Forget About Traffic

Submitted into Contest #181 in response to: Write about someone who realizes they're on the wrong path. ... view prompt

26 comments

Black Christian Bedtime

There's a surf and skate shop in Santa Cruz where you can choose your guardian angel. Mine's a dud.


Glen-ji is the manager and wants everyone to give him the honorific JI at the end of his name. He comes around the counter and pokes my angel in the cheek.


"What's wrong with her?"


I try to kick a rock on the floor but there are no rocks. I really really hate returning things. It's like just because something doesn't work out all of a sudden you're a criminal.


Glen-jii walks around the angel and notices that her wings are a little dirty and bent. 


I sigh.


He looks around and sees if there's enough room. The bicycles and surfboards are far away in other aisles. Then he lifts her chin and her entire 14 ft wingspan spreads out. The manager looks more closely.


"You didn't…"


Okay fine. I entered my guardian angel into a bare knuckles fist fight. Seem like a good way to make a few dollars at the time and it was completely entertaining.


Instead, I chump out and actually tell the manager that she came that way. "You know, from heaven (or whatever)."


He laughs to to himself.


"What makes you think this one came from heaven?"


Wait. Wha-?


Glen-ji has the veneer grin. Or maybe it's caps. Some of the canines are twisted like he might have relatives from England or Japan. There was a great milk deficiency in Japan until the 1950s and some beautiful people, especially girls, still have a smile that looks like stone.


I didn't think Glen-ji was Japanese. Maybe Ainu though. 


He tilts her slightly forward and looks at her panties that resemble the plastic diaper covering of infants. There's a tattoo at the bottom that says Hecho en Mexico


I look too. 


"Dude! I can't believe that you gave me an angel made in Mexico."


Glen-ji is trying to say that's is basically the same thing since the Celestial-Terrestrial Free Trade Agreement. He's trying to say that everything is unified now and it is simply getting rid of the problem of having to stop at the border. No more waiting for judgment Day and all that.


I heard about this. I told him that you can't just simply put two places as one country and call it a day. You can give exact specifications in China for a soccer ball and it will look like a soccer ball but it will feel different. "Know why?"


He looks in the back of his shop as if he could just repair the angel and send me away.


"The Chinese have a culture that if you don't exactly tell them what you want they will give you the cheapest alternative. American and heavenly goods are always overbuilt. "


We were interrupted by the angel, named Anniewho that had a piercing voice. It was more painful than listening to an angry Australian woman. Glass broke in the shop everywhere.


I had to be the one to tell the angel not to speak. It's actually against American law for a wife to speak against her husband and I figured that we had a similar relationship because the giant bird had already imprinted.


Anniewho was not allowed to tell on me.


Glen-ji handed me a vial of consentrated holy oil to drop in the ears. Anyone who hears the voice of angels immediately gets the opposite of swimmer's ears. Everything dries out.


He waited till I tilted my head and put in a few drops before continuing. "You can't return a guardian just because of their country of origin."


I know. "But, she's always trying to tell me things I don't want to hear."


"What things?"


Well, I wanted to play hookie from work. Use some Personal Time Off days. Maybe go look at the new art exhibit in San Francisco called The Dungeon. But Anniewho would not fly me over. It's only 40 minutes by Angel flight but takes up to 5 hours with terrible traffic.


"She said I was getting too fat to hold. How do you like that?"


"Well, angels are very honest. They can't help it that they never learn human tact."


I said, "I had to bring her over to my mother's house for Christmas. She kept making fun of the angel on the tree and said that it was inappropriate." Then I whispered, "you know, the impalement."


Glen-ji was without humor as he suggested that our family replace the angel with a star. He didn't want to give me the payment back. I was so angry that I thought of leaving the Anniewho right there, next to the counter.


There was a surfboard that I would normally trade-up for but people must survive on their principles. Without principles we are only animals.


Then Glen-ji started putting his Santa Cruz stickers all over the angel's back like she was a skate deck. "I think your problem is that you never customized the guardian so that you felt like she represented you."


He should have seen Anniewho at the cagedfights. I found corporate sponsors and even got Ballerma Grill to cough up 50 free burritos. But then she lost. 


It was a shameful thing for your personal angel to be kicked around in a cage match. It's like, when she couldn't take a punch, I couldn't take a punch. 


She just sort of stood there until the referee called it a technical disqualification. Ballermo's manager wanted their burritos back and I didn't have good contracts to force anyone else to pay.


Anniewho looked down from her eight foot stature because she is short for an angel but house-broken. (Rubber underwear)... She seemed to feel as I was feeling. She swallowed a loogie and began to speak again. This time her voice was gentle and loving.


"Tommy doesn't need a guardian. He needs coffeee in the morning, a medium priced cigarette forty times a day and someone to listen to his stories. "


It was just so moving. She totally understood me. 


Glen-ji thought it was all hogwash. "You know what happens if I accept this Return?'


"What? She goes and finds some cute kid or something? "


They were both very silent. 


Another customer came into the Santa Cruz Beach and Angel shop. It was a young mother holding on to the hand of her first daughter. The mother went through the skate section and seemed nervous to come over to the celestial counter.


We watch her get closer and closer. Then she whispered, "Can I get a fitting?"


It's pretty normal for new parents to reach out and do all that they can do when they are new parents. It is because their time of selfishness should be over. It takes many great people to raise a child.


Glen-ji said he had to finish a Return. He turned around and grabbed some old shackles. I waved him off and said that we weren't in a hurry.


Then I looked up to Anniewho's stern and unyielding face. She had no tears for herself but appeared completely resigned to her fate as a Return. 


The little girl watched her mother go through the fitting just as I had watched my parents so many years ago. Glen-ji officiated and asked the mother if she felt powerless to her own purpose?


Did she agree that she needed a mentor? 


They ended with the Einstein chant: Everything I know, everything I am, I owe to someone else.


It was moving to watch the mother on her knees, the young girl transfixed and not playing with any of the toys the store left at eye level.


She would have to wait of course. The mother. After she completed the next round of personality test she would have to wait for six weeks before getting her angel. I remember trying to not be enthusiastic, trying to forget about it like a package from Amazon.


The truth is that I thought the angel could change my life. I thought that with the little assistance I could be infinitely fulfilled. 


The mother reached out and her infant child came over. I noticed that she was wearing combat boots for children. Who makes combat boots for children?


The little girl took her mother's hand.


Sure, I thought about trying to give her Anniewho. I thought about saving them six weeks and getting them started on their personal journeys together. The little girl probably was too young. I mean if she can't even decide her own shoes she sure doesn't need to fight against an angel always telling her what to do.


But the mother… she seemed really into doing the right thing, personal accountability and all that funky stuff. I commanded the angel to lower herself so that the women could inspect her.


Oops. The angel had a few needles in her hair from a pine tree that got into our way one night. In fact, she seemed rather plain in front of these strangers because I had not taken her to the groomer. I had not cut her long nails and now they look like talons. 


A person is supposed to file the angel canines every few weeks but I was lazy. Basically I was showing this woman and her kid a very dirty example. The stickers from the Santa Cruz skate shop didn't help.


You know how they say dogs resemble their owner?


The mother was looking to Glen-ji to intervene so that she didn't have to be insensitive and say that my angel was quite used. Anniewho just knelt quietly to get her visual inspection. If you ever hear angels talking to each other you know that they think us inferior.


You can pull her hair, take a feather home for writing or display. Generally, Angel shows are hosted in natural light, usually out of doors and the barker will show how they glow at dusk. There are several Federal Statues about having more than three guardians because no one wants to see a child bring an angel army to school. There have been reports of angels helping baseball teams, those that held the Colossus in Rhodes and the masons of meso America. 


The after-market advertisemens list them as nephilim. I already asked Anniewho if her mother was a human and she told me the question was so innane that she wasn't going to answer. Her kind get their feelings hurt if you call then mixed bloods or say they are remotely human.


"...Besides, many people say it's great to have an angel companion so that they have something to do if you spend too long in the bathroom. " Everybody knows that it's indecent to take a guardian into the bathroom.


The woman acted like I was trying to give away a stray dog. She began to make excuses that her house was not ready for two angels and they only had enough room for one at that time.


The little girl asked why Anniewho's hands were shackled but no one wanted to reply because she was only a child.


The eyes of that mother became suddenly sunken, out of nowhere there were great rings about her eyes as if she had great turmoil over not receiving the second angel. I thought she was way too emotional about the whole thing. 


The little girl grabbed her mother's purse and took out some baby wipes. Then she started cleaning my angel's face. She told Anniewho that she was very pretty. I realize that if I stayed there much longer my guardian would become haughty and no one would want her.


"Argh. Come on. "


I told Glen-ji that we would come back when he was less busy. I hurried to get out of the shop, telling myself that the traffic home from Santa Cruz was outrageous the more a person waited toward 4:00 p.m. Rush hour.


The angel came out slowly from the surf shop and hit her head on the 7-ft door jam. I kept looking at the place that she hit her head and suddenly realized, "Hey, you can fly us home."


As much as Anniewho nags and complaints,

I know

She will always be better than Bay Area traffic.






January 20, 2023 06:42

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26 comments

F.O. Morier
13:03 Jan 28, 2023

usually I´m not very in to christian literature but this is a very interesting story. - I find it very interesting! The story captivated me from the first line! It kinds of vaguely reminds me of a story from the Talmus my grandpa used to tell us when we where little. so, it definitely gave me a warm feeling. But having said all that: it´s a good story! No, I take that back: it´s a great story!

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Tommy Goround
13:48 Jan 28, 2023

Ah, thank you for the lovely words.

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Sasha N.
23:24 Jan 26, 2023

This was a very interesting piece to read. I really don't know how I feel about it, if I'm being honest. It definitely feels like a story about angel trafficking, and the fact that a child is privy to this process is kind of crazy. I think it is very well written, it keeps you engaged though this world seems wholly new and I didn't really have a reference point for it . Very interesting indeed.

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Tommy Goround
23:51 Jan 26, 2023

Angels are made above man. They choose to serve man anyway.

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Sasha N.
00:02 Jan 27, 2023

Now that you have just said this, I feel very silly and suspect I have misinterpreted this whole story.

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Tommy Goround
00:21 Jan 27, 2023

Nah. It's awesome you asked. You had the courage :)

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Aeris Walker
10:17 Jan 25, 2023

"She said I was getting too fat to hold. How do you like that?" "Well, angels are very honest. They can't help it that they never learn human tact."—this made me laugh! Anniewho has a lot of patience haha.

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Tommy Goround
17:44 Jan 25, 2023

Amen. She doesn't laugh if you tickle her with a feather. She gets kinda man. This is how you get her ready for a cage fight. (Thank you for reading Aeris :)

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Molly Morgen
01:20 Jan 25, 2023

I love this idea! Super cool premise

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Tommy Goround
17:39 Jan 25, 2023

Thanks Molly. Watch out for the nine foot versions of guardians. They don't fit under most ceilings and get very cranky.

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Wally Schmidt
20:39 Jan 24, 2023

Here I've been living in San Jose and I had no idea that I could get my angel serviced just over the hill. She probably just needs a tune-up, not that many wing miles on her yet, so I'll put it on my to-do list for this weekend. This story has so many great lines and images. Love that he enters his angel in a bare-knuckles fight. This is inspired writing-creative and funny and I want to hear more about their adventures together.

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Tommy Goround
17:36 Jan 25, 2023

Thanks Wally. Anniewho might say something we don't want to hear...

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Michał Przywara
21:43 Jan 23, 2023

Fantastic opener here, but I think it might even be beat by the ending :) So the narrator's at odds with his angel. They argue. She nags. He thought just getting an angel would mean instant fulfilment, with no work on his part. Didn't work out that way. He drags her through the mud of his vices, literally gets her beat up. Even through this, she's stoic. She's not there to judge but to warn. And so perhaps crucially, he has a choice to make. He can choose to return her, to give her up, and she doesn't argue. Indeed, supports this to ...

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Tommy Goround
00:40 Jan 24, 2023

Yep yep ... sometimes Returns are so daunting I rather just keep the thing.

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Tommy Goround
14:55 Jan 23, 2023

Seeking Canadian and Australian translators. Competitive pay.

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Tommy Goround
14:42 Jan 23, 2023

French: Il y a un magasin de surf et de skate à Santa Cruz où vous pouvez choisir votre ange gardien. Le mien est nul. Universal language invented in 1850 Estas surfa kaj sketbutiko en Santa Cruz, kie vi povas elekti vian gardanĝelon. La mia estas fiasko. Mandrin (Cantonese coming) 圣克鲁斯有一家冲浪和滑板店,您可以在那里选择您的守护天使。我的是个哑弹。 Shèng kè lǔ sī yǒu yījiā chōnglàng hé huábǎn diàn, nín kěyǐ zài nàlǐ xuǎnzé nín de shǒuhù tiānshǐ. Wǒ de shìgè yǎ dàn. In Romulan... 'nhdh's a surf aellei skate shop ueiik'h'unhr Santa Cruz vikra you are (verbal pron) hwiiy ...

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Tara Leigh Parks
06:43 Jan 21, 2023

Love it. "The Chinese have a culture that if you don't exactly tell them what you want they will give you the cheapest alternative. American and heavenly goods are always overbuilt." Reminds me of my time living in NYC Chinatown.

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Tommy Goround
07:03 Jan 21, 2023

:) it was a quote from a man that does business in China. I asked him why his company makes parts overseas when it has nearly zero human labor.

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Wendy Kaminski
23:32 Jan 20, 2023

This just rolled, Tommy! Or maybe it was me. On the floor. Yes, yes it was. I loved the structure of the short paragraphs - they worked really well for this, like the clipped speech of an embarrassed return-seeker. - "You didn't…" Okay fine. I entered my guardian angel into a bare knuckles fist fight... actually tell the manager that she came that way. - I laughed so hard at this, we had to stop HBO Max so I could read the whole thing to my husband. He wouldn't have been able to hear over the rest of laughter anyway, because... - because t...

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Tommy Goround
00:41 Jan 21, 2023

Cool... The idea of an angel in palement seem to work. Thank you for bringing your husband into our literary world. That gives immense Joy To Read.

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Lily Finch
15:39 Jan 20, 2023

Tommy, while this reading caught my attention, the interaction between the angel and Tommy was priceless. Talk about knowing someone. "Tommy doesn't need a guardian. He needs coffee in the morning, a medium-priced cigarette forty times a day and someone to listen to his stories." Bam! Anniewho nails it! And true to form Tommy neglects taking care of his Angel. What more could we expect? The mother and girl seeking two angels are comical. Seeing Tommy's angel - used - as a return possibly - the mother makes excuses to not take Anniewho. In...

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Tommy Goround
20:57 Jan 20, 2023

Thank you, lilly :)

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Emre Gül
13:38 Jan 20, 2023

I love you. really good. I finished the last translation.

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Tommy Goround
21:10 Jan 20, 2023

:)

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Craig Steffen
14:43 Jan 26, 2023

:-)

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Autumn Dixon
14:43 Jan 26, 2023

:-)

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