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Night Flight Mike
A novelette from Cheeseburger Brown
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Night Flight Mike, a novelette by Cheeseburger Brown, illustration by Matthew Hemming

CHAPTER 14

Fifteen minutes of waiting at the downstairs bar cost Father two highballs and a shouted but friendly conversation about which nationality naturally bred the best football players, with Father coming down on the side of Ghana and his new friend voting for Serbia. His new friend was Serbian.

"Do you enjoy dancing?" he asked Father. Their elbows were touching on the bar as they watched the TV screen behind the bartender. The bartender was a skinny Goan in a yellow toque. The Goan hated football. He was purposefully slow to serve anyone who looked like they were interested in the TV. He was watching Father and the Serb out of the corner of his eye.

"I'm waiting for my wife," explained Father.

The Serb cocked his head. "We'll be right over there. She'll see you easy."

"Let's have one more drink," suggested Father.

Suddenly the bartender was no longer looking at them but instead at the space over their heads, and Father had to wave broadly to recapture his attention. He made a sign for "two more" and then turned back to his new friend. The Serb was looking at Father look at him, a little smile playing over his thin lips. "You're in good shape," he said.

"Nah," said Father.

"You were a bodybuilder?"

"I used to wrestle in college."

"Isn't that interesting? I was also wrestling in school."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yes, but not for many years. Ten, fifteen years ago. In Belgrade. Do you still work out?"

"When I can."

"It's important to take care of the body."

"It is," agreed Father earnestly.

The Serb asked the bartender what the hold up was and then the men received their fresh drinks. Then they started talking about wrestling moves, and somewhere in there Father ended up in a headlock. "You're fast!" he panted, his face squished into the Serb's ribs.

"Yes," agreed the Serb, releasing him.

"Another round," called Father, tasting the Serb's sweat on his lips.


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