Chapter 1: Frank and Ralph 

A preview of John’s new novel, Frank & Ralph, A fictional novel about the retired Guardian Angels of Jesus.For a full read of this and further chapters as they are released, consider becoming a paid subscriber, beginning at only $6 a year. 

From left to right, that’s Ralph and Frank. After we took the picture, Frank insisted Ralph’s name come first in the title. They would not pose for another photograph. Angels are difficult to please, and polite to a fault.

(If you only knew how clever was their compromise.)

Chapter 1: Frank and Ralph (a preview)

By John  Francis Pearring, Jr.

A single, crystal-faced etching, among billions of variously fashioned carvings and plaques, glistens on Heaven’s Honor Wall. Two angel names grace this space. Jesus calls them Frank and Ralph, though their given names are much more delightful to hear.

Unfortunately, humans cannot pronounce or spell an angel’s full forename. We are left with a nom de guerre, a dubbed trifle of the original. Poor translations—like Gabriel, Raphael, and Ariel—only hint at an angel’s grand name. So, too, with Frank and Ralph. We must settle on their christened aliases, which are noteworthy. They are the first two beings nicknamed by our incarnated Redeemer just months after his birth.

You can see Frank and Ralph’s honorarium to the left of Heaven’s main entry gate to the City. From the city, while at the gate, lean out, look a hundred yards to your right—about when letters are indistinguishable to a Heavenly soul’s squint—then count twenty carvings up the wall, midway.

Or, walk a hundred yards and gaze upward. Just there. Frank & Ralph. These two celestial creatures helped me write this book.

Like all acclaimed angels, Frank and Ralph deserve mention on the Honor Wall. They accomplished feats great and wonderful and shared their lives willingly with me, an unheralded man charged with a research project for a distant future. I doubt any other angels could have provided the insight I needed to understand the angelic realm. Angels don’t quickly or eagerly converse with humans.

Frank and Ralph thought for a second or two before agreeing to help me. They’re very different from angelic beings and revealed everything I wished with normal prodding. I began as a young child buying candies. “What about this thing or that?” Today, a simple “What?” prompts scads of input.

The intricacies of angelic personalities, their perspectives on humans, and how they relate to Godly nature took much longer than I planned, though I planned nothing. Our jostling over things we didn’t know about each other awakened a kinship not usually had with angels.

They are ancient. My three thousand years on Earth, in the underworld, and the rest as a Heavenly resident, pales in comparison.

Two thousand years of queries, shocking tales, and muffins have formed our friendship, a most uncommon trio of pals. Zachariah chose these two as friends, as did Lot and many others. The Son of God has loved them since the beginning of time. Mary taught them the royalty of humans.

I have spent more time with them than anyone else because I record their escapades after the fact. That takes longer than the actual escapade. Other than their willingness to help me, my many reasons to befriend them has morphed into love. Loving angels seems like an easy thing, but intimacy is a challenge. Thankfully, these two are not as dangerous in their ministry as regular angels.

They are an irregular pair.

I was not short when I lived on earth in my Olmec tribe 500 years before Christ. At 5’2”, much of Heaven towers over me—especially the angels. They stand not as tall as they are and stare for long periods at invisible spiritual landscapes. I still have little idea what they are pondering.

Frank and Ralph, as angels do, pick a physical size for their human form but adjust their bodily presentation every few hundred years. Ralph stands 6’3”, and bends his back and shoulders forward, with knees slightly bent and his left foot forward. No other angel that I know of does this. Akin to a boxer’s pre-fight stance, he carries his two overly hairy appendages at the ready, which he necessarily covers in long-sleeve shirts.

Since he began wearing cuffed and creased slacks in the 19th Century, Ralph favors mahogany coloring to match untucked red plaid shirts. He is not a trendsetter, but he likes it. He often grips his left pant’s pocket with his thumb, a stylistic bad-boy stance not far off the mark.

Ralph recently added staccato movements with his right hand as he talks. He emphasizes words with a tap of his right thumb, pinched with the pointer finger, making hard thrusts in midair. He has difficulty mastering affectations like this, annoying Frank in his persistent attempts to match human quirks with his cranky, angelic demeanor.

Ralph believes his look is timeless. He said the same thing about the rough woolen red scarf he wore in the 15th Century, which clashed with his 5th Century sage gray robe and linen white outfit both angels wore in the days after the Ascension. Timeless means about 1000 years.

“I blend well.”

“Of course you do,” said Frank. “Blending is your moniker.”

“That’s more of an intent than a moniker,” I correct Frank.

I am a self-trained, obsessive linguist, and I often remark on their use of words. To humans, I am annoying. To Ralph and Frank, I’m helpful.

Blending in is more of a hope than a reality for Ralph.

“Yes, of course, dear Ipomoea,” Frank told me. “Thank you for the clarification. Ralph intends, indubitably, to blend and wants dearly to do it well.”

“Oh, cut it out,” Ralph said, chopping his pinched fingers too late. I don't think he'll ever get the hang of it.

Frank’s clothing contrasts Ralph's, but not by much. Fashion sense escapes them both. Frank’s tastes accent a stretched height of 6’5”—sleek, regal, and distinguished. Just accents, to be precise. They’re not accomplishments.

Frank wears grays and beige common-man suits, nothing too posh, vaguely appropriate to every era’s standards. He prefers to fold his arms when he stands and sits with his legs slowly crossing, one way and then the other. He favors a cupped pipe, a cigarette, a cigar . . . anything that produces long wisps of soft white smoke. He never inhales, which anyone can tell. He twirls his fingers when he’s not toying with some tobacco implement.

Their movements are wooden, self-conscious, stiff parodies of human movement. In delicate or brutal engagements, though, they're quite adept.

Both have sported facial hair from their days with Jesus—Fu man chu for Ralph and European professor full beard for Frank. Depending on the company they keep or the country they inhabit, they can look like any race. I’ve advised them to be consistent in steady company after a confusing outcry, a curse of bigotry against two Asians when they entered a 17th-century German coffee shop, followed by a confused and more strident exchange when two Nigerians paid their bill and left.

Ralph talks in common pithy phrases and loves the dialectic addle of the day. He hung onto “Gimme a break” for over seventy years. Today, he says, “Oh, cut it out” at regular intervals. Sometimes, it works out, like just now.

Frank uses long words like “penultimate,” “absolutely,” and “exasperated.” “Indubitably” is new. Since they don't fit into the angelic host network like everyday angels, my dear pals lack much of the smoothness of the rest of Spirit-filled beings. Their communication with other angels crackles, much like humans do when facing God, and their memory banks are rather unorganized. Again, like us. It's probably why the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit spend so much time with them—redirecting, prodding, and keeping them busy with duties the angelic hierarchy decided long ago to avoid.

That “angels are ministering spirits to creation,” as I reference at the beginning of this section of the book, is not just the general idea but the angelic purpose immediately after the falling of creation itself. Salvation, within the birthing and dying cycle of the universe, applies to all created beings but not to angels. They had one birth, all at the same time.

Angels are the earliest of residents in heaven. The mission accorded them to rescue humanity has been specific to the tendons and winged limbed purposes of celestial knights from the moment of the universe’s split from the heavenly realm. And it will remain so for all time.

Until time is done.

I’ve wondered if that time will coincide with a fully completed and finalized memorial wall stretching around the base of heaven’s entire boundary. Some have noted that the boundary is probably temporary, speculating it will melt away when the heavenly hosts and universe’s creatures are re-united in one connected realm. One can’t know yet.

Nevertheless, God intervened to incorporate two broken angels into the corporate genome as we humans conceive of our shared existence. Even as unnatural as they have been formulated, they too are part of the rescue effort, the grand angelic participation in the salvation of humanity.

The angelic rescue motive is essential for my story. The wall commemorates two damaged angels that God allowed to survive and thrive together, whom I present to you in this book. They thrive still. The synthetic duo have continually baffled and astounded their celestial peers.

Their plaque reads, “Frank & Ralph,” in innumerable verbal renderings, accorded to the language of every lingual being who eyes the words. The inscription in English renders:

God loves and treasures these conjoined angels for their courageous exploits.

In smaller text, it continues:

Joined, though not balanced nor mended individually, Frank and Ralph are tethered as lithe, double-twisted, frayed ropes wound together. Stronger than one, yet wounded still. Used for special circumstances, hired by the Son of God for himself and his often and sometimes clandestine missions. Missions, nonetheless, that no single angel would deign to accept nor deserve. History reveals their work and portends the future for all of creation.

Below the inscription reads an admonition:

“Harken to their frays.”

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Copyright, John Francis Pearring, Jr. – 2017-23

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