Belle and her two boys sat on the edge of the bed in a tiny room barely big enough for the bed, dresser, and a cloth toy box decorated with orange, blue, and yellow dinosaurs. Quinn was older and a bit reserved, but Cooper usually spoke up about anything and everything, especially things that troubled him.

“Momma? You know what I would really like for Christmas?”

The tired mother straightened her back, smiled, and feigned a bit of confidence, knowing she would not be able to follow through on his request. “What’s that Cooper?”

“Momma! I want Ryan’s World Mega Mystery Rocket-ship!”

“You know momma doesn’t have a lot of extra right now, but I bet it’s very cool.”

“It is so cool!” He Exclaimed. “You press the button and it goes: THREE, TWO, ONE, BLASTOFF!”

Belle looked away and coughed away her tears. “Let’s see what happens.”

“I have an idea momma! I will pray and ask Jesus for it.”

“That’s a great idea.” She grabbed Quinn and Cooper by the hands and knelt by the bed. “Coop, you want to pray?”

Cooper spoke right up. “Dear Jesus, I pray for a Ryan’s World Mega Mystery Rocket-ship for me. And please get Quinn a stuffed baby Yoda. Oh and don’t forget momma.  Could you get her a new coat because her coat has a couple holes, and I know momma doesn’t like holes in pants and socks, so get her a real strong coat that doesn’t get many holes. One more thing, Jesus. You should get yourself a present too, because it is your birthday.”

All together Belle, Quinn, and Cooper said amen.

#

Twelve hundred miles away, on a cargo ship a mile off the port of Los Angeles stood two angels. The ship they were on had been holding position for three weeks, and it didn’t look like it would move anytime soon. Twenty thousand brightly colored containers filled this behemoth, and it carried cargoes of shoes, clothes, toys, foods, cooking oils, soaps, books and a myriad of other trinkets, and gadgets. Theo and Azriel stood on the bow of the ship in the first row, third aisle, at the top of a stack of TEUs. Their twenty foot container carried three important pieces of cargo: a plastic rocket ship, a stuffed Yoda, and a medium tri-climate women’s jacket.

“Theo! What’s up my friend? I haven’t seen you in about a hundred and years.”

“Oh you know! Kickin ‘demons and taking names.” Theo adjusted his jacket. “I recall our last meeting. The roaring twenties is what they called it. The boy Eli had prayed that night around the fireplace that his family would be safe. Revival had spread through that area about twenty years earlier. It had impacted his mother, and eventually Eli himself. Glad he had those examples in his life and prayed for protection. His father’s involvement in the mob almost cost the entire family. And that’s when the Lord intervened.”

“Yes! Eli’s prayer was powerful.” Azriel exclaimed. 

“Children’s prayers usually are.” Theo nodded. “So the mission this time is to get these three items to Cooper and his family? Seems simple enough.”

“We will go in the strength of the Lord, but it’s not so simple.” Azriel stretched his wings. “The dark one has his thumb on the transportation system. COVID has led to mandates, social distancing, driver shortages, and cargo ships waiting for months to dock, but we know all things are possible with the Lord. I have an idea. Grab the items and follow me.”

#

“I found a truck heading to Tolleson AZ, and placed the items on the rear pallet. It should arrive in eight hours.” Theo smiled. “Now we just need to adjust the paperwork and the digital records so the right people get paid and the delivery happens.”

“Do you want to play angel or human this time?” Azrael smiled. “This is where it gets tricky.”

“You deal with the man at the gate and I’ll take care of the dark ones.” Theo flexed. “Can’t let you have all the fun.”

The truck had made it past the roadability area, radiation scan, and was in line at the security exit. Theo had remained in spirit form, but Azrael changed his appearance to that of a middle aged truck driver wearing a blue ball cap and a blue and white flannel shirt. They both approached the side door of the gate-station on the far right lane.

There were four demons guarding all the exit lanes and they immediately rushed Theo and Azrael. Demons couldn’t take human form as angels did. Their greatest power was the ability to influence human action, a whisper in the mind that comes across as just another thought.

Theo was the first to act. He pulled his long-sword from its sheath, leaped towards the two closest imps and with one long swing sliced through them both. A sizzle. A poof. Their life was extinguished in that instant. The gate station attendant was oblivious and only saw Azrael as he approached.

The lead demon was much larger than the others and pulled his own sword stepping back into a defensive stance. “What do you want, angel?”

“Official business” Theo snapped. “And that means it’s none of yours.”

The  demon leapt, aiming for Theo’s head. The Lord’s warrior slid back and to the left stepping at 45 degree angle allowing the demon blade to float harmlessly by. Theo continued his spin, bringing his blade around too fast for the dark one to block. It wasn’t fatal, but drew a line of blood, if you could call it that. Spirits didn’t bleed, but they did leak. And a blackish vapor seeped from the wound in his shoulder.

“What is your name, demon?” Theo demanded.

“Ahhh!” The beast struggled. “Andras.”

“That wasn’t so hard.” Theo smiled. “Was it?”

Andras’ sword arm dropped, slightly favoring his new wound. 

Theo almost took the bait, but noticed the slight smirk and realized the other imp was missing. The angel raised his blade feigning a strike on Andras, but instead thrust the blade behind him. Sizzle. Pop. The threat was gone.

Theo and Andras remained. The demon didn’t like those odds, and with a blink he was gone.

“What took you so long?” Azrael snickered as he was leaving the checkpoint. 

“I forgot to stretch this morning.” Theo sheathed his sword. “You finish the paperwork?”

“Yep, we’re set. Just one more thing to do”

#

The pastor of the Tolleson Community Church walked the halls of Desert Sky Mall. He had received a letter the day before about a single mother and her two small sons who lived in the community and were struggling. After praying earlier that morning he felt led to get them some gifts. Christmas was tomorrow and shops were closing. He had to hurry.

#

 Thud. Thud. Thud. Cooper jumped up and pulled a chair to the front door to look out the tiny peephole. “Momma, someone’s at the door.”

Belle made her way from the kitchen. Who would be banging on the door at this time of night. She moved the chair Cooper had used and looked out the spyhole herself. She opened the door. “Can I help you?”

“Yes ma’am. I’m pastor Jim from the community church down the street, and someone spoke to me the other day mentioning things were pretty tight right now for you and your family.” He adjusted his coat. “We hate to see anybody struggle, especially during the Christmas season.  Will you accept these gifts on behalf of the church?”

#

That night Belle and the boys opened their gifts. Quinn and Cooper couldn’t wait until morning. The pastor had brought them food, clothes, a gas card, and many other gifts. But the three gifts that mattered most was a Ryan’s World Mega Mystery Rocket-ship, a stuffed baby Yoda, and a coat that didn’t get many holes.