He was 29 and he delivered pizza for a living.
Which really shouldn’t be a problem, except that it was.
His job gave him lots of time to think about how much he hated his life.
In 3 months, he’d turn 30. A 30-year old delivery boy. That’s going to sound great on first dates, he thought to himself.
But he was a good man, right? Not really.
He told himself he’d be good when his life turned around. Of course, he never thought his life would turn around once he decided to be a good man.
Anyway, on this night, he was summoned to 23 ½ Broadway Street with a large pepperoni, 3-cheese, thin crust.
Only, there was no 23 ½. There was a 23 and a 24 – both sky high apartment complexes, stacked on top of older more elegant, albeit run-down, structures – which was typical for this part of the city.
But no 23 ½ .
Sometimes, a half-address would be crammed between the 2 older structures, but not this time.
So, he waited in the alleyway, in the dark, for something to change.
Fuck this – just get back on your bike and change your life, he thought. Disappear into the night and eat the damn pizza. Never look back.
Right. Or just stand there in the dark, feeling stupid.
It was a still night.
So very stupid.
Suddenly, there was a gentle breeze.
Without warning, the angel dropped out of the sky. He landed noiselessly before the Pizza Delivery Human, and straightened to his full height and glory.
The Angel was much taller than the Human. It made the Human feel sad and intimidated.
The angel sensed this, so he folded his wings neatly behind him, so as not to take up too much space. This was only the polite thing to do – leaving your wings unfurled when you weren’t mid-flight was a form of manspreading. Rude.
The Human wasn’t entirely sure at what he was seeing. He could maybe say something, but he didn’t. He didn’t want to sound stupid, after all. So, he stayed silent. Silent and stupid. Was the Angel looking into his soul, he wondered? Did he find one?
The Angel paused and made himself smaller, like a child trying to lure an animal in a deer pen at the zoo. The deer froze. So, the Angel went first.
“I’m twenty-three and a half,” he explained.
“Am I… am I dying?” the Human finally stammered. Is this how it happens? Is this how they come for you?
“No, Brother. You’re delivering pizza. Like you do every night. Take your money.” He revealed a stack of bills in the palm of his hand, as if enticing the tiny deer with an ice-cream cone filled with pellets.
Come on, take it, thought the Angel. He was starving. It had been a really long night for him.
The angel was almost 1,000 years old, which was pretty young for an Angel. Barely more than a teenager, in human terms.
The elder angels would freak if they saw how boldly he presented himself to human life, but he didn’t care. Times were changing.
There was an era when angels protected themselves and stayed hidden while they did their work. But now, it was no longer necessary. The humans had become resistant to thoughts of miracles or hope. And nothing could change that for them. They would have to figure out how to change themselves.
In increasing numbers, there were angels who felt that their time was over, and they had given up on the humans. This one was not there yet. He was on the precipice. He felt the humans were worth it; his love for them was true. He just didn’t know how he and they fit together anymore. He knew something needed to evolve, he just wasn’t sure what, just yet. It broke his heart, really.
The Delivery Human handed over the box.
“Could you open it for me?” asked the Angel. “I have a situation.” He turned slightly and the Human could now see that his shoulder was bloody and battered.
“Ugh, gross – what did you do?”
“Ah – guess I caught a corner on one of those new condos going up. Forgot it was there.”
“Yeah they’re building them so fast in this area.”
“It’s crazy how fast.”
“Right? And so expensive, like no one from around here is going to be able to afford them.”
The Human opened the box. The Angel had ordered a basic pepperoni and cheese. Usually kids ordered that one.
“You can set it down here.” The Angel sat on the ground with legs folded, criss-cross applesauce.
“Want some?” He was very hungry, but he didn’t forget his manners.
“Oh,” the Delivery Human was somehow caught off-guard by the Angel’s kindness. In all his years in delivery, no one had offered him a slice.
“No, thank you.”
“Are you vegan?”
“Well, you’ve been smoking all day. Aren’t you hungry?”
Okay – how did he know that?
So, the Human sat on the ground, too. And they ate for a while, peacefully.
But the Human wasn’t used to meaningful silence, so he spoke.
“This is actually not bad. I usually get the Spicy Avocado Chicken.”
“I don’t eat… bird,” shrugged the Angel.
“Oh yeah. That would… that would be strange.” Because none of this is strange right now.
More silence and more eating. The Human broke again.
“So, I need a name for the delivery order. What should I put down?”
“I don’t have a name, but you may give me one.”
“Alright, I’ll put down Charlie,” volunteered the Human.
“That’s not my name.”
“You just said – “
“The name you give me is the whisper you hear inside your head when you behold me in your thoughts without question.”
“Try harder, Human.”
The Angel sighed. Try harder. Try just a little bit. Was it too much to ask?
Nevertheless, the Angel obliged. He rose from the ground, wings gracefully stretched open. They spanned the width of the alley way.
He was beautiful. Love, light, and truth shone from him.
The Delivery Human said his name. The Angel nodded and sat back down to eat again.
They finished and the Human said he should be on his way and got on his bike.
The Angel let him go. He wouldn’t have to wipe the Human’s mind free of this encounter. No need to gaslight someone who will do it to themselves. This broke the Angel’s heart.
And sure enough, the Delivery Human went home and played 4 hours of video games until he fell asleep in an armchair and forgot about everything that transpired.
It was just pizza, after all.
Later, he’ll call it a trip, a weird dream, or maybe indigestion.
The Angel wasn’t surprised, but it saddened him nonetheless. One night, he would grow sick of the sadness and let anger take over. Then he would be like the older angels. Not tonight, though. Tonight, he was just sad.
“Why are we even here?” The Angel wondered. The humans could not believe in angels even if they sat down and ate with them.
“They don’t wish to see us.”