Category Archives: Lit-erary

A Fairy-Bro Parent

Chapter One: The Fairy and His Bruh-dian

With his bride lost, his foe victorious and the stab in the back turned out to be counter-productive, Gaston the hunter was now Gaston the fallen. As he plummeted to the earth, his gratuitous amount of muscles sending him like a bullet through the mile-upon-mile long drop from the Beast’s castle, he watched helplessly as the ground came closer and closer to meet him. His body paralyzed from fear and his throat hoarse from screaming, all he could do was watch in horror for the crash.

But when he braced himself to be liquefied, he felt the wind passing through him stop. He felt his body grow numb. Was he dead?

He looked to the ground to see he had stopped falling.

What?

“Sup bro,” He heard a manly male voice speak up. Gaston lifted his head to see a man almost equal in size and muscle floating before him, his tiny wings flapping casually behind him. “How’s it going?”

Gaston stared at the magical fellow with disbelief. He was golden tan with luminously white teeth and recently cut brown hair. My god, he’s gorgeous, Gaston thought to himself.

“Thanks bro, really appreciate it.” The floating man said as he shot him a finger gun blast of gratitude.

Gaston gasped. “You read my thoughts?”

“Well, yeah. I can read your thoughts, I have all your memories, I even know how many girls you’ve given the old pickle tickle to.” The man replied, trying to sound casual but with his douchebag voice it only came out as arrogant. Not that Gaston minded. He responded well with other douchebags. “I’m your Fairy Bro-Parent…bro.”

Alarmed and confused by his frequent use of the term ‘bro’, Gaston asked,

“What the hell are you going on man?”

“What? You thought only ladies got their own fairy god parents? See that used to be the way of the world but then feminism was starting to get around and that put a bunch of man fairies, such as myself, out of business. So we got the union to back us up and now—ta da—the fairy bro parent was created.”

“Feminism?” Gaston echoed blankly. Then a thought came to his head and he said, understandingly, “Oh…I get it. See where I’m from, we just call that prostitution.”

“No bro, feminism is the belief that women should be given all the same rights that men would get and be seen as equals.”

“Who would ever think a thing like that?”

“Well. I think that way.” His Fairy Bro-Parent said matter-of-factly.

“YOU?” Gaston cried out, dismayed. “But you’re—you’re—so manly!”

“True dat my bro-son. But you know what some of the manliest men that ever manned the dawn of man were huge feminists.” The Fairy insisted.

Gaston was intrigued. “The manliest?”

The Fairy Bro-Parent gave him a wink, going on to say, “Yes bro. And that’s what I am here to do for you. We are going to turn back time, teach you how to respect women and in that process getting Belle to respect you and eventually want to marry you.”

While the prospect of not dying and getting to finally achieve his goal of plowing Belle like freshly fallen February snow every day for the rest of their married lives was tempting, Gaston couldn’t help be apprehensive.

“Why are you doing this for me?”

The Fairy Bro-Parent pushed his wings forward, gliding over to Gaston. Putting his arm on his shoulder, he said,

“For three reasons. One, I love your style.” (At this the two muscle men, made a Grecian-like pose to flex their muscles in solidarity) “Two, I know you’re not a bad guy. I mean, you do some bad guy things don’t get me wrong but you’re mostly just an ignorant, ignorant man. And while evil can’t be redeemed, ignorance can be taught.”

Gaston beamed proudly, misconstruing the word as a compliment.

“And three, there is nothing nobler than the pursuit for getting your dick wet.”

With that they high-fived and from the clap of their palms, a white flash of light produced, sending the two men far from the beast’s castle.

 

 

Chapter Two: Women’s Studies 101

When Gaston was finally aware of himself, he looked around to see that he was no longer falling—but instead in his own home.

“We’re—where—what…” He stammered, struggling to comprehend.

“We’re back in time, bro. This is exactly the day that you decided to marry Belle, therefore instituting the major flow of pig shit that followed that decision.” His Fairy explained with a sandwich in his hand.

“Oh perfect!” Gaston exclaimed as he headed towards the door. “I can start all over! I’ll do everything right this time! I know why she said no—the wedding procession wasn’t enough! If I can—”

Gaston was already at the front door, when his Fairy took one gigantic hand and slammed the door tight.

“No bro, no.” His Fairy commanded, as he coaxingly pushed him back into the living room.

“But—but—”

“Bro, calm your beautifully sculpted tits and sit down.” His Fairy commanded as he pushed him into a chair and walked in front of him, beside a chalk board that he had conjured up. Taking a bite of his steak sandwich, he began, “The reason Belle turned you down flatter than a stepped on pancake was because you did the douchiest thing a man can do and—” (taking a piece of chalk and scribbling on the board behind him, he wrote out one big word ‘ASSUMED’)

“Ass-umed?!” Gaston read incorrectly. “I never once tried putting my man hood in her…!”

“No! No! Assumed!” The Fairy interrupted, stressing the word. “You ASSUMED that she was already madly in love with you, you assumed she would be happier than all to be the mother of your brolic boys, you ASSUMED you would want to be married within seconds of being engaged and without her family present, without time to get excited. YOU ASSUMED BRO. AND ASSUMING is a no go.”

“Why would any of that be a bad thing to assume though?” Gaston inquired blankly. “That’s how my parents got married!”

“Yeah but your mom also lived with an abusive alcoholic father and it wasn’t your dad who said ‘hey let’s get married in two point five seconds’. Your mom made that decision!”

“My mom made a decision before?” Gaston nearly cried out, incredulously. “I never knew my mom could think.”

“Well, she didn’t do much of that after your folks got married but Belle isn’t like your mom. She’s not going to stop thinking once you two get married.”

“She’ll stop thinking once we get to the wedding night.” Gaston jested suggestively.

The Fairy paused before joining in on the creepy laughter and even went over to high-five Gaston again. But this time, when Gaston raised his hand, the Fairy didn’t make contact with his palm—he just smacked him upside the head.

“Lesson number two: Don’t make sexual advances without the women’s consent.” The Fairy declared as he scribbling the litany on the board. “That means: ‘no leering’ ‘no sex jokes, puns or innuendos’ unless it turns out she has that kind of sense of humor and isn’t offended by them, ‘no unwanted touching’ and, this is crucial, ‘NO MORE FORCING HER TO MARRY YOU’.”

Raising his hand, Gaston asked, “What does ‘consent’ mean?”

“Consent means she’s making it clear that she wants to have sex to you. And no, to answer your next question, you can’t just assume she’s making it clear. She has to either say it or make clear advances in getting your pants to be down.”

Raising his hand again, Gaston asked a more horrifying question: “Why?”

“Because doing what you keep trying to do, is BAD!” The Fairy Bro-Parent said, underlying that word intensely. “Very, very bad. In the future, they call what you do ‘attempted rape’.”

“And this ‘rape’ is…also bad?” Gaston asked, struggling.

“Very bad, bro. Very, very bad.” His Guy Guardian implored before an idea formed and he instructed his student, “Okay, I’ll give you an example why. Imagine the meanest, most violent man you’ve ever known.”

Sadly enough Gaston thought of his father.

“Okay, now imagine the guy walks into your bar one day and starts calling you out. He’s saying all these horrible things about your muscles not being muscular enough. He’s calling you a wimp. He’s just being a real asshole to you.”

Gaston gasped, clutching his triceps protectively. He then remembered who he was and began, “No one tells Gaston—”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He interrupted him, not about to listening to a grown man talk about himself in the third person. “No one tells Gaston—but this dude just did. And you know what, not only is this dude doing all that, he just so happens to fight dirty. So next thing you know, he’s overpowered you, you’re on the ground and you’re hurt but he doesn’t care—and you know what that psycho does next?”

Hanging onto the story as still as a dead dog, Gaston shook his head.

“He takes a nasty, smelly finger and shoves it up your butt hole.”

Immediately, Gaston felt a ghost pain shoot through his backside. He even flinched.

“I bet you’d feel pretty violated. Even humiliated.” The Fairy went on.

Gaston nodded his head fearfully.

“Well that happened to a women somewhere in the world—every day.” The Fairy said somberly. “And they don’t get one little finger and what they get is far, far more painful to deal with.”

“I would never humiliate Belle like that.” Gaston declared, his voice soft from genuineness. “The only thing I wanted to shove into her would make her happy.”

“Well, back when you were letting your downstairs private take command of your upstairs captain, that’s what you would have done to Belle if your plan had worked and she married you to save her father.” His Bruh-dian informed, his profound words lost in a gross sea of him eating with his mouth open.

Gaston, his taunt jaw slack, sat back bewildered but now aware. “Wow. Fairy Bro-Parent you just gave me a lot to think about.”

“Excellent my bro-son excellent. But I am afraid we have a lot more to cover and a lot more for you to think about if you are ever going to truly respect women.”

“How much more?” Gaston groaned.

“Well…We still got to discuss…” The Fairy Bro-Parent began mysteriously as he used his body to block what he was not writing on the board. Once he was done, he turned around and said dramatically, “‘The menstrual cycle’.”

“Oh I know about this already.” Gaston dismissed cockily. “You just don’t let them near bears and make sure you have more than one bed sheets.”

With that he was given a swift punch in the tricep as a response.

“OW!”

“Shut up and start taking some notes.” His Fairy Parent instructed as he took a huge bite out of his steak and egg sandwich.

“Can I have some of that?”

“Not until you can tell me where a woman belongs…AND DON’T SAY THE KITCHEN.”

“Um…the bedroom?” (This was received by two punches) “Ow!”

“Get a pen and some paper. We’re going to be here a while.”

 

Chapter Three: Enlightenment and Ignorance

After six hours of lecture, four hours of study, three hours of cry therapy with an hour for lunch and two hours for emergency exercising (Gaston feared he heard one of his muscles going into atrophy from learning so much), the Fairy Bro-Parent went onto the finally drill with his student on women:

“What is the most important thing a woman can ever hope to be?”

“Happy and healthy.” Gaston answered.

“How can we, as manly man, hope to help women obtain equality?”

“By giving them jobs, teaching the younger generations how to be self-sufficient and not objectifying them as sex objects and future mothers.”

The Fairy Bro-Parent poured a hard, determined look into his bruh-dian’s blue eyes. He got into the man’s face and demanded to know:

“If Belle bore you a daughter, what would you do?”

Nervous sweat began to pore from the man’s even skin as he practically shook in his seat, trying to think. Finally, he shouted out confidently:

“I WOULD LOVE HER AS I WOULD A SON!”

The Fairy Bro-Parent nodded his head in approval as he backed away from the man’s personal space. “Congratulations bro. You’ve passed the class.”

Gaston made a shrill, effeminate gasp of excitement before he leapt to his fee and proceeded to wrestle his Fairy Bro-Parent in a celebratory fashion. While he was trying to put him in a full-nelson, his Fairy Bro-Parent warned him,

“Bro, don’t get too excited. You passed the class but you still gotta pass the exam.”

“Exam?” Gaston cried out in alarm, leaving him vulnerable enough for his Bruh-dian to subdue him into an anaconda vice.

“Yeah! Now that you have all the ideas down, you gotta put them into practice.”

“How am I supposed to do that?” Gaston made out through strained grunts as blood rushed to his head and made him dizzy.

Relenting on his choke hold, his Fairy stuck his head in his face and said with a smile,

“By talking to Belle of course.”

Stepping outside for the first time in over a day, Gaston was immediately hit with the powerful yet nauseating sight of natural sunlight.

“Ah! It’s horrible!” Gaston cried out as he shielded his eyes.

“Yeah, being enlightened does that to you.” An invisible voice said with a laugh as they made their way out of his house and towards town. “Now, when we get to town, it’s very important that you remember I am an invisible spirit. You can’t talk to me or else people will think you’re crazy and, trust me, the ladies do not want to be dealing with crazy.”

“Makes sense. But what if I need help?”

“Bro, I’d never leave a fellow bro hanging like that. I’ll totally give you some whisper advice but I’m not gonna be telling you how to talk or act. That’s all on you.”

With that in mind, Gaston made it into town prepared to show off his new found mental awakening. Just as he arrived, the town was making their daily rounds. Stands were set up, products were presented for sale, parents were walking their children to school and the town was making their usual calumnious remarks about other people.

“Did you hear about Gaston?”

“Yes! I heard he hasn’t left his house in an entire day!”

“I wonder if it’s because that little fat kid that keeps following him is trying to turn him into a Sodomite.”

“I bet that’s the exact reason why—oh bonjour Gaston!”

Unaware of his sexuality being threatened, Gaston gave the townspeople a broad grin, feeling confident as ever that today would be the day that Belle would finally return his love. Or at least he was—

“GASTON!”

“Oh God.” Gaston moaned to himself as he watched his fat, stumpy sidekick LeFou charge after him like a dimwitted dog that smelled food being dropped on the ground.

“Hey bro. Not cool. That man worships you and he’s always there to lend a helping hand. The least you can do is be nice to him.” His Fairy Bro-Parent lectured sternly.

Seeing his point, Gaston swallowed the disgusting lump that LeFou usually caused his throat to make and gave him a warm welcome.

“Good morning LeFou.”

“Gaston!” LeFou said in-between pants. “Where have you been? It’s been almost a whole day since you’ve been at the Bar!” Taking him by the wrist he started pulling him along, urgently saying, “Come on we need some beer in you!”

“Calm down LeFou. I’m fine without beer.” Gaston said, yanking his arm back as he tried to ignore the shakes.

“Well, where have you been?” LeFou asked.

“Learn-ding LeFou. I have been learn-ding.” Gaston said with pride.

LeFou, a few eavesdropping townsfolk and even the stalking triplets all made a collective gasp.

“Wow, I didn’t think that many people listened to me when I spoke…” Gaston said, surprised.

“Gaston, th-that can’t be true! Say it isn’t so!” His pudgy friend nearly wailed, his body swaying to and fro as if he were to faint.

“LeFou don’t start doing that. People will think you have Yellow Fever…” Gaston warned quietly, looking around to make sure no glib gossipers were around, but as he was looking he spotted the one person who he’s been dying to talk to.

Even with all the knowledge of what had happened to him for pursuing her previously and the image of him hurtling to his splat-filled death fresh in his head, the feeling that bloomed inside him whenever he saw Belle hadn’t changed. He wanted nothing more than to be with her.

Leaving LeFou as if he were in a trance, Gaston walked up to the distracted Belle, greeting her, “Hello Belle.”

“Bonjour Gaston,” He heard her voice say politely as she continued to walk around him. But he stopped her by doing as he did before and taking her book from her.

“Gaston, can I have my book back?” She asked, slighted but still refined.

“Ask her what’s she’s reading?” The Bro Fairy whispered.

“What are you reading?” Gaston asked, examining the book.

This took Belle back for a second. “…It’s the Grimm’s Brothers Tales.”

“Is it good?”

“Is it good?”

Her two hazel eyes fluttered. “It’s the best. I’ve read it twice.”

“Wow.” He said, handing her back the book in the condition she had it before. “Twice? I can’t read a book once.”

A surprised chuckle sprang from Belle’s mouth which left them both surprised. Gaston had to stifle himself from thanking the Bro-Parent when he heard him whisper in his ear, “Good job bro.”

“You’d figure being a hunter you would be patient enough to read.” Belle surmised.

“Yes but usually you have bros or beers to keep you from getting bored out there.”

“Bros?” Belle echoed, blankly. “What’s a bro?”

“Um…um…” He started to panic. He just used a word he had no idea what the definition was.

“Bro is short for brother.” His Fairy explained quietly.

“Oh, bro is just short for brother. Yes, brother. Friends. Companions. Guys who aren’t really related to you.” Gaston rambled on nervously.

Belle furrowed her eyebrows. “You alright Gaston? You aren’t as…confident as you usually are.”

Gaston wanted to lie, (“What? No one’s more confident than Gaston!”) but his Bro-Parent sensed that coming and scolded him (“Bro, females are masters of emotions and you’re gonna try and lie to one about that?”)

So he finally admitted, “It has been a weird day for me…”

Bursting into the conversation, LeFou was quick to point out with a disparaging laugh,

“Yeah. He’s been “learning” lately.”

Feeling his bad temper start to boil inside him, Gaston was ready to raise one gigantic hand to cobbler the French out of LeFou when Belle’s magisterial voice rang up spritely,

“I thought you banned yourself from education.”

Stopping himself short in shock, Gaston looked up to see Belle’s face was filled with bemusement but curiosity. Regaining himself, Gaston replied,

“Well, you can’t be the same forever I guess now can we?”

Belle’s entire forehead wrinkled suspiciously at that answer. Already she distrusted his cocky attitude.

“What are you trying to be less ignorant about then, Gaston?” She said folding her arms across her chest.

“Um….” Gaston didn’t need to turn around to know the whole town was now focused on this conversation and were even holding their collective breaths in anticipation of the response. They all wanted a manly answer of learning how to wrestle a bear or 101 ways to blast your quads. But, the Bro-Fairy saw the desire to lie raising in his throat and he told Gaston,

“Bro, bro! Are you for real thinking about blowing all our hours of cry therapy to impress these assholes?! That is so UN-manly!”

It would be the beauty in Belle’s waiting face that made the impulse to lie lessen and while it didn’t take away the embarrassment, Gaston would regardless swallow down the falsehood and with a loud voice was able to say truthfully:

“I’ve taken up an interest in learning how to be an Equality Man.”

“Meaning what exactly?” Belle pressed on, unconvinced.

“Meaning—I support the idea that women are people too.”

Everyone went quiet having heard Gaston announce that. Then swiftly the townspeople gave their response to such a concept:

“BOOOOOOOOOO!”

“Oh great,” A man spoke to his friend loudly, “Another ‘Enlightenment Thinker’. And we just drove that Rousseau character out of town too.”

“YOU USED TO BE FUN GASTON!” Dick bellowed out.

“NO ONE SUCKS MORE THAN GASTON!” Stanley joined in.

The townsfolk started walking away from the pair, as if they’re higher thinking was transmittable.

“Ugh, where’s that Yellow Fever when you need it.” Sneered one of the interchangeable Silly Girls as they walked past Gaston with their noses in the air.

“Wow, you think the French would be more open-minded given the fact they legalized marrying a dead person.” The Fairy Bro-Parent remarked quietly (look it up readers!).

Belle, of course, would not succumb to irrationality but it did not mean what Gaston had said didn’t shock her any less. She stood in front of him, giving him the strangest look. He waited for her to speak like a farmer waits for cleansing spring rain. But her thoughts were cut short by the sound of an explosion going off in the near distance.

Without turning around, she knew it could only be her father and she was right. She spun around in a dash, ignoring the various voices of laughter coming from the relieved French people.

“Oh thank God! The world makes sense again!” They would cry.

As the town was able to regress back to their equilibrium, Gaston heard the Bro-Fairy say, “Congrats bro-sapien. You just made excellent process!”

“Process!” Gaston couldn’t help from blurt out. But once he heard his own voice, he looked around to see if anyone had noticed he was talking to himself. No one did. They were too busy pulling the baker out of his suicide oven (“DON’T DO IT JACQOUS!” “NO-O! THE WORLD’S NOT SAFE ANYMORE AND MY BREAD ISN’T THAWING!).

Softly he murmured, “You consider that process? What kind of fairy are you? I wanted her to be mine three hours ago.”

“Bro, last week if someone told her to have a two minute conversation with you, she would’ve choose staring at a solar eclipse, against all primal instincts telling her not to.” His Bro-Fairy explained. “Trust me, you’re doing way better than you did the first time.”

“But at this rate, it’ll take years for her to marry me. And I’m already 25. I only have ten more years.” Gaston mumbled, keeping an eye out for anybody who would gossip his way into an insane asylum (that’s how it worked back then people). “I mean, how can you be sure this will work?”

“Because I’m magic motherfucker, that’s why. Now either listen to my advice or I’m sending your ignorant ass back to free-falling.” The Fairy said impatiently.

Gaston gasped, offended. “You—you really need to stop cursing so much. And speaking in idioms.”

“Sorry Bro, out of line, I know. But here’s the deal. Wait about an hour, then go to Belle’s house and ask to borrow a dictionary.”

“A dicto-what?” His bro-son asked, alarmed.

“Wow you’re ignorant. Just did it okay?”

 

 

 

Chapter four: Entering the Old Regime

Doing as he was told, Gaston waited exactly an hour before trekking up to Belle’s house. Walking up to the well-sized home, he walked past her father’s horse, thinking nothing of the fact that he was set-up for riding.

He knocked on the door one and a half times before Belle flung the door open. She was wearing a hooded cape and looked distressed.

“Hello Belle,” Gaston said oblivious to her feelings. “Can I borrow your—” (looks at smudged writing on palm) “a ‘dick to Mary’ book? Apparently the word of the day is ‘ignorant’ and now I have to know what that means.”

“Gaston I don’t have time for this right now!” Belle said hurriedly as she made a dash down her front steps, straddling herself onto Philippe. “My father left earlier today and now—now his horse is here and I think he might be hurt!”

“Wait—wait—you’re going to go to the forest?!” Gaston shouted, jumping in front of the horse so she couldn’t leave.

“I never said he was in the forest…” Belle said, giving him a wary look.

“Well, obviously that’s where your horse lead him, if there’s twigs and mud stuck in his hooves.” Gaston recovered quickly, pointing to the evidence.

Looking down Belle saw he was right. But that didn’t matter. “Gaston get out of my way. I have to find him!” She pulled the reigns to veer left but he blocked that as well.

“You can’t go in there alone!”

“Why not?” Belle demanded, reproachfully. “Because I’m a female?”

“Well yes because you’re a female!” Gaston aver. “You’re a hundred pound female with no tracking skills, no weapons and no way to defend yourself! Let me come with you! I’ll grab my gun and we’ll be on our way in minutes.”

Belle’s face hardened. “No. You’re going to want to ride with me and that’ll be too much weight for Phillippe to carry when we find my papa.”

“I have my own horse, Belle.” Gaston retorted.

It was clear Belle was fighting internally at the idea, but her distrust of him was outweighed by her concern for her father. Finally, she sighed, commanding,

“Fine. Get your gun but hurry. I don’t know what happened but if he’s injur—”

She didn’t have time to finish, Gaston was already running at full speed back to his home.

His Bro-Parent, still invisible but present as ever, spoke in his ear smugly,

“Never doubt the power of a bro trying to help another bro get his lady-bro.”

Within minutes as he promised, Gaston returned with his jet black mustang, his musket slung over one shoulder and a bow and arrow of the other. Belle stared at the many weapons with mild terror.

“Do you really need all those?” Belle asked contemptuously.

Gaston grimaced. “Yes because a pack of wolves won’t think twice about turning you into dog food. So neither am I.”

While Belle would’ve loved to have said a smart comment about how he doesn’t think once let alone twice, she knew he was right. So she gave him the silent treatment instead as she veered Phillippe onto the trail path towards the woods. Gaston followed, enjoying the fact that he was behind her.

Neither of them spoke for miles as they followed Phillippe’s retracing. The night had already leaned in on the forest and gloom was settling down on them. Whenever Gaston was able to catch glimpses of Belle’s face he saw the gloom settled down on her fair features.

Finally they approached the gates to the Beast’s castle. Getting down from their horses, Belle tried to open the gates Gaston looked up at the mighty structure and the thought of what happen been buffeted his heart into palpitations.

Belle saw this tacit fear and, while she wanted to tease him for it, instead said,

“It’s probably abandoned.”

He knew otherwise but said nothing. Feeling his manhood at stake, he used his musket to push the gates open and lead the way. They kept a steady pace as they went up the bedaubed stairs and into the front entrance. Inside, Belle called out every few feet,

“Papa? Papa? Is anyone there?”

Trying to keep his fears in check, despite the certain tiny movements of the demon furniture that he was sure were leering over them, he focused on not puking and not losing his footing. Seeing a hallway that looked creepier than the rest of the hallways, he jerked his head in that direction. Belle nodded and they made their way down the stairs into a barely lit, stoned constructed stair well.

At last, they heard coughing that no doubt came from a sick gentile.

“Papa?”

“Belle?” A feeble voice croaked.

“Papa!” Belle cried out, making a dash from behind Gaston and over to the dungeon cell where she knew his voice came from. Gaston watched as she dropped to her knees and clutched for a pale hand covered in white hair tenderly.

“How did you find me?” Maurice asked fearfully, his eyes darting around the blackened room.

“Oh your hands are like ice! We have to get you out of here!”

“Belle you have to leave—” Maurice began but fell to a fit of coughs.

Feeling his skin itch from fear, Gaston went over to the dungeon cell and began trying to push and pull the cell open.

“Gaston?” Maurice called out in surprise. “Oh thank god! Someone with a gun! There’s a horrible monstrous—”

His words were cut off though by a low but murderous sounding growl. In an instant Gaston wiped around, his musket in hand, pointing straight into the darkness. The beast’s figure remained in the insensible shades, panting and snarling.

“What are you doing here?” It demanded, menacingly.

“Who’s there? Who are you?” Belle called out looking around for the monster.

“The master of this castle.” The beast answered, its footsteps heard moving from one corner to the next, still concealed by nothingness.

“Then you can give us the master key to release her father.” Gaston said heatedly, gripping his gun hard from tension.

“I will do no such thing. The man’s my prisoner.”

“Sir, sir, please, can’t you see he’s old and sick?” Belle pleaded.

“Then he shouldn’t have come here!” The Beast roared.

“What good it is to you if my father dies here?” Belle begged, her voice quaking from fear.

“Free meal for me.” The beast commented casually.

Making an audible gasp of disgust and fear, something in Belle snapped after that. She pushed Gaston with adrenaline strength and stole his weapon from him. Before he could even react she was able to take the gun, make her aim and send the trigger backwards. An ear-splitting BOOM came, signaling the cannon sized bullet had been shot. Milliseconds later, a dog-like squeal was heard. A low thud came out from the shades and they all knew that Belle had just killed the beast.

Never in his life had Gaston been both so horny and so scared.

“Belle…Was that your first time shooting a gun?” Maurice’s voice asked slowly, clearly reeling from shock.

She nodded mutely, disturbed by her own actions. Feeling the heaviest of the musket for the first time, she strained to hand the weapon back to Gaston. She avoided his gaze. Instead, she flung backwards and downward to her father’s level, holding his hands for comfort.

Unlike his daughter, Maurice was excited by the whole situation. “My daughter! Makes her first shot in the dark on a moving target with a gun that weighs forty pounds more than her! Ha ha! To this day Belle you are still my greatest invention!”

The sentimental father-daughter reunion was interrupted by a blinding light that came from where the Beast’s body surely laid. It came from nothing and only grow more illuminous. Within seconds it could have been brighter than a star. The three of them watched in horror as the bright light revealed the beast was none other than a buffalo, beast, cape-wearing-son-of-a bitch and they watched as that son of a bitch transformed in a bloodied, but oddly attractive corpse. During this transformation, the dark and dismal dungeons grew bright and comforting, turning the chains on the walls into decorations and the cell blocks dematerialized.

“What the—” Maurice began, as he regained his freedom but his daughter cut him off.

“And you wonder why I want to get the hell out of France.” Belle remarked as she helped her father to his feet.

“I thought you liked castles and slaying monsters and all that magical junk?” Gaston said teasingly as they made their way up the now marbleized and white stairwell.

“I wonder how good my aim is on two-hundred pound muscle heads who don’t know when to shut up?” Belle pondered aloud, causing Gaston quiet the hell up fast.

As they made their way upstairs, there was a great ruckus of sounds that were the undeniable hooting and hollering of the happy. Once they reached the first floor, they were nearly ambushed by a stampede of cheering men and women. Dressed in tailored clothes of various uniforms they were no doubt servants of this place. When they saw the three of them, all those who passed by would pat them on the back, thanking them profusely. One of portly man with brown curled hair and a pocket watch hanging from him, gave Gaston two big wet kisses on both cheeks.

“What’s going on?” Gaston demanded, pushing the man off of him.

“We’re free that’s what happened!” A man with sandy blonde hair carrying a scantily clad chambermaid who doused him with kisses in his arms informed with a promiscuous rumble in his throat. Before he ran out the front door, he turned to the trio and exclaimed, “Take whatever booty you can find! The Beast is finite!”

 

Chapter Five: Leaving the Old Regime

 

None of them took anything from the castle. The prospect of monetary gain didn’t appeal to any of them. The knowledge that there was a magical entity possessing the place just killed the appeal to taking crap from a castle. Plus, it kind of felt like adding insult to injury taking stuff from a guy they fired a giant bagel out of.

So the three of them saddled up, Belle and Maurice sharing Phillippe and Gaston riding alone and started back home. For a while there was only silence. But Maurice would be the first one to break the silence. Talking to Gaston he jested,

“And they say guns never solve anything.” (Take that liberal media)

Gaston and Maurice shared a small laugh.

“Seriously. Your daughter was the one who almost wouldn’t let me go because she didn’t see the need for guns. Yet little Belle with a Body Count got over that idea quick.” Gaston remarked.

At first Belle took that offensively (because Gaston’s douchebaggery could not be completely concealed to her sensibilities), but then she thought over what very well could have happened if she were to have gone alone and defenseless (if only she knew there was an entire movie on that very ‘what if’). With a sigh she confessed,

“I don’t know what happened back there. I…I just snapped. The idea that I could have lost you papa…it just made me—me-”

“Desperate?” Gaston estimated, reflecting on his own pseudo-memories.

She glanced over to him whose head was in a downcast pose from, what she had no idea to be, remorse and found herself touched by his empathy.

“Wow, first Belle becomes the hunter and Gaston becomes the thinker?” Maurice mused, good-naturedly. “You two must have gotten into some of that castle’s enchanted dust.”

(Phillippe, making an annoyed snort, says to Gaston’s horse: “God that was a terrible joke.” Gaston’s horse: “What do you expect? Humans would never be able to master the art of comedy like us equestrians.” Phillippe: “Ha ha ha, true dat do.” Gaston’s horse: “Ha ha ha…I’m still in love with you Phillippe.” Phillippe: “Oh crap not this again…” Gaston’s horse: “YES THIS CRAP AGAIN PHILLIPPE. I GAVE UP COMPETING IN THE KENTUCKY DERBY FOR YOU.” Phillippe: “I NEVER ASKED YOU TO DO THAT FOR ME, SUGAR CUBE!”)

Aware of how bad that joke was, Gaston chuckled politely anyway, thinking to himself, Wow Belle’s father isn’t crazy. He’s just old and bad at jokes. Just like my dad! Only not dead and not old and never happy with anything I’ve ever done ever.

Sandwiching his daughter’s hand in-between his own, Maurice gazed affectionately into Belle’s face and said gratefully,

“I want to say thank you for coming along to save me now Gaston.”

Gaston smiled. “You’re welcome.”

“Before Shooting Sally over here takes your position of best hunter in town and you regret ever doing such a noble thing.” Maurice added.

“Oh dear god no,” Belle implored vehemently. “I don’t like the way I feel after a shoot another creature. I’m never picking up a gun ever again.”

“Yeah, some people feel bad in the beginning when they start hunting…” Gaston said understandably.

“Bad? No, it was worse than that! I didn’t feel bad at all! I felt—I felt—strong.” Belle compelled, her voice distraught yet oddly satisfied. “Good god, I do think I got a little blood lusty back there.”

“Belle, sweetheart, you did the right thing. You were presented with a clear and present danger and you have the right to defend yourself when such an event occurs.” Maurice said with reason and reassurance. “There’s nothing wrong with you did. Right Gaston?”

Gaston was unable to answer that question right away from the fact that he was trying not to focus on the fact that he was sitting on top of his horse with a raging erection (Gaston’s Horse: “—AND ANOTHER THING PHILLIPPE! YOU PROMISED ME PARIS!” Phillippe: “WELL OBVIOUSLY THAT WAS A GODDAMN LIE IF I’M A HORSE SUGAR CUBE!” Gaston’s Horse: “WELL IF YOU KNOW IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN THAN WHY LIE ABOUT IT PHIL—EEP!” Phillippe: “What’s wrong Sugar Cube?” Gaston’s Horse: “THE GIANT ROCK MAN’S GOT A BONER AND I CAN FEEL IT RESTING ON MY BACK AND IT’S SO GROSS!” Phillippe: “HA HA HA HA HA!” Gaston’s Horse: “GO TO HELL PHILLIPPE!”)

“Um…yeah. Right. Of course.” Gaston said awkwardly, silently thanking the fact that it was dark out and street lights hadn’t been invented yet.

Thankfully, they were not five minutes away from the countryside which Belle and Maurice’s home was located so there was no need for more conversations for him to get unexpectedly aroused from. Once they arrived and he was safe to be seen, Gaston and Belle lifted the frail Maurice to the ground. Despite Belle’s slim figure, she was strong enough to support her father back into the home. Jogging ahead of them, Gaston reached the front door to open it for them.

When he was far enough, Maurice whispered to her daughter,

“You know, you never thanked him.”

“Well…I figured from you it would mean a lot more.” She lied without ease.

“Belle, you and I both know he didn’t do what he did for the sole purpose of being a good person. The very least you owe him a thank you.” Maurice murmured. Belle let out an irritated groan to which her father scolded in secret, “Hey your mother may have taught you how to read and how to write and how to cook and how to pay the tax collector but if it’s one thing that I’m pretty sure I’ve taught you it’s manners, young lady!”

“Fine, fine, fine.” She said in a hush as they approached the front steps.

They made their way inside the home to which Belle lead her father up more steps to the second floor.

“Do you need help?” Gaston asked from the front door.

“No, thank you.” Belle grunted as she and Maurice made it up one step at a time.

“That doesn’t count…” He heard Maurice’s voice whisper.

“Papa, please!” She demanded with frustration as she strained herself in struggle.

“Yes she would like your help Gaston!” Maurice said from over the railing.

“No I do not!” Belle denied but it was too late. Gaston was already up the stairs and had took Maurice from Belle, flinging him over his shoulder as if a sack of potatoes and sprinted up the steps with ease, leaving an exhausted Belle in the dust.

Grumbling to herself irritably, “If he thinks he’s getting a bed time story tonight…” Belle marched back downstairs and went into the kitchen to make herself some tea. She poured water into the kettle and lit the wooden stove. By the time she turned around to get her cup ready, Gaston was standing in the threshold. He was so wide he had to turn sideways to get in.

“Your father’s all set. He was barely able to keep his eyes open when he told me you didn’t have to read to him tonight.” He informed as he scuttled into the kitchen.

“Well, good.” Belle said turning her attention to the cupboards.

“Then…I…I’ll be on my way.” Gaston’s voice trailed off. “Good night Belle.”

Belle heard the affirmed sounds of his heavy footsteps leading towards the door. She bit her bottom lip before spinning around and following him.

“Thank you!” She blurted out in one breath forcing him to stop. Gaston turned around to see her lips were part to say, “Thank you. It’s a good thing you came tonight. Who knows what would have happened if you hadn’t.”

Actually he and a whole bunch of other people knew but that was beside the point. Gaston’s manly heart did kart wheels (manly kart wheels) at the fact that she wasn’t repulsed by him.

“Of course Belle,” Gaston replied in a tender tone. Taking a few steps forward, he took the tips of her first four fingers (because in his testosterone-fueled nightmare for hands he could have very well scattered her bones in trying to place them on top of her hand like what Maurice did) into his palm and said, “I know I am not your favorite person.” (Belle opened her mouth to protest but then she remembered how bad she was at lying and decided against it) “And why would I be? I’ve been an ass. A pig-headed ass who talks about himself in the third person too much. But I swear, I may not win you today or tomorrow, but I am never going to stop trying.”

At first, she thought how this couldn’t be genuine. That that speech was too smooth to have been from his own heart. Then she remembered how earlier he thought a dictionary was a book on being a dick to some lady named Mary and the impulse to reject him faded away. Looking up into his sky blue eyes, she saw effort staring back at her. It made her resting bitch face soften.

“Gaston, that’s probably the nicest thing anyone as ever said to me.” Belle said her voice heavy with awe. “I accept your challenge.”

“Meaning…?”

“Meaning so long as you try and so long as you don’t show up here one day with a wedding secession outside under the assumption I’ll marry you in an instant, I will give you the chance to win my love.”

“Ha, ha, ha, what kind of jerk would do such a thing like that…?” Gaston said, beginning to sweat nervously. “Ha…”

Belle gave him an enduring smile before she stood on her tiptoes and planted a chaste kiss on his muscular cheek. Gaston’s whole face glowed in warmth from such a kiss to the point where a huge cheesy grin spread across his face. It would have been a cherished moment—had Gaston not taken her entire body in his arms and pressed himself against her trying to steal more kisses.

Belle punched him in the chest, crying, “NO GASTON!”

“Sorry, sorry, sorry.” He said sheepishly as he put her back on the ground. “Sorry.”

“Damnit Gaston, that wasn’t three seconds!” Belle nearly shouted.

“I’m sorry! It’s just—you’re so beautiful and, god, today when you were talking about killing…” Gaston let out a lustful growl.

Belle let out an exasperated groan before marching to the door, opening it and with a wave of her hand commanding, “Leave.”

Defeated, Gaston left the residence humped over and disappointed. His back was barely out the door when Belle slammed it closed. Gaston made a heavy sigh as he plodded his way to his horse who was still quarreling with her ex-lover (Gaston’s horse: “I HOPE YOUR MANE FALLS OUT!” Phillippe: “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!”).

Back inside, Belle was standing around fuming when from the stairs she heard her father cry,

“What the hell Belle?”

She looked up to see him out of behind, standing over the railing, looking miffed.

“How long have you been…?”

“It doesn’t matter! You’ve been talking for years on how you want ‘adventure in the great wide somewhere’ and how you ‘want it more than you can tell’ but you just turned down the advances of the only guy in France who could very well do that for you!”

Belle baulked. “That man? That man isn’t otherworldly! He hasn’t experienced other cultures!”

“Are you kidding me?! Have you seen his tavern! He made an armchair out of a bison, which is native of the Americas. He has raccoons for slippers, which are native of the France/ German border AND he had an elephant tusk as a back scratcher which I’m sure you can guess where that was from! Face it Belle, you want adventure? You’re not going to get adventure married to some prince in some castle somewhere because he’s going to be too busy swearing off other principalities and assassination attempts to go anywhere. You’re going to have to marry money bags monsieur. ”

“Papa! That is the most superficial thing I’ve ever heard you said! What about marrying for love?” Belle argued, appalled.

“Oh Belle let’s face it. You’re an inventor’s daughter. If you marry for love, you’ll just be pigeonholing yourself to a life of borderline peasantry. You’ll never be able to travel because you’ll be too busy starving and toiling and you have an opportunity to not succumb to that life, Belle.” Seeing her face still stubbornly hard, he added, “Would it really be that terrible to be married to a man who can provide and at least tries to be the man of your dreams? Plus, let’s face it. He’s the only guy in town with all his teeth and cares about his hygiene. You could do a lot worse.”

Belle stood by vacillating, knowing that he was right but still stubbornly trying to stand by her convictions. After much mulling, she protested,

“No, no. I can’t. As much as I would kill to travel, if me and Gaston got married he’s going to want to—practice conception. And if I get pregnant than well, those dreams are pretty much dead.”

Maurice shook his head in laughter. Oh what a naïve child, he thought as he walked downstairs and over to his daughter.

“Belle, you’re going to be really grossed out hearing this from your elderly father but…let’s just say there’s a reason your mother and I only had one child…”

Back outside, Gaston hadn’t moved far. In fact, he walked over to his horse and fell listlessly face first into the ground, his massive body sending tiny tremors into the ground around him. He was depressed.

“Oh…No one fucks up like Gaston…” He moaned pitifully into the grass.

He hadn’t planned on moving for the rest of his life. In fact he planned on just lying there waiting until his body would be converted into the grass after a few minutes of self-loathing he heard a voice call out from behind him,

“Gaston?”

Recognizing that sweet voice anywhere, he pretended that he was merely doing push-ups, “One million and one, one million and two, one million and seventeen…” until the tiny sounds of footsteps coming out him made him “stop” and he pushed himself up so hard he landed on his feet perfectly.

“Oh hi there Belle—I was just—” But she ran right up to him, confronting him directly and demanded,

“Have you ever been to other countries?”

“What? Um, yes, yes I have.”

“How many?”

“Um…” He had to count. “Four, maybe?”

Belle blinked. “Four? Okay, here’s the deal. I’ll give you another chance—if and this is a big if—you take me with you somewhere.”

“Of course! Anywhere! Just pick a place and we’ll go there tomorrow!”

“Tomorrow?” She repeated, her voice soft with delight but then she shook her head remembering the business at hand and said, “Not so fast, we have to get to know each other if we’re going to be spending weeks on end traveling together.”

Oh crap, another drill exam, he thought to himself apprehensively.

“One, why exactly do you love me so much?”

That was easy. “Because you’re the most beautiful—”

“I know that Gaston. I know you think I’m beautiful and I know you find me attractive but people, men, don’t go around learning about feminism and fend off beasts to rescue their fathers and tell them they’ll never stop trying just because they-they want to…mate with them!” (Oh Belle, you’re so naïve) “So I need to know—why?”

“Because…” He began, feeling vulnerable and sappy and as unmanly as can be for even saying it, “I’m a hunter and I like things that keep me going. You keep me moving. You keep me on my toes. You challenge me Belle. And I love that about you.”

Belle felt like her soul was an oven after that minor speech. In less than an hour she heard two of the most profound and genuinely composed sentiments, far superior than anything Shakespeare or Spencer had created, and they were both from Gaston. Despite his flaws, how can you not be swooned?

With a coo, she went up to Gaston’s horse, who at this point was still berating her ex-lover (Gaston’s horse: “I HOPE YOUR MANE FALLS OUT!” Phillippe: “*Gasps* TAKE THAT BACK RIGHT NOW!”), lifted herself upon his steed, she looked down at him with a lopsided grin and asked,

“Wanna join me and go ask each other some more questions, Gaston?”

Gaston smiled, giving her a firm nod. He then pulled himself onto the same horse, wrapping his arms around her tiny waist and said,

“Of course.”

With that being said, Belle pulled on his horse’s reigns and they ran off into one of many nights that they would share together.

“Well…my work here is done.” The Fairy Bro-Parent determined as he watched the pair galloped away with a satisfied nod. Turning to no one in particular he made this decree: “And I hope all who have seen this tale unfold learn from Gaston. No lady-bro should ever settle for a bro who doesn’t try and who doesn’t respect her. But any bro who goes through life with understanding and with the effort to change, he will always be welcomed into the woman’s heart and, equally if not more importantly, her downstairs pleasure factory.”

So is the tale of how Gaston learned to be a feminist.

Anaranjado Pendejo

Anaranjado Pendejo (A Promise To The President)

 

Like flowers filled with smoke

Like a horse split to the bone

Like an inaugurated fear

Like a fire coming from an asunder roof that flattened me just as I thought I survived the hurricane

I am overwhelmed.

But I am with reckless fear

Because there are promises being oppressed and truths being squelched

And to bear witness without doing shit is like getting shot in the goddamn eye.

For those promises were not necessary

But they were sold like they were

And those promises were not exclusionary (you cannot pick who will and will not collect take up Your offers)

You cannot use them like fishing lures

And hook them into our cheeks until they tear and impale us onto a spear before you toss our worthless bones into the water

Keep goading us with the half you slain and blow the shavings of the ones you erased into our eyes

Watch—watch——as the Debt Collector comes—For they will—(Oh, they’ll come)—

Out of the very fucking Earth

And devour the gunpowder from the fire

And the bones from the blood

And your lies from your promises

And we the people with the will to be will see which of us will last

And which of us will melt like dirty March snow off of a sun-burnt cliff

Vidimose

He received a call. “Hussein speaking.”

It was the receptionist. “Hey Hussein the news dudes are here.”

Hussein jumped to his feet as soon as he put the landline back on its receiver and walked out of a door that read ‘Executive Director’ into an adjacent lobby. He swung his head around to avoid touching one of the two sky blue UN flags that cornered his office.

A spindly-twenty something with a cart full of electronics and a short-haired reporter stood in front of the barely attentive receptionist’s desk, already smiling at him.

He lumbered over, his left leg dead while his right hand shot right out to accept them. He spoke loudly; hearing loss yet another one of his war deformities. This one was easy to hide. With his thick accent, it just made him seem excitable.

They did their small talks. Eventually, the camera woman asked where the interview would be located.

“My office is right there, but it’s very cramped.”

“How ‘bout conference room one?” the reporter asked, having done a few interviews there before.

Hussein didn’t care, but he smiled as if he did. “Conference room one works.”

+

While the camera woman with the BMI of silly string set up, the reporter went over with him what to expect, what she’d ask, even suggested things to talk about. After that a light came on and the reporter read off-screen from the script:

“With the Arab Spring and the crisis in Syria approaching its fourth year, the rise of refugees in the world has grown astronomically and, in turn, so has the rise of anti-immigration rhetoric. Today we are here with Hussein Ostojic, the Executive Director at Uncanny’s Canning Factory, to discuss, not only the need to help but also to talk about how America was there when he was in need…

“Hussein, a Bosnian refugee himself, Hussein fled to Utica after Serbian armies and has since made great efforts to employee refuges within the community giving them jobs, 75% of which makes up his working staff…”

Drowning underneath the natural light, a ghost from within him bespoke in his ear and he was hearing that last sentence echoing again and again. In the back of his eyes, dusty, dreadful memories filtered in him like cheap cigarette smoke.

The reporter’s dulce voice simpered through this barrier though and he felt himself say, despite it all,

“I think it’s critical for our country to take in these refugees. You just don’t understand what kind of horrors they are running away from…Of course I speak from personal experience. I came to this country because of the war, because of the terror…”

This was, and still is, a semi-truth.

 

Bosnia—

 

In the interview he told one story. In his mind, he told a different story.

His mind was going over what had happened, as if he wasn’t there. About how during the war, there was no color. The theater of war had taken away all the blues and yellows from everything. Even the stars at night were eradicated. Everything was just gray. Shitty and gray.

While Hussein’s situation wasn’t any different in regards to loss, desperation and starvation, he wasn’t being outright persecuted. Not exactly. His neighbors and his friends, those were the ones being attacked and forced from generational homes. And they were being driven out by the hands of his father, who even in his mind his name he erased.

He was 20 during most of those atrocities but even then he understood the cruelties and the crimes that that man and his people were unleashing onto women, children and old friends. At some point, Hussein made a pact to do what God and the American armies weren’t going to do—he was going to kill the man.

Like in every war, there are the devastated then there are the pissed off and mad about it. The need for vendettas and vengeance were so common during that time that there was a whole pole for making such deviant advertisements (think Craiglist but instead of the anonymity of the internet, you have a pole in the middle of a half-leveled town).

Hussein stood in front of the Revenge Pole for three days. His proclamation attracted many (It was a simply read: ‘COFFEE, CASH OR BEER TO ANYONE WHO HELPS ME KILL MY DAD’). That is, until they asked who his dad was. After that the only offers his sign garnered were for getting his ass kicked.

At last, just when he was at his lowest, someone dumb and reckless came to his rescue.

His name was Admir Ludovic. He himself still on the ground, worn out from broken expectations and too many punches when this contemporary with curly hair and limpy gait strolled by.

Admir took one glance at Hussein’s disheveled state then to the simple sign that hung above him.

“So…Who’s the guy?”

Exhausted, Hussein said the name, already preparing himself for another beating. But that didn’t happen with Admir. Instead, his eyes were teeming with interest.

“That’s your dad?” He asked, aghast.

Hussein didn’t remember if he nodded or not but the gasp that tumbled out of Admir’s mouth was forever seared into his skull.

“No way! Your father killed my father!” Admir replied, a small smile splayed across his pale face, as if he just found out per chance that their fathers were once friends way back when.

Hussein never forgot how quickly they bonded over how badly they both wanted to kill his dad. He should have known back then that it wasn’t wise to forge friendships on such tumultuous connections. But he didn’t know back then. He thought this is how relationships formed during chaos. That in this world of blood and decimation it wasn’t odd to become friends with your assassin for hire.

A plan was forged. Unyielding hatred for his father didn’t prevent Hussein from knowing a great deal about him. He knew the little dictator’s habits, his favorites, even of his routines.

Their plan was set weeks after their first meeting. Hussein was going to ask his father to spend the day with him. He was going to liquor him up and drive him out to a medieval forest about thirty miles from his home. The rest was going to be up to Admir.

“A simple plan makes everything simple.” They reasoned the night before and they raised a glass at their own brilliance but while Hussein downed his drink he missed how Admir’s eyes and how they were drowning in complications.

The next afternoon, Hussein and the man went to the bar as planned. Hussein pretended to get drunk while the old monster really got drunk. The more he swigged, the louder he got and the more often his bumptious laughter crackled throughout the bar. To old menace, the sound of his own laughter was music but Hussein could see how the barmaid’s hands shake when she handed him a frothy drink. Or how the old drunk men who hadn’t moved from their designated stool in decades dipped out one by one with each guffaw. Or how the windows no longer showed passengers’ feet because his voice could be heard from the outside and it made the street they were on to become sparse. His laughter was paltry puissant and poisonous. It was all Hussein could do to not bash his bottle against the counter and tear his tongue out with the glass shards.

Finally, it was closing time and the old man was rightly smashed and Hussein became a designated walker for the old man to get into his car. Hussein didn’t complain though. It would be the last time this man would downgrade another person.

The drunk devil beside him slept as they headed south west instead of south.  Hussein smiled down every extra road he took that his passenger merely snored throughout.

Despite the rattles and constant lurches from poorly-handled car, he was able to make in half a mile inside the forest with the man beside him waking.

Eventually, he picked a spot and slapped the headlights dead. He turned off the car and stepped out into the black trees and star-raped skies. It wasn’t until he purposefully slammed the door shut that his father jerked awake.

“Where am I?” He must have said seeing unable to see where he was, unable to see the butt of a revolver slowly being raised outside of his window.

He’d notice it soon enough when the weapon would rap against his glass and a man on the other side would overpower his drunken ass forcing him to the ground.

Hussein didn’t remember much of their exchange. Just a lot of cursing and crying, mostly ‘shut the fuck up’s. He remembered Admir being decidedly dramatic about the whole thing, taking way longer than needed be. But he also remembered that it was a part of their pact: That Admir would get to do what he wanted and Hussein would get to watch.

Finally a gun was raised to the blithering blight’s head and Admir started taunting him.

“Hey. Hey.” Admir commanding, snapping his fingers at him like a dog owner, until his demand was met. The old man raised two sniveling, weeping eyes to him and that is when he saw, in the indomitable darkness, his son standing right behind him.

It was Hussein who had the voice that he’d heard last.

“Vidimose,” he sneered, vowing to see him soon.

A single round of thunder came.

The war lord was dead.

They left with his body unburied and to added humiliation shot of couple of rounds into his car for the hell of it. Admir wiped down the handle of his gun and heaved it over his head carelessly against one of the trees that concealed his deed.

They emerged from the woodland murderers. Happy, happy murderers.

Neither of them spoke again until they found security at Hussein’s home. Hussein tried to discuss payment but Admir, whose eyes were wet when he looked upon him, clasped his shoulder blades and said no to the money.

“Think of it,” he said with great emotion, “as an act of love.”

He interpreted that as an act of love for Bosnia and Hussein embraced him warmly. Hussein entered his home thinking he made a blood brother that night. Admir left thinking (knowing) he was in love.

Several weeks went by and the eventual news of his father’s death shocked the populous. But, not enough for a thorough investigation.

Both men were at Admir’s home listening to the radio report of how the police decided to blame it on the gypsies. Needless to say, they were overjoyed. In celebration they got liver-killing-drunk that night.

“To the gypsies!” Hussein remembering praising at some point with a raised glass. “God’s greatest scapegoat!”

He remembered saying that joke a hundred times before Admir said something about it.

“I think we should raise our glass to another cause this time.” He said half-slurring.

“I agree.” Hussein said before he straightened his elbow up and said, “To Admir. The best friend a man could ever ask!”

He remembered Admir staring at him, looking saturated with great feeling. He remembered the man hadn’t touched his glass after that. But Hussein was selfishly drunk and too obtuse to recognize his friend’s agony. It wasn’t until Admir spoke that he realized Admir wasn’t happy.

“I love you Hussein.”

Hussein knew what kind of love he meant instantly. Simply because there was no chuckle at the end, no merriment in his tone. He heard that kind before but out of unrequited lovers’ mouths. Out of silly, sad ladies maws, not out of a man’s.

Despite being drunk, there was still a fondness for his friend. A fondness that made him want to spare him from hurt. It was the reason he put down his drink first before he said to him,

“I’m sorry Admir. But I’m not gay.”

“Gay? Who said anything about gay?” He replied, a little forcefully. It was at this point that he slithered beside him. “Two good looking men like us…It wouldn’t be gay. It’d practically be art.”

Hussein tried to laugh but went on to rationalize with Admir:

“Admir, I’m married.”

“So am I.”

“I have kids.”

Admir grinned. “Two sons.”

His entire arm was hanging off of his shoulder by then. His eyes inches from his own. He could feel his breath. It was the first time in his life that a grown man had made him feel uncomfortable.

“Admir, no.”

Strangely, the ‘no’ had no effect. Admir didn’t relent. He didn’t respect his decision. He laughed.

“Now you’re starting to sound like a woman.”

Hussein remembered feeling like a woman in that moment. He remembered a very real fear seizing over him. A primal fear where even the body, the core of yourself, knows there’s a very real danger emanating. Hussein remembered a very conscious voice telling him, either run or be raped.

He pushed Admir off of him and made a hasty retreat but the man with the limp was surprisingly fast and somehow his drunkenness overpowered Admir’s disability. He remembered furtive hands reaching for what they shouldn’t have. He remembered piercing panic. He remembered the freezing fear. He remembered how hard he headbutted the fucker as just to get those hands away from him. It worked for a second until Admir recovered fast enough to punch Hussein in the mouth. He remembered being shocked by how fast so much blood poured into his mouth. It was then that Admir’s hands went from wanting his pants straight to his throat and Admir started squeezing so hard that he was screaming.

But Hussein held his breath, he swallowed what little air he could, and he took his aim.

He spat the tooth straight directly into Admir’s mouth.

Instantly, Admir started choking. His face and his eyes were turning red. He gulped for air like a lung cancer victim. It was then that Hussein used all his strength to push Admir off of him. He scrambled to his feet, raising one leg and kicked him once in his bad leg.

Admir dropped to the floor fast, face-first. Another man’s tooth rolled out of his mouth and onto the floorboard.

Hussein stood over him, a trail of blood streaming out of his mouth and nose, his front tooth gone but his victory conclusive.

Hussein wanted to curse him. To beat him lifeless. To scream out at him the betray that he felt eat away at his insides. But with all the Epinephrine surging through his body he physically couldn’t stand there any longer. He merely picked up his tooth and ran out of the front door.

He could heard Admir’s voice screaming at him from the front door, two words over and over at him in cruel taunting (“Vidimose Hussein! Vidimose Hussein…!”) Hussein refused to look at the man. He remembered being proud of himself for keeping his head straight and maintaining stamina despite the drunkenness. But for also running in spite of his heavy bleeding, his heart wrought with betrayal and disgust at having found out someone he valued saw him as something to fuck…

Somehow Hussein was able to run the entire night without his body failing and he managed to make it a mile from his home. In his mind he saw himself barging into their home, shaking his family awake and getting them moving when—CHABLAM—his foot lost the ultimate game of minesweeper and he was sent skyrocketing into the colorless sky like in a cartoon.

He woke up in a temporary Red Cross shelter on a refugee island off the coast of Croatia. He found out later that if it wasn’t for a nearby farmer catching his chickens pecking at a disembodied leg, he would be dead.

Just like that, he was resettled and with less than what he started.

 

Utica—

 

“And…that’s it!” announced the camera woman.

Hussein clapped when it was over. The reporter shook his hand.

“Thanks,” he replied awash with relief. “I was so nervous.”

“Really? You’ve ever done an interview before?” the reporter asked.

“No,” he said laughing. “I’m too shy usually.”

“Oh stop!”

“No, I am!” He argued, laughing. “I feel like I am so bad with words.”

The reporter smiled with sincerity. “You did great. Besides, this is just a PBS branch-off. Nobody watches are stuff.”

“It’s true.” The camera woman interjected. “We get less viewers than those Spanish soap-operas that only run at 3am.”

Hussein smiled, thanked them both, shook both their hands and then excused himself to return to work.

Assholish afflatuses aside, he walked away from conference room one satisfied.

 

Syracuse, New York—

 

In a tan-and-salmon house, a woman named Ilma sat on her veranda scrolling through Facebooks on her iPad.

She scrolled past news reels of bombings, mass-murders, endless streams of the asinine controversy surrounding the 2016 election until she found clips of something less depressing.

After one titled ‘Boy Teaches Tiger How To Love Again’ presented a local segment. The words ‘refugee hiring refugees’ caught her attention and she was delighted after watching for a few seconds to see someone she once knew!

She paused the video and went into the house, calling out, “Honey! Come here, you have to see this!”

A pinched-up Bosnian voice greeted her from the living room, “What woman?”

“Look who it is!” she announced, handing over the electronic slab.

She watched the impatience fall from her husband’s eyes and reform into bulging bewilderment.

“Can you believe it, Admir?” She said, chuckling at the serendipity. “25 years you haven’t seen your best friend and here he was, an hour away, the whole time!”

Admir didn’t answer immediately, his tepid blue eyes focused hungrily on the 6×6 screen. Eventually though, he came to and his face was beaming.

She, understandably, misinterpreted its meaning.

A White Affair

 

Like every clichéd tragi-romance, we met at a bar.

It was Margarita Wednesdays over at Panzn’s and I was alone because my friend had cancelled last minute with some half-assed excuse (“My cat OD’d on Xanax again and now I gotta find a rehab that’ll take her insurance”). Not wanting to seem like I wasn’t the independent woman I made myself out to be, I went out.

The night was proving to be a dud because by eleven I was barely buzzed and I was getting pissed off watching the only bartender there shamelessly flirt with some bored-looking Latina at the end of the bar instead of paying attention to my money.

The worst part is I would have continued to complain had the guy next to me not started snapping at the server and screaming.

“Hey! Assholio! You’ve been trying for ten minutes; she ain’t interested. Hey!”

His abrasiveness and impatient snapping garnered nothing. The bartender continued to ignore him and, by proxy, the rest of us drunks.

Inspired by his bumptiousness, I stepped on top of the metal pipe at the bottom of the counter, lifted myself up with the help of my heels and cried out in Spanish, “Ella es non va a joderte, pendejo (She’s not going to fuck you, fucker)!”

The woman he was harassing burst out laughing, effectively proving my point. Embarrassed, the bartender nearly ran away from the woman, towards us drunks and served a record-breaking number of margaritas.

The man next to me was speechless. Almost. “I have no idea what you just said but I can tell what swearing sounds like in other languages,” he said, audibly impressed.

I sipped on my liquored-up slurpie, letting off just a small smile but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t infatuated. He had light blue eyes, a chubby pair of lips and a voice that sounded like the heave and sigh that follows an orgasm.

“That?” I scoffed, when I finally let up for air. “That was kindergarten cursing. You should hear the guy who runs Karaoke night. He’s got a mouth that would make Castro cry like a little bitch.”

He laughed, which I knew he would because I’ve used that same joke on men before.

“You must come here a lot, then.”

“I live here. For six bucks I can eat like a king, drink like a fish, PLUS they got a pinball machine right outside the ladies bathroom.”

He chuckled this time. “Man, you make this place sound like paradise. I always drove by and just thought it was some crap shack bar that codes never got around to shutting down.”

“You talk shit but what made you come, then?”

“Eh.” He cocked his head back to a table out to the left, past the main support beam that took up ten percent of the dance floor and an oil painting replica of Las Meninas, to where a handful of white guys in collared shirts sat around laughing at nothing. “Some guy at work’s last day. He wanted cheap booze and burritos so we took him here.”

I turn my head to look at the table just so I can lure him into looking at my side profile and my sexy-as-hell collarbones. In the corner of my eye I sensed a lingering glance, but when I turn my head back I pretend as if I didn’t almost catch him objectifying me. He’s merely smiling.

I smile back. “Shouldn’t you be going back to your office party?”

He lets out a laugh/scoff combination. “I did my time. If I wanted to be socially obligated into buying someone a shit-ton of drinks, I’d rather it be you.”

Damn… That was smooth. Even if that was a ready-to-go pickup line at least it had a little bit of social commentary attached to it. Looking back on it, maybe that’s where he tricked me. Then again it could have been that voice or the eyes or the way he called that asshole bartender ‘assholio’. I don’t know anymore what worked on me. All I remember is when I said next:

“Hey, I don’t like getting stuff for free.” (Which is probably the biggest lie I’ve ever told someone; I love getting stuff for free) “So why don’t you buy me a couple drinks and I’ll teach you how to curse out Señor Puta over there?”

There was something odd in the way he looked at me after I said I didn’t like handouts that I wish I would’ve caught onto. But I didn’t. Instead I watched his eyes grow soft and I watched his hand stretch out to shake mine.

“Deal.”

I don’t know what propelled me to give him my full name but I did. “I’m Jeanette, by the way. Jeanette Sobriquet.”

He gave me a wolfish smile. “I knew you were a gringo.” (I shoulda corrected his ass and told him ‘it’s gringa’; alas, what life doesn’t beget regret?) “James Woods.”

I made a face which he, needless to say, expected.

“No relation.”

I shrug, bending my face down to reach my straw to a drink that was by then just a watery tequila pond. “Too bad. I guess I’ll just have to get drunk with a hot stranger instead of a hot celebrity’s kid now.”

James gives me another wolf-like grin and I wish I could have told you that was when I figured out his secret, that I smelled it right then and there and bolted out of that seedy little Mexican-styled bar. But I didn’t. I did the exact opposite. I got moderately drunk off three pomegranate margaritas, verbally abused a twenty-two-year-old bartender for my own amusement, and then went back to James Woods’ house where we feverishly fucked until 4:30 in the morning.

I wish I knew back then what I know now. But I didn’t. Which is why my shitty story goes on.

+

A couple days pass and it’s the morning after we just spent another (sexy) night together. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, staring at my phone, scrolling through news, memes and adorable baby animal videos. James is beside me, doing the same thing. It was a peaceful moment.

James’ laughter was the first to break this moment. At first I didn’t think anything of it until my left eye got nosy and travelled west to see what he was laughing at. It was a Fox News segment. The very sight of which made my chest and my uterus seize and burn. But I kept positive.

“Whatchu watchin’?” I inquired, impersonating mild curiosity.

“Oh,” he said laughing, “just this news reel from yesterday. Check it out. Clinton’s trying to blame the FBI director for losing the election.” He maneuvers his phone for my vision’s benefit but it doesn’t matter because he’s talking over the anchors anyway. “What a cunt. She rigged the primaries, fucked up Benghazi; she literally gets away with murder but she’ll still have the nerve to go on TV.”

I make a small laugh but I’m holding back my disappointment. I can’t believe I’m screwing a conservative.

At first I tried to dismiss this newfound fact. It’s whatever, so what, we differ in politics? Politics is just a one-dimensional view of a person’s personality; a benign trait no more interesting or revealing than announcing your zodiac sign. It’s not as if politics is an indicator of a person’s world views or personal beliefs…

My thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. James stopped what he was doing to go answer it. It’s the UPS guy and James is audibly excited to see him. He comes back to the kitchen table with a package in his hands and it barely touches the table before he’s using his car keys to slice open the top flaps.

“Oh sweet!” he cries once the box is open.

I had no idea why he was so excited. It was just a pair of plain white, cheap-looking hotel slippers. The kind even I wouldn’t want for free. But then he turned them around for me to see. Embroidered on the toes. A single name. In black standard print.

Trump.

+

After I found out James Woods was a Trump supporter, I assumed I could change him. That our incredibly satisfying sex life would be enough to alter thirty-three years of independent thought creation.

I, in my dick-obsessed naivety, honestly believed I could convert his socially asserted white supremacy and time-test values into post-modern tolerance and intersectional feminism. If only we just fucked and talked long enough, that would cure him.

Alas… my optimism was short-sighted.

+

 

Three weeks into our relationship and we’re pulled up on the right-hand shoulder of Route 8 South and we’re going at it like two gay teens at a conversion therapy camp.

We’re in the backseat and I imagine now that the ferocity with which we were humping must have made my car look like a defected dryer from the outside, but that still didn’t stop me from being shocked at the sight and sound of an officer tapping his flashlight against my back window.

We froze mid-thrust and turned our heads to see a dark-brown face in a dark blue uniform blaring a horrible white light into the car.

I didn’t have a chance to get off (out) of James’ lap when he rolled down the window and said, without shame:

“Evening, Officer.”

I balked; I was horrified at being caught acting like a whore but it was all he could do not to high-five the dude.

“Good evening,” the officer replied, looking and sounding wholeheartedly unamused. “Who’s the owner of this vehicle?”

“Uh, mhm, I am.”

“Ma’am, you realize that the road shoulder is for emergency stops only?”

At this point I’m too mortified to make out anything intelligible but James has no problem speaking on my behalf.

“Ha, Officer, if we waited any longer this car would have looked like a crime scene.”

His face doesn’t change in the slightest at James’ crude joke but his tone got real strict when he said to him, “Sir, I was talking to the owner of the vehicle.”

At once, all at once, I watched from the corner of my eye as the mirth drained from James’ eyes and was abruptly replaced by an icy, unforgiving chill.

For a moment, James locked the officer into this new stare. But the officer was undaunted.

“License and registration, please.”

I did my best to stretch my shirt below my pelvis in order to reach forward into my glove compartment but James’ hands halted me, grabbing me by my hips, in order to keep me in place.

“What’s your problem?” he demands.

Excuse me?”

“James—” I began but he talks over me.

“Why are you turning this into a fucking big deal? You know we were just fucking. Now you’re going to run my girlfriend’s plates like she’s some fucking criminal?” (But I’m not a criminal and that was standard procedure. I try to tell him it’s no big deal but I’m talked over again) “We weren’t doing anything wrong.”

“You mean besides indecent exposure, commission of lewd acts, failure to cooperate with a police officer. Besides all that, yeah, you’re a regular Johnny Law.”

None of what he says fazes James. “Fuck off,” he hisses, unimpressed.

The officer gives him a hard look before the door clicks open and he orders him to step out of the car.

At this point I’ve shimmed myself from his lap and I’m trying to apologize on his behalf but James cuts me off, looks the officer dead in the eyes and tells him:

“The fuck I look like getting arrested by some big-lipped nigger.”

I feel the literal wind being stolen from me. It’s enough to make me clutch at my own throat. Whatever shame I felt earlier cannot compare to hearing him speak the unforgivable and, worst of all, explicitly to this man’s face.

But the officer’s expression doesn’t alter a bit and his voice isn’t any different when he pulls out his handcuffs and tells him, “You’re under arrest.”

I let out a sharp-pitched gasp but James scoffs at him, even as he’s pulled out of the car with no pants on. “For what? Calling you a dirty little spook? I can say whatever the fuck I want. First Amendment, right?”

“Free speech doesn’t cover hate speech,” he replies coldly, as the handcuffs are snapped onto James’ colorless wrists.

The officer is dragging him away, reciting his Miranda Rights along the way and that’s when the hatefulness gets louder. James’ voice sounds like a bat having a heart attack now. He’s screaming. I’m sobbing. I want to apologize, sincerely, deeply, mortally, say I’m sorry to the officer. I stick my head out the window, I’m babbling, I’m trying desperately to undo. But the officer doesn’t even look at me, doesn’t respond to me, and I’m certain James’ hate is drowning out my apologies. But when I try to get out of the car, the officer snaps his entire neck at me and cuts that shit down quickly:

“Ma’am! Do—not—step—out—of—the—vehicle! Do. NOT. Make me arrest you too!”

“Too?” I’m petrified by that word, by the implication of inclusiveness. “I’m—I’m not—” But I don’t finish what I want to say.

I’ll never forget the way the officer’s brown eyes were hard-pressed onto mine and within them I saw no sympathy for me. No warmth or optimism or fellowship. Because it didn’t matter if I had black friends or mixed relatives. It didn’t matter if I loved Toni Morrison. It didn’t matter if I voted for Bernie Sanders. And it sure as hell didn’t matter if I was just this embarrassed girlfriend of an ignorant man.

I was just a white woman unapologetically overlooking her boyfriend’s white supremacy just because his racist views had no consequences for me.

That officer doesn’t look at me again as he reaches in his car and pulls out a walkie-talkie to alert his coworkers. James continues to scream psychotically in the backseat, something about Trump, something about Africa, something about Benghazi… I couldn’t tell you what after that. Every sound that caught my attention just overwhelmed me with revulsion. I ended up just sitting there in the backseat, well after the patrol car peeled off and James was taken into custody.

I cried there on the shoulder of the road with no pants on for who knows how long. Because I was utterly disgusted with myself. Because, sure, I wasn’t okay with racism. But I was willing to fuck it.