Joel had been dozing in the computer chair, something that I knew was uncomfortable at best. A quick glance at the bedside clock showed it was nearly midnight, long past time for Joel to have been home.
"I was talking to you. Little past your bedtime isn't it?" I walked past him and kicked my shoes off. I still felt a little weird from Traveling, my mind grasping at the tiny details and trying to hold onto them. I hadn't noticed the ground disappearing from under my feet, only that my feet were slowly resting on the ground again. Very strange. Maybe it was because Gideon was holding me, more or less?
"Yeah, I know. I told my folks I was staying here. Your `rents said I could hang out and wait for you. I think they went to bed." Joel yawned.
"Why? Didn't you have a date tonight? It's Friday after all." I rummaged into a drawer for some nightclothes.
"Daniel, are you pissed?"
"What?" I said glancing at him. "Why would I be?" It wasn't lost on me, by the way, that he'd not answered my question.
"You didn't say three words to me at practice, usually you walk home with me. It's just weird." He shrugged.
I raised an eyebrow at Joel, "You missed me, didn't you?" In fact I had forgotten I had been quiet with Joel, because of Aila and her...hey, wait a minute. Aila had lied about her conversation with Gideon. What was that all about?
"Missed is a little strong. I noticed you weren't there. Speaking of being somewhere, where have you been?" Joel stretched in the chair.
"I went to see Gideon," I said. I glanced at Joel to catch his reaction, which was minimal.
"He didn't eat my soul."
"Isn't that what gay guys do? Eat souls?"
"Don't try and blame your egotism on me, ass." I laughed at him.
"Well, I just heard you gays were all evil and stuff; soul eating sounds about right. Kidnapping babies, make `em gay. You know." He looked at me askance, "and the fact I know I look good doesn't make me soulless."
"You're killing me, really. Stop." I rolled my eyes at him. I grabbed a tee shirt fit to sleep in and walked towards my bed.
"I'm just saying. So what did he have to say?" Joel asked. He leaned back in the chair, probably seeking a comfortable position. Good luck there.
"He's not interested in me, he wants you," I joked. I pulled my shirt off and hung it from a hook and then pulled on my tee.
"Of course, there's no comparison. So after he shattered your ego, what? Mercy screw? You didn't embarrass yourself did you?" Joel smiled; he liked this game too much.
"You'd like those details wouldn't you?" I pushed my pants down and hung them with the shirt and pulled my covers back. I sat on the bed and regarded my friend.
"Well, sort of icky I guess. Would be funny if he called out my name instead of yours though, I was hoping for that much." Joel laughed at his joke and I smiled at him. "Really," he said, "What went down?"
"A lot of stuff was said, I think," I slowed for a minute. The night was a bit of a jumble, there was a lot of ground to cover. In fact, it was a little silly how there was no freaking out, just tacit acceptance of Gideon and his situation. There was more than that, though; relief. I wasn't losing my mind after all, or if I was, this was all part of it and rather than just a little breakdown I was swinging for the fences. "I think maybe I need to sleep on it, just to make sense of it."
"Good enough. Move over, I'm exhausted." Joel kicked his shoes off, "and keep your hands to yourself."
"Montcalm, you are so full of yourself!" I laughed.
"Yeah, well, if you were me..." He grinned and changed the subject. "Hey, did you see Aila today?"
"In the hallway," I replied neutrally. "Why?"
"She canceled for tonight, said she wasn't feeling well. She was okay this afternoon, just seemed weird is all."
"It's Aila, she's weird, ergo that was normal for her. Besides, I don't know why you're worried," I yawned, "She's just using you to get to me."
"That's just wrong," Joel said as he pulled the cover back from the other side of the bed, "You know people make friends with you to get to me, not the other way around."
"Ego!" I said with a laugh and covered my face.
Joel was up and gone before I was even awake, which is nothing new. Anyone that didn't know us would think we were having an affair of some kind, since he was always sneaking home in the early morning before respectable folk stirred from the covers. I stretched and focused one eye on the clock. Eight thirty. That was early, even by Joel's standards. What the hell was so pressing at that time of day besides going to the bathroom? Even then, my main priority was going back to bed afterward, not sneaking across the street.
Regardless, I was awake so I got up and proceeded through my morning ablutions and then hit the kitchen.
"You look like you slept well, finally," my mother commented. I grunted and grabbed a box of cereal and a bowl.
"What time did you get in?" my dad asked as he entered the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee.
"Just before midnight I think, I wasn't really paying attention," I replied while pouring the milk.
"Anyplace special? Kind of surprised it didn't include Joel." My mother fished. I hate it when she fishes.
"Joel usually has a date on Friday, mom." Even though I hated it, I wouldn't just give in and tell her what she wanted to know, which was if I was out with a boy. Not just any boy either, not like Joel. She wanted to know if I had found a real boy. It was funny, she'd say it like that too, and all I could ever picture was Pinocchio.
"Well, yes, Friday is a date night," she looked at me brightly.
"So," my dad leaned against the counter, sipping his coffee and regarding me. I groaned as I looked at him.
"Et tu, padre? Et tu?"
"I am hardly assassinating you," he grinned.
"You're conspiring though," I pointed out and began to eat my cereal.
"I have my book club this afternoon, all of those other women get to talk about who their children are dating and whatnot, it's an awful bore. I need some good gossip about my own son to spread, if nothing else so I can get even with all of them. So tell me...did you meet a real boy?"
"Yes, I did," I replied and cut her off as her mouth opened to ask follow up questions, "But I got scared away from him by the talking cricket. Gave me the creeps."
"Smartass," she grumbled.
"Why don't you talk about books at your book club?" I asked.
"Because the books are a pretext to drink wine and eat smelly cheese," my father offered.
"It's a little girl time, and if wine is involved so much the better," my mother replied.
I continued to eat, deciding not to respond. Besides, I was being honest, I had no idea what Gideon thought of me outside of he had someone to talk to. He never addressed the notion of me being interested in him. I would have to iron that out for certain at some point, but I think that simply means that he'll be unavailable eye candy, something like Joel I guess. Not that I would ever tell him so...too much ego on that boy already.
My mother left the room and my father sidled over. "So, were you..."
"Dad, the condom is still in my wallet, and it didn't even get close to being used." I rolled my eyes.
"Sue me for being concerned!" he raised a hand and headed out of the room. My parents were great, really, but it still felt a bit weird talking to them about guys. Was it just me? I don't imagine Joel ever discussed sex with his parents, if they did they'd be a lot more concerned about grandchildren than they appeared to be. I finished my cereal and walked out to the living room where my dad was reading the paper. He was a die hard fan of any sport played in nearby Buffalo. With hockey and football both over, he was watching all the off season trade rumors and gossip about what the teams would need to improve, the difficulties of achieving those goals given the money they had to work with as a small market team, et cetera.
"I went over to a guy from school's house last night," I confessed. Don't ask me why I told them, I don't know why.
"Who is it dear?" my mother swooped in from the hallway. My father set his paper down on his lap and focused on me.
"Okay, you guys do know how weird this feels, right?"
"I'm just curious!" my mother said gleefully and took her chair, looking at me with excitement. "What's his name?"
"Gideon," I said smiling at her.
"He's smiling, Helen." My dad egged her on.
"I'm smiling at mom," I protested.
"Yes, you're blushing at me too. Go on, what's Gideon's last name?" she encouraged and my father just grinned.
"Erebos. He lives over on Burnside Terrace."
"Oh, Burnside. Reminds me of Beauregard Pickett Burnside! Remember, Dean, from Auntie Mame? Rosalind Russell?" My mother looked at my father who's face scrunched.
"That black and white movie? I remember Rosalind Russell...oh right, the southern guy right?"
"Yes, you thought his plantation had funny name," she laughed as he cried out, "Peckerwood!"
"You guys are so weird." I sighed.
"Classic movies have some great themes, you should watch that one with me. Anyway, please, what does Mister Gideon Erebos look like?" My mother encouraged.
"He's really cute," I smiled. "He has dark brown hair, it's pretty curly. Dark brown eyes, very dark but warm. He has high cheekbones, kind of like a classical statue or something I guess," I stumbled to a halt realizing how silly this felt.
"He sounds super cute, I can't wait to see him!" my mother enthused.
"Is he an athlete?" My father asked.
"Sorry dad, he seems to be into old books and stuff."
"A scholar!" my mother nodded and looked at my father.
"Yeah, well, he didn't really say that he was interested so, I'm not thinking this is going anywhere, romantically." I told them firmly.
"Well, he may surprise you."
"Yeah, I think he might," I muttered and returned to my now soggy cereal.
"When are you seeing him again?" my mother called out.
"He's supposed to come over for lunch, today." I thanked the universe in general that she'd be at her book club.
I wasn't going to call him. It would seem like I was desperate, and I wasn't. Pissed is what I was, a little let down, but desperate? Not this kid. Truth? I was more than a little let down, and I was brooding on it. I know this not because I was marvelously self aware but when Joel left early in the afternoon he let me know I was brooding, and thus the reason for his exit. It wasn't a stretch to believe I was brooding, however, because if I needed a name for the way I felt, that was as good as any.
He didn't show up for lunch, no phone call, nothing. He didn't even materialize in my room to let me know plans had changed. That had to be the absolute silliest thing, I must be going through a really prolonged mental breakdown to even think that as a real thought. I sat on the edge of my bed and looked out the window wondering idly what caused my break with reality. It must have happened the night of the spring fling, because that's when all the craziness started. I wonder if I turned down an alley and saw Aila and Joel going at it and my mind just snapped? Made up the last few weeks as I went along?
For the sake of conversation with myself, I decided to proceed from the idea that I wasn't loony tunes. Why then so easily accept these weird things going on around me? Next thing you know some pale kid in biology will tell me I have his favorite blood type. When you put it all together, it did make a strange sort of sense, though. Except for a few nagging things, that is.
For example, what was Gideon doing in a high school? If he was a prince of shadows or something, shouldn't he be studying that? It has to be more long term useful to him than Algebra. These light bomb things, if they are floating around why doesn't he live somewhere out in the middle of nowhere so no one else would possibly see these things? Holy crap, did anyone see anything last night?
I opened a web browser and checked the local news, but found nothing. I sat back to chew on that for a moment. It stood to reason I guess, I didn't hear anything in the alley; and then I recalled that Gideon said they canceled each other out. Weird that the house had that effect though, literally like a bomb went off. That was inconsistent, and I'd need more information. Put it on the 'to find out' list, along with where the hell he was today.
Another puzzle piece was Aila. How did she fit into this picture of Gideon I was building? What had she said to him at school? Based on my chat with him she knew quite a bit, quite possibly more than I did. Maybe. The trouble with all this is it's all conjecture and I had no ready way to verify or obtain new information. Asking Joel or running that part by him seemed...unseemly.
So I spent the whole weekend wondering why he didn't show, didn't call and what Aila's connection to it all was.
Monday morning dawned and, regardless of the questions swirling around in my head, I still felt better than I had in quite a while. I couldn't put my finger on exactly why since I still didn't know it all, but I guess I understood enough that I could at least sleep. At the very least I was reasonably certain Gideon wasn't going to eat my soul while I slept or something. After getting cleaned up and dressed I was downstairs for breakfast when Joel knocked and opened the front door. He waved, kicked off his shoes and took a seat across from me at the table.
"Aila's pregnant." he blurted.
I started coughing on my cheerios, unceremoniously blowing one out of my nose. I couldn't stop coughing, the milk was aggravating the whole situation. If you've ever swallowed something the wrong way, you know the feeling of trying to inhale and simply breaking out in another chest rattling cough that burns from your nipples outward in concentric circles. I felt him hitting my back, dimly, but I was seriously too busy coughing. I think I felt another cheerio stuck in my nose. I grabbed a napkin and blew my nose mightily, twice and then managed slow, steady breaths to avert the start of another coughing fit. I wiped my eyes and finally leaned back in my chair to regard Joel.
He was smiling. "Just kidding," he said. My eyes narrowed and he started to giggle, slowly standing as I grabbed my bowl of cereal he made a break for the door. Made a mess, but he still had to go home and change. Asshole.
I was itching to see Gideon at school and I didn't wait for Joel to change before departing. The temperature was cool, but nice for walking and I made good time getting to the school and made a beeline for Gideon's locker. Turning the corner I saw that Gideon wasn't there and slowed my pace, heaving a small sigh. Well, it couldn't be that easy, could it? It seemed unfair considering how much restraint I'd shown over the weekend. I started down the hall and saw Aila approaching from the other end.
She looked tired, is what came to mind. Her shoulders were a bit low, her clothes weren't as sharp as I was used to from her. But the big tipoff was the huge granny bag she was carrying on her shoulder. She usually carried a very sensibly sized purse, but today she was wearing something that looked as though you could hide a body in it with room to spare. She glanced uncertainly at me and then walked on without speaking.
I shrugged, it was just as well. I did turn to watch her as her backside retreated and it was then I noticed she was favoring her left foot. Maybe it was the huge bag. I idled at Gideon's locker as long as I dared, and then headed to my first class. I slumped in my chair and brooded. It occurred to me that Gideon may not have needed to stop by his locker on the way in. I sighed.
The only class I shared with Gideon was World History with Mr. Lorenzo, and I was impatiently waiting for it to get here already. Joel couldn't look at me without giggling, and it got him drummed out of class again. Asshole.
I sat down for lunch and Joel sat down with me, Aila next to him. Joel giggled again and I shot him a sour look. Aila appeared disinterested. Okay, at this point I was actually beginning to realize something was wrong with her because by then she'd have said something, anything.
"Are you all right?" I asked her. Her face registered fleeting surprise, and then schooled to neutrality so fast you'd swear it hadn't happened.
Joel snickered, but wisely kept whatever joke he was thinking in his head, for once. He got up for napkins and left us alone for a moment. I studied her face and for just a moment, I mean so fast I could have dreamed it, I saw a huge bruise on her left cheek from the corner of her eye down to her chin; in a flash it was gone.
I briefly considered being flippant about her granny bag from that morning, just to break the tension, but decided against it. She was clearly pissy and whatever it was, it wasn't any of my business. Joel was making his way back to the table and I realized I just wasn't hungry anymore and left the room. To top it all off, Gideon didn't show in history either.
The rest of the week was almost a return to normalcy, as if time rolled back to before Joel met Aila. He was over every second, and every time I brought up the fact that he had a girlfriend out there somewhere, he sidestepped it. Gideon didn't show up at school all week, and I'm sure of it since I was watching for him. As the week wore on with no Gideon and no call or emails or him simply flowing into my room on a wisp of shadow, I began to realize that was okay.
First off it made my life a lot easier, not thinking about all this shadow stuff. In fact, if I let it, I could almost imagine that it had never happened. Not quite, but close. I was more or less left with the idea that something strange had happened and Gideon, the odd but beautiful guy at the center of it all was not interested in me. At least not in any way he found worth pursuing, and I'll be fucked if I'll pine for anyone who isn't interested in me for anything at all, not even a phone call.
I felt better, that thought completed. I was at peace with that part of my life come Saturday morning when Joel woke me up at eight-thirty. Yes, in the morning, can you believe it?
"I need clothes," Joel announced.
"That's nice." I mumbled.
"Aren't you going to ask me what I need them for?"
"You'd rather see me naked?"
"Well, I guess that's one reason I need clothes then. Of course, we both know you're lying, but that's another reason I need clothes."
I opened one eye to regard him.
"Well, I know how soul crushing it would be to your self esteem to see me naked." He smirked.
"You do realize I was sleeping?" I grumbled.
"Yes, but I'm sure you're awake now that I've put the idea of me naked in your head."
"You're right, I do feel sort of like I have to get up now...and go throw up."
"Jealousy is ugly on you, Danny. Come on, The Galleria awaits!" He pulled out a slim piece of plastic, "Dad told me to get out and go to the mall."
"He gave you a credit card and told you to go to the mall? Has he lost his marbles?"
"Well, not exactly." He grinned.
"What part isn't exact?"
"Well they both are true statements...if you separate them."
"Joel...it's too early for this bullshit." I pulled the cover over my head.
"I'll be downstairs getting breakfast, your mom is cooking, hurry up."
So much for sleeping in. He is such an asshole!
The Galleria is huge, so much so that they should provide a free GPS when you enter the building. Worse, Joel on the loose trying on clothes in every store he wanted to; I didn't really care to fight him. It was kind of funny, actually. He kept trying on different things, getting piles of clothes and then he would shrug his shoulders and say something to the effect that they just weren't him, and walk out. The sales clerks had to think he was the biggest asshole.
But I could only take so much of even his antics and I left him inside some trendy store trying on skinny jeans and headed to the food court. One of the nice things about such a large mall is the massive amount of people watching you could do. I got in line for a place that sold curly fries with cheese sauce and began waiting, and as I did so I watched the flow of the human river around me.
You'd think we'd have rules like we do for roads, you have to keep right unless passing – that sort of thing. People were streaming by, weaving in and out, going against the general traffic flow, until their lead seemed to alter that flow. Kids dodged in and out of the traffic pattern, passing older people or the girls that just suddenly stopped to talk or look in a shop window. Personally I hated the ones that stopped for no apparent reason. More than one person looked like they were talking to themselves, until you saw the blinking light of the blue-tooth in their ear.
I reached the counter and a redheaded girl who was chewing gum was behind the register, giving me the 'retail smile'. You know, the one that says ' I'm smiling because the boss says I have to and if you'd just leave I'd smile for real'. It usually is followed by the insincere 'How are you?" Like they give a shit. I have often been tempted to make up some tale of woe, just to see if they'd notice.
"What can I get ya hon?" the redhead said. I thought it was amusing she called me hon. I almost felt like I was at a small town diner or something, where the waitress knows you because you're a regular, but calls everyone hon regardless. I opened my mouth to order and she interrupted me.
"Oh my god, you're like, Dan Whitson right?" she smiled. "My brother goes to all the baseball games just for you."
I have to admit my knack for sarcasm and witty responses completely failed me. I think my jaw just hung open.
"He told my parents he was gay after he found out you came out; he's so much less miserable to live with now." She smiled and leaned forward, "I think he has a little hero crush on you."
"Oh, well, that's nice to hear I guess." I stumbled. What do you say to that?
"He's too chicken to ask, but are you seeing anyone? Oh and what about your friend Joel? I heard him and Aila broke up and," she leaned in again, "I heard he puts out."
Shell-shocked. Stunned. Speechless. All of these words rushed through my mind, and I think I grasped their true meaning as I stared back at this strange girl.
"Not a big talker huh?" she offered.
"Are you gonna order something?" the guy behind me grumbled. I glanced at him, realized he may eat me if I didn't remove myself from his path soon, turned back and placed my order. She rang me up, and then scrawled on the back of the receipt before handing it to me.
"His name is Cole, if you're interested. And tell Joel that Samantha says hi," she giggled and I moved away like a zombie. How. Fucking. Surreal.
I took my cheesy, curly fries out to a solitary table and sat down, my back to Samantha to ward off any eye contact. I reflected that it was kind of cool I was an inspiration to someone, even if I didn't feel like much of a trailblazer or anything. At the opposite end of the food court there was the sound of feedback, some knocking and then someone speaking 'testing, testing 1,2,3' into a microphone. I glanced around in confusion until I saw a sign for a singing competition, a 'Mall Idol' free for all. The person who had been testing the mike then went on to welcome contestants and let them know that because turnout had been so large, they were going to be limited to one five minute set and to select from what they had prepared to present.
The first lady got up and she had a guitar and bells on her legs. I mean no shit, big jingly bells on her ankles. She sounded like a drunk reindeer walking. She sat down and adjusted the mike height, and began her performance. She would strum the guitar once, maybe twice then jiggle a leg, then the other and speak aloud some words, which didn't really seem like a song so much as bad poetry, spoken aloud. I think she was trying to use the music to punctuate the verses of her...song, but it just sounded disjointed and half-formed.
She stopped and there were a few hesitant claps, and she suddenly jiggled and struck the guitar chords again, and the applause died. She grunted out another line and fell silent and still, and once more hesitant applause started, and once again she lurched into noise making. Finally, she stood and thanked the audience, and they tentatively clapped, as if afraid they were being tricked again.
"Well, that was an unexpected torture," Woolcott said as he took a seat at my table. He frowned down at my fries, "Those are terrible for you, but if you're going to enjoy them hot is best."
I looked down dumbly to realize that the woman who seemed like she was having a seizure while trying to sing had so kept my attention that I hadn't eaten my fries.
"Probably not any worse than pizza," I replied stuffing a fry in my mouth.
"Touche," he smiled.
"So not that you aren't the perfect cap to a weird day, but what are you doing here?"
"I'm thinking of going to Georgia to steal a soul and need a set of traveling clothes," he smiled.
I gave him a blank stare.
"Charlie Daniels? The Devil...oh, you deprived child. Next time you come over, remind me."
"Why would I be coming over?" I asked. I was pleased I hadn't said 'um' a single time. Perhaps having settled the Gideon thing in my head helped with that, I wasn't sure. Either way, Woolcott was making about as much sense as he usually does.
"Well, you have to give the hero of our story a much needed boost in the ego right about now, of course." He leaned in, conspiratorially, and said, "You're just the sidekick, but still quite important. Many sidekicks steal the show, in fact, but lets hope you don't."
"Woolcott, make sense or go away," I replied dismissively.
"Have you no sense of theatre?" he gasped and then his head whipped around to watch a woman weaving her way in between groups of people. "Good god did you see her breasts? Magnificent!"
I continued to feed myself fries and regard Woolcott while I waited for him to say what he meant to say in a way I could understand it.
"I have had a foretelling," Woolcott said ominously as his head swiveled back to face me, "Dire, you must heed my words and go to him!"
"Not impressed," I replied.
"Are you always this difficult? I liked you better when you were the Master of Um." He sighed and leaned back in his chair. "What's it going to take?"
"Look, first off, he doesn't want me there."
"Secondly," I glared at him, "He blew me off last Saturday and I haven't heard from him since."
"Explainable. Understandable but...holding a grudge are you?"
"Not really," I replied with a shrug, "I mean some things still don't make any sense, but I kinda feel like I can leave it behind me now."
"Until you see him again."
"He hasn't exactly been beating a path to my door," I chuckled, "and besides, he apparently has bigger issues to deal with than me."
"True, true. Though it would please me to no end to say you are insignificant to him and to the outcome of this grand design that is taking shape, it wouldn't be the truth. Since he's as stubborn as a stone golem, I must convince you. Cooperate please."
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, I imagined he really wanted to slap me right then. "Why are you so concerned?" I asked.
"Honestly? Well, ego is a big factor, he never believes me when I have a foretelling. But as much as he wants to go it alone, he has to learn that you need others. It's a learning process and he's a mule about it." He frowned at me, "You're a good match on that score."
I ruminated on that as I finished up my cooling fries, dragging them through the remains of the cheese. Until right then, I had been ready to let it all go, but now...now he was offering up...what exactly?
"You have a statement, no, a question...questions! Yes, that's it. Well, ask, I'll tell you what I can." Woolcott seemed happy to have ferreted out that I had questions, but you didn't need a Ouija board to figure that out.
"Okay, well, here's one. If Gideon is some sort of supernatural whatever...why is he in High School?" I leaned back and regarded Woolcott.
"Normalcy. It would be suspicious if people saw him and he weren't attending school," he held his hand up to me as I opened my mouth to protest, "hear me out.
"We couldn't home school, there are too many real world things he has to do, and in addition apparently the school system doesn't simply take your word that he knows what they think he ought to. Very annoying, I took umbrage at that.
"Also this is where I needed to be for my own research, so he didn't have the option of hiding out in, I don't know, Kansas or Nairobi. Not only that: he has to learn, and High School does teach a lot of things outside of reading, writing and arithmetic"
"Well, socialization. You can see the little barbarian needs all he can get. Field trips offer the potential for culture, and High School is somewhat cut-throat, so in that sense it made sense to let him swim with sharks, even if he could eat them alive."
I shot him a skeptical look.
"Fine, it was part of the foretelling, not like he wanted to go to High School," he trailed off muttering again about not appreciating theatrics.
I decided to let that hang a bit for now. "Okay, how about where you think I fit in all of this?"
"Well, as I said, a sidekick but a critical role none the less," he leaned back and waved his hands to frame his words, "You must guide his wounded psyche and show him the tender side of power, with style, panache and..." he trailed off as he looked at me. "Well, perhaps he simply needs a friend, does that sound better to you?"
I stared at him. He was out of his mind. Right?
"Okay, how about this one, since straight answers aren't really your thing, Gideon said he was human dark. What is that exactly?"
"Well, that really depends. There are a lot of semantics involved."
"Well," I said as I stood, "At least you're consistent about telling me nothing."
"Wait, wait I wasn't done yet," he made a motion with is hand to sit down and I slowly drifted back into the metal chair. "Let me try to explain, because it really does need some qualification. For instance, if I tell you a man shot and killed another man, what would you call him?"
"A murderer." I replied promptly, playing along.
"Yes, quite so. And yet, what if I were to say that the man shot this other fellow while the first was charging at him with a knife?"
"Well, self defense isn't murder," I replied with just as much assurance.
"True, but what then if I say to you that the man with the knife was trying to stab the man behind the gunman, who also had a knife?"
"Yes, now we come full circle." He rolled his eyes at me.
"That makes no sense." I muttered irritably.
"Not true, it illustrates that things aren't always what they seem, and much changes depending on what you know. For example if you walked in the room and only saw the gun going off, not the man menacing the gunman, you might be inclined to testify that he murdered the man he thought was attacking him, but who in fact was only trying to save him."
"By charging him with a knife..." I said slowly.
"Exactly, but if you walked in mere moments before and saw the third man menacing the first with a knife, the actions of the second, that being to charge with his knife at the third person in defense of the first, makes complete sense."
"Yeah, of course, totally. You all done yet?"
"Not really, but now that you have an appreciation how unorthodox the whole situation is, we can start. What is an angel?"
"A religious fairy tale."
"Well, yes and no, but tell me what that fairy tale is."
I sighed. "An angel is one of God's messengers, carrying his will to people or something."
"Or something, precisely. And a demon? How would you define that?"
"Basically like, an anti-angel." I sighed and put my head in my hands. Why was I still here?
"Yes so, how about this and then it may start to make sense. Republicans today might call Democrats devils, while thinking themselves angels; but Democrats might see things exactly the opposite, in other words it depends on your point of view, are you with me so far?"
"I think so," I moaned, "But I have no idea where you're headed."
"Yes, well, pay," he reached out and snapped his fingers in front of me, startling and annoying me, "I say pay attention now. Do you know what Nephilim are?"
"No," I replied, hating to admit to myself that he'd started to pique my curiosity.
"Nephilim are the offspring of an angel and a human," he wagged his finger at me, "now don't you look at me like that. Given that, what do you suppose a Cambion is?"
"Half human half...what, demon?" I asked.
"Just so, but then the real question here is...?" he left the question hanging in the air, eyebrows raised as if I knew the answer. I thought for a moment. My mind was a swirl of mythic ideas and figures and I finally shook my head, just trying to clear it. Obviously he was trying to get me to find a point of view. How do angels and demons fit in with that whole scenario of a man shooting a man with a knife who tried to stab another...well, if you applied the stages of demon or angel to that scenario, then I suppose how much you saw would decide what roles you'd assign to each player.
"I don't know if this is the answer is you're looking for," I admitted as he looked on hopefully, "But if this is all about perspective then I guess whether someone is a Cambion or a...Nephilim is a matter of your point of view?"
"Exactly, you've got it in one! Well done Minister of Um!" He smiled at me gleefully.
"Great," I smiled back at him, "What the fuck have I got?
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