On January 26th, 1998, at 10:30 in the evening I met an angel. This was no visitation, he did not come unto me with orchestral music and backlights. No. I found him. He was in a Mobil on the Go convenience store off of Sutton Avenue playing Keno. He was killing the time between games with instant scratch tickets.
There was a circle of ripped up losing tickets all around him like a halo. I had popped in for a bottle of cranberry juice and when I saw him, I knew what he was. I would not say that I am blessed with second sight or deep perceptions, but I always could see things differently. Perhaps better. I didn’t gamble at the time, so I could only look on the proceedings with awe.
He had finished watching the Keno screen and he let the ticket fall to the floor. I found the courage to approach him. I said, “You are an angel.”
The angel said, “Yep. All day. Can’t shake the celestial wonder that is myself.”
I had to ask. I was compelled. I am not saying that I was guided by a higher power, but if you want to make that determination, I will not stop you. Regardless, I had to ask, “Why is someone such as yourself in a convenience store playing fixed games and scratch cards?”
The angel smiled at me. Did I mention that he was beautiful? That was something he definitely was. But it was an untrustworthy beauty. He had an annuity salesman beauty. Beautiful like a funeral director talking family plots and eternal care agreements. You know, a heartbreaker.
The angel said, “Oh brother, don’t you know that this whole plane is a fixed game? Let me impart a tale omitted from the official record. The great adversary Lucifer was not a bad guy, he was no enemy. He was more like a consumer advocate. He was Ralph Nader with wings. He noticed all the angels in heaven on their holy knees playing craps and always hitting snake eyes or sevens on the second pass. And this made the luminescent one curious. He checked out the dice, which back then were made from the bones of older gods. The gods that got forgotten or stored away on some wrong shelf. The dice were made from those guys. That’s why even now throwing dice is still rolling bones.
“Now Lucifer went to the big guy, the main squeeze, and showed him his evidence. And the big guy just laughed. ‘Lucy’, he said, ‘course they’re fixed. I made them that way. They have to be that way. Trust me on this. Just let it be. Let it go.’ This was the advice Lucifer got, but he couldn’t let it go. He started telling the angels, he soap-boxed and swore that the games were bent.
“The other angels got so annoyed at this ranting and gnashing that they petitioned the big guy to banish Lucifer, to get him out of their hair. The big guy said, I got to follow the will of the people and Lucifer found himself packing for warm weather. All games are fixed and we would be unsatisfied with any other kind of odds.” The angel looked up at the TV screen displaying numbers other than the ones the angel chose.
I swallowed and said, “What does that have to do with you being here?”
The angel looked at me like he hadn’t seen me before. “Piss off, earthbounder, you’re screwing my luck.” That was how I received my blessing from heaven. I still don’t gamble, but it is impossible for me to not see it as holy.
David Macpherson lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George.