Thursday, February 18, 2016

Short Story Time - My Personal Hero

How about a short story this week. Here's one I wrote awhile ago. Might even have been published somewhere in a longer form. Hope you enjoy.

Whenever talk turns to superheroes, my mind never goes to comic book characters like Superman or Batman. I automatically think of Wesley DeVille. You see, he’s my own personal hero. He’s also a super guy, so that qualifies him as a superhero. He doesn’t fly or catch bullets in his teeth or a cut a fancy figure like Captain This or Super That. He’s just plain old Wes.
I met him five years ago at the Ram and Boar, one of Albuquerque’s gay bars, when I was twenty-one and cocky and going through my flaming gay period. Don’t get me wrong! I don’t have anything against Auntie Gertrude behavior, but it wasn’t me … not the real me. It was just a phase that didn’t last long.
I was sitting at a corner table with a couple of friends when he filled the doorway for a moment before moving into the bar. At first, I took him for a politician because of the way he worked the room. At the time, I wasn’t impressed by anything except the size of the guy. I’m a shade under six feet, and he towered over me by four or five inches. I couldn’t help but admire the bulky shoulders and corded arms. His heavy, flat pecs looked like they should throw him off balance, especially since his torso quickly tapered to nice, trim hips and a bubble butt. Above the neck he was wholesome, pug-nosed, and freckled. But I’d never considered Mr. Universe types to be sexually attractive.
“Now that’s something to see!” Dave observed worshipfully. Dave was probably my closest friend at the University of New Mexico.
“If you like brick outhouses,” I came back, a little surprised at my own caustic tone. “Who is he?”
“Name’s Wes DeVille. He works construction. He’s an engineer or a foreman or something like that.” 
I shook my head. “Engineer? Hell, he can’t be any older than we are.”
“Twenty-four,” Gracie, the girl sitting with us, said. “Six-five, fifty-four-inch chest, thirty-two at the waist, and thirty-five at those dreamy hips. Oh, and two-twenty-five packed pounds.”
Dave and I looked at her in amazement. “How do you know all of that?” we demanded in unison.
“We had our own Mr. Gay contest in here a couple of months back. I got to see all that glorious flesh covered only by a skimpy scrap of cloth. He won—hands down.”
 “So what did he win?” I asked.
“A crisp, new hundred-dollar bill. He turned around and spent the whole thing buying everyone drinks. Oh, my,” Gracie panted, putting a hand to her bosom. “Here he comes. If he speaks to me, I’ll just faint.”
But she didn’t. She merely blushed when he called her by name and grasped her dainty hand in his. After fumbling around a bit, Gracie remembered to introduce us.
“This is Dave Deaver. He’s a transfer from New Mexico State this semester.” She turned to me, “And this other dude is Alan Schalk.”
“Uncertain servant,” Wes responded, apropos of nothing.
“Sorry. I’m into names. Alan’s Celtic for uncertain. And Shalk is German for a man who works for another—a servant. That doesn’t describe you to me.”
“Uh, what should my name be?”
“Maybe Jonathan for God-given and Saroyan.”
“Which is?” I prompted.
“Armenian for mountain prince.”
I blushed as I blurted, “I’m pre-law.”
“Good for you. The brotherhood needs good lawyers.”
“Uh, I guess so.” Being a gay rights lawyer was a new concept for me. I was more attuned to piling up loads of filthy lucre and establishing a power base for something or the other—I hadn’t decided what as yet.
Wes asked to join us and pulled up a chair next to mine. The magnetism of his presence drew a few others to our table. Wes held court for the next hour, buying a round of drinks, talking with everyone, giving equal time to each, and discussing whatever subject that arose on equal footing—nothing condescending about this guy
 Deep into that enchanted evening, a sudden commotion at the door drew our attention. A young man reeled into the room, gave an exhausted gasp, and collapsed in the vestibule. The room fell quiet, and then everyone made a dash for the figure lying on the floor. It was evident he had just suffered a beating. Cries of shock and anger and anguish filled the big room.
“Damn!” Wes swore loudly. “They’re at it again.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he tore out the door.
“Who’s at what?” I asked Gracie, aware of the look of fear on her face.
“Gay bashers!” she shrieked. “They’ve been hanging around the sweet bars and beating up the guys as they come and go.”
“I’m gonna go check things out,” I said, trying to sound braver than I felt.
UNM’s main campus was only a few blocks down Central Avenue, and many of the guys walked back and forth. About a block down the street, I saw three college students headed for the U with Wes trailing along about fifty feet behind them. Just east of the campus there’ a small police substation made out of a converted diner on a small triangle of land. It is closed at night, but still it was a police station.
And that’s where the gang of gay-haters launched their attack. Four figures suddenly bolted from cars parked on the north side of the station and quickly bore down on the three college students.
If I had not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed a man of Wes’s size could move so quickly. He took two running steps, three bounding leaps, and landed on the back of a buzz-cut hood preparing to slam a ball bat against the head of his victim. Instead, the gangster slid face-down across ten feet of concrete and banged, head-first into the building.
Wes didn’t waste time waiting to see what happened to the thug. He swiped one of the other attackers off the back of another victim and turned to meet the other two as they shifted their attention to him.
Wes seemed to grow before my very eyes. He towered above the others, causing them to falter a moment. A mistake. He plowed into them, sweeping them off the sidewalk and dumping them into the street. Central Avenue  is Albuquerque’s main east-west drag, and the two had to scramble to get out of the way of onrushing traffic. Pausing only to grab their two fallen fellows, they limped across the street to their cars. Wes chose not to pursue them, but I saw his eyes locking onto the license plates of the two vehicles racing up Monte Vista.
The whole thing had been surrealistic. Not a word had been spoken. It was as if a reel of a silent film had played out before me. The traffic on Central hadn’t even slowed. It was as if nothing extraordinary had taken place on that cool autumn night. But it had! I witnessed it.
And big, hulking Wes DeVille had instantly become my personal hero.
Well, that’s it for this week. Hope you got a little enjoyment out of the post. You keep on reading, and I’ll keep on writing.

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