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                    Acquired Angel
                                            By Eryk Pruitt


She pulled him aside and whispered in his ear, told him not to worry because
she performed God's work.  His forehead crinkled and the sparkle quit his
eye.

"Beg pardon?" he asked.

"I'm here because God sent me."

The smile immediately returned to his face, the smile he reserved for weird
old ladies with strange dietary restrictions or eccentric little people who said
more than intended.  Why, he often wondered, did people feel comfortable to
let their freak flags fly in trendy restaurant bars?

He stole another glance at this lady's legs and figured he'd forgive her this
once.

"Perhaps I could get you another cocktail?" he suggested.  "You were having
the Basil Julep?"  He instructed the bartender to start whipping together
another of the hip, new cocktails and returned to work on the woman.

"I was sent by God," she repeated.  Her plunging neckline kept his attention.  
He smiled at her and handed over the cocktail.

"You're much too beautiful to be a nun," he joked.  She laughed.  He inched
closer.  "You're not a nun, are you?"  She shook her head, and did so again
when he asked if she were married.

"What about you?" she asked.  "Wife waiting for you at home?  Kids?"

He'd had the ring off the second she'd walked into the bar.  There weren't
many other open seats so it was no surprise when she took the one next to
him.  He'd moved in before she'd gotten her first drink.

"What do you do when you're not doing God's work?" he asked her.  

"God's work is never finished."

"So you're never off the clock?"

She smiled.  "No.  Always working."

He thanked Him for delivering her in such a public setting, otherwise he'd be
pawing at her, howling like an alley cat until he got had her naked.  Her mouth
hadn't been less than six inches from his since an eternity, and he imagined
she enjoyed playing with him more than he did.  He'd dealt with broken
women before and considered himself something of an expert with them.  She
could work for God or raise unicorns or play the accordion with her feet for all
he cared.  He had designs for her design and if he had to endure a little crazy
talk, fine.

"What do you think God would have us do for the rest of the night?" he
asked, hand finding her knee.

"I think he'd want you to pay the tab," she said, "and find us someplace where
we can talk."

"For once," he said, "God and I are on the same page."

He fumbled with the buttons on her blouse like a kid in junior high.  She said
no, no, then said nothing much at all for a spell.  After a moment, she pushed
him away and he slumped over the steering wheel.

"We should talk," she said.

He turned on the air conditioner and looked out the windshield.  He took his
kids to this park on the weekends.  He wanted to either bend her over the
backseat or go for a long walk.  The last thing he wanted to do was talk to her.

"God put me here," she said.  "Aren't you the least bit curious?"

"I'm plenty curious."  Her shirt was one button from being off and he'd not
even gotten to her belt.  "You have no idea how curious ."

She played with the seat belt buckle.  "It could be my imagination, but I keep
feeling like you don't care why God put me here.  Why he had me meet you in
that bar.  Why he put us together."

"You're crazy," he said.  He coughed on the last word, struggled for
composure.  "That's insane.  Of course I'm curious."  He slid an arm around
her.  "Tell me all about it."

"I used to be a sinner," she said.  "You wouldn't believe it now, but I didn't
always walk with the Lord."

"I can believe it."

"I could play a man like a shiny new guitar," she said.

"Oh dear."

"Then one day, something happened."  She turned her head from his and
stared out the window.  It looked like rain.  "Would you like to hear about it?"

No, he thought.

"Yes," he said.  He turned her head back to face his, kept his mouth next to
hers, inhaled her sweet breath into his nose.  "Tell me."

"I was attacked as I left my apartment," she said.  "Two boys from a bar
followed me home.  They were filled with the devil.  Oh, they were pure evil."

"That's horrible," he said.  He kissed her cheek lightly.

"God kept me alive," she said.  "For a reason.  For a long time, I was angry at
Him, at those boys, at everyone.  But I saw the light."

"Did you?" he murmured into her ear.

"I did.  And ever since, I promised the Lord that I would do his work.  There
are sinners just like those boys everywhere.  Lots of sinners."

"There sure are," he said, his hand inching up her back, feeling for her bra
strap.  "You've got to be careful."

She pushed him away.  "Sinners.  I would not be doing my duty to God to
stand idly by while folks sin."

"Goddammit!"  He threw his hands in the air, then punched the steering
wheel.  "What's your problem?  You get me in the car then want to preach to
me?  You think you can save me?  By being a prick-tease, that's how you
save me?"

She lowered her eyes.  She licked her lips and thought before she spoke
and, when she did, her words came forth like treacle.

"I'm not here to save you," she said.  She plunged a stiletto into his ribs.  "I'm
here to cast you out.  I'm here to rid God's earth of sin."

The wind lifted the leaves in the poplars, and her next six jabs went for his
throat.  He moved to shield himself, but she'd long gone to work draining him
and setting him free.
About Eryk Pruitt

Eryk Pruitt is a
screenwriter, author
and filmmaker living in
Durham, NC with his wife
Lana and cat Busey. His
short film FOODIE won
several awards at film
festivals across the US.
His fiction appears in
The Avalon Literary
Review, Pulp Modern,
Speculative Edge and
Pantheon Magazine, to
name a few. In 2013, he
was a finalist for Best
Short Fiction in Short
Story America. A full list
of his credits can be
found at erykpruitt.com.