Friday, 16 November 2012

Attitude Angel...

Two months ago, David Falconetti, pizzeria owner, was killed. Much to his surprise he ended up in Heaven. The angels have a job for him to do—he must make Andalusia Shea believe in life and Christmas. If he can do that then he can live again. The angels tell him his death was no accident. David wants to bring his killer to justice and have his life back. He’s no angel and Heaven’s not for him.

Lucy Shea doesn’t want some half-assed hot angel thrusting himself into her world and getting all Christmassy on her. She has too many other problems in her life, and a charming, sexy man making her lose control and fall in love is the last thing she needs. Besides, the angel’s only helping her to help himself. What sort of an angel is that?

 “Does he have to belch like that?”
“I believe he does it to annoy you,” Aballach murmured in amusement.
Loretto sighed in frustration. “Well, it’s working. I still have no idea how he got in to Heaven. He has an earring! This is an exclusive place after all.”
Aballach looked at the “he” in question. While it was true he was hardly angel material, there was a mischievous, bad-boy edge to David Falconetti reminding Aballach of himself in his mortal days. “There’s a reason he’s here.” Nothing in Heaven happened without careful planning. As for exclusivity, that was only in the minds of some. Heaven took all kinds, judging only on merit and heart.
“It would have to be compelling. He’s anything but angelic.” Loretto dusted an imaginary piece of fluff from his pristine white sleeve.
“Not everyone has to be.” Aballach was constantly amused at the “holier then thou” attitude of the white-suited Loretto. It wasn’t a requirement to wear white in Heaven yet Loretto made sure he did and that it was spotless. If wings were more than a fairy story, then Loretto would have them—bigger and better groomed than anyone else’s.
“Are you questioning the man in charge?” Aballach knew Loretto was too rules oriented to voice his queries to the boss.
“Certainly not.” He looked indignant at the accusation. “I just wonder, why him of all people? He’s arrogant, rude and smug.”
“Hey! I can hear you.” David Falconetti was lying on the green grass, his hands behind his head and his ankles crossed. He looked completely relaxed as if he no longer had any worries.
“Eavesdroppers never hear well of themselves.” Loretto’s voice was so pious that Aballach had to stop himself from laughing.
“And a stitch in time saves nine—but who gives a rat’s ass?” David closed his eyes as he enjoyed the warm sunlight on his face.
Loretto stamped his foot in anger. “Well, really!”
“You invited me to this shindig, bossy britches. I sure wasn’t expecting to end up here.”
“There must be someone else we can use?” Loretto turned imploringly to Aballach. “We’ve a reputation to uphold. God knows what he’ll do.”
“Exactly.” And that was why God had looked at those in Heaven and picked out David Falconetti. He had a plan. Aballach rarely questioned the boss. “And he is the one.”
“But why him?”
“Oh, he’s a hell-raiser all right, but he’s going to be given another chance. We need him because he’s flawed and human.” Because he’s destined to change the world. But that was something only God and Aballach were aware of.
The man in question responded. “Actually I’m dead—that’s why I’m here—and as for ‘flawed’, I prefer to call it ‘possessing interesting character traits’.” David didn’t sound at all offended at Aballach’s words.
Aballach held onto Loretto arm to calm him. “Mr. Falconetti…”
“Yes, Mr. Aballach?”
His lip twitched. Aballach liked the dark-haired man immensely. He was a law unto himself and didn’t care what others thought. Since his arrival in Heaven his lazy charm had shocked some and endeared him to many. “Would you be so good as to join us please?” He watched as David got to his feet and sauntered lazily over to them. His sleepy green eyes were full of amusement and the brow ring above his left eyebrow accentuated the ‘bad boy’ look. Oh yes, I can see exactly why he was chosen. To save the world, but strength and charisma were needed.
“So what’s the deal, boys?”
Aballach smiled. He’d liked David from the first moment they’d met. “We need you to do something for us…”
* * * *
David had been dead two months. As death went it was okay. It required no effort on his part to lie around Heaven and relax. Though it was kind of boring it was doable. That he’d even made it to Heaven still made David laugh. He knew he was hardly the ideal candidate for angel. If he was honest, David had expected to go in the opposite direction, to warmer climes.
He looked at the two head angels before him. David had to admit he enjoyed riling the prissy Loretto and flouting his rules. The guy needed to lighten up. David wasn’t sure on all the laws in Heaven, so maybe being casual and going with the flow was forbidden. Maybe doing the right thing was the only way to get along. If so, he was in trouble, for David rarely followed the rules. Hence the reason I went and got myself killed. But who knew Mad Dog had actually loaded the gun?
Mad Dog McGurk had been a regular patron at Falconetti’s pizzeria for years. He was also somewhat of a crowd-puller for the restaurant, for on a regular basis, drunk or stoned, Mad Dog would stagger into the pizzeria with a shotgun and wave it wildly in the air, demanding money and pizza. Most times he was so drunk, he dropped the gun on the floor. They were never surprised to see him at Falconetti’s. Usually David or a staff member would politely ask him to repeat his request for all the cash in the register. This would confuse Mad Dog so much that he either staggered back outside or slumped at one of the tables and asked for a beer and a piece of pie. David had thought Mad Dog harmless. He had become more of a drawcard to the pizzeria than anything else. It still confused David how the man even got hold of the load for the gun. The gun belonged to his great-uncle Marv and everyone knew Marv would never have passed on ammunition to his nephew and Mad Dog only ever spent money on alcohol and drugs. His pizza was always free due to the extra patrons he brought to the restaurant with his antics.
But two months ago, Mad Dog had pulled the trigger and a blast of lead had exploded into David’s chest, killing him instantly. All he could remember was white-hot, intense pain and people screaming. Then there was nothing. No white light. No heavenly music. What a crock that all was. David did remember the funeral, mainly because his ex-wife Sheena-Maree was wailing so loud he wished someone would slap her to shut her up. It wasn’t until he landed with a thump on a hard marble floor in a very ornate room, that David realized he was no longer on earth.
“You are in Heaven, David.”
“No shit?” He stood up and looked around in amazement. “I thought I’d go the other way.” That was how he met Aballach and Loretto. They explained there were his guiding angels.
“We don’t swear in heaven,” Loretto pointed out in distaste.
“Well, I’m not a team player, so the whole ‘we’ thing doesn’t apply to me.” David touched his chest. There was no blood or gory wound. “You guys do nice work.” He was in the same jeans and navy t-shirt he’d been wearing when he died.
Aballach smiled at his words. “We try.”
“I have to tell you I wasn’t impressed when they dressed me up in that monkey suit to bury me. Who wears a suit anymore?” David surveyed Loretto’s carefully turned-out white suit. “I’m sure you’re a chick magnet though.”
“Are you sure he is supposed to be here?” Loretto asked in disgust. “I can make a call and get Juanita to organize transport down. They’re always looking for people down there.”
David wondered what the guy was talking about. He discovered later that Juanita was the liaison officer between Heaven and Hell. Yeah, David had known plenty of people like Loretto. They had a stick so far up their butts that they could only follow rigid, straight paths. He assessed the one called Aballach. He looked smart and confident, yet not beyond doing what he had to in order get the job done. His dress and stance were casual and his eyes amused. This one he could deal with. “Why am I here?” He’d been a sinner in life and given half a chance he would try it in death.
“All in good time, Mr. Falconetti…”
* * * *
“You want me to help some cranky-assed woman with an attitude to discover the joy of Christmas?” Oh please. David rolled his eyes at them. He adored women, no matter what shape or size. Their sweet scent, soft touch and teasing eyes hooked him in and he went gratefully. But cranky women? Nope. He’d divorced one of those drama queens and he didn’t want to start with another.
“Yes, we do.”
David liked Aballach. He had a sense of humor, whereas old prissy pants beside him didn’t. But liking didn’t mean doing everything someone asked, angel or not. David listened as Aballach explained the problems this woman had. Bloody hell. He was sorry she had problems, but David felt himself wanting to back off at a million miles an hour just hearing about them. Besides, needy people irritated him and everyone had problems. Helping was fine but hand-holding with some angry woman wasn’t. “I’m no angel nor am I the helpful type.” Why can’t she just get a grip and deal like everyone else?
“Because, she’s not like everyone else.” Aballach’s look was meaningful.
Whoa—mind reader. “Why me?” There had to be someone more compassionate who gave a rat’s ass.
Aballach wasn’t perturbed by his attitude. “She needs someone real.”
I used to be real. What am I now? The whole Heaven thing, while relaxing, had David wondering, What next? “What’s her problem?” Why do I care? But he knew the answer. I’m bored. He was used to doing twenty different things at once. In Heaven people just hung out and smiled sweetly and there was no pizza. That was hard for a former pizzeria owner.
“She’s lost and lonely.”
“Send her a Saint Bernard with a keg of brandy on its neck.” David knew that was a hard thing to say but he didn’t want to be placed into a position of helping some hormonal woman. His ex-wife had almost made him swear off women. Almost. Do they have sex in Heaven? That he’d not worked out yet and he hadn’t seen many women. That had been making him anxious. Was his part of Heaven male only? God, that’s not going to work for me.
“You are so tacky.” Loretto shook his head in disgust.
David stuck out his tongue at him.
Aballach held up his hands to separate them. “She needs more. Andalusia needs you.”
Andalusia? Who names a kid that? Isn’t that a horse’s name?” Ten to one there’s no man in this woman’s life, she doesn’t shave her legs and she subscribes to some radical feminist doctrine that’ll give me a headache.
“She’s also called Lucy—Lucy Shea,” Aballach explained patiently. “She has no family; she lost her job and at one stage was contemplating killing herself. It’s also Christmas time on earth.”
Cue the violins. “So you want me to go and kick her in the pants and tell her to stop whining and snap out of it?” David was sorry for the woman but it wasn’t up to him to save anyone. He’d not been able to save himself.
Aballach smiled. “Not quite. We need you to show her joy, make her laugh. Lucy needs to feel something other than empty inside.”
Oh man. The angel was getting to him and they both knew it. Outwardly David was a hardass but given the right stimulus and he turned to putty. He sighed deeply. “Again, why me? I understand that angels get some cosmic high out of helping people but—”
“You mean what’s in it for you?” Aballach understood David only too well. “Would you like to live again, Mr. Falconetti? Would you like to find out why you were murdered?”
Loretto rolled his eyes and snorted. “Why am I not surprised at that fact?” Aballach silenced his colleague with a look.
Murdered? David was stunned Aballach’s words. No, no, they’re so wrong! It was an accident—a stupid one, but not murder. “Mad Dog was pissed as a newt and—”
“Yes, he was drunk but he thought the gun was unloaded for he had no ammunition. Someone wanted you dead, David.”
Aballach’s words ricocheted around in his mind. Wanted me dead? “You’re kidding me.” Even as he said the words, David was aware angels didn’t joke. After two months in Heaven he knew there was a purpose and plan behind everything these beings did. “Who?” David knew he wasn’t the most loveable person, but no one had indicated they wanted him dead. Sure, Sheena-Maree came to mind, but the woman didn’t like to raise a sweat, let alone risk break a nail by loading a gun. Why did I marry her again? Oh yeah, the pregnancy scare. He shook his head to banish that ugly thought from his mind and concentrate on the other one now taking precedence. David was pretty sure angels didn’t lie. Someone had wanted him dead.
“I can’t tell you who.” Aballach crossed his arms over his chest as he watched David’s reaction.
“But you know.”
“And this is some special mission to make me a worthwhile human being?” David ignored the look of contempt from the pudgy guy in the white suit. “Isn’t it a bit late? I’m dead.”
“We can change that. Do you want to live?”
It wasn’t an option David had expected to be offered. That had thrown him almost as much as the idea of murder. “Do I have a choice?” If so, what do I want? Earth had beer and pizza. Heaven didn’t. It was peaceful and serene and he knew he’d probably go mad before too long. David was used to noise and bright lights and good times. Hell would have suited him better. But that was life or death in this case. You didn’t get options. Until now.
Aballach nodded his head. “Everyone has choices, David. You need to think about what you want. You can go back to Earth, help Lucy and reclaim your life, or you can stay here and maybe become one of us.”
A guardian angel? Follow rules? Turn out like Loretto? Bloody hell. Great options. What do I want? Once it had been a cold beer and some hot pussy. Now? He wanted to find the son of a bitch who set Mad Dog up and had him killed. This wasn’t just about him. A man’s innocence was at stake. “So this horse woman—”
“Lucy—and she’s no horse. She’s quite beautiful.”
It all sounded too much like a blind date and he’d regretted some of those. While David considered all women beautiful, some had nails-on-chalkboard personalities “You’re an angel, of course you’d say something nice.” David thought about it. He was good with women. How hard can it be? Make her smile. Get her to put on one of those dumb Christmas party hats. Maybe get her drunk so she forgets her problems. “So I make her happy. I play some Christmas tunes, do the mistletoe thing and make her buy presents.” That was doable.
“No, you make Lucy believe, David.” Aballach’s eyes were knowing as he stared at David.

The trust he saw in the angel’s gaze made David want to believe he could help. Aballach was probably a salesman in his last life. “Believe in what?” He loved Christmas but not everyone did.
Aballach reached out and touched his arm. “In herself. In life. In magic. But you cannot tell her why you’re there, and you must use your powers wisely. We’ve made it so no one will recognize you.”
David held up his hand. “Wait a minute, back up. I have powers?”
“How come I didn’t know?” He didn’t feel magical—but then how did magic feel?
“You didn’t ask, David.”
Typical. Never a straight answer in Heaven. David had learned that much in his two months. “What are these powers?” If he was going back to Earth at least the thought that no one would recognize him would avoid freaking out any of his friends if they saw him.
“Can’t you feel the magic?”
“Um, no.” David was thinking about pizza, though. He could almost smell the pepperoni.
“You will when you need it most.” Aballach stepped back from him and sized David up. “Do you accept the challenge?”
“And I get to live again?” The idea appealed to him. He was only thirty-seven and Heaven really wasn’t his scene.
“Yes, but you can’t tell Lucy why you’re there.”
“Of course, not.” David’s plan was to get back to Earth, visit the sad chick, tell her the facts, eat some pizza and then scope out which one of his ratfink acquaintances wanted him dead. Only they would have known what Mad was like and have had access to his weapon. “I promise I’ll be good.”