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Station 6. An angel wipes Phil's face

Wood carving by Susan Hagen, story by Mike Walsh

One night Phil went to see Joanne unannounced. He planned to surprise her with champagne and flowers and to take her out to dinner. Phil and Joanne had been going out for several months, and Phil believed he was in love with her.

As Phil approached Joanne's apartment building in his car, he saw her walking down the street holding hands with another man. Joanne hadn't told Phil that she was seeing anyone else, although he had never asked. He had assumed that their relationship was exclusive, especially since they had been getting along so well.

Phil parked where he could watch them. Joanne and the man paused in front of a restaurant and read the menu. They laughed, and he put his arm around her. Phil watched as Joanne leaned into the contours of the man's body, just as she had done when they were together.

Phil had trouble breathing as he drove off. He couldn't believe what he had seen. He felt as if someone had slammed him in the chest with a baseball bat. He had been so hopeful about the relationship, but she had betrayed him, and it was over between them. He felt like a fool.

Phil knew it would be best if he went home, but his apartment depressed him. He drove around drinking the champagne from the bottle. It was a warm night with a cool breeze, the kind of night people should spend with their loved ones, he thought, looking at several couples walking by. They were going to and from places where they would share experiences with each other. They were living life as it was intended. Something had gone wrong with his life, however. He was living his existence outside the realm of human interaction. He was completely screwed up.

"For God's sake, Joanne," he yelled and banged on the steering wheel. "For Christ's fucking sake."

Phil parked and wandered through several bars. He consumed a half-dozen strong drinks in a short time and made flagrant passes at several women.

"You're really gorgeous," he mumbled to one. "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Just go away," she said.

"I'm not as bad as I seem," he said, slurring his words. "You might like me once you got to know me."

"You shouldn't drink so much," she said.

"It's the only time I feel any good," Phil answered.

"Do you feel good now?" she asked.

"No," said Phil. "In fact, I feel bad, extremely bad, the worst I've felt in years. And yourself?"

Phil bought a pint of peppermint schnapps and continued driving, but the alcohol didn't help. He couldn't get drunk enough to forget about Joanne. He wished that there was someone who could help him, but he couldn't think of anyone who would understand. He kept his stomach muscles clenched, but the pain in his chest would not go away. He felt like he was being tortured. He tossed the flowers over an embankment.

Phil found himself driving back to Joanne's apartment. He parked, walked to the back of the building, and looked up at her second-floor apartment. She was seeing another man, probably making love to him at that moment. It was inconceivable to him.

"Jesus H. Christ, Joanne," he shouted at her window, "why are you doing this to me?"

Phil climbed up onto the balcony of the apartment below hers. Standing on the railing he could see over the bottom edge of her balcony and into her apartment, but it was too dark to see anything. Then he heard a voice behind him.

"Hey, what are you doing?"

Phil suddenly lost his footing and fell. With a loud groan he landed on the ground, wrenching his back. He frantically jumped up and ran to his car without looking back. He tripped on a curb, scraping his elbows and knees, but he bounded up and continued running. He heard the same voice shout, "Call the cops!"

Phil jumped in his car and took off. He drove directly home without seeing any cops. Dizzy and unsteady, he stumbled to his bedroom. He lay on his back on the bed and groaned.

Soon his guardian angel came to him, as she always had in his times of need. Young and voluptuous, she wiped his sweating, shaking brow and held his head against her breast. She stroked his hair, calming and reassuring him. She had heard his cry for help. Only she understood what he was going through. No one else loved him or cared for him. Phil was so happy that he wept in her warm arms.

He woke the next morning still fully dressed. He had slumped to the floor and had spent the entire night with his weight on his knees. Every part of his body ached. His shirt and pants were ripped and dirty, his mouth dry and sour. The empty schnapps bottle lay on the floor nearby. The phone began to ring. Ignoring it, he put both hands to his groin and slid gently to the floor.

Stations: [Contents] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

See more of Susan Hagen's artwork or Mike Walsh's writing on missionCREEP.

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