By Gabriel Lampert
Content Warnings: Death, mild sexual content.
I open the door. I’m not expecting anyone, but there he is, this young kid, no more than thirty. He says, ‘I’m Azra’el.’ His features fit no ethnicity: skin an indeterminate tan, hair and eyes brown. He’s handsome, lightly muscled, two-piece uniform, olive drab, form-fitting. He says he’s here to take me to my ‘new station.’
‘Tell the agency I’m not going anywhere!’
‘I’m not from the landlord. It’s just time for you to move on.’
I’m dubious yet unable to stop his beautiful body from entering the apartment. ‘I’m not expecting…’
‘I understand. It makes it awkward, but – believe me – it’s better for you this way.’
‘Okay. What are you selling?’ I feel my hackles rise.
He sighs. ‘I’m not selling, but you’ve already bought. I’m here to guide you to your next location.’
‘Where is that?’
‘I don’t have that information.’ He waves away my concern but gives me a hug, strong and intimate. I’m confused but surprisingly aroused, more solidly erect than I’ve been for decades. ‘As I said, I’m here to guide you. I leave when you get there. But here and now, you have a lovely erection. Would you like to use it?’
All his crazy talk is nothing compared to having a hard-on again after so long. Apparently, I nod ‘yes’ because he strips down, instantaneously, and gets my clothes off, too. He’s so smooth, a contrast to my wiry greyness.
‘Face up or face down?’ he asks.
‘Face up! I want to kiss you.’
‘You can’t kiss me yet, but I’ll be face up.’
He lies on his back. I climb on and enter, so easily.
‘Take your time.’
We move around a lot; he wraps his legs around me. I switch up the pace back and forth, calling up old moves and caresses. How is this ancient body of mine so flexible? When I can’t hold back, I climax and lose track of the world, it’s that strong. When I’m back to normal, he is smugly smiling.
He gets up and says, ‘My turn!’ I’m happy with that, too, and lie back. He begins to massage me, then uses strange penetrative strokes with his fingers. I feel my body changing with each push. My chest is lumpy, then his fingers are in me, in my… vagina! Not even thinking, I’m pushing my hips up to meet his hand!
It was noon when he showed up, but now the only light is a glow from his body. Thinking I finally understand what is happening, I mutter, ‘Angel of Death.’
He stops working me. ‘I said “new station,” not “end of line.” We’ve moved many times, and I don’t know how many more we’ll do.’
‘But I am dead, right?’
Another sigh. ‘Yes. Long buried. I know it seems I’ve been here only an hour, but… And now we’re on the way to the next station. But I want you to have this experience first.’ Then he gets on the bed and enters me, just as easily. ‘Too heavy?’
‘No, you’re… you’re just fine.’ I automatically try to kiss him, but he brushes me away.
‘You’ve wanted to know what it’s like. You’ve fantasized about being fucked as a woman how long?’
‘Well? How is it?’
‘Wonderful.’ I see the outline of his face smiling down at me. Amazingly, I climax again, and it’s as all-consuming as before.
When I can return to conversation, I ask him, ‘So I’m going to be a woman in the next “station?”’
‘I don’t know yet what you’re going to be, or where, or much about your situation. But I can tell you this: it’s men you’ll be attracted to. Men have been your desire every time. That’s what you’re headed to. You just took too long this last time, worrying about whether it was okay or not.’
‘So, I fucked up by staying in the closet.’
‘No, I fucked up. I didn’t give you enough support to let you move into your sexuality. That’s why we’re doing this. You won’t remember what we say, but I’m hoping you can take these feelings with you.’
‘Is this what life’s about? Sex?’
‘One thing, anyway. Physical Connection. You’re good on other Measures. Artistic Connection: singing, calligraphy…’
I’m scowling, I know, because my songs and scribbles were amateurish, but Azra’el says, ‘People love your work! And Intellectual Connection – you taught. And you score well on Compassion: people say you’re sweet, some people anyway. It’s only Physical where you need to bone up.’ He giggles at his joke.
‘What about happily-ever-after?’ I ask.
A sigh. ‘I’ve seen you through many lives. Deep friendships. Passionate affairs. No happily-ever-afters, no forever-lovers. Society says you want that, but I don’t think you do. What I want for you is happy, happy now and happy later, too.’
‘Do you do this with all your clients?’
‘You are my only “client.” I follow you through every station, every lifetime. But I can’t do much while you’re in life, so, again, that’s why we’ve done this just now.’
‘You lurk through my whole life? You’re not a guardian angel?’
‘I occasionally get the chance to interfere, but with strict limits. For example, remember when you were walking the dog, and the dump truck fell over and spilled rocks fifty yards ahead of you?’
‘Yes! It could have killed us!’
‘Right. I can’t move objects, like trucks or rocks. Instead, invisible, I urinated on the fire hydrant in your path, so your dog sniffed and sniffed, and you didn’t catch up with the truck.’
I laugh. ‘Thanks!’
‘Part of the job. And remember your friend who said he’d sleep in your arms but without sex? I impersonated him; I needed to remind you how important touch is. That was my limit.’
‘I remember! It was the best night’s sleep I ever had. I didn’t even have to get up and pee.’ Now I realise why the real guy stared at me whenever I mentioned that night afterwards.
Azra’el’s weight is now a burden, and his light fainter. ‘Now I will give you that kiss; you will forget this whole conversation, but not the feelings.’
Now alone, in the dark. Very comfortable dark. Long time. Then something is pushing. I am going somewhere? Yes, I am going!
Gabriel Lampert, now living near the ocean in San Francisco after 40 years in the desert southwest, is a retired maths professor. His stories have appeared in various small publications, as well as the Alan Turing Centenary Anthology from Edinburgh University's Informatics School. He is involved in both queer and Jewish literature groups, has often chanted Torah and prophetic pieces, and also taught chant to others. inaformertime.wordpress.com