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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 8

Three Inuit roadies worked in casual concert to ferry metal-edged boxes of sound equipment through the back door, joined on their final trip by Mike whose Asian features and humble height satisfied the bored Filipino bouncer as just Inuit enough to ignore. Nobody said anything until Mike and the Inuit on the other side of the box they were carrying between them looked at one another as they let go of the metal handles and straightened. "Hey, thanks," said the Inuit.

"No problem," said Mike.

The Inuit looked awkward. "Are you with Lorenzo?"

Mike interrupted him to ask where the washroom was. The chubbiest roadie explained something in a throaty, clicking mumble to the tallest roadie, who said in turn, "My brother says the way lies down, and then around a corner."

The chubby roadie pointed to a flight of concrete steps.

At the bottom of the steps Mike found an ill-lit corridor with walls stained in floral blobs and streaks of mould. He followed the corridor around a ninety-degree bend and came to three unmarked doors. Investigation revealed a broom closet and a boiler room with old condoms on the floor before Mike came upon a decrepit water closet with a yellow toilet filled with something that looked like corn flakes.

Seeing no alternative, Mike peed on the corn flakes.

In the wake of relief came a new sensitivity to his perceptions: as Mike repackaged his willy he became aware of the steady throb of music coming from upstairs. He had at first mistaken it for the hammering of his heart. He next became aware of the smell of the tiny, grimy washroom and realized that it was putrid.

He was trying to formulate the best way to advance his plan when he heard the sound of approaching Inuit voices. There was a closet in the washroom so Mike opened it, revealing cartons of toilet tissue and a metal ladder leading up through a darkened aperture. As the voices drew near he grabbed the rungs and hauled himself up into the shadows.

He found himself in a second closet, surrounded by bottles of soap interspersed with mousetraps. Through the aperture below he heard the Inuit roadies joking with one another while they took a turn peeing on the corn flakes. Mike carefully shuffled away from the ladder and approached the closed door of the vestibule, pressing his ear against the cool wood. Silence. Tentatively he pushed at the door and it swung open freely.

Mike emerged into a second washroom, more spacious than the first, illuminated principally by strips of buzzing purple neon under the counters. It smelled like cigarettes and skunk, which was a welcome change. The steady pulse of the music was louder here, more insistent. Mike quailed. The beat felt angry to him -- unwelcoming, challenging, bigger than Mike.

His nerve failed him again so he went into one of the stalls and sat on the closed toilet, wondering what to do. How deeply into the nightclub did he need to penetrate in order to feel that his mission had been fulfilled? Already he felt a certain triumph at his act of subterfuge in slipping in with the Inuit roadies, and already he felt a real apprehension to push his luck further. What if he were caught? Was what he was doing illegal? He had been thinking of the consequences in terms of being grounded, but now wondered whether the stakes were higher.

Under the looming throb of the angry music outside of the washroom, Mike felt pinned.


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