The Parable of the Shower
by Leah Bobet


The angel of the LORD cometh upon you in the shower at the worst possible moment: one hand placed upon thy right buttock and the other bearing soap, radio blaring, humming a heathen song of sin.

Fear not! he proclaimeth from the vicinity of the shampoo caddy, and the soap falleth from thy hand.

Motherfuthou sayest, and then thou seest the light, the wings, the blazing eyes like sunlight and starlight both at once, and since thy mother raised thee right thou coverest thy mouth with one hand and makest the sign of the cross with the other.  It is the soap-hand which covereth thy mouth: thou gett'st soap in thy mouth, and spittestaway from the angel of the LORDand do not curse again though it is terrible hard.

The angel of the LORD he does laugh. 

His laughter peals like church-bells, and it shorteth out the batteries of thy rock-and-roll radio.  The great and terrible laughter of the angel of the one true God makes thy knees tremble, but thou refusest to fall down upon them.  For one thing, the shower in which thou showerest is slippery, and the LORD knows it is simple enough to break an ankle or a hip or an arm in the shower without the intervention of an angel of the LORD.  Missus Van Metre down the hall suffered this very affliction five months past, and thou hadst to fetch and carry for her from the apartment to the hospital, bear pajamas and the daily mail, as thou art the most young and hale person upon the sixteenth floor and the cry would have been great against you if thou hadst not.

For another thing, thou hast thy dignity.

So though thy knees they tremble and you yearn to fall down before the awesome and terrible power of the LORD, thou leanest against the tiles of thy shower wall and ask: what are you doing here?

The angel of the LORD straighteneth in its perfect lightmuch brighter than the light of mortal sixty-watt bulbsand saith unto thee: I have a task for thee to perform if thou lovest the LORD thy God.

Thou sayest unto the angel: I am in the shower.

The angel saith: I care not.

Thou sayest: I am naked.

The angel saith: Nakedness is nothing before a servant of the LORD.

Well it is something to man, thou repliest, and place thy loofah before thy shame.  This is not Eden, it is Compton, and thou hast not been innocent for several years now.

Do you remonstrate with an angel of the LORD? the angel inquireth, and you like not the look in his eye.  Or perhaps her eye.  Its.  It is difficult to see the generative parts of an angel of the LORD.  It is difficult to see any of the body of the angel, all astir with white light as it is, reflecting off thy shower tiles in a manner which starteth a mighty migraine.  The light of the angel of the LORD seemeth not a thing to be trifled with.

No sir, thou sayest unto it, and lower thine eyes as the water of the shower goes cold and drips gelid down thy back.  Thou canst not tell looking down upon thy bathmat, but thou thinkest this pleaseth the angel of the LORD.

The angel of the LORD is rather like a cop.

So what do you want?  Sir, thou inquirest of the angel of the LORD in the voice best used with the police when they pull thee over for driving whilst black.

I am sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Son, the angel saith; with signs and wonders and wise men born of angel and daughters of men.

I do not follow, thou sayest to the angel of the LORD.

The angel looketh down upon thee, and thou canst make out, in the mist of the cold shower, one lime-green eye that gleameth.  And it saith: Thou art chosen.  I am sent to get thee with child.

*     *     *

Missus Van Metre lieth in repose in her apartment down the hall.  It pleaseth her to keep her hip straightened, one leg recumbent upon a cushion all of polyester, blazoned with a small child weeping in a doorway with its thumb within its mouth.  All of her cushions are thus, puppies and kittens tangled in their yarn and small children set down in watercolours; she collecteth them like orphans sore treated in the junk-shops where they lie.  She is reading in her Bible when thou knockest, wrapped in but thy shorts and tee-shirt and thy hair still dripping water unto her sage green carpet.

What is it, dear? she inquireth of thee, putting aside her reading as thou lett'st thyself inside.

There is an angel in my shower, thou repliest, and sittest heavily upon her stuffed recliner chair.  It wants to knock me up.

O dear, ejaculateth Missus Van Metre, and puts aside her spectacles as well.

*     *     *

Thou takest thy showers at Missus Van Metre’s apartment for six days, and on the seventh day, when thou art tired of lugging thy shampoo and soap and loofah that thou bought new from the drugstore, for thou art afeared to enter thy bathroom with the angel there inside, thou pullest back the shower curtain to remonstrate with the angel of the LORD.

Welcome, daughter of man, the angel saith.  It sitteth cross-legged in the narrow length of thy tub, and without the water falling thou canst see its wings.  They are transparent, a picture through glass.  They distorteth the image of the tiles upon thy shower wall behind them.

Thou art not sure it has moved in six days, evening and morning.

I’m not fucking you, thou sayest to the angel of the LORD.

Thou art not struck down for cursing.

I must get thee with child if thou art to bear a wise man who will prepare the world against His coming, the angel sayeth.

Well, you’re not, thou replieth, and the angel of the LORD looketh up at you in a way that is purely maddening.  I will keep showering down the hall, thou sayest.  And this adds twenty minutes to my morning, and I will be late for work.  And Heaven shouldn’t make you late for work.

The angel saith: It matters not.  God is everywhere; I shall visit thee in the shower of thy neighbour.

Thou cussest out the angel of the LORD once again, for this is true, and thou dost not wish the LORD to be everywhere, especially when thou art upon the toilet or speaking privately into the telephone or, exempli gratia, in the shower.  If this be objectionable when done by the powers of men, Homeland Security or the NKVD, it is yea, moreso when done by the powers of Heaven.

Who do I speak to above you? thou demandest of the angel of the LORD.  Who’s your boss?

The angel blinketh.  What? it quoth.

I want to talk to your boss, thou sayest, and pullest the curtain down upon it.

*     *     *

Missus Van Metre hath frankincense and myrrh in the drawers of her Goodwill bureau.  She directs thee to it with a wave of her aged hand; though she is hale enough, now, to do her own fetching, she likes having a youth about to do the fetching for her.  And thou art in her debt, as she hath lent you her shower yea these six days without complaint or comment.

Do you know which angel you’re summoning? she asketh, and thou wonderest if this has got all the way around the building at this point.

Yes, thou repliest, and diggest in the drawer.  There are many things in Missus Van Metre’s bureau drawer, pens long dried out or knick-knacks wrapped in cracked brown paper, and it is passing difficult to find either frankincense or myrrh, especially as thou know'st not what either substance resembleth.  Thou picketh out more pens from the wooden drawers and searcheth for something that smells.

There are many websites upon the internet which speak of summoning angels, but thou findest them sketchy at best.  Missus Van Metre, however, knoweth her Bible, and when thou didst implore her to educate you in the hierarchies and ways of angels, she insisted upon lending thee her prayers.  She hath drawn a circle in chalk on the parquet of her apartment floor, the carpets now rolled and tossed aside, and thou thinkest this is not precisely a Christian ritual but thou sure as hell art not inquiring with a priest.  Not with an angel in thy shower.

The frankincense is lumpy and smells of yet more junk shops, and mayhap hippies as well.  The myrrh smelleth like bad medicine.  Thou surrenderest both to Missus Van Metre, who prepares them in a brazier whose dollar-ninety-nine price sticker still adhereth to the bottom and sets them alight.

Let us pray, sayeth Missus Van Metre, and kneeleth down e’en with her bad hip to pray to the LORD.

Thou prayest for the removal of the angel in thy shower before thou gett'st down to business.

It does not take long to summon a new angel of the LORD.  Thou prayest for perhaps eight minutes before there is a flurry of eyes and light and wings, and Fear not! sayeth a new angel, its wings brushing the false crystals upon Missus Van Metre's chandelier.

The new angel hath wings of brightest crimson; its eyes blaze a summer forest fire into thy arms and bended knees.  Thou hast called upon the LORD and He answers, it sayeth.  From what do you seek succor?

There is an angel of the LORD in my shower, thou sayest.  I need him out of there.

The crimson-winged angel frowneth deeply, and his frown striketh terror into the marrow of your bones.  I cannot do that, he saith.  The will of the LORD is catholic and unitary.

Thou art not Catholic, and thou dislikest the implication that thou shouldst be, but Missus Van Metre raiseth her head.

We would like to speak to your boss, she saith, and with a great startlement and a confusion, the angel vanishes.

It's gone, thou saith, and all thy irritation turns gelid like cold shower water, to tired and pissed-off despair.

Hold on—replyeth Missus Van Metre, but before she can speak that which she wished spoken, there is a flurry of wings.

It is an angel yet more regal; it is an angel that standeth seven feet tall with skin of alabaster and wings of burnished wood, and in its hand a sword.


There is an angel of the LORD in my shower, thou imploreth, and he keeps saying he’s supposed to knock me up, and I’m only twenty-three, I can’t raise a kid right now

THOU CANST USE DAYCARE, the angel boometh.

and I thought you were against single-parent families, thou finishest.


That’s not the point, thou repliest, shrinking down unto Missus Van Metre’s carpet.  It is not thy job to tell an angel of the LORD that thou likest not the boys.


Thy chin sinketh against thy chest, and thou art prepared to say No in the voice thou usest with cops, except this is injustice when it is done by the cops, and Heaven is supposed to be doubly about justice.  And a great and righteous anger ariseth within thee, within the furnaces of thy very bones.

Yes, thou saith, and maketh a noble try to meet the angel's eye.  The point is my privacy.


You can't just walk into people's showers when they're naked.


Okay, I want to speak to your boss, thou sayest, knowing this is how it’s gonna be.

The angel of the LORD glowereth, and there is a hint of that lime-green irritation that thou didst see in the angel in thy shower.  HOLD PLEASE the angel saith, and vanisheth into the air.

Thou sparest a glance at Missus Van Metre.  Thy hands are trembling.  She offereth thee a smile, and unfoldeth one hand from prayer to pat at thine own.  Worry not, dear, she says.

Worry not.  Thou likest that better than fear not.

The third angel cometh in a gust of wind, and it hath a flaming sword, and Missus Van Metre frowns at it almost immediately; thou canst see her think it will be careless, and set blazing her carpets or her chandelier or the knick-knacks she keepeth all about.  It bringeth a fourth, and a fifth, until all the powers of Heaven are arrayed before thee in the apartment, even though it be but a one-bedroom and could not possibly contain as many angels as may dance upon the head of a pin.


Thou thinkest you spy the angel of your shower somewhere in the back ranks, green-eyed and patient in the manner that is most patronizing.

Good, thou sayest, thinking speak truth to power over and over to thyself.  We have a bone to pick with you.

YOU ARE DEFYING THE WILL OF THE LORD, the angel pointeth out, and thou thinkest he is a Seraph from the fuzzy pictures thou wert shown in the dim past of thine Sunday School days.

No we're not, Missus Van Metre saith, and thou jumpest with surprise at her calm.  It isn't God to make people do things against themselves, and it isn't God to not let a body choose.  

Thou watcheth her half with surprise and half gratitude, for she is standing up to the entire host of Heaven though she hath a recently broken hip.

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, saith the angel.

You have to choose to serve God, Missus Van Metre saith imperturbably.  And you aren't giving her no choice.

THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY—the angel trieth, but Missus Van Metre fixeth him in her eye and saith: No, it's Good, and if it's not Good it's not God.

There is no arguing with that.

I think I know how we fix this, Missus Van Metre saith quietly.

THANK GOD, saith the angel of the LORD.

I'll have your kid, Missus Van Metre saith, and thou uttereth a mighty What? before thou canst help thyself.  But thou art not embarrassed before thy down-the-hall neighbour, for the host of angels uttereth a mighty WHAT? that rings through thine ears and destroys every radio from here unto the San Fernando Valley.

Do you have something against older women? Missus Van Metre saith unperturbed.

The angels of the LORD, the powers and principalities and Seraphim and Cherubim, all doth squirm.  Thou raisest up a hand to hide thy face, for if the angels of the LORD are truly like unto cops, they like not to be questioned and will beat thee or devise some punishment for the pointing out of their hypocrisy.

THOU HAST NOT A FERTILE WOMB, the Seraph saith, as if that closeth the question entire.

You're an angel, thou burstest in, seeing thy way out even if thou dost not understand why Missus Van Metre would desire a child at the age of sixty-two.  Thou tell'st them, powers and principalities and Cherubim and Seraphim: Make a fucking miracle.

Missus Van Metre glanceth at thee now, and thou dost not cross thyself, but thy hand goes unto thy mouth to keep the foul language in.

You're an angel, she saith after thee, primly.  If you can't get me knocked up, your baby ain't worth having.

Even the cops quail and fall silent before indignant old ladies, and for the first time in a full seven days, evening and morning, thou utterest a tiny laugh.  Fear not, thou mutterest to thyself, and though Missus Van Metre hears thee, she does not crack not smile nor laugh.

AND THOU WOULDST RAISE HIM IN THE LORD, the angel inquireth, somewhat chastened.

Yes, Missus Van Metre saith.


And I'd get him bussed across town to a good school district, Missus Van Metre adds, and there is a steel and a fire in her eye that thou never knew she bore within her.  I didn't get no children living past their twenty-first birthday, she saith.  I'd make sure this one did.

The angels looketh one unto the other, and then the Seraph noddeth, and they vanish one by one, feather by feather, until all that remains is the angel of the shower and Missus Van Metre and thee, and it taketh Missus Van Metre's wrinkled hard face between its hands that glow with the light of Heaven and giveth her a kiss upon the mouth.

Thou returnest to thine own apartment, pronto.  The door shuts slow behind you, and thou hearest before it does a squeak sudden of surprise that thou wouldst never have believed to be Missus Van Metre.

*     *     *

The baby cometh a full nine months and three days after, with the doctors a'marvelling and the newspapers a'trumpeting that it is surely a miracle for a woman of sixty-three to be delivered of a child so hale, healthy, and whole without stillbirth or complication.  Missus Van Metre calls him Josephthe child of my old age, she saith, and cracks a mighty grin that none but you understand in fulland thou art drafted, inexorably, into a routine of babysitting and diaper runs for little Joey Van Metre.  For thou art the heartiest person upon the sixteenth floor, and even if there would not be an outcry against you if thou didst refuse, you owe Missus Van Metre your life.

The angel of the LORD cometh unto you in the shower one afternoon, after Joey hath spit up on thee and Mr. Yamada down the hall hath taken the charge of him.  Thou hast just gotten over thy paranoia in this matter; when the angel cometh you let out a great shriek and nearly slip upon thy bathtub.

Get out, thou tellest it, one hand over thy bosom and the other over thy shame.  You got what you wanted.

Thou art caring for the child anyway, the angel saith, and its green eyes hath a certain kind of reproach.

Yeah, thou saith, wondering what it is to him.  Her.  It.  You do not indeed wish to find out that an angel of the LORD can get jealous.

I do not understand, it saith, its head bent low, how thou canst be handmaiden to a child who will light the way for our LORD if thou wilt not bend to His will.

Thou hast an inkling of why this might be.  Thou art no theologianhell, thou didst not even manage a B.A., but thy mother raised thee up to go to church Sundays, and thou hast some ideas about why the whole Jesus business went down.  When thou wantest a new God, thou must get and raise it in new ways, or it'll be the same old God all over again.

Which means, for now, this angel of the LORD isn't much more than a cop.

If you want to talk about that, thou sayest to him, and fixest him with a stern eye, and droppest thy hands away from both bosom and shame because dammit, this is your shower, you knock.

Thou lookest him in the eye that is sunlight and starlight all at once.  He stareth back.

The angel of the LORD vanisheth in a puff of perplexedness and light.

The water sputtereth warm.  Thou stand bemused for a moment, or perhaps two, before finishing thy shower quick and tidily.  There is no point in wasting water, or the bill shall afflict thee sorely come month's-end.

It is later, after thou hast showered, after thou art dressed again and dinner is on the stove and thou hast helped Missus Van Metre put Joey down for the night, that the knock soundeth on the door.

The angel of the LORD weareth blue jeans and a polo shirt that would get him beat up in this part of town were he not capable of acts miraculous.  He shifts from foot to foot like a teenager caught breaking the LORD's commandments, and while he is starlight and sunlight, he actually looks thee in the eye like a person.

It is a beginning.

Come in, you tell him.  There's spaghetti on.

And it is evening, and morning; the first day.




About the Author:

Leah Bobet is a patchwork conglomerate of hobbies in a writer-shaped box. Her fiction has appeared in  Interzone and The Mammoth Book of Extreme Fantasy, and  is upcoming in Realms of Fantasy and Clockwork Phoenix 2. Other information, miscellany, and trivia await at



Story © 2009 Leah Bobet. Photo by Gallerygal, available from, 2007.