Daughter of the Bear (Blog Eleven) by Dan Watt, author of Brackish, and Queen of Caelum, References at bottom of page.
The Tsar restaurant is in St. Petersburg, Russia. The design of the restaurant with its painting and antiques took two years to complete.
He pays and thanks the taxi driver as he climbs out onto Sadovaya Street. Leaning on his cane he opens the left door of the double doors to the Tsar. Inside he sees the padded square and round seats. The white starched table cloths with the clear teardrop glass chandeliers overhead highlight the gold framed paintings of all of Russia’s tsars. Sitting on elegant couches against a wall at one of the tables are two athletic men wearing pink polo shirts and gray slacks. He immediately recognizes them as Cy Torres and Achojah Couture: Handsome and Gorgeous. He coughs and taps his cane three times.
As the two men grin and walk over to him he feels like an old man and hunches over more. They both dwarf him.
“Uncle,” they say in unison and lead him back to their table pulling out a chair across from the bench they were seated at.
A female waitress in black and white comes up to their table. He notices her eyes are solely on Cy and Achojah until at the last she asks him what his order is.
“Too bad we didn’t get one of those cute waiters,” Cy says as the waitress leaves.
“No, it’s better to have a female,” he replies gruffly.
Perhaps it’s just a defense mechanism; a reminder that he’s heterosexual. It’s also to remind Cy that certain talk about gender in Russia might be overheard and cause trouble.
When he was twelve a friend told him about all the muscle magazines his father had collected. His friend’s father gave them permission to look at the magazines so long as their hands were clean and they were very careful. He and his friend were awed at the physiques of both the men and women. There was one bodybuilder who looked like a Greek god and always had gorgeous fitness models hanging off his arms in the magazines. He and his friend both sighed and agreed they wished they had the bodybuilder’s muscles and good looks. As they looked through more and more magazines they found an article that baffled them. The same bodybuilder married another male bodybuilder.
That memory brought on both bad and good memories. When he was fourteen his mother suggested he join the local YMCA. He usually went with the friend whose father had all the magazines. Unfortunately his friend got sick with pneumonia and had to stop for a while so he started going alone. To relax his muscles after exercising he would go into the steam room. One time he went into the steam room and a short time later he heard the door open. He could see the wispy image of a heavyset man. The man set his towel beside him. He moved over. The man slid beside him again so that the skin of their bare thighs touched. ‘I saw you working out and was impressed,’ the man said and placed his hand on his thigh.
He froze until the man’s hand started sliding farther up his thigh. At that moment the man became the scarecrow. He pinched his index and middle finger together so his middle finger was slightly bent and drove the fingers just behind the man’s Adam’s apple. The man instantly began to gag and cough.
He still doesn’t remember changing and going home. When his mother saw him she immediately asked him what was wrong. He shook as he told her.
‘Did you kill him Mikhail?’ she asked.
‘No, I don’t think so,’ he had replied.
‘Would you recognize him?’
‘No,’ he replied again.
‘If he is a pedophile I hope you did kill him,’ she said with a snarl. ‘If you recognize him or he bothers you again, let me know but first let’s wait a few days.’
Over the next couple of days there was nothing in the news about someone dying at the local YMCA; he never returned to the gym.
The memories kept coming. When he was in the German army they went for a trip over to England to see the London Tower and check out some of the pubs. Not a big drinker he went outside of the pub they were at and saw some of his group with others smoking dope. An English man with unruly white hair who looked to be in his early sixties was telling them he was a soldier in the Falklands War of ’82. ‘Saw my best mate evaporate in front of my eyes,’ he was telling them. Someone asked if there were any gays in the army at that time. ‘I use to hate homosexuals,’ the man replied, ‘but you know what? After getting severely injured they were the only ones who came to see me at the hospital.’
Another time when he went with his friends to England he overheard another man he guessed to be in his early thirties talking about his army experiences to the bartender. The man was in a wheelchair and may have been gay by his tone and gestures. He thought the man sounded Canadian or American. The bartender asked him how he was doing and the man had replied with teary eyes, ‘Great for someone sodomized by men from his own patrol.’ The man went on to say he had finally won his case against whatever nation’s armed forces he was a soldier in.
The last time he was in England he bought Andrew Hodges’s book Alan Turing: The Enigma. He wanted to learn more about Turing’s work on Artificial Intelligence and other scientific work. It was amazing what Turing accomplished. He helped break the Enigma machine and was a pioneer in the development of artificial intelligence. He was also instrumental in defeating the Nazis and ending WW2. Likely there was a political or scientific reason for suddenly accusing him in 1952 of gross indecency for being gay. Because being gay was a crime he was given hormones and permanently banned from working for the Government Communications Headquarters. He died in 1954 of cyanide poisoning. Whether from suicide or because it was one of the chemicals he was using in experiments is up for debate.
He didn’t understand homosexuality but some of his friends are and electrical shocks and hormonal injections weren’t going to change their preference. What he had learned over the years was to distinguish between gender preference and sexual predators.
Cy and Achojah were not only partners they were legally married. Ana had introduced them to him about ten years ago as her very protective pseudo older brothers. But while they were in Russia helping the Russian Federal Drug Control Service everyone knew them as cousins who joined INTERPOL together.
The waitress places his Beef Stroganoff in front of him, waking him from his reverie.
“The bill goes to me,” Cy tells her with a charming smile.
“We are sorry we missed your birthday uncle,” Achojah says. “Let us drop you off after dinner and give it to you then.
Thankyou Ana, he thinks as he smiles at the two Adonis’s. The ride will give him a chance to ask about Viktor Ivanov and Morok Industries. Knowing Ana, Cy, and Achojah the present would be supplies he could use as he searches for Marina.