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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

("For anyone who knows…For anyone who's been…Forever in my heart…I'll see you in my dreams ")…Liam Gallagher

Anh yêu em Tuyet...
Tôi yêu con gái KaSandra & Katrina...
Tôi thương con trai của bố Luc…

Gabriel's Promise
a novel by nicholas sheridan stanton

Chapter Twenty-four

Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico…Tuesday, June 21st, 2005…7pm

Dusk in Baja California is incredible; backlit against the ever present cloud cover it radiates hues of brilliant orange, yellow, and red. It's the celestial equivalent of a tequila sunrise, yummy! However, as beautiful as they are, tonight's cloud cover had Wesley’s complete attention. Checking his watch for the umpteenth time he noted the time against the schedule. In four hours they'd need a clear sky with the full moon. The billowing cumulonimbus clouds needed to either pass on by or rain themselves empty before 2300 hours or the operation would have to be aborted.

Wesley turned and looked back up the beach toward a small makeshift marina where Jack O'Shea was busy prepping the boats. The van they'd driven down in from San Diego was parked nearby and they would need to start unloading the mirrors soon. They probably should have skipped supper in Old Town earlier, but nobody got between Sandy and a free meal. As it turned out they were on the road by 4pm, crossed the border by 5pm (incredibly lucky) and covered the 100 miles or so in a ninety minute hell-ride courtesy Mad-Jack O'Shea the certifiably crazy egghead! Now that he thought about it the cloud cover actually worked in their favor. A little foul weather and some rain would keep the tourists and the locals off of the beach while they stowed the gear and shoved off. Jack and Papa, would install the cloaking mirrors on Pixie and Dixie respectively once they were under way.

It was beginning to drizzle now and Wesley covered his head with the hood of is navy blue sweatshirt. He made his way back to the slips, checking the time once more. It was now exactly three hours and fifty-five minutes until they needed to cast off. The breeze had stiffened a bit and it was noticeably colder. Wesley picked up the pace, subtlety reciting the plan as he walked, careful not to look like a lunatic and draw any unwanted attention. It was simple I kept telling him, piracy by the numbers. Wesley reminded me that they still hung pirates in some parts of the globe!

Step One, stage and prep the boats. This was Wesley and Jack’s job.
Step Two, the boarding party arrives, me, Papa, Sandy, Randy, and Roman.
Step Three, intercept the Riviera, a Cabo San Lucas bound ocean liner, fifty nautical miles offshore south-southwest from La Bufadora in international waters.
Step Four, engage cloaking devices start run at ramming speed.
Step Five, catch and board amidships, Pixie portside and Dixie starboard.
Step Six, loot and scoot.
Step Seven, jet to the professor's Seawind 1000, a 41 foot catamaran moored near La Bufadora (apparently egghead engineers banked good coin) and off-load the cloaking equipment, then scuttle the speed boats.
Step Eight, sail back to San Diego on Jack's cat and scatter.

The details for when and where to meet for the post-op debriefing would be buried in Friday's Union Tribune classified section, right next to an ad for Speedy Printing. Wesley thought that was a bit of over the top cloak and dagger drama but it wasn't rocket science and wouldn't be too hard to follow. That was Randy's brain child, an avid Jason Bourne fan. He'd place an ad for a garage sale at a fictitious address with a false phone number. The telephone number contained the time, hours, minutes, and seconds, the last number indicating am or pm, specifically 0 for am and 9 for pm. The address was coded to a set list of meeting places. For instance 1234 Elm Street was really the Americana restaurant in Del Mar and 4321 Oak Street was really the Studio Diner on Ruffin Street in San Diego. There were others but you get the idea.

Wesley nodded in my direction as he past the short pier where I was sitting doing my own last minute calculations. I rubbed the two day beard on my scruffy face, acknowledging him, and continued to look out to sea as if he weren't there. I'd been on the small pier staring out at the sea for better than thirty minutes. The breeze was steady and cool and it blew my shaggy hair every which way. I didn't care, I liked the way it felt, the way it made me feel, free and unencumbered. Still, Pat Bouchard may not have needed a haircut but Jean Luc Rojier would need a decent trim before the G.A.W.D. fundraiser next week in San Francisco at the Gateway Building.

I pushed my sandy brown mop away from my face and fished my wallet out of my jeans. I'm not exactly sure why I held onto Monica's note, but I know why I never read it, I didn't want to face what was inside. I was even more confused why I carried it around like a photograph tucked inside my wallet. Maybe it was for the same reason I wore this colorful beaded bracelet that Gabriel and I made together in the hospital during happier times before he passed, back when we were still hopeful. The little bauble had become a part of me because it was a part of him, because it was a part of us. It kept his spirit alive in my everyday. I might be angry enough with God to stray from the straight and narrow, but I still believe in Him, and I want to believe that even this detour from grace will be forgiven in the end. Opening my wallet I removed the small envelope containing her last message for me. Turning it over and over I studied it closely. Inside were answers to questions that I didn't want to ask. Inside was closure if I wanted it. I didn't. Even so, maybe I needed it more than I cared to admit. Slipping my pinky finger under the flap I started to unseal the envelope.

"Are you sure you want to do that son?" Papa asked, startling me.

"How long have you been standing there?" I replied, answering a question with a question, stuffing the envelope under my leg like a ten year-old hiding his report card.

"Long enough," he replied, sitting beside me on the bench.

"What does that mean?" I asked curtly. I didn't mean to be mean, but I wanted to finish this moment and get just passed it.

"You don't have to hide the note Patrick, I saw it," Papa said, patting my thigh gently. I was embarrassed and managed to blush even in the cold ocean breeze.

"It's no big deal Papa. It's just time I knew it all, ya know?" I replied avoiding his eyes and staring out to sea.

"I see," he said, getting up to lean on the wooden rail and stare at the horizon with me. We remained silent for a moment.

"Monica was a wonderful woman Patrick, I liked her very much. She was a good person, a good mother, a good daughter, and a good wife I think," Papa said without turning to face me. I didn't reply.

"I know how much you loved her, she was the love of your life, I saw that in your eyes when you looked at her. It was in your voice when you spoke to her, in your face when you held her. It was a beautiful thing to see son," he continued, pausing to give me a chance to reply. I couldn't, my heart had already moved up into my throat, choking off my voice for the moment.

"Before you open that envelope consider this. As wonderful as Monica was, there were things under the surface she struggled with. She was a more person. More of this and more of that, more was what she was all about, even if she denied it."

"What are you driving at?"

Papa turned to face me and studied my face for a moment. "Do you know what happens when you stand with one foot in the past and with one foot in the future?" he asked.

I sighed deeply, leaned back and put both feet up on the wooden rail. "No Papa, what happens?" I replied tiredly.

"You end up pissing on the present!" he said smiling.

I snorted a chuckle and replied, "What are you talking about old man?"

He turned back around to face the sea. "Monica was like that Pat. Your wife never stood still long enough to enjoy where she was. She yearned for whatever was next; she planned for it, as if one could predict the future. And she held onto the past, demons I suspect. I'm sure she shared a thing or two with you during pillow talk moments, am I right?"

I couldn't help grinning at that statement. I must have heard Monica utter those words a thousand times in daily conversations, am I right. She always ended at least one sentence with that rhetorical question whenever she was on a rant about something, either about work or a family issue. My father just ignored my queer expression and continued, "And I noticed that she had no patience for those, you for one, who weren't as anxious as she was in her pursuit of more. She had little patience for those around her that didn't see the world the way that she did," he added. I didn't reply as I chewed on his words.

"Monica loved you son, you and Gabriel both, more than life itself, more than her own life. You need to always believe that. But I'm afraid that if you read that note in your hand you may not be able to," Papa said into the breeze.

I looked at him suspiciously, "You know what's in here don't you Papa? Was the wreck an accident?" I asked hoping he'd say no but preparing myself for an affirmative.

"Yes," he replied. "As for her accident, well does it really matter son? She's gone," he added.

Oh man, there it was, my heart sank. "If you were me wouldn't you want to know?" I asked, getting up to stand beside him. He looked at me and the note in my hand. He tapped it with his finger. "If I were you I'd tear that up in a million pieces and give it to the sea," he answered, looking at me with watery eyes.

"If I were you son, I'd protect her memory. I'd carry only her goodness in my heart the rest of my life. I'd want to smile every time I thought of her, every time her face appeared before me in a daydream. That's what I'd do son, that's what I'd do," he said, slapping my shoulder and walking away. I kept staring at the horizon as he walked off. He stopped and called back to me after a moment from the end of the pier.

"Shake it off son! We need to shove off in a few minutes!"

I didn't answer and he didn't repeat himself. The breeze turned into a cold harsh wind and I felt my cheeks changing color. A single tear rolled down my face, possibly from the wind hitting me square in the face, but probably not. Without taking my eyes off of the sea I tore the envelope into tiny bits and tossed them over the rail.

"I love you honey," is all I could manage as I turned and walked away. It may not have been the closure I thought I wanted, but Papa was right, when you have a chance to choose between joy and pain, choose joy…

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