The Presence Of Angels



Scene Title The Presence Of Angels
Synopsis Other people prefer to pray. Follows The Silence of the Angels.
Date January 9, 2009

Primatech Paper Facility

The sky is empty of stars. It doesn't smell like anything here, not vegetable rot, not new snow; even the wind seems to be straining against the crippling grip of Kelvin zero. He suspects this is because his nose and skin are frozen. Fucking Finnish blood, good for nothing.

Teo knuckles some moisture back into his eyes and looks down again. No.

No motorcycle tracks since last snow. He glances upward and trudges closer to the blocky silhouette crouching on the asphalt. The graffiti fades into view. Giant letters bubbled across brick, colors boldly declaring the territorial inclusion of some wicked tribe, effaced if not canceled by the damage of age, struckthrough by ivy and zagging cracks. The Company's erstwhile warehouse claims its contents more terrifying than all of the mad war-paint it bears.

She isn't here. He knows better than to go in. There could be lazers or mines or shit, tripwires, a pit with unimaginable embeds at the bottom. You know. He looks up again. Intellectually, Teodoro is aware that there are as many categories of Christians as there are Christians.

Despite his intellect (a frequent circumstance), he recognizes a principal dichotomy. Two extremes, a continuum between them, a little bit of overlap. There are Christians who trust God and Christians who fear Him. Most of his friends these days, are characterized for the former. They live so deservingly, if not without naivete. Most of those who fled the old country— Father Benito, perhaps Romero, culture Catholics— preside closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. He himself, as well. He's penned in so far over in the piss yourself category he sweated the blood that colored the margin red.

He cranes his head back further. Squints in the dark, pointlessly. The dark comes right up against his eyes. The building to his right wears a derelict satellite dish upside-down like a hat, useless, broken, either by the concussive runoff from a nuclear man or the aftermath of an urban scavenger who bit off more than they could chew.

There are more angels than saints, because saints were human once and there is at least an angel for every human that ever was. There's an angel for damn near anything. Excuse me. There's an angel for almost everything: for Tuesday, for apple season, plum season, cheese merchants, silence, birds, and insomnia. You're allowed to pray to angels, saints, and even dead people. The divine bureaucracy. Teo isn't completely sure how it works: either God forwards you to the appropriate department, or they are His screening process. Either way, the harsh bird's eye of God is not necessarily preferable to His blindness or indifference.

Teo is generally careful about praying only for other people. That Sonny is not prematurely undone in the mysterious processes of life, that Trask's leg muscles will heal, that zia Lucrezia will listen, that Liz's mother rests easy, that Eileen chooses the good fight a decade before it puts an assault rifle in her hands, that Hel and her boy will get their moment in the sun. So— that's— Gabriel, Raphael, Gabriel, Gabriel again, Michael, and Gabriel again, respectively. Gabriel's the busy one. He never prays to Gianina. He doesn't pray often enough. Most days out of the week, he would much sooner look for Wireless.

Hana must be able to see him. He is sure. The same way he is sure she is listening to all the texts and cellular telephone and radio-waved broadcasts that have thronged the air over the past few weeks. Possibly, that should make him equally nervous: there's surveillance around and she isn't.

Anyway, it's taking him awhile to locate where the cameras are, the stark crannies of skeletal architecture, absence of celestial lights, strategic concealment, and befuddlement of cold conspire to prompt him to repeat his progress around and around the facility, packing and stomping down powder snow underneath the fat heavy soles of his boots until rust-colored blades of grass begin to show through like the edges of his temper, thus far submerged, an invective slowly making its way to growling out l— Oh, wait. "Fuck."


He gets close, and jumps high. Catches the ledge with four fingers. The mortar bears his weight, despite an instantaneous jerking shudder of slippage. Wrist bones and bicep contract, pulling him up to the glossy black half-globe of a shell that enhouses the camera, disguising the arc and breadth of its eye. He puts his face right up against it, watches his breath condense pale across the convex bulge. He's half-expecting an irritable text message. Get your big Finnish nose out of my fucking lens, except not really. If the prophesies of burning bridges and evidence of designer plagues aren't commanding her clock around, his nose isn't going to.

He breathes in and out. He's being kind of a selfish jerk, yeah. He has many concerns, preoccupations, annoyances that are smaller and stupider than the end of the world.

Teo hangs there for awhile. His arm is getting tired, a burning ache setting in at his shoulder. He reaches up with his other hand, fingers clasped into a precise and angled fist, and taps at the camera. Tap-tap. Pause. Staccato, another pause, until he's gotten eight characters divided into three words typed out in Morse, and he lets go.

When he hits the snow, the impact hiccups an object out of the cuff of his pant leg, something small popped free despite the reluctance of gravity. He squats down, wringing the sore stiffness out of his leather-sleeved arm, and looks close. A moth lies there, soft, furred and infinitesimally scaly, organic relief against the glittering blue of snow crystals. It's a big insect, but apparently not big enough to retain its own body heat.

Papery wings and velvety antlers give a spasmodic flutter in the humidity and heat of Teo's next outgoing breath, movement that can not be attributed to the physics of fragility. He must be— too cold to feel relieved, that's all.

Numbness annoys him. Teo's next decision is an insolent sort of defiance to it. Having been taught of the physics of Lepidopterally-winged flight — and the pernicious salts of human skin — during his childhood, he doesn't take off his gloves to touch it. Lifts it up between palms, his fingers finding a curve of perfect symmetry against the bite of the wind. He holds it close, tells it not to worry, and peers around through the massed formation of Staten Island's dead city, remembering with only a little effort the way he had come and, with a little more, the route to the Ritz.

January 9th: Easy
January 9th: Alike
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