“I’m no one of importance kid. You two are safe, that’s what matters.” He looks down towards Shawna. The corner of his eye tears up as he mutters something under his breath. Jenny shoots a hard stare at his face, it’s weathered with age. His eyes show kindness, but his mouth show years of fighting. Chipped and crooked teeth, a nose that seemed to never properly heal, similar to a boxer. She didn’t want to be rude and ask but she needed answers.
“How did you find me? Did you follow me home?” She asks while holding onto Shawna.
“You act like I’m the enemy. If my numbers are correct, I just saved your a*s twice kid. Ease up on the tension. I’m not a threat to to you or Shawna.”
Jenny starts to attempt to relax before catching what he mentioned. “How did you know her name?”
“Calm down, you said it earlier in the middle of all the scuffling.”
Jenny pauses for a second and looks down at Shawna while caressing her hair, she looks up at her with joy in her eyes. Not forced happiness from sugar coated lies force fed to her, but an actual smile. Her cracked lips drop crusts of chalk skin onto her chin as the corners reach for her ears.
“He saved us Jenny… let him talk sister.” Her words barely make it past her exhausted lungs. Jenny shushes her before lowering down to kiss her forehead.
“Okay, so what’s your story huh? You just show up to save me earlier and then again? How did you start that car, how the hell did you take on four men at the same time? You some kind of superhero or something? I know that sounds ridiculous but what I saw wasn’t possible. Tell me something!”
“Whoa, whoa, I save you from danger and this is how I’m treated? You grill everyone that sticks up for you? I was trying to help.”
“Yeah? Well, you just signed our death certificates. Cole is gonna go back and tell Rico. You don’t know him, you don’t know what he’s capable of! He’s gonna kill all of us, he knows my address and Cole has seen your face. How was that helping? I had it under control, you just f****d it up!”
The stranger puts his head down, rubbing his hand through his shaggy hair. He looks to Shawna, he can’t tell what’s killing her quicker, the cancer or her fear. “You think this is really necessary in front of her?”
Jenny looks down at Shawna, tears are forming in the corners of her sunken eyes. “Baby, I’m so sorry! We’re gonna be okay, I promise. Nothing is gonna happen, I’m sorry for arguing with him in front of you. I promise we’ll be safe.”
“He saved us…why are you so mad?” Shawna looks away to the stranger and shows her smile. To him it glowed with love and an inviting warmth of a safe place that only an innocent heart could provide.
“Shawna, would you like to lay down?” The stranger asks in a voice that could soothe a crying child in hysterics. She nods her head reaching her arms out to him. He leans forward lifting her up with caution, sliding his burly arms under her thin body. He carefully places her in the hospital bed and pulls a tattered blanket over her.
She stares at him with her smile stuck on her narrow face, he gently swipes her auburn hair to the side. She raises a hand and beckons her finger back and forth, he leans in close to her while she whispers into his ear. The stranger stands back staring at her in confusion, she turns her head and closes her eyes drifting into a peaceful slumber.
Jenny walks past grabbing his hand, leading them to her bedroom. Shutting the door she turns and looks at him. “What did she say to you? You know you might get away with that whole good guy s**t but she’s just a kid. She’s easily influenced, you still just royally f****d us, I mean royally.”
“She just told me thank you is all. Listen, I’ve done more harm than good obviously, so I’ll leave you alone.”
As he attempts to walk out Jenny stops in front of him. “Wait, no, how did you start the car? That was some paranormal s**t. And you threw your fist through a man’s chest. I’ve seen junkies cranked out to the full and they couldn’t do that. What the hell are you?”
“My story is complicated, I don’t even know where to start.” He huffs.
“Uh, a name would be nice.” She replies.
“Jasper, my name’s Jasper.”
“Okay Jasper, you mind explaining how you did those things? How you found me, twice? Why you saved me, twice? You expect something from me now?”. Waiting for a reply she half expects him to nod his head.
Jasper grunts and turns away. “Shouldn’t you be in school or something, why are you out there putting a price on your pride? What would your mother think?”
“Hey, you don’t know s**t about me, okay? I do this for her, our mom overdosed where you’re standing! I was the one who had to watch her final breath, who had to swallow my pride and call her pimp for help. You know what that does to a child? Rico took care of it. He took me in, and I made money to take care of Shawna, but the bills got higher as she got sicker. She still doesn’t even know what I put myself through to keep her alive. You think I like sleeping with guys old enough to be my dad?”
Jasper hangs his head and mutters, “I’m sorry I didn-”
“Yeah, cause you judged me, of course you didn’t know. I do this for her. I hate this, I hate him, but it pays for her bills and the rent. This is real life and people have to start early if you’re gonna make life happen. Otherwise it just fucks you until you give up and die or decide to get off your back and do better. You don’t know anything about me.”
Jasper sits down on the bed with both fists clenched in his hands forming a ball of sandpaper skin with his chin resting upon it.
“I’m so sorry to hear that, I truly am. Since we’re spilling secrets, I guess it’s my turn. You wanna know why I could do what I did? I could of easily killed that man earlier, but your sister is something I won’t do real harm in front of. She’s different, her heart is pure, even for her age.” Sighing he looks over at Jenny. She has tears rolling over her pink cheeks, her anger spiraling into her mind.
“I’m just gonna tell you straight forward, just please believe me. You wanna know the truth, I’ll tell you.”
Jenny slightly nods her head.
He responds, “I’m an outcast of Heaven, a fallen angel.”
Jenny stares into Jasper’s eyes. She wants to laugh at him, yell at him for lying, her feelings jumbled into a cramped doorway fighting for what comes out first, but his eyes tell a story of truth. Something about him felt like what he said couldn’t be made up.
She sits down on the mattress next to him and looks to the stained floor. While they sit together, a bond is formed in complete silence and suddenly the anger dissolves into nothing but confused feelings. His black shirt was slightly torn, exposing a bit of a scar on the left side of his stomach. His pants were dirty and scuffed, his boots were way past what someone should hold onto. He looked homeless, but smelled clean
He sits on her uncomfortable mattress while orange lights from the street lamps beam through her bedroom windows.
“I’m not one to believe in religion, or God. Shawna does, she started reading the Bible on her own. Even before she got sick she would tell me all the time, ‘Jesus loves you, Jenny’, like she saw right through me. Like she could see the pain I hid behind my smile. I never told her I’m a night walker, she thinks I work at a lumber store. She’s too sick to move, so I just made up a place she has never heard of and I bring money home, so no questions…what happened to you? Did you get kicked out or something?”
“No, I chose to leave, so to speak. But leaving isn’t necessarily something shined upon. Shawna is right kid, Jesus loves us all, even you. I know you don’t believe in him, but I’m proof Heaven exists. You ask if I was kicked out, there were certain things I couldn’t do, being an angel requires assigned duties that I just couldn’t handle. One day I refused to do my job, my commander was upset with me.”
“Your commander? What you mean? Have you met God?”
“We all meet God upon arrival. He’s generous, He has vast wisdom and just an out pouring of love. He’s everything we thrive to be, although, if we fall short, he’s there to pick us up and dust us off. I know he loves me, but I felt like a disappointment to him at times. The whole world was upon his conscience, yet I felt it was me driving him to hate me. Funny how we think like that.”
Silence fills the room as Jenny simply nods in agreement. “I can understand how that feels.”
“You asked about my Commander. Like the army you have here, we have rankings in order of where we stand. You have Guardians, Warriors, Hunters, Commanders and so forth. My Commander, as they’re called, gave me orders of a specific task and I couldn’t do it. We argued and ended up fighting. I told them I was done and left. My Commander tried to stop me but I cracked his jaw and I pushed past the front gates. A second later, I fell out of the sky and landed on Earth.”
“So God exists, huh? And all this time I believed he didn’t. But here I am talking to an angel, a h****r and an angel. Who would of thought of that?”
“Fallen angel, to be exact.” He chuckles trying to ease the tension.
Jenny sighs, “Can this night get any crazier? So you have powers, or how does that work?” How did you start that car? Or rip that guy’s chest into a cavity hole? That was insane, I mean what the f**k man?”
“I have limited power honestly, here in the land of sin. Had more than I could imagine in heaven. Would have kept it had I not been so hot tempered. It kind of fades and goes, I can’t control it, but it’ll appear at random. It seems like I’m running out of it, I feel myself becoming more.. human, I suppose. Like the strength part for instance, after I killed those men and you left, It drained me. I fell to my knees as you walked off. I had it in me, fighting the men, but it died off quickly afterwards, I was weak and out of breath. I have the ability to restore health, but not much, just saving that last bit for a close call I guess. Well, if it ever comes down to it, but as far as I know I’m not sure I can be killed. For now that is. I’ve been shot, stabbed, etc since I’ve been here. S**t, your town is ridiculous. I was able to heal quickly at first, but now it’s taking more time. Who knows maybe soon, I’ll be just like you.”
“If you have limited power, why did you use it on those men attacking me? Shouldn’t you save that for something bigger?”
“Simple, you needed help.”
“Not that it’s unappreciated, but you should’ve saved that for yourself, if you’re getting weaker. Hey you still haven’t answered how you found me, twice.”
“When I awoke in that crater I created, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was confused and scared. It’s like my memory was pulverized by fists of amnesia, slivers of my brain’s storage hits me here and there, but after a year, it still isn’t a complete picture. I remember arguing with my Commander and falling, I remember meeting God, I remember bits of heaven. Everything else around that time or before it is blurry. I wandered the streets, hoping to find help or anything, but nothing was here except crime and men of evil. Tonight I happened to hear your cries while sitting on a rooftop. After you left and I was able to walk, I followed your trail, you weren’t too far. I thought you were safe and was leaving when Cole walked past me. He didn’t look friendly. I stuck around, just in case, and came in. Just in time, if you ask me. All I know is what I told you. You’re open with me, exposing your naked truths, so why shouldn’t I?”
“This is unbelievable, Jasper. I feel like this is s**t people make up in movies and stuff, this doesn’t happen in real life. You didn’t even know me, and now I owe you my life.”
“I’m not a hero kid, just saw a girl I could help. I’ve been here a while, powers were useless until now. I did some good, something to make me feel better about myself. And you owe me your life? Well, let me hold onto it, maybe I’ll think of something to do with it.” He smiles while looking at her, something about it makes her feel safe for a moment.
“Go for it, it’s not worth much. Does killing people make you feel good?
“No, it’s not my job to send people to meet Jesus, but it happened. I gave them warning, I tried. I don’t like hurting people. Do you think I’m a monster or something?”
Jenny hesitates to answer before responding, “No, I don’t. I am scared, to be honest, not of what you would do to us, but to others. Even more, Rico is gonna come after you and that truly scares mem He’s done things that are unspeakable. He’s every vile thing you can imagine in a human being, plus some, all put into a bag of flesh controlled by pure evil. Cole wasn’t just an errand boy.”
Jasper sighs, knowing trouble is dancing upon his shoulders. “Who is Cole to Rico?”
“You may be an angel, but it’ll take a miracle to take Rico. His hatred drives him to do the things he does, I’m not even sure he’s human. I’ve seen him do things that would give grown men nightmares, for petty debts. Cole is his brother, we’re all dead.”
Jasper reaches over to comfort her. The bottom side of his left hand is blown off with a bullet taking a good chunk of his hand along with his pinky finger. A spider webbed crack splits the glass with the center being a small hole.
“Get down!” Jasper screams as he dives, pushing Jenny to the ground. Bullets begin to riddle the wall with the glass falling like a waterfall of glistening shards. “Keep your head down!” He yells while using his body as a bullet proof vest.
Jenny looks towards the doorway under his weight and yells “I need to get to Shawna!”