I am posting chapters from my short, autobiographical novel concerning a year of my childhood in Santa Monica California. They are all very short chapters that can be read in a few minutes. It may be interesting to some, boringly self-indulgent to others. Feedback will be appreciated.
City of Angels
I wasn’t at all surprised to find out that the town I lived in was actually called the City of Angels because I saw them all the time – the angels I mean. It was mostly the lowest order of angels because those were the only ones that frequented the places I went. It is not like Seraphim are going to hang around in Baskin-Robbins. They must have better things to do.
Even the archangels seldom came around because they are, I imagine, fairly busy even on weekends. When I was a kid the universe struck me as a delicate and vulnerable web of reality that probably requires difficult and regular maintenance to keep it running at peak efficiency. So the higher orders of angels must have their hands full most of the time. And the recreations of a ten year old are not high on the angelic priority list.
I do believe that I once caught a glimpse of Gabriel at the bumper-cars on the Santa Monica pier. He appeared as a tremendous shadow of light, a solar corona, which on closer examination could have passed for a slightly rotund, aged man with tiny reading spectacles and a tweed coat. But when I tried to run into him with my bright green bumper-car he not only eluded my efforts, he vanished and was replaced by a snotty-nosed kid who was hell-bent on the destruction of every other car in the place.
The pier was actually a common place to see angels because as far as I could tell they liked to lie on the beach and sleep the hot afternoons away. Unlike people, angels dream stark-white, fuzzy cloud-like dreams. I don’t know why angels need to dream but they do. I suppose even divine perfection requires the occasional recreation and the release of dreams. I am sure this must be true because I have seen them go a little squirrely on occasion, wearing sombreros and playing with jump-ropes in odd places.
Saint Bernard said that the wiser you are for others, the more of a fool you are for yourself, and angels are no exception. As far as I could tell, angels seldom have a clear awareness that they are bugging out. They can keep watch over millions of living beings all over the universe, but they are seldom clued in to their own mental deterioration. They are luscious and forgiving creatures and it is just not in them to admit their neediness. Instead they store it up inside them like squirrels gathering nuts in their cheeks for winter.
I have a theory that this is why angels occasionally become visible. When they have built up enough stress the angels become sort of like us and so they grow nearer to our less ethereal plane of existence and start appearing among us. This theory is supported by the antics they sometimes undertake on such occasions. Instead of the divine behavior that we expect from them, they become tricksters and start hiding our car keys and burning our macaroni and cheese. And their divine status usually guarantees that they will remain blameless because no one wants to be heard uttering such accusations. And who would believe you anyway? People tend to look at you funny when you suddenly announce that an Angel ate your oatmeal cookies.
One day in July I watched just such an example of stress motivated trickstering. It was at the very end of the pier where the old men used to fish in the days before the pier was gentrified and made tourist-friendly. I watched a small smiling angel repeatedly hook fish on the end of an old guy’s line only to take them off again just before he reeled them in. The poor old man was becoming acutely frustrated by his sixth or seventh fish. And then as if he suspected some divine intervention, the man shook his fist at the sky and yelled “Why Me?” with an air of melodramatic affectation.
“It is that angel doing it,” I told him calmly while pointing at the sky and hoping, for some unknown reason, that the information would soothe him.
He stopped shaking his fist and looked down at me rather sadly. Then he looked around as though he were expecting to see a Candid Camera crew and seemed genuinely surprised when he saw nothing.
“I swear to God it’s true,” I offered somewhat ironically. “That smiling angel keeps hooking the fish on your line and then taking them off again. He’s bugging out, I have seen it before.”
Then the man just sat down heavily on his folding stool which promptly ripped and sent him tumbling to the ground.
“That wasn’t the angels,” I told him sympathetically, “your stool was just old.” The man glared at me harshly. I am sure he could have been the Olympic champion of dirty looks. He watched me intently for a few moments and then made a loud hissing sound as though to express his complete disregard for me.
“What’s with you kid?” he asked me. “Did they open the gates to the insane asylum today or something?”
I didn’t answer because there really was nothing to say to that. But it did remind me that people don’t like to talk about certain things, and the appearance of meddlesome angels was pretty high on the list.