[Editor’s Note: If you’re familiar with my writing in past places, you may have already read this. I am planning on porting old pieces I enjoy onto my blog when convenient times present themselves. Please enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!]
[A camera is trained on a small, chubby, man sitting on a stool. He winces momentarily, his wings flinching, as a light passes over his eyes.]
OFF-SCREEN INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry. We’re usually set up well in advance for these, but this was on such short notice and we know you’re very busy. We’re very grateful you could take time at all.
WINGED MAN: Hey, no worries. No one’s ever wanted to ask us anything before, like it’s some mystical sorta thing, you know? It’s really pretty basic if—
INTERVIEWER: I’ve been told we’re ready, sir.
WINGED MAN: Oh, right. Good to go, here.
INTERVIEWER: Right, then. Roll film.
[The camera’s red light blinks on.]
Again, thank you for taking the time, Mr. … Cupid…?
WINGED MAN: Kip, please. Cupid was our founder, so he’s become our brand name in a way. Like Kleenex with us, but we all have different names.
INTERVIEWER: Kip, then. Sorry. There are many of you, then?
KIP: Yep! A couple million, give or take.
KIP: Think we’d still be wearing these diapers if we were?
INTERVIEWER: Fair enough. Please describe your job for us.
KIP: Sure. It’s really just about how everyone thinks it goes. We’re the “sparks” in love, right? We’re given assignments to join two people chosen by fate to be together in as holy a matrimony as possible, and we go stoke their fires. Call us the links in the ol’ ball and chain.
INTERVIEWER: And you do this with the classic bow and arrow?
KIP: Eh, we still carry ’em around for tradition’s sake, but we try to use other means when we can.
INTERVIEWER: Why is that?
KIP: Well, come on. You can be a master archer, but sometimes arrows just don’t go where you want them. Wind gusts, things getting in the way. You ever have a time when you went to the house of some lady you might’ve been interested in and things were going pretty well, but then her mutt starts going all Pepe LePew on your leg and it wrecks the mood?
KIP: That’s a miss. Sorry. Sometimes another human gets hit, too, and that causes all sorts of headaches. The best-known example’s gotta be—
INTERVIEWER: Lennon and Ono?
KIP: Charlie still gets flak for that.
INTERVIEWER: What about all those crazy celebrity matchups?
KIP: Sorry, not our jurisdiction. You’ll have to ask their respective planets’ cherubs about that.
KIP: Anyway, you were asking what we use, right? It’s largely situational. Ideally, it’s a long-distance job. High-powered love rifles.
INTERVIEWER: High-powered rifles.
KIP: Of love.
INTERVIEWER: That doesn’t sound very romantic…
KIP: And getting an arrow through your chest is better just ’cause the point’s shaped like a heart? Get over yourselves.
INTERVIEWER: Yeah. But, well, I just thought—
KIP: (rolls his eyes) We carve hearts on the bullets if it makes ya feel better.
INTERVIEWER: Ah. Good…
KIP: And the bullets fragment, making sure all the shrapnel stays in the target and doesn’t hit bystanders.
KIP: …Pink, fluffy little bits of lovey-dovey shrapnel? That what you wanna hear?
INTERVIEWER: Okay. I get it now.
KIP: It’s serious stuff, pal. But sometimes you can’t do it with the rifles. People are too hidden away for various reasons. But love blooms in the strangest places too, so we gotta be there. That’s when we go covert…
[Flash to a dim warehouse floor. Groups of people, their faces covered by bandannas, are busily loading bags of white, powdery substances into boxes as groups of gunmen, their faces also covered by bandannas, look on. The only person not wearing a bandanna — and is, in fact, in a nice suit — watches from an upper balcony. His sweeping gaze suddenly locks upon a pair of eyes belonging to an obviously female packer. It remains…
…as a very short worker in a pink bandanna sidles by. With nearly imperceptible speed the figure draws a knife, flips it open]
KIP: I can tell you want to ask it.
INTERVIEWER: …D… does the butterfly knife—
KIP: YES IT HAS BUTTERFLIES ON IT!
[and plunges it cleanly into the boss’s abdomen, who staggers and falls over. By the time the guards make it up to the balcony, there was no sign the pink figure was ever there.
GUARD: Boss! You okay?!
BOSS: Hurgh… yeah, yeah. Just… got some butterflies in my stomach…]
INTERVIEWER: That was pretty corny.
KIP: What was?
INTERVIEWER: The whole ‘butterflies’ thing. Come on.
KIP: What are you talking ab—oh… Oh! Hey now, I did NOT realize the pun there when I started telling this. Honest! You’re the one who asked about the knife in the first place!
INTERVIEWER: All right; no need to argue. Please continue.
KIP: Fine. Now, there are some situations where you just can’t take in any sorta metal whatsoever…
[A woman sits alone at an airport bar, staring listlessly ahead. A man walks up and lightly taps her on the shoulder.
MAN: I’m sorry to bother you, miss, but do you happen to know which gate the Delta flight to Atlanta is leaving from?
WOMAN: Hm? Oh, um… A5. That’s the one I’m taking.
MAN: Really? Me too! Flying out alone to meet with the other single, high-end shoe company CEOs. We like to set up golf trips now and then.
WOMAN: Oh, r-really?? Well, I— I—
The woman falls face-flat onto the bartop as a pink rock smacks off the back of her head.
MAN: Miss? …Miss?
WOMAN: (babbles incoherently)]
INTERVIEWER: Honestly, now.
KIP: What? She’s fine! In her world, her head may have gotten the raw deal, but the happiness of her feet more than make up for it.
INTERVIEWER: And this is really how it works nowadays?
KIP: Yep! There are some different methods in other countries. The Japanese cherubs are the stealthiest out of all of us, for example…
[A boy and girl catch eyes across a classroom. The boy gives a small smile. The girl blushes. Suddenly, a small breeze blows through the classroom, a stinging orchestra hit rings out, and the boy screams at the heart-shaped shuriken now in his chest.]
INTERVIEWER: The orchestra hit wasn’t necessary, I don’t thi—
KIP: And the cherubs of the Argentinean plains are much more straightforward…
[People awkwardly begin to mingle at a club’s singles night, but the talking eventually stops as a rumble and the sound of shouting grow closer. Confused questioning instantly gives way to chaos as a band of dusty, horse-riding gaucherubs bust through a wall. Love bolas in hand, they begin separating the weaker members out of the singles herd, tripping them up and carrying them away in twos.]
INTERVIEWER: Okay, this is just becoming ridiculous now. Mr. Kip, can you please—
KIP: But the most dedicated workers we’ve got are in the Middle East…
[A crowded marketplace in]
INTERVIEWER: No! NO! We are NOT going there! This interview is over, Mr. Kip! Cameras off! We’re leaving!
KIP: Eh, be that way. Just watch yourself around dogs from now on, pal.