Wednesday, January 8th
Evie walked in from work, removed her coat, and, seeing Gracie in the living room, alighted next to her.
“How was your day?” Gracie asked.
“It was okay. I had another talk with Carlo about salvation. I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand why it would apply to me. The Lamb has always been my Savior, and I have had no sin to need to repent of. I get tired of hearing the same old litany: ‘Make Jesus Christ you Lord and Savior.’ I don’t understand why people keep telling me that. I do know that I miss The Lamb and The Father, and wish I could go back home.”
Gracie looked at her with stern eyes. “Evie: let me make one thing perfectly clear. You’re not going back home until you die, or the Lord takes you home in the Rapture. In the meantime, you are human, not an angel, and you need to be redeemed. You can’t get around that, no matter what you think. You need to get past your pride, and whining about how you miss The Lamb and The Father, and realize that you can be back in their good graces by accepting the fact that you’re human, and make Jesus your Lord and Savior. Do you understand me?”
“Yes.” She answered meekly. “I still don’t understand why I need to make Jesus The Lamb my Lord or Savior, but I guess I’ll have to figure that out for myself.”
“Quite honestly,” Gracie retorted, “there’s nothing to figure out. The only thing that stands in your way is your stubborn pride. If you would be willing to get past that, the Lord would reveal the truth to you.”
Now her anger had been provoked. “Well, you think what you want. I’m going to my room.” She got up from the couch, and turned to look at Gracie. “And thanks for nothing.” Before Gracie could say another word, she stormed off to her room.
Thursday, January 9th
Sitting in her office, Gracie mulled over the work at hand. Her phone broke into her though process, and after three rings, she picked up the phone and said, “Hello?”
“Hi Gracie. This is Shane Logan. I thought I’d give you a call, and see if we could get together sometime.”
“That probably wouldn’t be a good idea,” she said.
“Look Shane, you’re a smooth operator, and I’m not into guys like that.”
“Then I tell you what: why don’t you bring along your friends and family, so that you won’t feel like it’s a one-on-one situation and that I’m trying to take advantage of you.”
“Oh, I suppose so. As long as you and I aren’t alone together.”
“How about this: why don’t we meet at the Cheesecake Factory on Western Avenue and Wisconsin…say this Saturday at about 12:30? I will round up a few of my friends from church, and we can have a nice little luncheon and visit for a while. What do you think?”
“That would be great. I’ll just need to tell my sister so she and her friend Carlo can confirm and we’ll all see you there.
Saturday, January 11th
They all arrived at the Cheesecake Factory at 12:30.
Shane looked over the new acquaintances. “Hi everyone; I brought my sister Bibi and her boyfriend, Jason Waterston along.”
“I also brought my sister, her friend Carlo, my brother and his girlfriend Jinx. Hope you don’t mind,” Gracie said.
“Oh please don’t apologize,” Shane reassured her. “It’s not a problem at all. I believe I said last time, ‘the more the merrier.’”
Shane looked at Jinx and for a moment, the well-rehearsed, blind hatred started playing in his mind, as if on cue. Why don’t these people stay in their own world? They mostly do drugs, kill each other, make bastard babies and get fat eating greasy food. His father always said, “Shane, it’s a reprehensible thing to live off the hard work of others. Stay out of the worlds of Blacks and Hispanics and other darker people whose origins were in third world countries. Most of them have no ambition, and even if they do, they feel entitled to what they receive.”
He agreed. They dress themselves up, wear expensive clothes and move out of the ghetto into one of our neighborhoods, but in the end, they’re all the same. They have no right to intrude on my world. He would do everything in his power to be sure it stayed that way. He caught himself, changed his face into a very friendly one and turned on his trademark charm. “Nice to meet you, Jinx,” he said, extending his hand in a handshake.
The brief look in his eyes did not elude Jinx. She had come across that look too many times in too many patronizing white people – men or women – it didn’t seem to matter. They smile in your face, but expect you to be happy with second best. You can be more educated, make more money, and speak and act in a perfectly refined manner, but they exclude you from their world, both professionally and socially.
It never stopped getting her goat. She knew not all white people were like this, but there were just enough to be a burr in her side. The Holy Spirit convicted her. At first, she argued about the unfairness of it all, but after a while, grudgingly gave in. Oh, all right! You did say we should love our enemies, bless those who curse us, and even pray for those who despitefully use us. I need a great deal of your grace now, Lord. I’m going to be charming and civil if it kills me.
She took his hand, shook it firmly, and returned a very sweet smile, hoping he would overdose on the sweetness. “Nice to meet you too, Shane.”
Shane turned to Tony. “And you must be Gracie’s brother Tony.” He held out his hand to shake Tony’s hand. “Good to meet you as well.”
Then, to Evie, “I see you took up my offer to bring your friend Carlo. Good to see both of you.”
He gave Evie a courteous hug, and vigorously shook Carlo’s hand. “Well, it’s very nice to meet all of you.” His well-rehearsed résumé then followed. “Well, to give you a little background, I’m the leader of the Young and Single Career Adults small group that meet at my church on Friday nights. There are fifteen people in that group, and they’re all a very fun group. I hope you won’t think it presumptuous of me if I extended an invitation to all of you to join us.” A very conspicuous silence ensued. Shane nervously eyed the crowd, but indifference was all he could see in all of their faces.
“So, what kind of work do you do?” asked Carlo.
“I’m the Creative Director for Communication Media for the Discovery Channel. Lately, we’re developing a new series about human mating habits.”
“I’m sure you’re an expert on that,” Evie said under her breath.
“Were you saying something, Evie?”
“Oh...no, I was just noting how interesting your job sounds.”
“Anyway, it dissects the physiology and the psychology of human relationships, not only in developed countries, but also in more remote societies and cultures.” Ever the salesman, his eye scanned the room, gauging the reaction. “I have to travel to places most humans have never heard of. But it’s enjoyable and very eye opening.”
As the lunch progressed, his curiosity and his desire for her made him decide to bring up the topic of dating. “So Gracie, where do you like to meet people to date?”
“Well, I met my old boyfriend on the dating site, eCompatabilities.com.”
“Huh…you guys like those dating sites?” asked Bibi. “I don’t know if I like the idea of meeting someone on such an impersonal basis. Jason and I met at one of our favorite hangouts, The Capital Scene.”
He knew what that really meant: drugs, uninhibited sex and debauchery all kept away from the public eye by its managers. He jumped in and steered the conversation back to safer subjects so as not to expose his darker side...at least, not so soon. “I’ve used eCompatibilities on and off over the last couple of years. I guess that most of the people they match you with seem better ‘on paper’ as it were, than in reality.”
“Well, I won’t say that Internet sites like eCompatibilities are for everyone” Gracie said. “But you stand as good a chance of meeting a nice person, or a bad person, as you would if you met them in person.”
Bibi deadpanned, “Oh how charming…what a lovely story!”
He recognized that dispassionate look in his sister’s eyes. ECompatibilities has, however helped him ‘close the deal’ with a few women. He studied Gracie carefully, noting the gentle curves of her body. His thoughts turned to his old conquests, and how long it had been since he had consummated a relationship with a woman he dated. That needed rectifying.
Gracie had decided to compare notes on this Shane character. Back at the condo, she, Evie, Jinx compared notes on the afternoon. Jinx sat across from Evie and her on the couch. The tea she had prepared for the three of them went down smoothly.
Jinx spoke first. “I don’t know. I’ve come across a few guys like Shane, and when you scratch beneath the surface, it gets very ugly. He seems all nice and charming now, but ’charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting’ ”
“I get the same feeling” Evie said, putting down her teacup. “From the first day I met him, I had the feeling that there is more to him than meets the eye.
“Gals,” she said, “I know the type: your typical lothario. Must always have a woman to seduce: you know: a “flavor of the month” situation. I would not want to get involved with him…he’s too slimy.” The very thought made her shudder.
Jinx answered, “You know girl: unfortunately, some women have to learn the hard way. I’m glad none of us will get burned.”
“I don’t intend to,” she said. “I’ve been burned too many times, especially back in college. And even though Peter broke up with me, I’m not going to be lured into a bad situation with Shane.”
Monday, January 13th
Evie called up Gracie, and asked if she could meet her the next day at the Panera Bread in Chevy Chase, Maryland. No sooner had she hung up, when Michael came in her door. Evie startled at first, then ran towards him and hugged him. “Michael! It’s good to see you again, as always. How’ve you been?”
“I’m doing fine. And it’s always good to see you too.” His eyes twinkled. “Now, I came here to warn you that a CIA agent, one Adnan ‘Andy’ Farooqi, will be paying you and Gracie a visit tomorrow, He’s had you and your sister under surveillance. So be prepared.”
Evie puzzled at this remark. “Why would they be spying on us?”
“Because they want to figure out how I appear as a CIA agent from time to time, whom they can never catch. They want to corral this this ‘rogue agent.’ Sort of funny, if you think about it.”
“Oh, I get it. They’re using us to get to you. Well, thanks for the heads-up.”
“You’re welcome,” said Michael.
Monday, January 14th
Evie walked into Panera Bread and saw her elder sister sitting at the booth in the back corner, which seemed to be her favorite place in restaurants. “Hi.” She waved as she approached the table.
“Hey, sis. Good to see ya,” said Gracie
“So have you seen him yet?” she situated herself across the booth from Gracie.
“No, but I can’t wait. Taking these secret agents down a few notches is quite satisfying. Most of them seem to be possessed by a hyper-inflated sense of self‑importance. I am so ready for this.”
“Me neither. I’ve seen many government agents through the millennia, and they are all the same: they think they’re God’s gift to the world and the greater good. All they are, in truth, is working stiffs who have a job to do, just like the rest of us.”
The girls had just finished ordering their sandwiches and soups, when a man dressed in a dark suit, sunglasses, and a trench coat came into view through the store window. Evie noticed it first, and her radar went up. He walked over to their table, and sat down uninvited, in one of the chairs.
Agent Farooqi looked at them; then focused on her. “Are you Evelyn Chen?” he asked.
“Miss Chen,” Farooqi continued, “We have reason to believe you may know something about a gentleman who works for us. He was last seen escorting you to the home of Mr. And Mrs. Frank Chen.”
He described Michael/Agent Angelo to her and Gracie.
Great effort kept her eyes from glazing over. Feigned interest was the best she could offer as he obviously followed his CIA protocol. Not very imaginative, either.
“We need to get in contact with Agent Angelo as soon as possible. We have matters of urgency to discuss with him,” said Farooqi.
She knew what he wanted: he was trying to catch an angel, which was laughably funny. “Well, Mr.— I’m sorry; I didn’t catch your name.”
“Farooqi,’ he replied tersely.
“Do you have a business card or something, in case we see Agent Angelo and need to get a hold of you?”
“Here’s my card should you have any more information concerning Agent Angelo.” He gave them his card. “I’ll be in touch.” Then he stared hard at her. “There’s also another matter that concerns you.”
Her heart beat faster, as his face looked serious, and she sensed that something very stressful was about to happen.
“You see, Ms. Chen: you are an undocumented alien; we can find no records of your past. Unless you prove that you are legitimately in the U.S., there’s a very real possibility that you may be deported.”
“Agent Farooqi,” Grace said, “my sister was legally adopted when she first came here, back in November. I drew up the papers myself.”
“Yes, but was she an American citizen at the time?” asked Farooqi.
Gracie was stunned, and couldn’t say a word. She couldn’t say that she had come to Earth from Heaven, so she could only say, “I think so.”
Farooqi said, “Well, you have to be sure, otherwise you’ll have to leave this country. We have no record of your ever being in the U.S. before, so there’s reason to doubt your citizenship.” He got up, nodded perfunctorily at them both and left.
Farooqi and his colleague, Walt Browning, sat at his desk, and compared notes.
He shook his head in disbelief. “I just don’t understand how he continues to elude us.”
“We had the suspect under surveillance” began Browning. “He was first seen walking into the offices of F.H. Chen Enterprises in Bethesda. We have him later today going into Chen’s daughter Grace’s law firm of Halbreath, Petrovich, and Chang.”
Farooqi mulled this information over a few moments. “Hmm. Seems there is a connection here as of late with Agent Angelo and the Chen family. We will have to put out more surveillance on this family. In fact, I need to interrogate Evelyn Chen soon. She not only seems to be in cahoots with Agent Angelo, she’s also a suspected illegal alien.”
Later that Same day
Evie walked from her office towards the south entrance of the DuPont Circle metro station on her way home, deeply immersed in thought about her relationship with Carlo. Her reverie, interrupted by an arm suddenly on her shoulder, made her startle. She gasped, jumped almost a foot off the ground, instinctively reached for non-existent swords, turned around and pointed them directly at her assailant. Recognition hit, and she said, “Agent Farooqi! My gracious, you scared the daylights out of me!” Stepping out of her battle pose, she held her hands on her heart, which pounded hard in her chest. “Don’t you believe in greeting people with ’Hi’ or ‘Hello’ like most normal people do, instead of just walking up to someone and grabbing their arm?”
“Do you always point at people like you had swords in your hand?” he shot back.
Gaining her composure and her wit, she added, “Touché.” But you might get better results for your investigations that way; you know, ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’”
“Please follow me into this coffee shop,” Farooqi replied, not amused.
Michael, who had taken human form, walked along side her behind Farooqi.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered. “I’ve got angels on this.” Then he quickly disappeared.
Farooqi led her into the coffee shop, and, after they had both sat down, started his interrogation. “It has come to our attention, Ms. Chen, that this Agent Angelo has been seen accompanying you recently. In fact, we saw him going into your father’s offices in Bethesda, and later to your sister’s offices down the street. We know you’re keeping regular contact with him. Why don’t you just save us all a lot of time, and tell us all that you know about him.”
She was relieved to see Faroh walk into the coffee shop. She motioned him to sit down beside her.
“Why, Miss Evie!” he exclaimed. “It’s a mighty fine coincidence to see your lovely face this afternoon. How are we doing today?”
She smiled. “I’m just fine, Faroh. This gentleman here seems to have a lot of questions for me.”
Faroh’s smile grew broader. “Well, hi there, young man. The name’s Faroh O’Dell. You can just call me Faroh. What might your name be?”
“Farooqi,” he answered in his usual curt manner. “And I need for you to excuse yourself. I’m conducting Government business here.”
“Well, Mr. Farooqi: I’m sure you are. You know, you sound like your momma and daddy came from somewhere in the Middle East. Where exactly are you from, young man?”
“Where I’m from is of no concern to you, Mr. O’Dell…”
Taking this opportunity to ‘excuse herself’, she said, “Oh my…will you look at the time! I need to go. I’ll leave you gentlemen to get better acquainted.”
Farooqi started to protest, and tried to get up to stop her, but unbeknownst to him, Cydnie had her hands on his shoulders, rendering him unable to move. She was in angelic form, invisible to human eyes. Evie walked out of the coffee shop.
“So, you never did answer my question, Mr. Farooqi…where exactly are you from…?”
Evie and her sister sat in their living room that evening, discussing the events of the day. Both were in a pensive mood. “Can he really have me deported? And if he does, where will I be deported to?”
“Well, you got me there,” Gracie answered. “I don’t think they’ll send you back to Heaven,” she quipped, grinning. “But seriously, I guess I took it for granted that all that was worked out when you came here.”
“I thought so too,” she said. “It’s rather odd that they would put me here on Earth, and give me no history.” No sooner had she spoken, than a bright light floated into their living room, and an angelic being soon materialized.
“Hello. I’m Gabrielle, twin sister to Gabriel. He came to announce your arrival, and I have come to take care of the matters you now ponder. Turning to Evie, she said, “Your now deceased parents were Franklin and LiJie Xue Armand. Franklin was born in America, and LiJie was born in China. Evelyn was born, as you know, November 14th, 1982, in New Jerusalem, Ohio. They were missionaries to China but her parents and she came back to America when she was six. Her parents are now buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Milton, Ohio, about twenty-five miles south of Cleveland. They suffered a fatal car accident a year before Evie was adopted by the Chens. All birth records, death records, and family history are all accounted for. Should Agent Farooqi ask you for your background information, all he has to do is get the information from the Logan County, Ohio Registrar’s Office about Evelyn’s birth. Her parents’ birth and death certificates are also held there. Evelyn is a naturalized United States citizen, and should get an official copy of her Birth Certificate so as to prove her citizenship.”
“So, I’m an American citizen?” Evie asked.
“Yes you are,” Gabrielle answered.
“Well I’ll get on getting copies of all those documents right away,” said Gracie. “We need that information A.S.A.P.”