Angelo's Death (PG-13)
Heaven's Mafia (not rated)
Heaven's Mafia - the Original Story
Note: This is VERY OLD and no longer reflects the theology (or understanding of Heaven's Mafia) of either Halfwest or Lastpuppeteer. (Neither is it geographically accurate in any sense of the word.) It's up here mainly for the sake of explanation until we
Chapter 1: Introductions
They had no official name or meeting place. [That didn't last very long.] Heaven couldn't afford to risk its reputation by having such a motley, disorganized crew in the phone book. [Heaven's phone book? This I gotta see.] Not that they needed the recognition, of course. All their orders came directly from the Boss or one of His personal assistants. [Halfwest wasn't overfond of angels during this period of her personal history.] There was never any big fuss—just a 30-second conference or a slip of paper under the door. [We've never really talked about this, but I have different ideas.] But that was all they needed to know which child's soul was to be taken from life on Earth.
So they managed things on their own, without a fancy title or ultra-modern headquarters with spacious offices and cubist paintings in the hallways. [After all, Heaven is famous for its cubist paintings.] They called themselves Heaven's Mafia—a joke on the hit men of the old days back when they were still human [and a solid 40% of them were in some mafia or other]—and gathered each day in an abandoned brick shed [Look how we've grown!] on the edge of Heaven's version of Skid Row. Purgatory, some call it, though it's still a part of the Big Place. Contrary to popular belief, Heaven isn't completely gardens and angel choirs. It's a big place, to be sure, so there's something there for everyone—except real sin. The difference is, in Heaven, people choose what they want to be. Skid Row was just one of the places the adventurers gathered when they got tired of the sugary existence in the mainstream, or when they hadn't yet earned the right the be full Angels. [It was a valiant attempt, really. That said, please disregard it. All of it. Please.] The five members of Heaven's Mafia were the latter: guys who had just barely made it past the grip of the Underworld, but weren't quite ready to live the full benefits.
Angelo Napoli [not a bad name, but it lacks the bittersweet irony of "Dimorte"] was the leader of the group, and the one who had come up with the name. [Times change.] He led not because he wanted to, but because nobody else was capable or willing. When he first arrived at the Pearly Gates, the shape assigned to him [this'll make the official FAQ, we promise] was that of a silver fox, [he has since evolved (?) into a gray wolf] though his fur was gray with dust and neglect. He wore a long black coat [now a short coat that hovers between beige and tan] and was rarely seen without a cigarette in hand. He was of a melancholy demeanor, with sad green eyes that were often filled with regretful tears but saw more clearly than the rest.
Angelo's closest friend and constant companion was a green dragon-like fellow who was simply called Box. Box was not exactly the brightest of the group, [or is he?] but what he lacked in brains he made up for in speed, determination, and a hopelessly sunny disposition coupled with an infallible instinct about the few ways to cheer his leader up. He was taller than the others and wore black boots that came up above his knees. [The color and length vary from picture to picture, but he ALWAYS has boots.] It was generally said of Box that he was a blessing in disguise, [the only truth ever uttered concerning him] for his sense of humor often served to lighten even the heaviest of burdens.
Joe, a coppery [...?] mouse in an oversized overcoat, was the one who led expeditions to the Underworld when one of Satan's little demons managed to get hold of a soul. Apparently it wasn't enough for the Boss to assign this group to the job of ruining lives, they also had to rescue "missing" children—a task which inevitably ended in uncelebrated victory. But Joe was above feeling unappreciated. He enjoyed the speed of the chase. Everything about Joe was quick, especially his mouth and his temper. But despite his rebellious air, he was a loyal friend to Angelo.
Danny was the advisor. He had been lucky enough to live a full life on Earth and die naturally, unlike the rest of the Mafia. [That's now... oh, wait... that's still true.] Danny was a ginger cat, about Angelo's height, who wore his trademark long blue scarf, a prop which had proved indispensable on more than one Underworld rescue mission. [I swear I will find a way to work that in.] Danny was not the quickest cat to ever set foot on Heaven's cloudy ground, but he was wise. His advice made him the most treasured member of the elite gathering. [I'm not sure which is sketchier: "most treasured" or "elite."]
The fifth member was a masked schemer [see next comment] by the name of Tony. He went in the form of a raccoon, [yes, this was originally Tony (the one on the right was always Louie)] wore a tattered black leather jacket, and rarely spoke more than a single word at a time. If Angelo was the embodiment of quiet, Tash was absolute silence. He specialized in planning and executing most of the retrieval maneuvers in the Underworld. The fact that he knew and taught the others every secret passageway in all three worlds made him perfect for spying as well. Spying was the only way the group ever really knew what was going on, since they were often overlooked when it came to reporting the news. [Well, it's not like there's a Paradise Times that circulates up there.]
All in all, Heaven and the Underworld were a lot like Earth is in the movies, only the special effects are real and nobody dies, because they're already dead. They can be kidnapped, locked up, even tortured if the procedure is done correctly, but never killed.
Chapter 2: An Assignment
The five [there haven't been that few since I hopped on the bandwagon way back in 2002] members of Heaven's Mafia were gathered, as they were every day, in their "headquarters" on Skid Row. The inside of the little shed hadn't suffered much redecoration since Angelo and his team moved in. [That's changed, but I'm only certain of Mike's bottle collection spread among various windows.] It was a damp, crumbling construction lit only by a lamp hanging in the center of the room. [Oik.] Below the lamp was a round table with a telephone in the center, [dunno what it was for, but we should keep it just for "wrong number" potential] and five battered chairs upon which the group spent many hours sitting and playing Gin Rummy, Black Jack, endless games of War (their longest lasted two weeks), and games of their own invention. Sometimes when disagreements arose they'd end up playing 52 card pickup.
It was a day just like any other day when the daily assignments came rolling in in the shape of a scrawny, long-eared Angel wearing glasses the size of dinner plates. [I think we're steering away from anthropomorphism for angels now-a-days.] Angelo and his team listened with a sense of foreboding as the young rabbit read off the list of souls waiting to be picked up. It was early. Assignments only came early when there was a lot to be done.
And there was. Five that day, [nice wish] and all of them were practically newborns. When the Angel finished reading the list, she looked at them with critical eyes, scrunched up her nose, and squeaked harshly: [NononoNOno. Angels do not squeak. Halfwest squeaks. I squeak. Not angels.] "And don't expect to be given extra time, either. These five need to be brought home today—no mistakes. What with a war brewing on Earth, we've got a lot of calls coming in and we don't have time to deal with you slackers." [Obviously this predates Halfwest's conception of "eternity" as, say, "eternal."]
With that, she turned briskly and strutted out. [This would be perfectly understandable if angels were a kind of exotic bird.] As soon as the door slammed behind her, four pairs of expectant eyes turned to Angelo. He seemed lost in thought, still staring at the door and puffing on a cigarette. Box gave his friend a playful poke.
"Wake up, boss!" he chirped brightly. Angelo started and looked at the others.
"Right," he said. "Today we're going to try something new. That little egotist [like I said] said no mistakes, and there won't be any, but we've got to be careful. Today we're going to split up, one per soul." [
"One per soul?" Box said doubtfully. "But we've never done that before."
Joe spoke up before Angelo could answer. "Well, I'm game. How hard is this anyway? [Famous last words.] Just slip the black milk to the kid and grab 'em. It's an in and out job, all we ever do in groups is post lookouts. All this means is that the guy with the milk has to look out for himself."
The two sides had stated their arguments. Without being told, they all knew that Danny would have the final word. Even Angelo paid attention when Danny spoke. Four pairs of eager eyes glistened towards their advisor.
"It seems like a good plan," he said. "With the five of us going in different directions, any Underworld prowlers will become muddled and end up not following any of us. We'll create a diversion and get the job done simultaneously."
Angelo nodded. "That's it, then. We go solo today." With that, he met Tony's eyes and nodded in the direction of the refrigerator in the corner. Tony leaped up and scampered [NO. Tony prowls, skulks, and occasionally creeps. He does not scamper.] to fetch five dark bottles while Angelo had the others pick their assignments out of a hat. Box was sent to a neglected youth of three months in Russia. Danny was off to take care of an Egyptian snake bite. Joe and Tony both had flu cases in the United States. When they were gone, Angelo took out the last piece of paper and looked at the scratchy handwriting. It read: “Beatrix, Samantha Diane. Age: 2 months. Cause: pneumonia. London, NW section.”
[That's as far as it goes.]