God's Angel Ch. 04bydagan732©
First, thanks for all the comments! This one was a little hard for me because I had an Ethan in my life till recently and though we had a relationship a lot longer than two weeks and it wasn't a woman he left me for, it still happened. Much of the bar scene is verbatim from conversations. Just FYI. "Writing is therapy for poor people" - Dagan732
The weekend dawned and the sun pushed it's way into the darkness of Gabe's room to find him still awake. His eyes were dry but red and puffy and they stared at the ceiling as if trying to divine some mystical answer to his life's problems from the small crack near the light fixture. None was forthcoming. He laid in bed and watched the sunshine brighten and travel across his bedroom walls. He sighed and went to take a shower.
He washed and dressed, ate his morning cereal in front of the t.v. but couldn't even have said what he was watching should he have been asked. He thought a stroll would do him good and while meaning to steer far away from the park bench, ended up there within an hour. He sat on his bench and waited. And waited. And waited. God didn't show up. Gabe didn't know whether to be thankful or irritated that he hadn't. He sat for another hour then continued his walk around town. He barely noticed when Ethan's truck pulled up next to him.
"Gabe." Ethan called. "What are you doing?"
"Taking a walk." Gabe said a little sullenly, feeling petulant and righteous at the same time.
"Trying to find God?"
"No. We got in a fight. I kicked him out of my apartment last night."
"He was at the apartment?"
"Yeah. He brought me Chinese food."
"Are you sure you're ok?" Ethan asked.
"Well, why don't you get in? We can take a ride. Go get coffee?"
"Ok." Gabe said after a moment's hesitation.
He hopped in the truck and they sped off to a local coffee shop, placed their orders and sat.
"How was your date?" Gabe asked.
"It was.... ok."
"What was she like?"
"She was.... nice." Ethan answered.
"Nice? Just nice?"
"We only met last night, so yeah, she was nice. Very nice, if you have to know."
"Great." Gabe said. "She was nice. What did you guys do?"
"We went to dinner. We were going to go to DiAngelo's but Barbara knew this little place across town. It was cute." Ethan smiled and Gabe gnashed his teeth.
"That sounds.... nice."
"It was. We talked for hours. She's really great. I think you'd like her."
"Do you?" Gabe asked and noticed that the sarcasm was lost on Ethan.
"We stayed and talked till they closed."
"Then what did you do?" Ethan looked away. "I take it you didn't bring her home and give her a polite kiss goodnight?"
"Ah." Gabe felt his coffee rise and churn at the bottom of his esophagus. "So?"
"Did you like it?"
"Gabe, I don't really think that's something we should discuss."
"I'm sorry. I was just trying to be a friend. One who was worried about the decisions you were making about your.... sexual orientation. I'm sorry if I went too far." Gabe said and tried desperately to think of something else they could talk about. "So it's been a little warm for this time of year, hasn't it?"
"I guess." Ethan answered, puzzled at the turn of conversation.
"I tried to tell you the other day, I've got the figures for the investments I've mentioned. If you like we can show them to your father, maybe he'll decide to use the company's money a little more wisely."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean anything against your dad, but the money's just sitting there."
"No, Gabe, damn it. Hold on. What the hell just happened?"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm trying to tell you something and you just start talking about the weather and investments and shit. What's with you?"
"I know what you're trying to tell me, Ethan. I get it. This is not my first time getting the `see you later' handshake. You're with Barbara now. Fine. Good. As long as you're happy."
"So, you're not upset?" Ethan asked. `God, the man could be so fucking stupid sometimes,' Gabe thought.
"Sure, I'm a little upset. But whatever. It's good for you that you found someone. I hope you guys will be happy." Gabe smiled and Ethan looked even more confused. "It's too soon to set the big date, right? You're not rushing that one, are you?"
"No. I imagine we'll wait till after the second date at least." Ethan smiled, but still looked like he wasn't sure he knew what was going on.
"That's good. Take a little time and get to know her before asking the question. That way, you'll be sure."
Gabe filled their conversation with enough idle chatter and friendly advice that Ethan didn't know how hurt he was. By the time they left, Ethan felt like they were just two friends having coffee and Gabe felt as if his heart was broken. Gabe smiled as Ethan's truck pulled away, having assured him that he'd rather walk back. Gabe did walk back and crossing the park to his apartment building, noticed someone sitting on his bench. He walked over and sat down.
"I'm sorry, Gabe." God said.
"For your pain."
"You say that a lot."
"As you've pointed out, there's a lot of pain in the world."
"Couldn't you just make it go away? Couldn't you just make everyone happy and not hurt so much?"
"Of course I could." God chuckled. "It would be such an easy thing. Take away everyone's pain and hurt. No more mental illness, no more failures, no more heartache, no more wants and needs,"
"Then do it!" Gabe pleaded.
"No more joys, no more laughter, no more beauty, no more really great days, no more unbelievable successes and triumphs, no more growth."
"All those things would go too?"
"They're part and parcel." God answered and remained silent.
"It's happening again. I'm getting left behind and the one I've chosen is chosing another." God still remained silent. "I don't know what to do. I thought if I helped other people out like you suggested that I'd be happy."
"Well, yeah. I like helping other people out. But then I met Ethan and I thought he was meant for me."
"No one is meant for anyone. I didn't set it up like that."
"So there's no such thing as a soul mate?"
"Why would there be? Do you think when I made you that I shoved your souls in bodies so you couldn't recognize each other, mixed you all up, threw you all over the world and then said `Go find the one person out of all these people that you're supposed to be with'? What kind of asshole do you think I am?" God asked.
"I don't know. I always liked the idea of a soul mate."
"Of course you do. It's pretty and romantic. It speaks to some higher meaning, some purpose, some plan."
"It also takes away free will if you're supposed to be with one person you haven't even met yet. What will you humans think of next? Soul dating?" God chuckled.
"I've known people who are soul mates though. They're happy. They're perfect for each other." Gabe argued.
"If they're truly happy then they've chosen to be so. They know each other through and through and have accepted that person for who they are. This is only something special because it's so rare. Not because it means they're soul mates. You can have the same relationship with Ethan that you just described to me."
"But Ethan doesn't want me!" Gabe yelled.
"So? It doesn't mean that you can't accept him and love him for who he is. Barbara too for that matter. This feeling that you've described was never meant to be exclusive."
"I'm not sleeping with Barbara."
"Nor was this feeling meant to be solely sexual. When you feel the feeling you call 'soul mate', you're feeling the closest thing a human can feel to the love of God."
"No human could have the feeling for everyone."
"Correction, not many people can have the feeling for everyone. But there have been people. Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddhas, an ancient Irish druid named Amergin, several Yogis, an entire tribe in pre-dynastic Persia. They met an invading army with nothing more than flowers and honeyed milk. They were slaughtered and went to their deaths loving their attackers."
"Well, I don't think I have it in me."
"You have it in you, you just chose not to use it. You feel it's above you, or too much effort."
"In you? Never." God smiled. "I love my children the way they are. That's the point."
"I feel like you judge me and I keep failing some test."
"Humans can't hear me when I say I love them but ask if I judge them and they all say `constantly!'." God laughed. "What is a God to do?"
"I'm still not sure you're God." Gabe grumbled.
"No, you're not. But that's ok. You will soon." God stood. "If you don't want to be caught in a summer storm you'd best head home now. We'll talk again."
As the man walked away, Gabe felt he should apologize for the other night.
"Hey!" Gabe called, but the man turned around. "I'm sorry. For the other night when I threw you out."
"It's quite all right. You were upset."
"Well, still. I'm sorry."
"Go home, Gabe. Make your plans." Gabe didn't know what he meant but didn't have a chance to ask as God turned around and headed off.
Gabe opened the door to his apartment and heard the first clap of thunder outside as the pelting rain hit his windows. The phone rang just as he threw his coat onto a kitchen chair.
"Gabe? It's Darren. What's going on?"
Gabe put the kettle on to boil for tea and told Darren what had happened.
"That faggot did what? He's seriously going to go back to women?"
"Apparently. I'll probably even get an invite to the wedding."
"Oh no, you have got to come down here. I'll have Phil start looking for some good jobs for you and you can crash with us till you get your own place."
"I couldn't do that, Darren. I've lived here my whole life."
"Maybe that's what's wrong? Try a new place with new people. Get out of dodge. It's so boring up there anyway. My mother was telling me the other day that there's this guy who sits in the park all day, every day. He's like our age. Isn't that pathetic?"
"Um... yeah. Really pathetic."
"Come on! We've got lots of friends. We could set you up with someone who's actually gay. Wouldn't you like that?"
"It does sound appealing right about now." Gabe answered.
"Good. It's settled. When can you move down? I figure you'll want to give your asshole boss two weeks notice, that's puts you down here around the first week in June? That'll give me just enough time to redecorate the spare bedroom."
"I didn't agree to anything yet, Darren."
"But you will."
"Look, give me some time to think it over."
"All right, but don't hold on to things that are in the past, sweetie. It's no good for you. This guy is no good for you."
Gabe thought of Darren's offer that night and had to agree that the move did make sense, but the thought of leaving his life here scared him. He decided against it and promised he would tell Darren no, but thank him for his offer the next time they spoke. He closed his eyes and fell to sleep feeling good about the decision.
A month later, he regretted it with his whole being. He had walked in to work that day, gotten the office scoop from Jess and even nodded to Ethan on his way to the office. It had started as a normal day which is why he was very shocked when Ethan called a meeting for just before lunch. As he worked, he was constantly interrupted by the other staff who came in to ask what the meeting was about.
"I don't know." He told his co-workers. "Why would you think I know anything more than you do?"
"You guys are friends." Liz said. "I thought he'd have told you."
"He didn't tell me anything. I guess we'll all have to wait the few minutes until the meeting to find out."
He had just finished saying that when a cute blonde popped her head in and smiled. It was Barbara. Ethan had wanted Gabe to meet her and had invited him to dinner so they could meet. It had been a very awkward experience for Gabe, one he hoped he had handled well. And he had to admit, Barbara seemed very nice.
"Hi, I just checked Ethan's office and he's not in there. Does anyone know where he is?"
No one did but before anyone could say so, they heard his voice from down the hall alerting Barbara to his whereabouts.
`Mystery of the Unscheduled Office Meeting solved', Gabe thought.
An hour later confirmed it. To a lot of happy applause and congratulations, Ethan and Barbara announced their engagement. Gabe smiled and shook Ethan's hand, gave Barbara a quick kiss on the cheek and said some nice things before slipping back into his office. It wasn't long before Ethan found him in there.
"You left kinda early. We just had some champagne to celebrate."
"I had a little. I can't stand champagne and as an employer you shouldn't be encouraging it during work hours." Gabe said.
"Well, I just want to make sure you're ok."
"I'm fine, Ethan. Why wouldn't I be? I'm happy for you." `What the hell can I say to make you go away and leave me the fuck alone?' Gabe felt like asking. As usual he had said all the things he was supposed to say but none of the things he wanted to say. "When's the big day?"
"Next month?! I thought weddings took forever to plan?"
"We announced it to our parents the other night and they sort of had everything planned out already." Ethan grinned.
"Ah. Well. Great!" Gabe said.
"I thought of asking you to be my best man," Ethan started. Gabe's face fell. `Oh please fuck no!', he thought. "but that would be a little weird."
"Just a little."
"But you'll still come, right?"
"Sure. Sounds.... great."
"Great. I've gotta get back. Barbara and I have meetings tonight. Wedding shit."
"Right. I'll see you later." Gabe said and stared at the door Ethan just walked out of.
The next Saturday, Gabe sat in his apartment desperately wanting to call Ethan but coming to his senses at the last moment. He had struggled all week between trying to let Ethan go and wanting to tell him how he felt. So Gabe sat holding the phone in his hand, feeling torn and hurting and confused. He put the phone down on the table and hadn't realized he had pressed the call button until a voice answered from the receiver.
"Hello?.... Hello?.... Gabe?"
"Ethan, hey. What's up?" Gabe hastily picked up the phone.
"Nothing much. What's going on?"
"Nothing really. I was just wondering if you were free tonight?"
"Um... not really. Barbara's coming over and she's got this friend of her's she wants me to meet. And then we're supposed to go over her parents house for dinner."
Gabe felt sick as Ethan described his plans. He didn't care what Barbara was doing or about dinner with her parents. Ethan wasn't supposed to be going over there at all.
"Could you meet up for a drink later on then?" Gabe asked.
"Please?" Gabe hated the desperation in his voice but at the same time couldn't help it.
"Ok. I'll meet you at Greg's bar around ten."
"Ok." Gabe agreed and they hung up.
Gabe waited patiently for the clock to turn as ten inched closer and closer. At quarter to, Gabe left his apartment and made the five minute trek to the little hole in the wall bar down the street. He walked into Greg's and was happy to see only a few regulars and not the usual weekend crowd. He took a seat and waited for Ethan. He was late. He came in and apologized as he sat down at the booth across from Gabe.
"I'm sorry, dinner with Barbara and her parents went longer than expected. I told her I was coming to meet you and she wanted me to say hi. She asked if she could come but I told her it was a man's night out." Ethan smiled and Gabe felt even sicker.
The hurt, want and love in his heart was breaking through and he tried to hold on. He knew this wasn't a good idea but it was too late now.
"What's going on, Gabe?" Ethan asked.
"I love you. I love you and I need to say it to you. I have to tell you that you're making a huge mistake and that you can't marry Barbara. She isn't right for you."
"What the hell is this, Gabe?" Ethan lowered his voice. "I thought you were my friend. I thought you got over this."
"I haven't. I tried. I really did. I want you back, Ethan. I want you back so badly it's killing me."
"I'm with Barbara now."
"But you're gay." Gabe hadn't yelled it, but Ethan's head still flipped around to see if anyone had heard. "You're not going to be happy with her. I can make you happy."
"I have to do this, Gabe. Whatever happens, I have to see how this plays out."
"What does that mean, Ethan? `See how what plays out'?"
"This thing with Barbara."
"You love her?"
"I do." Ethan admitted and Gabe sat back feeling lost.
"I'm sorry. Ethan, I'm so sorry. I didn't know you loved her. I thought you loved me. I guess I was deluding myself. Thinking we had something more than we did."
"That's not exactly true, Gabe." Ethan said and reached out a hand to clasp Gabe's.
"I love you too."
"I love you too, Gabe. But I need to see how things go with Barbara."
"You love me? You love me, but you went on a date with another woman and fell in love with her too? And you chose her over me?"
"Yeah. Sort of."
"What kind of fucked up shit are you playing?!"
"Lower your voice!" Ethan demanded.
"You are playing some wicked games, screwing with people's heads and hearts and you're telling me to lower my voice?"
"I'm really confused, Gabe."
"I don't give a rat's ass!!!"
"We can just be friends. You'll get over it. You're a great guy, you should go meet someone new."
"You love me, but you're telling me to go be with someone else?"
"Yeah. If this thing with Barbara ends tomorrow I'd be with you, trying to win you back." Gabe pulled his hand out from underneath Ethan's.
"I don't think you know what love is, Ethan. I really don't. You don't leave the person you love for another person, you don't tell the person you love to go be with another person and you sure as hell don't tell the person you love that if you're free you'll come try to win them back. You're an asshole. You're fucked up in the head and I hope you're very happy with Barbara cause you'll never get me back."
Gabe left the bar and cried the entire way home. He sat in his apartment the entire weekend, going over the conversation he had with Ethan. Anger and resentment filled him. His mind made up, he called Darren and told him to expect him around the middle of June.
"Yay! But why? What happened?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"What happened?" Darren prodded.
"I don't want to fucking talk about it!"
"Ok! Ok. Calm down. I'm sorry. Whenever you're ready. Just answer me this, are you ok?"
"No but I'm not going to do anything stupid, if that's what you're asking."
"I sort of was, yeah. You know you can call me whenever, ok?"
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry, honey. He's a shit heel. If he hurt you this bad, he doesn't deserve you."
"I gotta go, Darren. I'll talk to you later."
"I love you, Darren. You're a good friend and I don't deserve that."
"Baby, you deserve that and so much more. I love you too, sweetie. You be well and get here as soon as possible. Oh, and stay away from that asshole fuckhead."
Gabe and Ethan stayed very far out of each other's way until the day of the wedding. He handed his resignation on Ethan's desk who accepted it without comment and stated his final day as the day before the wedding. He wouldn't have a severance package, still being a new employee but with the money he had saved and his last pay check he could live comfortably for a few months.
Gabe's invitation had come in the mail the Monday after Gabe had confessed his love. They had sent it out previously and Ethan couldn't take it back without answering some very awkward questions. Gabe deliberated on going but finally decided with a bleak and grim fatalism, that he would see the final chapter of his life here done.