tagGay MaleThe Angel By My Side

The Angel By My Side

byDWSimon©

It was a cold and blustery Saturday in November as I stood on the rolling grasses of the hill. The cold breeze stirred my hair as I looked down at my feet. A single rose, deep red, was clenched in my hand. I brought the flower to my lips and kissed it before setting it on the marble marker in the ground. It read: Lillian MacDonald, beloved wife and mother.

The deep scars in the grass over her grave were still healing. In a few days, I'd be placing my father by her side. I'd just come from the hospital after they'd pronounced my father dead. Finally they were at peace. Finally, they were together again. Even though my father followed my mother to the other side just a few months behind her, they hadn't been together for years. My father had had Alzheimer's and he'd disappeared into his past long before my mother had finally succumbed to the cancer that riddled her body. As I started to turn, my mind asked the question silently. Were they at peace?

Yes.

The voice, so loud in the still morning, came from nowhere and made me pause. My heart rate skittered into panic mode. I stared over the field of headstones, searching for the source of that voice. When I saw no one, I shook my head. There was nobody there.

As I sat in my car, voices from my past echoed in my mind. My father's gruff voice filled my memory.

"You'll go to college, Michael. That's final."

I had looked at my father and shook my head. "How can I?" He'd been fifty-five when I was born. I came so late into their lives. Now at seventy-two, he was stooped and angry. I loved the man more than I could say, but I couldn't leave them.

"We saved for your education. We wanted you—"

I held up my hand. "I wasn't worried about the money, Dad." I put my arm around his shoulder. "But I can't leave you either."

Mom came into the room, weak and ethereal, almost gaunt. Her eyes were pinched with pain. "Michael! We'll be fine. You must go to school."

I hung my head at her words. At sixty-five, my mother stood gently, as if every move hurt her. I knew it must. She'd just had surgery. I came into their lives so late, a menopausal accident. While most of my friends worried about what they'd do over their summer break, I spent my time at the hospital. The cancer, although caught early, was persistent. She'd be fine. She had to be.

I felt powerless as I watched them. While in the hospital, my father had become agitated and confused while waiting for my mother to come through surgery. So agitated, that a doctor had looked him over. Then he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I shook my head. I knew they had dreams for me, but how could I leave them? What could I do?

"How about a compromise? I can go to the local college and live here."

I know my mother would have been appalled had she realized how much her face showed her relief. In the end, it was the only decision I could make.

As my memories faded, I wiped the tears from my cheeks. Would they never stop? I'd been crying for months it seemed. None of it mattered now. It was over. They were at peace and no longer hurting. I put my car into gear and drove home.

After I laid my father to rest, I sat in the house I grew up in and stared out over the yard. The well-wishers had finally left. Old friends of my parents who cupped my cheek and shared old stories I'd heard many, many times over. "Your dad was damn proud of you, boy." "Fought in the big one and saved my life." "He's far happier now, son. Don't doubt it." In the end, all they had been were faces. Faces I'd grown up with, now much older. I turned from the window and started again on the box in their bedroom.

I sighed as I put the last of my parent's clothes into large garbage sacks, bound for the Goodwill. At least work had been decent. My boss had come into the small, cramped office and gruffly put his hand on my shoulder. "Take some time off, kid. Your old man was a good worker for this company." His voice had been gravelly and he'd shrugged uncomfortably when I'd thanked him. They all knew what I went through for my parents.

After school, I'd had to get a job to help out with the bills. I never got a chance to go beyond the community college. My father had been furious when I took a job as the bookkeeper at his old company. "Damn it, Michael! I don't want you to throw your life away."

I had stood up to my father, and stared him down. "What choice is there? Mom isn't getting better." I quieted my anger and put my hand on my father's shoulder. "You're starting to forget more and more."

Dad's eyes were stricken when he looked at me, the fight draining from him. "I know, son. I know." His eyes had grown moist. "I forget you're not the same boy I bounced on my knee."

I held my father as the tears began. Most days, he couldn't remember why his wife was in the hospital. In my heart I knew that a day would soon come when he'd forget everything about me. "It's okay, dad. The job isn't that bad. And I'll be home at night, when mom gets home."

And that's what I did. I got up early and fed my father. I waited for the next-door neighbor to stop by, and then left for work. I put in ten hours a day, and then came home and cooked and cleaned. Mom never really got better and dad slipped further and further into the past with each day.

I picked up one of the many photo albums in their bedroom and thumbed through the pages. My mother had spent hours creating each one for my father. As his mind deteriorated, he would have these books in a blind, futile hope that it would spark something inside him. There were happy photos of a young version of my father in an army uniform, a beautiful young woman in a flowered dress, the same two in wedding finery, dad smiling with his hard hat on at the oil refinery. Mom dressed in her best dress for their anniversary. Laughter. Tears. Memories. In the end, they had done nothing to ease my father.

I had sat by her bed, holding her hand in the hospital. It was nearly over. Her body was consumed with the cancer, her mind the only fully working part of her. The machines by the bed droned by her as she took each ragged breath. "Promise me, Michael. Promise me you'll find a good home for him."

I held her hand and willed my own tears away. "I can't put him in a home, mom."

She touched my face with her weathered hand, tears of extreme pain glistened in her eyes. "You're twenty-five, Michael. It's time you got to live your own life."

I bowed my head over her hand and pressed a kiss into her knuckles. "It doesn't matter, mom. Don't ask this of me."

Her other hand came and rested on my head, patting my hair. "My poor baby. So lost. So alone." I looked up at her words. Her face creased in a faint smile, a shadow of the warm glow that had beamed only for me from the time I could first remember. "Don't shut yourself away, Michael. Find a nice boy and settle down. You deserve happiness."

Her words stole my breath. How could she know? I never spoke the words aloud. "But…"

"How could I know?" When I nodded, she continued, her voice faint. "I've always known. Don't be sad. It's okay. I love you as you are. I always will."

The tears slowly fell down my cheeks as I kissed her hand again. She'd given me such a rare gift. Acceptance. "I love you, mom."

"I love you too, baby." She lay back against the bed, her eyes tired as her face relaxed. "If I could, I'd make sure you were happy."

The tears lodged in my throat, making my words hoarse. "Oh, mom. Don't. I'll be fine."

Her face creased in another smile as she stared at the ceiling. "I don't know where I'm going, but I believe. It will be over soon, love. Learn from us, Michael. Don't let your life get away from you."

Those were her last words to me. The last words she ever uttered. I sat by her side until the beeping monitors beside me stopped and her body lost its rigid look. The pain left her and she relaxed into peace. It should have been horrible. It should have been scary. It was neither. It was almost beautiful, to watch her melt into eternity.

I sat on the edge of my parent's bed, the photo album long forgotten as it clattered to the floor. I brushed the tears from my eyes furiously. Damn tears never seemed to stop. When will this pain end?

Soon.

The voice called out to me, quiet but deep, reverberating off the walls. I stood and stepped back, tripping over the edge of the bed. As I lay sprawled on the floor, I looked all around. Who kept talking to me?

I did.

My heart lodged in my throat. Who are you?

You know.

"Why are you talking to me?"

You asked the questions. I simply answered.

I stared around me, my breath heaving with adrenalin. "Where are you?"

Around.

My brows furrowed in annoyance. "Are you always this evasive?"

The voice chuckled long and richly. When it suits my purpose, yes.

"What is your purpose in talking to me?"

Soon.

I waited, but the voice didn't speak again. I shook my head as I left my parent's bedroom. I needed a drink. As I walked downstairs, I almost convinced myself it was all a dream. After two glasses of whiskey, I was positive I'd imagined it all.

A few days later, I was mindlessly droning through some billing invoices. I came back to work early, probably earlier than I should. But I couldn't stay at home and brood anymore either. It was nearing end of shift and I knew if I didn't go to the restroom before I left, I wouldn't make it home. I headed down the hall, but the single office restroom was occupied. I couldn't wait, so I headed towards the back and the crew locker room.

When I stepped inside, the sounds of running water from the shower filled my ears. The place smelled like sweat and was humid from multiple showers. It was Friday; no one worked late on Fridays. I relieved myself and went to the sink to wash my hands. As I rinsed them of the soap, Jim Shipman walked into the sink area, a towel slung low on his hips, his hair still wet and finger combed from his shower. I blinked hard and focused on the mirror. I felt my face heat with embarrassment and a bit of arousal. Jim was a big man, not beautiful or even handsome, just big and powerful, burly. From the corner of my eyes, I watched as a drop of water slipped down his chest, trailing through the whirls of dark, thick hair down to his belly. I swallowed as I grabbed a paper towel.

"Hey Michael. How are you doing?"

I gave Jim a small smile as I tried to look anywhere but at the towel which bulged slightly at his crotch. "I'm good. Thanks."

He grabbed his deodorant out of a small shaving kit on the counter and turned to face me as he put it on. "I'm sorry about your dad. He was a good man. He trained me when I first started."

I nodded, lost in the sight of his big arms and bigger shoulders, the sight of the silky hair under his arms as he rubbed the deodorant stick there. "I didn't know that."

He grinned at me before he took off his towel and grabbed his briefs from the little bag on the counter. "How are you holding up?"

How could he act so casual? I couldn't help but glance at the thick length of him at rest over big, heavy testicles. I'd seen other men before, but this one, this one had always made me look twice. I swallowed twice before I could answer. "I'm okay. It's hard… but…"

I couldn't believe I'd said it was hard. But it was, and getting harder by the moment. I wanted to shift my legs to ease the ache, but I stayed still, terrified Jim would know I was hot for him. His smile was soft and kind as he looked at me. "I know how you feel. I lost my mother last year. It takes time, but it does get better."

I smiled at him and tried to move away, but my feet refused to listen to me. "Thanks. I needed to hear that." I watched as Jim stepped into his briefs and started pulling them up his legs. I turned away and was about to head out of the locker room. Jim's voice stopped me.

"Hey, Michael?"

I turned around and saw Jim standing with his hands on his hips, his briefs strained on his thighs, just below his balls. I swallowed as his cock began to thicken and harden before me. I tore my eyes from the sight as I stared into Jim's face. He smiled at me and winked. "I know you want it. Have at it, kid."

I was powerless to move as I watched his hand lower and take his rigid cock in his hand and stroke once from base to tip. A shiny drop of excitement beaded at the tip. I smacked my lips, dying for a taste. I stepped forward and blinked. Jim's back was turned to me as he drew on his pants. "If you want to join us tonight for a beer, we'd be glad to have you."

I spun away, embarrassed and beyond mortified. It had been a fantasy, a dream. My hands shook as I touched my face, scalded by the heat in my cheeks. "Th-thanks Jim. But I can't. Some other time."

I turned and fled from the room and barely paused for my coat in my little office. My hands shook as I tried to open my car door. When I sat down behind the wheel, I winced at the confined pinch of my erection behind my jeans. I lowered my forehead to the steering wheel and took several deep breaths before I was calm enough to drive.

As I drove home, I banged my fist against my steering wheel. "What the hell was I thinking?" I'm not out at work. No one knows. I shook my head and drove home. When I got to the house, I was still agitated. My hands shook. My throat was tight and my face on fire. I tried to do a little housework. I grabbed some of the dishes on the counter and started filling the sink with hot water and suds. Shaking with desire, I tossed the dishes in the sink and braced myself against the counter. When the shuddering of my body would not cease, I dropped my head and cursed. I tossed aside the dishtowel and started towards the stairs.

As I took the first step, I started unbuttoning my shirt. By the time I got to the top step, my shirt was open. I ran my hand against my belly, tugging slightly on the baby fine trail of hair that led from my belly button into my pants. The slight tug caused me to pause and lean against the wall, moaning slightly. When I could take a deep breath, I continued along the hall to my bedroom. Before I'd even opened the door, I had my pants undone and my palm pressed against my erection under my underwear. The simple pressure made my eyes cross.

I dropped my pants and stepped on my socks to remove them. I peeled off my shirt and flopped back onto my bed. My hand trembled as I ran it over my sparsely dusted sternum until I could flick one of my nipples. My other hand grasped my erection and squeezed the tip, slimy with my excitement. I took my hand and brought it to my lips. I sniffed deeply of my excitement and sucked one finger into my mouth, lapping at the pad of my thumb until the last of the flavor was gone. My hand went back to my erection and began to stroke in earnest. My belly tightened as I moaned out loud.

I let my mind wander, filling it with images of Jim, both from reality and my fantasy. My head arched against the pillow as I lowered my hand and caressed my balls. I imagined what it would be like if my fantasy had been reality and Jim had really offered himself to me. As my hand stroked faster, I imagined dropping to my knees and taking him into my mouth, caressing him with my tongue. I fought for breath as the sensations grew tighter in my belly, as my body readied to explode. It had been weeks since I'd last pleasured myself, since I'd last found release.

Why are you doing that?

The voice shocked me into stopping, my breath panting. My body instantly cooled as I grabbed at the sheets below my body. I wrapped myself with the sheet and shook from repressed need and an uncontrollable anger. "Who the hell are you?"

I've already told you.

I snorted as I stared at nothing. "'You already know' isn't an answer."

You're angry?

"You're damn right I'm angry! Not only do you pop into my head at odd times, but you invade my privacy."

A heavy, weighty pause filled the room with nothing. Why were you doing that?

I shook my head. Was he serious? "You've got to be kidding."

I don't have a sense of humor.

I rolled my eyes as I stood up and grabbed my briefs from the floor. I shimmied them on under the sheet. "Obviously." As I grabbed my pants and slipped those on, I turned and faced the wall. Hell, I didn't know where the voice was coming from. "Why are you here?" When silence answered me, I bowed my head. "Please?"

I… I don't think you'll like the answer.

"So what else is new?"

I haven't watched CNN today. I don't know.

I stopped and looked around. "Are you always this literal?"

Yes.

I sat on the edge of my bed and pulled my socks on. "Will you at least show yourself to me? I like to know with whom I'm speaking."

Shield your eyes.

"Why?"

I never got an answer as the room filled with a bright light, brighter than the sun on the hottest day in July. I raised my hand to shield my eyes, but the light didn't seem to hurt them. The air in the room stirred and swirled. It shifted the curtains and ruffled my hair. The light shrunk in on itself by the window until it was a single glowing ball. Fire erupted out of the ball and I turned my head from the heat of it. When I looked back, a man stood where the fire had been. Somehow, it was very disappointing. "That's it?"

The man cocked his head to the side and stared at me. "What were you expecting?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. I didn't think you'd just be a man."

His smile was quick, cutting into his features and causing dimples to appear in his cheeks. "How about this?"

The man rolled his shoulders and something thin and bright but paper-thin spread behind him. They raised high and I could see they were wings. He brought them down and the man rose from the ground until he bumped his head into the ceiling. When he'd settled back to the floor, I knew my jaw was hanging open. "Wh-What are you?"

The man smiled again and tipped his head to the side. "The wings didn't give you a clue?"

I shook my head to clear it, but it didn't help. "'Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.'"

The man rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Hardly. Do you know that when that movie came out, every kid in America rang every bell they came across? Do you have any idea how loud that was?"

I snickered. "You said you didn't have a sense of humor."

He shrugged and walked towards me. "I don't. Not really. But I am an angel." As he approached me, he grinned and flashed me his dimples. "You should sit down. You look like you're about to faint."

That was probably the biggest understatement of the century. I sat and stared at the man, er angel, before me. He stood about even with my six-foot height. His face seemed to resemble a statue that one of the old masters would have created. Smooth, flawless, and very pale in color. I had seen one once in a museum. It was the kind of statue where the tracery veins in the arms and legs stood out, as if they actually pumped blood through them. Only once I touched it, it was cold and lifeless. My hand reached out to touch him before I caught myself.

The angel grinned at me and flashed me his dimples. "You can touch me if you wish."

I placed my hand against his arm. It was warm to the touch and full of life, unlike the statues of old. I traced a vein along his forearm while I stared at his face. Perfection. That's all I thought about his face. Carved from the purest marble and breathed to life. Dark, curly hair hung low on his forehead with high, arched brows that accentuated deep, dark, soulful eyes. Those eyes danced with humor and hidden deep inside, something indefinable exactly; but sad came closest to describing it.

"Like a marble statue?"

I shook my head from my musings. "What?" He smiled at me again and stepped back out of my touch. For a split second, I felt bereft, as if I'd had something vital removed from me, but it quickly passed.

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