Aidan 6

By Asa Montreaux 

After that I took a lengthy nap leading up to dinner. I awoke feeling strangely somber, and a little like I could have used even more sleep. The traverse was ending, it seemed I had got through it unscathed, though it still brought a sadness to see the conclusion of the journey. All the same. I was restless. I got up and had enough of an appetite that I definitely did need something to eat. 

I was quite sick of eating from the hotel room service, so I thought I would need to fulfill this hunger from some other source of food service. I suppose I was along the strip. It would be getting dark soon, though the purply dusk sky and the dry cooling off air would make for a nice walk while I looked for something worthwhile eating.

It was curious sensation, like any other curious sensation, a combination of feelings. A very certain hungriness, and yet a very specific craving for something differing from the usual items of pleasurable and evolutionary satisfaction. I suppose whatever I had found so tasteful a few days ago seemed almost repulsive now. Anyways.

There were people milling about around me as I passed my different places. At first mainly it was more casinos, hotel casinos. Eventually I started seeing more places. I suppose there were restaurants inside the casino/hotels, even nice ones, though it seemed like more of the same, seemed like a predictable extravagance, and preferred to venture further into the ever-stretching mirage of the strip and into the night. As well the thought of waiting around for some order, or of sitting in some restaurant, maybe one not even all that populated, didn’t sit well, didn’t agree with my hunger, even made me a little sick, inside.

Eventually I saw some little restaurant emerging. A place for shawarmas, a place for fish and chips, a 7 11, then a subway. They were quick, don’t get me wrong, though they weren’t anything that hit the spot. Picky, I am. Though, not really. There is certain level which you need to draw and then live above it. In terms of anything. In terms of food, in terms of morals. Well in terms of food anyways. Morality is more than dead; we live within the confines of the law and the extents of our compassion for one another, what we have of morality is the limits of these. 

Up ahead I was finding much for a bit. There were a few apartment buildings and there was even one motel, though it seemed to be a nice part of the strip. But eventually it gave way to more little establishments, these seeming somewhat ice, a mixture of sit in and take out restaurants. There was a Greek place and a little Italian restaurant, and then up ahead I saw a quaint Mexican place. It looked there was some seating, there clearly was, though it was more of counter thing. I suppose it was some place you might get a burrito. 

So I walked that way and went inside. Someone behind the counter, a slightly elder man, though his hair still black, quite immediately said, ‘Hola, senor.’ ‘Buenos noches,’ I said to him. As looked around, there was a menu starting to the left, around a little bend in the counter, and there was more stuff written up there on the right side. It seemed it was a place where you could get the kind of thing I was thinking. Burrito in a bowl, Quesadilla, Tacos, and of course, Burritos. ‘Que quieres’? 

“Queiro un burrito con refried bean y salsa y guacamole.’ I’m joking. We were speaking in English. ‘And any meant with that sir?

‘No, none whatsoever, sir.’

‘Hah, I see. No meant, huh?’

‘Nope, not tonight.’


Hmm. Gua-ca-molé. Guacah- mol- ah. Guacamole. ‘Open all night?’

‘Si, senor. We get the customer very late night, when people come from clubs.’

“Ah. When they close.’

‘Si, senor.’

‘You want lettuce, ah cilantro?’



‘Which salsa you want.’


‘You want to try hot? With the jalapeno’s.’ He licks his fingers. Ah muh.

‘No, thank you.’ Jal-ah-peno. Aidan, it’s hal-ah-peenyo. Halapeenyo. Of course.

‘So what you been doon tonight?’

‘Not much, I’m just here on a book tour.’

‘Ah, really. I like books.’

‘Yes, I can tell. In English?’

‘Ah, no senor. In Espanol.’

‘Ah, I see. Very good. You like Marquez?



He points his finger at me and smiles. ‘I ah like you.’

I grinned widely at him. ‘Thank you.’

‘Itsa almost ready. I heat up for you.’

He folded the burrito in a wrap he was making it on and placed it in a grill behind him.’

He looked at me and smiled, standing up straight like he might salute.

‘You ever hear of Lorca?’ I asked him.

‘Oh, muy fantastico. Ah.’ He linked his fingers again, enjoying the sweetness of Lorca’s poetry.’

‘Haha. Excellent. Excellent. You remember any?’

‘No, senor. I just remember very butiful’

‘I remember some.’

‘Please, senor! Let me hear.’

‘Ah. Sure.’ I prepared myself a little for one man audience show. 

‘La luna vino a la fragua

con su polisón de nardos.

El niño la mira, mira.

El niño la está mirando.

En el aire conmovido

mueve la luna sus brazos

y enseña, lúbrica y pura,

sus senos de duro estaño.

Huye luna, luna, luna.’

‘Ahh, muy Bueno, senor joven. Muy, muy bueno? Where did you learn that?’

‘Nowhere. I taught myself.’

A bell sounded. ‘Ah. Itsa ready. I get it.’

He went and opened the grill and then put the wrap with wax paper in a little brown paper wrap and then put in a bag.’

‘Esta preparado, mi amigo.’

“Cuanto cuesta?

‘For you, my friend. “It’s free.’

‘Ah, thank you senor. Mucho, mucho gracias. Adios, mi amigo.’

‘Adios senor Lorca’

‘No, no.’ and I stepped off into the night.

Perversely and somewhat welcomingly darkness had drawn in its breadth of arms around everything. It was strangely quiet, though the consistent thumping music of bizarre ringing noises of casino games filled the not-so-far-away background. I meandered with the bag of food. Only a block or two away from the restaurant when I started eating the burrito. It was very tasty, as any burrito generally is – though much better than any one I’ve ever had at a Taco Bell or Taco Cabana. 

I’d taken a few bites, and it wasn’t seeming very difficult to do so while I was walking. Unlike other burritos I’ve had – and this is a point of difference – it wasn’t spilling, and it was not so messy, a very readily pleasing discovery. Though…

It was oddly quieter even than a few minutes ago. To my consternation, it was getting late, and I thought quickly that perhaps I should be making my way home at a steadier pace. 

Up ahead there was a congregation of people, smoking I imagine they were, or had been, though they dispersed, they headed back inside, the start of the second half of whatever effervescent concert they had been attending. And in what seemed like only an instant there was hardly anyone on the street but me.

I took another bite of my burrito, finding it easy enough to continue to go ahead and eat it while I kept walking. I almost thought I had my first spill, though as I looked down, it seemed nothing had. It like. I imagined it and I wondered why I had been transfixed on it as when I looked up someone had emerged from the alleyway ahead of me on the right. And not just someone, but someones, a group of thugs, and they came out haphazardly enough, though they were beginning to walk towards me, apparently not up to nothing after all, and appearing up to nothing good.

Suddenly an iron rod emerged from underneath the coat sleeve of one of the men. It had been way up in there along his forearm, and perhaps his elbow. And then another pulled out a knife, and then one on the other side pulled out a knife as well. This was not good. Shit. I thought.

‘Hey ese, he said. Can I have that?’

‘The burrito, stupid.’

‘Ah, I’m not sure.’

‘Fuck you.’

‘Ah. Sure have it.’

Then another one said, ‘Nah, you’re dead.’

I was frozen. And I wanted to run away though I feared I would not make it. And then it was too late. They were so close. And then the worst of it was, I could not move myself in any direction. I was frozen, my chest was full of a black solidifying mass, my heart was stopping, I couldn’t feel it in the least. My neck was stiffening, full of pain. And I all but passed out as the one that first pulled out a knife grabbed me, and punched in the side of the face, right of the jaw. I thought I was lights out right then, though there was more. I fell sprawling to the ground in pain. Then they were all right next to me, kicking me suddenly. In the stomach, in the shins, in the neck, in the head, in the gonads. It was awful. 

And then someone was hitting with an iron rod. All over. It was like I was at Auschwitz. It was horrific. Then I heard voices far away. Women murmuring. I thought perhaps they were looking in this direction. Then someone screamed, “Help him!” And I swore I could have heard, “Oh my God!”

Then the first one to strike me, also the first to brandish a knife, turned the blade of it around in his hand, and in a big motion, with a windup, he… well he knelt down on a knee, and he thrust about as hard as he could into my stomach, and started cutting up.

The pain, oh, the pain. I could feel cut along the edges of my skin, and my insides. A line, my flesh and tissue dragging along a little with the blade. By the time he removed the knife, I was bleeding profusely. After he gazed at me for a second, looking intrigued, and only a little perplexed. He seemed to have dismissed whatever he had been thinking about, and then he leaned towards me and stated on a second thrust. I wasn’t sure if I would make it if he did that one, two more times. Though fate had other ideas.

As he was beginning his evilly exaggerated thrust, someone came up to him and grabbed him, holding his arms so he couldn’t thrust, subduing him. Then several more men came around, pushing the gang away, saying, ‘Hey, fuck off,’ to them. 

It took a minute or so, but eventually the gang gave in, they retreated, dispersed, and then it was over. I passed out completely.


Once more, I found myself in the hospital. It felt like I’d been asleep for days. I finally opened my eyes. I blinked hard. Then a few more blinks in succession. There was no one in the room. I could not believe it. I was here. I mean I could not believe I was alive. I started fading again. Then I fell very suddenly back to sleep.

When I awoke I felt a not unpleasant sense of deja vue as I saw someone representing me sitting in a hospital room with me. Someone from my agency was here again, and this time it wasn’t Janelle, but Calum. 

I felt slightly embarrassed to be in this situation again, but here I was. At least this time, it wasn’t my fault. Not really. It wasn’t because of my own personal issue, my own failings. It was because I had been attacked. This time I was truly a victim.

‘Well, look who’s awake.’ He place his hand gently on my arm, and smiled.

‘Hey,’ I said. ‘I didn’t expect to see you here.’

‘Well why would you, you’ve been out cold the whole time.’

‘Not in a coma?’

No, you were never in a coma.’

‘Ah, I see. Well, I was awake for a minute or two earlier.’

‘So you knew were you are already. How come the nurse or doctor didn’t let me know?

‘There was no one in here right then.’

‘I understand. And you didn’t call for anyone.’

‘Like I said, I passed out after a few moments.’

‘I see. I’m just glad you’re alright, and that you’re awake right now.’

‘Certainly, certainly. It’s nice to see you here. What’s with you guys and rescuing me.’

‘We did nothing of the sort. We are only here to take care of you. And I have something to say to you.’

‘What’s that?’

‘That I am sorry. It is my fault. I should have known it would not be safe for you to be here. It was too close to L.A., and for whatever reason, these gangs were not accepting of you right now.’

‘That’s okay. I don’t see it as your fault. No one knew this. No one could have known this, Janelle, the President, you, your wife.’

‘Aidan, I’m gay.’



‘And you have a partner.’


‘Oh. Maybe I’ll ask you more about it some time.’

‘Haha. I can see why you might be interested.’

‘Hahaha. Obviously. Tell me briefly, what’s it like.’

‘It’s just like being in a partnership with a woman. Except I’m gay. And I like men. My partner is a man, and we support each other like any other couple.’

‘That sounds nice. Sometimes I haven’t thought of relationships as anything more than flings. Especially, you know, these kinds of…’

‘Relations. Yea, it’s alright. You can have a meaningful relationship, and be gay. You can have a meaningful relationship with someone of your own sex, if its someone you love.’

‘I see. I suppose that easy enough to comprehend. I think I’d quite like that, to have something more.’

‘Yea. Well.’


‘Who’d have thought I’d be explaining love to the star-crossed writer-boy?’

‘Star-crossed writer boy. Hmm. Who’d have thought indeed. Ironic.’

‘It certainly is.’ He smiled again, and seemed to look me in the eyes, and be able to read me quite a bit.

‘So what’s next?’

‘Nothing, the tour is over. You can go back home. Though your book will continue to sell. And you’ll still do an interview now and again.’

‘Cool. Anything else?’

‘Yes. And you’ll in all likelihood be receiving some awards. At the very least you’ll have some award ceremonies to attend.’

‘Ah, interesting. I’m liking this gig. Go on.’

‘And there is one more thing. You’ll have to be careful.’

‘Why’s that?’

‘Because this could happen again. There’s no saying whether they’ll accept you or not, anywhere. It could happen across the world, certainly. Or it could happen in your hometown. You could cross the wrong person the wrong way, and things could get very ugly quickly. It seems you struck a nerve, and you’ll be careful in a lot of ways, from now on, maybe indefinitely.

‘That is really not where I hope you were going with that. Though I understand while you told me that.’

‘I know. And I’m sorry that it has to be this way. Fame, success, recognition, come with a yin and a yang. Your everyone’s hero, believe me. Though to some people, you’re the villain now.’

‘Perhaps, I am. And I’m not sure it’s worth it.’

‘No one is always going to see things always from the opposing side. Trust me, one day, everyone will come around. They’ll come to see us the fully realized human beings that we are. They’ll respect us, and cherish the diversity of our species, of all life. They won’t see one type as greater than the other.’

‘They’re more of a humanoid I imagine.’

‘Aidan, that’s the kind of thinking and language that is derisive. You don’t need to be as aggressive as the other side. I know you know that it’s your compassion that sets you apart.’

‘But you need to fight fire with fire.’

‘No, you need to fight fire with water.’

‘That sounds extremely colloquial.’

‘It was not colloquial. No one has ever said that before.’

‘Well then I suppose I will say its corny.’ 

‘It was quite corny. Don’t put that in your book.’

‘Yea. Whenever that is.’

‘Should I start writing right now?’

‘No. You just rest. You’re in the hospital. There will be plenty of time. And when you’d write it, finish it, then I’ll be there for the next tour. So soon.’

‘Haha. I see. You’ll be there. That’s fun. I think I can still write. Though maybe I’ll write about something else.’

‘No write about something true to yourself. Write about your story.’

‘How did you know that I…’

‘Meant that you’d right not about being gay? Because I understand. I know you. A little.’

‘Like clearly. Alright. You’re not bad. You’re not fired.’

‘You don’t have that authority.’ He said it with a smile.

‘And with good reason. Firing you would be a mistake.’

‘I not that not agree. You need me, though I suppose you’d be fine without me.’

‘The change would be incongruous.’

‘What’s that mean.’

‘I’d miss having you here. And you have helped.’

‘Anyone could help. I only care.’

‘That’s all that matters.’

‘So your feeling okay now?’

‘Yes, I’m feeling better.’

‘Okay, I will leave you to your lonesome so you can feel even a little better.’

‘Thank you. I need rest.’

And he walked out, leaving Aidan on his lonesome, in the hospital bed.


Laying in a hospital bed and not quite resting, feeling almost constantly awake and yet motionless, anxiously stuck in a particular moment in time and experience… everything sucked. I suppose I was only qausi-awake, as I could never sleep, all my energy receiving no exit from myself, and in the night only dosing from a couple hours, usually awoken by some stray orderly wheeling a squeaky cart or bed through the aisle outside the room, or else something outside the window—the rain, or else nothing, I imagine.

Any chance of not feeling pain was limited to the mostly ineffectual powers of the painkillers they gave me. Disassociating me from the pain, yet not really taking it away. The power of understanding that, really just the knowledge of that, rendered them useless. Probably. There was some fellow down the hall demanding them, and he seemed to think they worked. His incessant chatter and irritable mumblings ceased and he clonked out as soon as he got his hit oxycodone. 

The jarring reality was that upon this most unfortunate completion of the book tour, I had to go home. Though. I had made money, it probably was not enough unless my next novel was successful. They told me not to expect much in the way of royalties after the first six months or so. So having my second book out would bridge me along. Though fame is faltering in a way nothing else, so if my second book was more than a little underwhelming and I’d be only living paycheck to paycheck. I mean if. I were living in New York, the price of things… even my salary, it wouldn’t last long. I’m just another Wall streeter or business consultant, in terms of salary.

So that absence of security would sail me all the way home to olde Vancouver. The latest report was that there was still no word from my Dad, and that he was in no way expected to return home from his fling slash like full on affair any time soon. Was he welcome? My mom said no, he was not.

I guess I wouldn’t see him. I might not ever see him again. And that was okay… was it? He wasn’t a person seeing the world the way I saw it, or accepting the way I saw it. Those kinds of differences, might prove insurmountable. And it seemed we had grown apart as it was, with his rather distant and hard manner.

I missed the feeling that my Dad loved me for, and for who I am. But I had felt a chasm between us for more than a short while. I cannot wholly tell you why, and shall endeavor no father to say what it is.  I will say that he had become strange, and just unipolar, but narrow minded, and also, aggressive.

When it was finally and most thankfully tie to bid the hospital goodbye, I found there was a pain in my leg, so I walked with a limp. They wheeled me out of the hospital in a chair. And then I said no, no, and mostly hobbled down the street to where I could summon a taxi.


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