Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
My name is Axel Baxter and I'm a mean guy. Just ask my Old Lady. I don’t mean to be I just can’t help myself. Been around the block and back and I don't take nothing from nobody. To make matters worse, I wake up with a growl most days, hating most everybody before I even roll out of bed. So, there it is. Don't say I didn't warn you.
I work in a nasty part of town at a job that bores me to tears surrounded by drones I don’t care squat about. The saving grace in this hellhole is Lola. She’s got a backside that looks like two cats fighting their way out of a bag when she walks on her four inch heels and I just can’t get beyond it. Every time she walks into the room I’m stunned to silence and stare openly.
Lola thinks I’m cute. I can tell by the way she tosses her hair at me when she jiggles on past my desk, dragging her inch long glittered gel-tips across the top of it to get my attention as if I hadn’t already been staring at her from the minute she shoved back her chair. My Old Lady though, she don’t and has suggested that I go on and run off with Lola’s ass if that’s all I can think of and maybe that’s what I’ll do just to shut her up.
I kill people for a living. Legally, so don’t pucker your grubby. Trust me, y’all be thanking me in the end. It’s as exciting a gig as any, which is a good thing because a guy like me’s got to be captivated. All kinds of misery brews when I’m not and that’s just the plain truth of it. Been that way since the day I was born and I’m not about to change now. Too damn old and lazy, too.
I’m what you’d call a Reaper for one of the leading extermination companies. I started out in the army as we all do, expanding the empire. Got to travel lots—loved the Elodea Galaxy, which is prettier than most. Then I was transferred over to the Anti-Pestilence Division, but most of the tasks are outsourced these days to independent contractors like the company I now work for.
I got stuck with pisspot Sector Seventy-Seven because no one else wanted it, was the low man on the totem pole at the time and couldn’t have care less where I was stationed. Killing is killing no matter where or how it’s done and I get paid well enough that I can spilt on my down time.
Cleaning up after plagues and famine IS dirty business though, have no doubt about that fact. Eradicating civil unrest is even dirtier. I kill more than my quota but sometimes that’s the only way to get the job done, with a clean sweep. There’s never been resurgence on my watch and so I’ve risen in the ranks over time and now hold command of 300,000 strong. Not bad for a low-life like me.
My wife’s an Equity Trader under Gabriel. Literally— I shit you not--she’s his assistant. That’s why she thinks she knows everything and I always tell her that if she did she’d be over in Uriel’s Division.
Talk about a bunch of holier-than-thou, mealy faced, ass-kissing, God-squaders! My skin crawls whenever the Boys in White come around with their dumb freakin' clip boards and britches pulled up to their chins. Do not even get me started on that prick. He's the Man's right hand and what he says goes so I mind my P's and Q's, but what I wouldn't give to have the honor to dispose of a braggart like Uriel...Lordy Momma.
Tinkers—that’s what the rest of us call the Traders--aren’t much better. They deal in assets. Not surprisingly, our orders often come from them because, I’m told, what we do keeps the order of things in check. Praised Be someone appreciates the shit we do.
Seems to me to have more to do about monetary gain than the equitable distribution of empirical resources, but I’m no managerial archangel, so what do I know? I’m a grunt and follow orders as they’re given. That doesn’t make me stupid, although she’d like you to believe otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong; I love my wife, Hasiel. She’s perfect for me—puts up with a hell of a lot. I know few others who would. I may be an angel but you can’t expect me to be perfect. It's just not my nature. Besides, takes too much energy to be nice all the time. She likes me in spite of myself, so who am I to complain.
It’s just that I’m not the mushy type, ya see—most of us guys aren’t, if we’re being honest here—and I think she’d like me to be, at least to be less of an assh*le. The way I see it though, it’s the pussies out there that give guys like me a bad name.
Shit! I cried once. Ordered a #10 at this Thai place downtown and f*ck me if I didn’t nearly keel over from the fire in that shit. But that’s not when I cried. It was the next day, if you know what I mean. Prop and Push didn’t even come close to rectifying that painful situation.
Anyway, I’m a lucky guy, like she reminds me every day and I’m not about to walk out on her, not for Lola’s ass or anyone else’s for that matter. Just so we’re clear on that.
“Yo.” My head snapped back and my mouth clamped shut as I pulled my gaze from Lola’s haunches.
“What are you waiting for? The sky to drop? Get going. You’ve been issued your orders!”
My boss is a dick, no two ways about it. Not HIM, but this prick named Bradley breathing his mayonnaise breath in my face. What kind of a name is that for an angel anyway I’d like to know? Bradley. His high-n-tight looks like a freakin’ top knot and someday I’m going grab him by it and chuck him to Kingdom Come. His wife’s this little round thing that works over in Accounting—sweet as can be. Can’t fathom what she saw in him but someday, you watch, I’m liable to make that poor woman a widow if he keeps spitting on me and trying my patience.
Bozo stood up from his desk and I could see him making faces at me over Bradley’s shoulder. I couldn’t help but smirk as I brushed past the man, grabbing my bag and jacket off the desk as I did so. Bozo and I began the countdown. We knew it was coming.
“AND WIPE THAT SMIRK OFF YOUR FACE OR I’LL WIPE IT OFF FOR YOU!” Bingo, right on queue. And for the record, he couldn't wipe his own ass without a manual.
Bozo was right behind me when I reached the elevator, his bag tossed over his shoulder and a big shit eating grin on his face. Looking at him with one eyebrow raised, I jammed my finger on the button and shook my head.
He’s my man, the best partner anyone could have and I wouldn’t trade him for any of the archangels. Bozo’s not his real name, just a nickname he’d acquired somewhere down the line on account of his head of unruly red hair and his wiry lanky frame. He was born to Irish immigrants in Boston while I had the misfortune of growing up in Waycross, Georgia, on the wrong side of the tracks I might add. But, that never stopped us from becoming fast friends. Axel’s not my given name either and that’s all you need to know about that.
We stepped into the elevator, after letting a few folks off, swiped our badges and Bozo typed in the coordinates to our next destination. With a lurch, we shot up the shaft, our translucent wings spreading out in unison as we emerged from the building glowing brilliant in transparency, which is best seen beyond the distortions emitted by planetary atmospheres. Together, we tore through space and time faster than the speed of light, faster even than the speed of thought, but that I am certain is beyond your limited human comprehension.
That’s another thing I like about my job. There's a few other perks, but don't want to get ahead of myself.