The Legend of the Pervy Archangel
“I-I'm sorry, but what did you say?” asked Alice, her voice soft, conveying the feelings of shock she felt. Maybe her perceptions had merely been skewed, but it felt like the whole world had just tilted on its axis. “I could have sworn you just said you were an Archangel.”
“I am.” Michael smiled, apparently not noticing her shock. “I am one of the seven Archangels of Heaven, servant of God and the best sword master in all the realms.”
“The Michael,” Alice insisted, “The Archangel Michael who leads God's armies against Satan in the New Testament and defeats him and stuff? That Michael?”
Even Alice knew about the Archangel Michael, despite not being religious. It was hard not to. There were movies made of him. Of course, she only knew the absolute basics. Everything else, all of the small details, were things that she knew nothing about.
“Yes.” Michael started to look concerned. His brow furrowed the longer he stared at her. He looked like he wanted to say something, maybe to ask about her health, but Alice didn't let him speak.
“Great. This is just great.” She lamented. “Not only is the person I met a complete and utter pervert who falls on women and gropes them when they're unconscious, he's also delusional.”
Why did she only attract the crazy guys? Every male she had ever met had proven to be insane in some way. First there was that dude who thought it was cool to drink an entire bottle of vodka before lighting his urine on fire. Then she met that guy who wanted to bottle up her blood. Now she was in front of a guy who not only harassed innocent young women, but also thought he was the Archangel Michael.
“I can see that you don't believe me,” Michael stated.
“You're damn right I don't believe you,” Alice snapped. “The Archangel Michael. Really? If you're Michael, then I'm Marry fucking Magdalene.”
“First of all, you can't possibly be Marry Magdalene. She's up in Heaven, serving as one of the Apostles. Second, please do not swear, especially with her name in it. It might not be one of the Ten Commandments, but swearing is a sin, one that a pretty young woman such as yourself shouldn't commit.”
Alice could feel her face heating up, though whether this was from embarrassment, anger, a combination of the two, or something else entirely, not even she was sure. “For the last time, you're not my mother! I'll swear all I want! Second, there is no way you can be the Archangel Micheal for those exact same reasons! Michael is in Heaven, leading God's armies, or did you not know that?”
“No. I am well aware that I should be in Heaven right now,” Michael said. He looked uncomfortable. “However, certain, uh, special circumstances—” Alice didn't know what he meant by “circumstances,” but she had a feeling it denoted nothing good. “—have brought me down to Earth. I have a… task that I must complete. Until that task is finished, I cannot return to Heaven.”
Raising an eyebrow, Alice decided to humor the young man. He was clearly delusional. “What task do you need to complete? And why can't you return to Heaven until you've completed it?”
“T-that's not important right now.” Was he actually blushing? The delusional young man calling himself Michael looked away. “The only thing that you need to know is that I have a very important task ahead of me, one that I cannot fail, or I will never be allowed to return to Heaven again.”
Alice stared at Michael for several seconds longer, and then slowly shook her head. “You really are one crazy son of a bitch if you think I'm actually going to believe you for even a second. Seriously? The Archangel of Heaven getting sent to earth because he has been assigned a task by God that he must complete if he ever wants to return to Heaven? Do you take me for a fool?” She scowled. “How gullible do you think I am?”
Michael opened his mouth, but Alice cut him off.
“Look here, Michael, I don't know what you want from me, but I've had it with you. Stop following me!”
Alice turned and, without a backwards glance, walked off. She wanted nothing to do with such a delusional fool. This guy was clearly like those crazy people claiming that the end of the world was coming. It was better not to get involved with him anymore than this.
Despite her warning, she heard footsteps behind her. They grew louder as the person caught up with her. A second later, she could see Micheal walking alongside her out of her peripheral vision.
So he wanted to be a jerk, did he? Well, fine. Since telling him off apparently didn't seem to work, she would just ignore him.
She walked along the sidewalk, studying the architecture around her, studiously ignoring the idiot next to her. She recognized most of the structures surrounding them. One building off to her left stood on the corner, made of gray bricks, standing at three-stories, and with over a dozen evenly spaced windows on all levels. The entire thing was shaped like a “U.” They were a set of apartments. Another building off to her right also stood at three-stories, but didn't have the others shape. Instead, it just looked like your average, rectangle-shaped apartment complex.
A little ways in front of her was Bixby Park, a small recreational park featuring a bandshell and a variety of sports facilities, including a skating park and various basketball and soccer fields. The park differentiated itself from the rest of the block by the length of thick green grass and many trees. A few buildings made of gray brick and cement could be seen through the leaves and in between the trunks. Alice knew that past the buildings would be several basketball and tennis courts, along with the large skate park.
She had only been to the park a couple of times, and only when she was bored. Right now, the only reason she felt such relief at seeing the place was because it would allow her to direct herself home. Bixby Park sat between Cherry Avenue and Junipero Avenue. The apartment complex that she lived in sat on the corner of Kannebec Avenue and East Second Street, which was just a few blocks away.
“So, hey, I just realized something,” Michael snapped her out of her revery. She looked over at him to find a large smile on his face. “I never got your name.”
“Oh.” That's right. She never did tell him what her name was, did she? “My name’s Alice Grayfield.” Alice paused, shook her head, scrunched her eyebrows together, and then glared at him. “And why am I telling you this? My name is none of your fucking business.”
Hadn't her mother always told her never to talk to strangers?
Oh, wait. That's right. Her mother was a deadbeat drunk who only came home in between parties.
“I see you’re not going to stop swearing.” After heaving a sigh of what she guessed was resignation, Michael got the most curious expression on his face. He tilted his head, just a bit, and he said, “Also, the reason you told me your name is because I introduced myself? Isn’t it common courtesy to introduce yourself when someone gives you their name?”
Alice rolled her eyes. “It was a rhetorical question, idiot.”
“That's mean.” Michael pouted at her, complete with childishly jutting lower lip and everything. He looked like one of those petulant children who had just had their hand slapped for sticking it where it doesn't belong. “It's not nice to call a person you just met an idiot.”
“Ugh.” Alice groaned. Talking to this man was a nightmare—and a headache, but mostly a nightmare. “Whatever. I give up.”
Silence ensued for the rest of their trip, which turned out to not be very long. It only took about five minutes to reach her destination. They had already been on the block where her residence sat, so to get there, they only had to walk down the street.
Alice's residence was an apartment complex, like many of the other residential areas around this part of the city. The building that her apartment was situated in looked like a giant square that had been built farther up than out. Five windows sat in a row going vertically down the walls. There were more windows going horizontally around the entire structure. The construct itself appeared to be made from plaster.
It was also rundown, derelict, and more than just a little dirty. Anyone who gave it a second glance would have noticed that the place required some much needed repairs. The walls were cracked and somewhat stained. Mildew grew along the bottom, hanging around the edges of the building. Several tiles were missing from the roof, and most of the doors didn't have any plaques on them anymore, just a slightly faded out surface in the shape of an oval.
Alice, thankfully, did not need a plaque to tell where her apartment was. She had lived in these apartments for so long that she knew where her residents was by heart. She climbed up a set of rickety stares that squeaked and shook preciously with each step she took. Behind her, the sound of Michael's feet touching down on the metal steps filtered through her ear.
She reached the door to her apartment. Made from wood that had been a dark red at some point but was now dull with age, her door had nicks and scratches all over it, as if a cat had been using it as a scratching post. Staring at the door, Alice couldn't help but lament her present life. If she had a better mom, if her dad hadn't skipped out on them when she was a kid, perhaps her life would have been different, better.
And perhaps hell would freeze over.
After rifling through her pockets, she took out a key and used it to unlock the door before stepping inside.
Michael made to follow. He didn't even get a single foot in the door before she slammed it in his face.
“O-oi! What's the big idea? Why'd you close the door in my face?”
“You mean it wasn't obvious?” Alice responded with enough sarcasm to fill a pool. “There is no way I'm letting some stranger into my house, least of all someone like you.” This guy must be some kind of idiot if he thought she would let him into her apartment. Yeah, try again, buddy.
“Oh, come on! I don't have anywhere else to go!”
“Like I care!”
Alice rolled her eyes when Michael began pounding on the door. If he thought that would make her want to let him in, then he was obviously an imbecile of the highest caliber. For good measure, she bolted the door shut. There. Even if he managed to break the handle (which had been replaced so many times Alice had stopped counting), he still wouldn't be able to get in.
The apartment that she lived in was a two-bathroom, two-bedroom apartment. Most of the apartments in this complex had the same set up. The similarities between the place she lived and the other apartments in this complex ended there, however.
Taking off her shoes, Alice set her sandals down by the door and allowed her bare feet to pad along the faded and worn carpet. The entrance opened into a living room that looked more like the room of a tiny trailer home than an apartment. Small didn't even begin to describe it. Connected to it was a kitchen, though she used the term very loosely and only because it came with a stove, microwave, and refrigerator. Two doors stood on opposite ends of each other. One led to her bedroom. The other went to her mother's room.
First things first, Alice went to the fridge. She squeezed past the garbage can, which blocked a good deal of space to the kitchen entrance. Then she had shut the dishwasher door, which was open for some reason. Alice made a note to get the dishwasher running tomorrow morning after breakfast. The thing looked filled to capacity. After the dishwasher, she paused long enough to wrinkle her nose at the sink. Filthy was not the adjective she would have used to describe the mess in it. Revolting, maybe, but even that seemed to understate how bad things were.
Passing the sink with a shake of her head, Alice finally reached the fridge, sitting on the opposite side of the stove. She opened it up, searching through to see if there might be something to drink. The fridge didn't have much. With the income that she made from her part time job, there just wasn't enough money to pay for anything extra. She could see a few leftovers in Tupperware trays, a carton filled with half a dozen eggs, a half empty carton of milk, and some cheese. That was it. Her fridge looked like a barren tundra, except even tundras have more in them than her fridge did.
Grimacing, Alice decided to forgo getting something to drink. She could have drunk from the tap, but she had no intention of going anywhere near that sink until she was left with no other option.
With nothing to drink, she left the kitchen and made her way to her bedroom.
When most people thought of bedrooms, they often imagined a decently sized room with a bed, some furniture, and maybe a closet. Alice's bedroom had nothing of the sort. There was no bed and no furniture, aside from a beaten up old table and a chair. It did have a closet, but to call that tiny little space of less than three square feet a closet was an insult to closets everywhere. It was more like a broom cupboard than a closet. Harry Potter would have been at home there.
She went over to her table, which was her makeshift desk, and set her bag on it. The table creaked with an ominous sway. Alice worried that it might break, but it didn’t.
She pondered what do for a second before deciding to get started on her homework. Though it was Friday, and she normally worked on Fridays, she had not been scheduled a shift that night. And while she could still put her homework off until tomorrow since she worked nights, Alice felt it would be a better idea to just get it out of the way now.
The class with the most homework in it was math, naturally, because all math teachers were sadistic and loved handing out more work as though they derived pleasure in watching their students suffer. Alice had never met a math teacher who didn't give at least several dozen pages worth of problems to solve. That her homework involved college level algebra because she had chosen to take college level mathematics as opposed to standard algebra just made things worse.
Alice still did her homework dutifully. She wrote down each problem and carefully going solved them, meticulously going over them twice and even thrice to ensure they were correct. She hated algebra, but she wanted to get as many of these tedious but necessary college courses out of the way before actually going to college. She had already taken several of the basic general education classes for a first year college student through intelligent use of summer school courses. While she still didn't know where she planned on going for her degree, Alice had deemed this course of action to be the most prudent one she could take.
Unfortunately, math happened to be her worst subject, which had been the reason she had decided to take it last. She wasn't horrible at math, but she also didn't have any real talent in it either. The fact that math was hands down the most boring subject in the history of ever only made matters worse.
She eventually zoned out. Alice thought of herself as a diligent student, but not even she could keep this up. Her eyes strayed to the window in her room. A tree stood next to her window, blocking some of the view, but leaving more than enough for her to get a clear look at the world beyond.
Outside she could see the sky beginning to set. Orange and purple and pink highlighted the airspace of darkening blue, streaks of color that made her think of a painter splashing buckets of paint across a canvas and using their hands to smear the colors into an amalgamation of mixed and matched shades and tints that defied description.
She then looked down and found herself blinking. Michael, the perverted idiot who had followed her all the way home, had taken to lying on the bench at the bus stop on the other side of the street. He didn't look very comfortable, and in fact, he appeared decidedly uncomfortable. Even from where she sat, Alice could see how his long legs curled up to his chest in order to stay on the bench, how his neck bent at an awkward angle because of the metal armrest it bumped against. That could not have been a pleasant position. Not one bit.
“It's not my problem.”
Alice went back to her homework with a shake of her head. What Michael did or where he chose to sleep wasn't any of her business. Besides that, she had homework to do.
Yet, the moment she tried to focus on her work, her mind went back to Michael, laying there on the bench, in the beginning throes of winter. California winters weren't cold compared to some states, though being just a day or two from December, the temperature had dropped down between the forties and fifties. Was that enough to give someone hypothermia?
She looked out the window again. Then she went back to her homework.
“This isn't my problem. This isn't my problem. This isn't my problem.”
Like a mantra in her head, only not in her head because she was speaking out loud, Alice repeated that single sentence over and over again.
It didn't help.
She stood up, ground her teeth together. She stomped out of her bedroom, and then out of her apartment entirely. Regardless of her own personal feelings towards that idiotic, lecherous fool, she couldn't in good conscious let someone freeze to death when she knew that she could help in some way.
Somehow, that didn't give her any consolation.
Curse her and her kind heart.