Section 1: History
Section 2: Literature
Section 3: Philosophy
Section 4: Creative
"Patrick!" came Margaret's softly modulated voice, as clearly as if she were in the next room, instead of thousands of miles away from him, on the other side of the ocean that he could never cross. "What's wrong? You sound upset! Are you all right?"
Patrick's chest sagged as he felt a dozen fearful demons depart it at the sound of her concerned voice. "I'm fine, Angel, only missin' you and hatin' every lonely second parted from you. Are you all right? Is the baby? Why are you callin' so late?" he asked shakily.
"It's not late here. It's only seven o'clock, and I've been napping off and on today, so I'm not sleepy now. I know it's the middle of the night there, but--something made me just want to pick up the phone and call you, even if I woke you up. I know it sounds silly--it was like a little voice in my head. Maybe it was the baby," she laughed. "But that's only fair. He won't let me sleep, so why should I let his da sleep either?"
"He?" Patrick forced himself to ask, a running joke between them because he teased her that he hoped for a girl who looked just like her beautiful mother.
"It sounds crazy, doesn't it? But it did sound like a little boy's voice in my head, Patrick," Margaret insisted. "When I was at the hospital today, I stopped by the children's ward and I did see a cute little boy. Maybe I was just thinking about him, I don't know. I miss you so much I'm not exactly thinking straight--do I need an excuse to hear your voice?"
"I know, Angel, I know. 'And like music on the waters is thy sweet voice to me.' And you went to the hospital today--" But Patrick felt a chill ran down his spine when Gilbert caught his eye. There was a rather smug expression on Gilbert's face as he spoke to his wife--of course, Gilbert could hear his end of the conversation, but it was almost as if he could overhear Margaret's, too, and was taking credit for it somehow.
Good god, Gilbert did resemble a baby, and his high-pitched voice.… No, it's impossible, Patrick thought, almost dropping the phone. There was no way in hell that Gilbert could have effected Margaret's phone call. It was simply a bloody coincidence.
"…told Larry I don't want to look at the sonogram. I want to be surprised," Margaret was saying, and he forced his attention back to tho let us begin! More tea, first, please?"
"Help yourself," Patrick waved his hand over the tea tray. The last thing that concerned him was being a charming host to this character, although if the tea incident was any indication, he didn't seem to have much say in the matter.
"Very good," Gilbert murmured, his mouth full. After he swallowed, he smacked his lips discreetly, dabbed them with his napkin, sat back, and looked brightly at Patrick.
Patrick, who had retrieved his own cup and refilled it from the pot, was drinking simply to keep himself from wrapping his hands around Gilbert's neck again. Almost against his will, he met Gilbert's pale blue gaze.
"Excellent! Thank you, kind sir! All right then, after a few false starts, we're both agreed that it's high time you knew the purpose of my visit."
"Go on," said Patrick grimly.
"Well, it's quite simple, and if you examine my past actions, you should be able to surmise something of the truth! After all, your head is in the clouds quite a bit of the time, I know you're not a," he shuddered, "stark realist. Nobody who quotes Yeats--or Byron--could possibly be! And I know you believe in angels, at least a certain one. So please bear all of that in my mind when I tell you what I am."
"Good heavens, I'm an angel!"
Patrick turned to Gilbert, his jaw dropping again. "You're a bloody what?"
"Oh, yes, it's quite true! I'm an angel--well, a career conditional angel, that is, my dear Professor! I'm afraid I don't have my wings yet and that does make approaching clients a bit more difficult. If I had them, I'm sure you would have welcomed me more readily."
"Yeah, bloody right," Patrick muttered dryly, thinking the man is daft.
"In any event, I was on duty tonight when your thought--the one I mentioned earlier, you know," Gilbert said tactfully, ignoring Patrick's comment, "appeared on my monitor. We career con angels have to work holidays, in case you were wondering, but I don't mind! Holidays, especially Christmas, give us the most wonderful opportunity to intervene, because so many of you people are so unhappy during them!"
Gilbert finished up this speech with such a cheerful expression that Patrick quickly consumed another mouthful of tea to hide a twisted smile. If this strange little man only knew…but he was saying he did know! But he there was no way he could…and he bloody couldn't be an angel. He was a real, solid, man. Patrick would have the bruises on his hind end in the morning to prove that. No. Even if Gilbert were really harmless--maybe the local eccentric--? Patrick eyed him thoughtfully.
"But don't think I'm judging you, oh, no!" Gilbert added hastily. "Humans don't have it easy. I remember those days well myself, and I can fully sympathize with you, my friend."
Patrick decided to take a different angle.
"Tell me, Gilbert," he asked carefully. "Where is the--well, the home--I'm assumin' it's somethin' like that, not a prison--that you came from tonight? They must be lookin' for you. I'll be glad to take you back. I won't go in with you, but--"
For the first time, Gilbert looked slightly offended, but he quickly recovered. "You're a tougher nut to crack than I realized," he said as if to himself. Aloud he said, "Oh, good heavens, you'd run out of petrol long before we reached my home! Please just humor an old man like me, will you, Professor? I'd appreciate it so much--I'm truly harmless. I can't hurt you--or rather, I won't hurt you--and maybe I can even help you! What have you got to lose?"
"How on earth can you help me?" Patrick asked, despite his better judgment. God, the little man was persuasive, or was he himself just so damn desperate?
"Oh, it's not earthly," Gilbert chuckled, "but it's very simple--very simple indeed. A most simple, but very effective method, Patrick--I may call you Patrick? And may I show you?"
As Patrick nodded in resignation to both questions, a higher power seemed to be guiding his neck.