Read: Part 2
The door banged open and Dieter hurried across the empty kitchen. Yanko smiled. His blond hair was still wet from a shower. All he wore was a pair of cut off sweats, a faded Sterling University t-shirt, and his beat up pair of turquoise high-top Chuck Taylors. He sank down on the floor next to him and took his hand.
“That was fast,” Yanko said.
“You didn’t expect Meg to walk the two blocks when she has the new Bentley convertible?”
“She nearly crashed when we saw the police out front.”
“Precaution,” Yanko said. “Here to serve and protect.”
Dieter looked away. “Protection… I felt a tingle when we entered the building. Was that you?”
“Best I can do,” Yanko said softly.
“Would it stop… bullets?”
“Nothing stops bullets… except bodies and walls.”
Yanko pulled his hand away. “So what good is it? Hell if I know. Maybe it’s the least I can do. The only thing I can do. I can’t stop bullets. That’s physics. You pull a trigger, powder explodes and expels a hunk of lead at a target, and something gets torn up. But there’s motivation behind that trigger pull. Hate and anger. For something like this you need intent and a weapon. I can’t do anything about the weapon, but maybe—just maybe, I have a spark of a chance to do something about the intent. To mellow or divert the rage, anger, and hate. If there’s even a glimmer of hope in that, shouldn’t I take it? Even if it feels like your balls are being pulled off when I do it?”
Dieter pulled him close. “Of course you need to try. But why? I mean I get we are connected. But why my nuts?”
Yanko grinned. “You still trying to make sense out of magic?”
“Doesn’t there have to be some kind of logic behind it? Some kind of explanation of how it works?”
“Why? It’s magic. Not science. And maybe because you’re a man and that’s where your male energy comes from. It’s the energy that connects us.”
“So we’re connected by our testicles? How romantic.”
“Oh, that’s just one point of contact.” Yanko leaned in for a kiss when the kitchen door opened.
Anders, a tall thin man with bushy red hair and a short beard stood before them. He was usually impeccably dressed with a pressed shirt and tie. However, now he stood there in leather pants, no shirt, a leather vest, a choker chain around his neck, and his hair was very matted.
Dieter and Yanko stood up.
“Anders…,” said Dieter.
“What the…,” said Yanko.
“I was at Steam when the news broke.”
Yanko’s mouth fell open, and then he said, “You were at Steam?”
His face and upper body flushed red. “Yes. I heard they finally got their backroom remolded. It had some kind of damage a few years ago.” His face hardened in defiance. “And so what? You don’t have a problem with that do you? Hell it was my first weekend off in ages.”
Dieter held up his hands. “Hey no problem, Brother. Just a little surprised.”
Yanko grinned. “Looks like you had a good time.”
Anders looked down at himself. He ran his hand up his bare chest, touched the spots of dry matter, and then up to his matted hair. “I’ve never met a group of men that were so horny and eager to play. You wouldn’t believe it. It was like swimming in sex. You could taste and smell it in the air.”
Dieter tried to keep his face neutral. “I might.”
“Then the oddest thing happened. Must have been just past two and everything stopped. It was like someone threw a switch. Everyone in there froze for an instant and then they all pulled out their phones. The sex vibe vanished. A white-hot anger filled the room. The young guy I’d been… well, he whispered in my ear, You need to leave now. It was freaky. I buttoned up and pushed my way out of there.”
He looked down at himself again. “I was listening to the news on the radio and almost home when I got Dieter’s text. I just kept driving and came here.” He looked up at them. “Sorry. I was unnerved. I should have gone home and changed.”
“I understand,” Dieter said and smiled. “I doubt any of the men out there will be offended by an attractive man in leather, but you might want to go down to the staff room and shower.”
“Right. I have spare clothes in my office.” He turned and passed Meg and Tucker as they entered the kitchen.
Meg’s turned and watched Anders as he exited. She turned back and said, “Don’t we have a dress code for the help?”
Dieter shook his head and gave her a not-now look. They both said, “News?” at the same time.
Meg said, “The talking heads on the TV are in a continuous loop. Nothing new. Things seem to be quite in the club. The officials are talking to the lunatic and trying to negotiate a way out of this.”
“There are still hostages and wounded in there,” Tucker said. He gave Yanko a pleading, questioning look.
He shook his head. “I called Luca. Voice mail.”
Tamás came through the door. Yanko asked, “Any contact?”
He shook his head.
Meg asked, “Do you know any of their friends in Orlando?”
“Only Alex. I don’t know any of his friends. I checked his Facebook page. A lot of freaked out people are posting on his page and commenting on the photos he posted earlier. No one’s heard from him.”
No one said anything for a moment.
“Conner sent me in to ask about food,” Tamás said. “People are getting restless. No one wants to leave but I think they need some kind of distraction.”
Dieter asked Yanko, “What do we have?”
“We have the pastries and fruit Monique prepped for our continental breakfast. That can go out.”
“Shouldn’t we offer something more substantial?” Meg asked. “These people have been drinking most of the night.”
“We have stuff for Sunday brunch. Eggs, hash browns, bacon and sausage. I know she was going to have a crepe station but I don’t know what else. That’s after my shift.”
Dieter turned back to Tamás. “You and Conner can set out the pastries and fruit. Let them know we’ll have something more substantial in an hour or so.”
Tamás nodded and slipped back into the bar. Yanko asked, “What about brunch later?”
Dieter thought for a moment. “Do you have anything to make a sign?”
Yanko said, “I have poster board and markers in my office.”
“Good. Tucker, can you make a sign to put on the entrance that says something about due to events in Orlando, the Crow’s Nest and the Captain’s Table will be available only to the Inn’s registered guest for the rest of the day? And can you add that to the website?”
Tucker nodded. “I can login with my phone and add that.” He turned to leave.
Yanko asked, “You remember my door code?”
“Got it, Bro.”
Dieter pulled open the cooler door. “Oh you have some nice produce in here. Meg how do you feel about chopping and deicing?”
“Dear Boy, I think chopping things with a knife right now might just be therapeutic. What do you have in mind?”
“Eggs. There’s a crate in here. I say two batches of scrambled eggs. One generic and the other tricked out with onions, peppers and this spinach. I’ll fry up the bacon and sausage. That’d be good after drinking food and hopefully getting people to sit down and eat will distract them a bit.”
Yanko and Meg nodded in agreement. “So do you have an idea of how many of your guests aren’t out there?”
“I haven’t done a head count, but there can’t be that many left in their rooms.”
Dieter nodded. “Why don’t you do a text-blast. Let them know that due to circumstances we’ll be serving an early breakfast in about an hour and then the kitchen and bar will be closed till 2 pm. That should give everyone time to regroup.”
Tamás and Conner came into the kitchen carrying full bus tubs. They cut to the left heading for the dish room when Tamás and Yanko’s phones dinged at the same time. Tamás froze. Yanko pulled out his phone.
“Gus,” he said. He didn’t even read the message. He hit the number to call and put it on speaker.
The ringing filled the silent room. Tamás whispered, “Please pick up.”
A very tired voice said, “Yanko?”
“Are you okay?”
“Did you read my text?”
“Okay. I’m fine. I’m at the hospital with Luca.”
A bus tub crashed on a table as Tamás ran forward.
Yanko closed his eyes. He felt Dieter move close to him. “What happened?”
“He got shot… just a graze on his shoulder. We were on our way out when the shit went down. He’s okay. Lost his phone. I don’t know what to do.”
Dieter found his voice. “What do you mean?”
“We haven’t heard from Alex. We were heading out for food and then back to our room. He was going hang with the queens and go to an after party. We don’t have a car. The entire block’s under siege. And they keep asking Luca about insurance and payment.”
Meg said, “I don’t understand.”
Yanko whispered, “Remember this state didn’t do the Medicade expansion. He makes too much for the existing state program and not enough to qualify for the federal subsidies.”
“Oh for the love of… Why in the hell can’t these crazed gunmen storm our assembly buildings and take out the politicians. It’d be a public service!”
“But, Meg, your cousin is a state congressman.”
“And he should have been against the wall years ago.” She moved close to Yanko and spoke into his phone. “Gus dear, this is Megan. Where exactly are you?”
“They took us to Orlando Regional Medical Center. It’s only a few blocks from Pulse. Why?”
“I’m coming to help.”
“Yes, I am. I assume Tuck has your phone number?”
“Then we’ll be there as soon as we can. You concentrate on taking care of your man.”
Tucker pushed through the door. “Hey! I got a text from Gus. They’re kind of okay, but Alex is missing.”
“Hi Tuck,” Gus said out of the phone.
“Oh,” Tucker said.
“We’re leaving now,” she said into the phone and then walked to Tucker and handed him a set of keys.
“We’re going to Orlando. Those boys need us.”
He looked down at the keys. “You want me to drive… the Bentley?”
She sighed. “The old woman needs her rest.”
Tucker grinned. “Can we put the top down?”
She walked toward the door. “Most certainly not. It’s four in the morning. Now come along.”
He grinned at the guys and mouthed the words, “I get to drive the Bentley.” Then his face fell. “Fuck. This isn’t a happy thing is it?” He turned around and followed his wife out of the building.
“Okay, Conner, you’ve been promoted to veggie chopper.”
Yanko sighed. “Well you didn’t think we were going to ask Boris to do it did you?”
“Good point,” he said.