Moment of Clarity

It was the first Monday of the month of November, and Kenro was having a bad day at the downtown Vancouver trading company where he worked.  His results had been sliding downwards for the last twelve weeks. Given the present state of the market, though, it wasn’t his fault: everybody was losing money, and the new regulations that kept popping out of Washington didn’t help. Of course he wanted to build a better future—who didn’t?—but he still had a mortgage to pay and a family to feed.

Kenro was the proud father of two beautiful daughters and husband to his beloved Christine. They lived in a beautiful apartment in False Creek with no worries in the world…until three months ago, that is. It had all started with a bad gamble on the expected quarterly earnings of a Canadian telecommunications company. The company had made headlines when they had claimed to have developed the next generation of communication technology. That claim turned out to be unfounded. Instead of earning money, the company was forced to return to the drawing boards, plunging its stocks from a high of $18 to a dreadful low of $2 a share.

Kenro’s clients lost a lot of money, and the trading company he was working for decided to put him on review. Kenro had been working twelve hours a day ever since then, desperately trying to make up for his losses. He didn’t have any luck, though—each new investment he made turned out to be a worse performer than the previous one. His review was in less than a week, and unless he could come up with a golden stock, he was sure to lose his job, his reputation. Even worse, he could lose the life he had spent the last ten years building with his family. Yes, Kenro was having a really bad day on that first Monday of the month of November.

Tuesday: -5 until D-Day

Kenro was frantically working the phones and computers, looking desperately for leads on any stocks that could buy him a little more time before he was fired. (Which he was sure was coming.) He called everyone he’d ever met, everyone he’d ever laid his eyes on, even random people from the yellow pages who seemed like they might aid him in his search. He prayed to all the gods he knew of and all the demons he’d ever heard of. He’d never been a man of faith—he considered it a weakness of the human spirit to find comfort where there was none—but for the past few days, he’d been praying more than a Muslim making his pilgrimage to Mecca.

Kenro was desperate and flat out of ideas. The vision of losing everything he had worked for so long became bigger and bigger in his mind; with that vision came the sense of unavoidable fatality. Kenro had little hope left and knew that he was but a step away from what he understood would be eternal damnation. The more he pondered his terrible situation, the sicker and weaker he got. Images of his family living on the streets flashed through his thoughts, images of his daughters crying in hunger and trembling in fear.  He sank into a deep despair, his soul plunged into a bottomless abyss that offered no possible return. Light had gone forever from his heart, to be replaced by inescapable doom.

Wednesday: -4 until D-Day

Kenro arrived at the office at 8 a.m. knowing that Wednesday was going to be his last day if he didn’t find a profitable stock. He had spent most of the previous night thinking about alternate solutions to his awful situation and had only been able to come up with one option: he would orchestrate his own death so that his family could collect the insurance money.  Then they would never have to experience the harshness of a penniless life.

It was a simple act, really—all he had to do was drive his car off the side of a nearby ravine while making sure to leave evidence on the road that would point to a mechanical failure in the vehicle. The insurance company would be forced to pay out the million-dollar policy he’d been paying into the past five years. That money—along with his family’s other assets—would be more than sufficient to pay off his debts and give his beloved family plenty of time to grieve and move on. He was sure that they would be better off without him, away from his failures and incapacity to provide them with the life they deserved…the life he’d been promising Christine ever since he’d met her.

His decision was final. If he couldn’t find a profitable stock, he would accidentally kill himself the next morning as he drove his usual route to the opposite shore of Vancouver. That decision made, he sat comfortably on his chair in front of his computer and got back to work, searching for the elusive stock that would save him from the desolated world he found himself in.

Kenro worked nonstop for twelve hours, looking for anything that would allow him to escape his impending death…but his efforts yielded nothing. He turned off his computer at 10 p.m., knowing that his life was coming to an end. He decided that he wasn’t going to go straight home to spend time with his family the way he usually did—he simply couldn’t face them. Instead, he would go have a drink or two in a nearby pub and smoke a few cigarettes. He had stopped smoking more than five years ago, but tonight that didn’t matter. He was going to have the condemned man’s last cigarette and he was going to enjoy it.

He entered Smiley’s pub unnoticed by anyone and went straight to the counter. He ordered a Guinness and slowly savored it, enjoying every sip of and making it last for hours. He looked at all the people around him and reminisced about the most enjoyable moments of his life. Most of them involved his wife Christine and their two daughters, Kim and Lilly. Each time he thought about the sadness his death would bring them, he took another sip of his beer and forced himself to remember the million-dollar insurance policy.

He’d been at the counter for almost an hour before a man of medium build who looked to be in his mid-thirties walked up to the bar and sat down next to Kenro. The man was just over six feet tall and had a receding hairline. His wide shoulders towered over a belly that was testament to his fondness for food; his smile could’ve charmed snakes.
He nodded his head in Kenro’s direction and then ordered a Guinness. Kenro paid the man no heed—he had no time to waste on silly pub conversations. He shifted to his left, putting his back towards the man as he took another sip of his beer.

The man just smiled and put his own glass to his lips. He gulped his stout, put his glass back on the counter, and tapped Kenro’s shoulder.

“Hey, my friend, you look like you need the company of an angel!”

Kenro turned, startled by the man’s words. He had never heard anyone speak of angels, but what shocked him even more was that when he meant to respond in a way that would brush the man off, he was caught and held by the intensity of the other’s gaze. The man wasn’t threatening; he just exuded an intense charisma that left Kenro speechless.

Kenro remained staring and mute, incapable of uttering a single word or moving a finger.

“What? You need more time to think that being left alone right now is not the best thing for you?” the man said jovially.

“Uh…I…I am Kenro… Nice to meet you… You are?” Kenro found himself saying.

“I am Rehael,” the man answered, and reached out to shake Kenro’s hand. “So…what troubles you so much?”

Kenro was once more dumbfounded by the intensity of the man’s words and gestures. He found himself unable to hide any of his emotions. Even more important, he found himself unable to lie. Once he’d spilled his guts to the stranger—omitting the part about the orchestrated suicide—he held himself stiffly, staring at Rehael with a blank look.
Rehael looked at Kenro and began laughing. “I can’t believe this small affair is the source of so much misery for you!”

Kenro was insulted by the comment and tried to turn his back on the man again. Before he could do so, however, he was halted by Rehael’s hand on his right shoulder.

“Don’t take offense, my friend. I was never known for my tact. Actually, I am more famous for my brutality than anything else!” he explained before laughing again. This time, Kenro did not feel insulted—he actually felt relieved by the friendly fellow’s self-derision.

“It’s your lucky day, Kenro,” the man continued. “Transfer everything you have into Siman’s American stocks. Your financial troubles will be forever behind you, I assure you…”

Kenro, feeling the man was making fun of him again, flagged down the bartender for his bill.

“Come now, Kenro—what do you have to lose? What is one more day?” Rehael said with true compassion in his voice.

Kenro stopped counting out his money and looked at the man, finally feeling warmth return to his heart.

“Invest in the morning—you will have a good surprise before the end of the day! What is another day?” Rehael insisted again before taking his leave.

Kenro paid his bill and went home. I can deal with one more day, was his last thought before entering a deep slumber.

Thursday: -3 until D-Day

To the surprise of his colleagues, Kenro was at the office by 8 a.m. the next day even though it was the anniversary of his father’s passing. He had never before missed honoring the tomb of his father first thing in the morning on that morning every year, yet he was in front of his computer instead of in the graveyard.

As soon as the markets opened, he invested all his capital in Siman. As Rahael had said, he had nothing to lose anymore. He spent the next five hours drinking coffee and fidgeting in his chair.

At 2:01 p.m., Siman’s stocks began to go up. The CEO of the company had made an announcement that shocked everyone: the company had been working secretly on a merger with Google for the past three months, and the deal had been confirmed just a few hours earlier. In less than two hours, Siman’s shares went from $18 a share to $67.

Kenro had reversed all of his losses and even made money in a single shot. His career was saved, his reputation was saved, his life was saved. He thanked whatever gods he knew of for having sent Rehael onto his path.

Friday: D-Day Infinity

Kenro left the office at 5 p.m. His boss had come by that morning to congratulate him on having been able to make up for his past mistakes and to praise him on his incredible sense for capturing exceptional opportunities. His job was no longer in jeopardy; his life was officially saved.

Kenro went straight to Smiley’s pub in the hopes of seeing Rehael once more. He entered the establishment and saw the good man sitting alone at a table in the back.

He ran to him. “Rehael!” he exclaimed.

Rehael looked at him and smiled. “Kenro! I guess you heard the good news, didn’t you?” he said with a wink.

“How did you know? Who are you?”

Rehael laughed. “An angel, of course!”

Kenro looked at him, perplexed. It must be another of Rehael’s jokes, he told himself. “No, seriously…”

“I’m an Angel of God! You know what angels are, don’t you?” Rehael replied in a voice of complete sincerity.

“Wha—“

“An angel of God. You know, Adam and Eve…Abraham…you must know about Jesus!”

Kenro was incapable of saying anything.

“Let me guess—you need proof!” Rehael said, then laughed out loud.

“I—“

Rehael just looked at Kenro, enveloping him in an aura of undeniable mercy.

Kenro lowered his head and pleaded for forgiveness. “I shall be forever in your debt and forever adore you!” he said to Rehael, his heart full to bursting.

The angel looked at him, clearly displeased, and said, “Adore me? No, you have mistaken for someone else. Be grateful for the Creator and use what He has given you in His way. That is all that He truly asks of you, you know.”

Kenro’s eyes welled with gratitude. “I will do so forever!”

Rehael smiled. “You can go now. Return to your family and lead your life as it ought to be.”

Kenro nodded and left to be in his family’s company, his heart filled with joy and strength. He finally knew what faith was; for the first time in his life, he felt complete.

Saturday: D-Day -298

Kenro woke up the next day with a strange feeling in his heart. He got up from his bed and went to make himself some coffee. As he was waiting for the coffee machine to finish its routine, images of his encounter with Rehael invaded his mind. He kept thinking about everything that he had said and done and could not help himself from smiling at the sneakiness of the self-proclaimed angel.

Obviously, Rehael—if that was even his real name—had given him an insider tip to cover his own illegal investments. Kenro would have reported the man on the spot if the tip hadn’t saved his career and his life. Rehael—or the organization he was working for—must have been watching for potential candidates who would be desperate enough to play their game.

That was the only logical explanation, and the only one that made any sense at all. Kenro poured himself a cup of coffee and went about his usual day, enjoying his newfound success and forgetting all that rubbish about gods and angels.

Y.S.H.