12. Play It, Sam
Uriel’s face was as stony as a dry river bed when I told him I’d go back down, but only after I’d spoken to Samael.
‘Don’t waste too much time, Gabe.’
He turned his back on me and looked out over 7th Heaven like the Big Man Himself. By the time I got down to 3rd, I figured Samael would be hanging around the Milk and Honey. It isn’t exactly a bar, but it’s a place to hang out, at least it was then. Moses was on the door, dragging his fingers through his beard,
‘Oy, you it is Gabe. Vy don’t you come so much? Go in, go in. Tell Aaron I comp you a shake.’
Naturally, Aaron billed me for the milk.
‘Anyone can say this, Gabe. Vot kind of business you think we run?’ There was no point in arguing. I reckoned between them the Rabbim brothers owed me around a thousand milkshakes.
This is my story. I’m Gabe, I can afford some (more) exposition. Though we’re not omniscient, we know more than the average bear. Immortality – whatever that is - means we angels have a lot of background. ‘Course, I’m not particularly sure that what I know is right. Maybe it’s write. I know that I’m either 4000 years old or that my age is infinite. Some say that we are less creations of TG (Tetragrammaton, if you like: I’m sure you’re sick of me using Gee-Oh-Dee or any other epithet for the other You-Know-Who in the eternal struggle. But listen man, you can’t be too careful!). Others say that we are creations of the Earthbound and all that damn’ writing. Torah, Pentateuch, Bible, Gospel, the Book of Goldarned Mormon: no wonder Heaven is so fulla… well, whatever.
Anyway, in the Milk and Honey, like always, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young sat satisfied and smug at having reached 3rd Heaven. Never see them in 4 to 7, since they don’t believe in ‘em.
Joe Schmidt – betcha didn’t know that – (told me himself about a century ago, reckoned the Germans had enough churches and that Luther had queered the pitch anyhow) had a metal-detector with him. It was dinging constantly, since the Jews had written that Three was built of silver and gold. Brig wasn’t interested in that kind of thing. He was arguing with Aaron over the gender of Angels. No-one ever told the Saved that the confusion was their own fault. We could only be what they imagined. Or it least, that was what we told ourselves. In any event, it explained the numbers of the Fallen. It was no wonder that we angels were obsessed with Earthbound women. However, it was not the same with the women among the Saved, although there were remarkably few. It wasn’t just that Eve was unattractive, though she looked like the Venus of Willendorf, down to her pitted surface. Perhaps it was that they weren’t expressly forbidden. I didn’t know. Who did?
The exception, of course, was Lilith, but then she wasn’t exactly one of the Saved. I had never seen her in the not-quite-flesh, at least. Best buddies talked about how they’d heard about her from someone else who knew a brother angel who said that they had. We all had an image in our head about her; kept it in a place we didn’t visit often, if we wanted to avoid the Fall. I took my milkshake over to the piano. Albert was playing, the electric-shocked hair was moving in syncopated time to a Joplin rag. He saw me and vamped a few bars of ‘As Time Goes By.’
I gave him my best Bogey and Einstein laughed.
‘Enjoying yourself, Gabe?’
‘Relatively speaking, Albert.’
‘Always the jokes, Gabe, always the jokes.’
Albert began to hit keys at random on the piano, occasionally slamming the lid up and down and hitting violent dischords with his fists. He said it was something by Edgar Varese and perhaps it was.