Life takes some funny turns.   One minute you're driving down the road nice and easy, your naked cat sitting in the back seat licking a few stray hairs on its paws that you missed in a sorry attempt to groom, singing along to some sweet Sarah Vahaugn.  The next minute, you're sitting over a body on the road, prayin' he gets back up.

I looked down at the speedometer, then up at the road, and BAM! there he was, large as life, about an inch from  my bumper.   Then a second later, he's on my hood, slides back down the car as I brake, and hits the ground.  No one goes down this road, I wasn't expecting to hit anyone.   Probably exactly what he was thinkin'.  I was about half drunk too.  He died, there went my job, there went my life, hello big fine and no driving for a year.   I wouldn't go to jail, I was still a cop.  But this would guarantee that I wouldn't be a cop anymore.  My teeth were chattering uncontrollably, I was sweating buckets, and I was prayin' to every single good thing I knew.  It was a short list.  His backpack was laying about five feet away, thrown when I'd hit him.

Something must of heard me, 'cause he opened his eyes, fast, and his hand struck out faster than it should, maybe could move, and locked on my arm.  I would've fallen backwards if it wasn't for that hand on my arm, I was so fuckin' scared.  His eyes...God, his eyes were gone!  Then, suddenly, they were there, bright impossible silver, and then green.  He swallowed, his adam's apple bobbing up and down under his skin, and took a deep breath.

"I thought I'd lost you, Thomas," he said softly, his voice deep and filled with gravel, and I thought absurdly This guy's black.  He sounds black, he's black! as this guy that ought to be dead was talking to me, which was a miracle anyway, and -

A bloody miracle.  It was a miracle.  Jesus H Christ on a goddamn pogo stick!  I tried to pull away, but he had a hold on my arm that I wasn't going to break any day soon, and he didn't look as hurt as he ought to.  I gargled, trying to talk, and he put his other finger to his mouth.

"Shhh Thomas.  I'm alright, you're alright.  Everything is okay," he told me in that James Earl voice, the one I always attributed to God.  Some things began to dawn on me.

"How d-do you know my name?"  I stammered out as he let go of my arm and began to stand up.  I stayed on the ground, falling back on my ass and looking up at him wide eyed.  There wasn't even a speck of dust on him.  There was a big dent in my grill and hood though, so I knew I wasn't just dreaming.  He held out his hand, and I took it, letting him help me up.  He grabbed his pack, and checked to make sure everything was inside.

"You need a ride or something?" I asked lamely, trying to make up my mistake of hitting him, as if he'd forget it.  To my surprise, he nodded.

"Matter of fact I do.  Where are you going?"

"New York."

"I can ride with you 'til then," he nodded, and slung his backpack in the back seat, settling into the passenger's side like he'd been my friend for life.  I got back in and started driving again, the radio purring out a little Ella.  After about an hour, he looked at me, and smiled.

"You don't strike me as a very religious man, Thomas.  But you do know what angels are, right?" he asked me, cocking his head a little to the left.  Old Tom was out and laying in his lap, meowing loud, demanding attention.  Slut cat.  He petted the old thing, producing a low lumbering purr.

"Of course I do," I said, annoyed.  I was Catholic!  He knew my name, why didn't he know that?  It crossed my mind that maybe he just didn't like one sided conversations, but I could always hope that he couldn't read minds.  Otherwise I was in deep shit.  Some Samaritan I was, thinking about my job and my future while he'd been laying on the sidewalk.  If he did read my mind though, he didn't show it.

"Good.  That is what I am.  I am Uriel.  The angel of Death."

Well, that fucked any chances of not bein' up shit creek.

To my credit, I recover quick from a jab to the old brain can.  Lucky for me today, though, my friend the Angel of Death here has a good span of patience.

"The what?"

"Uriel.  I knew this would go badly," he said, his voice sorrowful and apologetic, his eyes downcast to the floor.  I found myself looking for wings to match that Jesus on a cross face, but if he had 'em, they weren't flappin' in the breeze.   "I am here to prevent a death, Thomas."

Sounds like a script to me.  I can play along.  "Who's?  Some little girl up in Manhattan didn't get a pony for Christmas?"

"Yours, Thomas," he snarls right back, tellin' me that this is NOT a guy to smart off too.  Problem is, my smart ass defenses kick right on in on that kinda bullshit.  "I see you gearing up, Thomas, so shut up and let me speak.   Drive.  And watch the road, there's an accident up ahead."

I set my peepers back on the highway, and just glowered.  Who the hell does he think he is?  I didn't ask for his help.

"In five days, Thomas, you will be found in the Hudson river, just below the silt line.  Cause of death is listed as a suicide.  However, that's a lie.  You really die because you get injected with LSD and then tossed in, and start thinking up is down, and down is up, and sideways just might be better, and you can't float, because it's all dirt, and feces, and other dead bodies down there.  So in a few minutes, you pull this stuff into your lungs, and just start breathing it, and you're dead."

I just stared at the road, barely breathing as we passed the 7 car pile up on the side of the highway, a little girl's doll laying halfway out in front of me, it's eyes staring vacantly upwards, a smile on its perfect face.  There was no sign of the girl anywhere.

"Should we-"

"They're all dead."

I shut up, and we rode on for a few more miles.  Finally I pulled up the nerve to speak again.

"So what's it to you?"  I says, really bright, because apparently he IS the real deal, and just might get his rocks off telling me I'm going to die.  He shrugged.

"I 'fucked up' as you would say, Thomas.  You're not supposed to die.   You're supposed to die at the age of 70 or so, unable to even bring a spoon to your mouth because you have arthritis," Uriel spake onto me, and then clammed up.

I hunched over the steering wheel a little.