“Well, there it is,” he said – having taken her to a vacant lot filled with rubble from whatever structure once stood there. The lot was ringed by a chain-mail fence topped with rusting razor wire. Over grown with dying weeds, and thorn bushes. Trash, human or otherwise, leaned, trapped against the fence, blown by the furnacy winds.

“Can you see it yet?” he asked impatiently.

She squinted, finally seeing a spiraling staircase, translucent as if made of sapphire. Rising up into the murky urban sky.

“Stairway to heaven,” he proclaimed, “I told you it existed.” She had scoffed at the idea earlier at the café sipping lattes and discussing the day.

“What happens at the top?,” she asked curiously.

“There is a platform with two choices. One is the dank entrance to a ratty, run-down fun-house ride. The cars are ancient, rusting with stuffing and springs busting out of the seats. It creaks, groans and delivers them to the Pearly Gates. Then there is the entrance to the mother of all water slides – nothing like it exists in Earth’s theme or water parks. Like riding the most exquisite wet roller coaster, funneling through chicanes, up-side down twists, backward loops hurling them down below.”

He stopped and sighed, “Unfortunately, many people are seduced by the CGI entrance –  appearing as whatever pleases them most. Temptation wins out.”

She scanned the hollow-eyed people sprawled and splayed in the browning dandelion and clinging burdock, huddled in tents made of blankets and dismantled bicycle frames, or slept fitfully in cardboard boxes. Dirty faced child played with an old soccer ball. All seemed oblivious to the spiraling sapphire twinkle in their yard. And the opportunity it granted.

“How many steps? Will these people ever see it?,” she asked. He sighed again – something he now did on a regular basis. Mentoring this rookie was not an easy assignment. Her probing questions defied the standard, regulation answers. She even guessed much of the crap about the afterlife.

“Look,” he said with an edge of irritation in his voice. “Anyone can see it if they look without their eyes; open their heart to believing; crave freedom; a change from the norm of their lives. Use it or abuse it. It’s a long way up; stair case not escalator. All or nothing.”

“Or, they can do a wet backside backslide to Hell.”

He ignored her observation. “Preen your frankly inadequate wings, we have an assignment. You better look, at least some what like an angel of mercy, not a Victorian Secrets model,” he laughed.

He unfurled his wings; fanning them like a butterfly in the warm sun, just out of the cocoon. She felt the familiar itch on her angel bones as her emerging fledgelet feathers struggled to flap in the dusty head wind.

Now it was her turn to sigh. Her wardrobe of doubled up t-shirts, faded jeans, Birkenstocks, and ball caps did not match the sartorial splendor of her partner’s Seville Row suit with muted dress shirt, silk tie and hand-sewn Italian leather shoes.

If this was a round of intensive interrogation, would she get to play the good angel this time?, she wondered. Folding in her sparse wings, stuffing her halo in her knapsack, she followed him out the ragged hole cut in the fence.

He thumbed through his IPhone for the address, google mapped the place. His transit app indicated a # 665 bus would arrive in two minutes . . .

Inspired by the wonderful mmlm song prompt, “Stairway to Heaven” chosen by Mandibelle 16, and Michael of Morpeth Road’s wonderful Greg and Wayne narratives – delegates  from above and below who, while munching on sushi and ham sandwiches, wax philosophical as they argue over which direction a soul should be pointed in. A series of stories I highly recommend!

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