If you look exactly like your sister, never say "yes" when she asks you for help...
“What?!” shouted my dad with a fury that’s rare even for him. If he’d been a cartoon character, steam would have been blowing from his ears. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn I saw sprinkles of plaster floating down from the kitchen ceiling. Mom, Holly and I were sitting at the kitchen counter on one side, while Dad stood in the kitchen, his face so red I thought he might be close to passing out.
“Dad…” said Holly sounding frustrated.
“No. No. Tell me I didn’t just hear what I just heard,” scowled Dad.
I pushed a form across the counter to him. “Dad. No big deal. Just sign this waiver and we’re good to go.”
Dad picked up the form from the counter and snarled, “Did I just hear you say this is no big deal? Are you out of your fucking mind?!” He glanced over to Mom and with an incongruent sheepish expression said, “Sorry, honey.”
Holly said, “Dad. Did you even read Mel’s proposal? The only bad thing about is that Caleb and I will have to pay taxes this year.”
Dad was still holding Mel’s proposal in one hand. He waved it angrily in the air. “You mean this one that says my daughter AND my son will be posing in some girlie magazine?”
“It’s not like we’re going to be naked or anything,” I quietly said.
“Oh yes. That’s very true,” sneered Dad sarcastically. “My son will only be dressing as a prostitute!”
“Dad!” shouted Holly as she stood up. “I’ve been dressing the same way for months at the race track before Caleb started there. Do I dress like a prostitute? You’ve never said a word about it. So by your own words, you have no problem with me dressing as a prostitute? Am I just a whore to you, Dad?”
“Sit down, young lady!” shouted Dad, pointing his finger at Holly. “You’re twisting my words! What father would want to see their son dressed in skimpy outfits and made up like a whore?”
Holly didn’t sit back down. She said coldly, “But it’s okay for your daughter?”
Scowling, Dad said, “Caleb’s not a girl.”
Shouting, Holly said, “So, by your own definitions, it’s okay for your daughter to look like a whore? Are you not listening to yourself?”
Pointing again, Dad yelled, “I said to sit down! Now listen. It’s normal for a girl to wear those outfits, but Caleb…”
Mom slapped the palm of her hand on the kitchen table with a loud whack. “Shut it, everyone.”
“Mom…” Holly started to say.
Pointing at Holly, Mom said, “I said shut it!” Pointing at Dad who was opening his mouth, Mom continued, “You too!”
Mom stood up and took the document from Dad’s grasp. In a calmer voice, Mom said, “From day one, I was opposed to Caleb dressing as a girl to work at the track. But Holly assured me it was for only one weekend and the track would hire a new model. But that didn’t happen, did it?”
Holly looked sheepish. “Mom. I can explain…”
Mom held up her finger and said, “Don’t interrupt. But Mr. Dog or whatever his name is, saw that he had a money maker in the team of Holly and Callie. And now he sees a way to make even more money from you two.”
“We make money too,” I interrupted Mom. “It’s all in that waiver thing. All you have to do is sign it since I’m under eighteen.”
“Is this what you really want, Caleb?” asked Mom. “To wear these skimpy outfits, look and act like a girl, to have men desire you and jerk off to your picture?”
Holly said, “Gee, Mom. You make it all sound so dirty. I’m doing this too you know. I don’t know about Caleb, but I do enjoy the attention. It’s really cool to hear people cheer and whistle and yell out marriage proposals and crap like that. Having fans is amazing.”
Mom said, “I’m sure it is, Holly. But how do you think your fans would react if they knew Callie was your brother? Think they’d be happy about that?”
I folded my arms. “They’re not going to find out. I mean, Holly, Mel and I aren’t going to tell. You and Dad aren’t going to tell. That leaves just Eric and Angie who know. They wouldn’t tell.”
Still scowling, Dad said, “You sure about that? Can you chance it? That’s a good sized little conspiracy you have there. All it takes is for one to get pissed at you. That’s when the lawyers for those companies promoting you start to descend.”
Holly folded her arms as well. “This isn’t forever. How many times do we have to say it? Why can’t you just be happy for us? They’re going to plaster our images all over twenty states at minimum. We’ll be on the major networks as well as ESPN as representing clean-cut all American girls. To shield Callie’s real identity, Mel has agreed to put her pay into an escrow account.”
Dad shook his head. “This is insane. There’s just no way I’m going to let my son, twink that he is, run around dressed as a girl!”
Holly said, “Dad. We’re going to be at the Indy Five Hundred. We can bring guests. I’ve already asked. I’m getting pit passes for you.”
Dad’s expression softened. He said, “Pit passes? Are you sure? You really think you can get a pit pass?”
Holly smiled. “Done and done, Dad. All you have to do is sign the waiver.”
Dad looked over at Mom with a pleading look in his eye. “You know, honey. Maybe this isn’t such a bad idea. They might meet influential people. Maybe we shouldn’t just automatically say no.”
Mom frowned at Dad. “Well, your principals are for sale cheap.”
Dad picked up the form and glanced over it again. “We’re talking pit passes for God’s sake. For Indy! It’s like a dream come true!”
“Then sign the waiver already!” I said, getting exasperated.
“Just hold on a second,” said Mom narrowing her eyes. “I need to know who all is going? Is this dog person…”
Holly interrupted, “Sheesh Mom. His name is Mel. Mad Dog is just a nickname.”
Mom gave Holly dirty look, “… Is this dog person going along too? Holly is an adult, in theory, but Caleb definitely isn’t. Is there going to be a chaperone of some kind?”
I wrinkled my nose at Mom, “What do you think we’re going to be doing?”
“I’m thinking of your safety, even if your sister and father isn’t,” Mom said matter-of-factly.
Holly shook her head. “No. Mel is too busy to go on most of our trips. Our first two trips for sure, Angie will be going as well as Eric.”
Mom raised her eyebrows, “Eric? Who’s Eric?”
Holly looked incredulously at Mom. “Don’t you remember, Mom? We talked about Eric before. He helps Mel around the track. He runs a small crew to set up the sound system and do some maintenance. He’ll have similar duties on the trips. And in case it’s needed, he can pretend to be Callie’s boyfriend to keep her rabid fans at bay.” I laughed nervously.
Dad looked up from reading the waiver and set it down on the kitchen counter. “Hold on a minute. How old is this Eric guy? I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with some older man being alone with my daughters.” I wonder if Dad realized he said “daughters”?
Holly said, “Actually, he’s younger than me. He’s eighteen.”
I looked over at Holly, “I thought he was twenty-something.”
Mom looked shocked, “I’m not sure I like that any better! Some hormone fueled, sex-crazed teenager being alone with you two.”
Holly laughed, “Eric isn’t like that at all, Mom. He’s very laid back. We’re all good friends. He took me to a movie once. And only Callie and I will share a room. Eric and Angie get their own rooms. So there’s no mixing.”
Frowning, Mom said, “I’m not sure if like this.”
Dad said, “How soon will you have the pit passes?”
Grinning, Holly said, “Two weeks before we leave for Minneapolis.”
Dad set the waiver down on the kitchen counter. He pulled out his pen from his shirt pocket and said, “This is against my better judgment. You two seem hell-bent on doing this and I know you’ll whine, scream, cry and carry on until I capitulate. So to save time, I’ll just cut to the chase and sign it. But here’s the deal. This goes especially for you, Caleb. If you decide you’re no longer comfortable with dressing like prostitutes and getting all that attention from men and everything that goes with that, I’m not going to bail you out. You have to live up to this contract.”
Grinning, I said, “I don’t think that’ll be a problem, Dad. Holly and I are already doing it.”
Dad gave me a dour smile and said, “We’ll see. But don’t come to me when it does become a problem.” He signed the waiver.
Holly snatched the waiver from the kitchen counter and squealed, “Thanks Dad! I’ll get this back to Mel right away.”
Mel looked up from some photographs he was studying on his desk as Holly and I walked up to him. It was another racing Saturday and we were dressed and ready to greet our fans.
Smiling, Mel said, “I’ve got good news, girls. The papers have all been signed and returned.” He passed a couple of pages each to us. “Here’s the upcoming schedule and agenda. Your rooms and flights are booked. We’re good to go.”
With a huge grin, Holly hugged me tight. “You hear that, Callie? We’re on our way to be famous!”
I looked over the schedule and gave a low whistle. “This is a pretty tight schedule. We’re booked on several cable shows, mall appearances, NASCAR races in Atlanta. Some of these are during the week. I’m going to miss some school.”
Mel shrugged. “You’re just going to have to make it up, kid. This is the price for fame and glory.”
I frowned looking at the aggressive schedules. I thought this was just going to be on weekends and holidays. Some of the events, like magazine interviews and photo shoots are right in the middle of the week. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
“You okay, sis?” asked Holly.
I sighed. “Yeah. I’m okay. Let’s get to the track.”
As we walked out to the track in our short, skimpy dresses and high heels, Holly kept looking at me with concern. “What’s wrong, Callie? Afraid of success?”
Looking at the ground and not at her, I said, “Maybe. This is fine for you. This is your job for the most part. I’m going to be missing a lot of school. It’s my senior year.”
Holly wrinkled her nose at me. “Does it really matter? I mean, except for that geek squad you hang out with, you really don’t have much in the way of friends anyway.”
“They’re still my friends!” I frowned at Holly.
“Some friends!” snorted Holly. “They all lust after you. Your alter-ego anway. Especially that one pimple-farm what’s-his-name. They want to see you naked. That’d be a shock for them!” She laughed. “Besides, you’ll be there for graduation.”
I stopped walking and touched my sister’s arm. “This is a lot of exposure, Holly. I mean, TV and magazine interviews, personal appearances, and that stupid date we’re supposed to go on. Jeesh! There’re just too many opportunities to be found out.”
Holly just smiled at me and poked my arm. “Don’t worry. It’ll be fun. Just imagine, girl. This is the only time in your life where you’ll be desired and adored by literally millions of men. We’ll be presenting the trophy at that NASCAR race in Georgia. We’ll be in the winner’s circle at the Indy 500. We’ll be on magazine covers. It’s gonna be awesome! Come on. Let’s go wave at the crowd.”
“Regrets already,” asked Mom as she looked up from the magazine she was reading while sitting at the kitchen counter. I was sitting across from her. Dad and Holly had gone to a movie.
Looking at the pencil I was spinning instead of doing my math homework, I said, “Not really regrets. Just some concerns.”
Mom set the magazine down on the counter, “Oh? What kind of concerns?”
I spun the pencil again, “I didn’t realize that the schedule was so aggressive. I’ll have to miss some school. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it up.”
Mom nodded, “I was wondering about that when I looked it over after you brought it home Saturday. You and Holly are gone almost the whole month of April.”
I looked up and exclaimed, “I know! That’s insane! I’ll flunk out and not get to graduate.”
Mom just looked at me, “That does cause a problem, doesn’t it?”
Twirling the pencil with my fingers, I said, “I really don’t know what to do.”
Mom leaned on one arm, “It’s really too much to ask of you. Are you wanting to back out?”
I stopped fidgeting with my pencil and knitting my brows looked hard at Mom. “No. I want to do this. I really do. But I can’t let it cause me to fail. I don’t want to go to summer school.”
Mom just sat there in silence for almost a minute just staring at me. “I still don’t really get it. I mean, for Holly, it’s just fun. She likes to flirt and tease and she’s caught up in the glamour of it, such as it is. But honey, you’re a boy. What can you be getting out of doing this?”
My eyes focused behind Mom. “It’s fun for me too, Mom. Think about it. For a few hours I get to be someone not me. I don’t have many friends, I’m someone nobody looks twice at, I’m pretty boring. What do I do? I don’t play sports or anything. And almost every date I’ve had with a girl, they almost always tell me how safe they feel with me. Like I’m their brother.”
Mom smiled wryly, “I’m sorry honey.”
I sat up straighter and said brightly, “But doing this? I’m no longer invisible. People notice me! Complete strangers like me. Not just guys, but girls too. You should read my fan mail. It’s a hoot! And sometimes scary. But the point is, as Callie, people want to be with me. They want to take pictures with me. People talk to me. They yell out marriage proposals… and, um … other things. For a few short hours, I’m a somebody.”
Mom clasped her fingers together, “But it’s not real, Caleb. They’re not seeing you.”
Still focused on the wall behind Mom, “You and Dad should come out to the track sometime. It’s so awesome! When Holly and I run out, you should hear the cheers and clapping! It’s incredible. Those cheers Mom. Those cheers are for us! For me…”
Mom reached over and took one of my hands. With a slight smile she said, “Look. How about I talk to this Mr. Dog and see if we can’t make the schedule less aggressive.”
I focused my eyes back to Mom, “Thanks. That’d be great.”
“I can’t believe you went to Mom and got her to talk Mel into changing the schedule!” Holly scowled from the driver’s seat of her car. It had been a hot day and the car’s air conditioner felt wonderful. I’m sure I looked pretty much the way she did. Her hair a mess, make-up smears on her uniform, sweat, dirt and grime on her face, only traces to indicate she’d been wearing lipstick. “They had to reschedule everything. EVERYTHING! That cost money. Do you understand?’
I wrinkled my brow, “Calm down, Holly! Sheesh. After Mom explained a few things, Mel agreed that the original schedule was too tight. He hadn’t even noticed he’d booked at two different malls for the same time. This is going to work out better.”
Still angry, Holly said, “I sure hope so, squirt. This is just fun and games for you, but I hope to get a modeling career out of this.”
“I know. I know already,” I said turning to look out the car window. Mom also made arrangements with school telling them that I have some family travelling I can’t avoid. They can’t really argue about. So I’m much more comfortable about it all.”
“I’m so happy for you,” Holly sneered sarcastically.
I glanced back over at Holly, “Oh just stop. It’s got to work for both of us, or it doesn’t work at all.”
Holly looked over at me, “Well, girl, let’s hope so. We fly to our first gig next weekend.”
Holly held my hand as we left Mom and Dad at the security checkpoint at the air terminal. She looked over at me with an impish grin, “Oh Callie, I can’t believe this is actually happening. This is it! We’re on our way. Our first big trip without Mom and Dad.” She suddenly looked sober, “Kinda scary actually.”
I squeezed her hand. What had me sweating bullets was going through security. Mel knows a guy who knows a guy who makes fake IDs, passports, whatever. I got a fake non-drivers drivers license. It looked pretty damned good and it seems to have gotten me past security. Mel’s friend of a friend guaranteed it. But I’d be the one hauled off to jail, not him.
He forged a new birth certificate in case we needed it, to show me as eighteen instead of seventeen. What’s another lie and felony charge among friends?
Angie touched Holly’s arm, “This is exciting! I’ve never even been out of town before!”
Looking incredulous, Eric asked, “Are you kidding? For reals?” Angie nodded. “You need to get out and drive or something.”
Holly and I both got some stares and smiles as we entered the lobby to wait to board our plane. I was going to just go grunge on the clothes, but Mom insisted we show a little class when traveling by air. Both of us were wearing rather tight skirts, blouses and heels. Which meant we also had to do our hair and make-up.
Thanks to Mom’s negotiations, our first trip was just a taste of things to come. We were flying up to Oklahoma City late Friday to make an appearance at the mall on Saturday to sign (and of course sell) pictures and calendars. It was also a promotional for an automotive parts dealer. And then off that afternoon to a attend (and present trophies) at a major track in the motocross circuit. Then an interview with a local TV station. Of course we get a big dinner and lastly for Saturday night we’d get to officially start a sprint car race and then hand out trophies. Sunday we’ll be flying back. Not bad for the first time out.
Holly poked me, “Hey girl. Time to board the plane. Are you shaking?”
I nodded. “You know I’ve never flown before. I’ve never been away from home before. I don’t know if I can do this.”
Eric smiled at me, “Hey. Don’t be nervous. I’ve been on planes before. It’s no big deal. I’ll let you sit by the window.” He offered to hold my hand.
I pulled my hand away, “I’m fine now. Really. This is just a lot to take in.” I took a deep breath as we started walking towards the loading tunnel with everyone else.
I shook my head a couple of times. Oh my God! I’m getting on plane. And dressed as a girl!
I took Eric’s hand.
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