Angels Have Critics?
Mr. Harold Zo, when we last met him, had had a rather odd encounter with a group of wandering angels. Their purposes obscure, it ends up they had whisked him away to a stadium gig in the Empyrean Heaven, which is a few city blocks from the choking wreckage of Tiger Heaven. Celestial property values had plummeted ever since that incident.
Mr. Harold Zo: How are we going to measure up to a whole crowd of angels? Aren’t the choirs of heaven supposed to be achingly beautiful? We’re mad to even try.
Quivver: If they are angels, I’m sure they’re going to be forgiving sorts of folk. I can’t imagine we’ll get a raw deal on pay, either. Relax. Breathe. Just play your guitar and we’ll have this over with in no time.
Quake: I agree.
Mr. Harold Zo: OK, fine. Let’s just go out and do this. Dammit! Except that we forgot the amps. Just noticed that. How could we have done that?
Quake: I’ve been meaning to tell you: we lost them somewhere between the level of the moon and the fires of Purgatory.
Mr. Harold Zo: Great, great, great, great. OK, so it’ll be an acoustic-electronic set. I hope they at least have outlets up here.
Suffice to say that their show went over like a lead balloon, or so the saying goes. Photography and all journalism was forbidden at the show, though a couple of bootlegs did manage to leak out. It became the subject of an investigation by the Divine Council, Subcommittee on Arts and Copyright.
Though they tried their hardest, the band was clearly not heavenly material. The angels who had spirited them away to begin with scoffed and refused to even acknowledge them. It was so bright in there that no one knew what was going on. After receiving an admittedly lucrative payment from a gruff accountant angel, Zo, Quivver, and Quake was escorted back to their tour van.
An angel critic knocks on their door. They open it and radiant light shines through. They quickly usher their guest in and have him seated. Thick blinds dull the searing rays of Empyrea somewhat, but all of the band members are still outfitted in dark sunglasses. Both for style and function, of course.
Angel Critic: Don’t you find twilight such an invigorating time in history? Why, it sings through my very veins.
Mr. Harold Zo: I’m afraid that I’m not acquainted with you.
Angel Critic: I’m an angelic music critic, delivering messages of cultural import to the various Subcommittees who employ me.
Mr. Harold Zo: What’s the point when God runs the whole business?
Angel Critic: Ah, like most humans, you are terribly late in catching on. In case you haven’t noticed, the real estate around here has taken a real hit. Honestly, this used to be such a great neighborhood before housing prices started spiking up. And now we’re living through a slump, the inevitable backlash. No one wants to buy in Empyrea, so we’ve been forced to abide in lesser celestial realms. Many of us, like the ones who brought you here, are wanderers, perpetual drifters through the material universe.
Mr. Harold Zo: Right, since Tiger Heaven collapsed.
Angel Critic: But I haven’t talked about God yet. Well, that’s probably for the better. You’re all familiar with God, I take it?
Quake: Not a personal acquaintance, but we’ve had some pleasant intercourse.
Quivver: Oh, shut up. Never knew him, though I have heard rumors. Few people on Earth can ever shut up about him.
Angel Critic: Oy. Yes, well. Let’s just say that if the divine one were still around, we wouldn’t need a sprawling bureaucracy just to ensure basic communication services throughout the universe. Honestly, you should see the payroll the Subcommittee on Cosmic Discourse.
Quake: I see. So when we come back to Earth, we can say we have confirmation of God’s nonexistence? Angel Critic cocks its head and gives a quizzical look. Well, at least non-efficacy?
Angel Critic: That would be fair to say. Thanks for the show, by the way. You’ve been a great help to us, despite the difficulties we were all seeing.
Mr. Harold Zo: I’m glad you noticed, but I’m not eager to discuss them. Could you get to the point? I would like to get back to Earth in time for Christmas.
Angel Critic: Quite right, quite right. I will be quick. While the rabble here have all dismissed you as charlatans and, quite frankly, bad singers, I think you have something revolutionary here. I plan on sending out a message to this effect.
Quivver: Great. But why do you need to bother us to do that?
Mr. Harold Zo: No, it’s a valid question.
Angel Critic: Right. I wanted to say sorry, to console you. I know that it’s hard playing such a rough crowd, and I wanted to make sure you were doing fine.
Mr. Harold Zo: Well, you’re certainly the only conscientious angel we’ve met for a long time. Everyone else seems to be hell-bent on drafting us into one gig or another. Is that all?
Angel Critic: Afraid so. What I want to make sure of is that you are invited back, and this time allotted proper equipment and a crew. It is the mission of the critic to assist artists in whatever manner he or she can.
Mr. Harold Zo: Great. Now, can you get out of our van?
Angel Critic: We’re not all as bad as we seem. It’s just that we’re somewhat…confused right now.
Quake: Thank you.
The angel nods goodbye to everyone and exits silently.
At that moment, the van fell from the heavens into the depths of space. The light faded, and I, Alexius, noticed a meteorite streaking in the sky. I watched as it landed in my backyard, considerably slowed by a large parachute.
Alexius: This gives me an idea for a piece I need to write. I sure hope they survived.