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Making People Better

by Deborah Koren © 2004

"Notice -- I'm not laughing," Bob said.

Larry lit a cigarette. "Pass me the Stoli."

Bob rolled his eyes skyward and crossed his arms. "I'm losing patience."

Larry took his feet off the boss's desktop and leaned forward. Smoke curled up from the cigarette dangling out a corner of his mouth. "All right, already. I was testing a supposition."

"A what?"

Larry took the cigarette out of his mouth, enunciated clearly, "A supposition, a theory."

One of Bob's eyebrows shot upwards. "You? You were testing a theory? A supposition?"

"Look, could you pass the vodka. Please? It's on the shelf behind you. I know, I put it there myself."

Bob didn't budge. "What theory?"

"If my theory proved right, then I thought I could make people better. The boss would like that, right? Making people better? Might be a promotion in it for me?"

Bob didn't blink, didn't move. "What theory?"

Larry said, "That the only good person is a dead person."

Bob's gaze shifted to wall of monitors that the Boss used to keep track of activity on earth. People still moved, shuffling through the streets of the major cities. His gaze flicked back to Larry. "They're not dead."

"Well, no, of course not. I wanted to make people better, not just good." Larry stubbed out the half-smoked cigarette and licked dry lips. "I could really use a drink, please. Something to settle my nerves?"

Bob said nothing. He glanced at his watch, then back at Larry.

Larry held up his hands. "Okay, okay. I just took the theory to the next logical step, that's all. If the only good people are dead people, then the best people must be one step beyond that -- undead." He grinned at Bob. "Am I right or what?"

Bob glanced back at the monitors, then looked at Larry and sighed. "And the Boss was just getting to like you, kid."

"But I thought --"

Larry vanished in a puff of smoke, his wings left behind on the floor of the Boss's office.

Bob thumbed the intercom. "Eunice -- put out another ad for a night watch angel. Larry didn't work out. Oh -- and Eunice? No one with ambition, this time."

x x x

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