Whats in a Name
D M Roberts Copyright © 2022 D M Roberts All rights reserved
The house was warmer than it had been of late, the day had been a hot one that had aided the alcohol in Brian’s system. He had not looked at the notepad once today. He meant to try and put things together, somehow the invitation from Neil seemed far more appealing. He began the descent up to bed. From behind the door, he could hear that sound again, he stopped, his ear getting closer to the wood as he tried to hear what was being said in his bedroom. The voices, as there were 2 of them, were talking about his notepad.
“We cannot take it, you know as well as I that we cannot transfer items to the beyond. There is also the matter that he would simply write it out again. Have you considered that?”
“Can we not erase his memory? Surely that is permissible under the circumstances?”
“Ludicrous idea, we cannot intervene in this way. Why, it goes against all of our values.”
“Difficult times call for difficult measures, do you not agree?”
“Not in this case. We have a duty to uphold His rules.”
“I am not denying this, still, if it all comes down around our ears, He will want to know why.”
Brian pushed the door open slowly, through the crack he could see the 2 figures clearly. He rubbed his eyes, it was so bright in there. He must be dreaming, what had he been drinking? If he didn’t know any better he would swear he could see 2 Angels standing next to his bed. The door creaked as he lost his grip on the handle.
The figures turned toward him, their faces shrouded in the bright light that encased their frames.
“We did not hear you return, come in Brian.”
Walking slowly into the room, Brian could not take his eyes off the pair.
“Sit, please. We have a bit of a situation here, do we not?”
The man sat on the edge of the bed.
“Who are you?” That was all he could manage to say.
“We are, well I suppose you would refer to us as Angels here on Earth. Celestial Beings as such.”
“But you can’t be, I’m dreaming, I must be dreaming. Yes, that’s it, in a minute I’m going to wake up and you won’t be here.”
“Ah, but we will. We are real Brian. Tell me, do you believe, Brian?”
“Believe in what?”
The 2 figures glanced at each other. Surely he could grasp what they were talking about. They knew that many on the planet had lost their faith but everyone knew what the question meant?
“In Him, Brian. Do you believe in Him?” The figure pointed upward.
“God? You’re talking about God, right?”
“If that is how you refer to Him, then yes, God. Do you believe in God, Brian?”
Brian ran his fingers through his hair, this was not happening. Wake up, wake up now!
“Well do you, Brian?”
“Of course I do, who doesn’t? I mean, some say they don’t and that’s fine, they still call out for him so they must still think he’s there, I guess.”
“Good answer. Then you believe in Celestial Being’s, they go hand in hand don’t they?”
“I suppose so, I don’t think I’ve given it that much thought. What do you want with me?”
“You witnessed a mistake, Brian. Our fault entirely, it has to be said, a mistake, nonetheless. Why are you so insistent on going over the pages that you saw? We know you saw them, we know you committed them to memory. It will only lead to trouble if you continue to pursue it.”
“I need to know what it means.”
“You do not. It is no concern of yours.” Replied the second figure, he had remained quiet for the most part.
“I can’t unsee it, that’s the truth of it.” Brian clasped his hands together as he stared down at the floor.
“But you must. These things are bigger than you, bigger than us. They are part of a carefully laid plan and you must not interfere.”
“What plan? He has no plan. You only have to look around to see that. Once, maybe, not now.”
“You are quite wrong. There is always a plan, it may not be to everyone’s liking but there is always a plan, Brian.”
Brian shook his head. Where was this great plan when his wife left him? No, where was the plan when his parents were killed? Nowhere, that’s where.
“Will you agree to leave this alone, Brian?”
“There is nothing to leave alone, I wasn’t going to do anything with it, who would believe me anyway?”
“Quite right, they would think you mad. Look at the great Son, what happened there is a lesson to you. People do not want to hear what you have to say.” The second figure was getting annoyed with the man, he had no right to poke his nose into matters that were beyond his fathoming.
“We can trust you with this?”
Brian nodded, he knew in his mind that he wasn’t going to leave it there but they did not.
“Yes, think no more of it.”
Darkness descended on the room, they had gone leaving Brian alone with his thoughts. He switched on the television as he settled back against the pillows. The tail end of the local news was wrapping up. The newscaster was talking about a freak accident in Montana.
“Mr Lance Prendergast was a well-liked member of the Livingston community and close friends say they are shocked at the news of his sudden death.”
Why was that name familiar? He must have heard it earlier in the bar, perhaps. Time was marching on, if he had any hope of getting himself up in the morning he must switch off the T.V and get some sleep. Dragging himself to the bathroom his mind turned to his friend, Neil. It irked him that he had ignored the man for so long, it wasn’t in his nature that was for sure. Brushing his teeth he stopped suddenly as the names flashed in his head.
“Bloody hell.” His voice rang out in the quiet house. Throwing the brush into the sink he ran into the bedroom, picked up the notepad and scanned it. There it was, as clear as day! How had he not known this? On the page he had written, Lance Prendergast – Livingston, Montana – DEBACLE
“Bloody hell, Oh Lord!” Brian began to panic, he sat on the edge of the bed staring at the page.
There was another name from the same area, what should he do now? Could he warn them? What would he be warning them against, he wasn’t quite sure but he knew he had to do something. The town was Polson, also in Montana, the name quite obviously a woman. He grabbed the phone directory from the floor then tossed it back down, that would be of no use as he wasn’t even in the same state.
“Well, there’s nothing I can do tonight.” Resigning himself to that fact he climbed into bed once more for a restless night’s sleep.
“He is not going to leave it alone, you know that as well as I do. We have to do something, we have this course of action in place for a reason. You know I am right?”
The figure paced back and forth, he had to think.
“Are you listening to me? I said we have to do something.”
“Yes, yes I am well aware of that. Be quiet while I think.”
“We are wasting far too much time on this human, this should have been dealt with at the time of the incident.”
“If you had not misheard we would not be in this mess.”
“I hardly think that this is the time for blame. We need to deal with this as soon as we can.”
They made their way into the hall, there were many beings of the same dress gathered there as they took their place at the back, still whispering to each other. It was a bright hall that appeared to have no walls, ceiling, or floor. To an outsider, it would appear they were suspended in mid-air. The room fell quiet as a smaller being entered. They were not called to the great room often, only in exceptional circumstances.
The quiet was deafening as the beings waited for the figure to speak.
“It would seem we have a glitch. It is not unheard of, I grant you that, there have been 1 or 2 over the millenniums. Our focus now would be to rectify this glitch. The Almighty hears all, he sees all. It would serve you well to remember this when your time comes for your interview. I should stress that this is a very serious matter, should any here amongst us wish to come forward I urge you to do so now, rather than later.” His voice did not match his stature, it boomed out across the room causing the gowns that they wore to vibrate.
“They know!” Hissed the figure.
“Not possible, we have been careful.”
“Did one of you want to say something?” Came the booming voice.
The figures went quiet again.
“I shall wait here should any of you wish to come to me privately. Think about it carefully.”
The room began to empty amid whispering from the hordes of beings that had occupied it.
“What do we do?”
“We do nothing. It could be that it’s nothing to do with our dilemma, to offer ourselves up without knowing this would be folly.”
“Azrael, you understand the consequences if we are found out? They will be dire.”
“I understand fully, Dumah. I feel we need to give this being time to prove himself.”
The voice interrupted their whispering.
“Dumah, Azrael, you have a mind to speak with me?”
“No, St Peter, we have no mind to speak with you regarding the matter.”
“As you wish.” The small figure walked away, his head shaking as he did so.
“Now you have done it! You have sealed our fate without so much as a consultation.” Dumah hissed as he pushed past the figure.
Brian woke early that next morning, he showered and changed his dressing then headed downstairs. His home was lacking in niceties, he knew this. Since the divorce, Martha had slowly but surely stripped it of furniture and pictures. He began tidying away newspapers and coffee mugs before the arrival of the solicitor. There, that was marginally better, he thought as he sat at the breakfast bar. He ate a breakfast of muesli and fruit as he had done for many years. The smell of the coffee reminded him that he must make an effort to go into the coffee shop and thank the waitress for her kind note.
He had barely finished washing the dishes up when the bell rang. It was earlier than expected, at least half an hour to be precise.
“Morning buddy, you did remember that I was popping around?” Said Neil as he stepped into the hallway. Of course, they had arranged it the day before.
“Come in, help yourself to coffee. It’s just made, he should be here in 30 minutes or so.”
Neil whistled as he walked through to the kitchen.
“She sure did a number on you! I didn’t realise that she had left you with so little. Linda mentioned that she had taken a few personal belongings but this! This is more like a burglary. Why did you give it over so easily buddy?”
Brian shook his head, Neil hadn’t been around since the split and had seen the house fuller in previous years than it was now.
“Seemed easier at the time, coupled with the fact that she had me believe it was down to me. It’s only things pal, things that we none of us need.”
“It’s a disgrace and now I hear she wants your house.”
“She has the house, it was decided by the time I received the letter to inform me.”
Neil was speechless, he sat at the breakfast bar nursing his coffee mug.
“Take it back to the courts! You can tell them that in light of the new information regarding her adultery you want it looked at again.”
“I couldn’t afford to is the truth, she’s cleared out the bank accounts and has full ownership of the company that I built, I don’t have a leg to stand on if you look at it on paper. We had the company transferred to her name years ago as a tax dodge of sorts, her idea, naturally. Tell me, Neil, am I so gullible?”
Neil stared at his friend, what could he say?
“You trusted your wife of 22 years buddy, that’s not gullible, that’s marriage.”
The solicitor arrived bang on 11, he was younger than they expected but then everyone was getting younger in their professions these days, or maybe they were simply getting older.
“Good morning Mr. Felling. So good to see you up and about. Shocking what happened but you look well. Shall we get down to it?”
“Thank you, good morning. This is my Neil, I thought it a good idea to have him here in case I miss anything you say.”
“Not an issue, in fact, we recommend it. Now, I have spoken at length with the Bradigan company legal team and they are willing to make you an offer. It does not, however, mean that you are obliged to accept it. We tend to disregard the first offer in cases such as this, although I will say, it is quite a substantial one. After going over the emergency services reports they know without a doubt that they will never win this in court, plus, they have a reputation to uphold. Here is the offer they have put forward, now, this also covers any long term problems that may show themselves in the long term, health-wise. They have already paid the hospital costs which is good form on their part. We usually have to drag companies kicking and screaming to get this initial cost out of the way. I would say that you are a very fortunate man to have been involved with this particular firm Mr Felling.” He coughed with embarrassment at his last statement.
“That is to say, had you been injured by certain other parties the outcome may not have been as plain sailing as this.”
Brian smiled, he had understood what the man was getting at.
“Do you think they have offered a fair settlement?” Neil asked.
“Take a look for yourself.” The solicitor pushed the piece of paper toward Neil.
“CHRIST!” was Neil’s shocked reply.
Brian daren’t look, if Neil’s reaction was anything to go by it was either a pittance or a fortune.
“You were expecting more?” Inquired the suited young man.
“No, no, not at all. It’s a bloody king’s ransom, Brian. Look!”
Brian pulled the paper nervously toward him as the man continued.
“As I said, we don’t have to accept this, mighty generous in my mind, but you did suffer an enormous trauma.”
Brian looked down at the figure, he could feel his heart beginning to race, beads of sweat began forming on his brow as he struggled to comprehend what he was reading.