“4 Adam 6, we’re 10-97.”
“4 Adam 6, do you require assistance?” Dispatch never made me feel better about anything.
“Negative, dispatch. We’re code 6.”
I placed the microphone back on the cradle and stepped from my car.
‘They give you the feeling that help is always around the corner.’ I was told that once by my field training officer. Of course, she’d always finish up with, ‘Intermediaries never help as quick as direct action though. For us, they’re good for letting them know what location to find the bodies.’
This felt like was one of those times.
“I’m glad we get the vagrant calls,” said my partner, Roy Valdez. “No one ever misses them. Plus they’re always rife with taint anyway so that’s an added bonus.”
“Don’t you ever shut up, Roy? Show some respect.”
“They’re only dirty flotsam people, Penn. The cast offs and shit like that.”
“You know, when you talk like that you only show how little time you’ve spent on the job.”
“So? You’ve been doing this for, what? Ten years? That’s not long.”
“Eleven,” I corrected as we strolled across the park.
It was coming up on 10PM, and the park still had people milling around. The closest was a group of two men and a woman, about a hundred and fifty feet way. I made sure to make eye contact with them. I focused for a few seconds on each pair of eyes. Their eyes flashed green briefly at me as we made our way to the location of the disturbance call.
I gave them the I’m-watching-you hand signal. They just kept staring at me.
“Damned angels,” I groused.
“Hey, I think this is the one of the guys we’re looking for.”
The man was sprawled out on the park bench. Normally the homeless could be found lying down, facing outwards, or sleeping while sitting up. This guy looked like he was about to roll off the bench and splash across the ground. I could already smell the blood and it smelled like a lot.
Roy knelt beside the man and shook his shoulder. “Hey, buddy. LAPD. You okay?” Roy shook him again, harder. He looked quizzically to me, that stupid grin plastered across his face. I stared hard back at him.
“Respect,” I said with an edge to my voice.
“Right.” His face soured before he shook the man harder. “Sir. Los Angeles Police Department. Are you okay?” The playful malevolence was gone from Roy’s voice. Now, he was just angry. “Wake the Hell up, drunkie.”
I was about to say something to Roy when the man stirred and lifted his face to us. “Wha…” he said weakly. “Wha happened?” His voice was slurred from his lips puffy, pulped lips. The man’s left eye was swollen shut and even in the dark I could see it and the adjoining cheek had taken on a raging purple hew. “I think I got hurt,” he said, producing a small bloody bubble from between his lips. The bubble popped midsentence. Roy sprang back to his feet in disgust. He jerked out his flashlight and raised it above his head to add to the vagrant’s misery.
“I’m not going to tell you again. Repect.” My eyes flash menacingly at him. While I may have agreed with him personally, we were in uniform and that made things different, even if by just a little.
“You and your morals.” Roy’s lip curled at me.
I glared at him, making him stare into my eyes. He quickly turned away and held a hand out to me to talk to the vagrant.
“Call for an ambulance, Roy.” I knelt down to the man. “Sir, my name is Officer Penelope Penn. Can you sit up and talk, or at least just talk and let us know what happened?”
“I can talk.” The Hell he could. His words were mashed and it was all I could do to understand him. “Three people… three people were messing with me. I just want to be left alone. But they scattered my stuff everywhere. Said I was unworthy of having what I got. Then one of them hit me again and again and-.”
I speak numerous languages, but understanding him was difficult at best.
I stroked his head. He was unworthy like the rest, but what was done to him was unnecessary. Killing him outright would have been better.
“What’s your name, sir? Do you remember your name? Do have any ID?”
“Wentworth,” he said, struggling to sit up. “Gilbert Wentworth. I live… I live in the park. I just wanna be left alone.” The last sentence was a plea more than a statement.
“Hey, Penn. Ask him if it was those three losers over there that beat him up.”
“Mr. Wentworth, were the ones who attacked you the people behind me?” I leaned over, hoping he had enough space to make an ID.
“I dunno.” His good eye closed as he laid his head back down.
“Hey, Mr. Wentworth.” I nudged him. “Mr. Wentworth.” I nudged harder. He snorted softly. “Gilbert.” I pushed him hard enough to crack a backboard in the bench. The audible crack could have been his clavicle giving way in time with the board.
“Oops,” I said in unison with Roy. Unlike Roy I felt a twinge of guilt over it.
“Jinx.” Roy smiled that razor toothed shark smile at me. By God I hated him sometimes.
“Where’s the ambulance? You called for it, right?”
Roy shrugged. “Yeah. I don’t think he’s going to be around long enough to enjoy the ride though.”
“Stay here. I’m going to talk to those ‘people.’ If they were the ones, I’m taking them in.”
“Might be pointless, Penn.” Roy looked concerned, not for their safety, but for mine. “They look above it all to me. You know? Hell, maybe they called it in. It’s possible.”
“Stand watch over him. I’ll be back in a tic.”
I went to pull away and realized that Roy was holding onto my sleeve.
“Please, Penelope. I don’t like this. I called for assistance so let’s wait-”
I jerked my arm from him and proceeded to the three good citizens.
“Good evening. I’m Officer Pen-”
“We know you, Officer Penelope Penn,” said the only female in the trio. She was a redhead and tried to give the impression of demure stature and attitude. I knew better. I sensed a giant in her that was straining at its leash. “We know you, and we know what you are.” She spoke with calm smugness, and I felt her arrogant attitude straining to be unleashed.
“And you are?” The fact that they, and by they I mean her in particular, made my blood boil more than usual confirmed my suspicions as I had talked to Mr. Wentworth.
“We are only humble citizens of the City of Angels, Officer. We saw a fellow human in trouble and made the call to insure he received the help he needed.” The woman smiled at me. Her perfect teeth and pleasing breath was sickening. She smelled of mint, and I hated mint of any kind. It came off her in waves and it did little for my growing anger.
“I get it,” I said, keeping my teeth from becoming the needle points I saved for intimidating suspects in truly difficult matters. “You’re just a Lordship on a stroll with her Powers dogs. Thought you’d take a trip through the park and catch the night air to clear your minds. Is that it?”
The redhead smiled beatifically at me. I hadn’t shaken her, but the Powers behind her had stepped out in an attempt to flank me if need be.
“Oh no, Officer,” she said, her face going into a mock look of dismay. “Now you have us.” I have to give her credit for not laughing. Angels like to laugh; God or Satan knows why. They have no reference to hardship, especially the hardship of others, and that pisses me off. God or Satan knows why.
“You’re on my beat, Angel. I don’t know why your boss declared open season on humankind, but…” I was at a loss for words. I didn’t care about humanity, LAPD be damned, but in the past century the angels were horning in on our territory. Where once we tormented mankind by making them turn on each other by bringing out their worst, the Angelic Hosts were physically targeting humans for sadistic pleasure. For us demons, it wasn’t a matter of maintaining a balance, but saving face. We were the bad guys. I was a cop because it was a guaranteed soul feast. Now I was witnessing things that enraged even me. What the Hell happened to the world.
I must have really lost my train of thought because the Lordship was just an inch from being face to face with me.
“But what, Officer? Do you really live by what it says on the door of your car? To protect and to serve? You may be Asmodeus, but you come across as Nephilim. You protect and serve humans? You reek of them.” Her voice was starting to lose the calm and was undergoing a transformation into self-righteous zealot.
Her sweet breath streaming into my nose was my trigger. I gripped her by the throat, lifted her off her feet, and pulled out my pistol. I alternated my aim between the Powers, who had become as they naturally are.
The Powers human street clothes disappeared in a flash, and were replace with Romanesque armor and shield. Dear Beelzebub they looked pretentious. These ‘enlightened protectors’ had bought into man’s image of them.
“You’re under arrest for assault. Place your weapons on the ground.” My eyes flashed Hellfire as I used the Lordship as a shield. I could feel my strength growing as my horns pierced my flesh and I moved her in front of each Power as they sought to close with me.
“I believe their shields are mightier than the one you wear, Officer Penn,” tittered the Lordship maliciously.
“Get back,” said Roy, joining me. He had his pistol out and his flashlight on. Why was he trying to blind beings that he knew could look harmlessly into the sun until it burned out?
“How sweet,” the Lordship said brightly. “The Abaddon has come to stick up for his bitch.”
“Back it up or I swear to your boss I’ll pop all of you.”
My first reaction to Roy’s bravado was, ‘Surprise, surprise, He’s become the epitome of the job for once,’ but then I replayed what he’d said. “That’s not protocol, Roy.”
“Yeah, well, the guy’s dead. He looks like he keeled over from a heart attack, not getting the crap beat out of him.”
“His body healed right in front of me. He said he was feeling better, then all of a sudden, he gasped, and then flooded my space with death breath. They did their funky Angel crap on him to cover it up.”
The Powers’ armor transformed back into their street clothes, and they took a step back while moving closer together.
The Lordship laughed merrily as she pried my fingers apart. My fingers burned with her Angelic light and I could smell the brimstone we demons carried spilling from the scorched flesh. Hellfire has nothing on Angelic light these days.
She backed up from me, swinging her arms back and forth, mocking us. “Oopsy daisy. I guess Hell-spawn are unable to multi-task. I’ll give you this one for free because you’re good people. Our boss quit around a century and a half ago. He really gave up caring about this so why should we. But keep up the good work on that whole serve and protect thing. You’re doing great.”
She and the Powers winked out before us, leaving behind that mint smell.
“Why do they have to leave an area smelling like a damned Orbit factory. I hate it.”
“That’s all you can say?” I was beyond incredulous. “She just admitted that God’s gone. Judas! Have we been lied to this whole time?” I holstered my pistol, and rubbed my left hand. The blistering was disappearing, but the burning felt like it was rooted in my bones. I rushed back to Mr. Wentworth only to find that Roy wasn’t mistaken. Mr. Wentworth was not only dead, but looked…younger. Leave it to Angels to restore some youth to someone they murdered.
“Penn,” said Roy, putting his hand on my shoulder. I shrugged him off. “Penn, seriously, listen. You had to have heard the rumors.”
“Yeah, but mostly from humans! I heard the majority of the God was dead or God’s given up BS from them. I’ve even heard it from Mammon and Belial to the Pythius of Lucifer’s throne. But to hear it from them?” I motioned to wear the Angels had been. I couldn’t believe it. Lucifer is the Prince of Lies, but this was too much even for me.
“Sorry, Penn. I had a feeling one of those was true. Now, it’s confirmed, and somewhere along the way, we became something we were never meant to be.”
I didn’t have a response to that. In the distance I heard the sirens of responding units and an ambulance. Help sure as Hell wasn’t on the way for us.