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And We’re Back

by on May 29, 2019

The first thing Maxwell did when he saw the body was to conjure an air freshener and hang it neatly above the shattered windshield. This wasn’t technically standard procedure; as a death angel, his first task was to find the deceased’s soul and escort it to its final destination, wherever that happened to be. But Maxwell thoroughly and literally believed that cleanliness was next to godliness, and he hated an untidy scene. Just because one had the misfortune of being dead, he felt, didn’t mean one had to leave a mess.

He waited as the pleasant scent of pine needles wafted through the battered car. Then, gathering himself and adjusting his halo to the proper angle, Maxwell looked around for the soul.

He was a bit nonplussed when he spotted it, hovering in a bewildered sort of way over the body. Most souls were fairly easy to sort out: they were either shining clear and ready to send up to the good place, or muddy dark, in which case they went the other way. This one was a color Maxwell had never seen before. Since when, he wondered, were souls mauve?

“Excuse me?” he ventured. “Hello, I’m Maxwell, I-“

He didn’t even get the chance to launch into his standard “Hello-I’m-an-angel-and-you’re-dead-now” speech. The soul interrupted, which threw Maxwell completely for a loop. “Look,” the soul said. “This isn’t my first rodeo, so if you’ll just hang on for a minute, I’ll say the incantation, then I’ll resurrect and you can go help someone who’s actually for-real dead.”

“I’m sorry?” Maxwell said.

“I should’ve thought you’d know,” the soul said in irritation. “You’re in Wistwick, right? And what is that godawful smell?”

“First, language,” Maxwell said. “Second, it’s the sparkling freshness of a wintry evergreen forest, which you need because you’re dead and your remains are, ah, somewhat messy. Third, of course it’s Wistwick. Small town, suburb really, rural America, lots of corn. Wal-Mart’s the biggest employer. What does that have to do with anything?”

The soul would’ve rolled its eyes, if it had had them. Instead, it made a sort of mauve rippling motion. “And here I thought angels knew everything. We’re a community of wizards, genius. We hide out here so no one knows. Disguised in plain sight and all that. Look, I’ll demonstrate.” It said something in Latin. Before Maxwell could react, there was a flash and a bang. To his complete shock, the body slumped in the driver’s seat abruptly knit itself back together, sat up, switched off the hazard lights, then looked over at the stunned angel. “See?”

“You were dead!”

“Not anymore. Basic resurrection spell. Wistwick Elementary, first grade. I had Mr. Plum. He fought in the war way back when.”

“Which war- never mind.” Maxwell decided he didn’t particularly want to know the answer to that. “I’m going to have to check with my superiors about this. Once you’re dead, you’re supposed to stay that way!”

“Do tell,” the formerly dead man said, raising his eyebrows. “That’s not the way I read the Scripture. Lots of resurrections going on in Bible times, weren’t there?”

“Yes, well,” the flustered angel replied. “That was, ah, circumstances being what they were, you understand-“

“The point is, I’m not dead anymore, so I’ll be going on home now, okay? Nice to meet you!” With that, the man put the car into gear and drove away. As he tore off down the road, something small and green flipped out the window. Maxwell cautiously approached. It was his air freshener, now lying forlornly on the pavement, still smelling limply of pine.

Maxwell bent down to pick it up. All at once, there was yet another flash and a bang. The air freshener exploded in a spray of green, showering the angel with pine needles and sap. In the distance, he heard the sound of mocking laughter.

“That does it,” Maxwell said. “That is the absolute last time I’m escorting anyone to the afterlife! I have had it!” Extending his wings, he blasted skywards, heading straight for the Pearly Gates. Surely there had to be a spot open in Angel Choir. No one ever got blasted with tree sap in Angel Choir.

  1. Lol, nice touch, making the tree air freshener explode in pine sap. That dead-not-dead wizard has a nasty sense of style!

  2. Kirsten Britt Baltz permalink

    I think this is my favorite angel story so far. I think you did a really great job with the setting, and how wizards are a bit different. I’m also always for poking fun at pseudo-omnipotent beings. I would like to see a little bit more lead up into Maxwell’s rage quit, as it caught me very off guard.

  3. Very fun, and now I’m wondering if you’ll trail into another series about Wistwick wizards (you gave some tantalizing backstory)! I kind of questioned an angel really thinking an air freshener was necessary but probably just me! Thanks for sharing!

  4. MM Schreier permalink

    What a fun little story! Love how the angel is characterized (a little fussy, with the air freshener and all) and then is nonplussed when something out of the norm happens.

  5. This story was so funny! I loved the cleverness. And you managed to make the car air freshener part of that naturally too.

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