Good Morning, Gabe Hager (Preface)

Gary C. Harrell
2 min readMay 4, 2023
[For visual purposes only]

[From the pages of the novel by Gary Harrell]

“So tell me about last Thursday, Gabriel. How was the service?”

Gabe noticed that his counselor’s eyes never left the notepad on his lap. The balding man in an ill-fitting coat and tie just kept writing, even after he asked the question. This was a common occurrence — and an annoying one, Gabe thought, much like being called by his given name. Hell, even his mother did not call him by his given name.

Tugging at his tattered baseball cap, Gabe jumped up from his chair across from the counselor. Then he pointed to the windows. “Hey, do you mind if I..?” The counselor nodded approvingly, and Gabe proceeded to open the blinds. “I don’t understand why you keep this office so dark.”

“Well, to be fair, it’s almost 7pm, sir,” the counselor replied.

“Yeah. I am sorry about that. The day was getting away from me — so much going on now — but I appreciate that you were able to reschedule for me.” For a moment, Gabe stared out of the window to the nearly empty parking lot below. Then he returned to his seat, backing his chair up a bit, just as a good measure of social distance. “I hope your wife isn’t going to be pissed that you’re working late.”

“Well, it is burgers-and-a-movie night with the kids,” the counselor stated, somewhat proudly, as he sat back.

“I did not know that you had kids.”

“Two. Morgan and Jamal.”

The counselor pointed to a framed photograph resting alongside books on a nearby credenza. In it stood a loving family of four — the counselor, his wife, and their two children, all locked in a group hug with wide smiles on their faces. Interestingly enough, the counselor’s silver inoculation bracelet was visible, attesting to just how recently the photograph was taken.

Of course, Gabe was curious about the young, black boy in the photograph. So, he simply asked, “Jamal?”

“His father and I were good friends. We played basketball together in college,” the counselor clarified. “He came to live with us, a few months ago, after the outbreak started. Both of his parents died early on, just days apart.”

Gabe lowered his head and toyed with his own inoculation bracelet. “That’s terrible.”

“So, Gabriel, are you going to continue to dodge my question?”

“I’m sorry. What was your question?”

“How was Chancey’s memorial service?”

With his head still lowered, Gabe sighed. He did not answer immediately. He was too embarrassed to do so. But, after he saw the counselor beginning to write again, he mustered up the courage to do so. “I… I didn’t go. I couldn’t go.”

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