What Kelly didn't know about being a girl would fill a book.
Kelly Girl Incognito
by Wanda Cunningham
The New Miss Adventure
Kelly Drew came out of the motel bathroom wearing the blue cargo shorts and plain yellow t-shirt that his mother had bought for him in the boy's department of Wal-Mart. Barbie Drew blinked then grinned. "You're not going to look much like a boy if you're still wearing those earrings and a padded bra under the shirt. And your fancy glasses and pink nail polish..."
Kelly nodded and looked at himself in the mirror. "Yeah, I know. But this is a cute outfit, are you sure these are boy's clothes?" He posed in front of the mirror, one hand raised and cocked at an angle, the other limply held near his waist, unmistakably feminine.
"Yeah, I'm sure," said Barbie, a little exasperated. "Are you sure you're going to try going back to being a boy?" Barbie also wore cargo shorts, green ones, but with a flower print top.
"Um, yeah. But what am I going to do about my hair?" he looked in the mirror. His platinum curls had been dyed, cut and permed by Andie Mann, Barbie's best friend back in Newport Beach during a series of wildly improbable misadventures that had climaxed with Kelly's kidnapping by his own long lost father, Phillip Constable. Kelly had topped that by masterminding Phil's escape from the law. Barbie's nerves had taken more than a week to recover.
"I thought about your hair," said Barbie. "I bought something else," she propped up a box on the dresser and waved the booklet she had been reading. Both were labeled, Home Barber Kit. "The instructions say anyone can cut hair with this."
"Yikes!" said Kelly.
* * *
The child wearing the blue cargo shorts and yellow t-shirt looked absurdly precocious, perhaps because of the oversized, plain, gold-rim glasses. Kelly sighed at his reflection then rubbed the top of his head, still startled at the feel of ultra-short hair. He'd asked Barbie if she could manage a Bart Simpson style crewcut, but she had set the Home Barber Cutter to a uniform one-inch and had buzzed his whole head.
Kelly had cried as his platinum locks hit the newspaper spread around the toilet seat cum barber chair. He blushed to remember that. Barbie had said nothing once she started the task. She'd asked him four times if he really wanted her to do it and he hadn't hesitated to say so after the first time. After three firm yeses, she hadn't had a choice but to do as he asked.
He examined his fingernails to be sure every trace of polish had been removed. He checked his earlobes in the mirror to be sure that the flesh-colored flat plugs were in place and would, with the help of a dab of makeup, artfully conceal his pierced ears. He knew he was cheating by keeping his options open this way rather than letting the holes close up but the acceptance he had enjoyed while disguised as a girl had been something to treasure.
He sighed again at his reflection and wriggled his glasses by wrinkling his nose. "I look about seven," he complained.
"Well, you're short, I'm sorry," said Barbie. "I'm short, too." Only four-foot-nine, Barbie usually wore four-inch heels in order to look a little more like normal height. Even after her recent breast surgery, people often mistook her for a teen-ager--or even younger when she giggled. She'd had Kelly at the improbably young age of fourteen.
"I'm twelve!" Kelly complained. "Heck, in less than two weeks, I'll be twelve and a half!"
Barbie looked at him critically. "You do look younger. Maybe, nine?"
Kelly sniffed. "Not fair," he pouted cutely. "People believed I was older when I looked like I had tits."
Barbie laughed and looked down at her own enhanced bosom. "They do help make you look older, huh? Want Harold to give you a pair?" She grinned.
"Don't tease me about it, Barbie," he warned her.
"Okay, okay," she said. "We've got to decide what we're going to do now?"
Kelly sat down on the bed and looked at her seriously. "How much money have we got left?"
"Heck, lots," said Barbie. "We haven't spent more than three hundred. I've got lots of these Traveler's Cheques left," she waved a book of them. "The five thousand should last us for months."
"If we're careful," agreed Kelly. "Is Harry going to pay the lease on the car?"
"Uh huh." Barbie bubbled a bit. "He insisted. I've never had a new car before!"
"You've never promised to marry a millionaire before either."
"You really going to do it?"
"I guess so?" said Barbie. "Why not? He's a nice guy, he's crazy about us, he's rich...he's good in bed."
"But you don't love him?"
Barbie screwed up her face. "I don't know. How do you tell?"
"Heck," said Kelly. "I'm the kid here, how am I supposed to know?"
They giggled together about that.
"The one fault that Harry has, I guess," Kelly commented when they had stopped giggling, "is that he would rather I were a little girl."
"Umm," agreed Barbie. "And those two boys of his, Richard and Pete, think you are a little girl."
"Not a little girl," Kelly protested. "They know I'm twelve."
Barbie grinned. "But they call you 'Skipper' and tease you about being tiny and carrying a doll around."
"Yeah, well." Kelly retrieved Robin, Andie Mann's gift to him. "Robin is a boy doll, and Andie carried him till she was in Beauty School."
"She carried him in her backpack," Barbie pointed out. "Not in the crook of her arm like a baby."
Kelly sighed. He had grown to love the little yellow-haired plastic doll during his week of pretending. He loved the doll so much that he didn't realize that he had dressed himself in a version of Robin's own costume: blue shorts, white shoes, yellow t-shirt. He hugged the doll. "Darnit!" he complained.
"Why darnit?" Barbie asked.
"Well, I guess I can't carry Robin around if I'm a boy," Kelly sighed and put the doll back on the motel dresser. "You said you were hungry?"
"Yeah, but we could have room service send something up."
"No, I'm going to have to go out there. This is crazy, I'm more scared than I was going out in that polka-dotted dress when Andie dressed me like a five-year-old."
"No one knows you here, Kelly. We're three hundred miles from home."
"Yeah, well, six people recognized me last Saturday, I'm a little paranoid."
"You're not paranoid," Barbie grinned. "The crazy thing is all six of them convinced themselves you'd always been a girl."
"Don't remind me. Let's go, I'm hungry, too." Resolutely, Kelly lead the way out of the room and down the hall to the attached coffee shop.
Bemused, Barbie followed, helping Kelly with the heavy glass doors.
The bustling restaurant gleamed with stainless steel and red and white tiles and the waitresses wore retro-red-and-white checked uniforms. "Hi welcome to Perky's!" one of them burbled at Kelly and Barbie. The little brunette's nametag read "Darlene" and she could best be described as...perky. "Will you be dining in or did you want to order take-out?"
"Can we have a booth, please?" asked Barbie. One whole wall of the restaurant had nothing but video slot machines, Barbie indicated with a nod that they wanted to sit on the far side of the room from the noise.
"Sure, hon," Darlene said. "Is it just you two or are your folks coming, too?"
Barbie giggled but didn't try to explain. "Just us."
Kelly followed Darlene and Barbie to one of the smaller booths near the outside windows. Across the freeway, Kelly could see the beginnings of the famous Las Vegas strip. Farther away, an airplane did its illusionary drift to a landing at the airport. Heat waves bouncing off the acres of asphalt and concrete made the plane seem to dance and shimmy.
Early September in Vegas was not the crowded season and they had their choice of red leatherette booths near the windows. "We've got a really great lunch special, cheeseburger, fries and a shake," Darlene told them as they sat down. Handing them the colorful menus, she asked. "Or would you rather have some sodas to start with."
"Diet Coke, please," Barbie said and Kelly nodded.
"You want Diet, too, honey?"
"Yes, please," Kelly said, nodding again.
Darlene laughed. "So grown up. What happened to your hair?"
Kelly looked up at her, "Got it all cut off," he said simply with perhaps a trace of wistfulness. He rubbed a hand over the short blond remains of his once beautiful platinum locks.
"Tsk. Chicken pox?" asked Darlene.
"When I was about your age, I had to get all my hair cut off, too, because of chicken pox," Darlene explained. "I hated it, I thought it made me look like a boy."
"Yeah..." said Kelly slowly. He'd just noticed that Darlene had handed him the Kid's Menu for under twelve. He frowned.
The waitress cocked her head and looked at Kelly. "If you wore a little jewelry, I bet that would never happen. Let me get your sodas," she said and bustled away in her little red-checked mini-skirt.
"She thinks..." began Barbie.
"I know," said Kelly. "It's depressing. I'm wearing boy clothes with short hair...do I still look like a girl?"
"Well," said Barbie. "It's not looks so much, I guess." She hated to have to tell him this.
"Andie said it was a vibe I gave off. Meaning I guess that I act like a girl so everyone thinks I am?"
"Um," said Barbie.
Kelly pouted cutely while he considered. "And she acts like she thinks I'm five."
"Well, not five, probably," said Barbie.
"Why did I bother cutting my hair?" sighed Kelly.
Darlene returned carrying a tray with one large and one small glass. "Here we go," she said putting the large glass in front of Barbie. "And a Diet Coke for the little sister, too." She placed the smaller glass in front of Kelly. "What?" she asked when she saw Kelly's face.
Barbie pulled her mouth into a tight expression to suppress a laugh.
"Oh!" said Darlene. "You wanted a big Coke?"
"It's okay," said Kelly with as little vocal inflection as he could manage.
Darlene grinned. "Sorry. It's only 79 cents for the kids' drink and $1.79 for the grown up one."
"Yeah," said Kelly, kicking his legs a little disconsolately.
"They're so cute when they want to play grown up," Darlene said to Barbie.
Barbie couldn't help grinning. "I'll have the plain hamburger, Kelly what do you want?"
"I guess I'll have the Kid's Meal Hamburger," Kelly said. "Can I get that with the fruit cup instead of fries?"
"Sure, honey," said Darlene.
"Oh, I'll have a fruit cup, too," said Barbie. "Sounds good."
"Great!" Darlene enthused perkily.
"Miss," Kelly stopped her before she could turn away. "How old do you think I am?" he asked earnestly.
Seeing his concern, Darlene mentally revised her estimate upward by a year or two, "Ten?" she hazarded.
Kelly looked relieved. "Okay, thank you."
Darlene laughed. "You're welcome." She winked at Barbie and went to the kitchen window to place the order.
"Cute outfits," commented Barbie, who had done a lot of waitressing. "But this room is enormous, run your legs off if it gets busy, I bet."
"At least, she didn't think I was seven," said Kelly.
Barbie's grin wouldn't be suppressed. "I noticed you didn't tell her you were a boy."
"What's the point? No one believes me. I'm probably going to have to repeat the fifth grade, this time in skirts and jewelry." Kelly tried to look more disgusted than he actually felt. Something about the idea actually appealed to him.
Barbie looked thoughtful. "Do you know one of Andie's friends named Melissa?"
"Huh? Yeah? She works for the school district in Newport Beach?" And she used to be a man, Kelly added silently. He'd seen her without her wig, small bald spot shining, in Andie's beauty parlor back in Costa Mesa just before his kidnapping from the Triangle Square Mall.
Barbie nodded. "She made up some school transcripts for us, I guess Andie had her do it."
"I couldn't believe it," said Barbie. "Anything from the third to the seventh, boy or girl, for you."
Kelly boggled. "You didn't say anything about this before?"
"Well, I thought it was silly," Barbie explained.
"It is silly," agreed Kelly.
"Very silly," said Barbie.
Kelly tried to consider his options. Somehow his brain seemed frozen on the idea that he could go to school as a girl and no one here would have to know that he'd ever been a boy. And he could drop back a year or two so he wouldn't have to be the shortest kid in class.
Something else occurred to him and he looked up at Barbie, "Did she include transcripts for you, too?"
"Uh huh," said Barbie. "I could go to high school, I never went you know?"
Kelly grinned at that.
Barbie continued, "There's even an offer from Harry to pay me to go to school."
"How much?" Kelly asked practically.
"Probably as much as I could make dancing," said Barbie. "Do you really think I could pass for sixteen?"
"I dunno?" said Kelly. "Didn't you tell me you almost go arrested last year cause the cop didn't believe your I.D. was real?"
Barbie nodded. "Yeah, but it's just like we were afraid of, if you have rich friends they want to do stuff for you and end up trying to control you."
Kelly nodded. "We don't have to do what they want but they sure make it easy, huh?"
"Yeah. Here comes our food."
Darlene came back with two burgers and two fruitcups on a tray. "Here you go," she said, putting the smaller burger in front of Kelly. "And you get your choice of a toy!" She held the tray down for Kelly to see.
A little startled, Kelly examined the choices: a small dump truck, a tiny Spider-Man action figure, a little dolly in the Perky's red checks, and a bracelet and necklace set made of bright pink plastic beads.
"I'll take the waitress doll," said Kelly. "She's really cute."
I promised to start serializing Kelly Girl Incognito in 2005, so here's the first chapter. ;> Wanda
Read about Kelly's earlier adventures in Kelly Girl by Wanda Cunningham
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