When Dennis Irvine finally arrives at the pearly gates, St. Peter tells him he's late. This is nothing new for Dennis, who's always had a poor sense of timekeeping. On being admitted into Heaven, Dennis is assigned to Brett, a handsome college football player, who will be his guide.
Heaven is not what Dennis expects. It's a college campus, Dennis sleeps in a dorm room with Brett, it's always football season, and why are there so many corners?
Dennis and Brett forge a close platonic father and son friendship as they both wait for their lovers to pass over.
Each time the Archangel Gabriel comes to tell them of new arrivals, Dennis hopes he'll have news of Colton, his beloved firefighter. But the wait is a long one.
"Colt? Colt?" Dennis called out. Everything around him was blackness. "Colt?" he asked again, but with less confidence.
Where the hell was he? Was he dead, was this Hell? Why did he think he was dead? He couldn't answer that. Maybe old Father Jenkins was right and homosexuals were cast into the flames of eternal damnation when they died. But if this was Hell, where were the flames, the red hot pitch forks, the screams ...? It wasn't hot like Hell, but wasn't cold either. Maybe seventy degrees. Hell was surely hotter than that.
Dennis stamped his foot. The ground -- or whatever it was -- felt solid. He bent down to feel. It was smooth, like stone or glass, but not cold. Sniffing, he couldn't detect any odors. Had he lost his sense of smell? Raising his right arm, he sniffed his pits.
"Yuck!" Nope, he hadn't lost his sense of smell.
So he could feel and smell. What was left? Taste. Dennis licked at his skin. Yep, he could add taste to the list. He'd heard himself when he spoke, so he added hearing, as well. He couldn't see, however. Was he blind? Dennis shuddered at that thought. "Come on, Colt, stop fuckin' around. Turn the lights back on!"
But Dennis didn't think Colt had been with him when ... when ... what was the last thing he'd been doing? Dennis sat down on a conveniently located stone, which was as black as everything else in this ... whatever it was. What was the last thing he could remember?
"Yes, of course!" Dennis shouted. Then, feeling bashful making so much noise in this ... wherever it was place, he continued in a lower voice. "I'd gone to Sears."
Colt had said they needed a new filter for the ice maker and Dennis had volunteered to go into town to get one. He didn't exactly have the best sense of direction in the world, however, and must have gotten turned around somewhere and had ended up in an unfamiliar part of town. Seeing a florist on the corner and remembering Colt's birthday was coming up, Dennis had decided to go inside to get some ideas about what to get his man for the big day. He'd told himself he'd ask for directions to the department store while he was in there.
The next thing Dennis remembered, he had been standing on the corner, a bouquet of lavender lilacs in his hand. He thought hard about what had happened then. Yes, he'd stepped off the curb. The lights hadn't been against him, had they? He remembered hearing a squeal of tires and a scream, but he didn't think it could have been him. He wasn't a screamer. Well ... he would admit to the occasional whimper when Colt's huge hose of a dick was doing what it did best.
Dennis rubbed his hands together; there were no flowers. "Where'd they go?"
He took his pulse -- yep, it was there. He wasn't dead. So where was he? After a while he got up from the rock and started walking. Where, he didn't know, but doing something was better than doing nothing, right?
Dennis lost all sense of time, not that he'd had a particularly firm grasp on it to start with. Once he had put something on the stove, then got distracted by one of his characters ... and the next thing he knew, the smoke detector was screaming at him and the fire department knocking on his door. That was how he'd met Colt. The man, all six feet four inches of amazingly strong, wide body, was standing on his stoop, hand raised to pound on the door again.
"Colt! Oh, God, I miss you. Where are you?" Dennis swallowed. "Where am I?"
The fire had quickly been extinguished, but Dennis's kitchen had been a wreck. Colton, in what Dennis would soon come to recognize as his take-charge voice, had told Dennis to stay out of the kitchen. He promised to be back at the end of his shift with take-out.
Even after the repairs had been completed -- by Colton in his off-duty hours -- they had continued to see each other regularly.
One day Colton had asked Dennis if he wanted to move in with him. Colt posed the question as more of a plea to save fire department resources; Colt could better keep an eye on Dennis if they were living under the same roof. Dennis hadn't been fooled. The two of them had enjoyed a strong connection from the start. Colton was a natural-born protector and leader, while Dennis felt most comfortable being protected and led.
Eventually, after more walking and a good deal more resting, Dennis saw a light up ahead. He wasn't blind! Dennis felt drawn to the light and, picking up speed, ran toward it.
"Whoa there, young man, what's the hurry?" a bearded old-timer asked.
"Oh, God!" Dennis panted, out of breath.
"No, not quite," the old man chuckled.
"No, I mean ..." Dennis swallowed. "St. Peter?" he asked, wiping his sweaty brow.
The man's lined face broke into a grin. "Right the second time. Did the pearly gates behind me give me away?"
Only then did Dennis notice the source of the light was a set of impossibly tall railings. "Uh, I guess."
St. Peter shook his head. "Mr. Irvine, I presume. We've been expecting you for some time. Did you get lost?"
Dennis nodded, embarrassment mixing with a depressing sense of finality. He really was dead ... for real.