Short Story: The Angels Take a Vacation: Part II
Mark found himself aboard a vessel in the middle of some sea. He looked above and the sun still held an indecisive position in the sky. He looked around the ship, noticing it was a sailing vessel. The sails were unfurled, catching the wind. The sea was still and Mark could not feel the motion of the vessel.
He quickly scanned his clothing. A white robe adorned his body. Sandals were now on his feet when he knew he was wearing boots earlier. He reached up to touch his dirty curls, brushing new rich bouncy ones. A transformation had occurred, and Mark was left befuddled.
Around him, men and women were hurrying. They were repositioning chairs across the deck. They were talking about dinner. Various groups were discussing the last group of people they picked up. They all seemed happy with their work. They all wore robes of different colors. Mark decided the robes denoted status on the ship.
One young pleasant girl literally glided up beside Mark, wearing a light blue robe. She couldn’t have been over twenty. Her perfectly curved face glowed with the light of eternal peace. She spoke in musical tones, “Hello, Captain Mark. We knew you were coming. The boss said so. I’m your First Officer, Jubilee.”
Mark was beginning to regain his composure. He stood up straight after slouching with the weight of realizing he was very far from the coast he knew, far from Raleigh where his wife and child lived. He still had trouble speaking. But he needed answers.
“Where am I?” Mark sputtered, “Why am I here?”
“Captain Mark,” Jubilee went on, “that’s a common question. My common answer is for you to think about it, and you should “feel” about it. I can’t tell you why you are here, sir. However, I will tell you we have to pick up the next passengers and get them to their destination. Do you want me to plot a course and order the trip to be underway?”
Mark understood transportation and getting people to places on time. Cabs were like ships in that way. Something or someone had to be moved from one place or another. He said with confidence, “Yes, begin the trip.”
She motioned agreement and barked out the order as she walked away.
They sailed along a shoreline of some river which was beautiful with plants of all species and animals waving and speaking as the ship went pass. Mark was stunned with the precision of the crew in maneuvering the craft through the waters. Jubilee told him they really didn’t have to do much. The ship knew where to go. She also said her station on the vessel was a temporary assignment. She just wanted to be in the water, but she needed to get back to her main duty, guiding souls home. She had permission from the Admiral of the fleet to return to her regular duties after this trip.
They pulled into a harbor. One of the crew, a young man, dressed in a yellow robe, greeted the passengers. He directed them to their seats, and the ship began its trip. They dropped one group at a gate which was beautifully lit, gold, emeralds, sapphires, and rubies were all along the gate as the passengers disembarked. Mark asked Jubilee, “These people are going to Heaven?”
She responded, “I don’t know. I just know they are going to be looked at based on their longings and their requirements.” He got a similar response when he asked about the next destination, a simple wooden gate into the port. Jubilee said, “It’s all about whether they did what they were supposed to, Captain Mark. Did they confuse what was best for them with what was best for others and their soul? I can’t be more precise than that, sir.”
Mark soon discovered along the shore things were never as they appeared. People seemed to materialize and vanish while walking the banks. Other beings were in orb shape, sailing through the air on either side of the waterway. The enormous wooden ship moved silently passed these figures and never stopped to pick them up. Mark asked Jubilee, “Why are they there?”
She was sad in her response, “Their ambitions and goals kept them attached to things which they could not bring with them, Captain. Now, they can’t go with us.”
In his mind, Mark saw cars, houses, and other luxuries. He also knew Jubilee was sending him these images. But something was wrong. He said, “These things look ancient and not lived in or used for ages. Why?”
Jubilee replied, “To those who will not let go, the material things you saw remained the same forever. It is a response of a loving universe. Damnation can be self-absorption and deforming isolation, captain."
After what seemed like months ferrying people across the great river, Mark began to feel he needed to get home. He wanted to see his son. He wanted to make sure Nicole got the necessities of life. He needed his life back. Mark didn’t fancy being a ship captain or fishing any more.
Without fanfare, Mark was back on the bench.
“Well, Captain mark. It’s o.k. to take a break. It’s not right to flee like that. Your boy needs you. Your wife loves you.” The big fellow said.
”How long was I GONE?” mark asked when he came to his senses, realizing where he was.
“Time moves differently on different planes, Mark. You were only gone three seconds.” The huge guy laughed. “But that was enough. Wasn’t it?”
“Nice crew, sir.” Mark said sincerely. He went on, “Or should I say admiral.”
The man burst into a tornado of a laugh, “Not me. I’m just a captain, Mark. I wouldn’t want the admiral’s job. That’s tough. But you see, I need to move people back and forth between places, sort of like you, that’s why I dropped by this evening. Get back to your life, mark. He grinned, “Time for me to go back to work myself. Vacation’s over for me.”
The big guy stood for a brief second, “By the way, you can call me Marvin. It’s not a fancy name, but it gets the job done. When people need me, they simply say Marvin.” He started laughing again, and sat down.
Mark nodded at Marvin. He grinned because he knew what he was dealing with now. Marvin was an angel on vacation. He took a vacation and found time to help a human in need. Marvin wanted and needed to work with a ship as well as help people.
Mark looked over at the father and son and smiled. The dad was leading his child to the car. Mark imagined they were going to eat dinner, to replenish their energy from playing in the sands. He felt renewed himself. He looked forward to seeing his only child.
Mark turned to thank the angel, but he was gone. Only an angel could rescue a person from their own self-destruction when an individual doesn’t even know it. Mark knew the tall man was an angel the minute he felt the chill down his spine because at that second, Mark had to face his own fears weighed against his desires and responsibilities.
Mark pulled out his cell phone and dialed Nicole.
“Hello, honey. I’m down at the coast.” He said, “I was wondering if you and John would like to meet and plan a vacation. I shouldn’t have left without telling you.”
To Mark’s astonishment, Nicole chuckled, “Mark, you have only been gone since this morning. I figured you were calling me because you had a very good day. Of course, honey, when you get home we will plan our vacation. I know you work so hard. I was wondering when you would take a break. See you soon. Love you. You are an angel” She hung up with a kiss.
Mark sat quiet for a long while. He concluded the heart crosses all channels, all time, and time holds no grudges. He wasn’t sure if that applied to fish. He threw his bait out one more time. It didn’t matter at this point. He was going home in a few hours.
After a few minutes, something started biting his line. He reeled it in. He tugged at the fish coming out of the water. Mark knew this time; he wouldn’t let the fish flee. He wouldn’t give up.