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“That would depend on your definition of goodness; whether it resides in your
heart or your head.”
“And what do you think?”
“Like I say, I don't think,” replied Stan.
“A good answer,” said Ambrosius. “I do think, but I still don't know. I reckon
most people in the treetops would say your heart, whereas most people here in the
City would say your head – if they didn't identify certain other are as of their anatomy,
that is.”
Stan laughed. “Their bellies, of course. What do you say?”
“Maybe goodness is in your hands. If your job relies only on your hands it's pretty
hard to do anything too bad. Sure you can hit someone, but you'll get hit back and
sooner or later you'll come up against someone who's tougher than you. If you use
your head, you can do some really nasty things. You don't get hit back, so you kid
yourself that they are actually good.”
“Maybe you're right. You should know that you will be using your head a lot in
the line of work you are going to pursue.”
“It's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.”
“Excellent,” laughed Stan. “You've got the right attitude, sir.”
“Why don't you go into that line of work, Stan?”
“It is not for me,” said Stan. “Ever since my fall I've... well, I've not been right in
the head. You wouldn't know it to talk to me, but there are things which struggle
inside me. If I become too involved in the world then bad things happen.”
Ambrosius decided not to pry too deeply. “That must be hard,” he said.
“You know, it is, sir. I feel like I'm never quite a part of the world, even when I'm
in control of it. It is most disconcerting.”
“Sometimes it's better to be aloof.”
“Aloof? Detached is a better word. Stone cold, statuesque, like a painting on a
wall. Is that really a way to exist? I try and have my input on peoples lives but it is
always vicarious; I may work through a person but never as a person. I long to be one
of those stupid, drinking, laughing slobs that grace the plane t with their dirt, but I just
can't seem to settle.”
“You seem to have plenty of friends round here,” said Ambrosius, thinking of the
nefarious characters who had hailed them from the shadows on their way back to
Stan's place.
“That's because I help them. I have a brain on me, which I use to facilitate their
various sins. When I have my influence on people a car thief becomes a used car
dealer, a mugger becomes a loan shark, a drunkard becomes a publican and a
scumbag becomes a politician. It's the effect I have on people; I make them
“Isn't that a good thing? You're pulling people out of the gutter, sort of like a
guardian angel.”
Stan sipped his wine before continuing. “Yes, I do a very similar job to an angel.
Angels help people in their darkest hour, as I do. There seems to be a difference with
me though, which makes me sad. I can't help but help the wrong people. Everyone I
make successful is corrupted by that success. I sometimes try and prevent it, but it just
seems to be the way of things. Nowadays I just go along with it.”
“You shouldn't feel bad about it,” said Ambrosius. “You try your best.”