“You sure you won’t stay a little longer, Johnny?” Joanne DeSoto stood in the doorway of the house, her husband Roy standing beside her with his arm around her waist.
“Nah, I’ve been hanging around all day. Time I went home, let you guys have some privacy.” John Gage smiled, waved goodnight and walked to his Rover, parked at the curb.
Johnny climbed into his car, looking back at his partner and his wife. There was a warm glow of light from inside the house. He watched as Roy and Joanne kissed before closing the door and shutting off the light.
Sighing, Johnny started the engine and began the drive home. Home to what, he wondered. There was no one waiting for him, no gentle voice asking him how his day went, no rambunctious children wanting his attention, no loving arms to hold him when the day went wrong.
There was an empty apartment, not even an animal to greet him. It was great at the age of 22. It was okay at the age of 26. But it was depressing at the age of 30. Where had the time flown? Where was the one woman who would love him for what he was, accept him for all his faults? Where was his Joanne?
Chet Kelly, his long time rival with women, had a steady girlfriend, a sweet and shy librarian of all things. Marco Lopez was engaged to marry a feisty chef. Even Mike Stoker, Station 51’s quiet engineer, was married now with a baby on the way. Captain Stanley and Roy DeSoto had both been happily married for years. Even the Walking Rule Book had a steady girlfriend. Only John Gage was flying solo.
Johnny, unable to face his lonely place, drove to the beach. The sound and sight of the waves always served to calm him. With a full moon they would be glowing. He found a place to park and climbed out of the Rover, dragging his heavy jacket out of the back seat and shrugging into it. He knew he would need it soon enough. He hoisted himself onto the hood, leaning back against the windshield.
He took stock of his life. What did he really have to show for his time on the planet? His possessions were few, his bank account was modest. Who would really mourn him when he died? His family were all gone, even his aunt who had raised him. His only real family was the men of Station 51.
Once he would have been able to call the single guys of the crew up to join him for a drink. No more. His station mates, his friends, all had obligations, people to answer to. Only John Gage was free of entanglements.
Johnny knew he’d be feeling better tomorrow when his shift started, but tonight he simply felt…alone and very lonely. As the sky darkened over the ocean, revealing the far off lights of passing boats, he huddled into the warmth of the leather and fleece coat. The night air was cool, but an unusual warm front kept it from being uncomfortably cold.
Johnny thought about the evening he had spent with his partner and best friend. He had watched the loving glances between Roy and Joanne, the gentle touches that spoke of years together, of friendship and love. He always had envied Roy and his life. Now Johnny was jealous of all the men he worked with. It wasn’t pretty, but it was honest.
The self pity began to slip away as he was soothed by the gentle breeze caressing his skin. He breathed in deeply, enjoying the tang of salt spray and far off fires from beach picnickers. With each deeply held breath, he could feel the tension easing. Who knows, he thought, maybe tomorrow would be the day he meet the lady of his dreams. Johnny leaned his head back against the glass and stared up at the stars, slowly lulled to sleep by the soft swish of the waves.