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When the place next to yours goes vacant it’s natural to wonder what sort of people the landlord will end up renting it to. Noisy? Quiet? Grouchy? Cheerful? Someone who will keep finding ridiculous things to gripe at you about, or a great new friend? And for someone like me there are concerns over whether they will be cool or weird about my being a transsexual…
The divorced mom who moved in next door was a bit odd----with all her emotions turned up to 11, and more prone to making every conversation about Jesus than I was used to---but she was definitely accepting, and fun enough to hang out with, and anyway I had a long history of befriending oddballs, so that she and her three adorable girls quickly became like family to me.
And then just as quickly, it all unravelled...
(A Veronica Nelson Story…)
by Laika Pupkino
)=0==0==0==0==0=> 1 BEDROOM/ 1 BATH
It’s not necessary that you read my previous story before you start this one. But if you have read VERONICA ON THE CROSS, you should know that my life had changed a lot in the eight months since then. Worse in some ways, like how I was now earning less money at a job I wasn’t nearly as comfortable in, and the way this decrease in wages was playing hell with my timetable for getting my Sexual Reassignment Surgery.
But on the plus side, all those anxieties about my transition I’d unloaded on you in that other story had pretty much vanished once I began to see results from my hormone therapy, and no longer had that sense of being stuck in some weird state of gender limbo. Another big change for the better was getting out of that horrible little studio apartment, after living there a whole lot longer than I’d ever intended to. It took me a half a year of searching to find something that I both liked and could afford, but I finally had an actual house to call my own.
Or half of one anyway. One of the two units in this neat old house that had been converted into a duplex back in the Eighties. My portion of 717 Maple Street was somewhat smaller than the other unit, with only one of the three bedrooms, but it was a hundred bucks a month cheaper, and was a palace compared to my last place. Even after I’d transferred everything I owned into it and spread it all out as evenly as I could it still seemed cavernously empty.
I could have run out and picked up a lot of fiberboard crap at the UberMart, but I looked forward to furnishing it with nice things over time; scouring the used furniture stores for just the right couch, cheerful prints to hang on the walls; and maybe even a breakfront hutch to show off my collection of Mexican folk art. Although this last one would depend on my really finding a bargain, since making my transsexual’s hajj to that hospital in Thailand was a far higher priority than the mere aesthetic indulgence of having a display case for my doodads.
You might call the portion of my surgery fund that I’d earmarked for having my face prettified an aesthetic indulgence; that work I planned to have done on my jawline, my nose, my goddamn Adam’s apple (“Come on, Ronni! It isn’t that bad,” me friends would tell me, but whenever I saw it all I could think of was Ichabod Crane); except there was a survival factor in wanting to eliminate the more glaring telltales of my past as a male. As I looked now some folks just saw a woman, some appeared a bit confused about what I was, and still others I’d catch whispering about me, or if it was a pack of guys they sometimes wouldn’t even try to be discreet about it, blatant in their contempt for my freaky self; And the less of that kind of bullshit I had to put up with the better!
So every purchase I made was weighed for how badly I really needed it, spurring recriminations against myself for being less than perfectly Spartan in my daily life; and to break my vow that I would NEVER, FOR ANY REASON DIP INTO THAT FUND in order to put down the first and last month’s rent and the deposit on this place had felt like a real transgression. But it only took one night of sleeping here to convince me that moving had absolutely been the right thing to do…
It was so quiet here without those loud drunken pointless 2 a.m. conversations in the parking area outside my window. Or when the alarm on that pimpishly pinstriped Cadillac Escalade out there would start bleeping and whooping because a leaf had landed on it or something, and it always took the guy an absurd amount of time to take care of it. And it was especially nice having old Mrs. Wilkie for my closest neighbor instead of those drug-addled idiots that had lived across the hall.
Whenever I ran into her out on our shared front porch she was all smiles, calling me “Ducks” and asking how I was holding up under “this awful heat” or “this horrible cold”---which it always seemed to be one or the other in her mind---before she started telling me about her husband Charlie. How they met, what a fine husband and father he had been, and wrapping it up with how she would be joining him in Heaven soon. I can’t say that this was excessively maudlin of her; I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to face such a vacancy in my life, after six decades of being with someone...
Figuring that she must be lonely I made a few attempts to go over and keep her company, until it became clear that these visits were more uncomfortable than comforting for her. Vera wasn’t used to socializing outside of the family she’d had and didn’t want to start now. Although she did let me run errands for her since it was pretty hard for her to get around. When I would come back with whatever it was she’d invite me in briefly: “Thank you Ducks, just put it on the drain board in there…”
On my first trip through her living room I saw that she had one of those Assisted Listening Devices on top of the television, her husband’s headphones still laying alongside hers on the little table between their two recliner chairs. And from the way that game show applause was booming from the tiny earpieces I could tell that without them her TV would have been turned up loud enough to bother me over at my place. But as it was I rarely heard her make a sound.
Then came a couple of days when she seemed too quiet even for her, and I noticed the accumulation of junk mail in her mailbox next to mine, and her cat Baby meowing at me from behind the window with increasing desperation. And when she didn’t answer my pounding on her door I called someone.
For the next week or so I could see the narrow dents crossing our front lawn left by the wheels of the gurney they’d carted her off on. Her middle-aged son Lester came by and went through her belongings, taking about half of it, and as a token of thanks for the help I’d given her he let me pick through the rest before it went to the Salvation Army. There wasn’t really much I wanted, except a fun early 60’s kitchen clock straight out of the Jetsons and her fake-Tiffany floor lamp. I also wound up with Baby the Cat, who Lester had said wouldn’t have been happy living with his three large excitable dogs…
After the unit was painted and they replaced the threadbare carpet the landlords began showing it to potential renters, and I wondered who I’d end up with as my new next door neighbor. I hoped they would be cool about living next to a tranny, or if they weren’t that then at least that they’d be quiet about it, and not like those speedfreaks across from me at my last place, with their moronic taunts and hilarious practical jokes- like draping their sploogey used condoms over the knob of my apartment’s door.
Not that their accepting me was my only concern, I mean they could be trans themselves and still not be someone I would want living next door. But with no real say in the matter all I could do was peek surreptitiously out the window as the potential renters were arriving and say some little half-prayer based on a first impression that could be dead wrong. That smart-looking preppy couple I was hoping for might enjoy spending their predawn hours shrieking hatefully and throwing dinnerware at each other; while nasty old Oscar the Grouch here could be a total pussycat who’s just had a really rough day.
The place finally did go to a family I’d never seen before, who must have been shown the place while I was at work. If I’d seen them I would have remembered them. In their matching dresses, this mom and her three daughters reminded me of the Von Trapps, or some other dementedly musical family and I expected them to all start dancing and yodeling at any second.
I had Tuesdays and Wednesdays off at my job as a receptionist at the local Auto Paint Pros, and it was a Tuesday morning when that huge moving van showed up. I have to admit that when I saw that tangle of bikes being unloaded first I sort of cringed. As much as I love kids, after having Vera for my neighbor the noise a house full of them could make might take getting used to. And in an absolute worst case scenario the caffeine crazed-looking little mom who was running in and out of the place directing the movers-might think I posed some threat to her kids once she twigged that I was trans (No it doesn’t make any sense, but some people are just hysterics, fearing all the wrong things…).
I sat at my computer playing GALACTIC EMPIRE against someone who could have been anybody, anywhere in the world---maybe even the Pope---but whose texting style had me picturing an American teenage boy. I got up every so often to refresh my coffee and take a casual glance out my front window. The uniformed movers were bringing in a steady stream of dollies stacked high with large square boxes. My new neighbors clearly won’t have the same problem with too much empty space that I’d had; in fact I had to wonder where they were putting it all.
Dinah came over and hopped up into the “co-pilot’s chair” I kept beside mine at my desk, and after deciding that the tiny spaceships flitting across my monitor weren’t something she could catch and eat, she curled up and went to sleep beside me. This was a compromise we’d reached after she kept clambering into my lap every time I sat down to use my computer. When I’d first brought her home she had taken me for some horrible kidnapper, and promptly vanished so completely that I was afraid she’d gotten out and run away until I saw that the food and water were disappearing and the sandbox was filling up. Then one morning I woke up to find her sleeping next to my pillow, a furry gray mountain looming up in front of my face; and since then she’s wanted to be wherever I was.
I’d heard somewhere it was unlucky to rename a cat, but I wasn’t about to call her Baby, which was the name that my own mother gave all her cats, and I didn’t want to be reminded of her (We hadn’t been on speaking terms since---as she put it---I had “killed” her son Victor by becoming Veronica…). So Baby became Dinah, after Alice’s cat, maybe because of all the times in my transitioning when it felt like I was falling down the rabbit hole.
Unable to concentrate over the sound of the movers sliding furniture around, and my new neighbor’s shouted instructions---“Put that there! This here! For gosh sake, be careful with those!”---I was not only not expanding my galactic empire but rapidly lost star system after star system to the Rebar Alliance. Although I still had a third of my fleet left, without any of the wormholes I had been in control of when the game began my ships couldn’t really go anywhere. So it was just a matter of time before I lost, and rather than drag this out I capitulated to my opponent…
GuildNavigater33 was not a very gracious winner, typing: ‘HA HA U SUCK! LEARN 2 PLAY OR DONT WAIST MY TIME! DIE U LOSER-’ before dismissively blowing up all my surrendered worlds with their billions of inhabitants and quickly severing our link. He probably wasn’t the Pope then…
“Boy, the Internet sure brings out the social graces in some people, doesn’t it?” I asked Dinah, who snored faintly in agreement. And then I thought of a place on the net where people tended to be a whole lot nicer than that anonymous little chickenshit had been.
Growing up in the small town of Mountain Lake, Colorado there hadn’t been any sort of gay or transgender communities that I could see, and the website AUNT HATTIE’S HAVEN was where I’d first met anyone like myself. The chat room there had been instrumental in helping me determine my course in life; and though I hadn’t been there in a while I would always regard this site, and Aunt Hattie and the rest of the people there with fondness and gratitude. And I decided to drop in…
Because my issue today was one only someone who was living en-femme (or homme) full time really had to face, I scrolled down past the generally much busier ‘Great Hall’, where even those who are just starting to wonder if they might have some sort of gender issue can join in the discussion, and instead selected the chat room for transsexuals only. Since credentials aren’t asked for, for we sometimes got imposters (mostly just folks who were curious to see what we all did in our “Closed TS” chat room), but they tend to give themselves away eventually. Like that one who had claimed she was pregnant...
Here at midday there were only three other girls and no transmen signed in at the smaller chat room. I knew one of them but not the other two; and after a round of Hellos and their assurance that they hadn’t been discussing anything more important than their favorite childhood television shows, I explained what was going on with me. Asking: Was the prospect of new neighbors and how they might react to me always this crazy and nerve-wracking? Or was I weirding out over nothing, like I had been famous for doing when I was here a year ago?
CindyTS told me that my fears weren’t unreasonable, but I should chill out about things I had no control over. She quoted me that AA prayer about the serenity and the courage and the wisdom, saying it was good advice for anyone in most situations. And she said things would probably work out okay, but even if they didn’t that the worst this five-foot-nothing soccer mom would probably do would be to act like an a-hole toward me; and if she did, to let it be her problem and not mine. I must have had experience with that sort by now…
Oh yes, I typed back, and told them a bit about the guys I worked with at AUTO PAINT PROS, and how they’d been acting toward me ever since I’d faced them and confirmed that the rumors started by Joey out in the paint barn were true (Although it was interesting how this bunch tended to be more civil toward me when they came into the office individually than when they were two or more- like each was thinking that the others expected him to be standoffish toward me or make some snide little comment…). And while it wouldn’t be fun to be treated like this on my own damn front porch, I guessed I could handle that too if I had to…
Then LilyMarlene gave me some advice that was practical and proactive, and that I really should have thought of myself: Go say HI to this woman. She’s probably wondering the same things, what kind of neighbor you are + if you yourself are friendly or some kind of a**hole. Welcome her to the neighborhood. That can count for a lot in these times when everyone’s so shut off from their neighbors. Bake something for her + her family. If she’s uninformed about TS then inform her. Show her the Veronica that us here and your gg friends from your last job all know and love…
I thanked her, “hugged” everyone in the chat room and exited, remarking to Dinah that that was actually pretty helpful. She stretched, flexing her toes with her front legs thrust out in front of her.
I was tapped until next paycheck, having just enough money for groceries and a tank of gas, and I wasn’t that great at baking, so of necessity I would need to give these neighbors something of mine. I had some doubts about what I selected. I knew that I loved little brightly painted Mexican curios, but I could see how it might look cheap and crude to someone. But I assured my self that since I’d bought it in a gift shop (if a rather seedy one in Juarez…), this by very definition qualified it as a gift; and that this woman would probably appreciate the spirit it was given in, even if she wound up burying it in some drawer or back closet…
I wrapped SeÅ„or Oso in my least Christmassy-looking leftover wrapping paper, stuck on a bow, brushed my hair, put on the tiniest bit of makeup (glamming it up too much can actually be counterproductive to presenting as a female…) and took the lumpy-looking little parcel out to greet my neighbors.
)=0==0==0==0==0=> MELODY, SPARKLE, FELICITY & GRACE
The moving van was pulling away with a painful gnashing of gears. The woman I had wanted to meet was out on the porch, talking to the two oldest of her girls, about nine and twelve. The girls were out on the grass poised on their pink Schwinn bikes, which except for the difference in size were identical, right down to the white plastic wicker-looking baskets hanging from their streamered handlebars.
And like I said, the bikes weren’t the only things that matched. But after attending “Northwest Freedom”, the big transgender convention at the Star City Marriot three years in a row I can’t say that these pink-with-red-heart Shonen Knife Peppermint Attack dresses were the most bizarre outfits I’d ever seen someone wear. The four of them were bonding as a family and having fun with this bit of silliness; and if I expect tolerance from others I’d damn well better extend some myself…
That truck pulling out had covered the sound of my front door opening and the mom hadn’t noticed me standing here yet.
“So this is all our lawn?” asked the younger daughter, like she’d never lived somewhere with a lawn before.
The mom jabbed her thumb back, almost getting me in the eye with it, “It’s ours and these people here. So I don’t want you making a mess and leaving your bikes and toys all over. We have to show them we’re not trash like You Know Who…”
She sensed my presence and turned, startled. I said, “Hi there! I’m ‘these people here’.”
She grinned sheepishly, “So I guess you heard me lecturing them. They’ll probably forget what I told them in five minutes, they’re blondes like their Momma- Oh, you’re blonde too, I didn’t mean-”
“It’s okay,” I laughed, “If we can’t tell blonde jokes who can?”
She smiled back in relief. “But I promise I’ll keep on them about it if they do mess up.”
“I’m sure it’ll be fine. I’m not going to come unglued if they aren’t always perfect about it. Kids are going to be kids, and isn’t that one of the reasons houses even have yards?”
Her big smile grew even bigger, “I always thought so.”
“Anyway, hi, and welcome to being neighbors. My name’s Veronica, I live here.” In my nervousness this struck me as funny, and I snicked inanely, Well obviously, duh! I didn’t just break in through the back door!”
“Glad to meet you, I’m Melody. Melody Jamf,” she said, and pointed, “And that’s Sparkle, the tall one there, and Felicity…”
I was twenty-five years old, and Melody looked like she might have a few years on me, but not many. She’d evidently had Sparkle when she was fairly young. I waved at them, “Hi!”
“So it’s just you living there, or you and your husband?” asked Melody.
“Just me. I don’t have a husband or anything, I-” I avert my eyes.
“And maybe you don’t want one,” she suggested helpfully.
This didn’t seem like the time to explain that I was new to being a girl, and was bisexual and still undecided about what sort of romance would fit me best now. That I had dated a few guys and a few girls and gone to bed with exactly one of each, and none of these encounters had developed into anything mutually satisfying for me or them. I said, “I don’t know. Right now I’m just sorting out my life.”
“Well good for you!” she beamed. “I think more women need to sort their lives out, get their heads on, without thinking a relationship with the first guy that comes along is gonna fix everything. I wish I hadn’t, I was so naíve! And after how things turned out, I think once was enough for me…”
“So you’re divorced?”
“Oh yeah, very! But at least they’re all legitimate,” she smiled, gesturing toward her girls, then cocked her head in puzzlement, “Whatever that means.”
“It is kind of an old-fashioned notion,” I said.
“Yeah like someone’s being valid or not depends on some guy putting his implement- No, that’s not it! What’s that word?” she asked, making a motion like someone putting a stamp on something.
“Imprimatur?” I suggested.
“Yeah, his imprimatur on their existence. We know where a man puts his implement. Anywhere he can!”
“I can tell you where that ex of mine can put his imprimatur, but I don’t swear. Men are just the pits!”
Is she gay, I wondered, or just going through the usual post-divorce bitterness? If she was, she was way beyond a ‘lipstick lesbian’. She looked like she had the whole cosmetics counter on her face, like that spooky television evangelist lady---Tammy Fay Bakker---that my grandma used to always watch. And the pink skirt and white blouse with pink heart-shaped buttons that matched both of her daughters’ outfits, it was all pretty hardcore cutesy…
But I couldn’t deny she was genuinely cute under the cutesiness. She had a nice smile, an infectious warmth and good cheer. Even if she did give her kids dog names.
Sparkle and Felicity had one of the bikes turned upside down, balanced on its seat and handlebars, and from what I overheard were rapidly cranking the pedals, pretending that the spinning back wheel was making ice cream, holding imaginary cones up to the spinning tire to fill them, only discovering what flavor they were when they took an imaginary bite.
“Careful girls,” she nagged fondly, “Don’t get those blouses dirty…”
My neighbor had noticed the wrapped gift in my hand, but had decided to wait until I started to hand it to her to start protesting, “Aw, you shouldn’t-”
“Don’t!” I warned her, “See what it is first before you start all that. It’s not the Regent diamond, really not much more than a card. Just something to say welcome to the neighborhood…’”
“Oh look, kids! Veronica gave us a present!” she cried out in an exaggerated singsong voice. And as they came running excitedly toward us 6he called in through the screen door, “Grace honey, what are you doing in there?”
“Watchin’ television,” drawled a faint little piping voice.
“That set’s not even plugged in, Baby.”
“I know, I plugged it. Now it’s bein’ all weird.”
“I have to program it. Come out here and meet your new baby sitter,” Melody said, giggling at my stunned expressions over this brash assumption. “I’m kidding!”
She introduced me to Sparkle, Felicity and little six year old Grace---who was an absolute cutie pie---then slowly and enticingly peeled the wrapper off my gift, “Its ……. it’s …….. Oh my God, he’s BEAUTIFUL!”
The hand-carved bear was one of my favorites, I was glad she liked him. He stood upright and looked sort of confused, as if wondering how he had come to be wearing this yellow and red sombrero with matching vest and playing a guitar. She gave me a grateful hug, and with repeated exclamations of ”He’s-so-cute!” she led us all into the living room---a maze of furniture and identical big square boxes---to the ‘place of honor’ she had in mind for my gift.
And now it was my turn to go bonkers over something, “Wow, those are gorgeous!”
“Oh, you like my bears?”
“No, those cabinets!” I said. They stood side by side against the far wall, obviously a set, all blonde wood and expanses of curved glass in a clean art deco style, and in perfect condition for pieces that were seventy or eighty years old.
One of them was filled with antique dolls as white as alabaster, with mechanical eyelids and creepy blank expressions on their hard shiny faces, that I’d sure have a hard time falling asleep in the same room with; the other full of Teddy bears from about the same era that actually were sort of cute, the girl bears all in old-fashioned dresses and ribbons and frilly bonnets, the boy bears wearing things like tweed suits with vests and fob watches, top hats and bowlers.
I’d never been a fan of this kind of musty Victoriana, but since she was clearly quite fond of them (enough that digging them out of their crates and arranging them in here had been her first order of business on moving in today…) I added, “I mean the bears are great, I love this one in his little sailor suit. But the cabinets …… I’ve been looking for something like this, and these are way nicer than anything I’ve seen on e-bay so far.”
“Those were my Grandma’s,” said Melody, “I didn’t even know her that well, so I was shocked that she had that kind of money---I mean not a millionaire, not quite---and how much of her estate she left me. It was literally a lifesaver.”
“Cool doesn’t even begin to describe it! It let us get away from old Mr. Psycho, and if I really watch my spending I’ll be able to be a stay at home mom, and not have to go to work at least until Grace is twelve or so. That’s really my whole priority right now, is being here for these three…”
Hearing this, Grace swooped in and hugged her mom’s waist, and Melody coaxed Sparkle and Felicity to her with a wave of her arm, a big warm family hug that I would have loved to be part of. But this jeans and sweater I had on didn’t match their outfits, and really it wasn’t their family that I was aching to be part of anyway, but some dream of the girlhood I never had, being loved as a daughter by my own mom.
My present relationship with my family was damned bleak too, and their happiness brought out a sharp pang of self pity in me, that I thought I did a pretty good job of hiding, when Melody looked up at me grinning and I smiled back. Because I was in fact happy for them…
“Can me and Felicity go ride our bikes?” asked Sparkle.
Melody looked at me expectantly. I would find out later that she and her girls were from out of state and knew next to nothing about Star City, having only deciding on this address from our landlord’s assurances that while this was an older neighborhood and far from prestigious it was fairly safe here. I told her, “It’s really mellow…”
“Okay, but stay within a couple of blocks.”
“I wanna go too!” said Grace.
“Sweetie, you can’t ride in the street yet, and you’d slow them down. You stay here with me, and tomorrow you and I will go…”
“Be back soon, we have a lot of unpacking to do. And remember where you live.”
“717-B Laurel Street,” sang Felicity and Sparkle in unison, and were out the door.
I sure wouldn’t want to have been stuck with either of their names. They were among those few girl’s names that I disliked almost as much as my dorky birth name of Victor. And Sparkle Jamf sounded like some weird character out of a Thomas Pynchon novel. But this seemed to be the era of “creative” kid names, and like the man said- ‘A rose by any other name…’
“Oh crap. Speaking of unpacking- the food! I’ve got all that stuff to put away in the fridge. ”
“They’re great kids,” I told Melody.
“I think so! I’m amazed that they turned out as great as they did. They’ve been through so much with their dad. His drinking, his controlling and wanting everything his way, and oh God his temper! We actually had to hide from him. He was talking about ….... well bad things,” she said, lowering her voice so that Grace---who had a box of crayons and was happily drawing doors and windows and flowers onto one of the moving crates---might not hear. “It got pretty crazy there toward the end…”
“Sounds familiar,” I sighed.
“You had one like that too, huh?”
“No, not really. I just meant it my dad.”
“That’s even worse! I mean an adult can look at what she’s gotten herself into, and split if she’s got half a brain. But when you’re that young, you’re not only stuck there but you don’t even know-” she gestured vaguely.
“You don’t have anything to compare it too,” I said excitedly, “You’re not even sure what the problem is! If he’s saying it’s you, you feel like shit, it’s probably true. You feel ashamed and just …… just wrong!”
Our eyes met. Sad understanding in hers…
She said, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there,” she said, “Couldn’t wait to marry Roger and get out of their house. Only guess what?”
I laughed quietly, “I can guess…”
“I know! It’s such a dumb cliché! But I honestly didn’t see it coming. Because he was smart, not a blue collar-type like Daddy. Drove a Volvo, had that gift for talk that a college education gives you, but in the end all that meant was he used bigger words to beat us down with. But I swore I wasn’t going to make my girls have to live through that. And when my Grandma died and I got that two hundred grand, we were gone. Roger and I had a joint account but I wasn’t about to put it in there. He didn’t even know about the money yet, and the executor worked with me when I explained how bad it was. I opened my own account, the first I ever had, and then we were gone. No note, nothing. I wasn’t going to make my girls spend another night in that house!”
“Did your husband contest the divorce?”
“No, because I’d embarrassed him. His friends, the people he worked with, that whole image he worked so hard to create. That meant more to him than we did.”
“And what about custody?”
“Didn’t want that either. Mostly by then he was talking about killing us!”
“Holy shit!” I gulped, because I saw in her eyes she wasn’t kidding. “I hope you got restraining order!”
“Sure did, but I’m not trusting in some piece of paper. I’d be a fool to, as nuts as he is!”
So it was pretty bad huh? Ever talk to him?”
His controlling. His rages. And it all just got worse and worse. I’m amazed they turned out so great.”
Into the kitchen. Wow, it looks great. The new paint really helps. And they redid the floor.
I guess you would’ve been in here. So you knew her. The old lady…
“I did sort of. I tried to help her out. And I thought she might be lonely. But if she was she wanted to be.
“She knew she was dying. She was cutting her attachments to this life. Didn’t want to start new ones.”
“That makes sense,” I said.
I’m cutting unions.
GOD YOU GOT BIG HANDS.
“But she does…” whined Grace.
“It’s okay,” I said.
“No it’s not! You don’t talk about people’s hands...”
“She didn’t know,” I said.
“Well she should. Go to your room, Grace!”
“Which one’s my room?”
Melody paused. Said, “Then go color. Just go!”
As Grace slunk from the room, and her mother gushed in apology, “I am so sorry, Veronica!”
“About what? I do have big hands. There’s worse things I could have…”
“I know, you’re really pretty,” she smiled reassuringly.
For a transsexual. So she knew. No huge surprise there. I got made sometimes. Less than in the early months of this, but enough.
“No I mean it. It’s just the hands, and that you’re tall like that, and plus I’ve known a couple transgender girls. I grew up in The City.”
“Here? Oh you mean that city.” I said. The San Franciscan’s conceit that they had the only city worth the title.
“But when I married Joe. Well, we don’t hang around people like that! Or my gay friends either. And yes, I know the difference.”
I thought: Yes I’m going to like this woman.
Your voice is really nice,” she stroked the soft hollow of her throat, “And you don’t have the bump. Is that from the hormones?”
“No, not really. Hormones don’t lower your voice, or not female ones. Part of it’s training, but my voice was always kind of high. And my body hair was sparse. Apparently I’d never had a lot of testosterone, which I’d always suspected.”
“Thank God, huh?” she said, shuddering at the thought of testosterone in her system.
invariably trying to tip me for my help.
As nearsighted as she was I don’t believe Vera Wilkie ever recognized me as transsexual in the months I knew her.
INTO KITCHEN, unloading.
Melody had her hands full, “Mommy will do it later, I promise.
“I can do it,” I said. Grace smiled and handed it to me. A bulbous gold plated heart on a slender gold chain---not very expensive---that Mommy was wearing a copy of too.
“I like your outfits,” I said, a little while lie, as I started to draw the chain’s two ends around her neck.
The girl jumped away from me---alarming me, making me wonder what on Earth I’d done to spook her---until she whirled around and struck a dramatic pose, “Me too! We’re the Ultra Girls!”
“You mean like Ultra Girl from the comics,” I asked, remembering the character from my short spell as a collector and wondering if she had her own cartoon show now.
“No the Ultra Girls!” barked Grace, as if saying it louder would clarify what she meant.
“Oh, okay,” I said. I seemed to recall a couple of different comics heroines with ‘ultra’ in their names. Or it could have been anything.
“It’s just something they made up,” explained Melody.
“Nuh-uhn! We’re real,” complained Grace, “You said we were, and we’re more than anybody!”
“Yes, well if Mommy did she was just humoring you. Mommy does that when you go on and on about something silly, like a silly little monkey…”
The Ultra Girl grew sullen. I asked, “So what superpowers does an Ultra Girl have?”
Grace shrugged, confused.
“Can you fly?”
“Don’t give her any ideas,” warned Melody, “She’ll be jumping off the furniture all day!”
“Okay, bad idea,” I laughed, “You can’t fly. Are you like ……. super strong?”
“Yeah,” she grinned, “Cause girls are strong!” she roared, and smashed her fist into the air. Melody winced like she had a headache.
“And what else can you do? Can you shoot lightning bolts?”
“Yeah, with our magic headphones!”
“I’ll bet that comes in handy when you’re fighting the forces of evil.”
“We fight boys!” she shouted and started punching her fists around blindly, almost knocking my coffee off the table.
“That’s enough,” snapped Melody, “Keep it sweet, Grace! I told you about the roughhousing. Now hold still and let Veronica fix your necklace.”
She did, and I did.
Just then Sparkle and Felicity came storming in the front door. Apparently they’d raced home.
“No way! I was way ahead of you!”
“But we said to the house, Sparkle, and I came in through the door first.”
“That’s ‘cause I waited for you. The race was over.”
“No it wasn’t. And I won!”
They came into the kitchen, wanting something to drink. Melody made them each a glass of lemonade mix. They wanted ice in it, but the refrigerator had just been plugged in and the icemaker in the door wasn’t made any.
I ran home and got a tray of ice cubes, grinning at my meeting with Melody’s girls, their playful exuberance. It brought to mind the better times in my own childhood, how my sister and I had been as inseparable as Felicity and Sparkle, our epic battles across the ping pong table in the basement, exploring the woods outside of town. We didn’t play “girls games” or “boy’s games”, we just played. I’m not like the transsexuals who had an early and overpowering identification with things female, when people told me I was a boy I went “oh, okay”, the concept of gender didn’t mean much of anything to me…
Until I started getting told what I couldn’t play. Don’t let your father see you doing that. Don’t play dolls with your sister, go play ball with Tommy and Bill. These restrictions seemed weird and pointless but I did them. It was only when I was twelve that I started thinking “this is wrong”, like I was being progressively being pushed into a role that wasn’t me, and wanting to do the forbidden. Feeling like and wanting to be recognized as a girl; this crazy impossible thing that I knew damn well this would never fly with my dad, would have infuriated him. He infuriated so easy. And Mom wanting to do whatever it took to keep him happy.
And then not grinning, as I thought about my situation with my mom and siblings now.
“So where would this go?” I asked, gesturing with the heavy pitcher I’d just unwrapped. We were pulling dishes, utensils and cookware out of boxes out of the moving company’s boxes and putting them into cupboards and drawers.
“Find someplace. I’ll reorganize it all later. Right now I just want all these boxes out of here,” she said. In the box she was unloading she found her coffee maker, “Do you feel like a cup?”
“Oh no!” I frowned, “I drink a lot of coffee in the morning, then none at all after around noon or one…”
“Don’t worry, it’s decaf.”
Then what’s the point? I thought, but said sure.
)=0==0==0==0==0=> MILK AND COOKIES
Wednesday was the second day of my mid-week “weekend”, and I went food shopping in the morning, really stocking up. A year ago I might have been able to carry it all in one trip, lifting as many bags with each hand as I could get my fingers through the straps of , but today I wan’t even going to try that. Would make two trips of it. My body really was changing.
I didn’t relish this waning upper body strength. It was a nuisance at times, catching me by surprise when I would try to do things I’d been able to do easily Vince. But it was a very small price to pay for the other, more gratifying physical changes. All those doubts and worries I’d had at the three month mark of my hormone regimen---a time when the pills’ only effect seemed to be the total disappearance of my libido---were gone now. My sex drive had returned, slowly at first, as if rebuilding itself along with the wonderful things that were happening in my chest, my hips, and I think even my face. My libido was different now somehow, and absolutely better. What had never seemed quite right about it now felt appropriate to my sense of self. Increasingly I was feeling sexy and more complete. Things that I had always felt, but on some level may have sort of doubted, wondering if they were just imaginary- well there was no longer these sorts of doubts. I was feeling female
I was the model for art day.
Grace drew a picture of me and it looked like this (Amazing resemblance, huh?):
Sparkle pencil sketched a picture of me and it looked like this (Wow, I was blown away):
Felicity drew a picture that looked like this. I was very relieved to find out that it wasn’t supposed to be me.
She said that she had tried to draw me but she messed up a couple of times, and then gave up and drew this. I asked her what it was supposed to be. She said she didn’t know. I pressed her, and asked her to give it a name, the first thing that popped into her head. She told me: THE THING THAT NOBODY SEES.
I don’t know about you but this image kind of freaked me out, and still does. I read pain and fear and a whole lot of bad things into it. I had noticed that Felicity was a lot quieter, a lot less quick to laugh and joke around than her sisters, and this picture showed me a really troubled kid.
I checked her out for bruises. Could Melody be an abuser?
I just couldn’t see it. Her whole life seemed to center around those girls. She was proud of them, and doted on them. A little controlling, a little heavy on making them conform to the girly-girl model of girlhood. When they started to get rowdy her favorite reprimand was “Keep it sweet!”
I thought she should let them play in the mud more, get dirty, be able to whoop and holler if they wanted to. But that might be the feminist in me, my notions about empowerment- that stifling a girl’s natural rowdiness, however much she possesses, isn’t good. But I wasn’t a parent, so I didn’t really feel I should suddenly be offering expert advice. People giving advice to people about things they can’t understand is half the problem with the world. They have some concept of what SHOULD be, and aren’t concerned with what is. Yes, like transsexualism. You can’t be a girl because boys shouldn’t feel like girls, period.
And whatever Melody’s faults and peccadilloes, they were not in any way like the rages my father would fly into. Those “infrequent” (according to my mother) beatings
,” I chuckled ruefully, thinking of my own prizewinning old man, and how now even in death he was fucking with me.
If it was only a couple of times a year---and a couple of years in there he never laid a finger on you---that wasn’t abuse. Not like that Tommy So-and-so down the block had to go through. So what if he kicked me as hard as he could in the small of the back? I never went to the hospital like that Mike So-and-so kid down the block. You know how those Irish are, now THAT was abuse!
But he was so damned unpredictable about it. I never knew when it was coming. And I kept asking myself WHY? What did I do wrong? And the belt and all that, that only hurt when it happened. His sarcasm, his belittling, those were constant! Why did he give every indication that I sickened him, that he hated me?
He didn’t hate you, he worked hard to provide for us, we never went without. And if he did talk a little rough he was he was just trying to toughen you up, but you wouldn’t hear it, with your crazy, stubborn, and contrary to all reason trans-this and gender-that! I don’t want to hear all this abuse stuff. Don’t make it like it was his fault you turned out like you did!
Um, Mom, that’s not what I was saying. There’s no fault about how I turned out because there’s nothing wrong with me. Nothing that $40,000, a passport and a plane trip to Thailand can’t fix…
NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU? HOW CAN YOU STAND THERE WEARING A DRESS AND TELL ME THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU?!! HAVEN’T YOU CAUSED THIS FAMILY ENOUGH PAIN WITHOUT THROWING IT IN OUR FACES, THE DISGRACE YOU’VE BECOME? YOU KILLED YOUR FATHER!!!
She used to be able to acknowledge that her husband was a pretty awful man. But since he died her memory became highly selective. Not the times we all cowered in fear but the time he brought her roses, and like that, all the way down the line. And somehow in her newfound insanity I became the villain.
I told them all about me, and Mom was actually listening at that time. Dad was yelling like I never saw him yell before. And then suddenly he gave it up, and announced he was going to take a nap. I think now he had suddenly grown dizzy as the blood vessels started popping in his head, the way he lurched out of the room.
I have to admit the timing doesn’t look good. Never mind that his own pigheaded denial kept him from going to the hospital, it was my transgenderishness that killed him. Never mind that for most of his life he had ate, drank and smoked like Elvis at the Cattleman’s Convention, it was that name I gave them. The way he spat it out in disgust. The last thing he said.
Oh yes, I typed back, and described the guys I worked with at AUTO PAINT PROS. How they’d been acting toward me ever since I’d faced them and confirmed that the rumors started by Joey out in the paint barn were true; adding that like them I was just there to work and earn a living; and that since our boss was a big liberal who already knew about me, complaining to him about having to work with that he-she was not going to make him fire me; Although if they really applied themselves to it they could probably harass me into quitting; But hadn’t I already proven myself better at this job and far less personally difficult than my predecessor, who had been sacked? And that anyway we really didn’t interact all that much unless there were hassles, so my being allowed to do my job would make everybody else’s day go more smoothly as well, so we could all punch out at six with a minimum of headaches and go our separate ways.
Looking at my screen I saw that I’d really been dominating our online conversation, and felt kind of sheepish for this, but had to note that what was interesting was how my co-workers tended to be friendlier to me when they came into the office individually---grabbing order forms or whatever---than they were when they all tromped in as a group; like they were each thinking that the others expected him to be snidely disapproving of me. I concluded by saying that while it wouldn’t be fun to be treated like this on my own damn front porch as well, I guessed I could handle it if I had to…
Melody grabbed a colorful bag from a high cabinet and poured something out of it into a big bowl, “Okay girls, who wants animal cookies?”
Her girls all I-do-I-do-ed with polite enthusiasm and seated themselves at the kitchen table around it.
“You too, Ronnie,” she grinned, “Big girls get cookies too.”
And when I hesitated, about to demure and say this big girl didn’t want to get any bigger, she pulled out a chair for me while she ‘ate’ one of them for me, like a mom would do to get a toddler to eat something, not actually eating it but clumsily palming it to make it disappear, all lip-smacks and N’yum! Yum! Yum!; treating me like a kid. It was sweet. I shrugged and laughed and sat down with my ‘sisters’.
The girls all waited while she poured us each a glass of milk, then asked little Grace to lead us in grace. Something I’d never seen anyone do for just a snack, but growing up my own family only seemed to do it at Thanksgiving, putting on a show of piety for the older relatives who might expect it.
“Thank you Jesus, for this blessing we’re ‘bout t’ receive. Jesus who loves all the children and everybody but little girls best of all, Amen!”
While Mom went off to play on her computer we dug in. The vaguely animal-shaped things were coated with a hard icing, pink or white and dotted with rainbow sprinkles. The girls all stated a claim to the pink ones, each making her own little pile on the tablecloth and leaving me the white ones.
I had to chuckle, as I remembered how I’d preferred the pink ones too as a kid; except that being a boy I had to pretend I didn’t. So here I was stuck with the crummy white ones again. Oh well, I supposed I could go my own pink cookies, which I knew I wouldn’t.
“Did you know that in England they call cookies biscuits?” I asked.
“Really?” asked Sparkle, “So what do they call biscuits?”
They all laughed, “No way!”
“Well I see you’re to smart for me ……. Actually I don’t know. I’ll have to look that up.”
Felicity held up one of the amorphous iced blobs and asked us what animal we thought it was supposed to be. Grace said a tiger, Sparkle said bear, and Felicity still wouldn’t even venture a guess. They looked at me.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “None of them look like any animals I’ve ever seen; unless they’re all supposed to be amoebas…”
“Meebas? What’s that?” asked Grace.
“My teacher says amoebas are bad. They get in the water and make you sick,” stated Sparkle.
Grace dropped hers, “Ew, I don’t wanna eat ‘em then!”
“Not these kind, you dope! Only real amoebas can hurt you. See?” laughed Felicity and grabbed and ate Grace’s cookie.
“Hey!” hollered Grace and snagged two from Felicity’s pile, which made her squawk, and start to retaliate.
“Oh no- cookie wars!” I intoned gravely.
“Keep it sweet, girls!” Melody warned us distractedly, absorbed in whatever she was doing on her desktop.
“But so what’s amoebas?” asked Grace again. Back to that.
“I’ll show you. I mean if your mom doesn’t mind,” I told them, and led them out to where Melody was. Asked her if I could borrow her machine.
She agreed, glad that I was helping educate her youngun’s, and let me have her chair, “But don’t lose that page…”
I SHOWED THEM AMOEBACAM
The amoebas were frisky today. The girls oohed and aaaawed.
“They’re so pretty,” lisped Grace.
“Really>” asked Sparkle, “I think they’re kind of creepy.”
They looked at Felicity for a tiebreaker. She said with slow deliberation, “I think they’re pretty … creepy.”
They all laughed. It was good to see she was in a better mood. There was something so dark about the girl. Is what they meant about the Middle Child Syndrome? That the eldest generally grew up responsible, the youngest dependant and babyish, and the middle child the one who wound up getting in trouble in life? I never really trusted pat ‘syndromes’ like this, but it seemed true for right now…
“Look, girls!” I said, when I noticed one of them assuming the classic spindle shape of cell division, “Look at this one! Look what he’s gonna do?”
The amoeba slowly tore itself into two smaller ones.
“Ow! What happened?” asked Felicity.
“That’s how they make babies,” I explained.
“Asexual reproduction,” said Sparkle.
“Oh, you knew that!” I nodded at her.
“Hey, mom teaches us good. She gives us tests, but mine’s got harder questions,” she said.
“You mean they don’t you-know-what?”
“Nope, they do that,” I said.
“It’s called mitosis,” added Sparkle, “It’s the same thing our cells do when grow and stuff. Or when we cut ourselves and it heals…”
I was glad that Melody was actually teaching them things, that it wasn’t all art classes and bible stories. I imagined when home schooling was bad it could be really bad; the parent not held accountable for what kind of gibberish they were telling their kids under the guise of teaching them.
“I wish I could do that,” wowed Grace, “I’d make babies all day!”
“Yeah, but you’d be one of them,” said Felicity, “See? They’re both little now…”
“She’s already a baby!” laughed Sparkle, and grabbed a baby bonnet off a bear in the cabinet, and tried to put it on her, “Goo goo! Ga ga! I’m baby amoeba Gracie!”
“Stop that! I am not a baby!” squealed Grace, sounding secretly pleased by the prospect.
“Or no- you know what?” asked Felicity darkly.
They looked at her.
“You’d be dead! Cause there’s two babies now and the momma is gone. She died to make her babies. Dead, gone forever. No more Grace, ever!”
“Stop it!’ cried out Grace, not happy at all this time.
Felicity wasn’t relenting, “It’s true though, it’s gonna happen. Some day you’re gonna be dead. And you won’t even know you were ever here. All your memories, everything gone. We all are…”
Well, so much for the brighter, happier Felicity.
Melody was standing in the door. She didn’t look happy.
“Could I talk to you a minute, Felicity?” she asked, but it wasn’t a request.
She dragged her daughter into the other room. I overheard “What’s the matter with you?” and “scaring your sister!” and “just mean!” and “embarrassing me in front of Veronica!”; this last of which I could have told her wasn’t any problem. It seemed like she should have been less worried about embarrassment and more worried about what was making Felicity so morbid and dark. That maybe she needed professional help, but I wasn’t sure. Maybe this was normal for a kid. I certainly went to dark places at her age or a little older, but then my father had helped me go there. Maybe she was still suffering trauma from her father’s abuse. The famous television shrink Dr. Andrea ironically calls child abuse, “The gift that keeps on giving…”
You could fill a library with what I didn’t know about child raising and child psychology, but I did know that I was going to keep an eye on Felicity, and if this feeling I got continued I was going to suggest to Melody that maybe at least somebody who DID know about this things could take a look at her.
“You know what, Grace?” said Sparkle, “Felicity is wrong. You wouldn’t disappear. You would be one of the babies, but you’d be the mommy still too…”
And she explained that one of the two little amoebas created by the split had the original copy of the DNA, and so that was the mommy amoeba, the one who would keep all her amoeba memories, such as they would be. And then when she ate enough to get big she would do it again.
“Okay, then I’m gonna do that!”
I was about to excuse myself and go home (“Well I hate to eat and run-”) when I was ambushed by Melody…
The site she was at was called THE LAST CONSPIRACY BLOG, I see the words CIA and MK Ultra before finding and opening her Internet explorer. I had got the ideafigured she was into this conspiracy stuff pretty deep, since she’d told me her weird ideas about George Bush and 9/11. Not the George-W.-personally-blew-up-the-World-Trade-Center theory you may have heard, but one even weirder- that the whole thing began with a wager between the first President Bush and some Arab sheik, and had been orchestrated for no better reason than to win a bet.
I actually found it a bit offensive that she could believe this. As tempting as it is to demonize such silliness seems to trivialize all those deaths. But my shrink said I needed to lighten up on my friends if I wanted any…
Then one day she’s taking her estrogen tabs in front of Sparkle. The girl says, “Oh, you take the green ones…”
)=0==0==0==0==0=> MILK AND COOKIES
)=0==0==0==0==0=> JONESTOWN LOGIC
On the trash day after poor old Vera’s son had come by to sort through her possessions, her two trashcans had been packed full and surrounded by garbage bags full of whatever hadn’t been good enough to give to the Goodwill. I’m not by nature a trash picker, but as I dragged my own single can out to the curb I’d noticed it sitting right there on the top of the stuff in one of her cans. I supposed that between her bad health and her husband’s bad health they’d had need for a stethoscope at some point. And for no clear reason---except maybe that it seemed to be in such pristine shape---I took it back into the house with me, feeling a bit like a trash picker.
I had it with me as I entered my bedroom. If my bed had still been up against the wall I could have laid on it bed, but when I realized that the room on the other side of that too-thin wall was going to be one of the kid’s rooms, I had moved it to the other side of the room.
So I would lay on the floor to do this, since the more still I was the less likely I’d be to give away my presence. I could hear them in there now, at least two of Melody’s daughters, their voices indistinct. God, this was so wrong. Such a creepy voyeuristic thing to be doing. You’ve finally gone off the deep end with your paranoia, Ronni! Round the bend and bloody bonkers…
I told myself I would do this ONCE, and if I didn’t hear anything strange or suspicious in their conversation I would chop the rubber tubes of the stethoscope and throw the damn thing out. I couldn’t be making a habit of this! I got down on the floor in the middle of the room and crawled over to the wall, lay down as quietly as I could. And at the worst possible time the floor creaked.
Oh well, I was here now. I plugged the earpieces into my ears and pressed the bell to the wall. I might be wrong at times about who said what, but with Grace sounding so young, and Sparkle’s air of authority, and Felicity’s depressed tone, in most cases I was able to sort out which of the girls was speaking:
Felicity: “What was that?”
Sparkle: “What was what?”
Sparkle: “She’s over there doing something. You know how these walls are.”
Grace: “I know. I heard her fart once!”
Felicity: “Did not!”
Grace: “I did so. She farts like a big man!” [makes loud poopy noise/ chorus of giggles.]
Sparkle: “Of course she does. She’s a he-she.”
Grace: “Uh-uhn! She’s nice. You’re a he-she!”
Sparkle: “No you’re a he-she!”
Felicity [angry]: “Oh fuck, we’re all he-she’s! We’re just like she is…”
Grace: “Um! You said fuck! I’m telling Mom!”
Sparkle: “Well you said it too, you little he-she!”
Felicity [bitterly]: “It’s all real funny, isn’t it? What’s she’s doing-”
Grace: “I am not a he-she, I’m a girl! Mom said so. I’m a girl and so’s Veronica. I like her, she’s nice!”
Sparkle: “She is nice, for a he-she.”
Felicity: “Mom says! Mom says! Mom says a lot of stuff- she’s looney tunes!”
Sparkle: “That is NOT a cool thing to say about Mom, Felicity!”
Felicity: “I don’t care! She’s a damn psycho, the way she’s always on about how men are all this and that ……. Hell, maybe Mom’s a he-she.”
Grace: “She is not! She’s REAL! Like we shoulda been-” [SLAPPING SOUND]
Felicity: “Ow, you little bitch! You hit me!”
Grace: “You take that back! Mom loves us! So don’t you say that!”
Felicity: “But it’s true.”
Sparkle: “How could Mom be a he-she if she had us?”
Felicity: “No not that. But I mean she’s nuts!”
Grace: “She is not!”
Felicity: “Then why are we hiding like this? The new name and the fake ID’s from that gangster guy…”
Sparkle: “Well duh, because of Dad. He didn’t want us being girls, because all he wants is having his family name going on, with all his ‘macho attitude’ and everything…”
Grace: “And with his big dick!”
Sparkle: “Because men can’t make life like women can, so they make that name their big thing. You don’t want to be like him, do you Leesie?”
Grace: “Big stupid dick!”
Felicity: “I don’t know, But I don’t want to go to that doctor tomorrow.”
Grace: “Dick! Dick! Dick!”
Sparkle: “We heard you the first time, Grace.”
Grace [reciting solemnly]: “Mom only wants what’s best for us.”
Felicity: “So she says…”
Grace: “Yeah, ‘cause she does!”
Felicity: “Saying it all the time doesn’t make it true!”
Grace: “Sure it does. She’s our mom! She’s saving us from having to be boys and make wars and rape everybody and kill the planet!”
Felicity: “Maybe I don’t want to be saved.”
Grace: “So you want rape and to kill the planet?”
Felicity: “No! I don’t ……… I don’t know, okay? Maybe I want to kill Mom. Maybe I want to kill me! I just- It’s all so-” [STARTS CRYING]
Sparkle: “You’re scared about tomorrow, huh?”
Felicity: [CRYING, INDISTINCT SYLLABLES]
Sparkle: “It’s okay sis. I was scared too. It doesn’t hurt you know. I mean not a whole lot. when they did mine. They’re not big, and they don’t have to get inside you to take them, it’s like God made them like this, so you could do this…”
Felicity [SNIFFLING]: “So why are they there? Why would he make them if they’re so bad?”
Sparkle: “It’s to give us the choice.”
Felicity [ANGRILY]: “What choice?! No one’s giving me any choices! Mom, a-and this weird doctor of hers. He smells bad, like he don’t change his shirt!”
Sparkle: “But you do have a choice. To go toward the dark, or towards the light.”
Felicity: “And why are there even men then, if they’re all so dark and bad? I don’t know ……. It just don’t make sense.”
Sparkle: “You see? There you go, trying to put your ‘making sense’ on God, when he’s smarter and bigger than we can ever be. It’s that ‘hubris’ stuff. hubris stuff- You know, like she says. ‘The Hubris of Man’. You don’t question what’s God’s Will. All that stuff we can’t ever know…”
Felicity: “I just wish there was somebody else we could talk to about all this besides you two and Mom.”
Sparkle [sternly]: “Well there isn’t. You know the rules.”
Felicity: “Of course I do, silly. More than anything! Don’t ever think that! But what about Veronica? Couldn’t I talk to her? She knows about this stuff, she’s like us, and she’s …….. I don’t know. Somebody else. And she’s real nice.”
“If Mom hasn’t told her she has a reason. Just because someone’s nice, and friendly and all that, it doesn’t mean she’d understand. A lot of women are as messed up in the head as men., right where men want them, and would rat us out to the System.
Grace: “Why would you want to be a boy, Leesie? Don’t you love us?”
Felicity: “I wouldn’t love you any less, even if I was a boy.”
Grace: “I mean then we wouldn’t be sisters! We’re the Ultra Girls!”
Felicity: “But couldn’t I be your brother?”
Grace: “But you wouldn’t be Ultra…”
Felicity: “Maybe not, but I’d still be me. I wouldn’t love you any less.”
Sparkle: “You say that now, but that testosterone stuff, it changes you. That’s why we have to do this now, when you’re ten. Before there’s even any chance of it getting in you. ‘Cause when that happens, that’s when men turn away from God, and get all violent and weird. And after that happened you definitely wouldn’t love us as much. In fact you’d probably hate us, like Dad did! Men hate women and want to control us, because they know we’re next to God and they’re not…”
Felicity: “But Mom, I mean she’s supposed to be this Christian, but half the stuff she says isn’t even right. Like how it was Adam and not Eve who ate the Devil’s apple, and then he went crazy, and raped her, and made her eat it too, and then lied about it all. That’s not even in the Bible! I mean, look, right here: Genesis Three.”
Sparkle: “Because God didn’t write that part. It was the partyankle- the pankyarticle- You know, those old Jew guys when they took over…”
Felicity: “And what was so bad about Dad? He wasn’t violent, he wasn’t all ‘Hey, let’s kill the planet!’, he drove a hybrid.”
Sparkle: “ARE YOU NUTS? He beat us and raped Mom and us all the time! All that so-called nice stuff he did was just for show.”
Felicity: “When? When did he do this?”
Sparkle [IMPATIENTLY]: “All the time!”
Felicity: “When? Tell me one time!”
Sparkle: “Of course we don’t remember. Mom explained that. It’s that repressed memories thing. The fact that we can’t remember it just shows you how bad it was! Don’t worry, after tomorrow you’ll lose all that worry. You’ll see.”
Felicity: “I just don’t know…”
Sparkle: “Well I do. I’ve been through everything you are, and I was asking myself the same stuff. And I was worse, because remember, we’d just got away from Dad, and that was when Mom first bought us girl clothes and told us we were gonna be girls for real. When God first started talking to her.”
Grace: “And we’re the Ultra Girls, and gonna lead the Revolution and make all those big dicks pay!”
Just because she’s got you two saying everything she does ……..
The “girls” left first, with the woman from the Child Protective Services. Little Grace crying for her mommy, Felicity stunned and withdrawn, and Sparkle wearing a calm expression like she had always known this was inevitable…
The cops were taking loud over there, and I knew they were just about to take my neighbor away. I could have stayed inside, hid, and never had to see again, but she’d been my friend and I thought she deserved that I say something to her. How I didn’t feel I had any choice.
I went out on the porch, and sure enough here they came. Thirty seconds later and I would’ve missed them. Two cops with Melody between them, her wrists cuffed behind her back. The two officers seemed to know I was the one who tipped them, they paused long enough for us to talk. Maybe they were just curious to see what the tranny had to say to the psycho lady.
“You FUCK!” she screamed, “They took my family, are you happy now?!”
“No I’m not. Nothing about this makes me happy.”
“I should have known not to trust you! Trans- gender my ass! You’re just a man. You can have them cut your dick of and prance around and wear your makeup and your little ponytail with your little scrunchie, and try to talk the talk about <>‘Ooooh, I am such a girl, I’m so sensitive and caring!’; with your phony goddamn hugs and tears, but you’ll NEVER be a woman! You don’t know the first thing about being a woman you phony freak-”
“SHUT UP!” I shouted, and she must have been as surprised as I was by the rage in it because she did shut up, like just stunned. And now my ‘phony goddamn tears’ came pouring out as I told her, “No mother who loved her children would do the things you did to those sweet kids! If I’d been blessed to be able to have kids I couldn’t have, never! I know that much about being a woman. They loved you, they trusted you and you just shit on them! I know parents like you too well! They didn’t listen, wouldn’t believe me---who I was, how I felt---it was their way, and only their way, and to hell with who I really was or how much I hurt! And my dad, you heard what he did! And you know what? You go on and on about men but there is no difference- NO DIFFERENCE between you and him! He used a belt, you shamed those kids into hating what they were! And maybe you’re right, maybe I am not really a woman, but you’re not even a fucking human being, you-”
No it wasn’t smart, with these two cops right here. To say I wasn’t really thinking would be an understatement. Before I even knew I was going to do it I had hawked and spit in her face. There was quite a lot of it on her.
“That’s enough!” roared one of the cops, “We got room in our cruiser if you want to go too-”
“No I ……. I don’t think I do. Sorry officers, I uh- hormones,” I said and scooted back into my place and watched from the threshold while they dragged her down the porch steps.
When they had her halfway across the lawn I called out, “Hey Melody!”
She turned. I flipped her the finger and slammed the door.
0=/=/=/=/=/=/=[[[ FOR RANDALYNN ]]]=======0
And like I said, the bikes weren’t the only things that matched. When I’d first spotted the four of them all in matching outfits I had done a double-take: YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Like they’d stepped out of some dementedly wholesome television commercial. But after the outfits a few of the attendees had been wearing at Northwest Freedom---the big transgendered persons’ convention at the Star City Marriot that I’d dragged my friend Big Ronnie (the other Veronica) to---I couldn’t say this was the weirdest thing I’d ever seen someone wearing. They were bonding and enjoying themselves with this bit of silliness…
Not because we’re better but because the issues I faced in my life weren’t merely hypothetical to them, or things that could be dodge by just going back to boy mode (must be nice for those who can, but for us it’s like death-) and floated the question: Was the prospect of new neighbors always this crazy and nerve-wracking? Was I weirding out over nothing here?
everything from drag queens wearing Bozo wigs and angel wings to ultramasculine bull dykes who had become physically female only to mimic men,
Beautiful testimonies to that one great love we’re all supposed to find in life, which I will confess left me feeling a bit jealous and bitter sometimes, doubting that I would ever meet like her “Charlie”. Dating hadn’t gone particularly well for me since I began living full time as a woman.
Maybe I’m destined to fall in love with this female drag queen, I though. Just a dumb idle musing, I’d known her for all of two minutes. But I sure would have loved to be a part of raising some kids some day- being a mom in my heart and my deeds even if I never could biologically. And these kids of hers were adorable…
I thought about my job at Auto Paint Pros, and that bunch who did the actual painting out in the barn, How they flipped out when the rumor about me turned out to be true, and when Sonny didn’t immediately fire me, because I had already told him, and now they weren’t so sure about Sonny ……. After them what’s one more a-hole in my life?
(although Francisco with the teardrop tattoos did offer to take me out as long as I promised not to tell anyone. Gee, thanks Pancho!).
There's something endearing about Brad, in spite of his social clumsiness ("Did they cut your tranny junk off?"). Something sweet about him, an earnestness and sincerity that the blustering full-of-himself Zach utterly lacked. I hope he proves to be as nice as I perceive him. Glad Alex didn't spend too much time blaming herself or telling herself she's unworthy, never gonna meet anyone ever, all that negative stuff. She's resumed