There are actually 2 different versions of FLIGHT. My first attempt at telling this story took place at fictional "Vanderhale University," and all the characters were college age. For a million different reasons, the story didn't work, and I ultimately ended up doing a complete rewrite which became the version you know now. In the original story, the character of Angelo actually played a much bigger role, as big a role as Natalie and Xavier. Unfortunately, he wasn't so important to the plot of FLIGHT 2.0, but he was still a beloved character that I couldn't just let go of and I had to find a place for him in this universe somehow. I'm so glad that that I did because he's truly one of my favorite characters.
For all you Angelo fans, here is an excerpt from the original version, where Angelo tells his angel story:
“How did you die Angelo?” I asked quietly.
I had a whole slew of questions that I wanted to ask each and every one of them, but this was perhaps the most important one to me. Xavier had said that most all angels lived their life as humans making wrong choices. It was at the moment of their death when they decided that they could be better that they got their wings. Angelo was so warm and such a good person, it was hard to believe that he had ever done anything wrong in his past.
His eyes glazed over for a bit before he answered. He was quiet for a minute as he gathered his thoughts. He took his hand off mine and folded both of his hands on his large stomach.
“I died a very long time ago Camille. I died when I was 27 years old,” he said.
I couldn’t help the physical reaction that I gave when he said that. My mouth dropped open in shock. The Angelo that sat before me was easily in his mid fifties, maybe even in his early sixties. But then Xavier’s explanation of the physical body started to come back to me. The physical body was irrelevant; it was the soul that mattered. Angels came back at whatever age was necessary to do their job.
I saw the same look cross over Angelo’s face that had crossed over Xavier’s when he went to retell the story of his death. It was a peaceful expression as it contemplated memories that happened long ago.
“When I was alive, my full name was Angelo Massimo Antenori. I tell you this because ‘Massimo’ translates to ‘the greatest,’ and in my eyes I truly was,” he laughed out loud at this. “I was the handsomest man in my village. All the ladies wanted to be with me and the men wanted to be me. I was arrogant and conceited. I was young,” he said simply.
“I used my good looks to get whatever I wanted, which included every pretty young girl in town. They meant nothing to me of course. They were conquests that I bedded and never looked back on. I had a little group of other men who were my ‘friends’ that took my leftovers. We were a small gang of ruthless womanizers,” he said with a saddened sigh.
“There was one girl that I could never seem to catch though. Bianca Cara was her name. La mia bonta! She was stunning. Her beauty was one that I had never seen before,” he said wistfully. “She lived in the next village and I was determined to have her. I used every charm I could think of to woo her over. But she was a smart girl. She knew my past and refused to have anything to do with me.”
His face brightened slightly. “Until one day, I saw it in her beautiful dark eyes, something had changed. She was falling in love with me. My efforts were finally paying off. And then, the moment was right. While her father was away, she and I crept into her room and I finally had her. She gave herself to me and at the end, I looked down at her and she was crying.”
Angelo’s voice cracked ever so slightly as he continued. I sat there breathlessly waiting for him to continue.
“She had never been with anyone else before. All that beauty and kindness, and the one person she trusted with the most beautiful act ever created, was me. I looked down at her tears and for a minute, I softened. This wonderful bella signora had chosen me to be her first love. But then, I knew what my friends would say if I tried to tell them this. They would laugh at me and say I was weak. So I did something that I will never be able to forgive myself for.” He paused for a minute. “As she lay there, weeping tears of joy and love, I got up. Without a word or so much as a good bye, I got dressed, and walked out the door.”
His voice turned dark and I braced myself for the finale of his story.
“Bianca’s soul died that day. She had fallen in love with me, pathetic little me, and I had broken her heart. She grew older and older as the days passed and her grief was devastating. Her parents of course knew something had changed. We came from very small villages so it was just a matter of time before her father figured out what had broken his little Bianca Cara. He was furious.”
“He found me at a bar, of course drinking with my friends. He had a knife with him. He found me and in his rage at seeing my arrogance and conceit, he killed me.”
I sat there, my mouth agape, not knowing what to say.
Angelo shook his head slightly, and as if knowing that I was numb from the story, he instantly grabbed my hand. I felt the warmth of his energy start to flow through me, reawakening my muscles.
“But here is the beautiful part, if there is a beautiful part, to my story,” he said eagerly. “When Bianca’s father walked in the door, I knew what was going to happen next. What Bianca and none of my friends knew was, I was dying inside too. Without wanting to, I had fallen in love with her and was in agony that I was causing her so much pain. I was too proud and too conceited to admit it, but I had. When her father killed me, I uttered one last sentence, and it was my last breath. I said ‘Bianca, mi dispiace, I’m sorry my Bianca, I’m sorry.’ I remember her father looking at me with a confused look on his face, not knowing what to make of it. I knew at that moment that I loved her too, and more than anything I needed her to know that.”
“Whatever happened to Bianca?” I asked, deep sorrow passing through me as I thought of these two ill-fated lovers.
A deep smile spread across Angelo’s face. “My dying sentence made it’s way back to her. She was confused by it, but I think it was enough to give her some peace, some hope that maybe I loved her too. I tried my best to keep watch over her while she was alive. I found another man, a man worthy of Bianca’s love, and inspired him to fall in love with Bianca and waken her soul again. They married and had a great family together. Now, it’s ok. I have made my peace with Bianca and her soul is whole once more.”
I sat there, still breathless from his story. Who knew that friendly, loving old Angelo was a womanizer in his past life? It was ironic too that Angelo’s hands, that once caused so much grief and sorrow from their empty touches, now had the power to give peace and tranquility.