August 31, 2021
Wind litters the cement with lost chip bags and disposable cups. The cement makes a pathway around the stone water fountains in the city park. In the center of the fountain display, stands an angel statue looking to the sky. I follow its piercing gaze to the blanket of smog covering all the stars that should be visible at night. I look around the park and see trees littered with a different kind of “trash.” Hidden even as you walk past. I keep an eye out for staring eyes and quick movements, but I only see worn out shoes and paper thin clothes. To me, these starving people aren’t the trash we make them out to be.
Each person has a story. A story I will never know and have many ideas about. How many have left home to spend years on the streets? How did they get here? Why did they leave? How many have fought for our country and paid a terrible price? What about the kids whose homes were so bad, that outside was safer? So many questions, but one: “How are you?” We’re so afraid of those words, so afraid to speak to their dirty faces and cardboard signs.
Some people are so lost, they yell at you randomly on the street though you never said a word. Often, it’s a well dressed man that reeks of alcohol, cat-calling you in the night. He may not be living homeless in an alley, but he is just as lost. In a way, we are all lost trying to make it somewhere, where the only place we are all headed for is death. Tonight is no different. Not for anyone, not even for me.
I know it’s dangerous to walk in the park at night, but it’s where I have to work. The Big Man gives me a task and I can’t just say no because I’m scared. Believe me, I’m terrified I’ll end up like a discarded processed snack, but you can’t always fight demons at their ritzy homes. Some are out here in the dark, living off the “scraps.” I happen to care about those “scraps.” Even the ones working nine to five cheating on their wives. Everybody deserves a chance, except maybe Hitler. Chances are, he was a demon. Probably one of those good-for-nothings that couldn’t handle it. Even demons like to climb the corporate ladder.
No, murder is not the way to climb the corporate ladder – training my student apprentices can be hard; They have some of the worst ideas. Luckily, I didn’t need to bring an apprentice with me tonight, though they would have to face it soon. I don’t envy the leaders that have that responsibility. I am still too young to train them in combat and how to fight. Thank the Lord above for that! Gosh, I really need to watch what I say.
Speaking of the Big Guy, his chosen angel could use some work. I mean, you may have the power of God bestowed upon you, but you could be a little more sensitive. Was it really that hard to tell Penelope that the monster could kill you in your sleep instead of will kill you in your sleep? She hasn’t slept right in weeks and we are all paying the price for it. In training today, she almost stabbed me in the arm with that dagger, throwing it toward me like I was the practice board. Sheesh. The last thing I need is a scar from the training room, what a joke that would be. I’m already the butt of them all. I didn’t start out that way at the Cemetery. Yeah, I know it’s cliché, but it’s a great story.
I stop pacing around the trees when I hear a faint growl. I bend low and stay still. There it is again. It’s coming from a park bench, hidden beneath a set of trees. I have to walk softly, so it doesn’t hear my steps touch the grass. The growling gets louder, then a faint cry emanates from the same direction. I had better hurry.
I run without bothering to keep quiet. I reach for my iron short fork from its sheath on the side of my right leg. I shove the large animal-like shape away from the woman on the bench and plunge my fork in its chest. It screams from the reaction of iron on its bile smelling skin. Its belly begins to expand outward and I drag the lady as far away as I can just before the demon explodes into toxic goo. Its insides land everywhere, burning the grass down to the soil and tree bark to the roots. That stuff will burn your skin off.
The woman next to me screams and gets up to run away.
“Hey lady! Wait! Don’t run! I’m not going to hurt you!” I gave up yelling when she made it clear across the park center in about five seconds. She must have to run on the streets often enough to be able to go that fast. I hope she has a good hole to hide it.
I pick up my short fork and wipe it onto the ground before putting it back in its sheath. It will eat away a bit of the leather, but it beats getting caught with it out in the streets. I still had to act like a normal human being prowling out in the park in the middle of the night. You’re not allowed to walk around looking crazy. When the cops drive by, they get suspicious.
I don’t bother to clean up the nasty mess on the ground. It will disappear before morning. The sun seemed to burn the truth away at first light. Even the people looked better in the daylight.
I walk back towards the statue of the angel and give it a final once over, then shake my head. If only this angelic stone could do its job and protect these people: the lost and the lonely in the park.