Thursday, October 19, 2006

Choices

The sky was beginning to fade to a deep purple at the horizon. Three men sat at a table overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Their chairs were moved so they could watch the sun setting. In the middle sat Emilio Palacios, a resident of East Los Angeles. On his left sat Bethor Kunashiel, a fallen angel who always wore black clothing. To his right sat the angel known only as Rumael. Rumael wore a white ankle length coat and carried a book that had a worn leather cover and intricately detailed hinges. Emilio sipped his coffee while the fallen angel spoke to Rumael.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset this beautiful in all my long life,” said Bethor. He raised his glass of wine and drank.
“You always say that to the humans Bethor, can’t you think of another line, you’ve been alive for over a thousand years and even longer when you were in the Fields,” said Rumael. He tapped his fingers on the book.
Emilio continued to sip his coffee and watch the setting sun.
“Does he know why we’re here?” asked Bethor. He tapped his black fingernails on the white metal table.
“No, that would defeat the purpose of us telling him now, wouldn’t it?” asked Rumael.
“So can I speak to him now?” said Bethor.
“Not yet,” said Rumael. He opened the leather bound book and took out his golden pen. He wrote something down and left the book open. “Now you can speak to him,” said Rumael.
“So, have you ever seen a sunset this beautiful in your life?” asked Bethor.
“No, I don’t think I have, at least not that I can remember,” said Emilio.
“And you don’t think that you’ve seen one quite like this one do you?” asked Rumael. He turned to write something in the book again.
“I can’t honestly remember. What I do know is that I am enjoying this one. It’s my first since my girlfriend left for school on the East Coast,” said Emilio. He sipped his coffee again, looked at Bethor then continued to look at the sunset.
“Would you say your life was a waste with her or did you honestly feel that she made you feel good so you actually did good?” asked Rumael.
“Listen, Mr., what is your name again?” asked Emilio.
“Rumael, Mr. Rumael.”
“Listen Mr. Rumael, I think that she made me feel special, and when someone feels special they do good. So to answer your question, yes, she made me feel good and I actually did good,” said Emilio. He finished his coffee and waived for a waiter to bring more.
“Yes, that sounds very nice, but did you actually love her?” asked Bethor. His black nails tapped faster on the table.
“Of course I loved her and always will, when she comes back to L.A. from school we are supposed to get married,” said Emilio. He smiled and crossed his arms.
“Well, I’d hate to break it to you buddy, but you are never going to marry her,” said Bethor.
“Why is that?” asked Emilio.
“She’s already dead,” said Rumael. He looked into his book and wrote another line.
“You’ve got to be joking, right?” asked Emilio.
“I wish I was, but the only thing I can tell you is this, judging by what you say about her, you can save her from being completely dead. You see she is in what we supernatural beings like to call the Way Station. She is not dead yet, because the Big Cheese, you know who I’m talking about, hasn’t decided if she should die,” said Rumael.
“It’s a new program for you humans that the Boss is trying out, you know, like the experimentation of the New Formula Coke and Classic Coke,” said Bethor.
“I must be hallucinating, I have to be,” said Emilio.
“No, you’re not, here let me show you,” said Bethor.
Emilio’s cup was filling with coffee, a plate appeared from nowhere with hot food steaming off it, and Rumael’s white wings could be seen trailing behind him.
“This can’t be happening to me, I didn’t do anything wrong,” said Emilio.
“We know that, the Big Cheese knows that, and you know that, and it has nothing to do with you doing anything wrong,” said Rumael.
“What are you two?” asked Emilio.
“I’m an angel,” said Rumael.
“I used to be an angel,” said Bethor.
“We do work for the Almighty here on the dust ball, trying to see who actually deserves a good life from their actions. Like Bethor said, it’s a new program,” said Rumael. He smiled.
Bethor took a fork full of food and swallowed.
“Why me?” asked Emilio.
“Why you, why Mary, why Mohammed, why any of the Frankish kings, why Kennedy, why, why, why, why not shut up and listen,” said Bethor.
“Thank you for that lovely tirade Bethor, anyway, you are one of a few humans who have been selected to choose your fate and the fate of one of your loved ones. As we have said earlier, your girlfriend is at the Way Station awaiting judgment. However, we also know of your parents who are each battling a debilitating disease, your grandmother who is dying of cancer and your youngest brother who is about to die from a drug overdose,” Rumael said. He turned the page of the book and nodded.
“Wow, you’re family’s a real cemetery, wonder who you’ll choose?” asked Bethor. He took another bite of food and chewed loudly.
“You would think with all his time spent on earth Bethor would learn to eat with manners, but that’s not why we are here. We want you to choose someone to save and make the choice wisely,” said Rumael.
“What if I don’t want to choose, then I get chosen to be eliminated off the face of the earth?” asked Emilio.
“No, I take your soul and eat it,” said Bethor.
Emilio stared at him and Bethor simply chewed his food.
“He’ll eat my soul?” asked Emilio. He turned to Rumael.
“Yes, he will, It’s a safety catch the Big Almighty created so that there is no way to worm your way out of the choice,” Rumael said.
“The Boss thought you humans were dodging too many choices, so he decided you should make one and stick with it. Pretty good plan to me,” said Bethor.
“Figures a fallen angel would like only one side of a choice,” said Emilio. He turned and looked at Bethor. He then turned back and looked at Rumael.
“So, who do I have to choose from besides my girlfriend?” asked Emilio.
“Your parents, your grandmother and your youngest brother. But, before you decide, maybe we should tell you of the fates of these people even if you save them,” Rumael said. He moved the leather bound book directly in front of Emilio and began speaking again.
“Your parents will die two days apart from each other, both not from their illnesses, but from the care provided them in the hospital. Your brother will go on to greater things like finding a cure for Cancer, but will still succumb to the power of the narcotics he enjoys more than life itself, leaving behind a family. Your grandmother would find herself cured and feeling better than ever. She would die in a plane that was intended to teach her to sky dive,” said Rumael. His fingers pointed to the book at various places.
“But what about the girlfriend, Rumael?” asked Bethor.
“Bethor, silence please,” Rumael said.
“Yeah, what about my girlfriend, Rumael, why didn’t you mention her? Don’t I get to hear what happens to her?” asked Emilio.
“Yes, you can know, but do you really want to?” asked Rumael.
“I think I deserve it,” said Emilio.
“Just tell the poor sucker, Rumael, quit leaving him in suspense of the already inevitable,” Bethor said and squatted on his chair.
“Your girlfriend, she goes on to the East Coast, lives her life, gets her degree, comes home and no longer finds your old plans desirable, she has seen life without you and feels empty when she sees you. She never cheated on you, never did anything to make herself stop loving you, it just happens. She leaves L. A. and heads back to the East Coast but never makes it. She winds up in the ICU of a hospital from the accident her plane gets into. Her family asks if you can go to see her because they are unable to and you go. What you find out there is that she wants to marry you but was afraid to do so in Los Angeles. As you propose to her on her hospital bed, she accepts, you both hug and kiss,” Rumael said. He turned the page and it was blank.
“What happens then?” asked Emilio.
“I don’t know, I think the Almighty wants you to make the choice now,” said Rumael.
“About damn time,” said Bethor. “ I was getting sick of all those pathetic endings.”
“I wish I could help you more, Emilio, but the only way to find out what will happen is to make the choice. Everyone else you may choose you know the outcome of because the Almighty wanted you to. He won’t let me glimpse at the future beyond what I’ve told you though. So you may choose the obvious or choose the unknown,” said Rumael.
“I don’t think he’s going to choose the girl, Rumael, the bitch left him here by himself and is going to do it again. I say let her die, she deserves it for ruining your future life,” Bethor said.
“Shut up you sorry piece of shit, you’ve never chosen anything in your pitiful life except to disobey the Creator. After that choice have you made any others?” asked Emilio.
“I only needed to make that choice and all the others fell into place,” said Bethor. He smiled at Emilio and hopped off his chair. “And its one that I’ve never looked back on.”
“Great, so I make a choice, and there is only one, but I don’t know what I’m going to be in for, or I choose the others and still face them dying. How is that a choice at all?” asked Emilio. He tossed his cup of coffee toward the bluff.
Rumael stood up, stretched, and closed the book. He motioned for Bethor to follow him and looked down at Emilio.
“We’ll give you until the sun goes down to decide,” Rumael said. He vanished right before Emilio’s eyes.
“You have exactly thirteen minutes to decide,” Bethor said. He walked in the same direction Rumael walked and also disappeared.
Emilio sat and looked at the setting sun. The pink was turning completely to purple at the horizon, but he could still see the faint outline of the sun forming an arc over the Pacific. Seagulls flew past sailboats and cruise ships. People moved along on top of the ships paying no heed to the seagulls above. Emilio shoved the plate of food across from him and wept.
The sun was gone and Bethor stood beside Rumael, book in hand.
“It’s time Emilio Palacios, make your choice and be content,” Rumael said.
“Time to leave your mark on a person,” said Bethor. He moved over to sit beside Emilio once again but sat on his right hand side.
“You know, I’ve told humans a lot of things throughout my life, but there is one thing that I told them that was never a lie. Do you want to know what that one thing is?” asked Bethor.
“What?” said Emilio.
“It sucks playing God,” said Bethor.
“You know, for a piece of shit angel, you are okay,” said Emilio.
“I know I was pretty bad on you before, but that was because we had to test you, we had to make sure you didn’t flake out on us like so many others,” Bethor said. He patted Emilio on the back and stood up once more.
“Have you made up your mind Emilio?” asked Rumael.
“Yes, yes I have,” Emilio said.
“Than say whom it is you are choosing and it will be done,” Rumael said.
“I choose no one,” said Emilio.
Both angels looked at him and shook their heads.
“You have to choose, it must be done, there is no backing out from this choice,” said Rumael.
“I have made a choice, not to choose. If I can’t control my own life, what makes you two think I can control the life of another?” Emilio said. He stood up and started walking.
“Where are you going?” Bethor asked.
“He is going to eat your soul, you have to stay here,” Rumael said.
“I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to. That is what I believe the Almighty would want, not to have us humans being forced into making choices by creatures who can only do two things, either obey or disobey,” Emilio said. “Besides, we are in L. A. it ain’t like anywhere else,” Emilio said. He walked away from Bethor and Rumael.
“You think he really does believe he can’t control someone else?” Bethor asked.
“I don’t think so, I know he doesn’t believe that, and that makes his life worth living. If he didn’t believe that he would have chosen his girlfriend, found out she was going to marry him, find out she was going to cheat on him and die in a car accident with their baby. Would you live that life Bethor?” Rumael asked.
Bethor remained silent and sat back down.
“I thought not. Let’s go, we have to go tell his girlfriend the same story, besides, I hate L. A., too many stinking people,” Rumael said.
Bethor stood up and walked alongside Rumael. The sun was gone and the stars came out.


this was done while I was at Loyola Marymount, it was even in the English Department's literary magazine. It is still one of my favorites, and it was written in about two hours.

1 Comments:

Blogger MyOwnNinjaWay said...

yea, this is one of my faves too.

11:11 AM  

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