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C24 The Hospital Room D2 9a

SM C13.2 01-01-23 (839) Mike with Cresha in the JHMC ICU D2 9a – Maria

I was getting a cup of coffee from a machine down the hall with my partner Cresha, Gwen’s mother. I had no idea when Ed had last seen or spoken with Gwen. Gwen and I spoke all the time and I spoke to Ed a lot except for the last few weeks. After I talked to Cresh about Ed’s response to hearing about Gwen, she told me Ed and Gwen had been dating for a couple of months. How could she forget to fill me in on something like my best friend is dating my daughter? I knew that Ed loved Gwen, but I didn’t know it was like that, dating. Even if Cresh or Ed never told me, I thought Gwen would tell me. Recently, we had been getting closer. Maybe that is what Ed was telling me in his crazy outburst. A confession of sorts. Regardless, this accident was not his fault. But the pregnancy was making a bit more sense now.

Reconciling the friendship, mentorship, and boyfriend status with Gwen was not sitting easily in my head. Ed would spend a lot of time with Gwen when she was a kid. He loved to tell stories to Gwen when she was a little girl. And Gwen loved Ed’s stories. Occasionally, when Ed and I got together, he would reminisce, talking about Gwen. Ed thought his time with Gwen was magical. In the military, as a civilian, with men, women, and children… Ed Dawes was well known for his stories and storytelling. On Wednesday afternoons, Ed would go to the local library and share a story by memory or read a book. Often, it was standing room only. We secretly admired him and loved his stories. I love his stories.

It was difficult for Ed to watch Gwen grow up. It was hell for me and Cresh, and for much of her life, I watched from afar. Ed witnessed and participated in Gwen becoming a woman. Ed started getting involved when Gwen entered into a secret love relationship with Arthur, her step-father. Soon after, she became a sex toy for ex-pats and sex tourists. Everyone used Gwen but she didn’t seem to care. At the time, Gwen was rather heavy and did not have good self-esteem. But Ed gently and patiently worked with Gwen. Gwen adored Ed and she knew that Ed cared about her, so she listened to his advice. Gwen believed him when he told her that she could do better. Ed was more than partially responsible for helping Gwen to think differently.

Ed has many sides to him, and this confuses me. For example, Ed is extremely religious, always talking about faith. I’m not religious. He would tell Gwen about how much our creator loved us. To me, it is weird stuff. But I don’t care about Ed’s religiosity. Ed and I are more than friends. Sometimes, like now, I start to think a bit differently. This accident is changing my thinking. Before, Ed and I just drank, talked shit, and did normal guy stuff. We have our relationship with Cresh too. Maybe we can talk about this religious stuff soon. But, for now, I don’t think I’m ready.

And there is another side to Ed. Ed has a belief in committed relationships and a faith that love always triumphs. That’s why we created a Club. We call it a club but this is not universal. We have membership criteria and a code of conduct so we call it a club. We don’t swap random women, but that’s what other people say about us. We have rules. We have a very tight circle of lovers and everyone knows everyone. We depend on each other and have committed relationships. We are honest with how we feel and what we do with our feelings… and especially, what we do with our bodies.

It’s funny. Our Club arrangement does not conflict with Ed’s religious views. Ed has faith in God and the angels that look over him and help him. When Gwen was acting confused as a teenager, he explained our way of life. Ed explained to Gwen about our way of thinking that allowed people to be in a committed relationship with all the people that they loved as long as there was commitment and honesty. That is the main rule. Some of us maintain an open relationship and have sex with others, but there are rules. You must have full disclosure before any activity, not just if a commitment is involved. You must let other partners know immediately if there is a sense of seriousness and partners have the right to meet prospective partners and discuss the Club. Partners may add their own stipulations. The rules come down to honesty and commitment and it has worked for us, … well, except for that asshole Arthur. But Gwen understands, last I heard, but now Gwen lay fighting for her life; Ed’s faith will be tested.

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