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Of Cheeseburgers and Stolen Cars

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All I’d wanted was a cheeseburger. It hadn’t seemed like so much to ask. Just a nice, juicy heart-clogging cheeseburger, with bacon, and some judgment-free companionship. Lately it seemed that all the relationships in my life were so fraught with tension that I had been seriously considering chucking everything to become a GP in Alaska. Or possibly the Yukon. Pam, my ex, didn’t even have to speak anymore to reveal the depths of her disappointment in me, it seeped through every look she gave me and even managed to creep into the ringtone when she called. Then there was Quinn – with the flirting and the teasing banter and the beautiful smile – and yet I could see the reluctance in her eyes, and a hint of the future sadness for the time when I would stand her up for yet another surgery and she would finally close the door. My parents – don’t even get me started on that fiasco and the message on my voicemail that I would eventually have to get my sister to deal with for me. Even time with my son was stressful, as I found myself constantly worrying that Mac was comparing me to Jim – his incredibly bland but stable stepfather. Between that and wondering just what Pam was going to complain about this time – we were out too long, I shouldn’t take Mac to a place like that, why did I let Mac have a milk shake that late at night? It seemed like the only thing I could do right was repair people’s hearts.

Except today. Mr. McGuire’s was too damaged even for the great Dr. Bruce Kellerman. And after losing him, I went to my office to discover that Pam was taking Mac to Florida to visit her mother in two weeks – so much for the 49ers tickets I had in my wallet ready to spring on him on Friday. And so a cheeseburger seemed reasonable, with the one person I’d been able to spend time with lately with any sort of enjoyment.

I found Dr. Dalgety in the ER talking to a feisty Latina with gravity-defying…assets… and mentally kissed my dinner plans good-bye. Except Dalgety wasn’t talking so much as arguing, and she wasn’t so much falling for his quirky Scottish charm but rather abruptly leaving. Kellerman 1, Hot Chick zero.

Wending my way through the usual ER chaos, I reached Dr. Dalgety by the nurses’ station. “See if you can find me an address to go with this number,” he was saying to the ever-eager-to-please Nurse Whittaker, with a jab at the file in his hand. Girls always went for the accents. It was hardly fair. Nobody found the American accent irresistible.

“Yes, doctor,” she replied with a hopeful smile that seemed to melt into a leer at the last second.

“What was that about?” I asked, sidling up to the counter.

Dalgety scowled briefly. “Patient. Shortness of breath. Fatigue. Heart murmur. I tried to order an ultrasound, but she refused – said she had to get to work.” Kellerman studied his face briefly, and recognized that look. Dinner was obviously going to be delayed. Hot Chick 1, Kellerman hungry.

“So you want to take the ultrasound to her.”

Dalgety’s face remained serious, but his eyes told another story. “I’m surprised you would suggest such a thing, doctor. I distinctly heard Nurse Doctor Poole say such things were against hospital policy.”

“I think there’s an old portable unit down in the storeroom next to autopsy.”

“Why didn’t you say so before? Lead on, MacDuff!”

“You’re the Scotsman, not me…”

****
It was almost too easy. By the time Dalgety had finished his shift in Trauma, Nurse Doctor Poole had gone home for the day, and the only one around to care was old Nick, the security guard who had a key to room. I just told him that the unit was broken and I’d met someone who offered to fix it and I was going to see him that night, and that was that. Easy as pie. In retrospect, I should have remembered how many times my mother had tried to make a nice lemon meringue for my dad and ended up with a soupy, sticky mess instead.

And so we set off in the growing darkness for parts unknown. Which turned out, an hour and a half later, to be a dive just off Interstate 5 that looked like a cross between a hunting lodge and a crack house.

“And what exactly does this patient of yours do?”

Dalgety was looking around the parking lot critically, in a way that reminded me that he had spent time in a war zone. Seeming satisfied, he shrugged and headed toward the door. “She said it was in the service industry.” I snorted, pulling the ultrasound unit from the trunk. The blacked out windows and row of gleaming motorcycles near the back did not scream ‘waitress’ to me.

There were actually two doors, neither marked. Dalgety picked the one on the left. This proved to be a poor choice. Not because it led us to a room filled with drunken men sitting around a low stage, hooting and cheering for a nearly naked young man pretending to ride a horse to very loud, tooth-loosening music. It was only a poor choice because there were clearly no women here, especially a hot Latina with a possible valve leakage. A glance at Dalgety showed him unconcernedly consulting the bouncer. As I waited, a large man at one of the tables looked up at me. He had a salt-and-pepper mustache, a red bandana covering his head with a silver-gray braid that would have made Willie Nelson proud hanging over one shoulder. By the size of his belly I could tell the he enjoyed a good meal, unfortunately, right then he was looking at me like I was prime rib. I smiled my smug all-powerful-doctor smile and tried not to take a step back. I was not about to let myself be intimidated by someone who had probably not had a coherent thought since Woodstock.

“Come on, then, let’s go. She’s next door.” How Dalgety ignored the several sets of hungry eyes that were on him was beyond me.

“Don’t worry, Killer,” he said, pushing me ahead of him through the door. “I’ll defend your honor.”

“Ha ha,” I grumbled. Then my stomach did too. “I don’t care who is undressing me with their eyes as long as there is a cheeseburger involved.”

“Why Doctor Kellerman, you surprise me – I never would have pegged you for food play.”

Before I could respond, he’d put a companionable arm around my shoulder and ushered me into the equally non-descript door on the right.

****

There were no cheeseburgers in the right half of the building either, but there were peanuts, stale pretzels and a bevy of buxom babes. Of all sizes and colors. Including a hot-headed Hispanic woman who really shouldn’t have been doing some of those moves considering the condition she might be in. But I had to admit she had talent. And her “assets” were just as fine up close as they were across the ER waiting room.

By the time she was done proving that she was truly a Bad Mamma Jamma, I had seen quite a few pieces of anatomy that I hadn’t seen since my gynecology rotation, and was harder than a Denver football field in January. With mischievous eyes that showed no hint of blue balls, that bastard, Dalgety got us back to the dressing rooms without us getting kicked out, killed or arrested. The other ladies ate him right up, as usual, although I did get my fair share of enticing gropes before I settled down in the corner with the voluptuous Melissa for her echocardiogram. It was hard to tell, however, if our warm reception was for our looks or the promise of free health care. With my usual professionalism, I was able to switch from casual breast consumer to clinical chest examiner with ease. Or at least with only a few pangs of regret. Honestly, only a saint could lube up a beautiful woman’s chest in the middle of a strip club and be entirely unaffected. Still, once I could turn my gaze to the screen, I was fine.

“Classic mitral valve prolapse,” Dalgety pronounced, after escaping the clutches of a leggy blonde with chronic foot pain.

“I concur, Doctor.”

“Is that bad?” asked Melissa.

“In your case,” I was happy to report, “it is not severe. There is some medication you can take to help with the symptoms.” I was reaching for my prescription pad as I spoke, feeling happy that after such a crappy week, I could actually help someone as easily as this. “Most people can live with this condition without any problems. But keep an eye on it, and if the symptoms get any worse come back for another test.” She looked hesitant as she took the script from me.

“Don’t worry – it’s for a good generic. It won’t cost you more than an hour’s tips tops a month.” She smiled at that. I smiled back. Mission accomplished. Damsel rescued. Time for the cheeseburger.

Except at that moment an African-American Amazon with flaming red hair came in shouting “The cops are on the way,” and pandemonium broke loose.

There were shouts, and grabbing for clothes and purses, a certain amount of running to the toilets to flush contraband, and a general exodus out the back door. Dalgety just looked entertained, but I figured even he couldn’t charm his way out of this if Miss Pangborn had to bail him out of jail. Grabbing the gear and his arm I dragged him out back. Unfortunately our car was out front. A quick glance down the road revealed that the DEA would get there first.

“Shit,” I supplied helpfully.

“Don’t worry, Precious,” a smoke-tinged twangy voice said. “Y’all come with us. You let Reggie look after ya.” And before I knew it, I was on the back of a Harley, hugging the large man with a silver braid thwacking me in the face. As we headed off-road over land, he shouted “Hold me like you love me, or you’re gonna be road pizza in no time.” I’d seen enough organ donors with no helmets to know this was no idle threat, so I did my best to hold on tight without wedging my crotch up his ass, particularly since it had not fully subsided from its earlier activities. I didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. Not on the first date, at least.

A joyous whoop caught my ear and I looked over to see Dalgety riding behind a tall, black, bald man in leather studded pants and vest. Somehow they’d managed to get the ultrasound unit into the saddlebags, but it meant there wasn’t much room on the seat for the two of them. For some reason it bothered me to see them so close together. Or maybe it just bothered me that he was having fun and I was worried about falling off and dying. I couldn’t figure out when I’d turned into such an old man.

With a ball-crushing jolt, we were back on normal pavement, and our speed in increased, along with my visions of fractured skulls and brain death. After a few miles we pulled off the road and Reggie turned to look at me.

“So,” I said casually, “where are we headed?” I tried to think of how far we might be from a BART stop, or even a bus route. He gave me a full-toothed shark grin.

“Don’t worry, Beautiful, I’ll take care of you.” This was not the answer I was hoping for, but it was nice to know that someone cared about me.

“ You know I’m ah… not really interested. No offense. You are a fine specimen of a man...” I assured him. The shark looked amused.

“Don’t tell me you’re straight, honey. Every guy likes a blowjob – doesn’t matter where it comes from.”

“Ah, right, so I’ve heard, but, well…” A roaring engine came from behind, and Dalgety and his new pal pulled up on the gravel next to us. I looked over at the laughing Scotsman with a shrug that I hoped masked my desperation. “My buddy doesn’t like to share.”

“Ahhhhhh,” Reggie said, turning his predatory gaze on Dalgety, who sent me a look that said “I have no idea what you are doing, but I’ll go along with it” which is pretty much how these things usually start with us and why I had to admit at that point that he was pretty much my best friend in the whole world, even though we’d only known each other a few months.

Reggie laughed knowingly, then reached behind me, bringing his mouth disturbingly close to my ear. “You’ll have to give us a show, then,” he growled. Then he straightened, producing a helmet which he thrust into my chest. I smiled back as inoffensively as I could before slamming on my protective headgear.

“Hang on, darlin’,” he said with a wink. And then we were off, my arms around his ample girth, to cruise the San Joaquin valley in the middle of the night. I didn’t think he’d particularly care that I had surgery scheduled for 10:00 am.

****

After nearly an hour of clutching my new-found friend like a blowup doll in a wind storm, we pulled up in front of another questionable building out in the middle of the nowhere. Based on the growing hills, it was probably close to Mount Diablo. It was definitely nowhere near BART. Or a bus stop, or a cab stand, or a Hertz office.

I removed my helmet, but the view was not improved. It appeared to be a private house, or maybe hovel was a better word. It was fronted by a gravel parking area, full of cigarette butts and beer cans, and reluctantly giving way to scrubby grassland. Other bikes pulled up around us. Reggie snagged Dalgety with a beefy hand and threw an arm around each of us, leading us to the sprawling shack that would probably not survive the next earthquake.

“Come on, boys. No reason to let the feds spoil our party.” General shouting and laughter accompanied us inside.

“No indeed!” Dalgety agreed. I wondered, in light of his mysteriously dark past and war experiences, whether this registered on the tame end of his Lifestyle Scale. I would have to admit that this was the first time I had fled drug enforcement agents in the arms of a gay biker gang. But many people considered me square. Not at the hospital, mind you, or my ex-wife or Jim. But some of my patients – especially Marcus, former first round NFL draft pick. And, of course, my Aunt Hortense. And her girlfriend.

By the time we made it through the door, music was already blaring from a surprisingly modern sound system, and several tables had been shoved together to form a makeshift stage in the large open area that took up the front half building . The bikers had apparently rescued, besides us, several of the dancers from the club, since there was no way any of those boys were long-term members of this fraternity. Not with those outfits. With a rousing cheer, one of them, a young brunet with vibrant blue eyes, climbed up on the chipped veneer platform and began to gyrate.

Someone put a beer in my hand and Reggie dragged us over to a couch, which may, under other circumstances, have been quarantined by the CDC. “So,” he said to Dalgety, “how long have you and blondie here been getting it on?” I have to give him credit. He only blinked twice. And didn’t even choke on his Budweiser.

“Well, we’ve only known each other a few months, so…” he said with a knowing smile. “…a few months,” they finished simultaneously and laughed. I started to suspect this was not Dalgety’s first rodeo.

“You’ve got good taste, kid,” Reggie said. “I bet he fucks like a lumberjack.” I felt my eyes widen involuntarily, not at his not inaccurate assessment of my skills, but at Dalgety’s quick agreement and surprisingly convincing leer. I took refuge in my beer and turned my mind to the floor show. Which, again in retrospect, might not have been the best choice. Because even though I’ve seen plenty of men naked, hell, I shower with them all the time, at the hospital and the gym, they are usually not moving quite like that. And they generally aren’t quite so flexible. Or aroused. I knew it was just an autonomic response, but the sight of another rampant cock was apparently all mine needed. Well, that and the sound of sex from various pairs lurking in the darkened periphery of the room. And the smell of it over the stale beer and cigarette smoke. It was like being trapped in a bad porno, with the emphasis on trapped.

“I don’t suppose there’s any way we could get a ride back to our car?” I asked before things got too out of hand. Reggie slapped me on the thigh.

“What’s your hurry, handsome?” He was toying with me and it was starting to piss me off.

“I want to get home and fuck him,” I said, nodding towards Dalgety, “before I have to get to work tomorrow.” Reggie just let out a raspy belly laugh and smacked us both on the back.

“Oh, I like you, son,” he assured me. “Must say, I do. Now you just keep your pants on – or not, I won’t complain. But the feds won’t be done back at Barney’s for another couple hours, so you might as well wait here. I’ll send Jimmy over with Kaz for your car when it’s safe.” Jimmy was apparently Dalgety’s ride from earlier, and Kaz was in the middle of his floor show. “Why don’t you boys make yourself more comfortable.” With some sort of lift and twist, he dumped Dalgety in my lap and headed off to the cooler.

****

Two hours and five beers later, I found myself shirtless on the couch with my best friend’s hand down my pants. He was sucking on my neck and stroking me oh so slowly and all I could do was moan. Apparently I wasn’t the only one affected by the virtual orgy going on around us. Dalgety was breathing heavily and rocking his arousal against my hip. It was the best I’d felt in weeks. Someone was still dancing, but fewer people were watching, in favor of groping in the shadows. We weren’t exactly in the shadows, but then I had never been one to shy away from the spotlight.

“Maybe we should take this somewhere more…secluded,” he suggested, twisting his hand just enough to make me raise my hips.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“Come on, it’s not gay if you don’t kiss,” he mumbled against my throat in what may have been a mocking tone.

“You do this with all your friends?” I asked because I needed to know where we were going to be in the morning. I needed this man in my life, my only oasis of fun in an increasingly stressful world. I didn’t want to fuck that up. Literally.

“Only ones I steal cars with.” I smiled, feeling the last of my reservations falling away. I let go of my empty beer can and tackled him, pressing his body into the couch, my crotch into his. He let go of my dick and grabbed my ass with gusto. We fumbled with flies and waistbands until our erections could rub together without pinching or catching on anything, and proceeded to rut like deranged weasels in heat. And it felt as natural as performing surgery together, and almost as heady. Only Pablo on the dance floor could see us and he seemed to enjoy getting a show of his own to watch for a change.

****

At dawn we were sprawled on the couch, reluctantly contemplating consciousness after being roused by Reggie to tell us our car was on the way.

“I hate the name Robert,” I mumbled, wishing there was coffee somewhere.

“Well, thank you very much, Bruce,” was my companion’s semi-indignant answer.

“You just are not a Bob. And Rob is too Dick Van Dyke. And Bobby is no good.”

“What about Robbie?”

“If you were five, maybe.”

“It was good enough for my mother.”

“I’m not your mother,” I assured him with my rough morning voice. He shivered.

“Very true,” he smirked. “Well, Killer is taken.”

“Also true.”

“There’s always Dal. That’s what my mates called me in school.”

“Dal? That’s not even a word.”

“Aren’t you picky, then? How about Stallion? To reflect a certain well-endowed portion of my anatomy?” His eyes danced with humor and I couldn’t help the swell of anticipation that washed over me at the thought that this relationship might be about to go somewhere I had never suspected and might be just what the doctor ordered.

“It has to be something I can call you at work.”

“Mustang?” he tried. I clambered off him and stared at his bared anatomy while I fastened my pants. “Mammoth? Hercules?”

“Junior?” I offered.

“You weren’t complaining last night.”

“Car’s here,” Reggie called quietly. “Y’all have yourselves a good morning, doctors.”

“Thanks for all your help, Reggie, and thank Jimmy for me too.” Dalgety said, as if he hadn’t just spent the night watching male strippers and jerking off his best friend. I wondered if he ever felt out of place anywhere.

“Yeah,” I added. “Thanks for the ride.”

“No, thank YOU,” Reggie returned, winking. “Most action I’ve had in a dog’s age.” Dalgety…Stallion…Dal chuckled and headed out into pale morning light.

I followed him, looking speculatively at his ass. “How about Cheeky?”

“Shut it!”

“Can we stop for cheeseburger on the way back?”