"Certain flaws are necessary for the whole.
It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks."

Hi all,

I'm just gonna level with ya'll and admit that pretty much all I feel like doing with these newsletters lately is writing cute "moment with Andrew" stories in which Andrew does or says something adorable or, even better, has heaps of love and affection poured upon him.  It could be worse... for a while there all I wanted to write were stories in which Andrew curled up on a couch with his blankie and cookies and milk and was fawned over by adoring women... yay women's lib!  Angsty beat poetry was also seeming real tempting.  If only I had a black turtle neck and a beret...

With complete seriousness now, in the wake of John Dye's passing, I just really can't deal with any of the more dramatic stories that inevitably involve Andrew suffering or sad.  And top tens and such just aren't coming real easy.  I don't suspect this is a permanent state.  Just part of the grieving process/acclimating to our new reality as a fan group for someone who has passed on.  But for right now that's where things stand.  I hope it doesn't alienate a buncha people as I know not everyone really cares about Dyeland.  I will try, in the text of the stories, to explain points that may not be clear.  But Andrew is Andrew and I hope, if people want to, they can read these stories simply for him without having to worry about some massive backstory with the other characters.  As always, ask questions if ya like.

I still believe that John left behind so much to inspire us that JABB can go on for a very long time.  It'll just take a while to find our footing.  But with God's help, I know we will.

As I wait for that guidance... you can read about Andrew's views on his shorts.  ;-)

God bless,

A Shorts Story

"'Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times, a messenger from radiant climes, and smile on thy new world, and be as kind to others as to me!'" JenniAnn read as she sat beneath the willow tree in Andrew's front yard. 
A foot away, the angel himself was sprawled on the lawn.  His head was inclined slightly towards JenniAnn, evidence that he was listening.  But his gaze was trained on the beautifully blue sky and the sunlight as it peeked through the tree's branches.  One shoe was balanced on the toe of the other, the uppermost one swaying to birdsong or, perhaps, some tune lodged in his head.
His friend smiled to see him so calm and content and continued her recitation.  "'Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth, come now, and let me dream it truth, and part my hair, and kiss my brow, and say, My love why sufferest thou?'"  Usually deeply touched by Matthew Arnold's words, JenniAnn was surprised to find herself giggling.  The juxtaposition of a very casual Andrew with the elegantly spoken angel of the poem amused her.
Surprised, Andrew sat up and looked around.  "Did I miss something?" he asked after finding no source for JenniAnn's abrupt laughter.
She shook her head.  "No.  It was all in my head.  It's only... well, I was thinking about how you don't talk much like the angel in the poem.  I mean not now.  Maybe you did once."
Andrew tilted his head, showily thinking back over his long history.  "You know... seems to me I've utterest a few such things."
JenniAnn laughed again. 
"I've even used 'my love' before," Andrew continued nonchalantly, tilting his chin up to look at the branches but stealing a glance at the woman beside him.
She looked at the angel in surprise.
Andrew leaned nearer to her, smiling devilishly.  "Of course, you know her as Lulu."
JenniAnn playfully swatted his arm.  "Andrew!  It's not exactly the same when applied to your dog."
Before Andrew could defend himself, a breeze struck up.  The hot wind blew the willow's branches about; reminding the two hidden beneath it what a sticky, unseasonably warm day it was.

Once the wind had died down, JenniAnn noticed that Andrew had extended his arm to shield her from the whipping willows.  She beamed at him and brushed some of his hair back into place.  "Thanks."

"No problem.  And thanks for that.  I'd like to look presentable when the other girls show up."

"Andrew, I've never seen you
not look presentable.  But speaking of our friends... I hope they didn't get blown about as they walked here.  Hey, what time is it, anyway?"
Andrew consulted his pocket watch.  "I'm sure they're fine.  It's only 5:14 and we told them we're leaving sometime between 5:00 and 5:30 which means they should be here soon.  And then we'll head to Adam's concert.  You know, I'm really looking forward to seeing him tackle a bunch of old folk songs." 
"Me too.  And I'm glad he has an assignment so suited to his interests.  That must help.  *And* I'm even more glad he's in NYC so we can pay him a visit.  Which reminds me... Catherine said it's pretty hot in New York, too," JenniAnn relayed, gazing up at the sun.  "I hope everyone comes dressed lightly.  We wouldn't want anyone passing out there!"  She frowned at the idea, grateful she'd chosen a knee length broomstick skirt and baby tee for the occasion.  It occurred to her then that Andrew seemed less seasonably attired.  His green T-shirt was appropriate enough but JenniAnn couldn't imagine being stuck in jeans on such a day.  It reminded her of something she and the other girls sometimes discussed...
"Uh oh."
JenniAnn came out of her reverie upon hearing Andrew's utterance.  "Uh oh, what?" she asked with concern.
The angel of death shrugged.  "I don't know.  But I know that look of yours.  It's what I like to call the 'Judging the Appropriateness of Asking Andrew a Question' look.  So, out with it," he prompted with his most big brotherly of smiles.
JenniAnn blushed and smiled.  She supposed it was to be expected that after over eleven years of friendship, Andrew would develop an uncanny knowledge of her thoughts.  And he was in such a good, playful mood...  It was clearly the time to ask. 
"How come you hardly ever wear shorts?" she blurted out.  "I mean in the whole time I've known you, I think I've seen you in them twice.  No.  Once and a half.  Once you actually had shorts on.  One day during the cruise.  The girls and I about fainted it was such a shock."
Andrew chuckled and blushed at once but said nothing. 
"The other time was when Asher ran off that day and fell and scraped up his arm and you found him and tore off the bottom half of one of your pants legs to bandage the wound," JenniAnn continued.
"The material was softer than my shirt's fabric," the Tunnel boy's rescuer explained.
"I remember.  And I thought you were all sorts of lovely for thinking of such a thing."  JenniAnn looked dreamily at him but quickly sobered and focused on her question.  "So do you just not like em?  I understand if you don't.  Just curious is all."
Andrew shrugged.  "I have nothing against shorts.  Besides, I don't think I've seen you in shorts even once in eleven years, Laja."

"Yes, but I wear skirts.  I spose you could, too, if ya wanted.  We could get ya kilts!  You'd look... Scottishy."

Andrew's left eye brow arched.  "Scottishy?"

"Yes, adorably Scottishy."  JenniAnn giggled. 

"I dunno..."  Andrew shook his head. 

"All right, all right.  I understand your not running around in a kilt however... shorts would make sense."

"I know," the angel agreed before wrinkling his nose.  "I just... well, I don't think I look very good in them."
JenniAnn peered at him, incredulous.  "Andrew, trust me.  You look fine.  I may not have seen you in shorts much but I've seen you in your swim trunks many a time.  We all have.  And, trust me, no one has ever reacted in horror or astonishment."
Andrew blushed again.  He well knew *that* was the truth.  Still... it wasn't the same.  "But in those cases I spent most of the time underwater so you couldn't see..."  His voice drifted off.
The woman looked tenderly at her beloved friend.  Andrew often utilized his self-deprecating sense of humor.  It was a semi-regular occurrence for him to make some joking comment about his shortness relative to the uber-tall Adam or downplay the allure of his hair.  But JenniAnn had never thought he was actually bothered about his looks at all.  She certainly couldn't see any reason he should be.  In her mind, he was one of the two most handsome men she'd ever laid eyes on.  The conversation was definitely headed in a far lessing amusing direction than she had imagined and JenniAnn wished she'd never brought the shorts issue up.
The angel glanced over at the silent girl beside him.  For all his empathy and concern, Andrew couldn't quite tell what JenniAnn was thinking at that moment but sensed she was fretting over his feelings.  Well he knew she and the other girls often did.  He hugged her. 
"I think you're pretty nearly perfect," she murmured.
Andrew smiled.  "I don't know about that but thank you."   Sensing it was the only way to put his friend at ease and keep her from going into overdrive trying to fix whatever she thought troubled him, Andrew began to roll the right leg of his jeans up to just below his knee.  "There," he said, waving to his calf.
"There what?" JenniAnn questioned. 
"You don't see it?"
"I see skin and hair.  And, let's be honest, yours truly is no great expert on the male form but I think I know enough to know that's a perfectly normal shaped leg for a guy."
Andrew shook his head.  "Not the shape, Laja.  I mean the scar." 
"Right here."  Andrew traced a crooked line from his ankle bone to an inch beneath his knee.
JenniAnn pulled off her sunglasses and looked again.  There beside Andrew's finger she finally made out a thin white line that couldn't have been much thicker than a thread.  She blinked then looked up at the angel.  "Andrew, I know us girls may seem a lil... let's say over-attentive.  However... you honestly think we'd pick up on something like that!?!  It's... it's minuscule!  If my eyesight were any poorer, I doubt I could have seen it!"
The angel looked at her, incredulous.  "Really?"
"Yes!  Trust me, we could care less about that tiny, lil thing you're calling a scar." 
The moment the words left JenniAnn's mouth, she realized they weren't true at all.  She did care.  Immensely.  Why did Andrew have a scar?  What had happened to him?  Had it been at all recent?  Had it hurt?  Could he be hurt again?  Where the heck were the others?!?
Not knowing what else to do, JenniAnn hugged the angel.  "What happened?  Poor love..." she cooed.
Andrew did a double-take.  The foolish choice that had brought about the scar was still so clear in his mind. It only then occurred to him that poor JenniAnn might think he'd suffered some sort of cruelty.  He could practically hear "immortal, not invincible" ringing through her head as she clung to him.

"Laja, please don't be sad," Andrew implored.  He returned her hug and smiled down at her.  "It's not what you're thinking.  I... well...  You know how sometimes my pride gets the better of me?"
The angel gave a slight smile in response to her always charitable view of him.  "Well, when I was younger... let's just say the pride issues were a little less seldom."
"How much younger?"
Andrew chuckled at her eager, earnest expression.  "A few centuries.  I was still a caseworker and I had an assignment named Obadiah.  The name means 'servant of Yahweh' but, trust me, Obadiah didn't see himself as servant to anybody," the angel related.
JenniAnn shivered slightly.  Andrew was glaring out into the yard.  It was a look she'd long thought would break her heart if ever turned upon her.  But it never was. 
"He was wealthy... but not by his own hands and work," Andrew continued.  "His father had doted on him all through his life.  *He* was a good, kind man.  But he didn't see how giving his son all he wanted would keep him from maturing, from developing compassion and respect for others.  Obadiah felt that he deserved the best of everything and should be recognized as the best at everything.  He used people to further his own interests.  And he had no problem making it known when he thought anyone else was less than the best."
Andrew chuckled.  "You know, Obadiah was a lot like him.  Except not French and not animated.  The Father had sent me to help Obadiah see how his actions and fault-finding were hurting his father and those around him.  I was there as his younger siblings' tutor.  One evening when he headed out with some friends, he invited me along.  I hadn't been able to spend much time with him.  After all, I was 'in his employ' as he was a little too fond of pointing out."
JenniAnn rolled her eyes.  "If he only knew whose servant and son you actually were...  So did Obadiah..."  She warily eyed the scar.  Or at least where she thought it was, unable to see it without Andrew's aid.
"No.  That night, Obadiah and his friends spent most of their time drinking.  After a while, they started making up different dares for each other.  They got to be pretty reckless and, thankfully, most of the guys had the good sense to start turning them down.  But Obadiah was merciless.  Calling them cowards and worse.  To goad them, he said a few choice things about some of their sisters who he had taken advantage of."  The angel scowled.
JenniAnn set a hand over his, knowing mistreatment of women always grieved Andrew. 
The angel squeezed her hand and continued his tale.  "I'd stayed pretty quiet that whole night.  Just observing.  Trying to find a way to get through to Obadiah.  But that... well, that was the last straw for me.  I wanted to put Obadiah in his place.  It was right then that one of the men dared someone, any of us, to jump from the roof of one stable to another that was just over 20 feet away.  Obadiah, not willing to give it a try himself, shouted that there was a chance for his cowardly friends to prove themselves as men.  No one took him up on it except..."
JenniAnn gaped at Andrew.  "Tell me you didn't!"
Andrew's face turned crimson.  "I thought if I did then maybe it'd humble Obadiah.  Or maybe it would be a quick way to get him to actually respect me enough to listen to me."
"I know, Laja, I know," the angel insisted, raking his hand through his hair.  "And I wouldn't do it now.  Between you and Tess and the other girls... I wouldn't dare."  Andrew grinned at her.

JenniAnn folded her arms over her chest and glowered in a manner that seemed eerily Tess-like to Andrew.

"Like I said... younger, prouder," he reminded, meekly.
JenniAnn steeled herself.  "So go on.  What happened?"
Andrew became intensely interested in a fallen twig and began twirling it.  "Well, I climbed on top of the first stable."
JenniAnn cringed.
"And I jumped."  Andrew cast a sidelong glance at his friend.  He didn't like disappointing her.
The woman clenched fists of grass in her anxiousness.
"And I landed on the second roof."
JenniAnn untensed and looked at Andrew, her head tilted.  "You mean you actually did it?  But I thought that was how you..."  She indicated his leg.
"Not exactly.  Once I landed, I could tell Obadiah was surprised I'd done it.  And impressed.  With that respect won, I thought maybe he'd give me a chance.  But then the expression on his face changed and he said I'd probably learned such a talent escaping from my previous employers after seducing the ladies of the house."  The angel of death shook his head, blushing.  "I was frustrated, Laja!  Even with my stunt, I still hadn't gotten through.  And I was feeling angry about the slight against my character... my pride... so... I opened my mouth to yell at Obadiah and I stomped my foot and... I lost my balance.  I guess I scraped against something on the way down because I landed on some hay with a big ol' cut on my lower leg."  Andrew frowned and traced the scar.  "You can imagine how much that did *not* improve my standing in Obadiah's eyes."
"Did it hurt?" JenniAnn asked, aghast.
Andrew smiled reassuringly, still blushing.  "I think my pride was hurt much more than my leg.  And I was too stunned to feel much physical pain."
JenniAnn hugged him.  "Poor, lovely Andrew." 
"More like foolish, proud Andrew," the angel insisted, grimacing.
JenniAnn sighed.  "So maybe that wasn't the best way to react.  But I can understand why you did.  That does NOT mean I want to be hearing from anyone that you've tried that sorta tactic again.  And, remember, us girls know Ronald should we need to check records...  But, yeah, I do understand.  So... did you ever get through to Obadiah?"
Andrew's troubled expression cleared and he nodded.  "Obadiah had a little sister.  She had inherited something of his daredevil spirit.  The day after the roof incident, she was balancing on a bridge over a river and fell in.  It was a heavy current.  She was swept under.  I was nearby, tutoring her younger brother, and saw.  I went in after her.  Got her out.  For all his faults, Obadiah loved that little girl.  Which just proves that everyone, even the people we struggle with, have grace in them."
JenniAnn smiled.  It was such an Andrew thing to say, always looking for the good in people and celebrating it when he found it.  "So after that he was more willing to listen to you?"
"Exactly.  I should have trusted that the Father had the assignment planned out and would give me my 'in' with Obadiah.  I shouldn't have pushed ahead with my own scheme and gotten angry when it didn't work."  Andrew bowed his head, feeling humbled all over again.  "So that's how I got the scar and why I don't like wearing shorts."
"Aw, Andrew.  I'm sure the Father knows you learned your lesson.  And, really, the scar's not noticeable.  I think you only see it cause ya feel badly about how it happened.  Although..."  JenniAnn bit her lip, trying to puzzle something out.
"Well, it is kinda odd.  I mean the scar on your hand from when..."
Andrew put his arm around the woman's shoulders when her lower lip began to tremble as she recalled the wound he'd received while homeless a year and half before.  "Laja, I had a very good nurse to tend to that cut," he assured her.  "So no scar."
JenniAnn smiled tenderly at him. 
"Besides," Andrew continued.  "That cut wasn't my fault.  This one was.  So maybe it's still there as a reminder to me about that pride of mine."
JenniAnn frowned, not entirely liking that idea.  Andrew was so very nearly perfect and she sometimes worried he was too hard on himself for the few flaws he did have, flaws that just made him all the more dear.  But arguing with him was unlikely to help so she tried a different tack.  "Well, if that is the case, then you're only one of many of us bearing physical traces of our pride and such."  The woman rolled her sleeve up over her shoulder.  "Remember last week when I was up so late planning your Promotion Day party and you kept telling me I needed to go to bed but I kept insisting I was fine and would know when I needed to head to bed?"
Andrew nodded.  "I remember that and I remember many, many other scenes that were a lot like that."
"Yes, I know.  You do a much better job of taking care of me than I do of myself.  And I should have listened to you cause I guess my perception was off and I rammed myself into a door jamb and this happened."  JenniAnn turned to reveal a green welt.
Andrew winced.  "You really do need to start getting more sleep.  Or maybe I just need to install some padding at Willowveil," he teased.
JenniAnn giggled before refocusing on her efforts.  "Then, more permanently, there's this."  JenniAnn held her hands in front of Andrew and wriggled her fingers.  Those on her right hand were noticeably slower.  "Broke my right arm when I insisted I was a trapeze artist.  They haven't been normal since.  And..."
"What are you two doing?"
The angel and woman looked up to see Rose standing between some parted branches, studying them.  Yva was just behind her.
"You look like two five year olds comparing owies," Yva pointed out.
JenniAnn grinned.  "Nope, just a twenty eight year old and a... whatever he is comparing owies."

Rose and Yva both looked at their friends in alarm. 

"None serious, I hope," Rose said with concern.

Andrew yanked his pant leg back into place, stood, and hugged them both.  "Not at all.  Although we established that JenniAnn needs to start sleeping more."

"And that he needs to stay off stable rooftops," JenniAnn muttered.

"What?!" Yva questioned.

Andrew chuckled.  "I'll tell you during the ride to the concert.  So where are Lady Beth and C.J.?"

"Lady Beth's meeting us there," Rose answered.  "She went to the Phoenix to help with some healthy meal planning lessons.  Catherine was going to drop her off when she's through."

"And, unfortunately," Yva continued, "C.J. couldn't get away from her classes.  She said to ask you if you could record the concert, Andrew."

"I'm sorry C.J. won't be with us but, sure, I'll do my best to get it recorded."  Andrew nodded eagerly, his eyes lighting up at the prospect of using his new toy.  "I'll go run and get my camera."

Just before he darted away, the angel paused by JenniAnn.  "You really can't see it?"

JenniAnn set a hand on his shoulder.  She knew he wasn't asking out of vanity, only residual embarrassment.  "No, Andrew.  And even if I could, I wouldn't think any less of you.  Nor would the others, I'm sure."

Andrew patted her hand, smiled, and ran off. 

"He really does appreciate that camera," Yva mused, pleased at the angel's happiness.

"Sure does.  We did good," Rose added before turning to JenniAnn.  "So what was really going on when we showed up?  And what did you not see that Andrew thought you did?"

JenniAnn shook her head and smiled.  "Not saying.  Trust me, it'll be much more amusing and adorable coming from Andrew.  A lil glimpse into his wild and crazy days, you might say."

Yva laughed.  "I can't wait to hear about it.  I hope he doesn't take too long getting that camera of his ready."

For a couple of minutes the three women shared amusing anecdotes about Andrew breaking in his new camera.  Then the sound of his front door closing alerted them to his pending return.  They stepped out from beneath the tree and stared at the approaching figure.

Andrew was still wearing the green T-shirt but the jeans had been replaced by khaki shorts.

"You ladies ready?" he asked, amused by their dismayed expressions.

All three nodded silently.

"Y-you changed," JenniAnn squeaked out.

Andrew smiled at her.  "I've done some reconsidering." 

JenniAnn beamed at him.

Andrew squeezed her hand then his loving gaze travelled to Rose and Yva.  He knew that even when he told them the story of the rooftop and the scar, they would react just as JenniAnn had.  With some shock but, most of all, acceptance of who he was and who he had once been.  They had successfully taught him not too be too hard on himself.

"You ready?" he checked again.

"For a story from you and a concert from Adam?  You bet!" Yva readily agreed, as eager as Rose to learn the reason behind Andrew's change of clothes.

The four walked together to the waiting mini-van then set off for an evening filled with what truly leaves the deepest and most permanent of marks on us all: love and friendship.

The End


JABB 326

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)