Gabriel Farmer sat quietly outside of the hospital trauma bay completely lost in thought. The doctors worked furiously on the squadmate but the damage was irreparable and they were unable to save him. Gabe looked down at his blood soaked hands and wondered why him? Why was death haunting him? It seemed that everywhere he went, death followed like an unshakeable shadow. He was the reaper of souls dressed in a blue uniform taking from people he came in contact with and wanted no part of that responsibility.
It was senseless, this death of a good cop. The suspect managed to live through surgery and would later stand trial for his misdeeds but he would be alive to face judgment. Gabe’s squadmate was robbed of that option and he knew it was somehow his fault. He was cursed. What started out that day as a joke was becoming true, he was the “Angel of Death”. It was senseless for the tormented man to die an agonizing death and the mourning widower to cut his own life short. Now his partner was taken. It was too much to burden and Gabe felt crushed by the weight of it all.
Other cops came to the hospital in the tragic hour of need but for some reason steered clear of Gabe as he sat contemplating his reasoning for being. It was like they too believed he was a cursed man.
Maybe it was true, he thought.
Gabe felt the tension from the other cops and decided to walk away for he did not want to spread this curse on anyone else. He found a water fountain down the hallway and took in the refreshing water as his body begged for it. He found a small side room and ducked in for an escape. The cacophony of chaotic sounds, beeps and voices instantly fell silent in the small room. It would be his sanctuary from the madness. The room was empty and he took a seat continuing his own thoughts of torment.
He stared at the small rubberized wrist band on his hand. It was black with a blue stripe in the middle, a simple homage to the brotherhood of police officers and how they stick together. He tugged at it and threw it across the small room knowing he failed at having his partner’s back and letting him die. Tears flooded his eyes and began to roll down his cheeks.
He cried silently for a moment until he heard the door open. He wiped away the tears and glanced a look back. An older man, dressed in a hospital gown looked back at Gabe as he took a seat behind him in the small room. Gabe turned back and dove back into his thoughts.
After a minute of shared silence, the man said “You’re looking at it all wrong.”
Gabe looked up and back around thinking he was talking to someone else, but it was just them in the room.
“Yes, I’m talking to you. You are looking at it all wrong.”
“I’m sorry, do I know you? What are you talking about?”
“You’re thinking you are somehow cursed, right?”
“Yeah, but how do you know that? Listen, I’m not really the mood to be messed with.”
“I’m not messing with you. I’m here to offer. . .” the man paused, “an alternative perspective.”
Gabe spun around in his seat and looked straight at the man. He had a long white beard and held a look of aged wisdom. He maintained a genuine and serious look. Gabe was at a crossroads and was willing to accept anything to help him understand this curse.
“Okay, how should I be looking at it?”
“You are not cursed for starters. You’re a messenger, from God.”
“What? Okay, you must have walked over here from the psych ward, time to go back buddy.”
With calm clarity that is absent among the sick-minded, the man said, “No, I’m serious. You are a messenger. The tormented man was that, tormented and you were able to see that. He had killed his entire family in a drunk-driving accident years prior and the guilt consumed him to the point of mental collapse. He was called home so he could not hurt anyone else and finally be with his family.”
Gabe looked at the man shocked but hung on every word wanting to believe what he said.
“How did you know about that?”
“I just do. And the elderly man yesterday, he failed to mention the pact he made with his wife didn’t he?”
Gabe shook his head in astonishment.
“After she died, he had nothing in that life to prove. He wanted to be with her in eternity as he had in life, so it was granted and that was unfortunately the quickest way.”
“But he had life yet to live, it was senseless.”
“You’ll understand the power of love one day soon.”
“Okay but today. There is nothing good about today, nothing!”
“That’s not true. There is a need for heroes, even in the afterlife and however untimely it seems, he was called.”
“But, why not leave him and take the suspect instead, why not take him? Condemn him?”
“He is wicked, no doubt but he will pay the price for his sins on earth before coming home, you made sure of that.”
“Yes, the simple life saving measure you took on scene for him, albeit small and simple, made the difference in him living or dying.”
“Why does it have to be death, I don’t think I can’t take any more. I won’t be able to get close to anyone knowing that death is waiting.”
“Death waits for us all. But it’s not all about life and death.”
“Do you remember the drug addicted fool you chased the other day?”
“Yes, what about him? Did he die in jail of an overdose or something?”
“What if I told you he finally reached the bottom and your arrest has motivated him to clean himself up?”
“I suppose anything’s possible. But, I don’t understand, so how am I supposed to look at this, I’m not following.”
“Gabriel, you are not the reaper of souls, you are a guardian angel and a messenger placed on earth. What better place to fight the war against good and evil than in the front lines you deal with on a daily basis? And what better role could you be in to fight than working in the noblest of all professions, that of a peacekeeper?”
Gabriel felt relief as he listened to the man speak and bowed his head in recognition that his words made sense. Death is a necessity in life and divine grace can appear even in the worst of circumstances. Perhaps the old man is right, he thought. As the words soaked in, he realized the man spoke his name, without him introducing himself and his nameplate on his uniform only says his last name. His head shot up to inquire how he knew that but the man was gone. He whipped his head around the small room and it was empty. He was alone, but the words registered and oddly enough Gabriel Farmer felt better. He felt connected and with purpose, not lost and burdened.He got up to leave the small room and looked back at the far wall. The sight made him pause and put the odd interaction with the mysterious older man in perspective. An illuminated crucifix hung boldly on the wall and on the outside of the room, the nameplate read “Chapel”.