May the Lord keep you from dangers seen and unseen.
The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
—2 Corinthians 10:4 KJV
Three died, but I survived.
Omega Addams couldn’t erase the images that held her mind captive in a headlock. Angels. Demons. Dead people. Was it real or a nightmare? A simple detour home had proven deadly.
Stopping to get gas after leaving work in Midtown St. Louis had put her in the crossfire of a gun battle.
Who robs a gas market on the first day of a work week? Didn’t crime happen after dark on the weekends?
Wrong day to gas up.
Omega chided herself for not filling up her tank on Sunday as her parents taught her when she learned to drive.
The cracking sound of bullets from inside the convenience store grew louder as the robber—a short white guy—scurried outside while shooting like a madman.
Rapid fire didn’t discriminate as it marked unfortunate targets. Bodies collapsed onto the ground like in a video game while others ducked for cover. Officers said three people were deceased.
Not Omega. She was spared.
She was too stunned to move to save her life.
That’s when intervention came into play. Without warning, an innocent bystander body-slammed her to the ground. His name was Mitchell Franklin.
He took a bullet for me.
It didn’t end there. It wasn’t her imagination. Omega saw two angels—too tall to be human beings. Unlike the movie and photo portrayals, they didn’t have wings. The pair became a shield to stop more carnage.
“Hey, hey.” Her baby sister, Delta, snapped Omega back to reality, shutting down the instant replay button in her mind. The more Omega tried not to think of what happened hours earlier, the more she wanted to make sense of it.
Delta waved Omega’s entry key card at the sensor on the security gate to open, then parked the Kia SUV in its designated spot. On autopilot, Omega unbuckled her seatbelt but didn’t move to get out.
Her younger sister by two years walked around to the passenger door and guided Omega out like a child and helped her up the stairs.
Punching in Omega’s security combination, Delta unlocked the stained-glass front door of her condo. “You’re safe.”
Yeah, that’s what the officer had said when he took her statement. Traumatized but unhurt, Omega refused medical attention.
“Miss Addams, you’re done here. You’ve given us your statement. Call someone to get you,” Officer James suggested. “Your vehicle is okay, but you’re in no condition to drive yourself.”
I’m not? Omega’s attempt to recharge her brain to think failed. Her parents weren’t an option. They lived hundreds of miles away in Texas. That wouldn’t stop them from taking the next flight out of Dallas. And they wouldn’t come alone.
Eric and Glenda Addams were active members of the Black Greek letter organizations. Many of their fraternity brothers and sorority sisters were like aunts and uncles to Omega and her siblings. Out of solidarity, they would show up too.
Omega ruled out her big brother Randall. The less he knew, the better for her. He gave a new meaning to overprotective. At least he had a more common name. Their mother had found Omega in the list of baby girl names. Since her father pledged Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., her name was a tribute to him. Delta—the obvious name choice because their mother was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.—was two years younger than thirty-five-year-old Omega.
In a daze, the police officer had studied her until she blinked.
“Miss, are you sure you don’t want medical treatment?”
“Yes—I mean no—I’m fine. I’ll call my sister. Omega pulled the phone from her purse, but her fingers were too shaky to tap on the phone icon.
“Let me help you. What’s her name?” Officer James held out his hand.
He scrolled down her recent calls and located the name.
Officer James identified himself and repeatedly calmed her sister down as he gave a recap of what happened at the location. “Miss Addams has a few bumps and bruises but is quite shaken, as you could imagine.” He frowned, glanced at the phone, and grunted. “She’s on her way.”
Delta arrived twenty minutes later from Northwest County to Gus’ Gas Mart in a rideshare.
The two sisters hugged and cried thankful tears. Delta composed herself first, then coaxed Omega to get in the car, and her sister sped away. But not fast enough.
Repeatedly, Delta assured Omega that she was safe from harm. Not after tonight.
As a single professional living alone, Omega moved to Brentwood’s gated community because of the low crime rate, diversity in the ethnic populations, and proximity to shopping, dining, and entertainment. In less than a ten-minute drive, her out-of-town guests could visit the many free attractions in Forest Park, including the world-famous St. Louis Zoo, the Art Museum and Missouri History Museums in Forest Park. Her idyllic bubble was no longer safe.
Inside the foyer of her condo, Delta flicked on one light fixture after another, illuminating the bay windows in the front rooms. The light blinded Omega at first, then the familiar surroundings comforted her.
To calm her nerves, Omega inhaled the scent from the vanilla fragrance candles. It gave her a headache. “That man wanted to kill me. I was so close to death at thirty-five…murdered.” Attempting to flop on her chaise, Omega slid to the floor instead. Delta joined her on the floor and wrapped her arms around her as Omega released another round of tears.
“But you weren’t. The police shot that deranged man before he could hurt anyone else. It’s over. Now I’ve alarmed your security, and I’m spending the night. Are you sure you don’t want me to call Mom, Dad, or Randall?”
“No,” Omega blurted out.
Their hothead brother was the oldest at thirty-nine. The man believed in revenge at all costs when it came to his younger sisters. If there was a hint that someone intended to harm or bully them, Randall would strike first.
“I’ll be okay.” She trembled despite her declaration. “I can’t live my life in fear.”
“Right.” Delta stood and padded across her hardwood floor to her kitchen, outfitted with top-of-the-line appliances and a custom granite countertop. Four swivel stools were ready to receive guests to sample whatever Omega was in the mood to stir up.
Delta reached into a muted charcoal gray cabinet and grabbed one of her many decorative mugs that featured Black divas in hats or dresses on them. These were a few of many ethnic accents Omega used to decorate her two-bedroom place to create a cozy atmosphere.
It was comfortable. Inviting. And safety was never in question.
What happened tonight wasn’t supposed to—not in her area on an early Monday evening. Omega tried to rationalize what she had experienced.
A hint of peppermint tea perforated the air as Delta returned and sat on the ottoman in front of her.
“Here. Drink this.”
Omega’s unsteady hands accepted the brew.
“How’s that lump?” Delta stood to examine the back of Omega’s head, which had suffered a blow when she hit the ground.
“I’d rather have a bump or a bruise than a bullet like…” She sniffed and thought about the innocent man who had used his body as a shield to save her life.
They both would have lost their lives if the crazed gunman had his way. “I keep seeing that monster’s face. The hate in his eyes as he aimed his gun steady at me and fired.”
“Sis, it’s okay. You’re alive. You need to get some rest. Take tomorrow off to regroup.” Delta rubbed Omega’s back in a soft, circular motion. The touch was soothing to Omega.
“But I’m not staying home. If my Good Samaritan is still in the hospital in the morning, I’m going to thank him.”
“Thank God for that innocent bystander. Was he good-looking?”
“What?” Omega frowned at her sister’s attempt to lighten the mood. “I don’t know. I heard the paramedics call him Mitchell Franklin. Thank God he wasn’t killed trying to save me. I didn’t have time to check for a wedding or belly ring or nose piercing. We were getting shot at!” Omega displayed a duh expression. “Seems surreal. One minute, I’m minding my own business… Then the next, a bullet ripped through his shoulder and whizzed by my eyes. I’ve never been up close-and-personal with a bullet. But there’s something else. Two angels were standing in front of me protecting us. I think they scared the gunman off.”
“Angels, huh?” Delta gave her a goofy look. The childhood expression usually amused Omega. Not this time. “How do you know it was angels?”
“They glowed and were taller than the Alton Giant.”
She referenced Robert Wadlow who lived across the Mississippi River from St. Louis in Illinois in the early 1900s. At eight feet, eleven inches, he was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest man in the world.
“Right. Where did they come from?”
“How do I know? They just appeared. All I saw were swords and shields.” Omega strained her brain to remember her true guardian angels.
“This was real. They clashed their swords together like superheroes, and the bullets ricocheted off them before the gunman dropped his weapon and ran…but the police killed him.” She rubbed her forehead in irritation as she tried to convince her sister of what she saw.
“I guess near-death experiences make a person hallucinate.”
“As sure as my head is aching, my vision is 20/20.” Omega touched the knot and cringed.
“Right. I’ll get you more ice and painkillers.”
Had Omega been hallucinating? Did Mitchell Franklin see them too? Omega planned to ask him tomorrow when she visited him in the hospital. If he weren’t there, she would stalk him on social media.