Angels of Death (2) - the last biscuit
An angel’s seen it all. Ever possible human experience. Literally. Every form grief could possibly take, every conceivable reaction, every conceivable action. An angel’s been there, seen that, thousands of times over.
Take an angel like Davitt, for instance. Davitt has been angelling for over thirty thousand Earth years. He was providing angelic services to the human race long before it became the human race as we know it. His experience pre-dates farming, predates the growth of towns and cities.
However, although humanity has evolved, although the world has changed drastically, one thing has remained stubbornly unaltered. Grief. Human mourning for the loss of a loved one. It’s the same experience today as it was for our hunter-gatherer ancestors. True, hunter-gatherers never had to deal with being informed of the death of a loved one by text, neither did they have the added stress of having to deal with probate, funerals and the masses of paperwork that accompanies every corpse, but the essentials were the same.
Grief has existed for the whole history of humanity. You might even say it defines humanity, to be human is to have the ability to mourn, to develop connections with your fellow man, connections that when broken leave an overwhelming, inconsolable sense of loss. Grief is what separates man from beast.
Not that everyone mourns the same way. Davitt’s last client was a thirty-something woman who had lost her lifelong partner, her childhood sweetheart turned husband, a man to whom she’d been faithful and devoted all her adult life. Within two months of his death she’d slept with forty different men. With some of them she hardly bothered to look at their face, or hear their words. She just needed a warm, living male to fill the void.
The client before that, a woman of a similar age who had also lost her life’s love, had become a nun, giving herself up entirely to god’s mercy.
To the untrained mind those might seem like very different reactions, total opposites in fact, but Davitt recognised the same eternal pattern of grief in both behaviours. The same void needing to be filled, whether by a god or any passing penis.
Grief: All-consuming grief. It can really fuck your judgement. People overshoot emotionally, they abandon their entire life, move to a new country, change their name, change their gender even. Or, they plod on as if nothing has changed, sleeping on the same side of the bed, keeping to the same half of the wardrobe, even timetabling their day around their deceased partner’s habits.
Davitt had seen everything. Every possible human emotion, every reaction, every over-reaction, every under-reaction. But even angels can be surprised occasionally.
“I’ve got a queer one,” he said to Benson at the local angelic order.
“Lot of those these days. No longer illegal, they can even get married.”
“I know that, I live on the same Earth as you do. But I mean the other type of queer, unusual, strange.”
“Strange eh,” Benson laughed. “Bet you that last biscuit I’ve had exactly the same experience.” Benson was an Overseer grade angel and had been in the profession since the dawn of humanity, though he refuses to give an exact date.
The two angels eyed the last biscuit on the plate, which had been sitting there alone for some time, as angels fear to touch the last biscuit.
“Okay, I bet you’ve never had one of these.” The angels shook hands to seal the deal, because in many ways they’re like humans, and when there’s a biscuit involved it’s important to formalise an agreement.
“Okay, so what’ve you got?”
“My client's a policeman. A middle-aged policeman longing for retirement.”
“Been there. Done that.”
“And he’s mourning for the loss of a local villain. Hewson.”
“Oh, a corrupt cop. Seen lots of those in my time."
“That’s the point, he’s not corrupt. He’s spent the last twenty years trying to get him behind bars. But now that he’s dead he misses him dreadfully.”
"They were friends, then?"
"No, bitter enemies, he worked his soul away trying to get Hewson locked up. But now Hewson's dead he's grieving."
"Humans are weird."
“So the biscuit’s mine.”
“It looks that way. Humans, you work with them every day for fifty thousand years and yet you never quite comprehend just how bloody stupid they can be."