I can tell you, nothing changes your world view like an angel wandering into your coffee shop.
I had just signed a lease on the location a few months ago, wedged between an organic food market and an overly modern art boutique. I expected an interesting crowd. My first customer, however, managed to raise the bar to a whole new level.
The man wandered in a day or two before the store was scheduled to open. I was standing behind the counter making sure that the cash register was working. “I’m sorry,” I spoke up. “We haven’t opened yet…”
My words trailed away as I took in the man standing before me. The man wore an oversized fedora and was dressed in what appeared to be three trench coats, each of a different color and cut, layered on top of each other. Many more examples have since confirmed to me that angels are comically bad at disguising themselves.
The man ignored my comment and politely requested a large coffee, seven creams, seven sugars. Not quite sure how to respond to such single-minded politeness, I made him the coffee. “That will be three dollars,” I told him.
Beneath the brim of his fedora, the fellow’s eyes looked unusually blank. He reached into the pocket of one of his coats and withdrew a large gold coin, which he set on my counter with a solid thud. Apparently considering payment complete, he took a long drag of the coffee. “Ooh, this is excellent!” he said in delight. “Wonderful! Expect more of us tomorrow!”
Clutching his drink, the man turned and exited via the door before I could say a word. After he had left, I slowly moved out from around the counter. I checked three times, just to be certain. Yes, the door was still tightly locked. I turned back to the counter, toying with the heavy golden coin as I tried to make sense of what had happened. A man had just walked in through a locked door, obviously in some sort of disguise, to order a cup of very watered-down coffee! What was happening?
The next morning, waiting with trepidation behind the counter, I watched in amazement as nearly two dozen angels poured inside through the locked door. This time, there was no second-guessing their origin. The beings wore white robes, vaguely reminiscent of togas, and halos bobbed above their heads. Some of them carried harps or lyres under an arm. A few even bore swords strapped to their waists, the blades of which appeared to be on fire.
The angels clamored forward to the counter. Despite their halos, I caught a few subtle elbows jammed into sides as they jockeyed into a rough line. The first angel in line smiled beatifically at me. “Large coffee, seven creams, seven sugars,” he said, already laying another one of the gold coins on the counter.
My brain was returning nothing but static and fuzz. Busy signal, please try again later. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Who are you? How did you get here?”
The angel looked confused. “Seven creams, seven sugars,” he repeated, sounding less certain. Behind him, I could hear discordant notes as one of the angels struggled to tune his lyre.
We could have remained at that impasse all day, staring at each other in mutual confusion. Fortunately, A slim, dapper-looking gentleman in a gray suit broke the stalemate, squirming irritably past the angel. “Hello there,” the man said, extending a hand across the counter. “Name’s Gabriel. Sorry about this.”
Acting on autopilot, I accepted the proffered hand. “This?” I repeated. Large white wings extended out from Gabriel’s shoulders, mesmerizing me as they waved back and forth.
Gabriel waved one hand vaguely at the assembled angels. “Listen, don’t worry about this. Your shop just happens to be at a nexus of intersecting loci, with real termini at nearly nine of the fourteen dimensions. Basically, it’s really easy for us to access, so it’s very convenient for grabbing a morning fix.”
None of the words that had just come out of this angel’s mouth made the slightest bit of sense. “Angels are real?” I asked. I felt rather dumb for asking the question when the evidence to the contrary currently stood in front of my eyes, waiting for coffee.
The angel in the suit across the counter rolled his eyes. “Yeah. Now, I’ll take an espresso machiato.”
“I think that angel back there was first,” I said tentatively, nodding at the angel Gabriel had shrugged aside…
Link to Part II!