Wednesday, January 16th
Demetrius Middleton waited in anticipation of the Urban Knights meeting to begin at 7:30 PM. His wife Rochelle, Jinx, and Raji were setting up snacks for the meeting in the kitchen.
“Rochelle, honey…do you need any help with the refreshments?” he called from the meeting room.
Rochelle answered, “No, baby. We girls have it all under control. You just keep praying for the meeting tonight.”
As on other Wednesday nights, the Chen girls, Tony, Peter, “T”, Raji and about ten other young people wandered in the door, and paired off in groups, each involved in a lively conversation. The Urban Knights ministry reached the young and single adults who lived in the District.
Tonight, the Lord had put on his heart to talk with the group about sexual purity. He felt very impressed by the Lord to deal with the sexual immorality among young people, even in the church. An open and honest discussion about it would be a good place to start. The study and the discussion went on for almost three hours, before Demetrius called a halt. After the study was over, Jinx and Evie, and Gracie all approached Demetrius.
Jinx spoke first. “Pastor Demetrius, Evie and I have a prayer request. Would you pray with us about this?”
Evie agreed. “Yes, Pastor Demetrius. We would really like the Lord to protect Gracie from harm. A player named Shane is trying to get her into a dangerous situation.”
“Yes,” said Gracie. “He’s a real ladies man, and is trying to lure me into his trap.”
They all agreed in prayer, with him leading, expecting the Lord would work on their behalf. “You girls remember to continue to keep this situation in prayer,” he added as the three girls walked away. “I don’t exactly know how the Lord will answer your prayer, but you can be sure He will.”
“We will,” they all agreed.
Thursday, January 17th
Evie met Carlo at the Malaysian restaurant on M Street for lunch. She kissed him ‘hello’ and they sat down. Carlo looked at her excitedly. “Say, have you ever been to Ocean City?”
“Why no. I’ve never visited anywhere outside of DC yet.”
“My goodness. You, young lady, are sorely lacking in your cultural education. You really should see the Boardwalk, the carnival at the end of the pier and taste some Thrasher’s fries, although the Carnival and Thrasher’s Fries are on limited hours; luckily both are open on the Weekend. It’s a cool place to hang out.”
“Isn’t it kind of cold outside to be hanging out at the ocean?”
“True, but we don’t need to go swimming. We can just take in the sights. That’s just as fun. And since we won’t be on the beach, proper, you won’t get a lot of sand in your clothes.” He grinned. “Besides, I’ll be there to keep you warm.”
“Ooh. I like that idea.” She hugged him. “It sounds cozy and fun.”
“Good. Why don’t we go there this weekend? There won’t be any tourists or the usual summer crowds. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
“So do you promise we’ll snuggle to keep each other warm?” Her eyes twinkled.
“Oh yes. That part of the trip is mandatory.”
Saturday, January 19th
They left early Saturday morning. The ride to Ocean City was very pleasant. Evie took in all the interesting sites of Maryland, including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. “Oh my, we’re high. I feel some vertigo when I look over the side of the bridge.”
“Well, then don’t do that, silly. Why purposefully give yourself vertigo?”
She laughed. “Yes, daddy. I’ll be good and look straight ahead.”
“Now there’s a good girl.”
Carlo had a jazz saxophonist in the CD player, playing some very gospel oriented tunes. The first was jazzy and upbeat. The second talked directly about only needing Jesus, who would always be there for you. She became quiet listening to this one. It was starting to hit close to home. The third song talked of the love of the Father in Heaven for all those who know Him. She felt the sadness rise in her. Tears pooled in her eyes and started falling down her cheeks.
“Evie! Are you all right? What’s the matter?”
“I just miss my Daddy. A lot. It’s been so long since He held me.”
“Frank? Didn’t you just see him last Sunday at the family dinner?”
“Not him: my Father in Heaven, Carlo. I haven’t seen Him in person since I...” She realized she was going to reveal her true self to Carlo. She swallowed hard and steeled herself. “Carlo, before I joined the Chen family, I was an angel in Heaven named Ever Vigilant. I served under Michael the Archangel as his second in command. I wanted to understand what redemption means to you…well humans. And I was sent here.”
Peter processed her words for a few moments, saying nothing.
“If you want, I can ask one of my angel friends to validate what I’m saying.”
“Umm...no: you don’t need to do that.” He paused, looking straight ahead at the highway as they drove further eastward along Route 50. “Actually, I do remember Gracie telling me at Christ Community Church that Gabriel announced your imminent coming.”
“Yes. Here I am: Evie the angel; turned human.”
“Wow.” Carlo grasped the steering wheel tightly, and looked ahead, silent.
“Are you having second thoughts about me, now?”
“No, not at all.” He finally smiled, which relieved her. “Wow! That’s wild. What do you know about that?” He stared at her again for several moments, making her feel uneasy. “An angel. That’s interesting.”
“Well, I suppose so. But I don’t feel all that interesting right now.”
Carlo turned into a small sandwich shop, and parked the car. Turning to her, he held her hands gently. “Evie, honey. I’ve never been in the direct presence of God, so I can’t say I completely understand what you’re going through. But I do know God loves all who call on Him.”
“I’ve talked to Him. A lot. But I still feel sort of...well, like He’s being distant towards me.”
“Distant? Why would He be that way to you? If you really were an angel, why would you suddenly be in…” His turned his gaze back to her. “Good Lord, Evie. You’re human now.”
“Yes. Everyone reminds me of that…often. So what am I missing? I’m lost. I’ve always known my Father. How can I know Him any more than I already do?”
“Didn’t you say you needed to find redemption?”
“Yes. But I don’t understand exactly what it means.”
“Well, since you’re truly human, you are not as you were when you were once an angel. You are not a perfect being any more. You need to give your heart to Him and make Jesus Christ your Lord.”
“Don’t you see how silly that sounds? The Father and The Lamb are my Lords, and my heart does now, and has always belonged to them. What’s different now?” Her frustration rose, and the tears of sadness fell. “Can we not talk about this any more? It’s making me very unhappy.”
“Okay. I understand.”
The rest of the trip to Ocean City was quiet. Her sadness hung heavily in the air over her and Carlo.
Evie tried her best to enjoy the time at Ocean City. Carlo was tender and understanding and let her have her space, just holding her hands. Evie managed a small smile from time to time, but eventually, the funk would settle over her again.
“I’m sorry Carlo. I guess I’m ruining your trip to Ocean City, which was a very nice idea, by the way.”
“First, it’s our trip; second, you’re the most important part of the trip. I’ve been here many times before. But if something is bothering you, I want to help you through it.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate that. You’ve been very kind to me the whole time.”
She looked wistfully at him. “Could you hold me, please? I could really use someone holding me. In fact, I need someone holding me right now.”
“No problem at all.” He put his masculine arms around her, and held her close. She relished the closeness, and let herself melt into him and his embrace.
“Kiss me, Carlo.”
He did. Tenderly. She luxuriated in it for several moments. It wasn’t her Father, but he was so nice and understanding, it made her feel better to be around him.
VD grudgingly let Poisonous take the credit for this one. “I must admit, you can really appeal to Evie’s love for Lord Jehovah to blind her to the truth about becoming one of the Believers in the Light.”
“Well, I learned a lot from you, VD,” said Poisonous, smiling perfunctorily.
“I suppose that we work as a team, and help each other build our talents.”
“Yes. I guess you might say, ‘Two heads are better than one.’”
VD looked around to be sure no Princes or Principalities were around, and whispered in Poisonous’ ear. “I sure hope we don’t run into PC again any time soon. He scares the evil out of me.”
“Let’s just say, I would not want to be alone with him. No matter how handsome he looks, I know the menace that lies in his heart.”
“Shame, really; he’s awfully handsome. I wonder what he’d be like in bed…”
“VD!” Poisonous spoke in a harsh whisper. Don’t tempt his wrath by speaking about him like that. You must cool your demonic hormones, and stay clear of him.”
“I know, I know; but I’ll be honest: there are times when I wish you could inflict him with some of your lust. He’s just so attractive…” She sighed.
“I’ll give you that. But he’s not as handsome as Shane Logan.”
“Hmm…if I didn’t know any better, I think a certain demon is attracted to a certain human…”
Poisonous leathery face turned ever so slightly redder. “Stop it. You know I can’t feel that way about a human. I don’t have to point out there are obvious differences between humans and us.”
“Yes, but I still think you like Shane more than you let on. You seem to volunteer more for assignments with him than with other human men.”
“I do not. Don’t be absurd.”
“Mmm-hmm. So why are you blushing so?”
Poisonous surprised them both as tears fell down her eyes.
“Oh, Poisonous. I’m sorry. It must hurt to feel that way and not to be able to do anything about it.” She looked around to make sure no one else was around; then hugged her partner.
“Thank you, VD.”
“You’re welcome, partner.”
Poisonous’ face became sober. “Don’t you dare tell anyone else about this.”
“Are you crazy? We’d be brought before Lucifer himself if this got out. I don’t even want to think of what would happen to us after that.”
“Nor do I,” said Poisonous.
“Okay, then. Let’s be about our business.”
Evie’s thoughts and heart made her sad; she didn’t feel much like talking to Carlo. The trip back from Ocean City was very quiet. Neither of them said a word, and Carlo just kept his eyes on the road. When they arrived back at Evie’s condo, Carlo kissed her goodbye and she walked into the lobby and took the elevator back to the condo.
Later, while lying in her bed, she found herself talking to her Father.
“Abba, I don’t understand why you need to be my Lord again. It makes no` sense.”
Sin must be paid for.
“Am I so sinful that you avoid me?”
The blood must cover you. There is no other way.
Evie pondered that last remark. ‘No other way.’ How could the blood of The Lamb cover her? What had she done that was so terrible? She only was here because the Father had seen her desire to know redemption. Humans saw something that she didn’t, and she was too tired to try to figure it out now. She resigned herself to the sadness that had taken over her weekend. It was going to be a long one; even Carlo couldn’t change that.
VD looked on, smiling wickedly. “Yep. You’re lost, and I’m going to make sure you stay that way. It’s almost comical, really. You’re so used to being an angel that you don’t understand your humanness. You’re in a fallen state, tainted by the first woman who disobeyed Lord Jehovah and introduced sin into the world. She was an Eve too; how appropriate.”
As Evie lay there asleep, VD settled at the foot of her bed, avoiding coming in contact with her. “What is it about redemption that would make you so foolishly give up your angelic status? By Lucifer, I was once an angel of light myself, but Lord Jehovah forced me to become a second-class angel. ‘Demon’ indeed! Just because Lucifer thought a little too highly of himself was no reason to cast him and all of the rest of us under his command out of New Jerusalem, to be hated and despised.”
Thoughts of her former days and Virtue Seeker flooded back into her mind. Those days made her happy then; she had admired and loved Lord Jehovah and Ruach Ha-Kodesh. They always made her feel loved and wanted; but that had all changed abruptly. She remembered crying her tender heart out at being cast out of their presence. Lucifer made sure she never did that again: the suffering in Hell he threatened scared her out of her mind.
“I didn’t want to become what I am. But my lot has been cast, and I can’t change it.” As she looked at Evie, she realized tears were falling down her cheeks.
“Curses! Why do I have to be an outcast? I want the redemption you seek.” She looked quietly around to make sure no one overheard or saw her.
“It’s not fair.” She paused. “Well, at least you’re clueless right now about redemption. I don’t feel like bothering with you tonight. There’s no point in telling you more lies. You believe them pretty well already.”
She got up off the bed, took about three steps, and fell to the floor, sobbing. Looking towards the Heavens, she wailed, “I want to be loved again. Why can’t I be loved again?” Her sadness overtook her, and she could only cry helplessly.
She didn’t notice that Evie had awakened.
“Is someone crying?” she asked. “Is that you, Gracie?”
VD jerked herself out of her helpless state, and fled before someone started praying. “I can’t go back to Poisonous like this. She’ll chew me out for being weak. I think I’ll go hide in a cave.” She found and abandoned tool house in Mount Vernon Square, and hid there. “Oh my evilness, that was close. Another demon might have seen me. She huddled up on the floor, wrapping her arms around her legs. “I’m going to be strong, and make sure she suffers like I am. She’ll find out what it means to be an outcast. You think you feel abandoned now? Just you wait, sweetie. One day, you’ll be abandoned forever.” She shuddered involuntarily. “Oh curses. So will I.”
She broke into sobs again, leaving her more helpless than when she stood by Evie. The next thing she knew, it was morning. “Oh, my evilness. Poisonous is going to report me if I don’t show up soon.”
Sunday, January 20th
The afternoon sun shone through the cold of the winter day. The Sunday dinner at the Chen’s house was cancelled because her father was out of town on business. Church had been wonderful, per usual, but now she drummed on the sidetable, wondering what to do next. “This is boring,’ she complained. Finally, she decided to take in a movie. Perusing the online movie guide, she saw an interesting movie playing at the Uptown Theatre on Connecticut Avenue. Her overcoat and a sweater on, she headed out the door, and took the eight minute walk to the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station. A few minutes later, after transferring to the Red Line, she got off at the Cleveland Park station, and walked into the theatre. She sat in the back of the theatre to get a better and more comfortable view of the screen. The previews ended, and the feature presentation started. Only a few minutes into the movie, there was a commotion at the entrance to her left. She had barely looked up when gunshots rang out. Bullets flew everywhere, and amidst the terror and the mayhem, some people fell to the floor, hit by the assassin’s gun. Operating on instinct, Evie dropped quickly to the floor, avoiding the flying projectiles of death. Laying as still as she could on the floor, a few shots flew through the cushions of the chairs in front of her, and ricocheted off the metal fixture in the chairs. “Oh, please Abba, don’t let me die. I’m not sure of where I stand with you, and I don’t want to die the second death. Tears ran down her face as she trembled hard, scared witless, but not moving from her prone position on the floor.
The sound of sirens grew louder by the second, and soon, they stopped in front of the theatre. The shooting stopped, but Evie remained on the floor. The sounds of police shouting, “hands in the air,” rang through the theatre. She heard the footsteps of someone, presumably the gunman, running towards a rear entrance, and a police officer shouted, “Stop or we’ll shoot!” The gunman apparently did not stop, and several shots rang from the police weapons, followed by the sound of someone hitting the floor.
Then the theatre was quiet. She got up slowly from the floor, and peered around to make sure she wasn’t in any imminent danger. A female officer walked at a brisk pace towards her and asked, “You alright, Ma’am?” Evie managed a quiet “Yes,” and sat in a chair, still shaking.
“Were you injured at all?”
“No, officer. I’m not injured.”
“Would you like a sedative to calm your nerves?”
Evie thought for a moment, but answered, “No…I’ll be alright.”
“Then you’re free to go, ma’am.”
“Thanks,” she managed, as she got to her feet. She steadied herself, forced herself to stop shaking, then walked out to the street. Once there, she sat on a bench for the Metro Bus, and called Carlo.
“What’s up, Evie?”
“Oh Carlo, it was terrible. A murderer started randomly shooting people in the theatre…”
“Are you okay? Do you need to go to the hospital?”
“No. I just need you to come get me. I’m still shaking from the whole ordeal.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can…stay put.”
A few minutes later, Carlo run up to her, and sat beside her. “What can I do for you, Evie?”
“Just hold me,” she answered. He wrapped his strong arms around her, and she broke into agonized tears. In between sobs, she choked, “Oh, Carlo…I’m so scared. I don’t want to die, especially when I’m not of where I stand with the Father.”
“You’ll figure that out, Evie. Right now, I just need to get you home. Stay right here, and I’ll go get my car.”
His car approached, and she climbed in. No words were spoken, but tears ran down her face. Every other minute, between her quiet sobs, she would say, “I don’t wan’t to die…” Carlo remained quiet and let her sort her emotions out. Reaching the condo complex, she pleaded, “Could you come in with me? I need you to be with me right now.”
Carlo gave her a sympathetic smile, and said, “Sure. Let’s go.”
Once in the condo, she and Carlo sat down on the couch. Carlo looked at her, and started to say something, but she put her finger on his lips, and said, “Just be near me. Your presence calms me.” He held her for a while, and she finally calmed down. “Thank you for being such a good and understanding good friend. I love you.” She followed the revelation by kissing him tenderly on the lips.
At first, Carlo was perplexed. Then he said, “I love you too, but I didn’t know you felt this strongly.”
Evie, realizing what she had just done, turned a bright red. “I…I don’t believe I just did what I did. I’m sorry, Carlo. I don’t want to mislead you. I really do love you…as a friend; a very special friend. I’m so embarrassed.” She turned away from him for a few moments. Turning back in his direction she asked, “Carlo, would you forgive me? I feel awful.”
He looked at her quietly; then smiled. “Well, you’re forgiven, but consider this ‘game on.’”
“Stop it, Carlo, or I just might kiss you again…”
“So what’s stopping you?”
“You’re so bad…” Then, smiling impishly, she pulled him closed and kissed him, letting it linger. “Now behave yourself, and go, before I kiss you again.”
“Awww…do I gotta?”
“Yes. You gotta.”
“I’ll let myself out.” He opened the door, and turned back toward her. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Monday, January 21st
Evie walked towards the International Language Institute building slower than she would normally. She quietly reflected about the events of the past weekend. She faced the sidewalk, not looking directly in the face at anyone going by her, and retreated into her own world. A few minutes later, she looked up and saw the Institute coming into view. “I guess I’d better get myself together. I can’t whine all day long.”
She walked in and poked her head in on Carlo.
“Hey. How was your weekend?” she asked
“Very good. I found out that someone really loves me. Yours?” His smile disarmed her.
“It was very good, other than almost being killed, and then feeling very attracted to my co-worker.” He smiled at her, and she smiled in mock anger. “You’re incorrigible, Mr Bocelli; you realize that, don’t you?”
“Yes, and I intend to stay that way.”
She smiled back. Then a dark cloud covered her, and her eyes fell.
“Why do you look so down in the dumps?”
Carlo had this laser-like ability to see into her heart all the time. “I...guess I’m struggling with my relationship with the Father.”
“Oh yeah.” He paused, shrugging his shoulders. “Well, it’s still the same: I can’t really break it down any simpler for you.”
She threw up her hands. “Yes. I know. Jesus must be my Lord and Savior.”
“So what’s so hard to understand about that?”
“Carlo. This is getting to be a tiring discussion. I’m not really in the mood to go through it again. Not now. Could we talk about something else?”
He looked away from her for an instant. “Sure; whatever you want to talk about.”
“Quite honestly, I don’t want to talk about much of anything right now.”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m easy. I’ll give you your space.”
“Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.” She walked away, almost relieved for the conversation to be over. She sat at her desk and fought back the sadness. Wiping the tears from her eyes, blowing her nose, her day got underway.
Poisonous looked at her, and grinned sardonically. VD stood at her side.
“You’d better make sure you stick to your duties, VD. I think you went AWOL the other night, but I decided to keep an eye on you instead. Now let me do the talking this time. She looked contemptuously at Evie.
“Oh Evie. You are so blind. The answer is obvious even to me, and I want nothing to do with The Lamb being my Savior.” Evie’s sadness made her pause. She suddenly remembered her eventual end. She found herself feeling sad. No matter how much she hated Lord Jehovah for punishing all the followers of Lucifer, and giving these humans chance after chance, her end made her shudder. She couldn’t help but become sick with apprehension.
“What is wrong with you, Poisonous? You look as though something bothers you. You aren’t getting soft, are you?”
She looked up at VD, and fairly spat out the words. “No, of course I’m not getting soft! Now shut up and let me talk to this foolish ex-angel. Her undulating tentacles slithered back and forth over her bare body a little faster than usual.
“Poisonous...does it ever bother you that we will be living in agony for eternity... with no hope of escape? It’s just not fair!”
“Yes, but what of it? All the more reason to drag these pitiful humans there with us. We need to keep them focused on anything but Lord Jehovah. If they – ” Poisonous pointed at Evie -- “especially her, find out about salvation, we’ve lost them. And we can’t do that.” Poisonous’ face contorted with fury. “They are despicable, these humans. I want them all to live in agony forever, as we shall, and this ex-angel would be a delicious win for us. Don’t you agree?”
VD mustered up her best demonic face. “Yes...of course.”
“Well, what are you sitting there contemplating for? Get busy, and mislead this stupid angel. Make sure she never finds out what salvation is really all about.”
“I have been, in case you haven’t noticed.”
Poisonous still had an uneasy feeling in her gut. Evie being suddenly vulnerable only seemed to remind her of how lost and condemned she was. Evie needed to be the focus of her attention, so she shook herself out of her strange feelings.
“That’s right, you stupid once-angelic one. You, Ms. ‘I’m so clueless’ are going to be like us.” Her evil cackle reverberated off all the walls in the room. Evie, of course, heard nothing. For which Poisonous was very grateful. “And I’m going to keep you clueless.”
As she walked off to another assignment, the thoughts hit her again. The tears pooled in her eyes. “Umm…excuse me, VD. I need to go do some thinking. You know, plan some strategies for misleading Evie. Stuff like that”
VD eyed her warily, but finally said, “Sure…whatever.”