Randal only took the job as an ArchAngel because of the perks; extra day in the Garden- full replica of Eden before Eve doomed the world to certain doom; a larger bathroom at his house with a steam room in it; extra credit at the Salon to have his Wings groomed; and the privilege to date anyone in history at whatever age you decided. He picked Peggy Maloy, his High school crush from PRSS back in his hometown. Never dated her, he never talked to her any more than Hello, or You dropped your soup on me, but he always considered her as the one that got away.
Every woman he ever dated was compared to this fictional character sketch of his Great White Whale- his Moby Dick, he would tell the boys at the pub- No pun intended. His best friend from College, Peter Futerman, was in Heaven, as well, and had heard the stories of The Gros Poissons Peggy so many times he would tell everyone he was catching himself also comparing his girlfriends to Randal's ersatz love story. He called it a sickness, Randal called it the ultimate attraction.
Peter always believed Eryn, whom Randal met in Seattle at the Emerald City Comicon, was the one he should have stayed with, but Randal had to break up with her because their sexual levels weren't meshing- his words. Fact was, she was very open, she just didn't think making their safe word Peggy was appropriate. They had been together for three years, and almost bought a house together, she was even planning to propose to him. Peter found out, years later, she took the money from selling the engagement ring and moved to Australia. According to her Facebook page she went through a thing, after Randal. A deep depression, then a great awakening, finally swearing off men, marrying another woman- an architect; and they had two adopted daughters.
Randal had only been in Heaven for maybe a month, now, and today was when he would finally meet his perfect someone: Peggy at age seventeen. He'd cleaned the house, bought both kinds of milk; Cow, and Soy, just in case, and downloaded all the music he could remember Peggy listening to when they were in school; a little bit of Culture Club, some early Prince, some Men without Hats, and a few Alan Jackson songs. He tested the dimmer on the light in the living room, and the bedroom in hopes she felt an overwhelming need to be amorous immediately.
On his better days, Rabdal knew that there would be a whole learning curve before their relationship would completely cement, and not all the dreams he had for them would be as true as his built-up memories. On his good days. Today, he was hovering at about a seventy-seven percent level of love-blindness; blissful, hopeful, confident.
Checking himself in the mirror, he straightened his hair, and his wings, then fluttered his wings to get that ruffled, Maybe-I-don't-care-too-much look. He grasped the door knob, and before he opened the door decided to look through the peep hole. His confidence was beginning its descent. She was so young. Younger than he remembered. Shorter, too; easily a foot shorter than he. There was a light speckle of acne on her forehead. Even her breasts were smaller, he figured an A-cup- maybe a small B if it was cold out. He felt like he was spying on a sister, not peeping on the woman if his dreams.
Taking a deep breath, then breathing it out, he opened the door and tried to smile... but couldn't.
"Randal?" she said.
He nodded. He couldn't speak. He was overwhelmed with having a dream come true come true, but he was shocked at how embarrassed and sick he felt for all the times he daydreamed of the sex they would have enjoyed. Enjoyed? Now even that word made him sick. He was less attracted to her than his need to hold her, and protect her from the world.
She asked if she could come in. Randal stepped out of the way to let her past. The Angel from the Embassy of Dreams held out a metal clipboard for Randal to sign, which he did, then closed the door.
When Randal composed himself, after repeating in his head, "It's okay, God let me have this. It's okay, God let me have this," he asked her, "Can I get you anything?"
Peggy Maloy, of the Eagle Crescent Maloys, asked for a Coke and sat on the couch. She grabbed the remote for the TV, kicked off her shoes, and said, "How many channels you got on this thing? What channel's Morton Downey, Jr. on. I love him. Do you have a telephone, I wonder if Susan knows I'm here, I gotta tell her that James from Science 11 wants me to be his sex-slave. You do want me to be your sex-slave right? But you're so old. I mean, I know that I have to be here, but you are just so old. No offence, right. Did you even know Susan died? Yeah, drunk driving- killed a Chinese kid- Susan has all the best stories."
His shame, and his stomach ache left Randal shaking with adrenaline. Within moments he, too, was his 17 year old self. Clumsy, nervous, awkward; he couldn't find the right words to say. The coke can shook in his hand, and drummed a beat on the lip of the glass, more foam than liquid. With silent trepidation he inched towards Peggy, who was already on the phone with Susan, was flipping through channels without looking at the TV, then looked at the fizz-filled glass.
"Jeeze, thanks for half a glass of pop, Randal."
Randal's shoulders curved in on themselves, and he slumped next to Peggy on the couch. Careful not to touch her, nor did he try to look at her, he couldn't look anywhere but his hands.
Peggy paused her conversation with Susan, and said, "I'll ask- I'll- yes, I'll ask him, man. Hey Randal? Susan wants to know if you're you still a virgin?"
Struck dumb with the absurdity of his life now, and the life he lived before he accidentally killed himself when he took too many sleeping pills instead of Aspirin, Randal couldn't answer the question. He wanted to strangle her- or strangle himself. Or chop off his wings and take the scary elevator at the edge of town square that everyone believed went down to Hell; just run and hide.
"I think he is," she said back to the receiver. "He isn't answering me, he must be embarrassed. You know what Susan, I don't even know if I like sex. I don't. It's boring, it's sweaty, and it hurts. no, I know- maybe it only hurt cuz Travis was so big- but whatever- I just don't like it anymore. What? Yes, I think I am supposed to with Randal, but I don't think I will. Yes- I don't care- what are they going to do? Kill me?"
And she laughed that laughed that Randal forgot about. The laugh that told you that she really didn't care, that made you feel less than her, the kind of laugh that made you want to make her laugh at someone else and not you, so you would try to point out someone else's faults.
After sitting only inches away from Peggy- Peggy his dream girl, and her not so much as talking to him except to make fun of his manliness in some way, Randal finally slipped off to bed alone. Lying down, he closed his eyes, and tried to will himself to sleep so he could have a reprieve from this thing he brought on himself. Of course she would be like this, this is what teenagers were, obnoxious, brash; sometimes mean. They were finding themselves, and Randal realized he had fallen in love with the potential of this girl- the someone she might be, not the person she was. Not like Eryn who had been calm, happy, he might have liked Eryn alot, but maybe was scared to be with her so he shoved a broken memory of an unfulfilled future in her face.
Did he really do that? Why would he turn away the only girl he could have ever loved? Maybe he would call her tomorrow. If she was even dead. She really liked him, she might have even loved him. Must have. Man, he thought, she was a damn great girlfriend. Maybe the best. So perfect, she really 'got him'. She'd play video games in the nude with him, loved Star Wars, was the best sex he ever had. Man, she was great.
With Peggy in the other room, squeaking into the phone, and the volume on a Music Video too loud for the apartment, he masturbated to the thought of Eryn, and smiled at how no girl had ever been as great as her. What a lucky man he was. What a lucky man.