Gabriel, Blow Your Horn
“What did you just call him?”
Eric Knox turned his head slightly. “Sorry?”
Vivian Wood sighed impatiently. “The retard. What did you just call him?”
“He’s not a retard,” Knox responded automatically. It was a familiar argument between the two.
“He acts like one.” Vivian huffed and crossed her thin and fashionably tanned arms over her chest, pushing her breasts up slightly, and narrowed her eyes at the pale, dark-haired, thin man standing at the other end of the room with another cluster of Eric Knox’s employees. Dressed in an elegant black pinstriped suit, he was almost fragile looking; but Knox liked to think that the man seemed harmless until you looked into his eyes: bright, piercing blue like a hungry wolf. He stood slightly apart from the rest of the group and gently tapped erratic rhythms on the linoleum tile floor with the base of a smooth, black cane which he grasped firmly by its polished gold handle with his right hand. The man looked very out of place among the others, who were mostly burly and well-muscled. Their uniform tight black t-shirts emphasized the bulk of the muscle in their chests and biceps, while also heightening their air of protective menace. The ensemble practically screamed ‘bodyguards’ and Eric Knox wanted it exactly that way, particularly in contrast to the strange man whom he favored. Alley cat surround by a pack of dumb bulldogs, he often thought. And who would come out victorious?
“Viv…” Knox sighed and grabbed his customary pack of cigarettes from his back pocket. He took his time lighting and inhaling. “He has his own problems.”
“We all do.”
“So stop being such a bitch.”
“What did you call him, John?” Vivian’s voice was grating; Eric Knox winced. For a moment her words hung between the two uncomfortably as Knox sucked the filter of his Camel and ground his back teeth together in irritation.
“That’s not my name anymore, Viv.”
“Do you have some sort of special ‘pet name’ for him that you don’t want to share with me? Muffin, maybe? Or Sunshine?” She cooed mockingly. “You’re always fawning over him like he’s a goddamn puppy. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were fucking hi—”
“Gabriel.” Knox said quietly. Vivian’s expression changed from one of cruel resentment to one of bewilderment.
“… Gabriel?” Vivian stifled a giggle. “If you wanted to give the poor thing a name, you might’ve tried one a little less…” She allowed her hand to flop forward on her thin wrist. “Effeminate.”
Knox scowled. “The Archangel Gabriel,” he whispered reproachfully, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the movement of the cane. Taptaptap…taptap.
“Oh.” Vivian seemed properly humbled. “Shit… this is third-grade Sunday School stuff.” There was a pause as she struggled to remember. “Was that the one who told Mary that she would be having the baby Jesus? The Messenger?” Knox nodded slowly and took a deep drag off of his cigarette, watching the flicker of orange as the tiny flames licked a little bit closer. Vivian stared at him incredulously. “John…” she said, her low voice serious. “He can’t talk.”
Knox shook his head. “You don’t have to be able to talk to deliver a message.”
“Well, no… but…”
“Besides, that’s not all Gabriel does.” He tapped his cigarette lightly and let the ashes fall onto the otherwise spotless white floor with deliberate contempt. “Death, life, change… vengeance.” He stared openly across the room as blue eyes lifted to meet his. “Fortitudo Dei. The sound of Gabriel’s horn will signal the second coming of Christ.” Time slowed for Knox as he watched his wolfangel’s eyes settle on him with an unfamiliar air of judgment. He waited patiently, recognizing the nuns and priests disapproval in that blank expression, before the pupils flickered as they often did and refocused so that the man appeared to be looking at something directly over Knox’s left shoulder.
After a second of silent contemplation, Vivian squirmed. “You’re so creepy sometimes.”
Knox grinned. “So stop sleeping with me.”
“I just might, someday.” She smiled, but there was a hush of awe and fear in her voice as she moved her own gaze from Knox’s sheepishly handsome face to the sharp, angular planes of the thin man’s. “I’m not calling it that.”
“You don’t have to.” Knox bit down on his lower lip and allowed the flesh to slide easily over the ridges of his front teeth.
“It doesn’t have a name.”
“Okay,” Knox made an acquiescent motion, carving a curve into the air with his cigarette. “You don’t have to. But could you at least stop calling him an ‘it?’ He’s a human being.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Vivian did not respond. Knox sighed and tossed the rest of his cigarette to the floor, grinding out the final remaining embers with the heel of his sneaker. “Gentlemen!” He called, gaining the attention of all but one.
“Gentlemen,” Vivian repeated in a much gentler tone. “We’re so glad that you have agreed to be an integral part of Knox Technologies. Your specialized skills are highly appreciated. However, we will now go on to tell you what this job really entails…”
Read it, even though it lacks any semblance to goodness. Er... please? 9_9