The Angels Must Die - Chapter 1.2

CHAPTER 1

part 2

With trembling fingers, Raymond dialed a number he memorized very well. It was the phone number of the president of the Morton Model Office.

After a few beeps―Raymond greeted the person across the line in a voice as bright as possible.

“Hi, Lisa?”

A startled voice returned from the receiver.

「Ray? What's going on?」

Of course, she would be surprised. It was still 8 in the morning.

“I’m sorry I called you this early morning, but I have some things to say...” Then, Raymond asked a question, being extremely careful not to let a pathetic voice slip out. “Uh, what should I say…if possible, I'd like to have a job where I can get a guarantee right now.”

He thought he was being careful enough, but Raymond noticed his voice was quivering so bad. He had been on an empty stomach for quite some time to make a decent voice.

Lisa noticed it too. But being a good person as she always had been, she replied cheerfully, in a tone that showed no contempt or sympathy.

「A job? Of course you can! Did you forget? You're the infamous model a lot of people wish to see your comeback! If you're okay with it, I can arrange you with the Coca-Cola CF offer.」

Raymond chuckled awkwardly. A joke as usual. Long time ago before he got kidnapped by the cult, Raymond was a popular model many people rave about. The heyday may have been when he was wearing a diaper, but compared to today's ads, his indeed had a special place in people's hearts; some dogs passed in a row, women competing over a jar of jam. The pin-up models of third-rate magazines were even worse, showing only hands and feet.

Raymond knew that he should expose his face. It had been repeatedly recommended by those around him. They said it's a waste to hide his pretty face, be more greedy!

Raymond's only strength was his looks. His brain was not good nor was his physical strength. He did not particularly have any special skills either. He was clumsy in dealing with people, and basically very difficult to even get out of the house.

Well, an incompetent like him could sell his body to get easy money... However, selling his body is another impossible story.

Raymond has haphephobia. He could not have skin-to-skin contact with people. Pretending to be a shut-in and stayed in the house all the time, while in fact, he was afraid of others.

To this day, many men and women have offered Raymond a hefty sum of money just to have his body―all rejected of course. Raymond would get sick if he was naked in front of other people. To him, having s*x was a lot more terrifying than torture. The current Raymond would probably have a huge panic attack just by being in his underwear.

He thought, if he hadn't been kidnapped by that cult, he might have been able to live like a more decent person. But then again, some people live wonderfully even in unusual family circumstances. He couldn't just blame solely on the past. Raymond was just weak.

Even so, Lisa's jokes lightened his mood a little.

"What? Coca-Cola CF? Well, I prefer Pepsi though.”

Raymond liked both, but of course, this too was just a joke.

"Oh, dear. If you want to get another offer, I can get you, you know? Don't underestimate me!”

She said with a bitter laugh.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It was just a lie."

Raymond was scared that Lisa would really get a Pepsi CF contract. Despite her small figure, Lisa was surprisingly more resourceful than her husband, Bill, president of the Morton Model. Lisa has always had her own way of getting an offer that was too big for a local model office to even imagine.

Raymond's current career path was also because of Lisa. She was the one who recommended Raymond to model for a diaper ad that no one knew about. But to this day, the baby printed on the diaper brand's packaging was Raymond, age one. The ad had been remade several times, but the picture was still in use even after more than 20 years since it was so well-reputed.

Everything was made possible probably because of Lisa's bright smile.

Said to be a distant relative of his mother, Raymond learned that Lisa was, in fact, a 'mere friend' with no blood relation. However, he decided not to touch on that part. He was not the kind of a person to trample on the good intentions of others, nor did he has enough money to live without clinging to the thick favor of others.

When Raymond was rescued from the cult, his biological mother, Sharon Schneider, had already passed away.

The boy wasn't particularly surprised at the time. She had been an alcohol and drug addict from the time she lived with him.

Raymond never learned the name of his father. Nor did Sharon. He was only told that Sharon was a se*ually free-spirited woman. If she had been able to pinpoint his father, she would undoubtedly have given her child over to the man.

Raymond spent several years in the child care facility as he had no place to accept him. It was Bill and Lisa Morton who offered a helping hand in the later years.

One day, a call for Raymond suddenly rang in the facility.

「Hi, Raymond. This is Lisa, your mother's relative, remember? We met a few times during the shoot. …Oh, it's okay if you don't remember me since you were only a baby then.」

Raymond was startled and could not answer, so the woman continued to speak.

「Raymond, why don’t you try modeling in our office again? I think you can do enough work at any time. No, your pictures could even sell better now. What do you think?」

Her way of speaking was without any sympathy in the tone.

「To tell the truth, we don't have any pretty boy models in our office right now. So there are quite a few offers that we had to turn down. Why don't you sign the contract to help me?」

She probably heard somewhere that her old friend's child was in dire straits so she contacted him right away without batting a second thought.

「If you don't mind, I'll get you an apartment too. I can pay the living expenses in advance.」

Raymond accepted her story without hesitation. Because that was the only way for him to stand on his own feet.

After several years, she remained the same. In a tone and manner that did not burden Raymond, she still helped him. Instead of Raymond―whose ability to adapt to society was almost zero―she even took care of all his taxes and other annoying regulations. To Raymond, Lisa was more like his own mother than Sharon.

Lisa chuckled.

「Well, fine. Pepsi thing aside... Good for you, Ray. We're going to shoot a postcard today. What do you say, come over to my house right now? The other kids will shoot in the afternoon, so you can do it alone in the morning.」

Raymond did not know if it was true or a story Lisa just made up, but it was an unexpected proposal he hadn't thought of.

A delayed moment.

The Morton Mansion was located close to St. Louis Street. It was a very beautiful mansion in the traditional quarter style. The garden was also spacious. Its location was suitable for taking postcard pictures for tourism. Raymond had been shooting at the mansion several times before.

“…Ahh. Uh...so, what should I do?”

「Bill wants to see you too. You haven't shown up at our house lately.」

"Ah... I don't go out much."

Lisa was sensitive to the fear contained in Raymond's voice but she pushed even further.

「What are you going to do? should I drive out to pick you up?」

“Thank you for always giving me a ride, but I'll walk by myself today."

「Alright? You okay with that? ―Then, let's drink together after shooting. It's been a long time. You used to like Sazerac, didn't you?」

At that, Raymond's throat salivated. Sazerac was a red cocktail native to the French Quarter. It was said to be made by mixing bourbon and sugar water. The first time he drank it, he was so moved by how delicious it was.

Ever since he was a child, Raymond couldn't even enjoy milk properly, so it was a natural reaction. He wondered how many delicious foods he didn't know exist in the world. He still couldn't forget the thrill of that time.

“Sazerac is too expensive. Cheap beer or coffee is fine... And yes, I've been wanting to meet you for a long time."

When it comes to New Orleans, chicory coffee was also famous. It was very delicious if you drink it as a cafe au lait with milk.

Gumbo, soup with okra, and jambalaya with rice―just thinking about the heart-pounding scent of spices made Raymond dizzy. It was too hard on an empty stomach.

「By the way Ray, Bill has gained weight again. His stomach is so big that I wonder how many months he is pregnant. I think we'll be having triplets. Laugh at him too when you get here!」

“I can already imagine that.”

Raymond literally laughed out loud. To reassure Lisa. And to cheer himself up.

「Okay then. If you're fine with walking, it shouldn't be a problem. I'll wait.」

Raymond hung up the phone and let out a sigh. The first stage had been passed. Now he had to go out, the biggest challenge.



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