie turned and walked back towards her. “Evie, honey, I have something I need to share with you.”
“Please tell me, Aunt Florrie. I could use any helpful advice you can give.”
“Baby, the Lord gave me a vision about you, just before you arrived. I saw an angel, voluntarily leaving heaven to find out about salvation, and Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.” Aunt Florrie paused a minute, choosing her next words carefully. “You feel estranged from the Heavenly Father, don’t you, child?”
Evie could feel the pain returning; the wound re-opened afresh. “Yes. I desperately miss the Father and the Lamb, and Ruach Ha-Kodesh; if I could only figure out how to get back in their good graces.” Her eyes pooled with tears. “I’m so scared and alone, even with this wonderful family here that loves me.”
Aunt Florrie wiped her tears. “There, there, baby. I understand.” Wisdom gained by many years of life and learning shone in those dark brown eyes. “You must trust the Father and make the redemption of The Lamb your own.”
“But how?” More frustration filled her. “I was always in His presence before. I don’t know how to make that redemption mine.”
“It’s as simple as asking, honey. Just ask Him for Jesus’ redemption.” Florrie hugged her.
“I will, I promise, Aunt Florrie. You’ve really helped me feel better.” She managed a weak smile, and hugged Aunt Florrie tightly. She and Aunt Florrie joined the others in the living room. In her mind, she saw the door to the Throne Room open a crack. A glimmer of bright light shone through as hope seeped into her dry and weary soul.
Father, please show me how to make the salvation of the Lamb my own. And Abba, I want you to hug me again.
Michael heard the summons in the midst of a battle with Lucifer’s best soldiers in the Middle East. Turning to his subordinate generals, he said, “I’m leaving this to you Squadron Commanders. I have to make an appearance at the Throne Room.” His face turned to New Jerusalem, and he took flight.
As he approached the throne room, the twenty-four elders, the seven blazing lamps and the four living creatures came into view. The four living creatures busily chanted their continual refrain, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” The twenty-four elders added to the worship. The Lamb was sitting on the right of Lord IAM, and the Holy Spirit of God sat to His left.
Lord Jehovah spoke first. “Approach, faithful servant and commander of your Lord’s armies; we have unusual matters to discuss.”
Michael followed the proper protocol, and bowed low. “What do you require of your servant, my Lord?”
“You see, Michael, we have a situation here. We have sent one of your fellow angels to join the humans, and this is without precedent. We can’t give her any special preference; we don’t with any other human man or woman.” He gestured towards the rest of New Jerusalem. “Evie shares a curiosity with many other angels here in Heaven, and this is natural, but I would not want them to mistake having a human heart for anything other that what it really is: troubled and corrupted by a fallen world in a fallen state since the fall of the first man and woman. Salvation comes at a great cost.” Lord Jehovah turned towards the Lamb. “Wouldn’t you agree my firstborn among many, and only begotten?”
The Lamb answered solemnly, “Yes, Father. Salvation has a cost for all involved. I paid that cost.”
“Therefore,” Lord Jehovah continued, “I want you to be my eyes and ears on Evie, and report your intelligence back to Operations Central, where there will be a daily update on the progress of the human apprentice. My Spirit will disseminate it to all the inhabitants of New Jerusalem, no matter how repulsive it may seem.”
He bowed low. “Yes, of course, my Lord. She was always one of my more faithful commanders. I have a great desire to learn from her experience myself. I’m sure I wouldn’t do much better if I were in her shoes.” He knew that he couldn’t. Nevertheless, he made up his mind to keep a very close eye on Evie. The image of the pain he had seen Evie go through made him pause. He could not feel what she did, since his situation was not like Evie’s, but he could see the pain that the separation from the Father had caused her, and it sobered him a great deal. In spite of it all, he admired his sister. She was still braver than he would ever be, and was a hero to him. You’ve given up a lot to gain something we’ll never totally understand, but take great joy in: salvation.
Lucifer, being the arrogant creature that he was, didn’t wear a robe like other angels: he wore and expensive suit, shoes, tie, and jewelry. His self-importance showed in not only in his manner, but also in his presentation.
He had been watching these developments from the beginning. “Yes...yes...another to be lured into an eternity of Hell…and this one was an angel of the Light; all the more delicious!” He would never have thought the opportunity to bring down one of the ranks of heaven could be his. He summoned his principality of North America, Atlantic Coast Division.
“Indulgence, you must send soldiers from the Insecurity unit, the Rebellion unit, and the Self Pity unit; they must be assigned to this young angel turned daughter of Eve immediately.” There was no mistaking the seriousness in his tone.
Indulgence replied, “At once, your Evilness.” He immediately turned on his heels and flew away to summon the necessary troops to be dispatched to Evie within a few thoughts worth.
Monday, December 17th
Velma used discretion as she watched Evie straighten her disk, put on her coat and muffler, and leave. Her classes over, she finished her paperwork, printed another copy of her lesson plans, and took them to Evie’s desk, where Evie’s lesson plans sat neatly in an inbox. She took Evie’s lesson plans, replaced them with hers, and turned to walk away. Standing in the door was a fellow teacher, Roberta Walker.
“Why are you leaving things on Evie’s desk, Velma?”
“Oh, Evie asked me to show her some of my old lesson plans as examples of teaching foreigners with little English how to speak our language.”
Roberta eyed her suspiciously, and said, “Why would you take her lesson plans off her desk and replace them with yours? Seems to me she had already planned her curriculum for tomorrow.”
“Oh,” Velma answered quickly. “She told me to take her plans, review them and critique them. She thought it would prove valuable to learn from a more experienced teacher like me.”
Roberta sill eyed her with suspicion. “I don’t remember you and she having such a conversation…”
“We do it at our lunch break,” she answered. “Gives us a chance to clear our minds and discuss things away from our desks.”
Roberta said nothing for a few moments, then finally, “Okay, Velma,” and walked away.
“Phew, that was close, thought Velma. It’s a good thing my name isn’t on those lesson plans or this jig would be up.” She packed her bag, got her coat on and left.
Tuesday, December 18th
Evie walked into her office the next morning, and noticed the lesson plans looked different than the ones she had printed out before. “What is going on?” she wondered, growing tired of this ridiculous pattern. “I don’t understand why my lesson plans have been replaced with someone elses.” Frustrated, she walked to Carlo’s office and stood in front of his desk. “Carlo, have you seen someone go into my office after I left. When I left, my lesson plans were on my desk in their usual place. Now, they look like they’ve been replaced by someone else.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Evie, but I left early yesterday for a doctor’s appointment. I wouldn’t know if someone went into your office or not.”
She sighed and said, “Well; thanks anyway. This is starting to get annoying.”
“Sorry I can’t help, Evie. Wish I knew more.”
“That’s okay. Thanks anyway.” She walked back to her desk and printed out her lesson plans again.
Saturday, December 22th Earth Time
The Lamb spoke very pointedly to The Father. “You know, Father, this may be a battle for the soul of our dauntless warrior-turned human, but I don’t intend to stand idly by and just let Lucifer and his minions have a free hand with Evie. I intend to work on the hearts to the two dark angels directly assigned to her.”
Lord Jehovah turned to him and frowned. “Don’t you think that is interfering, son?”
“Oh, no. The prayers of the saints go up for her, and I can respond to them as best suits the situation. In this case, two dark souls are going to feel my work, mark my words.”
“I don’t doubt your words, but I don’t understand why you would take a special interest in these two workers of evil.”
He turned to the Father and faced him directly. “You see, Rightious Father: there is no protocol that dictates how I influence the lives of those two dark angels. They have rebelled, to be sure, but they are not beyond my power to change things.” He paused, and walked towards his Father. “I remember when VD was Virtue Seeker. She was a very tender-hearted angel, who loved others without reservation.” He smiled warmly. “You see, Father: I see that same tenderness in her dark heart. I want to encourage that tenderness to return.”
“Again, I understand, but why?”
He smiled as his glory shone forth even brighter, which usually happened as a plan he designed got underway. “Because, my Father, Ever Vigilant is not the only angel who will find out about salvation.”
VD followed as Evie walked home, bouncing with each step from the effect of wearing seven-inch platform stiletto heels. “Oh boy, am I enjoying ruining your life. In fact I can’t wait to do more; Velma is working nicely into my plans.” She sneered derisively and rubbed her hands together with anticipation. Stopping briefly, she found herself reflecting on her former days. “I once was called Virtue Seeker, and knew the same favor as you: I was a holy angel.” A smile reflected her once happy state, but she quickly suppressed the smile and her gentle thoughts of an era gone by, returning to her rant.
“But I listened to Lucifer, and my lot has been one of a second class citizen ever since.” For a microsecond, regret and sadness passed through her wretched soul; but she regained control, and her countenance once more took on the pitch-black emptiness of the dead soul behind it. “And you, you stupid angel: you’re going to discover what it means to be cast out of Lord Jehovah’s good graces.”
A glare of contempt burned at Evie. “Bah! You may have once been a mighty warrior, but you wanted to be like these pitiful cockroaches called humans.” She cackled loud and long. “Watch your step, sweetie. No one falls into my clutches and gets out of them unscathed.”
Then, ostensibly resting, she sat down and took some time to think. Virtue Destroyer’s thoughts returned to her time as Virtue Seeker, a very beautiful angelic being who wore a pure white robe, had a bright and shining countenance, and loved unconditionally with a tender heart. The beauty of the thought overwhelmed her. Tears filled her eyes against her will. Her chin quivered, and she started crying, many epochs of deeply hidden pain finding its way out of her.
Suddenly, she gasped, jerked herself up, cursed and wiped her eyes.
“Curse these thoughts!”
The images in her head made her shudder, no matter how hard she willed them away. Now, as Virtue Destroyer, she preferred her alluring look. All her human charges fell into the dark prison of her deception, and she did her job well, even if her victims never saw her; except for those occasions where she took on human appearance, and had a brief dalliance with a Son of Adam. Turning back in Evie’s direction, she said, “You see, sweetie, I’m going to use everything I’ve got to bring you down.” Her hands rose up slowly and wrapped around her chest, followed by her aiming her index finger directly at Evie’s heart. “And I will bring you down.” She nodded to herself. “Oh yes, cursed angel, by all that is evil...I will bring you down.” Then, sad and guilty thoughts overwhelmed her. She ran to an alley, hid behind a dumpster, and slumped down. Then she buried her head in her hands and sobbed bitterly.
What she hadn’t noticed was that the Son of the Heavenly Father had been in her presence, pricking at her heart.
The Lamb walked behind VD, silently, effortlessly; his whole being glowing with a pure radiance that only One so holy could produce. He hid his glory from VD, but smiled with satisfaction at the effect he achieved by putting hope in the dark heart of this evil angel unaware.