At first, Bill McWalton seemed to be enjoying what would soon become his sudden and unexpected death…at least mostly unexpected. The man owned a software company, a fast food chain and a major international retail company. He had certainly made a few enemies along the way, one too many. After a moment his eyes began to widen exponentially. I could see something a bit darker than pleasure in them. There was no more ‘choke daddy’ coming from his lips anymore.
“…a bit rough…” he gasped as the air drained out of his lungs. “Safeword… safe…word!” But alas, no such thing had been agreed upon.
“Oh yes, I do suppose I’m a bit rougher than you were anticipating, in more ways than one. I’m not your ‘pretty little girl’ and have no intention of ‘hushing now’, as you may have been planning to suggest. Mr. McWalton…can I call you Bill? I have something to tell you.” I abandoned my womanly accent and began to speak as myself again. “I’m not a call girl. I’m not even a girl.” His facial expression was priceless. I couldn’t tell whether it was completely white from the loss of air or the shock that flooded his extremely rich, likely clogged, arteries.
“You’re trying to ruin the lives of people like me, aren’t you? You know, I’ve known that I was transgender from a very young age. I was never ‘confused’ about anything. I won’t allow you to treat gender identity as a crime.” He certainly hadn’t been expecting this. He feebly attempted to struggle but it did him no good.
“Just kidding!” I was loud and playful, but not loud enough for the guards to hear me. “While I do find it abominable that you would try to do something like that to a group of people simply because they aren’t as stereotypically masculine as are you are…” Strike that. He didn’t really seem very masculine to me. As a matter of fact, it amused me that I had even said that. I had to laugh at this. “Ha!” Then I began again.
“…I don’t truly feel like a woman trapped inside of a man’s body. Honestly, I don’t think the words ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ describe anything about what I am. I exist outside of those labels entirely. Nevertheless, I am a male. I have a penis, and you know my name all too well. Who? Who could it be? Dun, dun…dun! ‘Tis I! Why, I’m Mr. Ivan the Terrible! Terrible, isn’t it! Terrible for you, that is.”
He was clearly fighting for every breath at this point, but as soon as the name escaped my mouth his expression took a whole different look. His eyes ignited with complete and utter rage, and it seemed to me as if he might explode! Egad! He then tried to call out to his guards, or maybe he was trying to curse at me, but all that exited his mouth was a garbled garbly garblegarblegarble. He garbled a few more times in vain, then McWalton finally arrived at a morbid realization. This was really happening. This was really it: the end of his life. More importantly to him, it was the end of his career.
Another man might have allowed the billionaire a few last words, but I was not another man. I was only myself. If I allowed him to speak then the guards would be alerted immediately. We certainly couldn’t have that. I wasn’t a cartoon villain. I wasn’t about to allow him an opportunity to save himself and overtake me. Not a chance. Though I would allow him no further words, as I had already heard him speak enough, I took the time to put some into his ears.
“You picked a fight with the wrong mister, mister-mister. You may have money and power, but you’ve chosen to go up against someone who has nothing left to lose. It’s likely that I’ll die only moments after you do, but I’m dead already. I’m just a corpse that has yet to stop breathing, as a friend of mine once said. She’ll be happy to hear that you died.
“She said you’re no so great in the sack, if you know what I mean. Thankfully for you, you’ve had enough money to keep people lying to you about that your whole life. Napoleon…lucky you…lucky you until now. Now you get to feel what the poor feel every day.
“You get to feel what they feel every single day while you grow fatter and lazier in your castle like a king. Helplessness, hopelessness…how does it feel? How does reciprocation feel? Just as you never reached out a hand to help the people dying in the streets all around you unless they came in here to be your sex slaves, no one will reach out to help you now. It really is sad, isn’t it? I think you should fucking cry.” His consciousness was nearly drained. Just a little longer…
“I disgust you, you disgust me, thank you sir for the molly…” I sang these words to the lovable tune of the Barney and Friends song. I remembered it from the show that I watched in the children’s home as a tween-ager. I was a bit older than the age of the show’s target audience at the time, but I neither knew nor cared. “…But now I’m going to have to say goodbye. Time for you to fuck…-ing…die! Ha-ha!” ‘Twas truly a disasterpiece if I do say so myself, and I do. I should have been a musician.
“So now, sir, you have the very same thing that you gave to most of your hardest working ‘lowly’ employees. What is that, you ask? Why, it’s nothing! Nothing! You already knew that.” I whispered to him as the light faded from his eyes. “Nothing.” Bill took one last breath before he eyes shuttered flut…fluttered shut, I mean. I was almost done. I took the bag-ette of molly out of the pocket of the pants that were now lying on the floor and held it up. It looked like there was a little over a gram left inside. I had become quite skilled at eyeballing these things.
Did I take it? Nope. I wanted to have at least some serotonin left in my brain in the morning. Instead I dumped it all out into my hand, pried open McWally’s mouth, then shoved it all in. That much molly would probably kill a person his size, assuming that it was of decent quality. I could already feel my heart bubump-ing a bit faster, so I assumed it probably was. ‘Twas the real rich bitch molly.
He seemed to be dead already, judging by the lack of breathing or a pulse. The drool pool from the pooling drool dripping from his mouth was a pretty good indicator of death as well, but I still wanted to be sure. Dot the I’s and cross the T’s, and whatnot. I pulled something from the inside of my lovely padded top and placed it upon his bare chest. “Ivan, xoxo” was all that the Post-it note said. I wanted them to know. I was rather proud of myself. I felt sort of like Robin Hood.
Now there was the matter of escaping. This wouldn’t be terribly difficult. The guards didn’t exactly seem like very astute observers to me. I walked back through the curtain to the other side. Whoosh!
“Alright,” I called to the men as I approached them. “He’s taking a siesta. You can send the next one in in twenty minutes. He wants to be woken up in a ‘creative’ way, so get creative.” I gestured toward the prostitute who had been brought in behind me.
She was about thirty years old with straight blonde hair, red lipstick, red heels, red dress, and an average yet curvy body…she seemed proud of her profession. Maybe she deserved to be. I didn’t know whether she was good at it or not and I didn’t intend to discover how creative she could get. McWally would never know either. He would never think again. He would never have sex again, even with a stomach full of ecstasy.
“He sure didn’t last very long, did he?” The fattest guard who so desperately craved all of the late McWalton’s sloppy seconds seemed interested. I could only hope that he wasn’t feeling suspicious. I couldn’t have that…not just yet.
“The old bastard can’t even go ten minutes.”
“You must be good at your job. He usually makes it a little longer with the others.” The slightly less obese guard beside him snickered at this.
“I’m a girl of many talents, you know.”
“Nah…I don’t know, but I’d sure like to. Come on home with…”
“Fuck you.” I cut him off. “Now let me out of here.” Blang! The metal door slammed shut behind me. The sound reverberated ruthlessly against my eardrums and I was finally outside. Damn. It was easier than I had expected it to be. I felt like taking off running, but I wouldn’t. Not just yet. There were still guards outside standing adjacent to me, and the line of lovely ladies. The whole thing was kind of hilarious. They looked like girls at the fair waiting for a ride, only their ride was now a corpse. McWally’s pole-polishing service would be discontinued.
I quickly walked away. My work there was done. Once I had gone about a block, I quickened my pace. Soon I arrived at a little park, one much smaller than the one from the hippy-high trancy-dancing days. What mystical unforgettable days those had been…my soul was filled with intense nostalgic longing. I begged God, Satan, Muhammad, the Great Spirit, Buddha, the Wizard of Oz and the Beatles for a chance to dance with Veia around those trees just one more time…just one more time.
“Your time is almost up.” Shadowshade’s voice overwhelmed me, but I knew this already. He didn’t have to tell me. I found a small stone bathroom at the darkest end of the park and quickly ventured inside. In less than ten minutes I was a man again. I threw my girlish garb into a nearby trashcan.
I was down to a T-shirt and shorts and going commando. I didn’t want to look like the ‘girl’ who had just choked one of the richest men in the world to death in his sex den. Looking like Ivan wasn’t much better though. There were pictures of Ivan the Terrible plastered on the walls of every single police station in the state. Fuck, why did S. have to be right?
I began to swim and swirl among the trees in the park again. I soon noticed someone sitting on one of the few benches alongside the sidewalk. She turned her head to look at me, but her face was shrouded in the darkness of the night. Wait…was it…? It couldn’t be, could it? Veia? Veia!
“Sir Jumpsalot, you fumbling fool.” It was her voice, the voice I could never forget. It sounded just like the song of a siren. It had been so long…an eternity had passed since we were last together. How was this possible? I began to feel warmer inside, or was I colder? What was I feeling? Was I happy? I was. As I approached, her features began to change. It wasn’t Veia at all. I could literally feel the good vibes draining out of my brain through my ears and out into the night air, as if they were liquid. Damn, what a terrible feeling. What the hell? It was Scéléra. She was the one sitting there.
“Ivan, I wish you were more like Dodge. You know what he can do with his…?” Why was this happening to me? What had I done to anger the universe? I drowned out whatever the last bit of her sentence was, though it wasn’t too hard to figure out. Why would she say that to me? Couldn’t she have left it unsaid? She did leave me for him, after all. I already assumed that she was pleased with whatever he was doing with his whatever.
“You know, Ivan,” she kept going. “You only loved me because we met at that party on that fateful day with the toe sucking and the trans- man. If not for that, you wouldn’t have loved me at all. If you had never met Veia in that fucking park, you never would have ever been with her again. You wouldn’t have met Dee Gaggles either. Proximity is the only god, Ivan. Being in the right place at the right time…that’s all there is.” Could she be right? It seemed like she was, in spite of how angry I was with her.
“Ivan?” A voice quite different from Scéléra’s or Veia’s said my name, shocking me almost as much as their presences had. It had been Venus all along. This made more sense. This was someone who was still alive, someone who I had seen earlier that same night. “Did you do it? Is McWalton dead? Is Little Willy dead?” That must have been what the women called him. He really must’ve been a failure in bed. I was thankful that I didn’t know for certain.
“He’s quite dead.” I sat down beside her and her dark eyes looked incredibly relieved. They even closed for a moment as she exhaled contently. He must not have been one of her favorite customers.
“How did you do it? Tell me the tale, Storyweaver.”
“Well, he wanted to be choked. He was a kinky old man, as I’m sure you already know. He wanted Miss Anthropy to choke him, so she did as requested! That was the end of that. I suppose I choked him a bit more violently than he was ready for. I know, I know, I should have gradually built up to it. I’m just bad.” I gave her a mischievous wink.
“Ah!” She exclaimed with glee. “How fitting. He did love to be choked! I guess it’s true that you really can have too much of a good thing.”
“Don’t forget, friend. Don’t forget your plans.” S. was in my head once more. “Leave a legacy.”
“Don’t let it all have been in vain,” Veia added, perhaps from somewhere beyond the grave if there was such a place. But what would I do?
“Come with me tonight.” Venus offered a suggestion. “You look very…good, as a man. We have money now. A thousand each, right? And the fat old codger surely made you lick some molly. We could go somewhere for the night. Wink-wink.” I liked that she actually said the words ‘wink-wink’. It was a nice touch.
“What will I be charged?” Maybe that was a bit impolite. I didn’t really care if she was a prostitute. People do what they have to do. I was being hunted by the FBI, for Christ’s sake. I wasn’t exactly fit to judge.
“Fuck you! Of course I wasn’t going to ask you to pay me. I just thought that earlier, I don’t know, everything we talked about back there…”
“Is this you or Molly talking?” I wasn’t sure.
“What a silly thing to ask. It’s me on molly talking, of course. You know this already.” She had me there.
“I have to find somewhere to hide. A nationwide manhunt isn’t exactly something to put on the backburner, especially after I’ve just done away with Captain Capitalism.”
“Exactly. Come hide with me. A motel is the perfect place. I’m sure you won’t be the only outlaw sneaking about. We’ll blend in.” Maybe we would, unless the place was suspected of being a hideaway. Hopefully that wasn’t the case.
“Okay. Let’s go.” I was convinced. She excitedly jumped up into my lap and kissed me, straddling me as if we were undressed and in the room already. She tasted like a syrupy dream, her whole body warm and shaking from the drugs she had taken earlier. The attraction was instant, intense, rejuvenating…it made me miss Veia even more, but that was better left unsaid. I tried to push the thought away but it was horribly persistent.
“You can choke me until I die, if you’d like,” Veia said. No! No. Venus said it, not Veia. It was certainly an intriguing suggestion, but I decided I wouldn’t actually kill her. Despite what most of America believed, I’ve never been one for pointless bloodshed. I am a man of conviction, a man of purpose.
The motel was a nice little retreat in my opinion, made much nicer by Venus’ company. She had named herself appropriately. She may not have been Veia, but in some ways she could have taught her a thing…or thirteen. Physically, it was one of the best nights I ever had. And possibly because of Molly, there seemed to be a connection that went deeper than flesh and blood. By the time we were able to fall asleep it was around two in the afternoon.
“Damn…” was the last thing she said before falling asleep beside me. It was a pleased ‘damn’. I agreed. Damn…then my eyes flew open. 11:11p.m. said the digital clock beside us. “I wish we could lie here forever.” She was watching me awaken. But we couldn’t lie there forever. Holy Mother fucking Theresa…I felt like shit. Clearly the drug had used up all of my happy chemicals. My serotonin had been unmercifully slaughtered. It would take a few days for me to feel normal again.
“I’m going to die soon.” I was very matter-of-fact, rigid and cold. I wasn’t feeling well at all. I was ready to die. Thinking about it actually seemed to give me a little peace.
“Not yet.” She inched ever closer to me.
“Soon…” Shadowshade whispered. “And you have work to do. Go…hurry now.”
“I’m sorry, Venus. You’re a beautiful girl, in body and in mind. Find someone who loves both of them, someone who has more to offer you than I do.” She began to protest but I had already found underwear, my pants and shirt, and was nearly finished putting them on. In less than a minute I was walking out the door.
“Take me with you.” She pleaded desperately while my hand turned the cool shining brass doorknob.
“I can’t. There is still something very important that I must do before they find me. I must make the words of the Products of Society, those like you and I, immortal. I have to go alone. I need time to concentrate. We can’t let them win. There’s still hope, if only a small sliver of it. I’m not giving up yet.
“They can kill us. They can kill me. They will kill me, but I will not let them destroy our thoughts. I have an idea, but you must let me go. Don’t give in. Don’t let them make you believe that something is wrong with you. Don’t let them tell you that you’re diseased! A lack of conformity to their definition of health does not equal disease. Don’t let them make you believe that you need to be ‘corrected’. Spread the message of freedom, Venus. Open their eyes and let them see. Goodbye. I’ll remember you. Stay strong, for me.”
Then I was gone. After two steps I blinked my eyes. I was standing in the rain in the middle of a busy street…what the fuck? It was like I was playing Frogger, and I had become the frog. Hop, hop, hop. Could I dodge them all? Probably not. A semi-truck was headed straight for me. I didn’t have time to get out of the way. How could this be happening? The incredibly bright lights blinded my eyes…and I was sitting in the park where I sat talking to Venus the night before. It was just after midnight, the same time it had been then. I felt an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I should’ve been used to that feeling by now, but you never really get used to it.
“Look around you.” Apparently S. had something for me to see. I suddenly realized that this was a different bench altogether. I was in ‘Fairy-water Park’, the hippy-high trancy-dance one, as it was now labeled in my memory. This time it wasn’t Veia sitting beside me, watching the glowing flowing of the fountain in the darkness. It was Anna. Not little Anna, not my Anna, it was Anna as she had become. She was converted, conceited, and staring at me with condescending disapproval in her eyes. I was surprised that she had been willing to travel here to talk with me.
“You know they’re going to find you soon,” she began. “You can’t escape the FBI. You deserve whatever they decide to do to you. You’re a murderer, Ivan, and you’re unashamed! You’re supposed to feel ashamed of your sins! It’s supposed to consume your soul! You’re supposed to hate yourself and want to die! You killed a priest and a glorious businessman, the staples of our society! I hope your death is slow and painful. I hope they make you scream.” Our relationship had come such a long way.
“You used to love me, dear sister, before they taught you to hate. Did they teach you to hate in the name of a ‘loving’ god? You’re the antithesis of what I am now. Maybe not exactly, but those who are have changed you. You’ve become an automaton. Your opinions are no longer your own. You’re a disciple of false objectivity, false because you claim that moral certainty can be determined. You think there is a perfect code of ethics. You answer unanswerable questions with ‘maybes’ that you defend as truths.
“You look down upon those who deviate from mainstream schools of thought, like me, and you close your eyes at anything you do not wish to see. I am being persecuted for trying to pull back the curtains. You are a censor. I am a revolutionary. I didn’t expect you to come here bearing kind words. Don’t think that you can surprise or hurt me. You’re transparent, dear. I see right through you.”
“Tristan, some things aren’t easy for me to see. There are some things that I just don’t want to see. It helps me to look away.”
“By ignoring what is there you allow atrocity to go unnoticed. Your fear grants bigots and dogmatists a shield of invisibility and allows them to fester and grow. You follow the law as if it were your God’s own truth, regardless of what it compels you to abide by. Perhaps Christ would refer to you as a Pharisee: one who would rather follow the mandate to rest on the Sabbath than rush to the aid of a dying friend, all because the law advises rest.
“The time has come for me to depart. I only wanted to see you one last time, for I do not hate you as you hate me. I pity you. Goodbye, dear sister. You are my sister by blood. Nothing more.”
“You’re such a filthy piece of shit! Fodder, I mean…”
“I hope your Heavenly Father will forgive you, as do I, for you know not what you do.” She immediately invaded my personal space and backhanded me across the face before then storming off into the darkness. She was headed back to her proud new home in Tranquility Acres to get away from my ‘blasphemy’.
“Ah ha! You just got pimp-slapped, friend! That’ll teach you! It’s her money, bitch! Not yours, hers! Her money! You’re just the one putting out to bring it in!” Shadowshade was having far too much fun with the pimp-slap thing.
“Let her go. There is still much to do.” It was Veia this time, and I finally understood what she meant.
A few days passed and I was still a free man, but I knew it couldn’t last long. I now had only twenty-seven dollars and forty-five cents to my name, and was sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. A blank Microsoft Word document stared back at me. I was barricaded in my own little apartment, which was paid off for two months. That was all the time I would need. I had enough packs of Ramen noodles in my cabinet to last the length of my stay if I ate sparingly, and water in the sink to keep myself hydrated.
A hit of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) lay under my tongue and a joint rested between the thumb and pointer-finger of my left hand. It was made of a purple-haired Indica strain, my favorite kind of weed. I had less than sixty days left on planet earth. I was going to spend them however the hell I wanted to.
That night I sat at my glass-topped coffee table in the living room, munching away at my familiar noodly feast. I was seated on a red leather two-seater couch. Next to me sat little Anna, giddily bouncing up and down.
“Yum, yum! I want some!” So I fed her some Ramen.
“Fifty-six days,” Scéléra called from behind me. She and Anthony were in the kitchen, grinding on the counter. That was certainly not something I wanted to see. I never enjoyed Scéléra those days. She always seemed to be doing something traumatizing. I wished they would go away and leave me the hell alone.
The weeks flew by quickly, and a few weeks later I was sitting in front of the same computer screen. My Word file was full of words! I was making progress. Huzzah! Blooquah! Speaking of blooquah, the program kept rudely inserting red squiggly lines underneath my strange and often made-up words. It was mechanically battling me for my creativity, but its attacks were no match for me.
“Hey babe,” Scéléra said as she and Dodge waltzed by. Mrs. M. was right behind them. She was here to help Scéléra deliver their baby.
“You’ve only fifteen days, little shit.” M. said this with a disturbingly joyful look in her eyes. Nope, this wasn’t okay. It was time for them to leave.
“Get out!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. The neighbors were probably concerned now. Anthony abandoned his post in the kitchen and quickly came to me.
“You stupid sacrilegious shit, this is our house now!” He screamed.
“No. Not so.” A cool, calm, collected voice boomed from right beside me. He was wearing a black tuxedo and a black tie, similar to the outfit he wore at the House that I had entered. That seemed so long ago now. Shadowshade was here. I looked up at him. What the fuck? Soren? The guy from my first trip to the Glassway?
“I took the form of one you admired and possibly desired,” he said without emotion. He snapped his fingers and everyone else in the house disappeared. Bam! Just like that, all gone. “Pow! You’re almost done, I see.” He glanced over at the computer screen. “Soon they’ll be able to understand.”
“Will it matter? Will they keep trying once I’m gone? Will they fight to be free? Maybe everything really was all in vain.”
“Non serviam: ‘unwilling to serve’. This is what you were. This is what you are. You are unwilling to live your life as a slave. There are others who will risk their lives to disengage from service to a society that only uses them for gain.” S. was right. I would rather die than live a life of servitude.
“‘Society cares about the individual only in so far as he is profitable,’ the words of Simone de Beauvoir. She was a famous philosopher who became renowned in spite of her patriarchal world, one in which we still live today. She was right about them not caring. I refused to help them make a profit off of me. Why would I contribute to my degradation? I didn’t. I lived as Dionysus. I lived for myself and for those closest to me, in spite of everything that happened. I lived as something free, and so I came to be the me I came to be.”
“Others will follow. They will read what you have written.”
“Only time will tell.” I stared into Shadowshade’s, or Soren’s, bright green eyes. I wondered what role Soren would have played in all of this, had he not crashed his Charger into a building and gone to jail. I wondered where he was. It would’ve been nice to see him one last time.
S. grabbed me unexpectedly, drawing me into him as our bodies and lips crashed together like an atom bomb. Soren’s lips…it was the night we met once more. I had never done anything more with him than a simple kiss, but I knew I would’ve without hesitation.
He backed me into the counter and his hands crawled up my back underneath my shirt. An electric current poured out of his fingers as he went, filling me with energy. His hands made their way around my body to the flat of my stomach and travelled down…down…this was good. This was very good. I wanted him. I needed him now. But then he was gone, leaving me alone and wanting…but not wanting Shadowshade. I wanted the ghost of a long lost memory. I was alone now, trapped and longing for what might have been.
Products of Society: outcast and unwanted for our difference. That is what Soren and I, Veia, Vera, Mal, Scéléra, Venus, Dee Gaggles, Khloras, Boodis…even Heffalump Woozle and many others were. I had finally created something that would preserve our souls, something to show the others that they are not alone. The call to arms was complete. Veia and the others had died with purpose. My manuscript was finished. I was finished. Now the entire world would see.