Short story about heroes.
|They always joked that he was an angel because of the two identical scars on his back, right in between his pronounced shoulder blades. He laughed with them because it was supposed to be a joke and he was supposed to laugh at jokes, especially if they were told by people who were better than him. The heroes of the world. But there came a point when all the jokes in the world would not do for him and all the heroes in the world could not make him feel any more inferior. There came a point when those two scars on his back symbolized not wings, but the absence of wings.
Still he laughed because they told the joke over and over, but when he couldn’t laugh anymore, he stayed silent. Behind those two scars, behind the skin, behind the spine, was a beating heart that fluttered and throbbed in a haphazard kind of desperation. And in front of the heart was his ribs. Those ribs that stuck out whenever he would lie down at night flat on his back to look at the infuriating blankness of the ceiling in his room. And they still told the joke.
Come on, Angel Boy. Come save me from myself.
He didn’t know that they meant what they said. He didn’t know that when the heroes called him an angel it was because they needed one. Even the heroes needed someone to save them, if only from themselves. He didn’t know though, so he laughed at their joke and they slapped him on the back to show him they were still friends. Even the heroes needed saviors.
He only allowed himself to wake up in the dark now. The blinds on his windows were fused closed in that indefinite, but fixed kind of way that made him think he would never see the light again. If he went outside, the light would hurt his eyes and he would hunger for the darkness of his room. And always he hungered for a revelation. Just one moment was all it would take, but none of the moments would work anymore. In the end, all the moments were just a collection of instants when he was either happy or sad, more sad than happy most of the time.
One day they sat outside on his back porch. Some were smoking, some were drinking, some were high, but all were watching. They watched the people who walked past, always conscious of that one tortured soul that needed healing. As the night wore on and got hotter and more humid, a few of the guys took their shirts off and began waving them above their heads like the kids they were, hollering so loudly the whole neighborhood screamed at them to shut up. He sat on the porch with some of them, sweat glistening on his back and the two scars in between his shoulder blades glaring at anyone who dared joke about angels.
The heroes laughed at each other and saved each other and asked him to join them. Come on, Angel Boy. Pleading, begging, because not one of them wanted to say what all the others were thinking. We need someone to save us. But he turned his back on the heroes with a grim smile and said he would see them again the next day. Most of them were too drunk to understand, but they grinned and waved him off. See you tomorrow, Angel Boy. The scars on his back ached as he walked away, reminding him of what they were.
On the way home, he saw the bridge and dreamt of leaping off, but he was a hero. Heroes were not supposed to do that. Heroes were supposed to put other’s needs before their own. Passively he crossed the bridge and on the other side he came to an alley, masked in darkness and the cries of starving cats. In the alley stood a thief, ripping a purse away from a screaming woman whose shirt was torn down the side and whose eyes were wildly turning one way and then the other.
Upon turning to see the boy, the thief promptly dropped the purse in front of the lady again and put his hands up behind his head in surrender. He asked and begged for the angel not to punish him. He said that he was simply providing for his family. That the gun in his left hand was just to scare people. It only had one bullet and he hadn’t ever used it in the past four years. He trembled and fell to the floor before the angel. The two scars on his back burned.
Kneeling before the thief, the angel put one hand on the man’s shoulder and stared right into his deep blue eyes. He smiled, telling the woman to leave them. Then, turning back to the thief, he gently removed the gun from his hand and told him: it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes, it will all be over soon. Wondering what that meant, the thief looked up and found the angel pointing the gun at his head. Screaming for mercy, he put his hands out in front of himself in terror. No, no, no don’t shoot me, I can change, I was just trying to help my mom, she’s sick, she can’t do anyth-
The man fell to the floor in front of the “angel” and the two scars on his back ached so much that he dropped the gun. Approaching from behind, the rest of the heroes stared in horror and begged him to say that the man had been threatening. There must have been a reason.