Rest Stop, with Philosophy

Shay Sheridan

Fandom ~ Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road, aka "Jews with Swords"
More talk than slash, but that's how they roll. Zelikman/Filaq, and maybe Amram/Zelikman. Also a camel, not slashed with anyone.

"The problem with riding a camel," Zelikman groused, sliding awkwardly off the back of the beast, "is that you can't get comfortable, no matter how you sit." He took a few pained steps and rubbed his lower back.

Amram exited the ship of the desert in a more graceful manner, pausing to pat the camel on its rump. The camel (Nefertiti by name, according to the trader-swindler who'd sold it to them) made a phlegmy spitting sound in reply. "That's not a problem with camels, my friend. That's a problem with you. If you weren't made all of skin and bones and sharp edges, you'd have a more comfortable seat." He patted his own behind. "See? Like me. You're built all wrong."

Zelikman grunted as he settled his bony frame on a pile of blankets under a date tree. "Be careful what you say to me. I'm in no mood." When Amram snorted at this nonsense, Zelikman began to clean his fingernails with a knife in a threatening manner. "No, seriously, Amram. My back hurts, I have a headache, it's disgustingly hot out here and I can't bear the thought of going another league on the back of that weapon of ass destruction."

"Except for that last bit," Amram said, ignoring the threat of the knife and plopping down beside him, "you sound almost exactly like my second wife. She was always bitching and moaning, too." He took a gulp of water and passed it on. "You even look like her, a little."

Zelikman took the water but cocked an eyebrow at him. "What, now I'm big, fat and black? What's wrong with you, sunstroke?"

"Big, fat and black was my first wife. No, Simcha was slender, like you, no breasts to speak of, long fair hair…" His fingers carded through the end of Zelikman's hair, and his voice became quite wistful. "I miss her, you know."

Zelikman regarded his friend. "If there's something you want to say, Amram, just spit it out."

Amram laughed. "Spit it out? I'm not a camel." He shifted on the blankets, making them into bedding. "Tell me; do you miss Filaq?"

The question took Zelikman by surprise, if his sudden blush was any indication. He turned away, pounding his blankets into a more comfortable arrangement. "What kind of question is that?" he asked gruffly, continuing before Amram could reply. "A pointless one, that's what. He's not here. I mean, she's not here, and we're not likely to be there. So that's it. Pointless."

"No need to get huffy."

"Sometimes a person likes to get huffy."

"Huff away, then."

"Fine, I will." The two men turned their backs to each other and lay down.

Silence fell in the desert.

"That's very telling, you know," said Amram after a while.

"What is?"

"That you still think of Filaq as a boy."


"No, seriously, my friend. Were you surprised when you slept with her?"

"None of your business. Go to sleep."

"Zelikman," Amram said slowly. "It's all right."

"Of course it is." Zelikman opened an eye. "What is?"

"Thinking about her that way. Or any way. Or missing her. Or wanting him. You know." Amram turned on his other side and found Zelikman had done the same, and was looking at him. "People are meant to be together, not alone, and who are we to judge how they pair up? Besides – longing is a part of nature. So is wanting. But of course, the best part is having."

"You're quite the philosopher today."

"Always, my friend, always."

Zelikman smiled. When he smiled, as he did on rare occasions, Amram thought he looked very young indeed, almost boyish, because the hard edges of his face softened, and his shrewd eyes warmed. "Wake me up when it's evening," Zelikman said, and closed his eyes.

"Remember what I said."

"I will, already. Ssssh."

"Good." Amram shifted onto his back and looked at the sky through the fronds of the date palm. Yes, my friend, having is best, he thought, for once allowing himself to fully embrace the yearning in his heart. He turned his head to look once more at the man beside him. But sometimes you have to settle for wanting.

redchance @
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