Chapter 1

Saint Lucia’s Getaway. The snow had neatly bisected the Hallelujah chorus into two tidy bits when Fitzy noticed the statue’s eyes blink. He hadn’t known what he was looking for but he knew instantly that he had to tell Froggy so he wouldn’t get into trouble for being obtuse one-more-time. He nudged Froggy who woke and saw it right away. Froggy’s eyes bugged and his face split into a wide toothy grin.

It worked! I knew it would,” he exclaimed. “I knew it would!”

But you weren’t watching, Froggy,” Fitzy whispered, “I had to see it because you were sleeping and didn’t know anything about it.”

Froggy winked and tapped his left eye. “This one never sleeps. ‘Sides, I knew it would so I could snooze a little ’til you saw it and woke me all aflutter like. I didn’t want to waste any energy.”

Froggy waited for his orders; he was a doer not a thinker. Whatever he did he didn’t want to think about because he didn’t want whatever he did to ruin his dreams. He hated bad dreams which signified bad Karma and was worried that he would be trapped in a Boolean time-warp nightmare tha …

Quit it!” snapped Fitzy. “Your thinking again, Froggy. I do the thinking and you do the doing. Let’s keep our jobs straight, Boy-O.”

Mid-December got awfully cold in New York City, colder than Hades. The worse places to be standing outside were in exposed areas like church plazas and windy sidewalks, especially after sitting in wide pews listening to Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor.

We’re at the right place and Saint Lucy blinked so now we wait for the red Cadillac to deliver the package. Patience is a virtue, Froggy.”

Froggy yawned and then stretched his slender legs one at a time. Just when he started on his knuckles the Cadillac glided around the corner and flashed it’s lights.

It was GO time. Fitzy snapped his gum and Froggy sprinted to the idling Caddie, it’s back passenger window slowly slid down and a shadowy figure tossed out a package into the snow, then the car growled as it surged away from the curb. Froggy caught the package before it touched the ground.

What do we do now, Fitzy?” whispered Froggy. It had grown colder and night was creeping around their feet. The cold sapped Froggy’s energy and he found himself daydreaming about Orlando.

Stop it!” ordered Fitzy. “We’ll be in Orlando soon enough. We wait for 5 PM. What did I tell you about Patience, Froggy-my-boy?”

Patience is virtue, Fitzy.”

The wind blew the dry papery snow around the plaza as the church bells pealed out the hour. Froggy and Fitzy sprang into action on the last chime. It would take them about three minutes to walk to the apartment and another couple for Froggy to place the package just so.

For the maximum surprise, huh, Fitzy?”

When Fitzy signaled the placement was perfect, Froggy straightened up and joined Fitzy across the street.

This ought to be good, are we gonna watch it on TV?

Nope. Orders were to stay close by to watch for the maximum effect.”

But, Fitzy, we’ll lose our mojo for God’s sakes!! And Santa Claus with get all of the credit.”

Pirouette. Froggy dusted off a mosaic curio that he found at a flea market. He planned to use it as a pocket-change receptacle but when he opened it he became enchanted by a tiny figurine inside.

Cradling the rectangle box close to his heart, Froggy found himself caressing it as if petting a kitten. Inside the box lay a tiny dancer that, when the box opened, would spring upright and dance to tinkling mechanical chimes. Froggy thought the perfect little dancer was held captive inside the box by some power and vowed to release her by breaking the box’s spell. He had no idea how he would break the dancer loose but he hoped that pure love would set her free, for he loved Beauty deeply.

Froggy opened the box throughout the day to watch Beauty, so he called the figurine, dance in a figure eight pattern in front of her mirror until exhausted. She would pause to wait for the lid to close, releasing her to lay down and rest. Froggy wished he could see Beauty sleeping, dreaming, curled up under cover of the box. But it was impossible to surprise her because whenever he tried to open the box quickly she seemed to anticipate his desire and be in position, arms raised, back straight, face in a solemn mask of grace.

Beauty could not dance for Froggy without music, without the special key wound in the box’s side there would be no music to pirouette to. Froggy kept the box key on a ball chain, like those used on industrial window shades, around his neck for safe keeping. The chain also held two other keys: an apartment key and a storage key. Sometimes when Fitzy was on VIP assignment Froggy would sleep in the storage unit. It was brutal in the winter with single digit temperatures and equally inhospitable with 160° sauna-like summer heat baking him, Froggy supposed, into an angel food cake. In actuality, Froggy felt nether hot nor cold because he wasn’t from New York.

At first, Froggy thought it unseemly to be seen holding the box, although it was multicolored it still looked cutesy. If you happened to see the box sitting in Froggy’s lap on the subway you would be inclined to think he had just found it, or that he was taking it to be repaired. But over time the box and Froggy became one, at night it sat on his bedside table by his glow-in-the-dark statue of The Blessed Virgin that cast an alien green glow.

Without warning one fall evening, a lost soul had surprised Froggy as sat he sat listening to the waltz. The man yelled, gesturing for Froggy to give him the box, but Froggy wouldn’t hand it over. The wild man grabbed Froggy’s box and threw it crashing onto the asphalt, splintering it to pieces. Froggy crumbled to the ground and searched blindly, tears mixing with snot, for his Beauty among the shards of mosaic tile until Fitzy suddenly appeared to help him up. Froggy’s dancer was finally freed.

Complications. Fitzy expected regional Captains Reginald and Abel by mid-morning for annual inspections. Froggy spit polished their collection of chick and rooster shakers while Fizty vacuumed behind the refrigerator.

Their two-bedroom apartment stored their meager possessions evenly between cupboards and bookshelves. Froggy’s stuff always tended to spill over into Fitzy’s neatly labeled bins. Fitzy organized as quickly as he could mindful of the time. Right on schedule the captains announced themselves beginning the inspection ordeal.

Froggy just had time to tuck Beauty under his pillow.

While Capt. Abel browsed the bookcase and then the cupboards, Reginald settled down to go over Fitz’s reports complete with graphs, diagrams and Froggy’s holographic 3D presentations.

Improvements noted. Nice portfolio,” Capt. Reginald said, grinning smartly, about to sign off by writing with beautiful flourish Anno Domini Two Thousan … when his sharp eye caught an irregularity.

What’s this? Seems a tad wonky,” he said, perplexed. He had wanted to wrap everything up by noon to squeeze in three more inspections by dinnertime.

Capt. Abel ordered Fitzgerald, the brains of the unit, front and center for an explanation. Pierre (aka Froggy) was asked to find a bright light.

Will a clip-on light do? I saw one in Fitzy’s bin the other day,” mused Froggy, not taking in the solemnity of the moment.

Abel cleared her throat and Froggy took it as a “Yes,” and dashed off to poke through Fitzy’s bins.

I’ve got permission Fitzy, you can’t blame me for messing things up.”

Out in the living room things felt as if the temperature dial had been given a twirl; Fitzy began to perspire.

I can explain, sirs,” Fitzy said, uneasy on his stool.

I found it,” sang out Froggy as he bounded out of the side room, waving the clip-on lamp like a prize trophy.

Have any double-A-batteries?” Abel’s calculated question sent Froggy back to the bins for extra time the captains needed to extract information from Fitzgerald. Unless he balked, then things could get a little messy.

Under the glare of the clip-on lamp’s spotlight, Fitzy started to get fidgety. He couldn’t think of anything unusual in his report. Their assignments had pretty much gone off like clockwork – then it hit him – Froggy’s visit to the ER – that had to be it!

We can’t have you interrogating yourself Corporal Fitzgerald, we know about Peter’s fascination with Beauty.

We’d like a precise explanation of your handling of the O’Sullivan matter, especially Pierre’s part with the human, and, em, appearing without a shadow to hold a human back from death, em, the curb.”

This caught Fitzy by surprise, he hadn’t written up anything about Elizabeth O’Sullivan. He felt he had handled the close call without a hitch. Why, even Froggy had forgotten the whole episode.

It appears that Elizabeth O’Sullivan can’t forget that she met an angel,” Reginald pointed out, rustling evidence under Fitzy’s nose.

Froggy yelled out that he could only find one double-A-battery. Abel ordered him to keep on looking as she played with several batteries in her pocket.

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