Part IX The Gathering
Mosi’s command had been supernaturally loud, and it spread from the tiny bathroom, through the house and into the neighborhood in shimmering concentric rings that rattled the walls and shook dust from the ceiling. The angel froze and car alarms sounded over the ringing in Beaver’s ears. In quick succession there was a loud thump accompanied by a yelp of pain from Mandi’s room followed by a crash on the porch. Beaver and Mosi, now just a big tomcat again, made for Mandi’s room and the angel, after a last burning look into the mirror, spun on her heel and strode toward the front porch.
Have you ever been shot from a cannon? Neither have I. I heard about a little girl being fired from a cannon over in England somewhere the year before I died, but I don’t think it was much like what happened to me when Ms. Woodward sent me flying a hundred and fifty years into the future and seven hundred and fifty miles west. The queer thing about it is, it only seems to have taken a minute. A hell of a minute though. I landed hard against a wooden wall after crashing through some flimsy railing and knocking over a couple of chairs hard enough to bounce me back over the side of the porch and into the yard fronting the house I had just hit. All around me I heard some kind of rhythmic chiming, and a quick look up and down a mighty strange looking road showed even stranger looking people in outlandish clothes stepping onto their porches and into their yards, and they were all looking at me. I hoped that my new career wasn’t going to involve a lot of that kind of travel.
The squall of a screen door turned me around and standing in the doorway of the house I had crashed into was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen; and she was. practically naked! The feelings that I was having alarmed me, and shame swept through me. Before I could avert my face I took in a wealth of silver blonde hair framing a face like none I had ever seen, and a wicked looking sword hanging from the belt of the only garment she wore, which was an indecently short shift of some kind that I noticed ended well above her perfect knees. “Orrin Rockwell I presume?” She asked in dulcet tones. “I’m your partner Zina”I knew of course, that I would get a partner. Every guardian angel gets a partner after all. It really was too bad that Joseph Smith was killed so young, because Brigham Young had been the right man to lead the saints west, but he was deaf and blind to magic, which meant that Moroni could not visit him to finish out the path to the creator. This meant that, like the Israelites, the children of Joseph would enter their promised land with no map to heaven. It meant that faith would have to suffice, and by the time Joseph died, the people of earth had entered a time of unbelieving just as Joseph had prophesied. Since man had replaced magic with something called science, faith was in short supply. If man cannot touch it with his senses it does not exist for him.
Moroni, an angel with a sense of humor, calls it evil with benefits. Since the pathway to the celestial universe is incomplete, the saints must complete a partnership that is really an internship so that they may finish their journey; Moroni calls it the Mormon Purgatory. The shade who stood before me was, however, not one I expected to ever see. Red faced, looking at the tops of his boots, and practically enveloped in a long duster was Orrin Porter Rockwell, a man who was practically made of faith.
“Uh, ma’am” he began; “Zina, Please.” “Porter for me please” he said still gazing fixedly at his feet. His hair was long, as was his beard. Having been advised that bullet nor blade made by man might harm him as long as he did not cut either, he had been faithful in cutting neither his hair or his beard. Handsome in the way that strong men are, he looked like a school boy caught at looking at a particularly well turned ankle. The sound of car alarms, and the distant sounds of sirens drew me into the present. “Look, Porter, we have a lot to do, and practically no time to get it done, so could we just go inside now and get to it?” I’ll say one thing for the faithful, they don’t dither. Still gazing with fearful intensity at his feet Porter came up the steps as I hastily hid the damaged porch rail and straitened the porch as best as possible. We made it inside before the first police cars arrived.
Standing in nothing, surrounded by nothing, I felt defined by the nothingness. I felt a surreal kind of despair that I knew I could not be feeling, because despair is something, and I was nothing. Was this what death felt like? With no point of reference I had lost my sense of time, my sense of place, so why didn’t I lose my sense of person? Slowly it dawned on me that the reason for my awareness was that I wasn’t nothing. Someone out there believed in me, and knew I was here. That was when I discovered calm. Growing up through the soles of my
feet like a beautiful flower through my body the calm changed me profoundly. It was not the kind of calm you feel in a hot tub, alone in the house, or the kind you feel when you are taking a nap, but the kind of calm you might imagine a
mountain could feel as the millennia pass by as every other thing God has made comes and goes, and the cycle of life repeats over and over throughout time itself. The moment the calm had filled me to overflowing, a wall of sound shook and the shattered the nothingness around me and I was falling.
When Mandi had was given her adult name at the Jump Dance during her naming trail, she received the name Asdza joogaal kingoo, or woman that walks on stones; at least that is as close as you can get to it in the white way of speaking. This is because she always chose the hardest path. It is true that Mandi walks the most difficult of paths, but as wisdom teaches us, that is the least likely place to find an enemy in waiting. I knew that my granddaughter had made a terrible enemy in the naaldlooshii, and I was terrified when I heard the disturbance in the house. I had barely taken in the scene in the bathroom when I heard Mandi cry out in pain, and heard a sound like someone falling onto the floor and landing badly. Entering her room cautiously; and a quick look around showed Mandi sprawled on the floor with some redness on her knees and elbows that would without a doubt bruise shortly. The girl looked dazed, but appeared otherwise unhurt. Mosi came bounding past my legs, sniffing the air loudly after a swift, catlike examination of Mandi, he sat before her gazing solemnly at the scorched rectangle of wallboard where Mandi’s Angel in a snowstorm had been. When Mandi’s eyes focused she found herself looking into Mosi’s eyes. “The time draws near.” He said. Rising to her feet and gathering her robe around her Mandi shivered. “The time for what?” She asked.
The screen door emitted it’s signal that we had company followed by the sound of the front door closing, and I decided to rethink my notion of oiling the spring; the darned thing made a pretty good alarm. The thought drew my attention to the car alarms and the sound of more sirens in the distance. It may have been mentioned that Mandi’s house is pretty small, so a couple of quick steps brought us into the living room, where the beautiful woman was leading an honest to God old time gunslinger type into the house. He was a short man, wearing a long duster with boots, and his hair and beard looked as if they had never been cut. But it wasn’t his garb or his hair that announced his true nature, but rather the way he carried himself with supernatural grace, and his washed out blue eyes that saw constantly roved, seeming to see at and through everything at the same time that announced him as a man of violence. You didn’t have to see the gun he carried under his duster to know it was there, and that it was as familiar to him as the hand that used it. As his eyes alighted on Mandi, they immediately went to the ceiling, his face turning pink. “Heavenly Father! Don’t any women in these parts wear clothes?” Mandi looked confused. Mosi looked…well, like a cat; bored and patronizing at the same time. The woman with the sword wore an expression of impatience, and I don’t know what my own face looked like, but I’m pretty sure it was just hanging there.
Mosi broke the awkward silence that followed,during which I noticed that the sirens had stopped, as had most of the car alarms. “We have a couple of minutes here, so let’s not waste them.” Said the cat. This brought Porters eyes down from the ceiling and caused them to protrude in a way I would have bet my medicine bag they never had before. Before he could get his mouth working Mosi said, “Beaver, Mandi, meet Zina and Porter. Zina is your guardian angel, and Porter is…well let’s say for now that he’s extra muscle. Mandi, get dressed. Now. Then come out on the porch. Porter, you and Beaver go out to the porch and look around like the neighbors are. Look confused and curious. Zina, make yourself scarce.” Porter turned toward the front door in a daze. As he did I saw Zina shimmer out of existence. I had one brief moment to wonder where she went when loud steps sounded on the porch and then there was a loud pounding on the front door.The Butcher Shop