Gabriel worked the rest of the week and volunteered some lunch and a few hours after work. He enjoyed volunteering and feeling like he was making a difference in someone’s life, helping them with a few pieces of food so that maybe they’d be able to help themselves. He also loved his new job. It was challenging making sense of what Ethan had done to the records but he was able to finish payroll and some minor accounting problems that came up in the office. Ethan was another matter.
Gabriel tried hard not to stare too long at his boss but when Ethan stopped by his office to chat, Gabriel found it hard to concentrate. The man was truly beautiful. And Gabriel felt a little shiver up his spine every time he looked into Ethan’s eyes or heard his sexy, deep voice down the hallway. It was quite a shame that he wasn’t gay.
Ethan came to Gabriel’s office just before quitting time on Friday and stood in the doorway watching him work.
“It’s time to go home, Gabe.” Ethan said and watched the brown haired man look up from his work. “Why don’t you head out?”
“I am, actually. I was going to the soup kitchen for a bit before going home.”
“You don’t have to. I’m sure they’d appreciate you but I just talked to them and they said they’ve got quite a few people down there tonight. Maybe your friend God suggested that other people volunteer too.”
“Really?” Gabe said, disappointed. “What should I do?” He asked and hadn’t realized he had spoke out loud.
“I was thinking about grabbing some dinner and having a drink before going home. You game?” Ethan asked and Gabe took a second to tell himself that this was a casual invitation and not a date.
“Sure. Let me grab my jacket.”
They drove to across town to a little cafe which served light dinners and amazing desserts. Ethan smiled at the girl and addressed her by name.
“Hey Katie, how you doing?”
“Great, Ethan. How are you?”
“That’s always good. Your usual table?” She showed them over to a table by the window and laid their menus out for them. “Cindy will be right here.”
“Thanks Katie.” Ethan said as they sat down.
“Come here a lot?” Gabe asked.
“What is that, like `do you come here often?'” Ethan smiled and Gabriel’s face flushed.
“No! I didn’t mean that. It just seemed-.”
“Calm down. I’m just messing with you. Yeah, I love this place. Broke my heart when I had to sell it but the guy who bought it was really nice and he made this place something else. I think he’s the best chef in the city. Have you ever been here?”
“No. First time.”
“You’re in for a treat.” Ethan said.
After they ordered, Ethan spoke of his life and Gabriel sat thinking how long it had been since he sat with a man and spoke this way. Just listening to someone speak of their life and interests made him feel more connected than he had since Vic had left him. Gabriel panicked. Ethan would ask him about his life which for the last couple years consisted of a park bench and he would then have to explain why he had spent so much time there.
“So what about you?” Ethan asked and Gabriel cringed.
“I worked for Roberts and Seymour for six years.” Gabriel answered.
“I know that. What else?”
“Um…. I used to sit in the park on a bench after work.”
“And….. that’s it.”
“How long did you sit on the bench?”
“Oh for a couple hours a day.”
“No, I mean for how long did you do this?”
“Um…. two years.”
“Well…. that’s kind of private.”
“I bet it is but you just told me that you’ve done nothing but work and sit in the park on a bench for the last two years. That probably should be explained.” Ethan said.
“Yeah.” Gabe took a deep breath. “My boyfriend of seven years left me for another man. I originally starting sitting there to try and understand what had happened and it just became a habit.”
“Oh and is, ok? Oh as in you’re fired? What does oh mean?” Gabriel asked. Ethan laughed.
“I have nothing against gay people. I was just surprised.”
“Yeah, see. Oh.” Ethan chuckled and Gabe smiled feeling more comfortable. “Don’t worry about the soup kitchen either. Pastor Jack is open. He’s been supporting a lesbian who’s trying to become a pastor.”
“Yeah, he’s a good guy.” Ethan nodded as their food arrived. “So, do you want to talk about the break up?”
“No thanks. There’s really not much more to tell. He left me for someone else and never looked back. I guess he didn’t love me as much as I loved him. We talk on the phone every so often and he sends me Christmas cards but that’s been over for a while.”
“He sends you Christmas cards?” Ethan asked incredulously and laughed. “What an ass! You’re better off without, if you don’t mind me saying so.”
“I don’t mind and I know. I was really hurt for a long time cause I had made him my life and then he wasn’t there so I didn’t feel like I had one. You can’t make someone your life unless casino şirketleri they make you theirs.”
“Amen, brother!” Ethan said and lifted his drink in salute.
“So what about you? I’ve never seen any woman around the office. Do you have someone special?” Gabriel realized after he said it how inappropriate that sounded. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that. I take it back.”
“Why shouldn’t you have asked that?”
“Cause you’re my boss. It’s.. awkward.”
“I don’t mind. No, I don’t have anyone special in my life just now. I had a girlfriend not too long ago but we sort of drifted apart.” Ethan said in a way that Gabriel took to mean he wasn’t going to say anything else.
“I’m sorry.” He said.
“It’s not your fault. Shit happens to good people sometimes.”
They ate and left the restaurant feeling satisfied as only good food can make you feel. Ethan was driving Gabriel home when they came to the park. It was lit with the occasional decorative lamps resembling the old gas fired ones. Some people were walking around the park taking advantage of the early spring night.
“I’d like to see your bench.” Ethan said.
“I’d like to see what had you so enthralled with that particular bench.” Ethan smiled and Gabe felt his was joshing with him and smiled back.
“Self-pity had me enthralled.”
“I’d still like to see.”
“Park over there.” Gabe pointed.
They walked through the park and came to the aforementioned bench.
“Here it is.” Gabe said. Ethan sat down on it.
“It’s ok. I would sit over there.” He pointed to the other side and Ethan slid over.
“And this is where you met God?”
“This is where I met someone who said he was God, yes.”
“Do you see him now?” Ethan asked, his blue eyes sparkled with humor even in the dim light.
“Shut up.” Gabriel said and chuckled.
“Well, it’s a good bench, Gabe.”
“Yeah. It helped me get over stuff but I guess I sat here too long.”
They were silent for a moment and Gabriel sat down when he realized Ethan wasn’t ready to leave.
“How did you know you were gay?” Ethan asked looking out over the park.
“Well, I guess I just noticed that I was more attracted to men than to woman.”
“When did you know?”
“I knew when I was first kissed by a man. I had kissed girls in high school but when I kissed my first man, there were fireworks. I forgot what I was thinking about and everything around me got blurry. I felt my heart racing and something inside me just said `this is it. This is right.'”
Ethan nodded considering Gabe’s words.
“Why do you ask?” Gabe asked and Ethan chuckled.
“The reason my ex girlfriend and I…. drifted apart was because I was attracted to her brother.”
“Oh.” Gabe said.
“Did she know?”
“No, but I couldn’t keep telling her I was happy when I wasn’t.” Ethan admitted quietly.
“No, that wouldn’t have been good.” Gabe said, feeling his heart racing.
“Could I ask you for a favor?” Ethan began.
“It’s sort of difficult since you work for me.”
“Could I kiss you?” Ethan asked and looked up for the first time. Gabe saw a watery sheen in the bright, beautiful eyes and knew he was scared, nervous, unsure of himself.
“Yes.” Gabe said.
Ethan leaned in slowly as if giving them both time to run but Gabe wasn’t going anywhere. He leaned in slowly as well and closed his eyes. Ethan’s lips pressed against his and moved lightly, slowly opening and closing again on Gabe’s. Gabe saw fireworks. The world blurred, his heart raced and something inside him said `he is it. He is right.’ Then Ethan pulled back and everything returned to normal, but Gabe’s heart still raced.
“We should go.” Ethan said and stood up, not waiting for Gabe who had to rush to catch up. They rode back to Gabriel’s apartment and Ethan stopped the truck just outside.
“Ethan, I think we should talk.”
“I’d rather not. Could you just not mention this. I’m sorry it happened, Gabe. It won’t happen again. I’ll see you at work on Monday.”
“Ok Ethan.” Gabe said and stepped out of the truck and watched it drive off.
The weekend was a confusing one for Gabe and so he did what he always does. He sat on the park bench and thought. He thought of the kiss and his reaction. He thought of the kiss and Ethan’s reaction. Both were confusing and cause for concern as far as Gabe saw. The problem was he didn’t know what Ethan had felt or what he was thinking.
“Having problems I see.” God observed as he sat down on the bench.
“I’m really not in the mood.”
“To have problems? Problems come whether you’re in the mood or not. They just kind of happen.”
“Well, I’m not in the mood to deal with you today.”
“Most people aren’t. They go about their lives, deal with their problems on their own. I just sit here waiting for people to ask for help.”
“I’m sure casino firmaları someone somewhere is asking for God’s help.” Gabe said feeling annoyed.
“They are. I’ve got them covered. No offense but most people’s problems aren’t too hard for me to deal with. I mean, I did create the universe after all.”
“You want applause?”
“A thank you now and again wouldn’t hurt.” God chuckled.
“Thanks. Now can you go?”
“You really want me to?” God asked and Gabe leaned back against the park bench and was unable to say no. “Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”
“Don’t you know?”
“Of course I do.”
“Then why should I tell you?”
“Because you’re not sure what’s going on. It’ll help if you say it out loud.”
“Well, if you don’t believe I’m God anyway, what will it hurt?”
“Fine. Ethan and I had dinner last night and we came here so he could see my bench and then he asked me when I knew I was gay and I told him that I knew since I kissed a man for the first time and he asked me to kiss him and then he left.”
“That’s all you have to say about it.”
“Wow?” God asked. “Which reaction would you like me to have?”
“See, this is what I’m not in the mood for.” Gabe said and stood up.
“Sit down, Gabriel.”
“Cause I’m not finished yet.” Gabe sat. “Do you remember what it was like before you came out?”
“Yeah. I was nervous that everyone would find out or knew already.”
“And you were afraid of what your parents would think.”
“So why can’t you see a possible motivation for Ethan’s actions here?”
“Are you saying that Ethan is worried about coming out?”
“I’m not saying Ethan is worried about anything. That’s between him and I. I’m talking to you. I’m asking why you can’t see how someone, who may be going through the same thing you did, is feeling? That seems a little insensitive to me.” God said.
“But he knows I’m gay. He knows that I would accept him.”
“I’m sure he does.”
“Then why would you tell me that?”
“Because you know why he reacted the way he did. All you have to do is remember. Think about the things you’ve been through in your own life. How you reacted to things. Maybe you’ll come up with something.” God said and stood to leave. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got something to take care of in Madagascar.”
God patted Gabriel on the head as if he were a little boy. “I have faith in you, kid. You’ll figure it out.” He turned and walked off.
Gabe sat on the bench thinking over his earlier conversation with God but found he didn’t understand what he had been talking about. He left the bench and the park and went to the soup kitchen to help out. He figured he might as well help out someone else with their problems then get back in the habit of obsessing over his.
“Gabriel! How nice to see you again.” Pastor Jack said coming from behind the kitchen counter. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been fine, Pastor Jack. How are you?”
“I’m good, thanks. Since you’ve shown up eight more volunteers have joined us. I think God has answered our prayers.”
“I’m sure he has, Pastor.” Gabe debated on continuing but decided to take a chance. “Pastor, a friend mentioned that you might be…. accepting of gay people.”
“Your friend is right. I see no reason for a person to be shamed because of who they love.”
“I just wanted to mention that I was. Gay, that is. I’m gay.” Gabe said feeling awkward.
“God loves you, Gabe. Churches get that confused. Have you ever been wrong about something but were so sure you were right?” The Pastor asked and Gabe thought of a similar conversation he had with God.
“Sometimes churches get things wrong too.” He said, patted Gabe’s arm and returned to the kitchen.
Gabe spent his Sunday evening helping out at the shelter before, closing up and heading home. He sat down in his apartment and tried for the life of him to figure out what God had been trying to say. He thought of his life, of his reactions and could see nothing similar to what Ethan had done. Thinking of Ethan just made Gabe depressed and feeling a little dejected. He went to bed hoping tomorrow would be a better day.
It wasn’t. Gabe walked in and saw Jess the receptionist frowning away as she typed furiously on her computer. She was usually so cheerful in the mornings.
“What’s wrong, Jess?”
“Ethan.” She whispered. “He’s in a foul mood. He’s yelling at everyone for any little thing. You should just go in and hide in your office.”
“Ethan? Yelling?” Gabe was shocked. He didn’t think Ethan had it in him to yell much less be unreasonable.
“Yeah. Now go, or he’s going to yell at us for talking.”
This was something Gabe had to see and just as he opened the door to his office, Ethan’s raised voice came from down the hall.
“I can’t believe this!! What do I pay you people for?! You just screw everything up anyway I might as well do it myself!”
Gabe stepped back into the hallway and saw Ethan storm out of one of the project managers güvenilir casino office. Ethan saw Gabe and frowned.
“What the hell are you looking at?”
“Nothing.” Gabe answered.
“Then get to work!” Ethan spun around and headed back to his office, leaving Gabe to enter his and close the door.
Not much work got done while Gabe was thinking over Ethan’s recent behavior. He finally decided that he would talk with him during lunch. At noon, Gabe went to Ethan’s office but found it empty.
“He’s finally gone, thank God!” Liz said from behind Gabe.
“Where did he go?”
“In a fit like that no one cares! It’s better that he’s not here. He probably had a fight with a new girlfriend.” She said and headed back to her own office.
The week plodded on and Ethan rarely made an appearance at the office. Gabe started leaving his door open in the hopes of seeing him pass by but Ethan seemed to come in and out without his noticing. Gabe finally managed to catch him in the office and drummed up the courage to have a word with him.
“Ethan? You have a minute?” Gabriel said, and stepped into his boss’ office.
“No. I really have to get to a meeting right now, Gabe. If it’s something important discuss it with Bob.” Ethan said and put his jacket on to leave. At least he was being civil these days if a little curt and abrupt.
“It is important and I can’t talk about it with Bob, Ethan. Or at least you wouldn’t want me to.” Gabe said trying to joke. Ethan’s face darkened and he stepped up to Gabe face to face.
“Is that a threat?” Ethan whispered.
“No, Ethan, it isn’t like that. I just want to-.”
“You say something like that again to anyone, even me, and I’ll fire your ass quicker than you can see unemployment. Is that clear?”
“Yes, Ethan.” Gabe whispered. Ethan stormed out of the office and didn’t return for the next two days.
Gabe finished work on Friday and turned off his computer. He missed Ethan coming to his office and reminding him that it was time to go home or asking him if he wanted to get something to eat. He missed Ethan. Gabe sighed and called down to the soup kitchen to find out that they had enough staff and though he would be welcome they didn’t need him. He begged off saying he wasn’t feeling well and headed home.
A coffee shop on his way caught his eye and he stopped in for a caffeine kick. He took his drink to a comfy chair and grabbed an interesting looking book and figured he while away a few hours before heading to his empty apartment. It wasn’t long before he felt that he was being watched. A man about his age was sitting across from him and not hiding the fact that he was staring.
“I know you, don’t I?” The stranger asked.
“Um… I don’t think so.”
“No, I do. Are you from around here?”
“Yeah, I grew up here.” Gabe said and tried to remember the man.
“Gabriel Lennox.” The stranger smiled. “I had such a crush on you.”
“Who are you?” Gabe asked. The man got up and took the empty seat next to him.
“Darren Murry. You don’t remember me?”
“I do now.” Gabe smiled. “Wow, it’s been years! How are you?”
“I’m good. I’m in town visiting my parents for a few days. How are you?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
They spoke of the old days and what they had been up to since they both attended the local high school. Gabe remembered there was something special about Darren but couldn’t remember what it was.
“So you’re a C.P.A. now?” Darren asked.
“Yeah. I work over at Northeast Products Group. I just started there but I’m getting paid more than I did at Roberts and Seymour.”
“God, it’s been such a long time since high school. Did you ever think we’d be doing this shit? You a C.P.A., me an Insurance salesman? Don’t tell my boyfriend but I still remember our kiss.”
“You were my first kiss and you said you’d never kissed another man either, so I guess that makes me yours. Or were you just lying, big slut?” Darren laughed.
“That was you?”
“Bitchy much? God, you don’t even remember me, do you?”
“No, I do. I just didn’t remember that it was with you.” Gabe said apologetically.
“I’m not surprised. You ran screaming like that building was on fire.”
“I did not!”
“Close enough. You wouldn’t even talk to me for the rest of senior year. I was crushed but I got over you.” Darren laughed.
“I’m sorry.” Gabe said.
“Don’t worry about it. That was a hundred years ago. I’m just happy I got to see you! We should stay in touch. Do the email thing and shit.”
“Yeah, definitely.” They wrote down their information and as Gabe was finishing his he heard Darren gasp.
“Damn, that’s nice. God, sometimes I wish I were single.” Gabe looked up to see who he was talking about and saw Ethan come in. Ethan looked over at the two of them, frowned, and went to get his coffee.
“Friend of yours?” Darren asked.
“No. He’s my boss.”
“Oh shit. I’m sorry, Dude. You want me to leave? I can be a little over the top.”
“No, he knows I’m gay.” Gabe said and watched Ethan leave without saying a word.
“Wow. You should do something about that seriously fast.”
“What do you mean?” Gabe asked.
“He’s pissed that you’re here with me. I mean it was obvious.”