The Emerald Angel of Vegoz, Chapter 3

“Who’s that?” Daphne asked as the Met Kids murmured in agreement with that suggestion.

“Oh, he’s a very powerful angel! But he’s also very wise,” Sapphire knowingly answered her. “Many Vegozians turn to him for help their deepest problems, and no fallen angel will dare to cross him!”

Daphne responded, “He sounds great! When does he get here?”

Sapphire let her know, “He doesn’t. He doesn’t leave his headquarters in Summerland, which is on the west side of Vegoz. It’s a fairly ritzy community. Must be nice to watch over that area! I’m not bitter, I like my assignment!”

“Yeah…” Daphne didn’t quite believe her, but with more pressing issues on her mind, she hardly had a minute to argue. “So, if I travel to this Summerland neighborhood, the Emerald Angel will help me get back to Kansas, California?”

“Probably.” Sapphire espied Daphne’s alarmed expression, so she elaborated, “He’s very exclusive in how he renders aid to, but you don’t have anything to worry about! The Carmine Clogs don’t choose just anyone to grace their presence with!”

Daphne inquired, “What do they do?”

Sapphire shrugged. “Whatever they do must be significant or else the Ochre Angel wouldn’t be plotting your demise over them!”

“Swell. Is Summerland far from here?” Daphne wondered.

“Uh… Kinda! But, again, don’t worry! Assistance will always find you at your most dire hour!” Sapphire assured her.

With wide eyes, Daphne queried, “You’re not going with me?”

Sapphire told her, “I’d like to, but if I set foot into the posh district looking like I do, I usually get arrested for suspicion of this and that. And no, I can’t change unless I leave Vegoz, which I rarely do. I did take a trip to U SUCK once!”

“U-S-C-K!” Daphne corrected her.

“Whatever. I had to observe Almira in her teacher role. I never did see how she runs her classes, but I heard her yelling at some employee for shelving her books too slowly…”

Daphne informed her, “That was me!”

This startled her a tad, but Sapphire nonchalantly addressed her, “Well, she won’t be an issue for you anymore in her lifeless condition!”

“She wouldn’t have been an issue anyways ‘cause she got me fired,” Daphne illuminated her.

“Is that why you killed her?” a Met Kid probed.

Daphne insisted, “I didn’t kill her! Will you stop saying that? The police are gonna make me a suspect!”

Sapphire relayed to Daphne, “There isn’t gonna be any kind of formal investigation. There’s no body and no real evidence, so they could never get enough proof to get a conviction in court.”

“I don’t believe that! Somebody somewhere knows who murdered her, and I’m gonna figure out who that is!” Daphne avowed.

“You wanna solve her murder even though she was so horrible to you?” another Met Kid catechized.

Daphne confirmed, “Of course! But not ‘cause I wanna do anything to assist her! There’s a killer on the loose, and they don’t deserve to get away with this crime!”

Sapphire commended her, “That’s very noble of you! The best of luck with that goal! In the meantime, you should get going before Whitney catches up to you!”

“What? Already? I can’t go so soon! I… Oh, I should call my aunt and tell her where her house went! I hope she has protection against magical cyclones on her insurance policy!” She pulled out her cellphone, and to her dismay, she saw that it was cracked beyond repair! “It’s completely busted! Oh gosh, I can get started on my journey now!”

“You’ll do fine!” Sapphire reassured her. She wrapped a supportive arm around her waist, and she indicated to the street in front of them that ran northwest. “Just follow those tall construction cones on Gold Stone Road!”

The choir students chanted, “Follow the Gold Stone Road! Follow, follow, follow! Follow the Gold Stone Road!”

“Okay, I’m off to see the Emerald Angel of Vegoz!” Daphne asserted.

“Goodbye, and God speed!” Sapphire’s height increased, and she shed her dissheveled appearance! She had a soft visage, a long, flowing, turquoise goan, and indigo feathered wings, and she gave Daphne a gentle wink prior to her departure. This gesture erased all of Daphne’s doubts about her angel claims, and she resolved to adhere to her advice. She waved farewell to the Met Kids, and she followed the cones on Gold Stone Road.

Daphne reached a park that was mostly dry grass. Small children played on a nearby playground, and a few older youths played soccer in the field. Three gazebos had three different parties: the first one had a pinata and a bounce house, the second had a set of biker-looking people grilling some food, and the third had a group all wearing white dress shirts and black bottoms who were playing Bingo. Once Daphne soaked in this motley bunch, she turned her attention to her route. She could go straight ahead, turn right, or turn left- none of the avenues had signs by them and all of them had a trail of tall traffic cones! “Oh no! How are we supposed to get to the Emerald Angel now?” Daphne posed to Tater.

From seemingly nowhere, a jolly male’s voice recommended to her, “Pardon me, but going north will do just fine!” 

“Who said that?” Daphne visually scanned the scene to discover who uttered that sentence.

“Course, some people go west too,” the voice conveyed to her.

Daphne eyed a mesquite tree that had a cart with pictures of corn underneath it, and she speculated, “That’s funny, I think that tree is talking to us!”

A pair of arms dangled out of the branches as the voice concluded, “Actually, folks have been known to go both ways!”

After it registered to her that someone was in the timber, Daphne circled around it and beheld a man with sooty, olive-toned skin, brown pants with various stains on it, a green jacket with random patches, and a burnt umber hat hanging from the limbs! It startled DAphne to see such a sight, and the man eagerly pressed her, “Did I scare ya?”

“No! You surprised me a little, but I wasn’t scared,” Daphne swore to him.

“But I didn’t scare ya?” He hung his head in disappointment.

Daphne’s brows furrowed at his reaction. “You were trying to scare me? Is that why you’re hanging out in the branches?”

The man briefed her, “Oh, no! I thought I saw some Easter eggs in there, and I thought I’d get myself a snack!”

“But Easter is still a month away!” Daphne pointed out.

“Eh…!” The man gestured that he didn’t care about the span that the candy had been sitting out there. “Anyways… Yeah, I was trying to scare ya! That’s my job! I guard the elote vendor’s cart while he spends time with family and in exchange for that, he gives me a dollar and a free ear of corn!” 

Daphne noted, “That’s not a fair trade!”

The man lamented, “It isn’t? Oh gosh, that figures! Aw, if I had a brain, I wouldn’t keep getting myself into such terrible predicaments!”

“Don’t be silly! You have a brain! Everyone does!” Daphne differed with him.

“No, no!” the man pleasantly quarreled. “There’s only straw in my thick skull! It isn’t simply my hair, I swear! I can’t use any smarts for nothing! Even a roadrunner was able to outsmart me once!”

Daphne challenged him, “Are you sure you didn’t get that from a cartoon?”

The man despondently recalled, “I haven’t watched t.v. in years! I can’t pay rent anywhere ‘cause I don’t have enough brains to keep a job! I got real close one time, but that Whitney woman set fire to the car wash I was gonna get hired at! For some reason, the owner didn’t wanna take me in after that!”

With her interest piquing upon hearing this, Daphne interrogated him, “You know the Ochre Angel? Do you know her sister too?”

“Almira? Well, yeah! I may not have any intelligence, but I do hear about all the stuff that goes on in the streets!” He indicated to his ears.

“Oh, we have to talk!” Daphne chimed. “What’s your name?”

The man grinned. “Heathrow, Heathrow Bolger!” He tried to extend his hand to hers, but he couldn’t get his arm close enough to her.

Daphne volunteered, “Here, let me help!”

As Daphne climbed up the tree, Heathrow complimented her, “Aw, that’s kind of you! Very kind!”

She spotted a twig that was caught onto this clothing, and she bent the wood to release him. He crashed onto the floor, and Daphne apologized, “I’m so sorry! Are you hurt?”

“Oh, no!” Heathrow jovially reassured her. “I’ve got tough nerves! It’s a haphazard of sleeping on cement!”

“Well, that’s good, I guess! I’m Daphne, incidentally.” She extended her hand to him.

He genially shook it, and she strove not to wince as she felt the filthy texture of his palm. He affably regarded her, “Nice to meet ya, Daphne Incidentally!”

Daphne mentioned to him, “No, it’s just Daphne.”

“Okay! I won’t use your last name,” Heathrow obliged.

“Cool…” Daphne decided against further argument on the subject. “So, tell me more about Almira. Did anything different happen with her lately?”

Heathrow considered the matter for a moment. “Hmm… I don’t know! She’s acted the same for a decade now! Still causes mayhem whenever she’s in town!”

Daphne quizzed him, “How often is she in town?”

“Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Although, she’s been coming weekday nights lately too!” Heathrow remembered. “I did hear some rumors that she was planning to make Vegoz a more permanent residence though!”

“WHAT? Then why did she bother to get me fired at the college?” Daphne cried out. Heathrow ogled her in confusion, so she advised him, “Don’t ask! So, was anyone upset about that decision?”

Heathrow stated, “Everyone!”

Daphne expressed, “Oh, yeah! That was a dumb question! Did anyone get upset enough to make plans to stop her?”

“I doubt it! No one really liked her, but nobody knew how to stop her,” Heathrow reported.

“No one liked her? What about her sister?” Daphne enquired.

Heathrow rubbed his chin contemplatively. “I dunno! I’ve never really seen them together. They mostly stick to their own territories. Well, Whitney does like to go into Almira’s domain when she’s out. I imagine they have some sort of fear quota they gotta fill, so she helps her out!”

Daphne took a mental note of this tidbit. “I see… And now that Almira’s gone, Whitney has full control of Almira’s territory!”

“She’s gone? Where did she go?” Heathrow pondered.

“She died,” Daphne disclosed.

Heathrow’s face contorted into a befuddled presentation. “She is? Well, if she died, why do you wanna know so much about her? She’s left this earth, so who cares what occurred with her while she was still here?”

Daphne enspeeched, “It matters ‘cause regardless of how nasty she was, she still didn’t deserve to get murdered! There’s a killer roaming the streets, and they don’t deserve to get away with their crime! We live in a society of laws for an important purpose! We can’t allow anybody to cherry-pick what rules they get to follow or else society will become chaotic! Whoever did this should have to account for their actions to set an example to everyone else that regulations are for everyone, and this will bring more peace to the land- something we all deserve to live in!”

“You’re probably right! I mean, what do I know? You have a working brain, after all! I don’t! There’s only straw in my noggin!” Heathrow sighed. He then got struck with a stroke of inspiration, “Hey! Do you reckon that the Emerald Angel could give me a real brain?”

“I have no clue!” Daphne remarked. “All I know is he’s super powerful and can allegedly pull off magnificent miracles. If any angel can… fix someone’s noggin…, it’d be him!”

Heathrow entreated Daphne, “Oh, please! Take me with you! I won’t be no trouble ‘cause I don’t have enough smarts to try and take over your agenda! And I won’t bicker none ‘cause I don’t have the ability to outwit anyone! Oh, won’t you take me with you?”

Daphne mulled it over for a spell. “Umm… It’s not that I don’t want the company! Heavens know I’d be better off with someone who has more insight into the layout of the city than I do! But I need to get to Kansas, California as fast as possible! I can’t afford too many delays…”

“I won’t cause any delays!” Heathrow promised. “I won’t even request a meal break ‘cause I can go for days without food! Oh, please let me come! If I only had a brain, I could get myself a decent job and not be a bum no more! It gets lonely out here…”

“Oh, alright!” Daphne consented. “But FYI, you have to be fine with a fallen angel going after us. I got the Carmine Clogs, and she’s plotting to get them back for some reason!”

Heathrow made a noise of disdain. “I ain’t afraid of no fallen angel! I may not got the intellect to best an opponent, but I’ve been a bum long enough to survive almost anything! I’m not afraid of anything…” He changed to a whisper, “Except fire… I’m highly flammable!”

Daphne acceded, “Okie doke! Let’s get a move on then!”

“Yay! We’re off to see the Emerald Angel!” He instantly sprang up and sang, “We’re off to see the Angel, the Emerald Angel of Vegoz! Because, because, because of all of the wonderful things he does!”

“Does everybody here have to sing?” Daphne grumbled.

Heathrow invited her, “Feel free to join in!”

Daphne rejected that notion, “Pass!” Heathrow repeated that verse, and Daphne attempted to interrupt him, “Heathrow! Heathrow! Heathrow!”

“What?” Heathrow paused his antics.

“Which way do we go? North or west?” Daphne grilled him.

Heathrow cheerfully communicated to her, “Yes!”

Daphne let out an exasperated exhale, and she clearly already regretted her decision to permit him to tag along! As he did a festive little jig, she arbitrarily opted to go west. He continued to prance around as they trekked down this path, and Daphne strove to ignore his shenanigans in order to stay calm and finish her mission more speedily. As they departed from the perimeter of the park, Whitney peeked out from behind another mesquite tree and sneered at the oddly paired travelers…

The Emerald Angel of Vegoz, Chapter 2

“Aunt Mae!” Daphne called out as she strove to wrest the cellar door ajar. Opening her mouth got a pile of dust into her throat, and as she coughed it up, she realized it was too late for her to ride out the tornado in the storm shelter. She clutched Tater with all of the might in her arms to keep him secure, and she dashed across the parking lot into a beige mobile home. “We’ll be safe in here, Tater!” Daphne assured her cat. “We just need to stay away from the windows!” Instantly after she uttered that sentence, the living room’s pane came out of its frame and hit Daphne in the head! She fell to the floor with her eyes closed…

“Is it over yet?” Daphne queried as her eyelids fluttered open. She felt the ground beneath her spinning, but she assumed that sensation stemmed from her injury until she glanced outside and beheld a whirling wind speeding by! “I guess that’s a no!” She stood up and watched as various debris zipped by, and when she spotted another mobile home flailing in the distance, she surmised, “We must be inside of the cyclone!” 

A chicken coop with several baby chicks passed by, and Daphne remarked, “Those are probably the ones that escaped before my meeting! I wonder who they belonged to!”

An old lady in a rocking chair floated into her periphery, and she let Daphne know, “They’re mine! Or they were! Looks like I’m not getting cheap eggs after all!” She continued knitting a blanket as the gale took her in another direction.

“Moo!” A cow whooshed by the property.

“Where did she come from?” Daphne puzzled.

Shortly afterwards, a rowboat with Ray, Jack, and Bert inside of it sailed by. They merrily waved to Daphne prior to their disappearance from her sight, and Daphne probed, “Why is everyone so frickin’ calm while they’re in the middle of a frickin’ twister?”

Someone didn’t seem too keen on getting stuck in this tempest, and her presence practically halted Daphne’s heart! Professor Hamilton was on her bicycle furiously peddling away, which made Daphne gasp. She couldn’t fathom anything surpassing that shock, but then Professor Hamilton’s form got replaced with a tall and wide figure with fiery, red hair and a long, crimson robe! Her face grew hazy as though it was surrounded by a cloud, and she sprouted wings with scarlet feathers! Daphne didn’t have a minute to spare to soak in this spectacle because the figure leered and maniacally cackled while raising her hand in a manner that suggested she could emit some sort of trajectory out of it! Daphne braced herself for this impact, but quite abruptly, the figure vanished as if something plucked her out of the sky! The entire transpiration baffled Daphne, but she didn’t have the opportunity to process any of this…

The rotating grew more forceful, and Daphne fell onto a wayward couch. She screamed out of fear of what might occur, and it went faster and faster until… plop! They appeared to have landed on solid earth, but Daphne waited a moment to make sure they were truly in the clear. She espied Tater stumbling across the space in a dizzy fashion, and she recognized that her own balance had become a bit off! Once she collected herself, she attempted to assuage her nerves with humor, “Kinda amazing, huh? We took a wild trip without ever leaving the house!” She chuckled, and when she glimpsed at Tater, she felt like if he could laugh, he wouldn’t. “Well, let’s go see the damage” She beckoned Tater to follow her, and then she cracked open the front door…

Bright colors blinded her vision! Vivid shades of various neon pigments were sprinkled throughout the scenery, and it wasn’t until she recovered from their intensity that she recognized that she was surrounded by tall, metal flowers and flashy, lighted signs! A large building stood in front of her, and it was decorated in a cascade of rich designs! Daphne stepped out onto the porch, and she couldn’t comprehend what kind of place they wound up at! All she could discern was the fact that she had no clue where they were at, and she dumbfoundedly commented, “Tater, I don’t think we’re in California anymore!”

A flash of blue flickered to Daphne’s left, and when she checked it out, she expected to see something extraordinary. It caught her off guard to view the apparent source of illumination as a lady with frizzy, yellow hair, a short and tight cobalt dress, and loose, wrinkly skin with obvious sun damage! This lady’s piercing blue eyes studied her carefully as she lit a cigarette,  and Daphne wasn’t sure what to do with herself. She couldn’t exactly flee in an area she didn’t know, but she wasn’t positive on how a conversation with this individual would benefit her whatsoever! Daphne did grow curious to the type of business the lady intended with her though, so she gave her very focused attention. The lady took a drag off of her cigarette, and Daphne’s intrigue piqued as she decided to speak… “Are you an arc angel or a fallen angel?”

“Huh?” Daphne didn’t have the foggiest notion what to expect from her, but it definitely wasn’t that! That didn’t even make sense to her!

“The Met Kids told me an angel arrived and dropped a house on Almira, the Crimson Angel of the East Side,” the lady conveyed to her.

Daphne couldn’t comprehend what the whole angel bit was about, and she had no inkling who or what the Met Kids were, but one aspect of her sentence struck a chord with her. “Did you say I dropped a house on someone?” She turned back to the mobile home, and to her alarm, she saw a pair of legs with red, fishnet stockings and sparkling, ruby platform shoes sticking out from beneath the dwelling! “Oh my god!” She peeked under the house’s skirting, and she observed, “She’s not breathing! She must be… Professor Hamilton!” When she caught sight of her visage, it was unmistakably her! She saw her minutes ago, so it flummoxed her as to how she could have gotten into this specific predicament! “What is she wearing?” It addled her as to why a woman who usually wore fifty shades of brown would don a striking outfit like that! Nothing was consistent for her that day!

The lady behind her responded, “That’s what the Crimson Angel always wears when she’s in Vegoz.”

“I’m in Vegoz?” Daphne reacted incredulously. “Wow, that tornado sure traveled far! Wait, what does Professor Hamilton do when she’s here?”

“Almira? She terrorized everyone she could!” the lady informed her in between puffs. “Nobody has had the power to stop her before, so when the Met Kids said someone rubbed her out, I figured only a powerful angel could have done it! So, the question remains… Are you an arc angel or a fallen angel?”

Daphne furrowed her brows at this enquiry. “I’m not an angel at all! Aren’t angels dead?” She heard giggling from behind the ornate sculptures, so she asked, “Who’s that?”

The lady answered, “Those are the Met Kids! They’re the students of the Little Met Academy.” She denoted Daphne’s blank expression, so she clarified, “There’s obviously been some confusion here. You’ve landed in front of a school named after the New York Metropolitan Museum, and this is the Artistic District of Vegoz. I’m Sapphire, the Blue Angel of Boulder Expressway. I protect the south side and its inhabitants, but I can get around if I want to!”

“Yeah, I bet you can!” Daphne hadn’t meant for that slight to slip out, and she immediately apologized, “Sorry, I just-!”

“It’s fine! My human form was meant to blend in with my surroundings,” Sapphire explained. “So, you’re really not an angel! I suppose I should have known!”

Daphne bristled at this statement, “Has Professor Hamilton been spreading lies about me here too? I may not have been perfect, but it doesn’t mean I’m not a decent person! I don’t know if I’d call myself an angel, but… Hold on! Did that storm kill me? Am I an angel?”

The Met Kids giggled again, and then Sapphire educated her, “If you were an angel, you’d know it without a doubt! Angels are people who’ve… let’s say gone over the rainbow… and come back to earth with the power to protect a region. Some of us live by the virtues of the arc, but some of my peers have fallen from grace and use their powers to harm. That’s why I wanted to know if you were an arc angel or a fallen angel. But since you’re neither, we’re alright! You hear, it’s alright! You can come out now!”

A flood of high school students in flamboyant garments poured out of their hiding spots, and when they saw the Crimson Angel’s corpse, they erupted in a chorus of cheering. One young man in green apparel approached Daphne, shook her hand, and gratefully regarded her, “Thank you so much for offing that fallen angel!”

“I didn’t do anyone in!” Daphne corrected him. “But it seems like someone out there did! Tell me, kids, do you know anyone who held a grudge against her or wished her gone?”

“Ding, dong! Crimson’s dead!” an assembled choir joyfully sang. “Which old red? The wicked red! Ding, dong! The wicked crimson’s dead!”

Daphne inferred, “Apparently a lot of people did!”

A girl in pink bowed to Daphne and exclaimed, “I represent the Orchestra League, and we would like to thank you and formally welcome you to the Little Mets Acad!”

“There’s no need-!” Daphne attempted to respond to her.

“We represent the Theatre Guild!” Two boys in maroon and azure plaid merrily presented lollipops to her. “A token of our appreciation for your service to-!”

Sapphire interrupted them, “Alright, alright! That’s enough! She’s not a movie producer for cryin’ out loud! Now, we gotta find a way to get this lost person home!”

One teen pointed out, “But her home’s right there!”

“No! I meant we need to get her back to where she came from! And quick too before she runs into-!” A cloud of cloudy, orange light abruptly appeared, and all of the Met Kids raced for cover. A female nearly identical to Almira save for her apricot frock eyeballed her surroundings suspiciously, and Sapphire sighed, “Too late!”

“Who’s that?” Daphne quietly inquired to Sapphire.

Sapphire replied, “That’s Whitney, the Ochre Angel of North Vegoz. She’s a fallen angel too, but she’s worse than the other one!”

Whitney finally noticed the crimson corpse, and she growled, “My sister! No! Who did this?” She swiveled around, and when she saw Daphne, she stomped towards her and seethed, “Was it you?”

“She’s not an angel! It was probably an accident!” a girl in violet defended Daphne from behind a bush.

“Well, my dear, I can make accidents happen too!” Whitney threatened Daphne, who instinctively jumped behind Sapphire for shielding.

Sapphire smartly reminded Whitney, “Aren’t you forgetting the Carmine Clogs?”

Daphne found it odd to bring up shoes at a juncture like this, but Whitney did not! Her eyes widened as she recalled, “The clogs!” She dashed back over to Almira’s body, but prior to her getting to lay a finger on that footwear, they disappeared! The rest of the Crimson Angel’s remains dissolved too, and Whitney howled, “No! The clogs are gone!”

“So is your sister!” Daphne brought up. “Shouldn’t that be more of a concern?”

“Earth angel bodies only last as long as their spirit does,” Sapphire filled her in. Whitney foraged around for the shoes, so Sapphire triumphantly trumpeted, “You’re too late! There they are, and there they’ll stay!”

Sapphire gestured towards Daphne’s feet, and Daphne grew aghast at their sudden placement on her pads! “Ew! Ew! Ew! I have a dead person’s clothes on! Get ‘em off!”

Whitney volunteered, “I’ll do it!”

“Keep them on!” Sapphire recommended. “They must be really powerful or else she wouldn’t want them so badly!”

“Ooh, I’ll get you for this!” Whitney avowed. “Make no mistake, I’ll make the Carmine Clogs mine no matter what, so be afraid! I’ll get you my pretty, and your little kitty too!”

Sapphire laughed derisively, “Oh, b.s.! Your powers are no good here! Now, get away! Go on, shoo!”

Whitney muttered, “Very well! But you haven’t heard the last of me!”

An orange haze enveloped her, and she exited the area. As the Met Kids cautiously reemerged, Sapphire asserted, “Well, there’s only one person who’ll get us out of this mess- The Emerald Angel of Vegoz!”