The Life-Ready Bar: Part III

The little girl from Easy’s family claps her hands and steps forward, eager to drink.

‘Don’t touch it, Suzy!’ her mother yells, pulling the girl back.

‘Why, Mummy?’

‘Can’t you read?’ she says, pointing her sword at the door. ‘It says “death!”’

‘And that smell coming through the door,’ Easy says, ‘has to be a dead body.’

‘What’s the noise?’ Ivy asks.

‘It’s our friends on the other side,’ the angel says, ‘having a dance party.’

‘Hey,’ the African says, looking at Ivy. ‘What if I take your girl to the lolly shop?’

Ivy turns to look and a roll-a-door opens on the far wall, revealing shelves of lollies.

‘Us too, please,’ the older boy says.

Ivy nods and her children run off after the African.

‘How good is this,’ Easy says. ‘Forget the door. We got a lolly shop and a good view. Let’s set up camp here.’

‘Not a good idea,’ the rough man says, sitting down and leaning his back against the wall: the little girl seating herself next to him and standing the goblet between them. ‘Things aren’t what they seem in this place.’

‘Like what?’ Easy asks.

‘People like us bring more troubles than you could ever dream of,’ he says, pulling out a cigarette and lighting up. ‘Tell him, darling,’ he says looking at the tall girl.

‘What?’

‘About the troubles,’ he says, blowing a stream of smoke up at her.

‘It’s not all bad,’ she says, laughing and tossing her hair. ‘We bring lots of fun, too.’

‘So, you know how to party,’ Easy says, looking her up and down.

‘The infection seems to have started already,’ the angel says, looking at the girl.

‘What you talkin’ about?’ Easy asks.

‘The way you looked at me then,’ the girl says. ‘You saw the glory in me—nothing wrong with that—but then you tried to extort it; to use the Higher Power.’

‘You mean God?’

‘We don’t use God here.’

‘No, I meant by “Higher Power” did you mean “God?”’

‘It’s problematic,’ the girls says, glancing at the angel. ‘Think of it this way: the Higher Power is infinite, which means not able to be trapped in time, space—or vocabulary.’

‘What the hell?’ Easy says, taking Ivy’s hand and walking a few steps away.

Ivy pulls her hand from his and sits on the floor, shaking her head.

‘In your present state,’ the girl says to Easy, ‘you look, you taste and you try to trap God.’

‘What’s wrong with a bit of fun?’

‘It’s no joke, sir, believe me. Sooner or later—for your own sake—the divine mercy will intervene.’

‘Ah. So, they’re gunna throw me out?’

‘You’re missing the point,’ the angel interrupts, running the edge of his sword across the door. ‘If you let the infection take its course, your whole family will begin looking upon each other the same way. There will be no love, no us and no home.’

‘Already got that, Mister Angel.’

‘We do not, thank you!’ Ivy says, scowling at Easy.

‘But it won’t stop there,’ the girl says. ‘Next thing, every sunrise, river and flower; even the mountains and oceans will be seen as fair game: as something to use, to devour.’

‘So much for a quiet night in a bar, ay sweetheart,’ Easy says, sitting next to Ivy. ‘It’s like we’ve caught some bloody virus!’

‘Yes,’ the angel says, ‘and while ever you’re infected, the divine mercy clouds its creation—for—until you humble yourself and accept the cure—you will only ever cope with the faintest of tastes.’

‘Better than nothing, I guess,’ Easy says.

‘True. But until you are cured, ‘restrained goodness…’9 is all you will be trusted with, lest you go insane with appetite and turn all of paradise into a ravaged misery.’

‘That’s just wrong,’ Ivy says. ‘It’s evil to put a guilt trip like that on us.’

‘Only to those who insist on seeing temporarily-veiled good as evil.’

‘Maybe we should just get out of here?’ Easy says, turning to Ivy.

‘I don’t think we—’

‘She’s right,’ the girl interrupts. ‘You’re stuck here between life’s door and death’s door.’

‘But it’s not all bad,’ the angel adds. ‘You’ve already tasted how delicious the Higher Power can be, in Ivy. You could say it’s—’

‘So delicious it’s irresistible,’ the girl says, raising an eyebrow.

‘I’d rather we didn’t go there,’ Ivy says, looking at Easy.

Easy takes her hand, sure he’s just seen her blushing. She never does that.

‘Which brings us back to the door,’ the angel says, ‘and to that clock,’ he adds looking up at a huge clock on the wall. ‘We’re running out of time.’

‘Bullshit!’ Ivy says, putting her hands on her hips. ‘The time on that clock hasn’t changed since we’ve been here.’

‘Very observant,’ the angel says, slapping his sword. ‘Just a little trick we like to play on new arrivals.’

‘Trick?’

‘Time doesn’t seem to matter much here. It’s like you’ve got forever to think about the door.’

‘Meanwhile,’ the rough man says, stubbing out his cigarette and standing up, ‘we’ve become more of a problem for you.’

‘To hell with your problems,’ Ivy says, looking at Easy. ‘Come on darling, let’s call the kids and do it without these people.’

A shadow floats across the room. An enormous black, sharp-beaked bird glides down to the floor and bird-walks towards Ivy.

‘Help!’ Ivy screams.

‘Not so fast,’ the angel says, drawing his sword and taking a swipe at the bird.

With a screech and a furious flapping of wings, the bird flies away. One long feather floats.

‘What was that all about?’ Easy asks as the angel sheathes his sword.

‘Ivy summoned her.’

‘I did not!’

‘You did, actually, when you said, “To hell with your problems!”’

‘How was I to know that?’

‘You know now—and without these people you won’t even make it through the door.’

‘Why?’

‘Because you’ve fallen in love with the crow,’ the tall girls says, walking to her sister and sitting next to her.

‘I have not!’ Ivy shouts.

‘But you have,’ the angel says. ‘She always comes when you sing her song.’

‘I didn’t mean to,’ she says, sobbing. ‘And how can these people help us, anyway?’

‘They’ve given up the fight to stay dead: having been there, done that with the crow. Now they’re on the mend.’

‘Like they’re zombies in recovery?’ Easy asks.

‘Well—if by “zombies” you mean beings that want to walk around and stay dead at the same time, that would be you, now, not them.’

‘No way,’ Easy says, walking to the door and putting his ear to it. ‘And another thing, the music coming through this door is amazing.’

‘I rest my case, the angel says. ‘You have only just begun to taste the joys of becoming dead.’

‘I love this door,’ Ivy says, walking to the door and breathing in. ‘The sweet fragrance coming through here is so beautiful! Strike me dead if it’s not heavenly.’

‘Hey guys, what’s made you so happy?’ the African asks, walking back with the children, their arms loaded with lollies.

[Much of this dialogue is inspired by Charles Williams’ works: The Figure of Beatrice and Romantic Theology. See also 9 Charles Williams, The Figure of Beatrice (The Apocryphyle Press, Berkeley, CA 2005, 
[Faber & Faber 1943]) p.48]