60 – Recession

The front gate wasn’t so much open as barely held in place by its rusting hinges. A lonely sign hung from it, under layers of grime the words “NO TRESPASSING” could be read with some difficulty.

This wasn’t quite what he expected.

He stood there for a moment wondering what to do. Maybe he should knock? He caught himself looking for a buzzer and felt a bit embarrassed.

He was beginning to wonder if he might have arrived to the wrong address when he heard something behind the overgrown bushes to the right. It was the distinct sound of someone snoring.

The sound was joined by something else as he got closer to the source, the smell of whiskey. He was now sure he must have definitely taken a wrong turn somewhere, this couldn’t be right.

He found him sleeping behind what looked like an overturned podium. Not only was he totally drunk, but also in dire need of a good bath and a change of clothes.

He stood there for a while, silently watching this derelict who seemed to be his sole companion in this place. Oh, well… at least he’d found someone to ask for directions, if he could wake him from his deep drunken sleep.

He shook him softly at first, then a bit harder. One eye opened and tried with some effort to focus on him.

“–Go away!” A voice hoarse from drinking said behind the wildly unkept beard. “–We’re closed.”

“–Peter?!” He said, suddenly recognizing the drunken figure before him. “–What happened?”

“–What the hell do you think happened? We went out of business. Closed the shop and laid everyone off. That’s what.”

“–But how could this have happened? I mean… why didn’t he do anything to stop it.”

“–Something like what? Nobody wants to be here anymore. Blame it on badly trained and unsupervised local agents if you want, the fact is there was no point in keeping this whole thing going for the one or two clients we managed to get each year. You have any idea how much it costs to run this place?”

He looked around him, everything was falling apart from lack of use and maintenance.

“—But where did everyone go?”

“–Who knows? I don’t.” The figure said shrugging. “–Maybe they just went back, or somewhere else. What do I care? Most of them didn’t really want to be here anyway. They just thought it was better than the alternative.”

“–But I did want to be here. What am I supposed to do now. Where should I go?”

The sudden bout of uncontrollable laughter from the drunken angel startled him. When it finally died down, he saw amusement in the dirty face’s eyes.

“–I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve waited for so long for the chance to say this line and you just gave me the perfect cue.”

“–You don’t mean…” He said, a sudden realization dropping on him like a bucket of cold water.

“–Oh yes.” Said the angel, looking horribly amused. “–You can go to hell.”

The angel let out a new and long burst of laughter, which seamlessly transitioned into snoring as he covered his face with a huge pair of unkept wings and went back to sleep.

No, this definitely wasn’t what he had expected.

He sat down beside the sleeping angel, trying to think about what to do next. His eyes caught the golden glint from a half empty bottle of Wild Turkey.

“–Ah, fuck it.” He thought, and carefully wiped the bottle’s mouth before taking a huge swig.

• • •

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