The Angel of a Sinner

February 7, 2011
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His eyes were cold and clear, more so than any arctic glacier. And yet, his face was the essence of tranquility, as if the many horrors he’d seen were merely trivial happenings. He was standing, one leg crossed over the other, with his hands jammed down into the pockets of his cargo pants. His wardrobe choice invited queries from people as they scuttled about the dilapidated streets and down dark allies by the bus stop. All of the bus stops he had visited in the four years of running looked the same; people were always darting to or from places, never staying in one spot. The oversized maroon sweater hung from his lanky frame and was partially concealed by an even baggier faded grey rain jacket. The entire ensemble was topped off with a navy blue sun hat which barely tamed bits of wild brown hair that fell just above his well-built shoulders. A little girl, no more than six years old, was twirling circles around her father’s ratty tennis shoes. Her glossy black curls were tied firmly into two pig tails on the side of her head, perfectly framing her pale, round face. Her blue-grey eyes matched her father’s with only one exception. Her eyes sparked with clarity while her fathers were hardened to thousand year old ice. A haughty, pampered woman shuffled into the seat on the bus which the duo had previously occupied. As she peered over her beaky nose at the little girl, Milo shot her a piercing look through the smudged window and the woman flinched. The bus pulled away with a rumble and the little girl continued to hum and sway to her own melody.
How on earth was he going to protect his Angel from those people; those people who he called friends? Those people who mercilessly murdered her mother, all because he didn’t want to do their dirty work anymore. At two years old all his Angel knew was that her mother was gone, and never going to come back. Taking her dainty hand in his, Milo and his daughter crossed the street to a seemingly dingy hotel with a flickering neon sign. The inside of the hotel was surprising in contrast to its outside. The grungy doors seemed out of place with the crystal chandeliers and a glass bowl filled with complimentary peppermints. A single night alone was much too pricy for the average street bum, but Milo handed over enough cash to the concierge to comfortably call this new hotel their temporary home. A bellboy clad in a purple uniform offered to take his bags, but they were carrying none so the bellboy offered to show them to their room instead. Milo caught the boy mumbling under his breath but he could only make out the words: not many, people, and time of night. Once in the room, Milo collapsed onto one of the pillow-topped queen beds and pulled his daughter close to him.
“What would you like for dinner tonight, Angel? How about some pizza?”
But she was already fast asleep and he wasn’t surprised. The long day or travel had worn her out and the soft bed soothed his stiff bones. Begrudgingly, he dragged himself out of bed, gently lifted his daughter up in one arm and turned the covers down with the other. He tucked her in and lay beside her, leaving the other bed untouched.
The telephone rang; a nuisance to the slumbering Milo. As he fumbled for it with bleary eyes in the dark, his hand grazed a drinking glass which fell to the floor and shattered on the corner of the cabinet creating an even bigger ruckus. The jovial male voice on the other end made his sleep sodden body cringe. It was an 11:30 AM wakeup call he had not requested and which must have dialed the wrong room number. The closed blinds hadn’t allowed the sunlight though the windows but the flashing alarm clock read 11:45 AM.
Milo staggered over to the window to draw open the thick curtains and was surprised when he turned around. She was sitting up with her big, shining, blue-grey eyes. She giggled through a grin, “Morning Daddy, did you hear the birds outside this morning? I did. They sounded beautiful! Do you think I could be a bird some day? Do you think I could sound as beautiful as those birds out there?”
He chuckled and tousled her tangled curls.
“Someday you will be whatever you want, Angel. If you work hard enough, anything will come true. Now, my little song bird, what would you like for breakfast? Perhaps some tasty worms?”
“No! Silly Daddy! I want real food! I want waffles and pancakes!”
“Alright waffles and pancakes it is, but we’ve got to make a quick stop at the post office first.”
Milo hoisted his daughter up onto his shoulders. He ducked out of the room so as not to bump her head on the door frame. Once in the street he paused to soak up the sun, it had been a long time since he had seen good weather and an even longer time since he had been able to enjoy it freely without his shadows following him in the sun. A middle-aged man riding an old fashioned bike peddled through the currently empty street to avoid the congested sidewalks. He wore a tall, tan, top hat; and he carried a guitar case precariously perched in the front basket of the bike. A loyal golden retriever trotted after him enjoying the fresh air.
The post office was only four blocks from the hotel and the time it would take to catch a cab would not be worth the wait. At the post office, Milo handed over cash to pay for the large C.O.D. package he had shipped to himself and signed for it with a purple pen. The portly man thanked him in a jovial voice much like the one which had woken him only a few hours earlier and retreated to the back room to fetch the next oversized parcel.
“Angel, when we get back to the room, you can change into that white sundress we bought in Italy, I sent it so you would have something nice to wear. Then we’ll go get some breakfast. How does that sound?”
Back at the hotel, Milo tossed the partly-opened package filled with a few of their clothes and belonging onto a vacant chair in the corner of the room. He made the bed they had slept in the previous night. He also flattened out the oddly rumpled bed sheets on the other. Flinching at a sudden prick on the ball of his foot, he looked down to see a mere sliver of glass. Thinking to himself, just my luck, the only damn piece housekeeping didn’t clean up and I manage to step on it. He pulled the piece of glass out, put it in the wastepaper basket, and reached for the white sundress in the package.
“Come here my Angel. Put this on. Are you ready?”
Beaming, she replied, “Yummy! I love waffles and pancakes!”
The cozy breakfast café was tucked behind a flower shop, allowing the scent of hot from blueberry muffins to mix with newly picked flowers, creating an irritable aroma. Milo and his daughter ordered a tall stack of pancakes, waffles, and fresh strawberries from a thin, balding waiter with a purple tie. Milo divided up the food appropriately, taking into account that his daughter’s imagination was often far larger than her stomach. The strawberries melted in his mouth. The piping hot waffles and cool syrup tasted better with added sunshine and a breeze. Unfortunately, the breeze also helped aid his daughter’s own syrup off the table and into her lap.
“Don’t worry sweetie, we’ll go get some wet paper towels from the bathroom and that dress will be good as new. Come, follow me.”
Milo pushed his chair out with a screech against stone floor. He asked their waiter where the men’s room was, and he gestured toward the back of the small café. After squeezing past many tightly packed tables filled with cozy couples and families, they finally made it to the bathroom. Milo instructed her to wait outside and he pushed open the wooden door to the rather large bathroom. He unwound a healthy amount of paper towels from the role on the wall and began to run them under warm water. Then he felt the all too familiar feeling of a cold metallic gunpoint at the back of his neck.
“Your daughter is beautiful, she has your eyes. What’s her name, may I ask?”
Milo raised his hands above his head. He saw a glint of purple reflecting in the sink faucet.
“Why so silent Milo? You know Victor wasn’t going to let you walk out on him like that. He’s the Boss of all Bosses, no one ever walks. I can tell you’re not too surprised. He said you’ve been around too long not to be expecting this. As always, he was right. We are a few of his hand selected recruits for a special job he wants done. I’m sorry we haven’t been properly introduced but our names are irrelevant.”
“Of course, typical Victor. I’m sure he didn’t give you any other information. Quick and easy, that’s the way he always liked his dealings.” Milo growled back.
“What Victor wants, Victor gets. The Capo Di Tutti Capi is never let down. I’m sorry Milo, but you know the rules of Omertà. The code of silence is never broken and those who do don’t live long enough for a second offence.”
“I haven’t broken the code. I never told a soul. I just refuse to be a part of his Clan anymore.” Milo thought he could make out two blurred face, one of which nodded. The same jovial voice from the mistaken phone call that morning muttered, “Of course Superior.” He heard the bathroom door swing open then shut leaving only one man in the bathroom.
“We will take your daughter with us,” said the same voice which had been speaking, “if you wish to come back to Victor with us, you may. We are reasonable people; we would never force you to do something against your will. We know where you are currently staying. The bellboy is a good friend and a loyal servant to the Capo Di Tutti Capi. He’s informed us of all your arrangements so if you try to take her we will know where to find you. You were smart, when he went searching for clues in your room you left nothing but shattered glass. Clever. It caused rather a bloody mess for the bellboy to clean up and almost prevented him from joining in the fun today, but no matter. We will be sure to punish him later for his blunder. It is useful having contacts on the inside. Also, I think you should consider,”
Milo had heard enough. He bent his knees, wheeled on the spot, and trapped the arm that was holding the gun between his forearm and bicep. The gun went off, shattering the sink and spewing water everywhere. Milo cupped his free hand and swung upward. The overwhelming force of the blow to the side of the balding waiter’s head shattered his eardrum. Blood began to trickle down the side of the waiter’s neck and stain his purple tie. Milo took the paper towel which he still held clenched in his fist and shoved them into the mouth of the screaming waiter so as not to draw attention to the scuffle in the bathroom. He barely registered that man he was fighting had just directed him towards the bathroom moments ago. The man was now fumbling in his pocket and withdrew a black, fully serrated, switch blade. Milo pivoted at the perfect time so the waiter’s slash that was aimed for his chest only grazed his shoulder. After what seemed like only five minutes, water and blood covered the floor so as the dancing pair were sliding around the small bathroom. It was impossible to tell if the blood came from the attacker or the victim. Milo grabbed the head of the waiter with the purple tie and slammed it against the remaining sink leaving a gash in his forehead. He fell limp to the floor.
Milo dashed out of the bathroom, frantically looking for his little girl. Cries of outrage quickly changed into shock and dismay as the people saw his disheveled appearance when he shoved past their tables. The mailman which had handed Milo his package earlier at the post office was leaning over his Angel down the hallway, attempting to fasten a gag to her protesting mouth. He was starting to drag her towards the flower shop to a flat black van. Milo held up the waiter’s gun he was still clutching and shot the mailman in the shoulder. He howled and stumbled in pain out of the small café, into the flower shop, and down an isle of oriental lilies. Blood splattered over the white petals. The silencer on the gun had stifled the sound; causing looks of confusion o appear on the people’s faces in the café as the man staggered around.
In the van sat the bellboy who had showed Milo to his hotel room. The doors of the van were opening and several men were starting to pour out. Milo snatched up his daughter. The blood from his black shirt which had gone unnoticed now stained her white dress. He managed a quick glance at her face before picking her up and darting off into an alleyway. He saw a pool of fear welling in her clear grey-blue eyes. He ran for what felt like miles. The sound of his own footsteps echoing off the buildings mimicked pursuers, pushing him to run faster. He ran, carrying his daughter on his back and eventually flagged down a cab to take him to the outskirts of the city. Finally, the cab came to a halt and they walked a few paces to a bus stop. Nearby, there were a few small booths selling odds and ends. There he paid in cash for a new shirt, pants, and a blanket to wrap his daughter as so not to attract attention to their wild appearances. The bus pulled up and the duo boarded silently, his daughter’s screams had died almost as soon as they were out of sight of the man. He held her close as the bus pulled away from the curb.
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
He looked out the window at the setting sun and the trees zooming by in a flash of color. The world outside of him was flying by at a rapid pace he couldn’t control even if he tried. Then he turned and looked at the little girl he was holding tightly in his lap. She was his everything; his life, his world. They would be safe for a while.
“I love you, my Angel” he whispered in her ear as he kissed her forehead.

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