It was late night conversation time on the back patio where all their friends would spend their final hours together, entertaining each other in the final minutes before sunrise, before they’d all eventually crash out. Like always, it was a time for discussing ideas and plans, however far-fetched and ridiculous those may be. They would sit around pushing the limits of each other’s wasted, half awake minds. This place had always been a spot for free form conversation, a place where some of them let they’re most random and original thoughts come to form…
Their friend Gabe then took one of these conversations, and brought it into new, unprecedented territory.
No one could anticipate what was brewing around the table that night.
“There should be like, a new form of sex act thats like a non-infedelity way of doing it.” Gabe drunkenly spewed to his surrounding friends. Slumped down in his chair, he just rambled out the thought carelessly. “Like if you got caught doing this thing by your spouse or significant other, they’d be like, whatever. But still it feels super good and is satisfying.”
“I don’t think such a thing is possible,” responded their friend Paul. He sitting proudly upright and was quick to reject what Gabe had said as preposterous.
“I kindly disagree.”
“Well what do you have so far?” asked Sammy, sitting in her plastic chair with her knees pulled in.
“Have you given this thought before?” asked Freddy.
“Not really. But I’m thinking, maybe there’s some sort of orgasmic pressure point that two “desirers” can simultaneously press on each other,” Gabe said with finger quotes
“You could be onto something,” said Karissa.
“Like really really rhythmic breathing — it has to be perfectly in sync,” she added, seeing potential in his idea.
“And what do you, a single man, plan to do with this?” Paul nagged once again. It bothered Gabe and a few others how serious and confrontational he was being about it. Gabe thought Paul seemed more sober than the rest of them, which was maybe why he was trying to apply rational thought to his silly idea. “What a fucking buzzkill,” he thought. “Get him a beer.”
But that didn’t stop Gabe from thinking about his idea.
“I think I might be onto something,” Gabe retorted with a smirk. “Maybe I’ll have to see what I can do with this.”
It was just a silly idea after all.
In a fit of boredom by the middle of the next week, Gabe began researching pressure points and coming up with a technique. It still remained a ridiculous idea to him, but it was an idea he found incredibly amusing. He then took things a step further and booked a conference room and began making fliers — for the fun of it. The plan was to either invite Paul to the meeting, or to take video of it and taunt him with it.
The fliers read:
Gabe thought it was vague, but that was the trick to grabbing people’s attention. The flier will put an idea in people’s minds, and after enough rumination, they’ll all be heading over to the Baxter Springs hotel for the group meeting, out of curiosity. It was an elaborate joke, but a hilarious one nonetheless.
In conference room 6, after dozens of locals showed up looking to learn a new trick, Gabe had no other choice but to go into showtime mode.
He called on Karissa to help him run it.
He thought she seemed supportive and equally amused that night on the patio; he figured he’d invite her to join him. She happily agreed. Karissa stood at the door and collected the ten bucks admission,while Gabe waited off to the side for the crowd to stop pouring in.
He then stepped up to the podium to greet everyone. He couldn’t believe it was happening.
After giving his introduction and letting everyone know who he was, and how everyone today would be participating in a new experiment, Gabe then began breaking down what the seminar was really about.
“Today is not about forming any sort of relationship with each other in this room,” Gabe politely instructed. “Today is about learning the practice, so that you can then take these techniques with you when you leave, and enjoy them out in the real world.”
“What we’re going to do now is choose a partner. If you want to just watch and learn, that’s fine. Whatever. You paid for it. But I want you to find a partner, and face them.”
People all around began walking around and pairing up. Some choose to just watch.
Gabe walked around to all the couples who were trying the technique, and helped guide them to the best of his ability.
“Am I pressing on the right spot?”
“Should I press here or here?”
“We’ve just been moving our hands all over each other and that seems to be pretty great too. Is this another way of doing it?”
Gabe was soon frustrated. Within minutes the joke dissipated, and he began viewing himself a bit more seriously. They weren’t getting the technique down; he wasn’t sure what some of his students were doing; it was extremely difficult for him to teach this many people at once.
That was until he spotted one pair that really seemed to have things down. Everything was mostly speculation to him at this point, but then he looked at these two partners, and knew it could be done.
“Everyone look over here. This is a perfect example. You guys are doing great,” he called out with great enthusiasm.
And the two partners seemed to be really really enjoying themselves as well. This brought great joy to Gabe. His idea was not only possible, but it was successful and certainly appreciated by at least two people. What an asshole Paul was, he thought. That would be the last time he crapped on any idea of his, he thought.
Gabe had a very strong sense of pride and accomplishment…for a few minutes. He then started to look around, and saw that some of the people who had nailed the technique, were now leaving his seminar together.
“Hold on! Hold on. It’s not over!” Gabe yelled to the couples’ turned backs as they made way for the exit. He had still scheduled in another 40 minutes for sharing experiences and other announcements.
But it turned out, Gabe’s idea wasn’t what he intended it to be—
A non-infedelity way of doing it? What wishful thinking that was. What he actually invented was just the most incredible foreplay ever. It increased sexual desire astronomically, but wasn’t satisfying. Those who were ashamed of their desires, who came looking to the seminar looking for a healthy outlet, because he swore there was one, were now in worse shape than ever before.
Minute by minute, more and more couples were giving into temptation, and were quietly sneaking out the back of the conference room. It quickly became a very sinful place, and it left Gabe in despair to realize that he was the cause of it all. He had brought them all together and introduced them to each other…
And showed them the technique.
“This wasn’t what I wanted?” he thought.
Gabe wanted to mock Paul with this seminar of his, but now, his videos and pictures were evidence to be hidden, possibly even destroyed. Karissa couldn’t contain her guilt for her participation in the event, and ended up confessing to their friends what they had done together.
“Why didn’t you tell me, I would’ve gone,” joked Freddy.
“Yeah, I would’ve checked it out,” joined Sammy.
“If the first was a success, we figured we would’ve,” Karissa said, staring at the floor, sick with guilt. “There were fliers everywhere, you could’ve gone…”
“Karissa, you helped plan this?” asked Paul, clearly disappointed.
“I thought it was funny. He asked if I’d help usher in people and collect money.”
“You’re the devil. Why would you do such a thing?” Paul cried out, staring at Gabe. “You’re not even a licensed psychologist or any sort of professional.”
“I said to you straight from the beginning. What business does a single man like yourself have mingling in this kind of stuff. It’s dark and twisted.”
To Paul, what he had done was terrible taboo, much like black magic or something.
But whatever, Gabe thought. He looked at Karissa and she sort of just shrugged. So they played with fire and it didn’t go well. He wasn’t going to host any more seminars, he concluded, that part of his life was behind him, forever.
But by this point, thinking he could just abandon it all, was his most unreasonable, unrealistic idea yet.
Gabe didn’t know who it was, or how they got that email. But he figured for people angry enough, if there’s a will there’s a way.
A week passed since the first meeting, and although Gabe didn’t show up, fans of his first seminar did, as well as plenty of new faces.
The fact that Gabe was nowhere to be found didn’t matter. A man named Lance claimed he knew the technique, and he could teach them. Lance was one of the few students who Gabe thought showed great promise during the first meeting, at the very beginning when things were going great and he didn’t know what would come of it. Lance had nailed the technique
And the crowd at the conference room, while at first standing around waiting for their instructor, eventually found that they had a Lance who could teach them. And he did. And out of respect and admiration for the man who had taught him. Lance gave credit to Gabe and his creation, both of which he considered to be genius.
In instructing, Lance would often refer to Gabe glowlingly, until his name became synonymous with the technique. Lance had the emphatic encouragement of an aerobic instructor, and with his instruction, the second seminar was even more sinful than the first.
“Am I doing the Gabe technique correctly?” one paired couple asked.
“Yeah, come check us out. Are we Gabeing the right way?” another couple laughed.
To Lance’s delight, most of the crowd in the room were newcomers. While some had seen the fliers that were still hanging around, some were recommended to the seminar by friends; it was a spot worth checking out if you wanted to meet someone.
Lance knew it was something big immediately. And was immediately transformed into not just a huge fan of the technique, but now a teacher and follower of it. He wanted to be involved in the seminars going forward, and also, wanted to know why Gabe was a no-show.
Lance talked around, and found out where Gabe lived, and then stopped by his place to talk serious business. Lance wanted to be let into Gabe’s house, but Gabe didn’t want him anywhere near him. And he certainly didn’t want to have anything to do with the seminars.
Shouting through the crack of his door, Gabe wanted the strange man off his porch.
“It’s all yours.You can have it. I don’t care. I want nothing to do with it.”
Gabe was more than willing to let it go. He just wanted to do it to say he could, and because it would be funny. And because it would frighten Paul. And also because he enjoyed making the fliers and setting up the event. It was all a huge lark.
But weeks went by, and the teachings of the technique were going strong. And reaching new territories.
And of all people, Paul was directly affected by the phenomenon Gabe had created.
Pounding on his front door in the middle of the night, Gabe woke up terrified, unable to predict who it could’ve been. If Lance could find him, he thought, who’s to say any other random stranger couldn’t also.
“My girlfriend! She was Gabeing!”
“Calm down. Calm down. Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding,” Gabe said, thinking he was being helpful.
“No it wasn’t! She admitted to it!” Paul’s face was all red and he had clearly been crying.
“Did it go any further?” Gabe asked, offering a comforting hand to his back, which Paul was too upset to reject.
“What’s it matter?” Paul wept out.
“Well with Gabeing, there is no full penetration. It’s not the real thing.”
Paul nodded in agreement, fair enough. But what it stands for, what it means. It still felt like it didn’t matter to him
“Did you ever talk about Gabeing with her?” Gabe asked inquisitively.
“Yes! I strictly told her to stay away from it!” Paul said, breaking out of his despair and turning it into anger.
“How could you do such a thing? Create such a…a monster!”
The spread of his creation became too much for Gabe, and he was desperately starting to try and absolve him of some of the responsibility as of recently. This wasn’t what he had wanted, it was never supposed to come to this.
“So it’s my fault!” Paul shouted. He couldn’t handle it, and had snapped.
“So you go and break up my relationship! I could’ve swore she was the one. You ruined my love life! And how many others too?”
A wrestling match broke out, and suddenly the two were tackling and spearing each other into the walls and furniture. It was destructive, knocking down a shelf, knocking over a table and breaking a lamp.
“Gabeing is a sin! I know it’s a sin! I knew it within the first twenty minutes of my own seminar.” Gabe broke down. He couldn’t run from this or ignore it. It was impossible. “I looked around that first day and said,”What am I doing here?””
“Well you should’ve walked out.”
“Within twenty five minutes I knew I had created a problem child,” he sobbed.
They had a few beers together as an apology to one another for their fight. There was no use fighting. Neither of them had the energy, and it wouldn’t solve anything. Everything had already gone to shit.
Tensions had calmed.
And after a few more drinks, they were getting personal and confessional.
“She was going to leave me anyway.” Paul lamented. “If she’s off Gabeing, she couldn’t have been too satisfied with me anyways.”
“I should have never invented Gabeing.”
“So what is the solution? How are you going to undo all of this?” Paul asked, staring down at his beer.
“I don’t know,” Gabe said. He pondered for a few seconds. He had thought about the question before, but he didn’t have any idea what to do. “Different pressure points maybe? A new technique?”
They both looked at each other and thought about it for a moment. Nah.
“I think the solution should involve people keeping their hands to themselves,” Paul added.
“So what do I do?”
They sat and wondered. Minutes passed. They both only drew blanks.
“I don’t know. Hopefully it’s just one of those phases.”
But as they sat and drank and finished their beers, neither knew what would happen, but we’re both equally horrified by the possibilities.
Weeks passed, and more reports of Gabeing kept popping up. They weren’t slowing down at all.
“If this becomes newsworthy enough, they’re going to trace it back to its roots. They’re going to come looking for you, Gabe,” Karissa texted him. She had been worried that her ties to the phenomenon would be discovered as well.
“What if Gabeing never stops?”
“Is there life after Gabeing? 25 minutes of a single seminar, the gross negligence and indifference not to shut down the following meetings, not to tear down the fliers…” Gabe mopped. He looked at Karissa with a deep sadness in his eyes, it felt as though his life was over.
“I fucking deserve all this. You know just how many homewreckers I helped create? I’m an arsonist and this is forest fire is all my doing.”
He was stressing out to the friend group and he was seeking advice. They all gathered round to discuss.
Freddy came up with what seemed like the most logical solution. “Don’t be Gabe anymore.”
“You mean like change my name?” Gabe responded, wondering if that was really the solution.
“Sooner or later, some investigative reporter is going to come knocking, looking for a Gabe,” Freddy said with a serious look on his face. “I suggest you don’t be a Gabe.”
All his friends looked at him, with expressions that suggested, “Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s time to change your name.”
But after a few days of tossing and turning, hearing constant news of the spreading trend, he needed more than counsel from just friends. He went to his parent’s house.
“Mom, dad, I need to tell you something,” he said to them, as they all sat down together in the living room.
“What is it son?” his father asked.
“You can tell us anything,” his mother added.
His parents were unsure of what was to come, but it seemed to be very serious. Their first thoughts were that perhaps he had bad news, like a bad diagnosis, or financial troubles, or something was eating him up in his personal life.
But Gabe couldn’t bring himself to say it, and instead, broke down in tears.
“What is it son?” his father said, with grave, fatherly concern.
It hurt his parents to see him like this.
“There’s a new trend going around. It seemed to be sweeping the globe, or at least it’s projected to,” he blurted out, and then followed with more sobs.
“I have had it suggested to me that I should change my name and leave town.”
“What? Why’s that?” his mother asked in a panic, she was as equally distressed as Gabe at this point.
“I’m such an idiot!”
“Gabeing?” his father said, all bewildered.
“I heard some ladies at the hairdresser talk about it. They were all discussing whether or not they’d be ok with their partners doing it, or whether it’s effective. Whether it’s technically not cheating, or not. They were furious about it. But some seemed curious about trying it, with their partners of course.”
“I know what Gabeing is.” his father said with a mile long stare. “But my son? My Gabe? He is the monster responsible for it? You’ve done this?”
Both Gabe’s parents were in shock and disbelief. Their entire world had been flipped.
“I think it’s wrong and sinful, myself. You don’t know how sorry I am.”
“And you’re the Gabe behind it all?” His father asked in his old and raspy voice. “My son? My Gabe?”
Gabe Junior thought about Gabe Senior, who gave him his name as a grand gesture of pride. When Gabe III’s mother was pregnant, Gabe Senior encouraged his son to pass the name down further, and he did so with great pride.
“Gabe III, what a marvelous boy. ” He remembered saying the day he was born, as he held him up at the hospital. Everything seemed possible at the time. They both believed one day their son, their own blood, could do something great in the world.
“Gabeing,” he repeated, still with that same stare.
“I don’t know what to do? What do I do?” Gabe III begged them. He didn’t know who else to turn to anymore, he was desperate and lost for options.
“Son…” his father spoke slowly.
“Yes dad,” he responded, with teary child-like eyes.
“You’ll always be my son.” Gabe Junior trembled out and then paused. “But I think it’s time you no longer call yourself a Gabe.”
“Well, what do you think my new name should be?” he asked in all earnest.
They shook their sunken heads, and then his own mother got up to show him the door.
After a few days, Gabe began filing the paperwork for a name change.
It was to be the start of a new beginning, and he was going to have to move away too, he knew.
He gathered the friend group around on the back patio for one last goodbye, and to introduce himself.
“My name is now Sawyer,” he said, with lips pressed together. It was official, a new era had begun.
There was silence all around the table. It felt terribly sad to say goodbye, but everyone knew it had to happen.
But not everyone wanted to part on a low note.
And they enjoyed their final moments together.
And then he left for good, packing all his belongings in his car, and hitting the road.
“Sawyering,” he said to himself in the car. “It’s when you’re no longer safebl being a Gabe.”
He drove out cross country to find himself, and to reinvent himself. In parking lots, dimly lit bars, bowling alley bathrooms, he was reminded of his past. Gabeing haunted even his new life too. It was unavoidable.
Sawyer resented when he thought about what he did to his family, and how there will now never be a Gabe IV. Until he thought…
There already is.
Gabe IV was his creation. He was the monster’s father. It, his problem child.
Shane Young was born and raised in New Jersey. He has been writing for over a decade. He has a blog at https://welcomeamnesiadotcom.wordpress.com is on Twitter @Shane91x