DISCLAIMER: The following story is a fictional account of young teenage boys who are in love. There are references and occasional graphic descriptions of gay sex involving minors, and anyone who is uncomfortable with this should obviously not be reading it. With a few notable exceptions, all characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The opinions expressed in this story by known individuals are not necessarily intended to be representative of those of their real-life counterparts. Although the story takes place in actual locations and establishments, the author takes full responsibility for all events described and these are not in any way meant to reflect the activities of real individuals or institutions. The author retains full copyright of this story, and of stories based on these characters.
Please note that this is the twenty-eighth and final story in a series known collectively as Naptown Tales. The entire series can be found on my GayAuthors Page and on the Naptown Tales Page at Awesome Dude. Please see the Introduction for important background information.

'Til Death Do Us Part

A Naptown Tale in Seven Parts
by Altimexis

Wings of an Angel - Cliff

I felt strange. The last thing I remembered I was in class, sitting next to my best friend, Brad, and nearly comatose from listening to our AP Geometry teacher. Now I was someplace else, but I wasn't sure where. I was lying down on a very hard mattress, and there was something stuck in my throat.

Try as I might, I couldn't open my eyes. I couldn't seem to move at all. It felt like my arms and legs were encased in concrete. I could hear that there were people around me, but I couldn't make out what they were saying.

I felt someone holding my hand and I clearly heard, "Hey Cliffy. It's you're bro. I'm here with David. We love you, and our hearts are with you, and soon you'll get better and we'll have a party in your honor."

It was Jeremy! Jeremy was with me, and he said I'd get better. 'Shit!' I must be in the hospital,' I thought to myself. Using every ounce of willpower, I tried to squeeze Jeremy's hand, just to let him know I knew he was there.

"Whoa, bro, could you do that again?" Jeremy asked. Using every ounce of my strength, I tried to do it again.

I guess I musta drifted off to sleep, 'cause the next thing I knew, someone, I guess a doctor, was shining a light in my eyes. I couldn't see his or her face, and I still couldn't open my eyes on my own. Then I felt someone or something tugging on the inside of my throat, and then whatever it was that was stuck in my throat was gone. I felt relieved.

I guess I fell asleep again, 'cause now I was someplace else. I didn't know how I knew, but somehow I knew. I felt like I was in a much larger room, and there were a lot of people in the room talking. I still couldn't understand what any of them were saying.

There was always someone holding my hand and saying comforting words, and although I couldn't make out who they were or what they were saying, it comforted me.

Then I heard my foster father speaking. He was right next to me, and he held my hand firmly as he said, "Cliff, it's Dad. I have a signed affidavit with me from the Marion County Superior Court. As of now, you are officially Clifford Lawrence Daniel Kimball-Roth. How about that?"

The adoption went through? Yes! At long last, I wasn't an orphan anymore, and I was with my dad! Finally, I felt at peace.

But I was tired . . . so very, very tired, and I felt like I should just totally relax - my mind and my body. I did. Whether it was by choice or not, I truly felt the comfort of mental and physical relaxation. I even thought I heard someone calling to me, telling me to just let go of a thread I wasn't aware I was still hanging on to - and I did.

I didn't really have a strong belief in God, and hadn't since my parents died, and I sure didn't believe in an afterlife. There'd always been a small part of me that hoped there was an afterlife and that I'd see my parents again, but I never really believed it. I figured that what came next was a kind of a dream - the last gasp of a dying brain - but it sure as fuck felt real.

It truly did feel like I was drifting through a tunnel toward a brilliant light, and there were vivid colors all around me - colors I never knew existed before. 'Course with all the shit I'd read about near-death experiences, this prolly was a dream - my dyin' dream - brought on by the power of suggestion or a subconscious flare in my brain.

I felt more than saw a presence next to me. There was someone else with me. It wasn't anyone I knew - it wasn't my parents as I'd hoped it would be - but the presence was comforting. If I'd believed in them, I would have said it was an angel.

"Hello, Cliff," I heard the presence say, but the words were inside my head - I didn't really hear them with my ears, which again was more consistent with this all being a dream.

"No, this isn't a dream," he said, "it's very, very real. Your soul is in transition, and it will take you a few days to adjust. I wish I could stay here with you and help you, but it's my time to move on. Now that you're here, I can finally go on to what you call Heaven."

"Who are you?" I tried to ask.

"Yes, I can hear your thoughts, Cliff. My name is Fareed. You may have heard your brother or David speak of me. I was Altaf El Tahari's first boyfriend."

In an instant, it came to me. I remembered Jeremy talking about how his friend Altaf came to America under a fatwa for being gay, and how his boyfriend in Pakistan, Fareed, had been stoned to death.

"Yes, exactly," the presence responded to my thoughts before I could even put them into words.

"For four years," the presence, or perhaps I should think of it as Fareed, continued, "I have remained in a sort of limbo, staying behind in a state between the physical world and my afterlife. I imagine you've heard about ghosts. Ghosts are spirits who stay around on earth after their bodies die. They either don't realize they're dead, or they feel they have unfinished business to attend to. Some ghosts never manage to move on.

"But that's not what I am, and it's not what you are. We aren't ghosts. The closest thing that kind of describes what we are is guardian angels."

"Me, an angel?" I thought in disbelief. "That'll be the day."

"Don't sell yourself short, Cliff," Fareed responded to my thoughts. "Yes, you've made mistakes . . . everyone has . . . but you also touched so many lives in a way that few mortals ever do. During your time on earth, you enriched so many lives. You're a good person, Cliff. You think of others before you think of yourself. You're selfless, which is why you were chosen for such an important role now that my task is done."

"I don't understand?" I thought.

"In time you will," Fareed's thoughts echoed in my head.

"What was your task?" I asked.

"To ensure that David Reynolds was positioned to play his part," Fareed answered. "Not that I set out to do so in the beginning. I had no idea that my actions were part of a bigger plan. I only wanted a better life for my lover, Altaf. I only wanted for him the life that was taken from me. That is the reason I stayed behind on earth.

"When Altaf's mother took Altaf and left Pakistan, he was in grave danger. There was only so much I could do as his guardian angel, particularly when he was still in London. Unbeknownst to him, he fell into a school that was part of a terrorist cell. To this day, he has no idea how close he came to being discovered. I had to do something to protect him.

"Spirits have so little influence on the physical world, as you will soon discover. The advantage we have of an external perspective and the ability to see beyond time and space presents the opportunity to influence the future, but the only influence we have is very subtle in nature.

"When it became clear that Altaf was in grave danger of discovery, I caused a student to accidentally expose the bomb belt he was wearing. I knew that when Altaf saw that his school had a terrorist connection, he would do the right thing and get out, and he did.

"When he and his mother saw an immigration attorney in London, I planted the thought in the attorney's head to make an offhand comment about asylum for gay men. Had I not done so, Altaf and his mother would have never known to ask about it, and of course they would have never revealed his secret.

"Once Altaf was in America, I quickly realized there was no future for him in Detroit. He could have never come out there, and he would have been miserable. I therefore went in search of communities where he might have a future, and I found this place, but it wasn't ready for him. It was still unsafe for a gay boy to be out here, and I had to change that.

"I found a number of gay people here in your community, and one boy in particular, Randy Bernstein, whom I immediately knew was Altaf's soul mate. Unfortunately, it appeared they would be nothing more than friends unless I could find a way to make them come out to each other. The key was David Reynolds.

"David Reynolds had the personality, the charisma and the power to change attitudes. If David Reynolds were out, it would be safe for others to come out. When it became evident to me that he and Jeremy Kimball were destined to be together, and knowing that Jeremy had already inadvertently outed himself, I resolved to see to it that they got together sooner rather than later. Little did I know at the time that this was part of a much bigger plan.

"You'll find that you can sometimes influence the weather, but only in subtle ways. I took advantage of this to cause a cold front to stall, becoming stationary and allowing temperatures ahead of it to rise. I then planted the seed in David's consciousness to get an ice cream cone in Broad Ripple. At the same time, I planted a seed in Jeremy's mind to take a walk in Broad Ripple, and because of the heat, to not bother wearing a shirt.

"As soon as the two of them started talking, I allowed the weather to resume its natural course, the stationary front turned back into a cold front and the heavens opened up in a torrential downpour. Once they were safely in Jeremy's house together, I caused lightning to strike a power relay, plunging them into darkness.

"Of course the inevitable happened . . . they became a couple, and because Jeremy was already out, they decided they would both be out. David's natural extroverted personality once again asserted itself since he no longer had a reason to be in hiding, and this set the stage for others to come out.

"In the meantime back in Detroit, I caused Altaf to accidentally out himself to his cousin, so that he and his mother had to move, and I used every ounce of my limited power to influence her to choose the job that was available at St. Vincent's Hospital.

"As I expected, Randy and Altaf became friends, and it didn't take any influence on my part at all for David Reynolds to push for same-sex dancing at Homecoming. If it hadn't been that event, it would have been something else. Randy's and Altaf's coming out to each other, and then to the school, was inevitable.

"You said this was part of a bigger plan?" I asked.

"A much bigger plan," Fareed confirmed. "I did not realize it at the time, but the rise to power of a charismatic gay leader is something that has been in the works for some time. I was but a small part of adding a piece to the puzzle, but my goals of creating a better, safer environment for Altaf helped further the existing plan and set into motion a series of events that has solidified the future that must be.

"I have continued to use my subtle influence to ensure that certain things happen. For example, the client error that forced the Austins to stay home during your spring break a year and a half ago was in large part my doing. By creating a critical situation in which they could not go with you at a time when it was too late to make alternative arrangements, I ensured you and your friends would be at the right place at the right time. President Obama's decision to visit the Senator's office at the time you were there was also my doing. As you know, that resulted in some very important consequences."

"Did it ever," I agreed. "So then the premonitions that Paul has had are real? David is gonna be President, only to die in office?"

"Just as I have been working to ensure his rise to power, there are others working at this very moment to ensure his assassination. I'm sorry, Cliff, but it's necessary. It will be David's time. His assassination will set in motion changes in society that will make things better for everyone. And there are other people . . . people you know . . . who will carry on his legacy.

"So how do I fit into all of this?" I asked.

"There is someone else who's even more important to the future . . . someone who will usher in a period of unprecedented peace, prosperity and progress for hundreds of years."

"Gees, you make it sound like he's the Messiah or something."

"There are many who will claim he was the Messiah after his death, and with the dawn of a messianic age, they will have a lot of followers from all faiths . . . Christians, Muslims, Jews, even Buddhists, Hindus, non-believers and others. Many Muslims will claim he was God's fourth prophet, and there are even those Christians who will claim he was the Anti-Christ. The bottom line is that he will be a major force for good in the world."

"Who is it?" I asked, but then realization dawned on me. "It's Sam!"

"Sam Austin has so much to offer the world," Fareed confirmed, "but his situation is still very precarious. A lot could still happen to derail his contribution to the future, and that's why he is in desperate need of a guardian angel.

"There's nothing particularly special about Sam; however, he's managed to rise above adversity and to give of himself in ways few could imagine. He was born with normal intelligence, but he's learned to make use of his brain in ways that most people never do, and his intellectual abilities continue to increase by the day. His intelligence, his appreciation of art, his interest in other cultures, places, languages and his desire to give back to society will all combine to make him what he will be.

"But at the same time, these things make him vulnerable. Even now, his guidance counselor is plotting to get him to take the SAT this year under the pretense that it will be good practice for him. When he gets a perfect score, she'll try to talk him into starting college next year, at the age of fifteen. These things are certain . . . they're going to happen.

"As of right now, it is impossible yet to tell what Sam will do . . . follow the advice of his counselor, his teachers and his parents and go to college, or follow what he feels in his heart and stay in high school another year. Either way, he will face incredible challenges . . . challenges that threaten his very being.

"You will play a very important role in protecting him, Cliff. You can help to influence his decision, and to influence those around him who would do him harm. If anyone needs a guardian angel, it is he.

"I am going to leave you now, Cliff. It's time for me to move on. I wish I could have spent a little more time here with you, but my role is now complete and I can no longer stay."

"Wait a minute!" I cried. "I don't know how to be a guardian angel!"

"That, my friend, is part of the reason you're here," Fareed explained. "An established angel would come to the task with a set of preconceived ideas, and they wouldn't know Sam the way you do. Your fresh perspective gives you a decided advantage and, as for the rest of it, you'll learn as you go."

"But I'm just a boy!" I complained.

"Don't sell yourself short, Cliff. I was just a boy, not much older than you, when I became a guardian angel. You'll do fine."

"I wish I were so sure . . . could I maybe get some help from my parents? Speaking of which, where are they?" I asked.

"I'm sorry, Cliff, but you'll have to wait to see your parents until you move on to Heaven yourself," Fareed related. "Your first steps may lie with Paul, but I cannot tell you any more than that. Goodbye, and good luck. You will always have my love . . ."

"WAIT!" my consciousness cried out. "What exactly am I supposed to do?"

But he was no longer there and I gradually felt myself fade into what could only be called a kind of sleep. Perhaps this was all a dream and I was now dying.

I became aware of still being around, what ever that meant, in what seemed like a few days. When I regained what others might consider a form of consciousness, I was back at school and I was in the gymnasium, which was packed with students. All of my friends were on a sort of stage, and they were speaking about me! For some strange reason, I wasn't embarrassed.

Everyone was awesome in the things they said about me, and the anecdotes they told about my past. Even President Obama was there and made some remarks. There was music, too . . . beautiful music.

The love I felt in that room was amazing. I sill wasn't convinced that this wasn't all a dream - my dying dream - but it was so wonderful, I was going to enjoy it while it lasted.

At the end of the program, I went up to Brad and tried to give him a hug, at least in as much as a spirit can. I wasn't sure if he felt it, but at least I tried. I then went up to Jeremy and did the same.

I did not yet know what the future would bring the way Fareed did, but if this was real, I was going to do everything I could to make it the best future that could be.

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope in editing and Alastair in proofreading my stories, as well as Gay Authors, Awesome Dude and Nifty for hosting them.


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