It seems at this point that I can guess at a tentative date for the release of Angel: Book Two. I've got four more edits to go, so something like spring--March 21.
Book One been free for quite a while at all retailers, including Amazon. It's probably a reasonable estimate to say that it's been downloaded a couple of hundred times in that time. Not bad.
Book Two picks up where Book One leaves off. So I thought I'd post the epilogue to Book One and then the beginning to Book Two for you all (all four of you). I consider the epilogue, short as it is, some of my finest writing. I'm pretty proud of the beginning of Book Two as well.
In any event, I hope you enjoy both.
THE CROWD walking along Fifth Avenue in San Diego did not notice the man appear among them as though from nowhere. He stopped for a few moments and watched them, then rejoined the stream. At the intersection he stopped, waited for the WALK sign. It flashed, and he crossed.
He carried himself like a hero. Halfway down the block he stopped, glanced right at a shop.
He went in.
Thirty minutes later he emerged.
He stopped to admire the new, black cowboy boots he wore, smiling down on them for a moment. He straightened and adjusted his tie and buttoned the bottom button of his blazer, and continued walking.
The sun had set behind a heavy dome of gray, making the orange street lamps at the Fifth Avenue trolley stop flicker on early. The southbound Blue Line was just on its way from America Plaza. Its bright yellow headlamps grew slowly, haltingly.
There were few people here. He gazed up when a light drizzle began to fall. The cold light of the city streaked down on him, descending droplets of radiant apathy.
Five minutes later the trolley pulled up and stopped. He boarded it. The doors closed, and the trolley lumbered on into the massing dark.
IT WASN'T like it had been for Calliel.
Calliel had stepped aboard this very trolley and had sat down, and nary a man, woman, or child noticed, despite his brown longcoat and just-off-the-ranch duds beneath. No one paid him a lick of attention.
I gazed around. People were noticing me. I wasn’t wearing a longcoat or a snap-down shirt; I was dressed in a navy suit and burgundy tie. And yes, I just bought the cowboy boots (black), but they weren’t looking at those. They were looking at me, at my face.
But never directly. They stole glances. When I gazed in their direction, they looked away, as though frightened I might notice them and become angry.
Was there something scary about me now? Did I look angry or irritated? Of course not! In fact, I believe I was sporting a slight smile.
What did they see when they looked at me?
It did not matter.
No one sat next to me. Several went to, including a hugely muscled man covered in tattoos, but all took one look at me and hurried off. Two stops later I noticed that there were no seats open save the one next to me, and that many were standing.
I smiled at the empty seat, and chuckled quietly.
I dreamed of having just this kind of power when I was alive. Now that I had it, what was I going to do with it?
A young woman with a toddler was closest. The kid had thankfully dropped off after raising a ruckus about something-or-other. His head bounced on her shoulder, his mouth half open, drool running off his lower lip onto her T-shirt. She appeared fatigued beyond the definition of the word. Even so, she too chose to stand instead of sitting next to me.
I reached for her hand and touched it. When I did, what Calliel said would happen did: I “saw” her—her soul—and the lifetime of triumphs and tragedies and choices that made it what it, and she, was.
She glanced down fearfully at me over her child’s shoulder.
“Come and sit down, Nicky. Give that back of yours a rest.”
“H-How … how do you know my name?” she demanded, her eyes saucers.
Nearby passengers glanced fearfully out the corners of their eyes, as though terrified I might pick them next. One even pushed into the crowd, eager to get away. He disappeared to grunts and protests.
“I know your name like I know you’ve got a slipped disc and that Hoby there is damned heavy and you’re praying to get to the 916 so you can finally sit and take a load off. Well, sit and take a load off right here. Come on, Nicky. I won’t bite. It’s still fifteen minutes to the
Her eyes got wider. But pain beat her fear, and she sat, though at the very edge of the seat. Hoby didn’t stir.
I gently touched his head. The soul that touched back was so pure and bright it hurt. Nicky gawked at my hand as I pushed Hoby’s angel-thin brown hair out of the way.
Calliel warned me about the pain of touching a young child. I let it burn through my hand into my chest, where it warmed my heart and made it skip. It was painful, but also quite pleasurable. There were wondrous potentialities in that ache …
“He loves music,” I said, identifying the strongest one.
Nicky gaped. A moment later she found her voice. “Uh ...yes. He does. Would you mind telling me how … I mean … How do you know that?”
“Give him music. Lots of it. Especially classical. He listens closely whenever you play it. He tries to make sense of the notes and the interplay of one instrument with another.”
Her gape increased. There was a wonder-filled smile hiding behind it, but it was too afraid to come forward. I scared her too much.
“Are … are you a father?” she asked. It was plain she didn’t care to know, and was only asking to be polite and to assure herself that I wasn’t a monster.
I appreciated the effort. I shook my head.
“You seem like you’d be really good at it.”
Out of respect and consideration for her effort, I swallowed back the laugh trying to cough itself out. Could monsters be good fathers?
“Thank you, Nicky,” I responded when I was sure I could do so without chuckling. “You don’t know me, but your comment is appreciated all the same.”
“It’s just … something I feel.”
“I believe this is your stop,” I said, glancing over the top of Hoby’s head. “There’s the 916. When you get home, play Hoby “Ode to Joy.” Play it even if he doesn’t wake up. It’s his favorite. He’ll still hear it.”
Nicky goggled and stood.
The trolley slowed to a stop, and the doors opened. She stopped and turned when she got to them. “Thank you.”
There was the smile. It was weak and mauled from its victorious fight with her fear; but there it was nonetheless.
She got off and hurried through the drizzle to the 916 parked next to the curb. Hoby didn’t stir.
The trolley lurched on its way.
I sat back in my seat and smiled. I, Ray Wilms, an angel of death.
Thank you for reading!