I stare down the street, studying people walking by while trying very hard not to pay attention to the arm around my neck pulling me closer to the man behind me who’s wearing even less clothes than I am. It is our fourth night here, and the proximity isn’t getting any easier.
“You’re tense. What’s wrong?” Cal whispers the question into my ear, cigarette smoke travelling up my nose as he exhales.
“Nothing,” I lie. “I’m just fed up standing here like a fool, waiting for something that may never happen.”
“It already happened,” Cal replies. “That’s the reason we’re here.”
He’s right of course. If it hadn’t been for the violent attack on a group of gay friends five days ago, we would probably have been sitting behind our desks, typing up reports, or responding to calls about domestic disturbances or missing people. But a young man died on the way to hospital that night, and as a result Cal and I are undercover, hoping to lure the culprits out, provoke them into another attack.
A sudden hush falls over the street. Music still blares from the various bars but where up to a moment ago people had been talking, calling out and even singing, everybody has fallen silent now and they are hurriedly making their way indoors. The tightening of Cal’s arm is the only indication he’s noticed the change too.
“Told you all faggots are cowards.” The triumphant voice is loud enough to be heard over the blaring music.
“Game’s on.” Cal’s voice sends shivers down my spine and the feeling has nothing to do with the impending danger. In fact, I welcome whatever shit storm is about to erupt around us. Admiring my partner from a relatively safe distance has been hard enough. The past four nights of pretending to be the couple I’d love us to be, has stretched my restraint and nerves to their limits.
The men have spotted us and as they turn and take their first steps in our direction, my attraction to Cal is suddenly the furthest thing from my mind. Shit’s about to get real.
And then they’re upon us, surrounding us, their grinning faces sinister in the red neon light. I see glimpses of knives and knuckle dusters. Suddenly our disguise leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable. Where’s a stab vest when you need one?
Cal releases me and turns until we stand back to back, facing the six man surrounding us.
“Remember, the first punch is mine,” the largest of our attackers says. “We’ll show these abominations what real men are made of.” He raises his fist and hits out, but I’m ready and catch his hand with mine before it can connect with my face and push back. When he falls and lands on his back it only enrages his mates more. They come at us from all sides. I deflect as many hits as I can, but there are too many of them, not enough of us. Cal curses behind me and not turning around to check on him is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
“Freeze!” The loud shout has the desired effect as the four men still standing take a moment to check their surroundings, recognise our uniformed colleagues, and look for a way to escape.
Minutes later it’s all over. The men have been handcuffed and are being led away.
“You two okay?” Our sergeant studies us as he asks the question.
I nod and turn in time to see Cal do the same.
“Good,” our superior says. “You two are off duty for the next five days. Good work.” He turns and walks away.
“I’ll see you.” I say, almost sorry the case has been closed and there’s no need for us to pretend to be a couple anymore.
“Not so fast.” Cal’s arm is back around me, except now we’re face to very close face. My heart stutters when he presses his lips against mine. “I’ve wanted to do that for the past two years,” he says. “Never realised you felt the same until I noticed your boner every time I pulled you close.” He waggles his eyebrows. “Your place or mine?”
It’s been a while, but at last I managed to write another flash. Sure, it’s two-hundred words longer than it should be, but at least I’ve writing something. The picture was chosen by Brigham Vaughn, and as always, other stories based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook.