My footsteps sounded hollow on the wet pavement. The rain and strong winds blew my cloak straight back. I never let the weather affect my work. A woman who dropped her umbrella stopped to stare as I swirled by. Mostly, pedestrians maintained their fast pace, ignoring me as well as each other. No one was expecting an angel of death. The public didn’t realize we were stationed all over the world. Halloween had been over for two months, so my appearance might attract attention.
I would visit Mr. Krauss first. His apartment was on the seventh floor of an old, decaying apartment building. He’d been living there for thirty years. Even though his wife had died twenty years ago, he continued to mourn for her. At 79, he must be ready for me.
I had the choice of using the elevator, the way people do, or flying directly up to his apartment. I tried to travel like humans as much as possible to get into their perspective, which helped with my work. In a hurry, I unfurled my wings and flew directly up to his apartment.
He sat in his easy chair, facing a lit, but mute TV. His bald, wrinkled head looked unstable on his thin neck. His pallor was like mine and he seemed to glow in the dim light. I took up a position directly behind him and placed my hands on his pate, while my black cloak draped over his shoulders. I began communication with the secret part of his mind. He sat forward and shuddered. I whispered, “Mr. Krauss, I offer you bliss and a return to your origins. Are you ready?”
Mr. Krauss’s mind pulsated with terror. He’d been waiting for me, but his age-spotted hands gripped the arms of the chair until his arthritic knuckles turned white. I chanted the “Am-Som” and he rocked back and forth with me. His mind opened like a flower to a bee. My chants slid along his inner spaces, caressing him softly. Finally, he fell back. I folded the cloak over his face in the ritualistic manner. His spirit soared. I held his abandoned body. How long would it be before one of his neighbors or perhaps the landlady discovered his dead body? My job was done. I kissed his forehead and recited the last blessing for the flesh.
Next, an emergency call on Hudson Street. I liked the planned cases more than the emergencies. People suffered and struggled much more in emergencies. The rush made it impossible for me to take public transportation or to walk. I needed to travel from the east side to the West Village in a few seconds. I flew quickly over the city. Sirens shrieked as two ambulances parked back to back over the body of a woman. She had been thrown from a taxi during an accident. Medics crouched over her, taking blood pressure and other vitals. Her half-emerged spirit stared at me as I approached. I took the spirit’s hand and encouraged her to continue exiting her body. She was frightened and reluctant. Her grip faltered, so I tightened my hold. I sang “Ti-Rar,” the song to make violent death peaceful. She closed her eyes and received the sound into herself, smiling and remembering. She had lived 52 years, most of them lonely and dissipated with drink. Her husband had left her and no children had been theirs. She was ready. Her spirit came into my arms and I pulled the cloak around her. I didn’t let her fly until I heard a medic say, “No blood pressure. Flat-line. She’s given up the ghost, Peter.” Then I opened my arms and let her go where she would. Her own re-awakening consciousness would take her to the proper place. Done. It was now 11:25 pm. I had one more task to accomplish before midnight.
The rain stopped. I walked. The young woman who required my services lived in a tenement on Avenue B. She was in the midst of a home delivery. A neighbor woman, a midwife to people on the block, helped her, but the midwife was not very good in her chosen profession. I had often been invited to attend her deliveries. As I climbed up the fire escape I heard screams. I ducked into the room and felt the pain and agony of a sixteen-year-old, clutching the sides of the mattress and trying to push a baby out of her womb. The midwife pulled on the emerging baby and cursed in her own language.
I went to sit at the head of the bed where I carefully placed my cloak over the young woman’s beautiful black hair, which was spread in disarray on a ragged pillow supporting her head. I whispered into her ear as she clenched her teeth and sweated. “Come with me. We will run in fields of daisies and dance on riverbanks in the sun. Let the baby go. Let her go.” Her face relaxed. She was listening. Meanwhile, the midwife called to her, “Push, push, push, goddamn you, push! How do you expect it to come out if you don’t even try!” I hummed, filling up the room with the buzz of death. The teenager’s face completely relaxed and she slipped out of her body and into my waiting arms. Simultaneously her baby slipped into the midwife’s arms. Two deliveries at once – – one into life, the other into death. I watched her kiss her baby goodbye and fly off.
“All in a night’s work,” I told myself.