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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 4

Twenty minutes later Mike was on reconnaissance. He told his parents he would request from the front desk an additional reading lamp to do his schoolwork by, which he did upon reaching the lobby. Afterward, however, he parked himself in front of a wall-sized map of the hotel's innards and set to studying the layout.

A white woman in a fancy suit with a hotel crest on the lapel wandered over and asked Mike if was lost. "No," he said. She went away.

The Fairbrook Hotel housed many facilities including a sauna, a swimming pool, a sports bar, a karaoke bar, a business centre, a fitness centre, a luncheon cafeteria with both kosher and halal dishes, a teleconferencing room and a gift shop. Try as he might, Mike could find no listing for anything resembling a nightclub.

He looked around to find the lady with the crest on her lapel but she'd vanished. Instead he caught the eye of tired-looking black woman flopped out on one of the lobby's leather couches with her long, scabby legs sprawled out carelessly before her. "Hi," she said.

"Can you help me?"

She shrugged, chewing a lump of gum rhythmically. "You looking for a good time, honeypie?"

"Yes," said Mike, stepping closer. She smelled like rubbing alcohol, and when she crossed her legs he caught a bewildering whiff of tunafish. Mike pointed at the map. "I'm trying to find the nightclub."

"What nightclub?"

"Any nightclub. I thought there would be one in the hotel."

The woman stretched her bruised arms and cracked her thick knuckles. Her face was heavily painted, smeared around the lips. "You want to go dancing or something, baby?"

"Yes."

"What's your name, sugar?"

"Mike," said Mike.

"I'm Sapphire."

"It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Coriander's is down the block," she said, gesturing vaguely. "They got pretty girls in there, maybe you'll find yourself a girlfriend, Mike."

Mike blushed, and then two security guards with muttering walkie-talkies came and escorted Sapphire out of the lobby. Mike guessed that she must be an important person in order to warrant a security entourage. He waved and she waved back.


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