So, without further delay…
When Angels Visit
Thank you for inviting me, Ruth. I’m thrilled to be here sharing my happiness upon the release of Beauty and the Bastard.
I believe in angels.
There: have an Abba earworm. J You’re welcome.
Beauty and the Bastard is my first story involving angels and demons, and I’m working on a second one now. But even though I only started writing about these beautiful beings last summer, they’ve been around in my life for years.
Angels have appeared to three people in my immediate family. Two of them are women I love and respect. The third is, well… me.
I didn’t realise my grandmother had told me she’d seen a pair of angels until thirty years after the conversation took place and about fifteen years after she died.
Born into an Irish Catholic family and married into an English Protestant one, Nan tended to play her religious cards close to her chest. I didn’t know it at the time – I was only a boy, after all – but I now understand that the mild superstitions we used to have fun with were how she chose to express her beliefs, in what had started out for her as a hostile environment.
By the time we grandkids came along, the hostility was muted, if not completely gone. But the pattern was there and she stuck with what worked for her.
So, when she told ten-year-old me that she’d once seen two spacemen, I chuckled and said, “Okay Nan,” while she chuckled back. We used to laugh a lot, Nan and me.
But now I understand that she was telling me she’d been visited by two angels. I know this because it falls into place with all the other seeds she planted in my memory, which grew and bore fruit years later.
My own experience occurred during a dark time in my life. I’d come home from war a bit dented. I was paralysed, in terrible pain from never-ending whole-body muscle cramps, and I didn’t know if I’d ever make it out of bed again.
I had no idea at the time that it would take me two years of sweaty fear and tears to recover any movement at all, and thirteen more years after that before I could stand unaided again. My Royal Navy career was over, of course, and as yet I had no vision of the writing career that would eventually take its place.
Those first two years were grim and, somewhere in the middle of them, I remember praying for release. I lay there, stretched out on the bed in the star shape that helped prevent dystonia curling me up into a tight ball of pain, my muscles rock hard and screaming, flesh slick with the oily substance I sweated during cramps that made my skin burn all over and my eyes sting and blur, a piledriver pounding in my head and that sickly twisting-tinfoil noise and sensation where my spinal cord met my brain, and I meant the words I said aloud: “Let me die now.”
A perfume of flowers filled the room, and I honestly thought I was going. I can remember smiling, almost blissfully, then something shifted somewhere and I was filled with deep peace. It was as if I’d been given a new perspective that allowed me to bear the pain and distress. No words passed in either direction, and I didn’t see him, but I knew an angel was in the room with me. His smell was heavenly.
Imagine you’re standing alone in a florist’s shop on a quiet summer afternoon. Inhale that beautiful aroma of mixed flowers. Now multiply it by a hundred. Like that.
Which is why, when my wife Janette came home from work one day several years later and said two angels had visited her, I believed her without a second thought.
We’d bought a small hard-landscaping materials business that was on its last legs. We planned to get it back on its feet and sell it on within two or three years. I was in the wheelchair phase of my recovery by then, so while I was able to do admin tasks and suchlike, everything else was down to her. She used to come home too tired to talk, but she’s made of strong stuff and we hoped it would come good in the end.
It was all going according to plan, until the foot & mouth disease hit our region in the middle of a harsh winter. Sales dried up and things that were already hard got a lot harder. Janette stopped taking a wage so she could keep her two employees in work. She came home crying from the cold and exhaustion most evenings.
When a biggish order came in, a rush job for someone whose normal supplier had let him down, it was an answer to prayer that turned into a bucketful of stress. One of the ancient machines we’d bought with the business died on her, and that machine just happened to be essential to meeting the order.
Janette says she just stood there, wondering what on earth she could do. She’s good with her brain and hands, and knew enough to know that repairing this one was beyond her capabilities. And even if there’d been time to call someone out to bring the thing back to life, we’d used up our reserves through the winter and didn’t have any money to pay for what might be a very expensive repair.
She was about to call me and say the game was up, when two men walked into the yard and asked to buy some paving slabs. They said they were cable layers working somewhere down the road. One of them offered to take a look at the broken machine – and within a few minutes he had it fixed and running better than before.
Janette saw feathers under his blue workman’s overalls, brilliant white feathers that burst out everywhere and nearly dazzled her while she watched him work. She is in absolutely no doubt that those men were angels. And neither am I.
I believe in angels.
Beauty and the Bastard
by: David Bridger
Saul the Bastard is a fallen angel who works as a bounty hunter for powerful urban demon families. Rebecca Drake, a modern day demon princess, is being hunted by dangerous desert demons. When Rebecca’s family hires Saul to protect her, they are both unhappy with the arrangement–but before long sparks fly as they try to resist their strong mutual attraction. For the first time in living memory, Saul has someone to love; someone he is scared of losing; someone the desert demons have marked to be their next sacrifice.