Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Spread Your Wings"

An Interactive Post... sort of.


You wanna really get into the swing of things here?

1. Click the "play" button on this very special, one-song playlist.

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

2. Give this tune a listen until you know it... until you really know it. Until it gets sucked right into you and affects your mood.

3. Read the following story, while playing the song in the background until you literally can't stand it any more!

4. Just make sure you finish the story, okay? (Yeah, I should talk. I started this story six months ago, for a "Theme Thursday" entry. Took me this long to get back to the damned thing! But I digress.)

* * * * *

In all of his twenty-three years, Derek had never loved anyone as much as he'd loved her.


In all of his twenty-three years, Derek had never loved anyone as much as he'd loved Lindsay.

She'd recently left him for half a dozen damnably-vague reasons, most of which Derek couldn't quite remember right now. Some nonsense about her having an inability to commit to anyone... This, after three months of doing just fine, apparently? He couldn't remember the other excuses she'd made, but then again, he didn't even care, at this point.

She'd left him. He'd lost her. He'd lost her.

For a week or so, he'd held onto a hope that they might still get together. That ended last night. Well... this morning, really.

At eleven p.m. last night, Derek had been sitting in the little park across the street from Lindsay's apartment building, on a bench that faced her front door. He saw her come home with a tall, good-looking guy with long hair, worn in a ponytail. The happy couple didn't see Derek.

Even when it started raining lightly, half an hour later, Derek stayed on the park bench, his eyes glued to the front door of Lindsay's building.

Derek was thoroughly drenched long before the long-haired dude finally left, which was sometime after seven a.m.

Derek had really lost Lindsay.

There was no longer any point in living.

He got home around eight. He didn't make his usual pot of strong coffee. And he had no appetite for breakfast.

He just sat at the kitchen table, hot tears pouring down his cheeks despite his inner voices screaming at him to "man up."

At somewhere around nine-thirty, Derek finally came up with an idea, of sorts. It was remarkable in its simplicity.

He would leave his apartment, walk to the end of the hall, and take the elevator from his floor -- the eighth -- up to the tenth. Then he would take the janitor's stairway from there to the roof.

Then he'd jump off.

Remarkable in its simplicity.

Suiting the action to the unspoken word, Derek was standing on the flat, graveled roof of his apartment building in a matter of minutes.

Derek was suicidal, not homicidal, so he decided that jumping off the front of the building was too dangerous to anyone who might be walking along... anyone that he might land on, in other words. The opposite side of the roof rose eleven stories above an alley. That would be a better place to land.

He walked to the opposite side... and hesitated.

He sat down on the building's very edge, his legs dangling over it, his feet in the air.

Did he really want to do this?


Derek stood back up, and idly brushed at something which seemed to be pressing down slightly on his right shoulder.

Almost immediately after, he noticed an equal pressure on his left shoulder.

He looked down, and blinked. Standing on his right shoulder, there appeared to be... well... an angel. Just like in the movies, and cartoons. A handsome, male, winged, halo-wearing, white-robed, harp-carrying angel, about three or four inches tall, with curly blonde hair!

Faced with this ludicrous adornment to his right shoulder, Derek immediately realized what the "pressure" was on his left shoulder. He looked to his left, and -- yup! -- standing there was a devil, about three or four inches tall as well. He was everything you'd expect from a stereotypical devil. He had a long, pointed tail, cloven hooves, and he carried a pitchfork. He was dressed from collar to ankles in a form-fitting, satiny-looking outfit. Red, of course. His hair was slicked back. He had a pronounced widow's peak, and two horns, growing out from his forehead. The hair on his head and his VanDyke beard were the blackest black. He had bright red skin which matched his tights.

Derek laughed in spite of his despondent mood.

I don't do drugs, thought Derek, so what the hell is going on here?

Then the angel spoke. "Hello, Derek. My name is Reginald."

"Reginald?" repeated Derek.

"Or... Reggie, if you prefer."

"Like it matters?" mumbled Derek. Then he turned to the devil. "And what's your name?"

"Sure you wanna be on a first name basis with a devil, sunshine?"

"Like it matters?" repeated Derek. "Should I just call you Satan, then?"

"Hell no, stupid." The devil laughed as if his "hell no" had actually been funny. "Satan's the big boss. I'm not the devil, I'm just a devil. A demon, ya might say." Derek just stared at the devil. "Well, whatta you expect? That ain't God sittin' on your other shoulder, it's just..." The demon made a sour face. "Reginald."

"How about if I just call you 'Hot Stuff?' "

"How 'bout if I just grow to six feet, four inches, and kick your sorry butt off this roof?"

Reginald shook his head disapprovingly. "You know darned well you can't do that! That would be making Derek's decision for him!"

"I was just bein' a wiseguy..." admitted the demon. "Call me... Adoth."

Derek was still staring at the demon. "What did you mean about growing to six feet tall? Can you do that? I mean, can both of you...?"

"Sure," said the demon. Suddenly, he was gone from Derek's shoulder. Just as suddenly, he appeared beside Derek, in a much more ordinary form. He stood about 5'11", two inches taller than Derek. The demon's tail, his cloven hooves, and the pitchfork had all disappeared. His black hair was still combed back -- although no longer slicked back -- and he still sported the beard, but his satiny outfit was replaced by a simple set of red slacks and a red, button-down shirt with black buttons. His skin was no longer bright red. It was only as red as any white man's would be if he'd incurred a bad sunburn.

Instinctively, Derek turned to his right. Reginald, the angel, was now standing beside him as well, wearing a white shirt and white slacks. There was no sign of halo, harp, or wings. Reginald was roughly six feet tall.

"Okay, guys," said Derek, "What are you doing here?"

Reginald replied, "Isn't it obvious? You're here to take your own life. We're here to prevent that."

Adoth corrected Reginald. "Nuh-uh. You're here to prevent that; I'm here to convince him to go through with it." Reginald made a face at the demon.

Derek shook his head. "How 'bout if the two of you just butt out and let me do what I'm gonna do anyway?"

Adoth smiled, and stuck his tongue out at Reginald. "In which case, I win." He grinned at Derek. "Sounds great, and I can get back in time for breakfast."

"No!" shouted Reginald. "Derek, you can't do this! Just because things look bleak at this very moment, it doesn't mean that they can't or won't improve. But death insures that they won't."

Derek smirked as he replied, "Is that really the best you can come up with, Goldie?"

"You know, kid, if you just jump and get it over with, we can both be in Hell in time for breakfast," said Adoth. "Of course, you probably won't like what they serve you. It is Hell, after all..."

"He's right, Derek," said Reginald. "It's Hell. If you kill yourself, that's where you go... and you won't like it. You'll hate it. In fact, it's designed that way." Reginald stuck his tongue out at Adoth. Then, to Derek, he added, "Still want to kill yourself?"

Derek looked at Reginald strangely, then looked at Adoth. "Sorry, I wasn't listening. I was wondering if the fact that you two guys showed up here means I picked the 'right' religion."

Adoth and Reginald both exclaimed "What?!?"

Derek explained. "Well, the whole angels and devils, 'suicide's a sin,' Heaven and Hell thing... It falls right in line with Christian theology. And I'm a Christian, by choice. So... I was right?"

Reginald looked plaintively at Adoth. Adoth scoffed, "Hey, don't look at me! You field this one, blondie!"

Reginald looked at Derek, and uncomfortably answered, "Well, it's kind of involved, but it's less a matter of things being this way because you have the 'proper' beliefs than it is that... uhhh... we're here because of what you, personally, believe. Uhhh... is that clear?"

"Clear as mud," replied Derek. "You're kind of annoying, you know that, Reggie?"

"I'll say!" interjected Adoth.

"And you're even worse!" countered Derek.

"Comes with the job description, kid," mumbled Adoth.

Derek continued, "I mean, here I am, on the worst day of my life, ready to end that life because of how bad I feel, and you're getting off on the thought of my splattering myself all over that alley!"

"Like, I said, it comes with the--"

"Shut up!" yelled Derek, as he abruptly shoved Adoth, who fell backwards off the roof with a scream.

Reginald's eyes opened wide. "Oh, my G...!" He glanced upwards. "Uhhh, sorry..." He looked back at Derek. "I can't believe you did that! You just killed a man!"

"I did not," replied Derek, calmly. "He was already dead. Or not even alive. Whatever. You know what I mean. Just be glad I didn't do the same to you. I thought of it, actually, but figured it wouldn't work. The wings, and all..."

"But still...!"

"Oh, lighten up, Reggie." Derek looked down into the alley below. "He isn't even down there. The alley, I mean. In another sense, I suppose he just went back to where he came from, so he is 'down there.' Get it?"

Reginald muttered, "You don't have to draw me a gosh-darned picture, Derek."

"Good. Now. You gonna leave so I can do my little jump in peace?"


"Oh, for...! How do I get rid of you, then?"

"Decide to live. Then I'll leave."

"And if I just hang around here... or pretend to change my mind and go back downstairs, while planning to come back up here when you're gone?"

"It won't work. Where I come from, we know what's in your heart."

"So... You know this is really what I want."

Reginald looked uneasy. "Yes."

"Then how about this. You go back to Heaven, and take me with you."


"You heard me."

"I... I can't do that! You're not dead!"

"But if you take me to Heaven, wouldn't that kinda... you know... make me dead?"

"This is ridiculous." Reginald thought quickly. "Besides, uhh... It's not your time."

"Bullshit. If that was as set-in-cement as you imply, you and Adoth wouldn't have bothered showing up, because whether or not I was to die today would have been pre-ordained." Reginald sat down on the edge of the roof, shaking his head. Derek pressed his advantage. "There's no sin in simply wanting to die, I assume. And your being here at all implies that the only thing which could have kept me from going to Heaven would have been my suicide... and if you take me away with you instead of leaving me to jump, you will have effectively prevented that! So you still get your little merit badge, or whatever. I win. You win. Everybody wins, except that little scumbag I just pushed off the roof."

"I... I have to clear this with my bosses..."

Derek stepped toward the edge of the roof. "Forget it. My way or the alleyway!"

"No! Wait!" Reginald stood up. His wings had reappeared. He held his right hand out toward Derek. "Take my hand, Derek."

"Sorry, you're not my type." Derek laughed. "Just kidding," he said, clasping Reginald's hand with his own.

The two men -- for lack of a better expression, for neither was a mortal "man" in the strictest sense, now -- slowly began rising into the air, gradually fading from sight... until they were totally gone.

* * * * *

Thanks for your time.


  1. you are trying to hypnotizee me right....i am onto you david...

  2. Are you sure Reginald's name wasn't really Clarence? hee-hee.

    On a more somber note, someone in our little village really did commit suicide today. ugh....where was that angel?

    So, what theme thursday was this originally for?

  3. Back in May of 2009, one TT theme was "wind," so I wrote a piece about flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal. In October, the theme for the week was "flight," and I'd already signed up... but once I realized I wouldn't have "Spread Your Wings" done in time, I "recycled" my Lilienthal post.

    As I often say, "The only thing that cannot successfully be put off until a later time is procrastination."

  4. By the way, Betsy, suicide is a very serious subject -- even though my story gives it a darkly humorous twist -- and I hope the person you mentioned wasn't anyone close to you. If it was, my sincerest condolences.

  5. No, I didn't know them, but thanks anyway. And I got your 'dark humor' in this problem. :)

    Back here to get a link to My Island, btw. :)

  6. Hm. What do I have to do to bribe you into leaving a comment or two (or 47) on that one, doll?

  7. bribe needed! Not promising 47 though. :)

  8. Fun story, sunshine! ;o)
    Even for those of us who don't believe in angels.

  9. @AngelMay: Well, if you did, maybe you'd see them. ;-) Seriously, I tried to write this in a way -- as I've done in a previous story or two -- that accepts everyone's beliefs, kinda like "What's right for you is right," no matter who "you" are (is?).

  10. This reminds me of the M.A.S.H. theme song. The refrain is haunting
    "Suicide is painless,
    It brings on many changes,
    And I can take or leave it if I please"

    I don't agree with that. It is not painless...suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain. You have two options-reduce the pain or increase the resources. But I liked the story line. It makes me feel!

  11. I chose to deal with a pretty serious subject matter in a light way in order to give it a mild twist, but I fully realize that there are a million ways you could say "What If...?"

    What if Derek and Reginald had made a deal that Derek would wait 24 hours to make his final decision? Would he have felt the same way? Or what if it were a 48-hour wait, or a one-week wait, etc.?

    What if Reginald and Derek arrived at the gates of Heaven only to be told by St. Peter (or whoever), "Sorry, but what you're trying to do here is emphatically NOT allowed. Take him back, Reggie!"

    I could think of a few more, if I were to take the time, and so could any of you, I'm sure. A completely serious story on the subject of suicide wouldn't lend itself to very much humor. (As it is, some would argue that if Derek were able to make jokes -- even his sarcastic jokes -- he wouldn't really be so depressed as to be 100% willing to die. Maybe he just wanted to win his argument in the most final way. Maybe Reginald didn't REALLY know what was in Derek's heart, as he claimed he did. Maybe... maybe... maybe...!!!)

    Let's face it. Adoth (the devil) and Reginald were NOT Satan and God. Maybe they didn't know all the rules, or at least, which ones they could break. I could have gone many ways with this one. I chose the one I chose.

  12. I liked it alot, David dear. I got a decent chuckle out of the "Hot Stuff" remark. Yeah, it's the little


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