Thursday, March 5, 2020

My Personal Hero (A Short Story) blog post #379

Albuquerque Police Substation at UNM
Courtesy of
I wrote the following short story back in the days when the language was daring. Today, not so much so. In fact, it’s probably tame. It’s a little long for a post but too short of a two-parter, so stick with me to the end, okay?

Whenever talk turns to superheroes, my mind never goes to the comic book characters Superman or Batman or Captain Marvel. 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 super-guy-hero. He doesn’t fly or catch bullets in his teeth. He doesn’t have a fancy appellation like Captain This or Super That. He’s just plain old Wes.
I met him five years ago when I was a twenty-year-old, cocky University of New Mexico undergraduate having a beer in the Ram and Boar, one of Albuquerque’s gay bars. I remember that day clearly. I was sitting at a corner table with a couple of friends when he filled the doorway for a moment before moving into the bistro. My eyes, and just about everyone else’s followed him as he worked the room like a politician.
“Now that’s something to see!” Dave observed in a worshipful tone. Dave was probably my closest friend at the University of New Mexico.
“If you like brick shit houses,” I came back, a little surprised by my caustic tone.
Gracie, the Hispanic transgender sitting with us, simpered. “Give me a shit house like that anytime, anywhere!”
“Do you really think he’s sexy?”
“Alan, sweetie! That man’s a walking, talking sex drive.”
“You ever been with him?” Dave asked.
A heavy, dramatic sigh. ‘I wish! But I can dream, can’t I?”
“Who is he?” I asked.
“Name’s Wes DeVille. He works construction. He’s an engineer or a foreman or something like that.”
“Engineer?” Dave shook his head. “Hell, he can’t be any older than we are.”
“Twenty-two,” Gracie said. “Six-five, fifty-four-inch chest, thirty-two at the waist, and thirty-five at those dreamy hips. Two-twenty-five pounds of pure man.”
Dave and I spoke in unison. “How do you know that?”
“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 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 die.”
But she didn’t. She merely blushed when he called her by name and grasped her dainty hand.
The guy was exceptional. He looked as good up close as he did from across the room, and the profile was as arresting as the frontal view. After fumbling around a bit, Gracie remembered to introduce us.
“This is Dave Deaver. He’s a transfer from New Mexico State this semester.”
“Hi, Dave. Wes DeVille.”
Gracie indicated me. “And this is Alan Shalk.”
“Uncertain servant,” Wes responded.
“Huh?” I said.
“Sorry. I’m into names. Origins, meanings, things like that. 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.”
“What should my name be?”
“Maybe Jonathan for God-given and Saroyan.”
“Which is?” I prompted.
“Armenian for mountain prince.”
My cheeks burned as I blurted the first thing I thought of. “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.
The next thing I became aware of was my hand lost in his. I’m damned near six feet and pumped reasonably well, but all I could think of was that the guy’s mitt would completely engulf my best erection. And with that thought I began to get one. I glanced up into those blue, guileless eyes and was lost: taken, enamored, enslaved… a new experience for me. To date, I’d been more or less buttoned down. I hadn’t even been to a gay bar before Dave talked me into coming with him tonight.
The god-like creature pulled up a chair next to mine, and the magnetism of his presence drew 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 with his conversation mate. There was 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 and collapsed in the vestibule. Curses of shock and anger and anguish filled the big room as several moved to help the injured man.
“Damn!” Wes swore loudly. “They’re at it again.” Without a moment’s hesitation, he tore out the door followed by a few of the bolder patrons.
“Who’s at what?” I asked Gracie, aware of the look of fear on her face.
“Gay bashers! They’ve been hanging around the sweet bars and beating up the guys as they come and go.”
“So call the police,” I suggested.
“Where’d you say you were from, honey?” Gracie asked me in a dead serious tone.
I immediately thought of my own small-town police force and its reaction to the beating of a “queer” by some regular citizens.
Gracie arched an eyebrow. “They’ll get involved when he gets to the hospital, anyway. Shameful! Hank was such a pretty man. And now look. They went and broke his nose.”
As friends helped the unfortunate young man to a chair, Wes and the three men who had gone with him returned, shaking their heads. “They bugged out. Bastards!”
It took awhile for the excited buzz to settle down, and for the patrons of the Ram and Boar to pick up the evening where they had left off. Eventually, I felt the need to empty my bladder and announced the fact to the table, hoping Wes would join me and stand at the urinal next to me while … well, while I made a fool of myself, most likely. But he didn’t. I almost snickered aloud with the mental image of the entire table crowding into the men’s room if he had seen fit to join me.
When I returned from the john, disappointment left me weak-kneed. The giant Adonis was gone, as were most of those who had crowded around our table. Only Dave and Gracie remained.
“Where’s … uh, everybody?”
“He’s gone,” Gracie said with a touch of green in her tone.
Dave was more understanding. “Some of the guys wanted to go back to campus, so he walked them back.”
UNM’s main campus was only a few blocks down Central Avenue, and many of the guys walked back and forth. Apparently, Wes had decided to provide protection.
“How long have they been gone?” I asked.
“Just left,” Dave said with a grin. He read me loud and clear.
“Catch you guys later.” I tossed the words over my shoulder and bolted before either decided to come along.
The group of three college students with Wes tagging along a distance behind had reached the end of the block. Perfect. I could join him and have a moment alone.
Just east of the campus stands a small police substation made from a converted diner on a little triangle of land. It’s closed at night, and that’s where the gang of gay haters chose to attack. Four figures bolted from cars parked on the north side of the station and bore down on the three college students. Wes, still on the corner east of the others, apparently was not noticed.
I had opened my mouth to cry a warning when Wes moved. 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 police building. Wes swiped one of the other attackers off the back of a victim and turned to meet the other two as they shifted their attention to him.
Something extraordinary was happening. Wes seemed to grow before my very eyes. He towered above the others, causing them to falter. 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, but I saw his quick eyes locking onto the license plates of the two vehicles that screeched away down Monte Vista.
I stopped running and stood with my mouth agape. The whole thing had been surrealistic. Not a word was spoken. Like a reel of a silent film, the whole tableau was soundless except for the scuffling of feet, grunts of pain, the thud of flesh striking flesh. 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. Wes DeVille’s strength, agility, and fearlessness alone made it noteworthy. The senseless malevolence of toughs bent on physically harming others made it extraordinary. My reaction to it all—a throbbing arousal—made it monumental.

Alan is obviously smitten. Did the fact that Wes chose to join Alan’s table at the Ram and Boar mean he’s interested? Alan seems uncertain and unsure of his true nature; Wes, confident. Can you imagine what it would be like if they got together? That’s an ending for you to write.

Until next week.

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