A Guardian Angel And The Bucket

Richard K. Walker

© Copyright 2004 by Richard K. Walker  

Photo of a rusty bucket.

It was one of those mornings when the world opened one sleepy eye, only to find that God was in a bit of a temper.

Rain poured from the sky in great iron sheets. The wind howled around the chimney tops and even the birds took refuge in the thick dark forks among the lower branches of the big old oaks that surrounded the Holy Church. They clung there terrified for their lives and Holy Michael was still in bed.

I was furious. It was difficult enough being a Guardian Angel, but why did I have to be assigned to someone like Holy Michael? I had asked God, only last week, when He suddenly decided to demand a full-scale Marching Parade of His soldiers on Black Wednesday. He gets so upset on Wednesdays these days, all because an American Evangelist claims all of His time, during a six month long, mid week crusade to save Mankind. All I got for a reply was an irritable "Stand still in the Ranks there!"

Fundamentally, I knew that my situation was my own entire fault. I should have taken my retraining programme more seriously, but after being on old-fashioned assignments for well over 1000 years, it is hard to re-align oneself, just because Heaven is being Down Sized.

I should, on reflection, never have encouraged the ardent feminist to punch that fat man in a turban. Not right outside the Commission for Racial Equality's main office. Neither should I have refused to attend the annual dinner of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Get Out Group, not in such a churlish manner. They were very cross with me in Heaven and assigned me to oversee the fag end of Holy Michael's earthly existence. They thought that I could hardly mess this job up, since it was such a hopeless case.

I managed to incite the cat next door to perform a screeching howl. This did the trick and Holy Michael shot out of bed. He looked at his old Japanese alarm clock on the bedside table.

"Sod it! I'm late for the blooming Harvest Festival." He said.

I floated in the air at the bottom of his bed. I looked at him contemptuously. He should have thought about the Harvest Festival Service last night. No one in Heaven could blame me. I had done my best with the common clay to hand. At the Harvest Supper, on Friday night, I had finally persuaded a heavy looking woman, in her late fifties, to see some of the good in him.

I am sorry for Holy Michael. He is not a bad chap at heart, even if he is addicted to the Holy Church. He spends all Sunday rushing back and forth for a bite to eat between services. His trouble is that he gets lonely for female company and he is very shy.

Oh, in the last couple of years I have done my bit. He has had the attention of three ladies from the Holy Church, thanks to me. I have no control, however, over the fact that sometime last week, all three ladies decided to give him succour. I was unfairly accused, Up Above, of playing a practical joke on him, when they all three turned up at once with a fresh baked cake on a plate. If some Celestial people insist on giving Mortals free will, what else can they expect? I denied emphatically that this absurd situation had anything to do with my retraining course. I had told them all that the modern idea of four in a bed was not my scene.

Friday night and the Harvest Supper was a success for my holy charge. He left, happy and well fed, in the company of the heavy lady. I rejoiced for him, even though the lady in question had a corseted bosom that looked as though someone had fitted the twin headlamps from a Harley Davidson motor cycle on, back to front, after a long tea break on a wet Friday late shift, slaving at the Celestial Body Factory. Only God knew where the correct equipment might be now and He was not telling and He should never have allowed such revelry to take place, because of this curiosity, so late on Friday night, but I knew that my Holy charge loved such excess. Holy Michael rushed down the stairs and frantically pulled tins of baked beans and jars of jam out of the cupboard in the kitchen. I left him to it and looked out of the window at the rain. Oddly, though the rain was at fire hose strength over most of the village, the Baptist Church was illuminated by a shaft of golden sunlight. This made me rather cross. God, in His old age, was having favorites. He was even said to like Woman Priests.

A loud crash came from the kitchen. "Bloody Hell!" Michael roared.

I floated downstairs. There was Holy Michael sitting on the floor, trying to patch up a Sainsbury's box with masking tape. Tins of beans rolled about on the floor and one jar of jam had broken, leaving a slimy lump that clung to Michael's well-polished shoe.

I thought that it was more than time to show Harley Davidson a picture of my charge in his true colours. I activated the phemerone button on my Celestial Behavioural Psychology Ghetto Blaster.

That would, at least, let him climb down from the impossibly high pedestal that the women of the church had placed him upon. Sadly, I was too late. Harley Davidson was walking up to Michael's front door and my charge had seen fit, in desperation, to thrust all his harvest offerings into the rusting iron bucket that he used when he cleaned his car. It was at least thirty years old. At her ring on the doorbell he whipped the bucket and its contents into a smart carrier bag from British Home Stores.

"Hello Evangeline. Do come in. Would you like a coffee before the service? It would be no trouble." My holy charge was showing signs of becoming flustered.

"Oh no. I couldn't trouble you Michael. Perhaps afterward though. We'll have it before I take you to lunch," Harley Davidson said, sudden love making her oily sweet.

I left them to it and floated off to the Holy Church. I was gravely concerned about how I might contrive to have Holy Michael deliver his offering in something other than a bucket.

As soon as I got there, I wished that I had not bothered to come; yet Duty is everything in my job. The Holy Church was packed out. This puzzled me until I remembered that The Reverend Dave the Rave was going to try out his new, politically correct form of worship for the very first time. The congregation was breathless to find out if this method really would be able to "catch some Dumbo and turn it into a Christian", as the Bishop of Luton had implied at a meeting of the Church Synod.

It all looked like a pantomime to me. Dave the Rave was up the front. His vestments were tucked into his ragged jeans. He carried a guitar and fiddled with the controls of a 100-watt amplifier.

The woman Chaplin to Sainsburys was on a ladder at the back end. She was displaying fine long legs, covered in saucy black lace stockings. Father O'Rierdon was in the middle. He was deputising for the Pope. He stood on a plank, placed across two aluminium beer barrels. He swung an incense burner at the four corners of the church with the vigorous panache of long and holy years.

I was fed up with the lot of it. All this bull and blether nowadays. Why they couldn't just get on with it quietly, I could not fathom. I new that God was unimpressed by all these contranklements, but He never said anything. Holy Michael came in with his new woman friend. They sat sweetly side by side, just over from Father O'Rierdon. They sang every hymn joyfully, yet I could see that Holy Michael was ill at ease and not just allergic to the acrid smoke of incense.

I could do nothing. I could not even get an impish choirboy to steal the bucket in the British Home Stores bag. Holy Michael kept it clamped firmly between his legs, which trembled slightly. He was sweating profusely.

I floated in the air, wondering how I could save all my good work of the Friday harvest supper. It is very difficult to get a man of 64 new women every few months, especially when his only fishing ground is the Holy Church. Then Dave the Rave decided to cook bacon and eggs on an old oak table in the centre of the church. He lit a portable gas burner, connected to a lumpy gas bottle and heated a battered frying pan. He was urged on and into stupidity by the bright little girl, who had taken a year out from university and thrown herself into the church.

All too soon the smell of cooking bacon filled the air. Fried bread was added to the mouth-watering aroma and then the whole lot was wolfed down by the bright little girl, who smacked her lips in ecstasy. This was supposed to make the faithful experience hunger and thus praise God for all His bounty that had been harvested.

What a lot of old baloney. Most of the bounty had been harvested at Sainsburys supermarket and all the cooking of bacon, eggs and fried bread could achieve was the furious onset of quarrels between husband and wife over the willful refusal of most spouses to cook breakfast, especially on a Sunday.

The Chaplin to Sainsburys suddenly screeched, in cultured tones, that all must pray before coming to the altar and Dave the Rave, with their offerings. She went on to state that these offerings would be taken to the poor and the old after the service.

I shot about in temper. I put several candles out and made the dust of several centuries fall from the rafters. Why the silly woman could not have organised Sainsburys management into delivering direct and thereby save everyone all this trouble, I could not begin to understand.

Alas, in my fury, I had forgotten Holy Michael. He reluctantly approached Dave the Rave with his British Home Stores bag. Dave took the bucket from the bag. He smiled sadly at my holy charge and made the sign of the cross over the rusty relic. With bowed head, Michael returned to his pew followed by Harley Davidson. He had no hope now, not after presenting the church with a rusty old bucket. God would find it acceptable and full of good things, but the congregation murmured in quiet condemnation. He sat down heavily beside his new hope of love and washed socks.

"Oh Michael, you are wonderful. How clever of you to infuse today's harvest festival with last century's elegance and simplicity." She patted his arm devotedly.

I was happy. I was thinking of taking the rest of the day off and going to visit a quiet little blonde angel that I had not seen for a couple of centuries. She was back in my sector now. I looked down at my charge. The church was empty except for himself and Harley Davidson.

"I think that you are quite beautiful," Holy Michael said.

"Am I beautiful enough to kiss, Michael?"

"Oh yes, Oh yes," Holy Michael was pushing his luck.

"Then kiss me in the church porch like all lovers do on our way home."

I did not stop to watch. They made me sick. All this soppy nonsense was sure to come to a bad end. I flew off to my comfortable armchair in the town's mortuary for a rest. All thoughts of the little blonde angel had withered like a ripe plumb left for the Devil's frosty fingers. I was too full to eat.

Best wishes,

Contact Richard

(Messages are forwarded by The Preservation Foundation.
So, when you write to an author, please type his/her name
in the subject line of the message.)

Richard's Story List and Biography

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher