In the Matter of Fallen Angels: A Short Story

In the Matter of Fallen Angels: A Short Story by Jacqueline Carey Read Free Book Online

Book: In the Matter of Fallen Angels: A Short Story by Jacqueline Carey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jacqueline Carey
    In the Matter of Fallen Angels:
    A Short Story
    By Jacqueline Carey
    Copyright 2006

    Author’s Note
    Over the course of writing a non-fiction coffee table book on angels and developing the theology woven into the setting of the Kushiel’s Legacy series, I’ve done a fair bit of research into angelology.  In the Matter of Fallen Angels has absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
    Rather, it was inspired by the distant memory of reading a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings , a piece of magic realism which uses the manifestation of the miraculous to explore unattractive aspects of human nature.  In the Matter of Fallen Angels utilizes a similar device in an inverse manner.  It’s a much lighter and more modest piece, surreal and absurd.  And although it’s centered on the extraordinary, in the end, it’s the ordinary, simple joys and rhythms of small-town living that it celebrates.

    In the Matter of Fallen Angels
    No one could ever say for sure when it happened, that is whether it happened before midnight or after or on the stroke.  Even religion was no help in the matter, because if you read the event one way it was likely that it happened on the Sabbath, but if you read it the other then it was likely that it happened after, and who knew what it meant if it happened on the crux?
    And there's always heat lightning at night in the summer in these parts.  Sometimes it flickers all night long and maybe that night it was an omen of great portent, but it seemed just like any old summer night in Utopia.  If you had walked around town that evening and asked if anyone thought that an angel would fall to earth behind Garrett Ainsworth's general store, everyone would have laughed.  Utopia may be a two-horse town in the middle of nowhere, but the people who live there aren't crazy and most of them even have satellite dishes.
    It was one of those mornings when it seems like the atmosphere has cleared its throat overnight and awakened to sing the sun up into a robin's-egg blue sky, fine and bright and promising that all things are possible, which is exactly what Quinn Parnell was thinking on his way to the General—what everyone in Utopi a called the general store—for a cup of coffee and a quick catch-up on the weekend's news before his office hours started.  Being an atheist as well as the town lawyer, the parameters in which the anything Quinn felt was possible might occur did not extend to include the supernatural.  What he thought was that it was the sort of morning on which you might buy a winning lottery ticket or suddenly fall in love with a woman you've seen every day for ten years.  And because this is the sort of morning it was, when Quinn first saw that no one was sitting on the General's porch drinking coffee and exchanging gossip, he thought that Garrett Ainsworth had woken up with fly - fishing fever and closed shop for the day. 
    This was something which happened without warning three or four times a year, a sort of Norman Rockwell syndrome.  Utopia was prone to sudden attacks of rural quaintness.  It was that small a town.
    But today this was not the case, and when Quinn reached the porch he saw that the General was open, and when he went inside he found that the General was deserted.  A fresh pot of coffee sat full and untouched on the burner.  The cold storage units hummed.  The ceiling fan rotated on low speed, creating eddies in the dust motes that hung in the slanting beams of the early morning sun.  Quinn was standing in the main aisle and rubbing his chin when the screen door at the rear of the store creaked open .
    "Quinn," said Bobby MacReary, who did construction work when there was any to be had and played backgammon at the General all day when there was not.  He wore a very peculiar expression that morning.  "Come here."
    Garrett Ainsworth lived above the General and his backyard

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