Fantasy Humor Satire

Teen Angels

By Tim McDaniel
Jan 1, 2019 · 3,510 words · 13 minutes

Angel Costume

Photo by 小胖 车 via Unsplash.

From the author: Gil is in the high school dumps; he just lost his girl. Then he is invited to join the biker gang, who do shocking things like discuss evolution!


            School had let out early that day for parent-teacher conferences, and so the sun was still bright and high as the kids walked home, there in the suburb of Heaven called Sweetbreath Hills.

"A whole afternoon to while away -- it sure is swell!" said Giliel.  He walked closer to Hathi and furtively brushed her hand with his.  He ached to hold it, but was afraid he would frighten her away.  He did steal a glance at her, though.

Hathi seemed preoccupied.  "I think I should get started on my homework early, Gil."  She shaded her eyes against the glare of the sunlight bouncing off the clouds beneath their feet, not meeting his eyes.

"Well, sure, Hathi.  I'll help! It'll be fun doing our homework together.  We'll show those other kids how to get A's!  Remember last month, in History, with our diorama on the Creation of the sun and moon?"

Hathi smiled, but her eyes seemed distant.  "Yeah, that was fun, Gil.  But I think I should get some work done by myself, just this one time."

Gil stopped, and Hathi stopped, too.  "Gosh, Hathi!  Is something wrong?"

Before she could answer there was a roar like a chainsaw, and around the corner swept a gang of the local motorcycle hoodlums, all in black leather, tires squealing as they pulled to a stop at the red light a block away.

Gil pulled Hathi behind him on the sidewalk.

"The Rebels!" breathed Hathi in alarm.  "What are theydoing here?"

"They'll catch it for sure, if the teachers see them," said Gil.  "I don't think a one of them has been in class all this week."

The light turned green.  The Rebels revved their engines and came towards them.  They pulled to a stop in front of the pair.

"Hey, toots," their leader said to Hathi.  He was slouched over his handlebars, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, his hair dark and slicked back.

"We don't want any trouble, Badiel," said Gil.

"You should try it sometime!" Badiel snickered.  He looked back to Hathi.  "Whatcha say, toots?  Care for a ride?"

Hathi shrunk back against Gil, and with a laugh the bikers roared off.

"What losers," said Gil.

"Yeah," Hathi said.  She watched the Rebels zoom off, her tongue tickling her lower lip.  Suddenly she turned back to Gil.  "You trying out for the football team this year, Gil?"

Gil ducked his head.  "Nah. I tried out last year, you know. I guess I'm just not big enough."

"Oh."

                                                                            

"Hi, Hathi? Hi.  You know, the All-Souls Dance is coming up next week, and I thought it would be swell if you and I could go together.  I bet you got a new dress picked out already, huh?"

"Oh, Gil, I don't know..."  The voice on the phone was distant and hesitant.  Gil lowered his voice so his Mom, in the kitchen, wouldn't overhear.

"Hathi? Is something wrong?"

"Well, it's kind of awkward, Gil.  But you see, when you didn't ask me to the dance earlier, I kind of agreed to go with someone else.  I'm just awfully sorry."

"Because I didn't ask you earlier?  But Hathi, you're my girl!"

"I'm so sorry, Gil.  I really am."

"Who's the other guy?"  Gil could hardly speak past the piece of stone in his throat.

"Dori."

"Oh." Figured.  The captain of the football team, a cleft in his chin, and a year ahead of Hathi and Gil.

"Gil, I have to go.  I'll see you around school, OK?"

"Yeah, OK."

He hung up the phone, an unfamiliar emotion burning in his gut, reaching up from inside to grab his throat.

His mom came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.

"I thought I heard voices in here," she said brightly, then noticed the look on Gil's face.  "Are you OK, honey?"  She frowned, and Gil focused on her lipstick, an unnatural red.

Gil didn't answer.  He clenched his fists and shut his mouth tightly against the pressure that threatened to erupt from inside him, and fled to his bedroom.

                                                                            

The sight of Hathi with Dori, walking hand in hand, was an agony, but Gil couldn't stop hanging around after school until they came out.  He told himself he was hoping she would come out alone, so he could offer to carry her books, but he knew that wasn't the real reason he tortured himself.  What that real reason was, though, he couldn't say.

It certainly didn't make him breathe any easier, or release the grip in his stomach.

One day after school Gil leaned against a tree, watching the school doors, waiting to see Dori escort Hathi to the bleachers so she could watch him at football practice. Gil hardly heard the roar of the motorcycles until Badiel brought his bike onto the grass and pulled up next to him.

"Enjoying the view?"

Gil cast a disdainful eye upon the Rebel leader.  "Take a hike, Badiel."

"Hey, daddy-o, I know what you're going through!  I've noticed that your sweet little cupcake has traded up."

Gil, his face suddenly red, swung to face him.  "Cut that out -- you don't talk about her that way!"  He clenched his fists.

Smiling, Badiel leaned back on his bike seat, crossing his arms.  "Well!  Maybe there is some thunder in your cloud after all, huh?  Take it easy there, kiddo.  I'm not spilling any state secrets."

Gil turned back to face the school, just in time to see Hathi and Dori come out, holding hands. Her face was turned up to look at the taller angel.  Gil clenched his teeth, and his vision became blurry.

Badiel almost whispered, "You want to show her?  Show them all?"

Gil watched the happy couple standing on the stairs of the school, talking.  Hathi was leaning forward as if she had trouble hearing; Dori leaned on the railing, smug.  Gil blinked his eyes clear.  "Oh, what are you talking about, Badiel?"

"I mean showing her what you're made of.  Making her sit up and take notice.  I know how you can do that."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Join us!"

"Oh, get out of here!  Join you at the Boys' Home?"

Badiel laughed. "Nah.  You got a home -- a soft place to sleep.  The Home, now, that's just for us bad boys.  The Old Man's charity.  You don't have to worry about that part of it.

"You can ride with us, though, if you want."

"Ride with you?"

"Yeah. We even got a bike for you -- Hasel left his bike with us when his dad put him into the military academy.  It's yours."  Badiel gestured, and one of his gang roared up on a low-slung bike, black and red.  The rider swung himself off, gave Gil a contemptuous glare, and folded his arms.

Just then Hathi turned her head.  She put a hand up to shade her eyes against the afternoon glare, and she was looking right at Gil.

Gil averted his gaze and walked over to the bike as if admiring it.

"I'll try it, I guess."  He swung himself on.  The bike felt good -- the seat long and comfortable, the handlebar grips filling his hand with power.

He adjusted the mirror, and snuck a glance towards Hathi.  Yes, she was watching him now, and so was Dori.  Gil quickly looked away.

"What now?"  He spoke without looking at Badiel.

In reply, Badiel kicked his machine into loud life.  The gang followed his example, and the street behind Gil became engorged with the sputtering thunder.  Gil attempted to kick-start his own bike.  His foot slipped, and he scraped his leg on the starter.  But he tried again, and this time his bike came to life beneath him, vibrating his teeth with suppressed potency.  Gil breathed again, after a while.

"Let's go," said Badiel.  The gang followed him as if tied to him with strings.  Gil, after a shaky start, got his bike facing the right direction, and let it pull him after them.  He was glad there were several bikes between him and the school steps; Hathi would not have seen his bumbling beginning.  He looked back, but couldn't see her.

Then he was on the street, the wind in his buzzcut, a smile beginning to form on his face.

                                                                            

The Rebels roared past the malt shop, sniggering at the kids inside.  They headed out to the highway for a while, just to enjoy the speed, the wind whistling through their wing feathers.  Then they stopped at a little dingy roadside bar, red neon and a door that hung crooked on its hinges.

Gil eyed the place uneasily.  The others swing themselves off their bikes and headed for the entrance.

"Come on, sport!" said Badiel.  "You'll like this place."

"Ah, I don't know, Badiel.  I should probably get home.  I have homework."

"Come on, Gil.  Live a little."  Badiel leaned on Gil's bike and spoke softly.  "There's girls here, you know.  And they're not nice girls, either.  They'll help you forget your little creampuff."

Gil blushed, then was angry at himself for blushing.  He kickedstarted his bike.  "I gotta go.  My folks will be worried."

Badiel slapped Gil's gas tank.  "Suit yourself, daddy-oh.  Next time."  He walked toward the bar, hitching up his leather pants.

Gil watched for a moment, then roared off.

                                                                            

He turned the engine off a block from his house, and walked his bike over behind old Mr. Theo's place; he was old and blind, scarred by the War.  He'd never notice.  Gil parked the bike behind a toolshed.

The front door banged shut behind Gil when he came home, and his mom called, "That you, honey?"

"Yeah, mom."

"It was getting a little late.  What were you doing after school?"  She came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dishrag.

"Oh, some guys got up a game of touch football."

"Ah. I thought maybe you were walking that pretty Hathiel home again."

"Nah."

"She's sure a nice girl."

Why wouldn't she stop talking about her?  "Yeah. I better get started on my homework, mom."  Gil started for the stairs.

"OK. Dinner will be about fifteen minutes. Meatloaf!  I know you love meatloaf."

                                                                            

The next morning Gil leaned against a tree across the street from school.  It wasn't rebellion -- it was embarrassment.  Hathi and Dori had certainly spread the word about what he had done; what could he say?  It was bad enough even to talk to the bikers -- he had actually ridden off with them!  His friends would be gossiping.  The principal would want to see him in his office.  Of course his parents would be told by the end of the day.

And most of all, Gil worried about what would happen when he next met Hathi in a hallway. He might confess all to her, go down on his knees and plead for her to save him from his own bad impulses.

            He couldn't face the possibility that she would refuse him again.

            He was lost.

            With a spluttering roar Badiel and his gang swept around the corner and came up behind him.

"Where's your bike, Gil?"

Gil didn't look at him.  "Left it at home."

"Better go get it, then.  We got places to go."

"Nah. I don't think so."

"You going back to school, then?"  Badiel was grinning; Gil saw him out of the corner of his eye.  "Think they'll just let you walk right back in, after riding with us?"

Girl turned to face Badiel.  "They should.  I didn't do anything!  Just rode a bike.  I didn't skip school or do anything wrong."

Badiel leaned back on his bike seat and crossed his arms.  He looked over his shoulder.  "Tarnish, take the troops out around the block a few times.  I'll catch you later."

One of the bikers nodded, and with a sputtering cough the gang was off down the street.

"'Troops,'" Gil scoffed.  "Like they were in the War or something."

"Nah. We all missed that chance, didn't we?"  Badiel took a pack of cigarettes out of a pocket and shook one loose.  "Their dads were.  In the War, I mean.  'Way back when."  He stuck the cigarette into his mouth and brought a lighter out of another pocket. He lit the cigarette, inhaled, and blew smoke just over Gil's head.  He held out the pack.  "Want one?  They love these, down on Earth."

"I heard. No, thanks."

"Suit yourself.  Yeah, their dads were in the War, most of them."

"So what? My dad was, too."

"He see combat?"

Gil looked down. "No.  He had a clerical position."

"A paper-pusher.  Yeah, OK. What side did your pops fight on?"

Gil looked Badiel in the eye.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

Badiel chuckled. "My dad, the dads of a lot of the gang, they were in the War.  Yeah. Only they were on the losing side."

"You mean they followed -- him?"

Badiel nodded.

"And now they're..." Gil pointed down.

Badiel nodded again.

"Whoa." Gil looked at the school.  He looked back at Badiel.  Gil wasn't old enough to have known any of the Cast Down. And here was the son of one of them. Badiel was untouched -- he had not been in the Rebellion.  But still, darkness was wreathed about him, an unseen, powerful threat, a low rumble like an idling bike engine.

Badiel revved his bike.

"The girls..."

"Yeah?"

"In the club you guys go to..."

"Yeah?"

"Did they, I mean are they, their fathers --"

Badiel laughed. "Nah.  Some, but not most.  The girls that hang out there, they just want a taste of the other side." He leaned towards Gil.  "And listen, kiddo.  They do more than hold hands."

Gil blushed and looked away, his mouth suddenly dry.

"Yeah," Badiel continued.  "And more than that.  They watch Earth, and get some interesting ideas.  Blow your mind."

"Like what?"  Gil could hardly hear himself.

"Like kissing.  Like touching.  And we talk about things that Pops would rather we didn't."

"Like what?"  This time, Gil just shaped the words with his mouth, making no sound.

"Like... oh, like evolution."

"We're not supposed to talk about that!"

"Right. They want to keep the whole idea hushed up, because it's a threat to their whole scene.  But people talk.  It's an idea that kind of floats around, waiting to be noticed.  A dirty little secret, but right out there in the open.

"Like when that postman and the barber started hanging out together; everyone noticed, but no one wanted to put a word on it, no one wanted to say what they were doing."

"The postman, and the guy at Blissful Cuts?  What about them?  They're just housemates."  Gil suddenly gasped.  "You mean they -- they --"

"Yeah, sure. Only no one wants to say anything, 'cause that kind of thing isn't supposed to happen, see?  Not with humans, and certainly not with angels! And the same thing with evolution. People aren't supposed to notice, or talk about it."

Gil licked his lips.

The last student scurried into the school as the final bell rang.

"I'm talking freedom," whispered Badiel.  "We go where we want, think what we want, do what we want."

"But it's not given to us to be free," said Gil.  "We're not humans.  We were created to follow, to praise, messengers and witnesses.  In school, they told us that --"

"My dad and his friends found that they could do more.  They found freedom."

The sun shone, the school sat before them on its manicured grounds, and Gil felt the grass underfoot.  But something had changed.

"But they lost," Gil said, "and now look where they are."

"Yeah. The mistake they made was trying to take on Pops directly, trying to replace Him.  But even if they had won, it would have been the same old boring scene, just with a new boss.  Our rebellion isn't political or military.  That's not our scene.  So we slip between the cracks."

"I'm not like you.  I got to get to school."

Badiel smiled. "Yeah, school.  The principal's going to want to talk to you. Then he'll call your parents.  And I guess you have classes with your sweetie, too, huh?"

Gil took a step towards school, then looked back at Badiel, his face twisted.

"The trick with school," said Badiel, "is to show up often enough so they don't expel you.  Eventually they leave you alone more and more.  Then you can do what you want."

"I don't know --"

"The bell's already rung, Gil.  Hop on back. I'll give you a ride to your bike."

And Gil hopped on.

                                                                            

"Hey, Gil."

It was Beebee, one of Hathi's friends.  She sat at an outside table at the malt shop, with some of her school friends.  Gil and the other Rebels were parked on the curb, revving their engines while they drank sodas, occasionally exchanging a straw for a cigarette.

"Hey." It was a hot day, the sun blinding on the cloudtops, but Gil kept his leather jacket on.

Beebee smiled, a knowing smile.  "What you guys been up to, huh?"

"Beebee!"  A redhead friend said, putting a hand on Beebee's arm.  "Don't talk to them."

Beebee play-slapped the arm away.  "Oh, it doesn't hurt anything, Thelina," she said.  "It's just old Gil."  She kept smiling.

Gil slouched, resting his forearms on the handlebars.  "Not much, Beebee baby," he said.  "You looking for a spin?"

"Maybe."

"Beebee!"

"Where you going to take me, Gil?  Huh?"

"A place you've never been before, sister.  Hell, I might even bring you back again afterwards."

"Did you hearthat?" Thelina asked Beebee, careful not to look at the Rebels.  "The language!  If my father ever found out I even overheardtalk like that, he'd just--"

Badiel was on his bike next to Gil.  He revved his engine.  "Can it, sister.  Every cat's gotta find his own style, dig?  No one holds down the Rebels.  We do what comes naturally."

"'Naturally'!" gasped Thelina.  "We were created to serve, not to .. to .. blaspheme!"

"Maybe you were created, sis," said Badiel.  "The Rebels, we figure we crawled out of the muck, like the people down there."

"And some, like Badiel, ain't crawled too far out of that muck," another Rebel said, laughing.

"Evolution!" Thelina looked around the table for support.  "You heard him!  He's talking about evolution!  Like animals!"  Now even Beebee was shifting in her seat, averting her gaze.

"Hey, guys," said a quiet voice.  It was Hathi, carrying a burger and a soda towards the table.  The breeze pressed a strand of hair against her cheek.  Gil's breath caught in his throat.

"We're just leaving, Hathi," said Beebee, gathering up her purse.

"Don't go, cats!" said Badiel.  "We'll be extragood, I promise."

"Hathi?"  Beebee tugged on Hathi's arm, but Hathi, her food forgotten in her hands, just looked at Gil.  Gil smirked at her.

"Hathi, come on," said Thelina.

Hathi, as if sleepwalking, put her food down on the table.  "You guys go on ahead," she said.  "I'll catch up with you later."

"Why--!"  And then even Thelina was speechless.  She tugged Beebee away with her.  Beebee managed glance behind her, her eyes wide on Gil and Badiel, her mouth open.

"Hey, cats," said Badiel to the other bikers.  "Let's hit the road.  We're cramping Gil's style."

By the time Gil registered the words and thought to protest, Badiel and the others were roaring off down the street.

Gil and Hathi were silent for a moment.  He scowled down at his handlebars, and she looked at him and then away, then back at him, like a moth to a nightlight.

"How've you been, Gil?" she finally said.

"Cool. Real cool."  Now Gil scowled into the sky.

Hathi licked her lips.

"You sure look different," she said.  "Your hair.  Those clothes.  You have a new, I don't know.  Confidence. My lord, I hardly believe--"

"'My lord,' Hathi?  Pops is dead, sister.  Maybe you didn't hear."

"Oh, Gil, to hear you talk like that--!" she laid a finger on the handlebar of his bike.

"If it bums you out, just clear out."  He kept his gaze on the sky.

"No, it's not that..."

"Humpf."

"Oh, Gil!"  Suddenly Hathi was on her knees before him as he sat on his bike.  "Take me back!  That Dori, he would never dream of -- I mean, Gil, just take me with you!  I want to wear leather, and smoke, and swear, and take drugs and talk about evolution!"

Now Gil looked at her.

The words "Hell with you, sister!" were on his lips.  "Hathi?" he said instead.

"Gil."

"I don't believe I'm hearing you talk like that."

"Gil, we girls, we want to rebel, too!  Even more than the guys, I think sometimes.  Guys always have more things they can do, while we girls -- Oh, Gil! I was looking for a way to break out, you know?"  She lay a hand on Gil's thigh, another on the tire.  "This is what I need, Gil!"

Gil started his bike with one clean kick.

"Hop on, Hathi," he said, his voice gentle, almost amused.  "Let's go have some fun."

 

This story originally appeared in Nine Tales.