Neon Saturday Night by Julia McBryant

Genre: LGBT Romance.

“That was so fun,” Calhoun says. “Okay. What kind of golf do you wanna play? There’s pirate golf and Jurassic Putt and ocean golf and jungle golf and every kind of golf ever.”
Audie cracks a half smile, all he can manage in the Southern-state neon glare, still lit in the midday sun. A girl walks by in the shortest Daisy Dukes he’s ever seen, a straw hat, and a Confederate flag bikini top. He almost drops his head in his hands. “You wanna play pirate golf.”
“I so wanna play pirate golf.”
Audie sucks at pirate golf. He never once manages par and actually hits his ball into the blue water Calhoun swears is full of mosquito repellent. Audie cheats unmercifully so they can finish, which Calhoun pretends not to notice. When they finally finish the eighteenth hole, Audie sighs with relief.
“We should get tattoos,” Calhoun says as they walk back to the Porsche.
“No. Do you know what kind of people get tattoos?”
“We should,” Calhoun says. “Matching ones. Like somewhere no one would ever see.”
“What, like on our butts?”
“No, upper thigh. Really high up. What would you get? Or maybe a piercing. I always wanted an industrial. You know, in one part of your ear and out the other.”
“You could get a line of poetry,” Calhoun wheedles. “Like James Dickey or William Faulkner. I know what I would get. It’s from Pat Conroy’s Beach Music.”
“What?” Audie asks suspiciously.
“No story is a straight line.”
Audie sighs. “Do you promise not to laugh? And I’ll never get it, so don’t even ask. It’s from James Dickey’s “Falling”: ‘there is still time to live on a breath made of nothing but the whole night.’”
“Isn’t that the poem where the stewardess falls out the airplane?”
“At least it isn’t the one where the kid fucks the sheep.”
Calhoun laughs and links arms with him. “Do you know how much I’m in love with you?”
“I know how much you’re in love with this tourist hellhole.”
“Now we’re going back to the hotel and we’re getting our suits on and we’re going to the water park,” Calhoun announces. “And ordering a pizza because I’m starved.”
So they snarf Dominos, and change into their suits again, Audie very reluctantly. He’s never been to a water park, but he knows they’re filled with screaming children and probably bacteria of the most virulent kind. But whatever, it makes Calhoun happy and anything that makes Calhoun happy makes him happy. Love covers a multitude of sins.
There’s more Confederate flag bikinis, mostly worn by girls with Yankee accents, and sweet baby Jesus in a manger this fuckery has to stop. “You know what that flag stands for, right?” he asks a girl.
“It’s all about the South,” she tells him.
“It’s all about slavery,” he informs her.
“Whatever, it’s cute. Asshole.” She stomps off. Calhoun rolls his eyes.
“Audie. Stop policing people’s clothing choices. And look. WATERSLIDE! I love waterslides!”
“I’ve never been on a waterslide,” Audie says, eyeing the twisting monstrosity soaring above them.
“You had the most weirdly deprived childhood. C’mon.” Calhoun grabs his hand and drags him up, up, up a metal staircase, way too high for Audie’s comfort. They attendant counts to ten and pushes Calhoun down a water-soaked dark tube. “See you at the bottom!” he yells to Audie.
“Oh, fuck,” Audie mutters. He sits down. They count it off and push him, and he’s suddenly hurtling through the black, slipping and sliding down curves he can’t see, going up walls and down them, side to side, oh my god, what the blue fuck, he’s going to die, he can’t see anything and he wants to curl up in a ball but he’s going to fall into the water, and suddenly he lands with an enormous splash in a four-foot deep pool. Calhoun’s waiting on the far side, his hair slicked back.
“Wasn’t that awesome?” he demands.
“It was … something,” Audie says. He’s shaking a little.
“Let’s do it again,” Calhoun says, and drags him to the top.
The second time isn’t as bad.
The third time is better.
The fourth time Audie rides out the turns, slaloms like an Olympic skeleton player, then does his best to cannonball.
They ride all the waterslides. Audie pretends to hate them because he feels like he’s supposed to hate them. Audie does not like waterslides.
Except he sort of does.
On the way back to the hotel, Calhoun grins. “Play me your secret favorite song,” he says, as they idle on the strip. “The most embarrassing favorite song. And sing it.”
“No,” Audie says, mortified. No way will he admit that to anyone.
“Do it.”
“I’ll do it if you do it.”
Audie sighs. Calhoun can keep at things like a dog gnawing an old bone, and there’s nothing to do but give into him. So Audie flips to his super-secret playlist. And out of the speakers blares Weezer’s cover of Toto’s “Africa.” Calhoun cracks up. “You have to sing,” he orders.
That’s how they end up doing a loud duet to Weezer driving down the Myrtle Beach strip while passers-by sing along. Audie thinks he’d want to sink down in his seat and die. But it’s actually kind of awesome. Clearly, it makes Calhoun happy. And it’s so freeing, just belting it out, letting everything go, refusing to care. He’s never refused to care in his entire life. Audie’s always worried about what people will think, that they’re looking. But under the neon and the Confederate flag bikinis and the shouting drunks it doesn’t matter anymore. They’re just one more spectacle.
“You wanna hear mine?” Calhoun grins. “But you have to sing.”
“Um, okay?” Audie says.
He fiddles with Audie’s phone.
“I stay out too late …” he starts along with Taylor Swift. Hideously off-key. And suddenly they’re singing “Shake It Off” as loud as they can, in a red Porsche 911 Carrerra, which may be the gayest thing that’s ever happened in Myrtle Beach or anywhere else in the great state of South Carolina. Girls stop and dance, sing drunkenly. Calhoun actually leans out the window and makes eye contact. Audie laughs at him. They play the most ridiculous songs they can think of. Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” Britney Spears’s “… Baby One More Time.” The Backstreet Boys’ “Backstreet’s Back.” R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” which both of them, weirdly enough, know every word to, earning an ovation from passersby. A duet of “Bohemian Rhapsody” carries them into the hotel.
“See?” Calhoun says. “See?”
Audie is starting to see.
“Time for the minigolf experience of your life,” Calhoun says. “I read about it in a brochure and it’s supposed to be amazing.”
Audie groans.
“No, this is better than pirate golf. This is better than Jurassic Putt. This is amazing.”
“Do we have to?” Audie asks.
“Yes we have to and don’t lie, you liked the water park and you will like this. So stop it.”
Audie loves Calhoun. So they dry off and change. Audie follows Calhoun’s directions off the strip onto Route 17, where Calhoun directs him to the minigolf place that looks like an Ewok Village. “You’re fucking with me,” Audie says.
“Atlantia,” Calhoun announces. “The premier minigolf experience in Myrtle Beach, and we are going there. So get your ass in there and pick out a putter.”
Audie heaves a mighty sigh, parks the Porsche, and follows his boyfriend into a fake mermaid-treasure trove full of water fountains. Far more impressive than the usual minigolf experience, Audie has to admit. He picks the pink ball. Calhoun picks the purple one.
“We’re being especially gay today,” Calhoun points out.
Audie snorts.
Then they go into the course. It’s indoors. Gloriously, ridiculously, and insanely indoors.
Someone appears to have paid a starving art student to decorate the walls of an old warehouse with the story of the much-gifted Atlanticans, who bestowed their wonders upon the world before the cataclysm (much hinted at, never detailed) that destroyed their entire wondrous civilization.
“What. The. Fuck,” Audie says, gazing around in wonder. The place seems to also be blacklight sensitive.
“I told you,” Calhoun says.
“This is spectacular.”
“Look at god. Oh my god. Look at god.”
Lovingly painted across an entire wall, a replica of Michelangelo’s god gazes down upon the supplicating Atlanticans, complete with pointy finger. Except god wears a pair of inexplicable Ray-Bans and looks weirdly like Kurt Russell from the movie Big Trouble in Little China.
“Well, father fuck me,” Audie breathes at the obviously psilocybin-inflected art “God’s giving the people zebra bunnies and algebra.”
Mini-golf suddenly doesn’t suck. Audie still sucks, but it’s funny rather than annoying. He and Calhoun laugh at his pathetic efforts. “I thought all rich kids got golf lessons,” he says.
“They kicked me out,” Audie admits. “They also kicked me out of tennis. The country club let me stay on in swimming but I never figured out how to do the butterfly.”
He slams the ball into the blue water again, but this time he fishes it out. “I’m attached to the pink ball,” he says.
“You touched the blue water!” Calhoun laughs. “Your hand is going to fall off.”
Audie intentionally grabs him with it. He tries to run. Audie looks around, pins him to the wall of the fake cave, and makes out with him for a second. “Ha,” he says. “I made out with you on a minigolf course. That means I made par, bitch. Write that down.”
He keeps the pink ball. Calhoun accuses him of stealing. He tells him to keep his voice down. They argue all the way out to the car, Audie cracking up, Calhoun deadly serious. It’s adorable. Audie fishes a permanent marker from his glove compartment and scrawls “I LOVE CALHOUN” in his spiky writing across the ball. “Now you have to keep it,” he smirks.
“Bastard,” Calhoun laughs.
They order more pizza.
Afterwards, Calhoun drags him to the pool. “This is the best,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons I picked this hotel. You’ll love it.”
What Audie will love, apparently, is a pool bar. He cracks up. “Calhoun, you have to be kidding,” he says. “A swim-up bar? Like a bar in the pool? Like we go swimming and drink at the same time?”
“Uh-huh. And they make you like, super girly tropical drinks and you get plowed with all the other tourists. Come on.”
Audie lets Calhoun drag him into the pool. They swim over and run up a truly enormous bar tab with the most ridiculous drinks on the menu, the ones with the most alcohol in the most tropical and ridiculous combinations: coconut rum and stoli and blue curaçao. Calhoun declares that Audie wins when he orders something with banana liquer. It’s stupid and touristy and totally hilarious. They hang out in the water, half-floating, laughing, and drink. They end up chasing each other to their room, laughing loudly all the way through the lobby and dripping water all over the floor. They are stupid and loud and glorious.
Upstairs, Audie pushes Calhoun down on the bed. “Imma fuck you stupid,” he says.
“Imma suck you until you beg,” Calhoun grins.
“Get on my lap and ride my cock,” Audie says. “I wanna lay down and I want you to ride me like a fucking pony. You never do that. And I dare you.”
Calhoun flips over Audie and pins him down. They wrestle and laugh. “You dare me?” he says.
“I fucking dare you, Chatterton.”
So they make out hard, sucking and demanding, half wrestling, Calhoun on top more than usual, both of them laughing through it. Audie opens him up and lays back. “Do it,” he says. “Dare you.”
And Calhoun slowly lowers himself on top of Audie, shocking both of them. Calhoun’s eyes widen. “Ohmygod,” he says. “This feels fucking amazing. Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod.”
Audie cracks up. “Then move.”
Calhoun leans forward a little, gasps more, and starts fucking Audie fast and hard. Audie groans and grabs his hips, all joking forgotten. “I won’t last if you keep this up,” he manages.
“I won’t either,” Calhoun says. His cock bobs on Audie’s belly; their balls smack together. He moves up and down, up and down on his knees, his hands braced on Audie’s shoulders. His eyes shut with pleasure. His hair swings, almost in Audie’s face. “Oh god,” Calhoun says. “Oh god oh god oh god oh god —” and he sprays come, curling up, shooting over and over, all the way up to Audie’s chest. Audie can feel him shaking. He slides off. Audie jerks himself three or four times and spills himself. He almost gasps with laughter when Calhoun collapses again.
“Do not touch me. Do not,” he says. “Oh my god. That was the best ever.”
Audie can’t stop cracking up as he gets in the shower.
By then, Calhoun has recovered some. “I don’t want to do that all the time,” he says in that dreamy voice, eyes half-lidded. “But my god.” He cuddles into Audie’s chest. “Can we sleep like this? I missed you.” He’s asleep almost before he finishes talking.
They wake up in the tourist hellhole again. But this time it’s different.
Audie flips Calhoun in the lazy river. Calhoun flips him. They go on a beach walk and play dinosaur golf, then race each other in go-karts. It’s close: Audie’s used to the Porsche, but Calhoun has a Jaguar. Audie wins in the end, and they make out in front of god and everyone.They eat cheap beach food at Peaches on bar stools and try saltwater taffy, which sticks their teeth together. Audie started out trying to make Calhoun happy. But he ended up happy himself.
That neon Saturday night, in a city advertising daiquiris by the pitcher and alcoholic slushies, Audie and Calhoun walk down the strip to the storefront with the Confederate flag bikini. “Are you scared?” Calhoun asks.
“Uh-uh,” Audie says. “Are you?”
“You go first,” Calhoun says. “Because I am.”
“Okay,” Audie shrugs.
He strips off his shirt. “I want it right here, on my chest.” He points to his left pec. His parents will never see him shirtless. “And I want it done in my own handwriting.” He takes a piece of paper from the artist and scrawls:
there is still time to live on a breath made of nothing
But the whole night
They load the needle with black ink. Calhoun grips his hand, but Audie isn’t scared. He smiles. He and Calhoun are the kind of people who get tattoos.

Genre: LGBT Romance/ Buy Book

Book published 09/25/19

Julia’s Website