Written by Jenni, Sara, Karen, and Mieke on the JABB YahooGroup in October of the year 2003. The angels were created by Martha Williamson for the show “Touched by an Angel” that ran on CBS from 1994-2003. Of course, angels are immortal and we hope they continue to live on in this story and many other places for years to come.
It was Halloween night. Andrew was quietly holed up in a house with all the lights off. The only light was coming from a candle that enabled him to read the book in front of him. He hoped the apparent emptiness of the house would keep trick-or-treaters away. He loved children and would have enjoyed handing out candy to the princesses, clowns, and pirates but inevitably there were the reapers... Suddenly, the doorbell rang.
"Must be a really persistent trick-or-treater!" Andrew thought as he reluctantly went towards the door. But before he got there he heard a voice from behind the door. One he recognized.
"Ok, Angel Boy, put your hands in the air and gimme all the candy," laughed an amused Tess. " I know you’re in there skulking about in the dark Andrew, so open this door now and let me in. It's important!"
"I was not skulking," pointed out Andrew as he drew back the door a crack to peek round at Tess, looming large in the dark entrance way. "And.... I was not 'hiding out' either!" he continued quickly, seeing the incredulous look upon her face as she opened her mouth to retort back at him.
Tess's eyebrows shot up to her silver-grey hairline as she gave him her best 'Is That So!' look.
Andrew grinned at her. "So what's up Tess?" he asked, leaning out of the door frame and scanning left and right along the street, looking to see if any of the closer trick-or-treaters had noticed the guest at his apparently empty home. They hadn't seemed to, yet, so he relaxed and opened the door further and impatiently gestured to Tess that she should come inside. "You know, before they see us," he added, glancing at her amused face.
"You really don't like Halloween do you, Angel Boy?" Tess asked the worried looking Andrew, but made no move what so ever about going into the house. "You need to be coming with me. Right now," stated Tess as she turned to go. Andrew paused, thinking about his lighted candle, then looked past her towards the curb where the caddy sat waiting.
"Phil?" exclaimed Andrew when he recognized the car's sole occupant sitting in the front seat smiling and nodding at the children that skipped excitedly by him, candy bags banging against their knees as they chortled happily about the goodies they had amassed so far.
"Stop wasting time, it's short enough as it is!" Tess snapped, noticing his apparent indecision. "We're waiting," a second later as she continued to proceed down the front steps towards her beloved car.
"Oh wait. I gotta, um, candle. Left it, it’s burning, was reading, ya know, Moby Dick, hoped they wouldn’t come knocking, no lollies, nobody home kinda thing, hang on a minute," said Andrew, his voice fading as he disappeared back into the gloom of the house again.
"Where have you got to now?" shouted Tess impatiently when she
realized at the bottom of the steps she was not followed. "Andrew!"
Tess stomped back up the stairs to the door again, she could hear Andrew talking to her from inside the dark depths, something about 'burning' she thought, and stepped inside. She caught up with him in the lounge. "So what's the emergency?" Andrew asked her as he blew out the candle. "Well, you know that assignment with...."
Just as Tess was about to tell Andrew what was so important there was another persistent knocking at the door. Andrew looked at Tess and said, "You'd think with the lack of decorations that these people would get the hint." Andrew shrugged his shoulders and went to answer the door. As he opened the door he recognized the somewhat familiar face.
"Phil, what are you doing here anyway?"
Phil, looking a bit puzzled, replied, "I was told to come to this address as there was a big Halloween party here tonight".
Andrew laughed, "Well no party I'm afraid, is that what Tess told you to get you to come?" Andrew threw a cheeky grin towards Tess as he spoke. "It's nice to see you again though. So where have you been and what have you been doing lately?" he added rather quickly as he skirted around back of Phil to avoid Tess's glare. Then listening to Phil, Andrew escorted them both back towards the front door once more.
Once outside, Andrew made one more glance around to see if there wasn't a possible escape route. Not that he would have taken it. It would have just been comforting to know it was there. But he wouldn't actually bolt. Instead he just sighed and asked, "Well, what is the assignment then?" as the three got into the caddy.
"It's difficult to explain. You'll understand when we get there. Phil knows the way," Tess answered as she turned on the car.
As they pulled away from Andrew's house, the other two angels tried to ignore the groan Andrew made as they drove past a 3 foot grim reaper tearing into a Snickers bar and went into the night...
Andrew slunk down into the back seat, while Phil settled into the passenger seat.
"So do you know where we are headed?" Tess glanced over and asked Phil.
"Yes I do," responded Phil quickly, "just follow the road ahead."
"Ahead where? The street ends just up there." Tess nodded ahead as she drove, remembering another time she and Monica had dealings with the location incompetent Phil.
"Arhhh", Phil replied chewing his lip, "try to the right."
"The right. Are you sure? Do you know where you’re going or not?" questioned an exasperated Tess.
"I do, so just curb that infamous impatience thing you got going on there, and it'll come to me in a minute." Phil glanced uneasily up and down the street as Tess pulled the caddy to a stop at the road end.
"It'll come to you in a minute!!" This time Tess had turned her body towards Phil, "Which way are we going!?"
"Well it’s got to be left or right doesn't it?" Phil muttered, leaning over, pressed up against the door. There was a chuckle from the back seat.
"I do know where I’m going," he insisted louder, feeling more confident after hearing the quiet laugh from Andrew. But under Tess's overbearing gaze, he still didn't look too sure, "I'm just not sure where I am!"
The chuckle from the back seat again, but louder this time.
Tess' glare moved over to rest on Andrew, whose giggle was cut short by his hand coming up to cover the open smile. He turned to study the houses, the children, anything that was facing away from Tess.
Tess' eyes then slid back to Phil and glared at him for a moment longer, "Well, best you remember then and be quick about it".
"Yes. It's right!"
Tess' hand moved towards the gear stick, and from the corner of her eye she saw Phil look left.
"You’re sure it’s right?"
"Could be left...." conceded Phil.
"Humph!" bellowed Tess as she slumped back in her seat, "Lord give me strength!" Andrew muffled a laughed again and Phil turned to laugh with him.
"No wait. I have it. It’s left. Definitely left!" said Phil moments later.
Tess put the car into gear, gave the two men a quick 'a woman knows best' look, stepped on the gas, and turned right.
The three angels drove on for a while with Andrew relaxing a bit as he listened to the banter between Tess and Phil. He was surprised to find that he was actually enjoying himself. It was a beautiful night and, as Tess sped up, all the costumes blended together and he could no longer make out the grim reapers. "Maybe this Halloween won't be so bad..." Andrew thought to himself. But no sooner had he thought it than he suddenly began to recognize the neighborhood they were entering. That house looked familiar. That park. That grove of trees... An uneasiness began to grow in Andrew as they passed one familiar landmark after another.
"Well, this is it Angel Boy," Tess said as she slowed the car down. When the caddy had stopped she and Phil got out.
Andrew refused to look to his right, to the place he knew Tess was pointing at.
"Andrew? We're here. I knew it was left..."
"It was right."
"Yes, right. Right was right. Andrew?" Phil looked with concern at Andrew who had yet to budge from his seat in the caddy.
"No," Andrew said under his breath as he slowly turned towards the direction Tess had indicated.
Tess parked the car before the house and Andrew got out, a bit unwillingly, because he had counted on a nice quiet evening in the house... Tess opened the door while Phil kept waiting in the car. It was a real spooky house, it was almost a ruin, with no light, and it was covered in rags.
Andrew entered the house, still murmuring that he didn't want to do this tonight, but his mood changed the minute he saw why he had come here...
In the corner of the room he could vaguely see the body shape of a little child, wounded and very frightening as well... Andrew wanted to walk to the little boy but Tess told him to wait because she wanted to explain what had happened first.
"Now Angel Boy," she said a bit harshly, "do you see why you had to come here? This boy needs us, for if we do not do anything he will be dead by morning." The tone of her voice changed as she continued. "He is a runaway kid. He ran away from home earlier and, unfortunately, he ran into a group of Halloween children with bad intentions and they kicked him till he could escape. We gotta find a way to get this kid back to his house and get him the medical care he needs. Meanwhile, Phil and I will try to locate his parents, you are supposed to stay here with the boy. His name is Jack and he needs you Angel Baby."
Andrew smiled vaguely and sat next to Jack in the corner and took him into his arms. The little guy was a bit afraid but somehow he knew that Andrew would not hurt him so he relaxed a bit and, while Andrew cradled him, he fell asleep.
"All right we will leave now," Tess whispered, "and hopefully we will be back soon with the proper help and his parents, so we can end this nightmare." She left the house again and joined Phil back in the car and she drove away into the night.....
As Jack slept, Andrew found his mind wandering back through the years. This was not the first time he had been in this house. Not even the first time he'd spent Halloween there. Today the house was a mess and neglected. But it had not always been so. Not when Becca and her family had lived here...
In 1959 Andrew found himself called for an extended period of time to the home of the Edwards family. Their family had been in the area for generations but this particular group of Edwards had only just moved in after inheriting the home from a beloved aunt. The house was gorgeous but not without need for repairs. Dean Edwards had made some brave attempts at carpentry and plumbing but, after a few stern glances from his wife, Susan, had reluctantly called a home repair company. The same company that Andrew had only recently been employed by.
And so it was that in early October of that year Andrew, and his tool belt, came to the home of Dean and Susan Edwards and their 14 year old daughter Becca.
Becca was full of life. Long, honey blond hair hanging in a straight shining wave to her shoulders, that she typically wore in a high ponytail, tied with the ribbons her father brought her home from the Manchester factory where he worked on the toweling machines. She was a typical teenager of the times. Into the music of the era, especially that cute guy called Elvis. She hung out at the local milk bar in town with her three best friends on the weekends and supported the school's athletics team as they competed against other schools on Saturdays with the rest of her classmates. She was on the gymnastics team, specialized on the beam and floor work. She played the piano like her mother did, going to the town library after school on Wednesdays until her mother finished teaching her students at 4.30 pm. And she collected bunny figurines. She had more than 50 now, scattered around her bedroom, on her shelves and drawers. Her 15th birthday was coming up, she hoped she would get more from her Aunts and Uncles. Her parents were going to buy her her very own record player so she could listen to her music in her bedroom, after her homework was finished of course and she couldn’t wait! And she liked Daniel, the red headed boy with freckles of the same color that ran across the bridge of his nose in her math class. She was hoping he would invite her to the spring dance next term, but at that moment, their relationship consisted of more shy glances and smiles in the corridors than actual conversation. But then her conversations with her friends during lunch break consisted of nothing else. The boys they liked and who was going with who to the dance. Each girl offering the others support for their prospective dates, the gowns they would wear, hairstyles, and whether their parents would let them wear make-up and if they were really lucky, high heels, for the first time.
Life was pretty normal for Becca, until one day...
Becca was the one to answer the door that first day when Andrew came to work on the house. His green eyes and golden hair caught her off guard but she quickly got a hold of herself. He may have been handsome but he wasn't Daniel.
Noticing the girl's confusion, Andrew spoke up. "Hi there. My name's Andrew. I'm here to work on the house, are either of your parents home?" he asked as he craned his neck in an attempt to spot either Dean or Susan.
"Umm... Yes, I'm very sorry I forgot my manners. Please do come in," Becca said in the manner of someone trying to seem older than their years as she stepped out of the doorway to allow Andrew to enter.
"Becca, who is it, dear?" Susan asked as she came out of the kitchen and into the hallway. Her face lit up when she saw Andrew, complete with tool belt, standing in the entryway. "Oh lovely! Becca, it looks like we're finally going to get some improvements made around here. Andrew, I've been dying to get this place fixed up."
Andrew smiled at the joke Susan didn't even know she'd made. And he hoped that he wasn't at this household in his official capacity. He had only just met the Edwards and already knew he would grow to love this family.
Andrew was brought out of his reminiscence by the sound of a siren approaching and pulling up outside the house. Seconds later, Tess burst through the door followed closely by two ambulance officers who made their way quickly over to Andrew and the boy. Jack still lay pale and incoherent, the blood in his dark hair was drying now, but still oozing thickly down the side of his face from another wound he had received in the attack. Andrew went over to Tess who was then waiting outside on the porch.
"Is he going to be alright?" he asked her quietly.
"I don't know baby," Tess replied watching the two men take the little boy down the steps to the ambulance that awaited them. "Your job is finished here, but I'm going to the hospital to be with Jack. Would you like to come... or do you have something more important you need to do?" Tess said looking shrewdly into Andrew's tense face.
"I'll be there shortly," he replied distractedly, glancing towards the hallway and the door that lay at the end of the corridor.
Andrew waited at the doorway till they had gone with wee Jack and he turned and walked slowly down the dark hall. He remembered the flowery blue wall paper he had hung with Dean, but it was stained and peeling in places now. The door handle. He hesitated, then let the door swing open inwards.
It was still there. The dull metal glinted sickeningly in the moonlight that filtered through the small window above the wash basin. The solid metal pipe that he had placed above the bath for the new shower curtain when the old one had come crashing down that day Becca was taking a shower. He remembered her scream of fright and then anger at someone that was outside the bathroom window, 'watching her' she had said later when they had calmed her down. Someone always seemed to be following and watching her, they were worried then, but he knew better now. Hindsight was a wonderful thing, he wished he had taken more notice of her now, maybe things would have turned out differently.
Then later that day he had taken her into the bathroom to show her how strong the new rail was, he had even hung off the pipe for a second to prove to her it was ok to take a shower again. But she had just given him this suspicious, hateful look and stalked out and back to her darkened bedroom.
He wanted to tear that rail off the wall and smash the mirror, the basin, the walls with it, he just wanted to forget that Halloween night and what happened forever.
"Andrew. Andrew!" He heard Tess' voice calling him from outside, he turned his back on that room and broke into a frantic jog, escaping from the memories, down the hall, over the porch and into the caddy where Tess was waiting for him. He couldn't bear to meet her questioning gaze, and looked back at the house as she pulled away from the curb.
Once at the hospital, the angels raced into the Emergency Room. Jack was already admitted and they couldn't visit him just yet. Tess approached the nurses' station to see if there had been any success in locating the boy's parents. Andrew waited around long enough to hear the updates, no they hadn't located them yet but were still trying. Then he tapped Tess on the shoulder.
"I'm going to the chapel. Please let me know if there's any change and when we can see Jack," he requested.
"Sure, Angel Boy. You go do what you have to do. And just remember God loves you baby. And so do I," Tess said with concern as she looked into Andrew's clouded eyes.
"Thanks," Andrew answered as he turned and walked away.
Tess watched his retreating back slowly. This would be a difficult night for him, over 40 years of grief and guilt were going to surface.
Andrew didn't go into the chapel. He sat down on a bench just outside the doorway, fatigue immediately washing over him. Before he knew it, the angel of death was sleeping.
He was back in the house now. Scenes from his time there appeared before him, one after the other. The first was from his second week in the home. There he was, attaching a railing to the staircase with Becca looking on, offering a running commentary on the goings on at her school. She'd found the perfect confidante in him. He offered objective advice only when it was sought. He didn't just giggle and go off on a tangent about his own romantic exploits like her friends did. And, best of all, he was not her father or mother.
"It's just... well, what if Daniel says no? I'd feel awful and the whole class would find out about it and then I'd just be the class joke. But I don't want to be the only one in my group of friends going to the Fall dance alone either... What do you think?"
Andrew momentarily stopped working with the railing. "I think you should ask him. Even if he says no, you'll get over it in... a few decades."
Becca laughed at his exaggeration, it definitely gave her some perspective.
"But if you don't ask him, will you think back and wonder what may have happened? For a few decades?"
Becca smiled and nodded. "Thanks, I will."
That scene melted away and another appeared...
Becca. Rushing in the front door late one afternoon. Andrew and Susan were discussing the rewiring the whole house would require to get it up to the new code of standards. She looked harassed and upset as she slammed the front door behind her and raced into the lounge to peek through the curtains of the large window up and down the street.
"Honey, what's wrong?" her mother enquired looking a little startled, as she moved towards her distraught daughter.
"Um, nothing, really, I don't know." Becca dropped the curtains and looked at her mum. "Oh, Hi Andrew", she muttered to him, a little embarrassed to be seen like this by someone other than family. He nodded his head in reply.
"Becca, tell me what's wrong," tried her mother again.
"It's just, well, when I was in the library this afternoon, I could hear these people whispering, from behind the bookshelves I think, anyway, they were talking about me! Saying horrible things, like Daniel hated me, I was ugly, that he wouldn't go to the dance with me. It was horrible mum, and when I went to see who it was, they had gone. I heard the same stuff at school the other day too, all the kids must hear it too, or know who it is, but they just act like nothing’s happening at all, it's really creepy. They always seem to be watching me now. Everyday. I don't like it!" It all rushed out practically on the same breath, her pitch rising quickly from fright to anger as she talked, and her hands gesturing wildly in front of her or running through her hair and tangling it.
Susan had consoled her daughter that time by telling her it must have just been some kids from school playing a nasty joke on her, Halloween was coming up after all, and to just ignore it. If it continued, she'd go talk to the principal, and Becca didn't want that at all. Far too embarrassing, her mum coming into the school and Becca couldn't exactly say who it was that was talking about her. So she had reluctantly agreed, and went into her bedroom and shut the curtains again.
Andrew and Susan carried on with the talk of the wiring project that was to begin the next day, Becca seemly forgotten in the melodrama of the mammoth task.
The cleaner down the hall banged his trolley against the lift doors as he dragged the loaded cart backwards out from the elevator and started Andrew from his dreams.
"There's no escaping it..." Andrew mumbled as he stood up and began to recall his dreams. In an attempt to clear his head, he began to walk around the hospital, at last stopping at the cafeteria. Someone towards the back of the seating area caught his eye.
"Monica!" he called out, not even realizing it in his excitement.
Monica's face immediately lit up upon seeing Andrew. It had been months since she'd last seen him and couldn't hide her happiness.
"Andrew! It's so wonderful to see you. What brings you here?"
"Tess is actually here also. We had an assignment earlier. He's in surgery now, I believe. How about you?"
"I'm also on assignment. Actually, there's Susan. She's one half of it." Monica smiled warmly upon seeing her 80 year old assignment enter with a younger woman. "A lovely woman, a difficult life but she's not let it destroy her. Right now she's here to visit her husband, Dean. It's really rather a mystery to me. It seems like a simple assignment on the surface but something tells me much more is going on."
With shock, Andrew craned his neck to get a better view of the woman. It was Susan Edwards. And she was coming towards them. He relaxed a bit when she and the other woman settled at a table at least 10 feet away.
"Aunt Susan, please just let me get you something to eat. You've not had a decent meal in days. Uncle Dean would be heartbroken if he knew."
Susan shrugged. "It's just hard to cope with. One minute he's the Dean I've always known. The next he's talking to Becca. As if she was really there. Megan, it's been 44 years... It's so hard to hear him talking to her as if he expects an answer..."
Monica's attention was brought back to Andrew who had begun to cry very, very quietly. Yes, there was definitely more to this assignment.
Andrew was slightly leaned over and looking down at the table top trying to master his spinning emotions, seeing Susan here was a bit of a shock. Quite a coincidence in fact but Andrew didn't believe in coincidences. He had learned long ago it was just God working anonymously. When he thought he had some semblance of control, he glanced across at Monica who was gazing at him sympathetically. And, bang, it all came rushing back up to the surface again.
He had a flash of Dean and Susan at the funeral, clinging to each other, pale, silent and still in shock, even though it was several days since they had found her. A tear spilled over and dribbled down his cheek. He reached up and wiped it away, throwing Monica an apologetic glance. She smiled gently at him, nodding.
"Arrrh. So you've met Susan before then?" Monica asked him in her lilting Irish accent.
"Yes, in my official capacity. It was a lifetime ago, but I still feel as if it was just yesterday," he answered quietly, not wanting to draw Susan's attention to his presence. "Why is Dean here?"
"Stroke. It’s serious, he's changed, he seems to be living back in the past again, talking often to his daughter Becca. He never did get over losing her like Susan did. Did you know their daughter Andrew?"
"Yes," replied Andrew, "I did. I was meant to help her but I failed. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to check on Dean." He was raising from his chair as he spoke, and was half way out of the room before she could reply.
Monica watched him go, and turned to look at Susan. 'What had happened all those years ago to affect them both with so much torment?' she wondered.
Andrew made his way up to see Dean on the fifth floor. Standing in the elevator he recalled the time he had come down from the crawl space under the roof after laying the cabling, and came across Becca standing at the foot of the ladder staring up at him with a such a look of utter fury on her face and demanding to know what he was doing up there. He had explained, but he could tell she didn't believe him. "I heard what you were saying," she had screamed at him. "You're up there watching me, drilling holes, listening to me. It's you isn't it? YOU!! It was you who was outside my window all those times too!" she railed furiously at him. "Get out! Get out of my house now!"
"Becca, it was not me," he had stammered. "Honest. I haven't been watching you or following you. I wouldn't do that, I'm your friend."
"Liar!! You’re a liar!! Get out. Just get out now!"
At the sound of Becca's screams, both her parents came running from the kitchen. But before they could reach her, she spun around and dashed back into her room, locking the door behind her.
While Susan tried to get Becca to let them in, Dean and Andrew stood on either side of her doorway and looking intensely at one another. One in shock, wondering what had just happened, and the other with anger and suspicions forming in his mind.
The lift doors opened, and Andrew spied Phil, wandering back and forth along the corridor, obviously looking for Dean's room.
"Room 504," he said to Phil as he caught him up on Phil's return pathway.
"I knew that," he answered looking very much relieved Andrew had turned up, and knew where he was going. "I was er, just waiting for you."
Andrew managed to direct a small smile towards Phil as they both walked up the hallway towards Dean's room.
When Andrew left the cafeteria, he did not leave unnoticed. Megan had at last prevailed upon her aunt Susan to eat something and had gone to buy some food. When she returned, she found her aunt still at the table looking very pale and staring out into the corridor, at Andrew's retreating form.
"Aunt Susan, you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"I think I may have," Susan replied.
Megan started to giggle, thinking her aunt was attempting to inject some humor into the situation, but her expression told her otherwise. She became serious again. "Who was that?"
"I think... I think it was Andrew."
"Who's Andrew? Is he one of Dean's doctors?"
"No. I mean it can't be him but he looked so much like him. Identical."
"Aunt Susan, please, who is Andrew?"
"The handyman. The one that was there when Becca..."
"Dear God!" Megan exclaimed.
"But yet... Andrew would be nearing 80 himself. That man couldn't have been a day over 40. More likely 35," Susan shook her head as if trying to erase the thought forming in her mind.
"A son, maybe?" Megan offered.
"Maybe," Susan agreed but Megan could tell she wasn't buying the theory.
The two women finished their meals in silence, each mulling over what had just occurred. In about 15 minutes, they were finished.
"Well, where would you like to go now, Aunt Susan? Would you like to go home, rest maybe? Or back upstairs? Or just out and about for a while?"
"I think I'm going to go see Dean. I need to talk to him about... this." She gestured towards the corridor where she had seen Andrew.
The two women got up, cleared their table, and left. Monica observed them and then got up herself to follow them. It was time to officially begin her assignment.
As Andrew and Phil walked down the hall towards Dean's room Phil started to talk. "You know Andrew there was this case that the angels worked that turned out totally unexpected. I remember... "
Andrew's mind shut out what Phil was saying and went back to those last couple of days ...
Andrew and Dean were working in the hallway trying to finish getting the lovely flower wallpaper hung that Susan really wanted. Becca came flying into the house. Her lovely hair in disarray. She was so excited.
"Mom! Mom, Daniel said he would go to the Halloween dance with me!" Becca's eyes were sparkling and there was a lovely glow to her already pretty face. Susan got up from the couch and went to give her daughter a hug.
"Dear, that is wonderful. I am so glad things worked out the way you wanted."
Becca told her mother excitedly, "Mom, I absolutely must get a new
dress for the dance. Everyone, just everyone is going to be there and I
want to show them how cool I really am."
A small frown appeared on Susan's face, "Becca, we simply can't afford a new dress right now. With all the money we are spending on fixing up this old place, we just can't do it." Susan noticed that look come over Becca's face. It hurt her to see her daughter look that way.
"Becca, I know what. We have some really pretty material left over
from the dresses I made for us last fall. I'm sure we can make a real
pretty dress that you will be proud of from that." Becca frowned for
just a moment and decided that would be okay. Susan told Becca, "If we
get started on it right now we can have it ready in plenty of time for
Susan worked tirelessly on the dress. Finally on the big day it was finished! Becca was standing there as she finished the last of the hem on the dress. "See I told you we could do this." Susan noticed a strange look on Becca's face but put it off to excitement.
Later the doorbell rang. It was Daniel to pick up Becca. Susan and Dean invited Daniel in. Becca came very slowly down the stairs. Susan and Dean commented to themselves how beautiful their young daughter looked and how handsome Daniel looked. They took a couple of quick pictures and Daniel and Becca were off to the dance.
As soon as Becca and Daniel entered the gym of the school Daniel went off to talk to some of his friends. Becca just stood there wondering what she should do. She went over to a table and took a seat. She thought to herself that Daniel really had been gone for a long time. It had been almost an hour since he left her standing at the door. Was he ignoring her, was it her dress?
She looked up and noticed Daniel with a group of girls. They were
all talking and laughing. They were looking at her and laughing! Becca
turned her head and looked all around the gym for a friendly face.
There wasn't one. She felt like everyone was looking and laughing at
her in her homemade dress. How ugly she must be to all of them! She
knew all the girls had told Daniel that her dress was homemade. They
all knew! She was ugly! Becca left the dance alone and in tears.
Andrew was putting on some finishing touches in the hall way. Dean and Susan had went out to a movie. It was a well deserved break for the two of them. He knew that they have been worried about their daughter and the mysterious person watching her. They had also been working a long time on getting the house fixed up. Suddenly the door flew open and Becca came running in.
Becca noticed Andrew standing in the hall way. He was watching her.
She yelled at Andrew, "YOU are watching me! You are in this with them aren't you? You all think I am ugly. You all think I'm crazy!" Andrew watched Becca run to her room and slam the door shut. He knew at the same time that she was probably closing the curtains, too. If only he could tell her he was watching her, but not for the reason or the way that Becca thought he was. It just wasn't the right time.
"Andrew! Andrew! Are you listening to me?" Andrew was startled by
Phil yelling at him and touching his shoulder.
"Um, yeah Phil, I'm listening." Andrew wasn't listening to Phil at all. They were outside Dean's room and Andrew was going in. It would be the first time in decades that Andrew had seen Dean. The last time since the funeral.
Dean looked up and saw Andrew walk into his room. For the first time in over 40 years Dean saw things clearly. For the first time he finally had someone he could place the blame on. Someone he could yell at!
"It's YOU! You were watching her. You caused her to do it!" Dean was pointing an accusing finger at Andrew. Andrew stumbled out of the room. He could barely see for the tears that were welling up in his eyes.
Shortly after Andrew had left Dean's room, Megan and Susan made it to his floor. When she had made sure her aunt Susan had gotten to Dean's room, Megan took the opportunity to call her husband and see how things were going with her son. The boy had been less than thrilled when she'd dropped him off at Steven's house and left. He'd hoped the family could spend Halloween together. But she and Steven had separated months ago and attempts to reconcile had ended in anger.
She pulled out her cell phone and dialed, rolling her eyes when it took several rings before anyone answered.
"Hello?" Steven answered, with a desperate sounding tone in his voice.
"It's me. Megan. How did trick-or-treating go?"
"Megan! I'm so glad you called! I've been trying to track you down but your cell must have been off. Jack's run off. I called the police and I just started calling his friends but..."
"What?!" Megan couldn't believe what she'd just heard. "When? Where were you? You knew he shouldn't have been left alone! Are you crazy?"
"Megan, please. This isn't helping and believe me, I've all ready asked myself those questions. We need to concentrate on finding him. Where are you?"
"At the hospital with Aunt Susan."
"Okay, well you check for him there. Maybe someone brought him in, and then start calling other area hospitals. I'll finish this list of friends. Call me back if you find anything out. I'm so sorry. Bye."
Megan could tell Steven felt awful but she was too angry and worried to indulge her sympathy. She raced towards the nearest nurses' station, hoping that by some chance her son might even be in the same building.
Megan had rejoiced when, only a few minutes after her call to Steven, she discovered that not only was Jack in the very same hospital but that he'd just come out of surgery. Her heart hurt for her small son and the pain he had experienced but rejoiced that, save a few stitches and a cold, he was okay. She called Steven immediately. He'd cried with relief and said he'd be right over. As soon as he got there, Megan left her son's side to try and find out how Jack had come to the hospital. He was okay now but had lost a considerable amount of blood and could not have possibly gotten there himself. She tracked down the woman who had admitted him, hoping to get her answers.
"He was brought in about three hours ago. By an older African-American woman. Her name was Tess. She said she'd found him in an abondoned house. She had a man with her, too. Blonde, green eyes, very handsome. I overheard them talking... What did she call him??"
"Do you know if this Tess is still around? I'd like to thank her."
"I'm really not sure. Oh! Andrew. That was it. She called the man Andrew," the nurse smiled at her ability to recall the name. "If I see either of them I'll let you know. We're just so glad you turned up. The poor kid was so shocked we couldn't get your names out of him or anything."
Megan thanked the nurse and hurriedly walked away. Andrew. The man her aunt had said she'd seen. 'Could it possibly be the same one? If so, who was he? What was he?' she thought.
At that very same moment Megan was wondering about Andrew, he was almost running, rushing headlong along a darkened empty wing filled with scaffolding, ladders, buckets of paint and thinners and an array of brushes, rollers and trays, and piles of ripped up old cloth. "Everyone seems to be redecorating," he thought, as the smell of turps, oil and paint hit him. But it was quiet now, the painters had all gone home to be with their families.
Andrew slowed down, not sure where he was, but in actual fact, he didn't really care. It might be nice to be lost for awhile, he certainly wasn't in any fit state to see anyone after what had just happened in Dean’s room. But had he expected any different sort of welcome after all that transpired from Dean??? No, not really. It was, after all, his fault. The blame was entirely his. He was the one sent, he was the one who was supposed to help. And he hadn't. His very actions, his very presence had made it worse. He collapsed down into a chair that sat against an old white wall, hands on thighs, leaned his head back on the wall and closed his eyes. And remembered.
She was in her bedroom crying hysterically. He had listened at the door and could hear her mumbling frantically to herself between the sobs. Hesitating a minute, he then gathered himself and knocked on the door.
"Go away!" she had screamed, followed a second later by a thump as something heavy hit the door. "Go away! Leave me alone! Why cant you leave me alone!?!" Another thump, 'she must be throwing the stuffed rabbits that sat on her bed,' he thought. Then it was quiet.
Andrew tried again.
"Becca?" Silence, but he could hear her moving about in her room. Pacing about like a caged, angry, and wounded animal.
"Becca," he started again, "can we just talk? Please. Please let me help you."
There was a scream of rage and pain, then a loud bang as something smashed against the door and shattered. Andrew jumped back startled. Silence followed again.
"Father," he questioned the empty house, "help me now. Tell me what to do. How can I help her?" He paused, listening for something in the silence, and then nodded with new understanding.
Then Andrew was in Becca's room. It was dark and in disarray. She was sitting on the floor wedged between her bed and the drawers, her legs drawn up tight to her body, her forehead resting on her knees and her hands clasping her head covering her ears.
"Becca," he had said gently. She looked up from her internal torment confused.
'How did he get in here?' flashed the mean voice in her mind, 'He's always here. Always watching, waiting, whispering about you. It's him following you. Him!'
She jumped up so suddenly, with such a look of rage and hatred on her face that Andrew had taken a involuntary step backwards against the closed door. She was screaming. A violent roar that shook the walls.
"Get Out! Get Out! Leave me alone!" She was grabbing whatever she could find to hurl at him. It smashed all around him and against the door behind him.
He had begun to glow now, the light filling the gloomy room. "Becca," he tried again, "I am an angel. I'm here to help you, I have a message from God to give to you."
She had then threw herself at him, screaming with such venom now, hitting him with her fists, pushing him hard back against the door. "Get OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! Leave Me Alone!" She turned to find a weapon when her blows seemed to have no affect upon him. Finding nothing, she pushed him aside, now in her panic needing to flee, to escape, headed to the bathroom, slamming the door and locking it behind her.
Andrew had followed. "Becca, let me help you, you don't have to go through this alone." Screaming and more banging and smashing. He tried one final time.
Her rage poured forth rolling over him through the locked door. He didn't know what to do, anyway. This isn't the time, he thought, for words of love and peace. He needed to calm her down. He needed help. He needed Susan and Dean. "Becca, I'm going to get your parents. I'll be back in a minute with them. Ok?" And not waiting for her reply, he vanished.
Andrew appeared behind a truck at the drive-in movie and ran the few paces to Dean and Susan sitting in their old Ford station wagon. They weren't watching the movie, they were talking about their daughter in worried, hushed voices. Andrew suddenly appearing in the passenger window gave them more cause for alarm. After listening to his frantic pleading message they were headed back home, as fast as the old car could go, with Andrew in the back seat giving them a more detailed account of what just transpired. All three were worried sick about Becca and her erratic, odd behavior recently, but none had dared to tell the others just how concerned about her they actually were.
Minutes later, but what seemed like an eternity, they were standing outside the bathroom door. Silence greeted them and permeated through out the house.
"Becca." Louder this time.
"Rebecca!" yelled her father, "You open up this door right now young lady. Right NOW!"
No reply. No sound from within.
"BECCA!!" frantic now, "Do you hear me? Open this door!!!".
"Honey," pleaded Susan, "it's Mummy. Lets us in, darling. Open the door, it's all right, we just want to talk, see if your ok."
The three adults looked at each other, frozen. Each lost in the terrifying moment, each realizing they couldn't hear her, help her, their control lost, powerless to even reach her, and for each, their thoughts slowly turned, now thinking the worst.
Suddenly, Dean kicked as hard as he could at the door. It swung open.
Becca was there, she had tied her mother's dressing gown cord that Susan always left on the back of the door over the new railing and now hung there, her feet not more than inches from the floor.
"Oh God. Oh God. Oh God," repeated a stunned Dean in a dull chant as he saw his daughter. Susan screamed again. A high pitched sound that hurt the ears and galvanized the others into action.
Andrew rushed past Dean, wrapped his arms around Becca and lifted her, while Dean broke from his horrified trance and rushed to loosen the cord from around his daughter's neck, yelling to Susan to phone for help.
They laid Becca on the checkered floor tiles, Andrew checking for a pulse, it was faint, but she wasn't breathing. He started CPR while Dean, useless, held her hand rocking back and forth on his knees beside her moaning. Susan came back to stand in the doorway white with shock.
Becca's heart stopped beating in the ambulance and she died on the way to the hospital. Andrew was not the one chosen to escort her home.
After separating from Megan, Susan had entered Dean's room to find her husband alert but agitated.
"Dean, are you feeling any better? You look very pensive,." Susan asked with concern.
"I saw him," Dean said with a venomous tone on the word 'him.'
"The handyman. Andrew. That son of..." Dean was cut off by his wife.
"Dean, don't, please. You don't know that he had anything to do with Becca's suicide." Susan was in tears seeing her husband's distress. But she was also preoccupied with a theory that had been forming in her head since seeing Andrew in the cafeteria. She started again, "Dean, I saw him, too. In the cafeteria."
"Did he see you? Did he say anything?"
"I don't know if he saw me, but no he didn't say anything. Dean, look at us. We've become an old man and an old woman. Over forty years have passed. But Andrew... Dean he looked the same."
Dean suddenly went pale. In his anger and confusion he hadn't realized this glaring fact.
"I don't understand. How?"
"I think... I think... Well, he was always so good with Becca. And so helpful and gentle and... good. Dean, you remember the nights he had dinner with us. Those were good nights. He was a good man Dean. But now, now I'm not sure if he was a man."
Dean stared at his wife as if she'd gone insane. "And what exactly do you think he is?"
"An angel. I'm not sure why... But sometimes when it was just him and me talking I felt like... It's hard to explain. In the presence of something." Susan shook her head, frustrated at her inability to articulate her feelings.
"Some angel. If he was an angel why'd our little girl die? Why couldn't he save her?"
"Angels are sent for many reasons," a voice near the door explained. Susan and Dean turned and saw Monica, glowing and smiling at them sympathetically. "Sometimes we come to save lives, yes. And sometimes we come to bring people Home to the Father. Sometimes we come to lend a hand with the difficult tasks of life. And sometimes we come to bring peace. This is why I am here. Dean and Susan, you faced the most difficult thing a human being could ever face. You lost your child. And God knows the pain it caused you. God wept with you all those nights and days. You've searched for peace for years and, Dean, you thought you'd found it when you could blame someone else. But Andrew didn't cause your daughter's death."
"Is he... an angel, too?"
"Yes, Andrew is an angel. An angel of death. And a very good one."
"Was he with her when she..." Susan started to ask.
"No, Andrew wasn't your daughter's angel of death."
"She wasn't alone? Please tell me she wasn't..." Dean begged.
"Becca wasn't alone. I was with her. I took her Home." Dean and Susan turned towards the voice and saw another glowing figure speaking to them.
Phil found Andrew eventually in the closed wing and stood before him waiting to be acknowledged. Andrew opened his eyes to see Phil’s concerned expression, and feeling slightly ashamed of his running out, he heaved himself up from where he was sitting and began to head back down the way he had come.
Andrew walked up the corridor still pretty much lost in his own thoughts, almost ignoring the fact that Phil was now beside him, matching him step for step as he went. They were nearing the deserted nurses’ station when Andrew realized Phil had been watching his face for most of the way, with the quizzical half smile of those that know something the rest have not twigged to as of yet.
Andrew realized then that Phil’s expression and his attention was centered squarely upon him, and he stopped short in his tracks, not more than two doors from Dean and room 504.
"Ohhh", he said quietly, the light slowly dawning across his face, "No, Oh no, no, Phil, noooooo." He was shaking his head, looking at Phil closely. "At the elevators, you were waiting for me." It was more a statement than a question.
Which Phil then quickly confirmed, "I was waiting for you. Yes."
"You’re not here for Dean?"
"Monica has Dean covered, and Susan too," he added quickly, matching Andrew’s astonished ‘I can’t believe this is happening but know it is’ smile.
"And you’re not here for Jack, either?" He continued.
"No, Tess has Jack covered.”
Andrew nodded, not prepared to go on and have his worst fears confirmed.
"And I have you covered." Phil nodded and smiled as he went on to fill in the pause Andrew had left wide open.
"Oh Phil," he sighed sadly, "I don't need an angel."
"That's not what I hear," replied Phil serious now. "You and I need to have a little chat right about now don't you think? About what happened on that assignment, before you go in and see Dean again."
Andrew looked away, tense, and for a second looked as though he might cry, but he bit the insides of his lower lip instead, and nodding at Phil, folded his arms across his body like a shield that might offer him some scant protection against the conversation that was to come.
"Okay," he sighed, now resigned to his fate."Andrew, God the Father wants me to tell you he loves you. He is very proud of you, and nothing that happened that night was your fault. That bad things happen. They happen. It's no one’s fault. He knows that you did your best, that you and Becca's parents are not to blame in any way for what happened".
Andrew looked away, he really didn't want to believe what Phil was saying, he had been carrying this guilt and anger far to long to let it go of it that easily.
"I was there, I didn't stop her," he was pleading with Phil. "It was my fault. The bathroom. The rail. I should have realized what was happening, but I didn't. I didn't know. Why didn't she get her feet up on the bath, she could have, easily, she'd be alive now, if only....."
"If only? If only... two of the most innocent words, but when placed together in a sentence they become the equivalent of a land mine over time. You don't know it’s there till you stand on it and it blows up creating utter devastation. BOOM!" Phil mimed a big explosion with his hands and then calmly continued again. "No one knew Andrew, and God understands that Andrew. He knows what you've been carrying for all these years, why you hate Halloween so much. He understands, and is telling you to let it go. It was not your fault, you did the best you could, and so did Becca. She wasn't well Andrew, you all knew that in some form or another, but none of you actually understood what it was you were up against."
Andrew looked at Phil carefully.
"Back then, no body had heard of early onset paranoid schizophrenia and there was no real help for a child with her disorder even if you had realized, and God understands that".
At that piece of news a new light began to slowly shine in Andrew’s eyes."Please don't blame yourself, because in the end no one knew what she was going through, except God. God did, and he was there for her when no one else could be. When she was so sick that she couldn't let any one be near her. But God was! God was!" Phil was emphasizing each point now, hitting one hand into the other to stress how important this last piece of information was. "God did not take Becca, he received her. Becca is with him now, and Dean will shortly be too, but before then we need to find you and he some peace. God has that peace, Andrew you know this. God does not grant, he gives. God gifts those he loves with peace and you just have to give all your troubles up to him and trust him, he will give you what you need and make it right. Do you understand, Andrew?".
Andrew nodded, 'Becca was a schizophrenic' he thought, it all fit, all of it. The voices, her hiding in her blackened bedroom, not going out with her friends, the people following and watching her, everything. It all finally fell into place. "And the truth shall set you free," he said silently to himself. And for the first time in a long while, Andrew finally felt peace.
"Ready to go see Dean?" Phil asked seeing the rise in Andrew’s shoulders as the burden was lifted from them. "Then let’s go." Phil turned around to head off in the direction they had come.
Andrew laughed and shook his head in wonder.
"Phil," he said with a mischievous grin, "Dean’s room is this way. In fact, it’s right over there." Andrew pointed at the door practically across the hallway with 504 upon it, and under that the tag 'Dean Edwards' was written in big black letters. Phil looked over suspiciously at first then threw Andrew a 'I knew that all along, you're not putting anything past me' look and headed on in with Andrew close behind.
While Phil had been speaking with Andrew, Dean and Susan were meeting the angel that had escorted their daughter home.
"Hello, Dean and Susan. My name's Clara," she said with a friendly smile.
"Are you also an angel of death?" Susan asked.
"No. In your daughter's case things were done a little bit differently. God knew that her death would effect so many people. You, Dean, her friends, and his angel, Andrew. In those kinds of cases, sometimes an archangel is brought in," Clara continued gently.
"You're... an archangel?!" Dean asked the question this time, amazed at Clara's identity.
"I am. And I just want you to know that right now, your daughter is at peace. She's in a place where she feels safe and protected. And she wants you both to have peace, too. She loves you so much. She wants you to know that nothing, nothing you did caused her to kill herself. She's always felt that you were wonderful parents. Are wonderful parents," Clara added with emphasis.
"Thank you," was all Susan could say through her tears.
"You're welcome, you deserve it. Now, I think I'd better go. Looks like you have a visitor. It was a pleasure to meet you both." As soon as Clara disappeared, there was a frantic knock at the door and Megan came rushing in.
"Aunt Susan! Uncle Dean! Andrew. You have to tell me everything about him. He saved Jack. Jack was missing and hurt and Andrew helped him!"
Dean and Susan looked questioningly at their niece. Susan was the first to speak, "Megan, dear, what do you mean? Is Jack okay?"
Megan started again, slower and calmer this time. "I called Steven. He said Jack had run away. He didn't know where he was. He called friends, I was going to call hospitals. But I checked here first. He had been brought here! He was beaten up by some other kids but he's fine now. But he could have died! Would have died except a woman named Tess and this Andrew brought him in. I just know it's the same man you saw, Aunt Susan. I just feel it."
"Monica?" Dean asked her, hoping she could shed some light on this seeming coincidence.
Megan hadn't even realized there was a fourth person in the room and now was slightly embarrassed.
Monica smiled at Megan and spoke. "Yes, the Andrew that your aunt saw in the cafeteria did help your son. Jack had wandered into an old house, to escape from the other children. Andrew was brought to him and stayed with him, comforting him even though that house was the last place Andrew wanted to be tonight. But the rest of the story is not for me to tell." Monica tilted her head toward the door that Phil and Andrew had just entered.
Andrew looked at Megan. "Yes, Tess and I were with Jack in the house. There have been many angels on this assignment for quite some time now." Phil noticed that Andrew was a little uncomfortable still and realized that he needed to help Andrew and Dean come to some kind of closure.
Phil spoke up. "Dean, Andrew was not there with your family to save Becca, he was there to save you. Had you not had to go to Becca's funeral that day there would have been a fatal accident at the plant where you worked. You would have been killed. Andrew wasn't told who his assignment was back then. All he knew was that there was someone in your family that he needed to be with. He assumed because of Becca's problems that she was his assignment."
"That is the truth Dean," Andrew said with a sad look on his face. "I have wished for years that Becca had been my assignment and that things could have been different. I've kept going over in my mind what I could or would have done differently to save her. God is the only one that knows the answer to why it wasn't her. I'm so sorry for the grief this has caused you all these years."
Dean looked up at Andrew while he was talking. Dean knew in his heart that Andrew was telling the truth. None of them could have known just how troubled his daughter was. Dean reached out for Andrew. Andrew walked closer to Dean and they both hugged each other. It was a hug that demonstrated the two men knew there was no one to blame. It was a hug of forgiveness.
Megan and Susan looked on with tears in their eyes, they could visibly see the peace that washed over the two. Andrew stepped away from Dean's bed and smiled at everyone else in the room. Phil and Monica waved at Andrew and exited to the hallway. They wanted to give him some time alone with the family he cared so much about. Andrew embraced Susan and then turned to Megan, looking at her with a quizzical expression.
"You're Jack's mother?"
"Yes," Megan answered, looking at Andrew with barely contained awe.
"How do you know Susan and Dean?" Andrew asked as he began to marvel at how everything was tying together.
"Susan is my great-aunt and Dean is my great-uncle," Megan explained.
"And Jack??" Andrew was stunned. It was amazing how God worked.
"Our nephew," Susan answered. "Tonight as you sat in our old house mourning the child you thought you'd caused harm, you were actually saving a child of this same family. You brought life out of the same house and same family you thought you brought death to," she continued, amazed by the turn this had taken.
Susan and Megan both put their arms around the angel as he began to cry tears of joy while Dean, gathering his strength, got up to join them.
Tess was now standing outside the room of Dean with Monica and Phil. She didn't want to enter and spoil the joyous occasion, yet the angels needed to get ready for their next assignment. Monica peeked her head into the room, made eye contact with Andrew, and motioned towards Tess standing out in the hallway. Andrew said good bye and quietly left Dean's room as the family was rejoicing in all the miracles and the lessons they had learned. Andrew looked back once more, wistfully. He knew he'd be back soon for Dean. But before that happened the Father wanted he and Susan to have some time together to think over the previous evening's experience.
The four angels exited the hospital together.
When the angels had gotten outside and to the parking area, Tess said to Andrew, "Angel Boy, it is time for us to start on our next assignment. Why don't you and Phil go get my baby while Monica and I sit here for a moment and catch our breaths?"
Phil looked at Andrew and shrugged. "Do you know where Tess' baby is at?" Andrew noticed a look of slight worry on Phil's face.
"I sure do, Phil. No need to worry. If there is one thing that we know where it is it's Tess' baby." Andrew chuckled a little to himself at the thought of losing Tess' baby.
When Andrew and Phil pulled up to where Monica and Tess were waiting, Tess promptly told him, "Now Angel Boy, you know who the only driver of this car is now get your behind in the passenger seat. And say good bye to Angel Girl, her assignment's keeping her here for a while."
"Okay, Tess but first I just want to say something," Andrew started as he hopped out of the car. "I just wanted to let you know that, now, after over forty years, I'm at peace, thanks to Him. And you, Tess, and Phil and Monica and Dean and Susan and Megan and Jack..." Andrew listed off each name lovingly, smiling at each of the angels as he said their names. "Now, Monica..."
The good byes had gotten harder now that they no longer saw each other on a regular basis.
"I'm just glad I could help you. I miss seeing you, Andrew," Monica said. "Let's get together soon for some..."
"Coffee?" Andrew finished for her. She smiled at him and hugged him, he knew her well.
"Well, I need to get back to my assignment but I just wanted to let you know I am so happy to see you smiling again," Monica said as she tilted her head towards the hospital.
"Your assignment's inside?"
"Yes, Jack and his parents, Megan and Steven."
"That's great! I'm so glad it's you helping them." Andrew hugged his friend and then she turned and walked towards the hospital as Andrew hopped into the car's passenger seat.
The group of three started to pull out of the parking lot. It was a beautiful fall day. When Monica got to the door, she turned and faced the car. Andrew, Tess, and Phil waved to her. Then, she pulled off the scarf on her head. The wind caught it up and off flew a dove.
Poems and Stories