Being a Guardian Angel rocks…most of the time.
Despite the long hours, no breaks and outdated tech it’s the best post-death job out there. The facts are that I am not actually a full-fledged Guardian Angel yet. I’m just a dinky second-class angel stuck in Junior Angel Corps. The dudes with the great jobs are in in First Class Angel Corps with the big guns and swanky tech. I’ll get there some day… maybe. The gosh honest truth is that I kind of suck at the whole “guard and protect” thing, but demon fighting is awesome. Their heads might grow back after I blow them off, but still… it’s a total riot. I mean, they’re demon scum and there are like, billions of them. They out number the Guardians at least ten to one and the number one rule in Angel Corps is to shoot first. It is the best perk of being in Angel Corps.
I’ve got this totally sweet semi automatic shotgun where I can pump out Anti-Demon shells like nobody’s business and watching demon guts splatter is just freaking amazing. I’m telling you, nothing is better than taking aim and…
My name is Gideon. I am a Junior Guardian Angel and I’ve been stuck at fifteen for a whopping fifty years. Not cool. Most junior angels move up, grow up and get tougher assignments.
I’m not there… yet.
I have this super lame brain glitch called Anomi... Anio… amio…
I forgot the name of it. Trust me, it’s a real issue due to some miss-wiring in my brain. Basically I am super stupid when it comes to putting names to faces, among other things. It’s a big deal. I have to see a shrink and I’m not thrilled about it either. It’s not like forgetting names is all that big of a deal, right? Right. Who am I kidding? I am a freaking disaster.
Hence the shrink.
Mortal shrinks are great. They sit in silence and take notes while mortals chatter about their sucky lives. Immortal shrinks are totally different. They know what is wrong with you, give you a list of what to do and then expect you to go out and do it. Which is great. If only I was really good at the ‘doing’ part.
I had a bad case of the jitters as I sat in the dingy hallway on a rickety folding chair next to Miss. Shrink’s office. It was situated in the far corner on the top floor in a grungy fifth-floor walk up in Chinatown, New York. I could smell raw fish and steamed rice through the floorboards. Every time I came to the office, I ended up craving bean buns and chow mien and not solving a darn thing with my brain. All I wanted was to get in, get out and get back to blasting demons. Oh… and scampering after my Mortal assignments. Whatever.
Just the thought of blowing a hole through those evil suckers made me grin. I ran my thumb over the polished silver barrel of my six-shooter. I had two of them. One holstered on each hip, two belts of ammo wrapped around my chest and a shotgun strapped to my back over the top of a wrinkled denim shirt. I rolled my sleeves up to look like I was always ready for action. I even gave my brass wings a quick shine. My Second Class wings was a battered second-hand pin in the shape of eagle wings and one diagonal stripe dashed through the center pinned over my left breast pocket. I worked hard for those wings. Boot camp at the Academy was brutal.
Every single angel in the Junior Corps was fully fitted out like I was. Everyone from Search and Rescue to the flipping softies down at the Miracle Corp had demon protection. It was mandatory gear because without it, we were sitting ducks and those demons can pack a punch when they gang up on us. I envied the Angels of Death. Those guys were armed to the teeth, totally hardcore. I wished I had been drafted into the A.O.D. instead of the Guardians. Those angels had it made. But, my recruiter balked at the thought that I might forget which Mortal I was popping off and take the wrong one. Stupid brain.
Speaking of brains, it was almost my turn with the shrink. The silver handle turned slowly and the door swung open as a leather clad Angel of Death stepped out with Miss Shrink.
“Thank you, ma’am,” he drawled in a thick southern accent. “I’ll be working on it.”
“Very good,” Miss Shrink said pleasantly.
The A.O.D. tipped his black cowboy hat and sauntered out of the room. I’d worked with him before, but I still blanked his name. Sam? Sven? Steve? It was an S name, I was sure of it. He had been stuck at sixteen for as long as I could remember (which isn’t saying much), not that I think he cared. I think he enjoyed flashing his deep double dimples at every sweet-faced Miracle angel chick that crossed his path and had all the cockiness that comes with being the typical jock type angel.
The A.O.D. caught my eye and nodded. I figured if I skipped the greeting I could get by without botching his name.
“Still trigger happy?” I said as he gave me a lazy fist bump.
“Yep,” he said.
“How many did you bump off this time?”
“Couple hundred.” He fought back a grin. “Accidental quake. I swear.”
I chuckled. I doubted it was accidental.
The A.O.D. paused and glanced over his shoulder at Miss Shrink who was patiently waiting.
“Still blanking my name?” he whispered.
“Steve, right?” I guessed.
Dang it. I knew it was an ‘S’ name! “I’m going to be stuck in therapy for eternity,” I grumbled.
“You and me both, bro.” Stan gave me an encouraging whack on the shoulder and headed out. That left me only one option: it was time to buck up and get my head examined.
“Gideon,” Miss Shrink said as she motioned me into her office. “So good to see you again.”
“Right back at ya,” I said. Maybe if I kept things vague, I could get away with the fact that I didn’t see–whatever the heck the shrink’s name was–often enough to even place a letter to her calm roundish face, button nose and long ginger hair, let alone a name. It didn’t help that I was nervous either. Heck, I could blank the events of an entire week when I was freaking out.
I sat down on the plush white couch across from her stiff white leather chair. There was no other furniture in the tiny room. No clip board, no relaxing rows of books on a homey bookshelf, no note pad, no desk and no calming color painted on the walls to sub-consciously ease my stress levels.
Come to think of it, I think I spent way too much time in the various offices of mortal shrinks. Seeing as I pretty much had to follow my charges everywhere they went when I was on call, I got to know a few places a little too well.
“Tell me, Gideon, how is your Anomia Aphasia improving?” she said, getting straight down to business.
That’s what it was called! I’d have to remember it this time. I might use it on a Miracle Worker or a sweet Search and Rescue chick. Those angels had a soft spot for damaged goods and a cool sounding disability could score me at least a pity date.
“Super good,” I said. “I’ve totally been working on those object association recall exercises you assigned me from last time.”
Miss Shrink’s ginger eyebrow cocked up a fraction. That was the other not-cool part about immortal shrinks. They could spot a lie a mile away.
“What is my name,” she said.
My heart rate increased exponentially. I hated being under pressure. It only made things a million times worse.
“Sara… Aman–da….uh…,” I was shooting straight blanks. I knew it by the un-amused look on her face. “Aly…”
“Stop,” she said and huffed out long-suffering sigh. “It’s clear you don’t remember at all.”
“No. I didn’t forget. Really, I didn’t,” I said, racking my brain in a panic. If I didn’t work out my head problems soon, I was going to be stuck in J. A. C. forever. I’d met angels suspended in puberty for eons and it’s freaking depressing. “Look, I remember the red hair part that makes me think of a big fat ginger cat.” What was I saying? I just called her hair fat, but I kept babbling. “Then I linked the ‘cat’ part with your name. Kitty, right? Or Cathy? Katrina? Katie? You know, one of my charges has a cat named Fluffy. That can’t be it. Kamla....?”
I was seriously scrounging at nothing. Miss Shrink rubbed wearily at her forehead.
“It’s Tabitha, Gideon,” she sighed. “Just Tabitha.”
“Bingo!” I said with a wide grin. “I knew it! Tabitha, like one of those big tabby cats that lie around and do nothing all day. See! I knew I’d get there eventually.”
Tabitha shook her head. “Not even remotely close. This is a big problem, Gideon.”
Dang it. I deflated in an instant. I hated the way she kept repeating my name, rubbing it in that she had perfect recollection and I didn’t.
“How long have you been in the Junior Angel Corps?”
I also hated leading questions. “A few decades,” I muttered.
“Fifty years,” Tabitha said. “Which, in my opinion, is forty years too long.”
I couldn’t dispute that one bit. Don’t get me wrong, Junior Corps was awesome and I loved being a Guardian. I just didn’t want to stay stuck at fifteen forever. Nobody would. I didn’t want to be scrawny, a little rumpled with hair funk, feet I hadn’t grown into yet and a permanent zit on my chin for eternity.
Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I was decent sized for fifteen. My hair was a reddish shade of blonde, I had green eyes and a load of orange freckles that covered every inch of my body. The freckles were not cool. When I was embarrassed, my entire head looked like it caught fire. The perma-zit was a real problem though. I’d had that thing for more years than I cared to admit to.
“You have great potential,” Tabitha said, soldiering on.
Great, now I was getting the pep talk. I hated those too. I never felt all that pepped up after them.
“You have the makings of a great Guardian, one of the best in the Angel Corps,” she said. “In fact, you have many wonderful qualities.”
I had to fight the urge to roll my eyes at her. Chucking attitude at a First Class angel with serious brass for wings never went over well.
“Truly, Gideon,” Tabitha said, obviously reading the doubt on my face. “I want to see you succeed, but to get anywhere beyond Junior Corps, you’ll need to focus.”
“Now my focus is off? Geez, what else is wrong with me?” I blurted.
“Gideon!” Tabitha bit my head off with my name, obviously losing patience. To regain her cool, she pinched the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes. I could almost hear her thoughts counting to infinity.
“Gideon,” she said again, considerably calmer this time. “I think we should try a new tactic. Can you try a little exercise for me?”
“Lay it on me,” I grunted. After all, I felt bad I was putting her through heck. I could at least try something new. Not that it would work…
“When you meet your next charge, repeat his or her name in you head, while studying their face intently, for a full minute. Can you try that for me, Gideon?”
“Sure,” I shrugged. That sounded easy enough.
“Wonderful.” Tabitha eased a wan smile on her face. The shrink gig must be tough work. “We are here to do good, Gideon. Each one of us was given stumbling blocks.”
Here we go. This was her classic ‘finish the appointment speech’ and it usually lasted longer than my attention span.
“Our faults are designed to bless us and the charges we watch over,” she droned on.
Heavens above. Next she was going to blather on about turning our weaknesses into strengths and all that blah blah blah. Silently I prayed that I could miraculously get out of there, before she broke into the sob story of her own personal hiccups. Funny how I could remember her dry ending speech and not her name.
Yeesh, my head must really be messed up worse than I thought.
My shirt pocket buzzed.
Politely, I held up a finger. “Could you hold that thought?” I said. Grateful for the interruption, I dug out my silver cell phone and flipped it open. Nothing, and I mean nothing, got in the way of Guardian work.
Tabitha nodded knowingly and waved me out of her office. We held a silent, hasty goodbye and I escaped out the door.
Saved by the cell!