The Angel of Zero City: Part 7

The Angel of Zero City: Part 7

A Story by Andrew Colunga

An urban-fantasy novella. It is an untold story between the chapters of its parent book: The Gauntlet of Maltese.





Joseph’s fashion sense and the postal service had one thing in common. They both had the motto, “If it fits, it ships,” and even then the rules were stretched. He wore a black button shirt and slacks with his normal brown coat, but a coin flip had determined whether or not to wear a tie.

This afternoon, Finlay gave him an earful when he asked, “So where are you taking Esmeralda?” and Joseph replied, “The Park.”

“Why in God’s name did you ask her out to the same restaurant where she works?” Finlay burst. He felt as flabbergasted as when his wife first told him she was pregnant.

“I don’t know! It seemed convenient,” Joseph replied. This made Finlay feel like when she told him they were twins.

The sky quickly darkened, and Joseph turned up early at The Park. It took the brilliant detective four days before he remembered that public transportation was a thing.

There’s a feeling that gamblers sometimes have, when all of a sudden they’re on a losing streak, and every fiber of their being tells them to get off the track they’re on, but for some reason they don’t. Joseph had that same feeling when he realized that Esmeralda would be getting off of work around five, only to return to the same restaurant two hours later for dinner.

“But if it really was a hassle she wouldn’t have said ‘Yes.’ Right?” Joseph whispered.

A few minutes later, he saw Esmeralda coming down the sidewalk and started walking toward her. She’s was wearing a white jacket with a belt around her waist, navy blue pants, a white shirt, and a slouchy blue beanie. She looked wonderful, and Joseph felt worried that reality would pull the rug out from under him.

As Esmeralda approached from the other end of the sidewalk, she saw Joseph smiling and instantly smiled back. She thought to herself, why am I going out on a cold Friday night? This detective she met in the afternoon seemed like such a dork, and he looked like a bear, but that could be warm on a cold night. The memory of how flushed she felt in the restaurant was still fresh in her mind, and he was also so perfectly removed from the tangled mess of affairs and relationships that her friends had become. What could tonight bring?

The two met and hugged for the first time, and inside they were seated away from other couples by a window. Small candles were lit on every table, filling the restaurant with roseate light. Joseph confessed to having never eaten here before, and Esmeralda recommended a few things which he happily jumped at.

This afternoon, Esmeralda thought that going on a date to a place where she worked would be unnerving, that Lily the owner and some of the busboys would never let the gossip die, but instead she felt a prodigious sense of control that she’d never experienced on any date before … this was her dojo.

“Have you ever eaten here?” Joseph asked.

“You know what? I haven’t. Like I’ve had nibbles and stuff during lunch in the back, but never actually sat in the dining room and ate. So this is a pretty nice change.” Esmeralda smiled, and a server named Emilio brought drinks to the table. She raised an eyebrow, and Emilio gave her a discreet smirk as if to say, “You�" on a date? I thought I’d never see the day.”

“I’ve wanted to come here since I first saw this place, um, this afternoon. I didn’t know they lit candles at night,” Joseph said.

“We don’t usually….” Esmeralda looked over her shoulder at Emilio, and he gave a funny little wave. Joseph silently mouthed out the words, “Thank you for the candles,” to him, and Emilio nodded his head approvingly.

Food came out of the kitchen: a turkey and pesto sandwich with fries and a French dip sandwich with onion rings. “So where were you when it happened, the red lightening?” Joseph asked, picking an onion ring and taking a bite. This seemed to be the vogue question of the last few years.

“I was home, but I saw the red lightening from my window,” Esmeralda answered. “My first thought was that aliens were invading, so I grabbed my bat.”

“Your bat?”

“This is Zero City. I sleep with a bat by my bed.”

“Duly noted,” Joseph said. “Bats are scary. We have an army of them at the prescient for just such an emergency.”

“You have bats?” Esmeralda asked, holding a French fry. “Oh, wait�"I’m sorry. I thought you meant real bats not the baseball kind.”

Joseph laughed loudly. “No I’m glad you thought that way. I was going to say, ‘Yes, I’m terrified of flying nocturnal mammals.’”

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah. You were way ahead of me.”

“Ha-ha! I’m psychic like that.” Esmeralda smiled.

“Quick, tell me what I’m thinking of right now!”

“B***s,” she says.

Joseph laughed again. “I wasn’t thinking that until you predicted it.”

“Exactly.” She smirked and took a bite of her sandwich.

Joseph took a bite of his. “You’re too good.”

“I’m a psychology major, or I will be. I know how to mess with the mind, and I’m a woman. It’s genetic.”

“I guess so, I thought you were an X-Men. But so, you love cooking yet you’re also pursuing psychology?”

“Slowly but surely. I’m taking a few classes at the Uptown college, and I’m almost done with my third year, but I like to keep cooking while I’m still in school. It’s the mixing and experimenting that I like. It’s basically science for hungry people,” Esmeralda said. “How does life as a big city detective treat you?”

“It keeps me busy,” he answered.

“So are you more like a Humphrey Bogart detective, a Sherlock Holmes detective, or a ‘Law & Order’ detective?”

“Umm... I wanna be as cool as Bogart, as smart as Sherlock, and as no-nonsense as Benson, but I don’t know, I try.” Joseph laughed. “You sure know your detectives.”

“Well, yeah, what’s not to love?” she replied.

Joseph felt a shock and then he chuckled.

Esmeralda laughed. “This afternoon though, I don’t know if you were aware, but the entire restaurant heard you and your partner arguing outside before you asked me out. I was bright red.”

“Oh jeez, the whole restaurant heard us?” Joseph gasped.

“Yeah, I was really nervous when you came back in, but I’m doing better now.”

“Gosh, I’m sorry. Hey, though, in my experience if romance isn’t a little bit embarrassing than you’re not doing it right,” Joseph said and drank his Coke.

“What are your past experiences? Or is that too personal too soon? You don’t have to answer that,” Esmeralda said.

Joseph’s mind paused as he considered how much to tell her. “Well, I was married once. Years ago, but, ya’ know….”

“Oh, sorry. How did it end?” she asked, lowering her voice.

“Eh, it ended as best as things like those can end. I don’t know,” Joseph said. “We, uh, had a kid. I stay in front of the child support, but um, ya’ know. I think that we all have a timeline that has to be preserved. You know, I’m one of the kind of guys that if I had a chance to go back in time to kill Hitler I wouldn’t because that has to happen despite how terrible things�" God I’m talking about Hitler on a date.” Esmeralda gave a quick burst of laughter, and Joseph smiled relaxedly. “Either way, what happened has to happen, so there’s no use in thinking about it, like, ‘Oh what could I have done differently?’ No, there’s nothing you could’ve done, this is what should’ve happened. And, ya know, I think in the end things worked out for the best because here I am with you.”

© 2014 Andrew Colunga

Author's Note

Andrew Colunga
This is a 19 part story. All of which are completed and are expected to be posted.

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Added on May 1, 2014
Last Updated on May 1, 2014
Tags: urban, fantasy, urban-fantasy


Andrew Colunga
Andrew Colunga

Los Angeles, CA

Artist and Writer from LA. more..