I first notice him as I step outside my front door to retrieve the mail-two bills, an overdue notice from the library and a letter from Billy. He is a dark flash, darting quickly behind my neighbor’s azalea bush. Oddly enough, he reminds me of Cupid. Toga. Bow and arrow. But dressed in black, not white. I shrug it off. What some guys won’t do to get classified 4-F.
Thirty minutes later, freed from the burden of delinquent books and the threat of library card suspension, I see him again. Now he’s hiding, though not very well, behind the large Public Library sign, and yes, he is most definitely wearing a toga.
Feeling a little rattled, I decide I need a milkshake at the five and dime.
I’ve just finished ordering coffee (no ice cream, today) when he ambles in, and carefully arranging the folds of his toga, takes a seat at the counter, across from my table. Laying his bow and arrow in his lap, he is soon sipping his own cup of coffee and eating a slice of pie, unaware of the mild commotion he’s caused.
I roll my eyes, and let my mind return to the letter from Billy-one of those “Dear Janes.” Evidently, Billy’s met someone else. I laugh. A few weeks ago I’d simply volunteered to have my name and address wrapped up with a caramel popcorn ball, to be handed out when the next troop train came through town-the idea being that I’d be a sort of pen pal sweetheart for some lonely soldier or sailor. Since then Billy and I’ve exchanged three letters. Not exactly a commitment. As I’m remembering the letter, an arrow flies well above the top of my head, hits the wall with a soft thud, and lands next to the salt and pepper shakers.
I hear a distraught Oh dear and then the sound of someone crying. The cherub at the counter now has his boyish face buried in his hands, and between sobs I make out the word failure.
Then I get it. Who this flip side of Cupid is. He’s supposed to be the god of heartache.
Only he’s not very good at it, and I’m not heartbroken.
Nevertheless, I pick up the arrow, clutch its suction-cup point to my chest and dramatically stagger past him. I can see him brighten. Stopping at the cash register long enough to pay for my coffee before staggering outside, I hand the clerk an extra fifty cents. His next slice of pie is on me, I whisper, and point to the only guy in the place wearing a brand new pair of black wings.
He’ll need that extra pie to keep up his strength. Truly earn those wings.
There is a war on, after all.
Picture credit here.