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Hipster Brothel

By:K.A. Merikan

Hipster Brothel
Author: K.A. Merikan

Chapter 1

In the trembling glow of the flashlight strapped to the front of Jo's bike, the muddy road was like an obstacle course of rocks and puddles. Even with the sky so bright outside of Seattle, he'd needed to slow down significantly after leaving the asphalt road and was glad to finally see the lights at his destination emerging from between the trees.

The woods filled his lungs with fresh, slightly damp air that smelled of undergrowth and grass, and the scent calmed him down despite the unease of moving between the freaky shadows cast by the tree trunks on both sides of the path.

At least Mr. B's property wasn't that far off now. It would have made much more sense for Mr. B to stay with his brother, or even his hippie-dippie parents instead of the desolate train car with no Wi-Fi or any other amenities, but Jo knew Mr. B loved the place too much to ever tell him that.

In the darkness, even the cracked paint on its flanks wasn't as offensive as in daylight, and Jo couldn't claim that he didn't enjoy spending time here at all, since it always provided a much needed digital detox.

And then there was Mr. B of course.

Mr. B opened the door of the train car, letting more light outside. He was so tall he filled most of the doorway, and the oversized sweater he was wearing made him look even bigger. This was bad. The lumpy yellow abomination of a pullover only appeared when Mr. B wasn't feeling well. If Jo hadn't been sure if he'd made the right choice abandoning the last minutes of the Xxterior Boots auction before, he was now. Mr. B needed him, and if Trael_457 outbid him again, then so be it.

Jo dismounted his bike and opened the flimsy wooden gate to enter the fenced-off plot of land around the two train cars. "I'm sorry I couldn't get here faster, but they wouldn't let me off the hook at work," he said and rushed to his friend's towering silhouette, leaving his biped behind. "But I've got us food," he said, showing off the paper bag from their favorite artisan bakery, which made the best sandwiches in town. He'd even bought Mr. B's favorite red velvet cookies to cheer him up after today's events.

Judging by the sweater, Jo should have taken the snickerdoodles as well.

"Cool, thanks. Sorry you had to come over this late at night. It's not that big of a deal anyway. I shouldn't have been such a drama queen about it." Mr. B sighed so heavily, the moustache part of his thick blond beard shivered.

Jo ran up the metal steps and put his arm over Mr. B's shoulders, hugging him to show his support. Now he felt guilty about being glad when he first got the news of Mr. B's breakup. "Don't say that. What wasn't a big deal was Akasha's plastic surgery scandal, and I wrote five pieces about it today," he sighed, lingering in the embrace and breathing in the spicy cologne and musky scent of beard wax that Mr. B always carried about him.

When Mr. B pulled him into a tight bear hug, guilt became a hot, throbbing presence in Jo's heart along with the shiver that ran down his spine. He shouldn't love the embrace this much. He ought to be thinking about cheering up his best friend, not of ways to seize the opportunity of him being emotionally vulnerable.

At least his joke managed to get something between a chuckle and a harrumph out of Mr. B. "Said Jo Lau, who at least still has a job."

Jo blinked and pulled away to look at Mr. B's face. "What? He broke up with you and fired you on top of that?" he asked, and his knuckles burned with such rage he'd have punched Mr. B's ex if the bastard were around. "What a fucking douchebag. Who does that?"

Mr. B rubbed his face, and Jo's heart broke to see that his eyes were all red. Yet he still couldn't help but adore the thick pale eyelashes around them.

"It's not his fault. I kinda quit. I mean … I can't really work for him after this, can I? It would have been awkward." He pulled Jo into the cozy warmth of the old train car that despite having junk piled up along all walls somehow felt homely, not like a hoarder's paradise. The mixing scents of cherry tobacco and coffee only amplified the sense of peace Jo always found here.

He closed the door behind him and walked all the way to the three mattresses covered with blankets and rugs, the only space for sitting in the car. He put down the sandwiches, tossed away his boots, and sat down, pulling on Mr. B's forearm.

Dating one's boss was usually not a good idea, and now poor Mr. B would have to suffer the consequences. "I guess not. I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do?"

Mr. B sat down, next to a little table where his pipe lay by a box of matches. "No. I mean, yes. Thanks for coming over. I really need to rant to someone. I think it's time to open up the whisky."

Jo put the food between them, on a plate of ripped paper bags and napkins. He'd even had the seller at the bakery double up on the bacon in Mr. B's sandwich, but now he wasn't sure if even the most delicious greasy cuts of meat would help all that much. "Sure. Rant to your heart's content. Take it all out on me," he said.

Mr. A, Mr. B's former boyfriend, was a douche, and Jo had known it for a long time now. Their relationship had been on the decline for at least a year, with Mr. B being frequently agitated over it, and throughout that time, Jo was counting the days until it finally disintegrated.

Now, he was conflicted over those fantasies for the first time.

Mr. B had been already dating Mr. A when Jo had met him four years ago, so he'd never actually had to consider what it would be like if Mr. B were single. They hit it off from the day they met at Crossfit. Jo couldn't help himself and approached Mr. B to ask what the Workout of the Day was. He'd tried to act all cool, but with Mr. B ticking all boxes on his secret checklist, the best he had been able to come up with was What's the WOD?