So to fill what would otherwise be blank newsprint on the front page of a recent Sunday Denver Post, the wise editor ran a story about how many of us believe in ANGELS!

And to fill what would otherwise be a blank space in my idle mind, I read it, and it actually got me to THINKING!

Do I?

Or don’t I?

Well, although I don’t claim to be religious or anything, I came to the conclusion that I do, and here’s one of the reasons why.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I stopped in at a 3.2-beer joint in downtown Denver.

I was just entering my 20s. I had been out of the TB sanatorium for a few months – kicked out, actually, for a transgression I hadn’t committed. (But that is another tale to be told.)

So I was taking classes at the University of Colorado extension in Denver, a smattering of this and that, while waiting to move to Boulder and become a real college student. This evening it was a chemistry lecture, slightly intriguing but also boring because of the uninspired teacher.

I’d gotten downtown early on the bus and decided to drink a brew or two before walking over to the decrepit office building at 14th and Arapahoe streets for class. I still looked about 16, so having my ID checked was routine before the bartender at the grimy little hole-in-the-wall drew my watery draft.

Draining it quickly, I hastened to the men’s room to make room for the second, and was soon joined at the urinal trough by one of a trio of loud rowdies, all brothers, who were sitting at a booth in the bar.

He looked me up and down and then said roughly, “Say, ain’t you the guy that was a-comin’ on to my girl at Lakeside last night?”

I pointed out that he must be mistaken, since I’d never even been to Lakeside, an amusement park on the west side known for teenage brawls.

“Well, you sure look like him,” he drawled before tucking it in and leaving without washing his hands, returning to his booth.

I was about to wisely leave when another of the brothers, Chuck by name, approached me and apologized for his sibling’s unwarranted accusation. He invited me to share a glass from their pitcher, an  invite which I accepted because I couldn’t think of any way out.

I soon found myself tucked into their booth, having another round poured from their pitcher while wondering how to make my escape.

But it was too late. The “men’s room brother,” as I later thought of him, changed his mind again, deciding I WAS the predator who had  attempted to make time with his one true love. He said he wanted to fight me then and there. Or at least outside on the sidewalk.

As I and the brothers and a small crowd of other beer enthusiasts headed toward the front door – me to try desperately to escape, the brothers to have a little amusement as the others watched – Chuck offered to be my “second,” saying he would intervene if the men’s room brother pulled a knife or something.

I was loudly insisting I was not going to fight this guy (who looked quite capable of beating the shit out of me without raising a sweat), but short of falling down and faking a seizure (an idea that only came to me later), I had no idea how to avoid it.

But suddenly Chuck asked me to walk around the block with him and talk about . . . strategy? I don’t recall what actually, but it was going to get me away from the men’s room guy, so away we went.

As we approached the alley that bisected the block, Chuck suggested we go down it so he could “take a piss.”

I naively followed him to the point where we were hidden from view and then I felt his fist on my jaw, a blow that knocked me over and stunned me.

Well, I thought, I’m in for it now, I’ll just have to do what I can. (You know, the pre-beating pep talk.)

But just as I was regaining my feet, three staggering, singing men whom I, with my then-very-limited knowledge of other cultures, took to be Chicanos came waltzing up the alley, and we had to stand tight against the wall to let them squeeze by in the narrow passageway.

I could smell the cheap wine on their breath as they passed in their colorful jingling regalia, first one, then two. And then,  just as the last guy came even with us, this savior drove a fist into Chuck’s solar plexus that doubled him up and over as he emitted a loud whooshy groan.

“What’s-a matter, guy, was he tryin’ to roll you?” the cheerful, tipsy sombrero-wearing fellow asked me.

“Yeah, I guess so,” I answered, wondering what new terrors might NOW be in store for a simple college lad just trying to get to class.

One companion, also smiling broadly, then offered me a drink from their jug, which I declined while mumbling about having to get to school.

“Okay, guy, you take it easy, heh?” he smiled while carefully securing the jug in a doorway, then joined his two friends who were already pummeling unlucky Chuckie.

As I got to the end of the alley and turned south, I could see them in the fading light, still working him over.

It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy, was my first thought as I dog-trotted in the general direction of higher education.

The second was, how was Chuck going to explain how he got rocked and rolled by a wimpy, gutless, skinny school kid half his size. (No, really, guys, there were these three big Mexican dudes . . . followed by general laughter.)

Hey, angels don’t always carry harps and wear wings and halos. I know for a fact they can come in the most unlikely forms.

David Long is an award-winning journalist and a co-owner of the Four Corners Free Press.

From David Long.