Angel Interrupted

Prologue

A man with no past and no hope for the future walks through a playground. It is spring. He is cataloging all the things he does not have in his life: family, happiness, love, innocence. If he ever had any of these things, he no longer remembers. His life has been one of fear and shame for as long as he can recall.

This knowledge fuels a rage in him so profound he is convinced that if he were to open his mouth wide enough, he could spew flames like a dragon, scorching the laughing children before him in a single, awe-inspiring fireball.

There are days when he longs for the power to annihilate the world, and this is one of them.

Who is he kidding? He cannot annihilate the world. He doesn’t even have the power to leave. But he could annihilate a family. Perhaps that would satisfy the anger that burns inside him, searing his heart with each peal of laughter he hears.

Besides, if he says no, he will be left with no one. He will be utterly alone in this world. He will have nowhere to go and no one to care for him.

He cannot bear the thought.

The playground air smells like green. The sounds of songbirds surround him. The sunshine is warm on his cheeks and the air tastes of rain. A small boy squeals with delight as he swings from one monkey bar to the next.

Yes, the man thinks. The boy is perfect. He will be the one.

Chapter 1

Love is squandered by the human race. I have seen people kill in the name of love. I have watched others torture themselves with it, bleeding every drop of joy from their hearts because they always hunger for more, no matter how much love they may have.

Love is different when you are dead.

It becomes less self-serving and less specific. It transcends the whims of the chemical for a simple desire to be near. My love for a stranger can be as profound as my love for the woman and children I left behind when I died. Love has become both more tangible and more important. Could it transform my fate? Love is, I tell myself, the answer.

I have come to know all these things and more in the months since my death. I try hard to remember these lessons, since I failed so miserably to learn any when I was alive. I was too busy drinking my way through my days and running from the love I was given. Death is my second chance to understand life. So far, I have learned that no one is as important or as alone as they think, that kindness is the reason why people survive—and that evil is as real as love when it comes to the human race.

I have learned these things while wandering the streets of my town, unseen and unmourned, contemplating the failures of my life and the mysteries of my death.

I could dwell on the mysteries of my death—god knows I still don’t understand it—but on a fine spring morning I prefer instead to dwell on the mysteries of love. For example, why do we give physical love such importance when it is, truly, the most fleeting love of all? Love comes in as many forms as there are people walking the earth. Just this week I have loved, among others, three children playing school in the park, especially the small boy wearing glasses who took his pretend role as a student very seriously indeed; the waitress at the corner coffee shop who smiles at her solitary customers out of