“Ogden almost committed a crime today.”
The angel Ecanus was talking with the angel Gavreel in heaven’s lounge area. They’d had a hard day monitoring their charges.
There were still hours to go, but they were stealing a few quiet moments.
“Almost? Is that good news?” asked Gavreel.
“In Ogden’s case, yes. I know we’re not supposed to be proud up here, but I’m mighty pleased,” said Ecanus.
“Ogden’s due for assessment later tonight, right? He’ll be having a major heart attack at a formal dance.”
“ You always amaze me,” said Ecanus.
“Borderline with blemishes. They’re the ones who interest me,” said Gavreel.
“Ogden may have tipped the scales,” responded Ecanus.
“I sincerely hope so,” said Gavreel.
Sixty year old Ogden Beauregard awoke full of beans. Excitement was mixed with apprehension.
His company was hosting a black tie affair that evening for its best customers and he’d need to make a good impression.
There was so much to accomplish beforehand. A quick shower and shave, a bagel wolfed down with coffee and he was out the door.
First, he headed downtown to pick up his rented tux. He’d tried it on earlier in the week, but it was held back for alterations.
Then he drove to Frederico’s for a hair trimming. There were other minor errands along the way.
By one p.m., he was tuckered out. A little plaza with a bakery he particularly liked was close at hand.
He ordered a pineapple roll with coffee and sat in a tiny booth.
“What else?” he wondered. He might as well get the car cleaned and filled up with gas.
Also, he’d ordered a corsage from his favorite florist for his wife to wear that night.
So many important things still to do.
There was only one other person in the shop, a young black man with his back turned.
Ogden sensed his discomfort. “That’s no concern of mine,” he thought.
He stood up to leave.
Almost at the door, he paused and looked to his right.
The lad was gazing up at him with as forlorn an expression as Ogden had ever seen.
“Could you spare some change. My mother was supposed to pick me up, but she’s been called in to work.”
Several possibilities galloped through Ogden’s mind.
Maybe he was being scammed.
This kid probably wanted money for drugs.
Am I being racist?
“Sure thing,” said Brandon and he handed over a five dollar bill. He had no idea what a bus ride cost. “Is that enough?”
“Yes,” said the boy. “Plenty. Thanks.”
Ogden walked to his car and sat behind the wheel.
“Now where was I?” he thought. “So much still to do.”
“But wait. What if all my running around has only been to deliver me to this precise spot at this exact time to help that boy?
“How’s that for an extraordinary thought?”
He knew he was kidding himself about how significant his gesture had been.
There were bigger things he could do to change the world’s circumstances.
And the kid may well have been playing him for a fool.
But what was the difference? Only two things mattered – the possibility he’d done something meaningful for another human being and the fact he’d brought an end to his own frenzied activity.
He was tempted to phone home and tell his wife.
No, there was something private about his insight.
Besides, she was dying to go the party tonight.
With her sentimental streak, his story might upset her.
Ogden started the car and drove off more relaxed.
The story above was written specifically for a flash fiction contest that specified a 600 word maximum. It clocks in at 596 words. At the time of posting, I have no idea whether it caught the eye of the judges or passed under the radar.
Here’s a story for the environmentalists among us: Bad Boy Carbon Needs a Psych Work-up.