Today, David Connor is here to tell us about All About Angels that he’s co-written with E.F. Mulder.
It’s been a tough year, and I got to wondering about angels, the heavenly kind who hold our hands when things are stressful and also the kind down here on Earth who keep things moving along as they need to. I first met Civil War soldiers Jefferson and Daniel while creating Goose’s story in Ghost Writer. Jefferson started out as a 150-year-old ghost, but Goose helped him cross over to be with Daniel, the love of his life. Together, they are now an angelic duo who have visited with Goose in a handful of sequels. I thought, what if Daniel and Jefferson brought together an entire team of Heavenly helpers to bring comfort, peace, thanks, joy, and good will to women and men this holiday season. In All About Angels, we visit over a dozen couples from many of our past stories. We catch up with where they are, what they’ve been up to, the good and the bad, and how they are helping others cope with all that is going on in the world. It was truly a blast visiting with these old friends; sentimental, funny, touching, sad, happy, and surprising, since the stories that end up on the page are rarely planned; they just seem to want to tell themselves. Though Daniel and Jefferson set things in motion, what the others discover throughout five all new stories that cross over and intertwine, is that people, even when forced to be apart, can come together in myriad ways to aid one another.
Angels Daniel and Jefferson recruit a band of heavenly hosts to spread comfort and joy this holiday season after a rough year for all. The five stories in this anthology intertwine as the angels visit old friends and new, including characters from the authors’ best-selling stories Ghost Writer, Guilt and Innocence, An Arm and a Leg, Monsters, Let’s Hang Out, 21 Smiles, and Transitions, among others.
Which couples have wed? Who is set to play Tiny Tim and Dopey the Dwarf? Who gets to see his lover for the very first time? Which duos are raising children? Which pair welcomes a new one, and which couple has gone their separate ways?
Can Daniel and Jefferson spread enough holiday cheer to bring everyone a merry yuletide season and hope for the new year?
Normally, at two hours each way, New Mill Town would be too far upstate for Westchester County ride share driver Alfonse “Z” Zapata to pick up or drop off passengers. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it had affected both his business and his aunt’s flower shop and plant nursery, Z was desperate for money, though. He was taking on much longer trips for people who didn’t mind paying, those who preferred a long, expensive, but quiet and comfortable car ride to the crowded and noisy train.
“Here is fine.” Justice Becker had hired Z to bring him home from Westchester Medical after an overnight stay for a sleep study.
“The thrift shop?” Z asked.
Justice told him, “Yes.”
Aunt Faye’s Things was already decorated for the holidays, even though a few days still remained before Thanksgiving. Ropes of fresh balsam garland looped around the roofline outside. A dusting of sparkling snow made them even more beautiful. It always snowed early in New Mill Town. Hot in summer, cold in winter, seasons as they should be, Archie Wilkes, who’d recently acquired the thrift shop always said.
“That man is Justice,” Jefferson told Daniel. “Justice loves Archie, who came into a large sum money after his Aunt Faye’s passing. The property his aunt’s house sat upon was sold for a handsome sum, and a portion of her many, many belongings were quite valuable. When 14K Konsignment and Kollectibles went up for sale after one former proprietor left town because the other, his spouse, was taken off to prison for murder…”
“Oh, my!” Daniel was understandably shocked.
“When all of that went down, as the current vernacular goes, Archie Wilkes bought the place.”
Inside the neat but overstocked thrift store, multicolored lights around four large front windows blinked cheerfully, and an animated village with skaters and carolers, children building snowmen, and a horse drawn sleigh looked like the actual quaint New Mill Town burg in miniature. Z, who’d followed Justice inside, looked momentarily festive, as he tapped his foot to a jaunty Christmas tune playing from four speakers, one in each corner of the 900 square foot space. When he peered up at the big screen TV on the back wall, however, his demeanor changed. Daniel and Jefferson, now inside as well, took note. Z covered his mouth with his hand, though his mouth was already covered by a protective mask. In a two-shot with the smiling anchor on the fourth hour of the top-rated network morning show was Nero Storm.
“Tell us about those precious animals looking for a forever home this holiday season, Nero,” the anchor requested.
While Z looked away from Nero’s report, Justice straightened his face covering and focused on the television screen, surrounded by a chain of fake orange and yellow leaves with a tissue paper turkey affixed at the top. Though eager to bring out Christmas, “I don’t want to shortchange Thanksgiving,” Archie had said. Archie was awesome like that.
“I know that guy.” Justice spoke to no one in particular, though Z stood right there, as the two both perused through a large stack of books. “The guy who owns this place now, he’s a sucker for romance,” Justice said, nosily glancing to see what kind of books caught Z’s interests. “He showed me video of these flowers some other guy planted for Nero Storm, flowers that came up in the shape of smiley faces, back a couple years ago, when Storm was a local reporter in Westchester.”
“I remember.” Z was holding a book on mental health, one Justice recalled seeing in the bookshelf at Archie’s home. Faye Wilkes struggled in that area.
“Hard to forget something like that.” Justice smiled in Z’s direction. “You know him?”
“What makes you think that?” Z didn’t smile back, leading Justice to wonder if he was struggling, too.
“Cop’s intuition.” Justice just had a feeling and said so, something in the way Z kept looking up and then away from the TV only when Storm was speaking.
“I used to know him,” Z said.
“Guy’s really on his way up in the world, huh? Big Apple reporter, now. Network level sometimes.” Justice’s third cup of coffee since leaving the hospital had kicked in. “He’ll be working the Rockefeller tree lighting next week, I read somewhere, the pared down, social distancing, 2020 bummer edition of the usually big shebang.”
Justice cringed. It was an old man word, perhaps. He still hated being reminded of his age, twice Archie’s at one time. Not anymore, though. Thinking of the math, Archie’s math that had 8 proven not so long ago how the gap was narrowing, that brought a smile. “Storm’s popular and adored by everyone all of a sudden.” Justice put his own issues aside and rambled on. “Not just the hopeless romantic planting flowers for him. Archie, the aforementioned owner who also happens to be my boyfriend…the young man I’m…the man I’m with, he did something for me with flowers every bit as—”
“I’m sorry.” Z took one more look up at the TV, “I gotta go,” then turned for the exit, without revealing the hopeless romantic who’d planted the flowers for Nero Storm was he.
“Thanks for the ride.” Justice reached out for a handshake, another antiquated thing. Antiquated and now forbidden. “Sorry. Old habits.”
“No worries.” Z was already out of reach, anyway.
“Happy Thanks—” Then, he was gone before Justice could finish the word.
“Z seems very sad,” Daniel noted.
“Yes. We cannot change certain situations, but we can help bring people together who can touch one another in miraculous ways, some offering nothing more than solace and understanding. That is why we and the others were dispatched, if you will, this holiday season. The angels who’ll tend to Archie and Justice are eager to reunite with them. Z’s turn, his visit, will come closer to actual Christmas.”
“I trust you, dear Jefferson. Tell me more of Archie and Justice and their angels.”