Angels have names

Quintero, John Randall



Angels Have Names there are many things which are evident according to the senses, for which an explanation cannot be given on the basis of what Aristotle teaches... certain phenomena which do not seem capable of taking place except through some intellectual substance.” Thomas Aquinas, Treatise on Separate Substances, 2,11 broc-/(16.5 5 We were doing bodies in the dirt of the parking lot in front of the cathedral, when my companion stopped and noticed our third party was gone. We were looking around our sphere when we heard: “Hey check this out!” The plea for attention reached our ears indistinctly, the consonants having been blown away by the hot afternoon winds rushing into the Great Valley of the Sacrament. Only the cadence of the prayer, and the vowels, “ey, eh—i—ow” were left. Our friend was crossing himself rapidly then shot both his arms in the air waggling the devil sign, little finger and index finger stabbing the heavenly, blue sky. He was across the street on the high rock porch with his bike. We uttered admiring, startled epithets, and returned the devil's salute and a guttural “yeee—a—uh,” there he was standing on the pedals of his low—rider at the top of the Church steps, where generations of brides and dead men had come into and out of the perfumed sanctuary. His left hand steadied himself on the steel railing that ran up the middle of the wide, brown granite staircase. Our favorite day of the week was Sunday when we came to the eleven a.m. mass to bum broken ends and scraps from the churro vendor and watch the pretty girls. We were just out on patrol this day, a Friday as I recall. Maybe it just felt like a Friday, an end-of—the school—week, liberating, party-time feeling——pregnant with possibilities of dances and girls. He was just arrived at that coiled position and leaning forward to that point of no—return, the front wheel wedged between the first and second—step, his back angled steeply, butt—end up, when the black figure stepped out from behind the massive oak and iron door of the nave. We sucked air in shock and grabbed our chrome bike handles in flight mode; our eyes grew wide at the sight of the silver head of the Church boss. He reached out, open-mouthed and muted, just as Rangel released his brakes and plunged, rattling and bouncing. The cars parked on the street in front of the church blocked our view of the bottom of the stairs. But we saw two feet and legs flash in the air. The priest raised both arms in frustration, then rushed forward, grabbing and lifting his cassock Raja Ruaya (All rights reserved). Page 1 2/15/2009 Words 1676 up. He didn't sidestep down gingerly like a girl, though; he rushed headlong down like one of us. We started to high-tail it out of there, me leading the way down the street, but when we got to the corner and could look down the sidewalk and saw the boss hunched over on one knee. “Stop”, my partner told me. We sat on our bikes in the corner sun, which was sinking in the west behind the church, leaving the pile of limbs and metal tubes in the shade. We couldn't see any rivers of blood, which is what we half expected, and soon everything stirred, and the priest and bike and boy began to rise up. The other bike rider and I looked at each other in agreement and moved slowly and quietly into the shade to inspect the scene. The priest was looking around the boys head for bumps or blood. He stood up and stretched full length, arching his back almost like a cat, chin up, looking down at us. I was fascinated by his silver hair, and staring, thought of everything silver thing I'd ever seen—spray paint silver, old silver dollars. I glanced over and saw the other two hanging their heads in shame, Rangel rubbing the back of his neck, so I followed suit, and made meek. “Are you going to do that again?” I looked askance to the others, and shook my head along with them. “Are you going to come to Church?” This time they looked at me. He told us to get on, and we did. I asked if we were still going to the bakery. We had planned to go and nab stuff to eat. Rangel just rubbed his neck, the other one affirmed the idea, so we went. We had been hitting the place all week for little stuff, Chiclets and small bags of peanuts, an orange and some gummy snakes—the kind covered with tart sugary powder. We walked in as usual, but we were met by the store owner, who demanded we come with him. Our hearts sank, and Rangel really started rubbing his neck. We got to the back corner. “Look boys, I know you been stealing from me all week, I got it on tape”. “You aren't got no cameras in here” our sidekick posited defiantly. Rangel kept rubbing, making a face. The man just smiled. “What’s your names?” He looked in turn in our eyes and we confessed in turn. “Listen, you ever want anything to eat, you just ask, ok? You don't need to be stealing from me, ok? You just ask. Comprenden? We just stood there with our mouths open, nervously shuffling our feet, brows knit in disbelief. He called over to the pretty store clerk in Spanish, and she came waddling over, bursting with pregnancy. Raja Ruaya (All rights reserved). 2/15/2009 Words 1676 “Mija, if these kids", and he pointed to each of us and said our names, “if they ever need anything to eat, take care of them, ok?” Then he again looked at each of us in a quiet, slow turn. “We gotta deal, right?" We nodded, except for Rangel, who just rubbed his neck. I started to worry something was wrong inside of him. “You promise? Good. She'll take care of you”. He rattled off something in Spanish, his smiling brown eyes suddenly turning serious. She gave us each a white pastry bag, and with a pair of tongs filled them with red and gold and chocolate varieties of sweets. “Now, get outa here you brats, and don't steal from my dad no more, or I'll call the cops on you.” She said it with a twinkle though, and she never failed in generosity after that, although I was usually too embarrassed to ask for much. Usually, I let somebody else do the asking and went along for the ride. I didn't see Rangel much after that, and then not at all till twenty years later, the night before I went home. I decided I'd just sleep off the tension, and dreamt of redwing blackbirds, and that strange, strange song they sing when gathered in trees in the spring. They were vivid in the dream, with the bright red shoulder patch gleaming like rubies against their bright, shiny blackness. Some had also bright yellow, and some a third, blue stripe. In the middle of this dream, they woke me up over the intercom, and said I had a visitor. I asked who, and they said Fa. Rangel; and I remember the incidents I just spoke of, and remembered on that day there were blackbirds in the trees near the rectory down the street from where Rangel had crashed on the stairs. There must have been, at least; it was a real part of the story that I wasn't aware of whenever I thought of it, but suddenly my dream provided the true, and perhaps most important part of the situation. In a sense, in this same way, I knew this surprise visitor was the very same boy who had tumbled down the stairs. And it was. We knew each other on sight, and smiled knowingly at each other. And we didn't say much, we just sat there in an awkward silence, looking forward into the precipice of reality. He rubbed his neck. “It still hurts?” I asked. He smiled, as if he knew what I was talking about. And then he told me his life story of how he had went home with his bag of pastries and began his journey to the mind of God. After about an hour, he ended up hearing about my situation, in some odd way, and not knowing if it was me, yet somehow knowing it was. How is that, I asked. He paused for a little bit, Raja Ruaya (All rights reserved). Page 3 2/15/2009 Words 1676 then described that day when he played the daredevil on the Church steps. “You know, as I was midway in the air I blacked out. I think I might of hit my head on the rail, but I never had a bump. But I had this long dream...” “About redwing blackbirds in song?” I interrupted. He looked into my eyes, and I into his. “I think they were really there. Down the street, in the tree's near where the priest lived". “You remember this?" said Rangel. “Not really. I had my own dream today, just before you came. I was in the middle of it when they woke me”. “Well,” he said after a long silence, “it’s a nice dream, isn't it?” “I can't seem to describe in words the sound”, I answered. We were quiet a long spell, and I figured I might as well catch him up on things, so I did. Towards the end he began to weep, and I had to console him and tell him I was sorry to make him cry like that. He stayed till the end, and watched from the gallery during the operation. Just before I went under, our eyes met, and held, and the old song came to both our minds, I'm sure of it: “Blackbird singing in the dead of night, ' Take these broken wings and learn to fly...” And then the whole flock of them took off in the soft roar of wings into the high sky that's as deep and mysterious as the ocean deeps, full of life we don't see. Raja Ruaya (All rights reserved). 2/15/2009 Words 1676

Author: Quintero, John Randall

Author Location: Nevada

Date: February 15, 2009

Genre: Essay

Extent: 4 pages

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