The flesh is fed, and I have located a more suitable resting place for it, inside and out of rain. Currently, it sits on the toilet in a small, out of the way park bathroom frequented only by the local homosexual men, and they do not come out during the day, for the most part. It will be undisturbed there until nightfall.
And of course, in this location, dealing with the aftereffects of a fine meal and much coffee will be simplicity itself.
Of course, it would be much simpler if I could simply rent a room and leave it there, but even signing up for welfare is surprisingly difficult for one such as me.
For one thing, I can’t read.
So this forces my flesh and I into a homeless existence. This suits my work, but I do often lament my inability to provide a more comfortable and secure existence for my fleshly encasement.
It makes me feel like a very poor parent. And I have dealt with enough of those to know just how bad that is.
Once my flesh was a lowest-level criminal named Frances “Franky” DeLaine. He was a man without direction or identity of his own. He clung to existence by being whatever someone wanted him to be, and thus got by as a flunky to various criminal organizations who passed him around like an unwanted orphan.
We met when my previous body, a rich man’s social secretary named Rose Berber, passed away. She was 68, and died of lung cancer. This left me homeless, as it were, and I don’t have very long to find a new body in that situation, and so it was pure coincidence that, after a heart attack due to poor diet and excessive drinking, Frankie was vacating his body two rooms away at the exact moment I needed a new host.
By the time I got into this new body, the lack of oxygen had destroyed much of what was left of Frankie. It took a great deal of my energies to keep him breathing long enough for the medical team to come stabilize him, and there was a time when I thought I would surely need another new host at any moment.
But we pulled through, Frankie and I, and I was able to speed his recovery by encouraging his cells to release their toxins, then scrubbing those toxins from his blood.
That kept me so busy that it took a month of hard labour before I suddenly realized that, for the first time, I had a body more or less to myself. All my previous hosts had been in firm control of the body, and I could only flit about them doing whatever good I could for whoever was around them. Now, I was in control, and I frankly had no idea what to do with myself.
So I concentrated on healing poor Frankie’s body and, occasionally, flitting about the hospital giving comfort and aid whenever I could. In doing so, I inadvertently gave that hospital a reputation as the place where medical miracles happen, and as a result, it attracted the kind of funding and talent that could turn that into a reality.
Thus, that little hospital, previously on the lowest rung of the hospital system, the places where they send the lowliest of people to be indifferently cared for by a constantly changing roster of inexperienced doctors and nurses, became the sprawl mega-hospital for one and all that it is today.
I love it when things work themselves out that way.
Eventually, of course, Frankie was discharged, and have a few hearty congratulatory slaps on the back for an extraordinary recovery, he was out on the street and I had decisions to make.
Thus I wandered into my current life. Luckily, none of Frankie’s former associates recognize the sober and healthy version of him, and I am able to look after what is left of him in total anonymity.
He is not entirely gone. I have some of his memories, some positive associations with various places and food and such, and a ghostly remnant of his personality who is quite content to sit on my shoulder and watch what I do without interference.
He likes me. And I like him. He was a gentle and decent soul in life, despite all that had befallen him, and what remains of him is as happy with my work as I am.
And for that, I feel truly blessed.
Today, I have opted for active patrol instead of my usual spider’s web scanning for trouble. The flesh needs the exercise and there is much to find that is wonderful and new when I have a mobile base of operations.
So to the human world, I am just another homeless man in a tattered trenchcoat and shapeless hat, ambling down the street and looking in garbage cans for something that can be converted into money.
Frankie understands this task, so I can leave it to him for the most part while I patrol.
In front of a red brick tenement apartment building, I tell Frankie to linger so I can explore a potential danger situation : a woman is on her way home from work in a very foul mood, and in moments, she will discover that the child she left unsupervised has spilled an entire bowl of soup onto the living room carpet and done a very poor (but well intentioned) job of cleaning it up.
Frantically, I rifle through her mind to find a solution. Nothing in her current consciousness is of any use, so I dive into her memories, starting with childhood. At first I think this too will prove fruitless and tragedy will unfold. Her parents were mild mannered well educated people. Teachers were all reasonable. It looked like she has never faced the kind of anger she was about to unleash upon her child.
But then I found a summer spent with an unpleasant aunt who lived a life of constant, vicious complaint, and as the key was being turned in the door, I stimulated her mind into remembering said aunt, and how she vowed to never, ever be like that when she had a kid of her own.
Bingo. All her rage disappears, melting away into a profound sense of love for her one and only child, and when she sees the stain on the rug, she reassures her child (who has been terrified of this moment all day) that it’s no big deal, Mommy will fix the stain, and everything will be okay.
I could bask in the love and peace of that moment forever. But Frankie has started to attract the attention of the local beat cops, and it is time to move on.
Farewell, O mother and child. Remember what you have learned today.
You learned that love can move mountains, and forgiveness is more powerful than punishment and rage.
Peace be with you.