Evil vs. the Angels of Stony Island
by Jim Heaney

“My father doesn’t like me and my mom drinks every day.”
“Jimmy, Father Cziezadlo, Sister John, and I know what happened to you, and that it’s been very hard for you. Father Chez believes that someday you are going to grow up and do something very important. He told us to help you as much as we can. Do the best you can and we’ll see what happens. That is the best I can promise.”
She gave me a hug and told me to run along and eat my lunch.
My head swirled. They all knew? Did the whole world know? Then I remembered an odd thing that had happened just a couple of weeks earlier, after I’d served for Fr. Cziezadlo’s seven o’clock Mass. He had called me into the sacristy, the room behind the altar where the priests put on their vestments, to tell me a weird story about Heaven. At least, I thought it was weird at the time.
“Jimmy, I want you to always remember this story,” he told me as he hung up his chasuble.
Once upon a time in heaven, a Guardian Angel who worked at The Office For Earthly Assignments could hardly wait for lunch because she was going shoe shopping with her best angel friend Connie, the only one who could keep pace with her appetite for sales in the universe. She was star‑dreaming when suddenly
“May I help you?”
“Could you send Jimmy in? I need to speak with him right away.”
The angel walked to the window, opened the blinds, and scanned the play lot in the clouds. Jimmy was in the corner swinging on a monkey bar, upside down as usual, his legs wrapped around the top rung. The toddler souls were standing at the bottom, laughing.
“Children!” she thought. “All they want to do is play. Don’t they realize saving souls is serious business?”
She took off her glasses and put them on the desk. She wondered why, of all the available souls to summon, The Office For Earthly Assignments wanted Jimmy. He was a mature soul but didn’t act like one. All he did was play with the children and dodge the work he was supposed to be doing, which was…she’d never figured out just what.
She opened the door and motioned for him to come, but he didn’t respond. She waved a few more times and again he ignored her. Her gestures became more exaggerated until finally he twirled and faced her.
She returned to her desk and picked up the phone.
“Have you found Jimmy yet? I need to see him NOW.”
She could see Jimmy and the children waving at her through the window.
“He’s right outside the office. It’ll just be another minute, sir.”
She hung up the phone and when she glanced outside again, Jimmy was back on the top rung of the monkey bars. Their eyes met as he swung in the air, then jumped off, landing at the feet of the children. His hands shot straight up in victory as all the young souls on the playcloud clapped and clapped.
“Devil wash!” the angel grumbled.
But then Jimmy came marching across the lot like a soldier.
“Angel, how may I serve you?”
“The Director wants to see you.”
“The Big Boss—Wow!” His eyes twinkled. “Not the Big Boss. Just The Director.”
“Hey, The Director is somebody, too!” Jimmy said.
“He assigns the jobs, and I know for a fact he wouldn’t appreciate being called ‘Just the Director!’”
“Appreciate what? I didn’t say anything…” Jimmy raised a finger to his lips.
“Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe with me.”
“I don’t have a secret!” Angel sputtered as Jimmy slid past her and walked toward The Director’s office.
“I didn’t say what you said I said,” she continued. She knocked on the door. From inside the room came a resounding “Come in.”
“Jimmy is here, sir,” Angel said.
The Director came from behind his big desk.
“Jimmy! How have you been?”
“Poorer since Poker Night, but otherwise, fine.”
“It was nice of you to let me win. Please sit down. I have an assignment from God.”
The Director picked up a file folder.
“The young couple who are going to be your parents have lost their way. Your job is to help them.”
“And exactly how am I going to do that?” Jimmy asked.
The Director closed the file and leaned back in his chair.
“Love them. There’s no guarantee they will respond; It’s their free choice. But do it anyway.”
Jimmy nodded. “Is this my only job, Sir?” “There’s more, and it will be a challenge. In the middle of difficulties caused in part by your parents’ failures, you’ll have to redefine who you are and what your purpose is on earth.”
Jimmy nodded, a faraway look in his eyes.
“So what do you think?” The Director asked after a slight pause.
“May I take a day to prepare?” Jimmy asked. The boss looked at his watch and shook his head.
“You need to go now.” Jimmy closed his eyes. “What gifts do I have to take with me, sir?”
“A kind heart, resourcefulness, and a good sense of humor.” “May I say good‑bye to the young ones, sir?”
“Of course,” The Director said, but as Jimmy rose to go, The Director put up his hand.

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