We talked for hours. But eventually, you
gotta go home, and so I climbed into a cab, and set along on the intent
of gettin' back to Old Tom and having some real dinner.
I carry prejudices, great and small. Have all my life. I think that women are, on the whole, creatures that hate us for what we don't go through, emotionally and physically. I have never woken up with blood in my underwear and thought of it as merely an inconvenience. I have never been bothered by someone not remembering my birthday, or panicked when I thought the last day of my childbearing days had ticked past. I could have a kid when I was 80, what the fuck did I care?
Never trust something that bleeds for seven days and don't die. There's a lot of truth in that.
I don't mind gays. If you're gay you're gay, and if you're not, you're not. That's just the way that shit works. I have a problem with bisexuals, 'cause you either like dick, or you don't. I have a problem with young black men that try to stare me down. I've been a cop for years, and though I haven't shot a whole hell of a lot of people, I've seen a lot worse than some punk ass son of a bitch who thinks that J Dog or Pooh or Mali-kite dissed his friends, and therefore deserves to get his goddamn head beat in. These people I have a problem with. I caught a lot of flack on the force for those views, but I stand by 'em, every inch.
I am beginning to have a serious problem with angels. Particularly one Uriel, angel of death. Did he just deliver shit and expect you to eat it?
"No," said that deep black voice beside me, and I jumped. I looked up at the cabbie, wondering if he just noticed some guy appearing out of nowhere, but the cab seemed to have ceased to exist except for where I sat and whatever that goddamn smell was that was comin' off the floor. I stared hard at Uriel, then looked away. He was glowing, and there were wings. He was naked, glowing, and there were goddamn wings folded up behind him, so real I could touch 'em. I felt like I soiled his presence by living. I felt like the lowest snake in the lowest jungle, sitting next to a mongoose with glittering red eyes. Uriel looked forwards, adding to my sense of detachment.
"I don't look at you because of my eyes. You couldn't live through it," he said, almost an apology. I nodded, dumbed.
"Today is the day," he continued, tapping his hands nervously against each other. "I'd like you to stay home, if possible. Don't leave the apartment. Watch some movies, watch reruns, have sex with your next door neighbors. As long as you stay put. If you don't see it happen, you won't die."
"Simple as that?" I asked. I'd found my tongue. Like I said before, it don't take me long.
"Simple as that."
"I'm basically gonna save your ass by jacking off in my room all day," I said, and grinned. I had him! By God, I had his ass!
"If that's what you choose to do, Thomas."
I hushed. If Uriel was concerned for his concerned for his job, I probably should be too. Christ.
"You're home," he said, and the world rushed back into being. A horn honked, loud, and I snapped to attention.
"You sleep like baby!" the cabbie yelled enthusiastically. I shrugged, and paid him, and went upstairs.
It is while you are waiting, I've been told, that ideas come to you, and when you experience the true meaning of the theory of relativity.
The theory, as applied to waiting, is as follows:
Any moment in time is relative to your personal perception of it. While a minute spent waiting may pass as an eternity for someone playing solitaire in front of a naked cat, it doesn't pass nearly so slowly for say....a guy walking down the street to get a bottle of milk, since he's just noticed that he was out of the stuff. There is an amazing amount of time though, where a decision whether or not to leave - which the empty bottle of milk is telling you - or to stay - which the Angel of Death assures you is your best course of action.
That's all from my point of view, of course. After a while, you'll find that even the instinct for self preservation stops functioning after Eillie has told Chad that not only is he her brother, but she found out this morning that the love child they've been raising isn't actually hers but her sister's, who had sex with the attorney down the street handling Madison's murder case for killing Bethany, who's actually alive, but trapped under a landslide with Mitchell, her most hated adversary who attracts her in some odd way.
Once that instinct stops working, everything goes to hell.
I stepped out into the sunlight with Tom under my arm, my suitcase in my hand. The old cat was pretty quiet, not even stirring when I got honked at by some guy who wanted to drive through the intersection faster than I cared to walk. I checked Tom's pulse, just to make sure, and let out a relieved sigh. Having him croak was far more than I could deal with right about now. I looked around the streets of New York, searching for a cabbie that didn't object to taking on Tom. I didn't want to rent a car - chances were good that I wouldn't be able to get as far as the front desk before security pulled me over. I was starting to wonder why I'd even come here. What was here? Some buildings, a lot of people, and the place where I was going to die, but wasn't supposed to, somewhere near the river. What river was it? I couldn't even remember. I patted Tom on the head, and he rumble purred, contented and warm.
New York was south of Boston, but it was colder. I've no idea why. I had a moment where I figured it was me, my presence. An outsider here. The entire city radiated a feel of "don't come here". It's not intentional, as far as I can tell. It's simply that no one would live in New York but New Yorkers. They're not harder than the rest of the country, they're just so different that they seem so. It's because there's so many people in one place - and they don't have the benefit of Japanese customs of politeness.
As was starting to become my life these few days, I walked. I thought back to that time in the club where I'd come face to face with Satan, the Big Father of Lies. Nothing like I'd imagined. But I'd gotten so keyed up, like a little kid trying to tell Daddy that no, he didn't smash the cookie jar, it was his invisible friend. Could you lie to the Devil? Would anyone even want to try? I wondered if, being an angel, the Devil really COULD lie. Maybe it was just his - her - version of the truth. There was a lot of that these days.
"I always figured he'd be a lawyer," I said to Tom, who simply looked up at me. Gonna outlive me, Tom is. I froze in my tracks. What if he did? Tom'd survive on the streets for a while, he was still a good mouser. But once the cold really set in, he was gonna be in trouble. I shivered, and held him a little closer, claws curling into my arm in protest. I kept my head down, mumbling to Tom, just some crazy guy with a cat. Walking for something to do, my feet falling where they might. People brushed against me again and again, but there wasn't anything to steal other than Tom, so I wasn't worried. My ID was on its chain around my neck, along with a little pouch that held the money I still had. No one made a grab for that, which was smart. I kept moving moving moving, petting Tom.
I looked up around myself as the thirst in my throat started to really make it ache, and hissed in a breath. Tom sprang out of my arms and raced down the sidewalk, hissing and yowling. Probably another cat. I watched him, followed his tail as he ran. My eyes followed the horizon, and hit the water.