"Birds of Pray"
Epilogue II: I Gotta Go See A Guy…
The Cardinals scored a touchdown, and the bar went wild.
"Damn, I wish Gabe were here to see this!" Greg said under his breath as he made his way to the men's room. "I'd love to see him eat his words!"
He hadn't been very surprised when the game began and Gabriel still hadn't arrived; surely God's Messenger had better things to do than sit around a smoky bar drinking beer with a bunch of guys and watching the Lions get hammered by the Cardinals on Pete's large screen television.
He pushed open the men's room door and got the shock of his life.
Gabriel was standing there in all his angelic glory, right there in the middle of the men's room at Pete's Tavern.
Greg froze for a minute, staring.
The angel wore a long dark blue cloak brocaded in silver thread over a black silk shirt and matching trousers, which were tucked into knee-high black boots. The hilt of a knife was visible above the top of his left boot, sheathed there as protection against enemies that Greg couldn't imagine. Gabriel's trumpet dangled from a hook on a silver chain link belt worn loosely around his waist, and Greg was struck with sudden realization: Oh dear God above… he's the angel who's supposed to blow his horn on Judgment Day… and that's the horn he's going to blow! But even more amazing were the enormous white wings rising up behind the angel… if Greg hadn't believed before, he certainly would have been convinced now.
"Hello, Gregory," Gabriel said.
"Uh…" Greg said, pushing the men's room door shut behind him and locking it. "That's… that's really some outfit, Gabe," he finally managed. "Don't you think you're kind of… um… overdressed?"
"Yeah, I'm not staying. I gotta go see a guy… give him a Message." He shrugged. "You know – that's what I do."
"Oh. Right." Greg couldn't stop staring at those big white wings… he even had a bizarre urge to reach out and stroke them, to run both hands down them, but he resisted. He knew instinctively that Gabriel wouldn't appreciate being petted like an animal, though he had a suspicion that the angel would have tolerated it from Katie.
"How's Katie?" he asked, deliberately clasping his hands behind his back.
"She's fine," Gabriel assured him, sounding amused. "She's in Heaven – how else would she be?"
"Yeah. Dumb question."
"I just stopped by here to see you real quick – I didn't want you to think I forgot," Gabriel said. "You know, about the game today."
"It's OK – I figured you had things you had to do," Greg said, nodding.
"Next time, though," Gabriel promised, extending his hand. "Yeah?"
"You bet, Sport," Greg told him, shaking his hand and giving him a friendly slap on the shoulder. "Oh, hey – you know, Altman's been indicted on four more counts of child molestation and four counts of murder in the first degree… some campers found the bodies of those four little girls you were talking about."
"Gosh… I wonder how that happened," Gabriel said innocently. "Maybe a little bird told them."
"Yeah – or a great big one!"
Gabriel tried on a wounded look. "Who, me?"
"I'm not buying it, Gabe."
"Aaaah, Katherine convinced me to do it… I just whispered in their ears while they were sleeping, and the rest is history." He cocked his head at Greg. "I guess you're representing him, huh?"
"Really? Why not?"
"'Cause I quit, that's why. There's an opening in the DA's Office and I'm going for it."
Gabriel smiled. "That's terrific, Gregory! I think Katherine will be really happy about that."
"I think so too. And I kept in touch with that student of hers – Mary. I'm going to do some pro bono work for her tribe."
"I remember Mary," Gabriel mused. "From Chimney Rock."
"Yeah, she told me some of that," Greg agreed. "So, are you ever going to tell me that 'lawng stahwry' of yours, Sport?"
Gabriel nodded. "Yeah – next time, OK? I really gotta take off now… go see that guy."
"All right. You… uh… you fly careful."
"I will," he promised. He opened his wings and Greg took a step back, shielding his eyes against the blinding white light that suddenly surrounded Gabriel.
When he looked again, the angel was gone.
Greg suddenly remembered something. "Hey, you know what? The Cardinals are wiping the field with Detroit!" he said into the empty bathroom. "How do you like that, Gabe?"
The thought appeared in his mind as smoothly as though it had been his own: Aaaah, they still stink!
Greg laughed and went to unlock the door.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: If you're curious about the Message that Gabriel's going to deliver, check out my fic The Kindness of Strangers!