The night wore on, growing colder. At a little past Midnight, the wind picked up and Peggy huddled deeper into her blanket as she stared out into the gloom. Surrounding her in the dark of the alley were the snores and wheezes of the homeless as they slept. Some of them huddled together for warmth--like the little girl, Clara, and her mother who had once worked in a factory before it closed down, leaving them penniless. Peggy had spoken to Clara and her mother earlier that day. The little girl told her that she wished the angels would bring them a new home and money so she could go to school like the other kids. She just wanted to be normal.
Peggy shivered again, and pulled her blanket tighter around her. It was warm and inviting, and the warmth seemed to lull her, causing her eyelids to droop when she didn't want them to.
As her eyes slowly closed, a blur of white flew past her. Peggy jumped, startled into sudden wakefulness. Her eyes were now wide open, but she no longer saw anything. Then she heard a distinctive sound from the opposite end of the alley--the soft ::thunk:: of a car door closing. She jumped up and raced to the opening of the blind alley, but all she saw when she got to the street were the taillights of a white car as they blended in with the flow of late-night traffic. She couldn't even be certain if the car saw had even been the one that she'd heard.
Dejected, Peggy turned around. She was wondering what the use of this stake out was when something caught her attention. Clara and her mother were wrapped in not one--but two heavy blankets, and beside them sat a shiny metallic thermos. Those hadn't been there before.
The drunks across the way had new blankets and thermoses, too. So did Shep, the man whose testimony to the newspapers had brought Declan to this town in the first place.
"Declan! Declan!" Peggy said excitedly as she rushed to her friend and began to shake him, rousing him from sleep.
"What! Peg!?" asked a sleepy Declan Dunn.
"Something happened here," she told him. "Someone was here."
"There, you see it?" Peggy said as a flash of white raced across the monitor in front of them. The trio had packed up their equipment at dawn, after a sleepless vigil to see if whomever had left the second set of blankets and food would return. No one did.
"It's too blurry to tell what it is, though," Declan said.
"Could be a feather," suggested Miranda.
"A feather?" echoed Declan.
"Yeah. Pigeons on the roof," Miranda took a sip of her mocha. "One could have lost a feather and it floated down..."
"And in the way of the lens..." Declan finished for her. "if it was close enough, it would look bigger than it really was."
"Umm, guys, feathers don't drive cars." Miranda looked at Peggy, giving her a look that silently questioned what she was saying. "I *heard* a car door slam. That has to mean something."
"But you said you could tell if any of those cars had been near the alley," Declan pointed out. Miranda silently went over to one of the other cameras, and hooked it up to the monitor. It had been the one trained on the street.
"Yeah, I know, Declan, but--"
"I've got something." Miranda pointed to the screen. The monitor showed a white car parked on the edge of the street, just near the alley. A hooded figure wearing a dark gray jogging suit exited the car and walked towards the alley. A few minutes later, it returned and drove away. "Times coincide with Peggy's white blur," Miranda commented.
"But whoever this guy was, he was wearing dark clothes. Not white." Declan pointed out.
"She." As Miranda spoke, her eyes were trained on the departing car.
"What do you mean--she?"
"It's not a he, it's a she. I know this car," said Miranda. She turned away from the monitor. She'd paused it so that the license plate was clearly visible.
"WITFLD 1" Declan read. "Whitfield? As in Jessica Whitfield?"
Later that day, the trio sat once again in the Whitfield living room.
After some discussion, they convinced the mayor's wife to come forward as the person who had been aiding the homeless of Wash-out Lane. She'd been hesitant before, because she had been afraid to go against her husband so openly.
"There's one thing I don't understand, though," said Declan through a mouthful of chocolate chip cookies. "How'd you get the blankets and thermoses down without our cameras detecting you?"
Mrs. Whitfield turned to him, a curious expression on her face. "What thermoses?"
"The metal thermoses. The ones with the soup in them," was Declan's reply.
Jessica Whitfield shook her head in confusion. "I didn't leave thermoses. Only blankets."
"You didn't?" Miranda asked.
Again, the mayor's wife shook her head. "I felt so sorry for them when the proposal for the shelter fell through. So I ordered a shipment of blankets from this company I know of that deals in bulk items. On the really cold nights, I slip out and leave the blankets with those poor people." Her voice was full of sorrow and sincerity.
"But not the soup?" Peggy asked.
"I didn't know anything about the soup until the newspapers printed their story," came the reply.
"And you didn't leave soup for them last night?" Declan asked.
"No. No, I didn't."
The four of them looked at each other. "Then who did?"
"Whoever it was," Mrs. Whitfield said, "they're the real angels of mercy."