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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 17

One by one the upstairs tables began to empty as their denizens headed down below in anticipation of Cherry Nuk-Nuk taking the stage.

Father and his Serbian friend made out on the largely abandoned dancefloor and then retired to the bar to discuss how neither of them were homosexual. The Serb explained how he had always felt a great affection for his male friends and that, being European, he was less hesitant than most North Americans to express that affection. Father, for his part, confessed that he had been plagued throughout his life by a feeling that he was not sufficiently manly and he therefore sought a kind of masculine affirmation from his fellow men.

"Why should you feel unmasculine?" asked the Serb, waving for the Goan bartender's attention.

"I'm infertile," said Father -- simple words never uttered outside of a doctor's office or the marital bed. To speak them gave him a weird thrill. "I contracted mumps as a teenager and my testicles were damaged," he went on to explain. "I had to take hormone supplements in order to finish growing properly. But I always felt scrawny. I always felt like a boy."

"You're not scrawny now," the Serb pointed out.

The surly Goan brought them two more highballs. "I work hard on my body," said Father.

"It can be hard to know how to be a man in today's world," philosophized the Serb.

"I want to be somebody my kids can look up to," said Father.

"You're a good man."

"I'm trying to be."

"You're very sensitive."

"I owe it to my kids to care."

"Let's make the next round doubles."

"These are doubles."

"Let's get two at once, then."

"Yeah, alright."

Later on Father tried to get up to go the washroom but stumbled against the bar. The Serb propped him up against his shoulder and escorted him around the corner and into the men's room. They spilled into one another and ended up squeezed between two sinks. They kissed a bit, stubble against stubble, and then asked each other's names. "I'm Drago," said the Serb.

"Jules," said Jules.

Two white boys with rural hair sallied into the washroom then and, after taking one look at Drago and Jules in one another's arms, began talking loudly about how nobody had apprised of them of the fact that Coriander's catered to gays. "Goddamn faggots'r gettin' faggot germs on the sink, bra!" exclaimed one to the other theatrically.

"That's goddamn unsanitary, you dirty dogs," noted the second fellow. "I don't want no AIDS on my soap."

"Why don't you leave us alone?" said Drago quietly.

"Why don't you nail a pussy you goddamn degenerate?"

"Up yours," said Jules.

"Excuse me, queer?"

Jules clarified his position by putting the boy into a Half Nelson, spinning him into a Majistral Cradle, and then pounding his body against the tiled wall a couple of times. Without missing a beat his partner was twisted into a very slick Blizzard Suplex by Drago and then forced to the floor. Some pressure was applied to the boys limbs until their eyes watered and one of them began to moan plaintively.

"Get," commanded Jules crisply; "The hell. Out of here."

The boys fled, the door flapping violently back and forth in their wake. Jules and Drago cracked up laughing. They sat on the floor and howled. They gasped for breath and tried to recover but then made the mistake of looking at one another again and set off into fresh peals.

Then the door banged open again and one of the boys ran inside. He was carrying a beer bottle, and he struck Jules across the back of the head with every ounce of his farmboy strength. He ran away before Jules collapsed with a look of stunned curiosity half-bloomed on his slackening features.

He was bleeding, but not badly. It was suddenly very quiet.

Drago checked his companion's pulse and breathing, and then dragged him over to one side of the washroom rather than having him sprawled out in the middle of the grimy floor. He propped him up against the wall and dabbed at the wound at the back of his scalp with a folded compress of moist paper towel.

Then Drago checked his watch, stole Jules' wallet, and left.


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