This is the 9th installment of a story I started on my old site. The full story is posted on the page labelled Choices, but as I write more, I’ll post it here.
“I thought you two would make friends if I gave you a little time to get to know each other.” Myra said as she came through the door I’d never bothered to close the night before. “Where’s the angel?”
“Last I saw he was lying on the hood of the car looking up at the stars. He might have taken off to get a better look at the sunrise, though. That’s the kind of thing they used to do.”
“Take off?” Emily asked.
“Yeah, you know, fly? They really can do that if they choose to take that form, but they have to make sure not to let anybody see them. That form is a little much for most humans to handle seeing.”
“But not you?”
“Nah, kiddo. Remember, I saw them in their natural form all the time back in the Garden days. So it doesn’t bother me. It unnerves me a little more to see them in human form, actually. Especially Michael. He never was much of one to hang with us in the Garden, and I haven’t seen him, or any of them really, since they tossed us out.”
“Does the Garden still exist? Could you go back there?”
“No. It was more than a place, it was a state of being. Being cast out of the Garden was more being cut off from all the pure light of the world than it was being tossed out of a physical place. I suppose it’s something similar to what Lucky felt when his little revolution failed, being deprived of seeing the face of God for all eternity. Being tossed out of the Garden was a little like that. We were cut off from our Father, who had held a pretty active role in our lives until then. And all our friends, the angels and animals both, were gone. We couldn’t talk to the animals anymore, and they started killing each other. And the angels, well, between the day we were tossed out and yesterday, the only angels I’ve seen were either fallen or porcelain.”
“That’s awful.” Emily said, as she threw her arms around my neck.
“Moderately awful, yes.” I hugged her back as Myra sat on the bed on my other side.
“Well isn’t this just fucking precious,” came a voice from the door. I went very, very still, the way someone does when they hear a rattlesnake’s buzz as they’re walking through the desert. I knew the voice, even after all these years, and I knew that his presence here was no more an accident than my picking that particular diner as I cruised east.
My oldest son slid into the room, all sinewy muscle and blue-black hair, and sat down in the chair. He took my abandoned glass of whiskey, knocked it back, and poured himself another. “Good choice, pops. Life is too short for cheap liquor, even for us.” He raised a glass to Emily, said “Cheers, baby sister. Cheers,” and sipped the amber liquid, taking a deep breath as he set down the glass.
“Now, Dad. Suppose you tell me exactly what is going on and why you and Baby Sis and this mortal floozy are snuggling in a no-tell motel while Mom’s working in a strip joint on Bourbon Street shaking her moneymaker for wasted tourists. I mean, after all these years of being the black sheep of the family I suddenly find myself downright respectable by comparison.”
I was on my feet before I knew it, but Cain was always fast. He caught me and had me bent backwards over the cheap table quicker than an eyeblink. His strong arm went across my neck in a choke, and he got right down in my face, close enough for me to smell the hate on his breath. He smiled at me, and my blood ran cold. I knew real fear for the first time in centuries, as my psychotic son held my life in his hands.
“No, no, papa. We’ll have none of those outbursts. They aren’t good for the soul, are they? But what would I know about that, right? I don’t know how you got me here, and I don’t care. But it’s not going to end well for you, Daddy. It’s not going to end well at all. Remember, only one of us can really hurt one of us. And I know how to hurt, Daddy. I know very well how to hurt. And I…” Cain grunted heavily and his grip on my neck loosened as he slumped off my back onto the floor. I got up off the table shakily and saw Emily behind him holding a Gideon bible like a sledgehammer, her hands shaking but her eyes fierce. I looked up at her and saw her ultimate grandmother in those flaming eyes, and there was no denying that this kid was something to reckon with.
I tied Cain to the chair with his belt and mine, and sent Emily running for Michael. I hoped the angel was within earshot, and had a plan, because I had no idea how we were going to deal with this. In the back of my mind I knew we would have to deal with Cain eventually, but I had convinced myself that Eve would come first, because Eve could deal with him. Yeah, I know, probably not the greatest parenting strategy, but after a half dozen eons or so I think I can get by without any tips from Dr. Spock, alright?
Apparently Michael was close, because Emily brought him back a few minutes later, and the little shit had the audacity to look pleased about the situation.
“What, by all the names of the Father, are you grinning about?” I asked as Emily closed the door behind the angel.
“Well, Adam, it should be apparent. Now we don’t have to look for Cain. He’s found us. It’s a capital development!”
“Capital?!? Jesus and Mohammed, no wonder nobody likes the British! I’ll grant you that he’s found us and that makes one bit easier, but now we have to deal with him, and I guarantee that will do nothing but complicate matters.”
“Complicate matters? Oh Daddy, you always did underestimate me. I will do so much more than merely complicate matters. I plan to end matters. I’m tired of this dance we’ve done with each other for so long, and now that I see you again, it’s finally time to do something about it. Just like I did with your precious Abel.”
“Don’t. Speak. That. Name. You lost all right to say your brother’s name when you took his life, you insane little bastard! I should end you myself right now. I should have done it a lifetime ago, but”
“But what, Daddy? But Mommy wouldn’t let you? But you didn’t have the guts? But you didn’t know then that you couldn’t die so you chickened out because you were afraid of going to Hell with your friend Lucypher? BUT WHAT, DADDY?” Spittle landed on my shirt as he screamed the last at me.
“But he still loves you and can’t stand the thought of losing you, too.” Emily was sitting on the far bed, all the way across the room from where Michael and I flanked Cain’s chair, but she didn’t have to raise her voice to stop our yelling match cold.
“Can’t you see? He’s spent thousands of years bludgeoning himself for not seeing what you were going to do, and for not stopping you. He’s beaten himself bloody for centuries for not stopping your mother from going off alone into the Garden that day. He’s never forgiven himself for never telling you that he forgave you the second he told you to get out of his sight, and he’s been so afraid of the hurt in your eyes every time you look at him that he’s tried to cover it up with anger. You know, for people that have lived for thousands of years, you’re all pretty stupid sometimes.”
I listened to her say the words I couldn’t even bring myself to think, and looked at Cain as he saw the truth of what she said reflected in my eyes, and I did something I thought I’d never do again after Matthew died in my arms. I cried. My legs went weak and I fell to my knees in that cheap room on the second floor of a Quality Inn in Tyler, Texas, and I wept like a baby.