The Girl for Me
The next morning, at 6:30 am, Kevin drove up to Daniel's house to find him waiting on the steps. Seeing his car, Daniel got up to meet him at the curb before Kevin did something stupid, like honk his horn.
Kevin watched him intently. It was strange seeing Dani in boy's clothes. She looked... he looked weird, somehow. Not that Kevin knew what he expected. Of course he would be wearing boy's clothes, for cryin' out loud. He was a boy! Before he could wonder about it more, Daniel got into his car.
"Morning Dani" Kevin said, trying to sound friendly.
"Daniel" the younger boy said curtly.
"Daniel? Oh, I get it. Back to boy-names now, huh? How about if I say 'Danny' with a 'y' on the end?"
"Suit yourself, Kev. Just get me to my car, all right? I'm not in the mood today, so I'd appreciate it if you'd just shut up."
Kevin showed no outward signs, but that remark hurt. A little. He'd been looking forward to picking up "Dani" all morning, rushing through his Cap'n Krunch – not taking the time to slice the usual banana onto it. He'd even de-trashed his car, since he found himself with a little time to kill. After all, he didn't want to show up early... how would that look?
And now, for some reason, Dani – Danny – was shooting him down. Fuck, man... He was only trying to be friendly. Make the best out of the situation. What a... bitch.
They drove the few miles to Danny's car in silence.
And Danny, in turn, followed him to the school's stadium for football practice.
Which was another weird thing, because now she – HE, dammit! - was wearing football gear, and it was just... it just didn't look right to Kevin, somehow. What the hell was it? He'd seen Danny in his gear before... Well, obviously whatever was feeling weird was because of having seen the boy in drag. Kevin couldn't get that image out of his head, and everything Danny wore seemed just wrong. He chuckled to himself as he watched the other boy, two rows up in front of him as they went through their warm-up calisthenics. That butt really did belong in a dress. Man, Danny was just so gay, one look and you could tell.
Or at least, Kevin could. Or at least, Kevin could now. He'd just never noticed before, is all.
After practice, and showering, he found Danny waiting for him at his car. By the way he was standing, it was obvious that he wanted to talk about something. Kevin was good at decoding body-language. He figured Danny probably wanted out of their bargain. Well, no way, man. That was Kevin's lifeline. Everything depended being able to bring up his grades. He felt a little sorry for taking advantage of the guy like that – but Kevin had his priorities. And gay-boy's feelings were low on that list.
With all this in mind, Kevin greeted him with a defensive "What..."
Danny looked around first and then said, "Kevin? Are you trying to blow this deal? What the hell dude? Look, I don't know what you're trying to prove, but you're already pissing me off, okay? So just cut it out or the deal's off. That's all I have to say." He turned away and began walking to his car, three spaces over.
Bewildered, Kevin jogged up next to him, so he wouldn't have to shout, "What are you talking about? Cut what out?"
"Wha... oh, Christ. The staring, man! You've been staring at me all damn morning! Now, I don't know why – and I don't wanna know – but I want it to stop before people start wondering. Understand?"
"I wasn't... staring..."
Danny stopped to look into Kevin's face, "God. You weren't kidding, were you... You couldn't lie your way out of a wet paper bag..."
"Yeah, well... Okay, maybe I was. It's just so weird seeing you in... y'know, tights and pads and a jersey, is all. It just looks weird on you."
"Whatever. Just stop staring, okay? And don't think no one notices. I noticed. Everyone's gonna think you're queer for me if you keep it up. You wouldn't want that, would ya?"
"Fuck off. Everyone knows I'm straight."
"Yeah, I know. 'I only like girls'. And I'd be happy to 'fuck off'. Nothing would give me greater pleasure. Shall I do that then?"
Unsure what he meant, but getting the tone of it anyway, Kevin said, "The deal still stands. Six o'clock good for you?"
Danny sighed, "Fine. Six o'clock. I'll be at your-"
"Uhm, let's make it your house instead."
Danny's eyes narrowed suspiciously, "Why my house?"
"Just... uh... it's... because I don't want my dad seeing you is all."
"And why's that? What makes it okay for my mom to see you, but not your dad to see me?"
"'Cuz you're... I mean, you're obviously... uh..."
"I've said it before: you're an idiot."
Kevin couldn't think of any reply for that, witty or otherwise. As a result, Danny had the upper-hand, but took pity on the poor straight boy nonetheless.
"Okay, fine. My house at six. Bring your books."
"Right. Six. See ya there," Kevin said, glad the awkward exchange was over with.
"Wow. I've never been in... uh..."
"A fag's bedroom before."
"Well don't touch anything. It's contagious."
"It is not."
"Get yourself set up on the desk. I'm gonna go get another chair. Let's just get this over with, okay?"
Three days later -
"What's 'quadratic' mean, anyway?"
"Kevin... how on earth did you get through Algebra 2?"
"Barely. Just answer the question. You don't have to go out of your way to make me feel stupid."
"Yeah... sorry. That was kinda mean."
"S'okay. Just how it sounded, is all."
A week after that -
"Look, I'll give you a hint. Phony-ness."
"I still don't get it."
"Kevin! For God's sake, damn near every fourth word out of Holden's mouth is 'phony'! Did you read the book or not?"
"I read it. Yeah, he calls everything and everyone phony. So? He's the biggest phony of them all..."
"He... he is?"
"Duh. He goes and does almost every damn thing he bitches about. Never notices. Sometimes he whines about how whiny people are! Gimme a break, man! The guy's the biggest phony ever! I hate people like that!"
"You do? Uh, I mean... Yeah, okay. Well, how about this: write down – as an essay, please – why you hate Holden Caufield."
"What's an 'essay' supposed to look like?"
"You... you... huh. Okay, just write it down, we'll turn it into an essay later."
"If I do that, I'll have to write it twice."
"It's not fair you get to play Doom while I'm doing homework."
"Cry me a river."
"And who the fuck plays 'Doom' anymore anyway? Jesus, Danny... get with the century, will ya?"
"I like to run around and blow things up, okay? It's mindless. Like you."
"You like to run around and blow things, you mean."
"Ach! A touche, I must confess. I feare I breathe my last..."
"Yeah, but when I wake up in the morning you'll still... uh... nevermind."
"Heh. Do your homework, Kev..."
Another week later -
"Yeah, you shoulda just told her what she wanted to hear, Danny. At least you could have kept the 'B'."
"It's the principle of the thing! If she doesn't see that-"
"Danny – she's over her head as Vice Principle, and she knows it. She's scared everyone else will find out, okay? So she covers herself by following the rules to the letter – so at least no one can blame her. There's nothing you can do with people like that. If you bring up something the rule-book doesn't cover, they don't know what to do and they get mad. You fucked up, Danny. Be glad it only got lowered to a C, and that it's just the one test. You can make it up. You had a better shot with the teacher. Mr. Gazaway is actually pretty cool, but ya gotta come at him like it's just a mis-understanding, not 'I'm right and you're SO wrong' like ya did."
"How do you know so much about everyone?"
"I can just tell."
"Yeah. You mean you can't?"
"Well... no. Not like that I can't."
"Huh. And here I thought you were all smart."
"So... what's your 'radar' say about me, anyway..."
"Uh... about you?"
"Yeah. C'mon... What does it say about me?"
"Uhm... that you're a fag."
"Besides that, asshole."
"Uh... well... that you're actually pretty cool. For a fag."
"Danny... 'pretty cool', okay? Jesus..."
"You like me."
Later that week, big news came in Kevin's father's e-mail. Aunt Birdie had died. There was to be a funeral on Sunday. Kevin barely knew his Aunt Birdie, so that wasn't really a big deal. The big deal was that the reception would be held at Uncle Keith's estate outside of Birmington.
Kevin only saw Uncle Keith maybe twice a year – a summer visit, maybe a holiday. He didn't get many chances to get to know his filthy rich uncle, and previously, when he had met him, it had been a train-wreck. Not the impression you want to make on the wealthiest member of your extended family. Kevin was going to need to be on his very best behavior for this – but then, he always tried to be anyway. The problem was who he brought with him. His best friend the stoner – that had obviously been a mistake. Yo, Keith! Any place around here we can go to light up? Yer cool, right? Gawd. But that had been a long time ago, in Jr. High.
After that disaster, it had been girlfriends, which didn't work a whole lot better. Something about the allure of all that money just turned girls weird. Last visit, he'd brought the classiest girl in his book – alienating several others in the process – and she'd spent the entire evening crossing and re-crossing her legs while facing his uncle's chair. In a skirt hiked up damn near to her ass.
And none of the girls in his current black book were any better. Hell.
But... Kevin did know one girl who would surely impress rich Uncle Keith. Smart, witty, classy, polite. Not to mention amazing-looking in a way that was not the usual "teenage cutie". If only he could convince her to come...
"No. Fucking. Way."
"Aw c'mon, Danny. It'll be fun..."
"It's a funeral you moron! You think there'll be dancing?"
"Uhm... look, I need to impress this guy, okay? I need to show him that I can get a girlfriend who's not... who's not..."
"Trailer-trash? A tramp? A floosie? Of loose moral-"
"DANNY... Okay! I'm asking for your help here..."
"Dude. 'Help' was not part of our deal..."
Kevin sighed. He had been afraid it might come to this – he had one ace up his sleeve. Time to play it. "If you'll do this – it's just one day! - I'll let you off the hook on the tutoring. You can have your evenings back. I'll never bother you again. Seriously, Danny... I need you for this!"
"What about your grades?"
"Maybe I'll get by. If I can get in good with Uncle Keith... it won't matter. Please! You have to help me make a good impression on this guy! He thinks I'm an idiot..."
"Y'know Kev... what you're asking me to do is kind of... under-handed. Disgusting, in a way. You want me to help you lie to your filthy rich uncle about who you are..."
There wasn't much Kevin could say to that. It was true.
"I'd be out of your hair forever, Danny. Think about that. No more Kevin. Ever. And, you know I mean that, right?"
Danny's mood softened. Whatever else Kevin might be, he had turned out to be trustworthy. "Yeah. I know." But he was dumb, too. About some things. Not everything... Kevin had an amazing insight into people, sometimes. A lot of times. Maybe all the time, for all Danny knew. And really, he wasn't so much "dumb" as just... lazy. The Catcher in the Rye had been the first book Kevin had read, ever. Amazing. And he'd picked up on a theme that hadn't even occurred to Danny. And he'd thought it was obvious, for god's sake!
Not to mention that it had been... almost fun, tutoring Kevin. Back and forth with the fag and jock jokes. Kevin was really all right, just kinda stupid. Always sticking both feet into his mouth when he spoke. And he wasn't exactly bad looking, either. Not really Danny's Dream Boy or anything – too hairy – but... Well, no use following that line of thought – Kevin had made as clear as possible that he "only liked girls". Hell. And, Danny thought, with his evenings back, maybe he could go out again... He'd just make damn sure that wherever he went was farther away, next time.
"I'll take that deal," Danny said.
Under his breath, Kevin said, "Thank you. Thank God, too..."
"Not so fast cowboy. You gotta buy me a dress. Figure on about $250. Maybe more. Not really sure, I've never bought a formal dress before. Oh, and shoes. To match. Aaaaand... whatever else I can think of."
"Oh all right, fine. But I'm drawing the line at jewelry."
"Seriously? You have that kind of money? Your parents let you-"
"I have an American Express card. They won't care until it tops a thousand. And... it won't top a thousand, right?"
"Great!" Danny said, trying not to sound too excited. A whole new outfit? Who wouldn't be excited? "Study-time's over, Kev! We're off to the mall! Be right back!" He ran from the bedroom to his sister's room to pick out an outfit, and returned less than a minute later. He carefully laid out the clothes on the bed.
"Danny? What the fuck are you doing?"
"Getting ready to go shopping! And you're coming with me. You owe me one ruined evening, remember? Now's your chance to make it up," Danny began to strip off his clothes right then and there.
"Hey! Jesus, Danny... give a guy some warning, will ya?" Kevin turned his chair around.
"Kev – you see me get naked every day. Twice a day. Don't be such a weenie."
"He said as he pulled up his frilly lace panties."
"Cotton briefs, actually. Hanes Her-Way. Little pink hearts. Wanna see?"
Dani couldn't help but laugh at Kevin's discomfort. What a dork. This was fun already! She fastened her bra backwards around her stomach before slipping it around and up into place, and then stuffing the breast-forms into it. Then she stepped into the knee-length light blue cocktail dress. Then, just for fun, she went over to where Kevin was sitting in his chair looking the other way - turned her back to him, and said, "Could you zip me up?"
"Zip me up."
"Oh, c'mon. It's hard. Please?"
"You really think I'm going to go to the mall with you in drag like that? To shop for... forget it, Dani."
"Seems to me I remember someone needing a favor from me. Seems like it was a big one. Now, what was it... I can't remember..."
"Oh... hold still." Kevin zipped up her dress, unable to stop himself from admiring Dani's back as he did so. "Man, this is so weird..."
Dani turned around, "Kev... I know you aren't going to get into this, but can't you deal with it just this one time, for my sake? I haven't even had the chance to dress up at home since I've been tutoring you. And I've missed it. You'll never have to do it again, okay?"
Kevin looked up into Dani's face. She'd missed it? How, and why, and what – exactly – had she... but the look in her eyes dispelled his question. Whatever the reason, she had "missed it", and it was sort of his fault. Gawd. On the other hand... "If you embarrass me..."
"I won't embarrass you, Kev. That's not what this is about. Well, okay, I was having a little fun with you for awhile... but I'll stop, okay? Can you just... pretend like you're my brother or something? And you're taking your sister to buy a funeral dress? We'll go to Quail Springs Mall – way over on the other side of town, so no one will see us. All right?"
"Uhm... okay..." Dani said, perplexed, "That was a strange thing to say, Kev..."
"I feel strange. You ready to go?"
"Twenty minutes. I gotta put my face on."
"No you don't. I don't know why you even use that stuff. You look great as it is. Let's go."
"I... I do?"
Too late, Kevin realized what he'd just said. Aww fuck... was his first reaction. She really did, though. Taking the scrunchie off her hair so that it fell down onto her shoulders made more difference than any amount of make-up ever could. Dani was again the girl he'd seen at the party, so many weeks ago. He still remembered that first view of her. In fact, he'd been remembering it every day. So much that he didn't even notice that he thought about it anymore. Until now. Oh... what the hell... Give the girly-boy a break.
"Yeah, you do. But if you just like putting it on anyway, go ahead. Except for the lip-liner. I hate lip-liner."
"All the girls at school use lip-liner..."
"Yeah, well... did you want to look like all the girls at school?"
Dani thought about it, "Good point."
"So, uh, Kevin? Why'd you say that about wanting to drive?"
"It was all I could think of. Besides, I'm the guy. I should drive."
Dani leaned back in the passenger seat. "So you are, Kev. So you are..."
"What about this one?" Dani asked, stepping out of the changing-booth.
"I don't like it."
"Then why'd you ask me?"
"What about this one?"
"It's great. Get it."
"It's kinda low-cut..."
"It's too low cut. No way."
"That looks great, Dani. Can we go now?"
"You like the lace frills?"
"Yeah. They're great. I love lace frills."
"I hate 'em."
"Jesus Christ, Dani..."
"The slit doesn't show too much leg does it?"
"It makes my hips look fuller too, I think."
"We're getting it."
"Oh! And I'll need a purse, to go with it! Over there!"
"Geez Dani - calm down. I swear... they're just purses..."
"Oh, 'just purses', huh? And I suppose that box under your arm is 'just shoes'. Sheesh. Men."
Kevin mumbled to himself, "Women..."
Dani heard him though, and smiled to herself.
They had one last stop to make, but Dani hadn't told Kevin what it was. She made it apparent by stopping in front of the store. Kevin automatically stopped too, but it took him awhile to realize what was going on – his eyes were on the mannequins in the window. Of Victoria's Secret. By the time he tore his eyes away to see what the hold up was, Dani was looking at him and smiling evilly. Kevin correctly guessed what it meant.
"I am not going in there..."
"Didn't think you were, Kev. Here, hold my purse and wait for me, 'kay? I won't take long."
Kevin took the purse and sighed. He already knew how long "not long" was. He turned around and took a bench facing the store. An older man with a neatly-trimmed white beard was on the other end of the bench. He was also holding a purse.
"Pretty girl ya got there. Beautiful." the man said to Kevin.
The man didn't seem to mind the terse answer, and went on, "I remember when mine was that pretty. And nice. It was a long time ago."
"How long?" Kevin asked, just to seem interested when he really wasn't.
"Twenty-six years" the man sighed. Just then, a spindly, grey-haired woman with bright-red lipstick and nails appeared at the store's entrance. "Oops. Duty calls. Nice talking to you, young man."
Before Kevin got a chance to say "You too", the woman was starting in -
"Are you just going to sit there while I hold these bags? Didn't you see me coming through the door? Really, Harold, I wish you'd at least act gentlemanly sometimes." She started loading his arms down with even more bags than he was already carrying - but she never stopped talking, even as they both walked away. Kevin stared, dumbfounded. The man turned his head at Kevin and gave him a wan smile, as if to say Hope you have better luck than I did.
Kevin watched them walk away down the hall. She never did stop talking. Poor old guy... he thought, as the couple merged with the other mall traffic. Eventually he lost sight of them and stared at the floor wondering what their life must be like.
"Whatcha looking at, Kev?"
Dani was standing right in front of him. With the memory of the old man's wife fairly burned into his mind, he looked over, seeing Dani's feet. Her legs. Her hips. Her waist. Her chest. Her neck. And finally, her face.
No wonder the old man had envied him. Dani was fucking beautiful. God. He'd never really noticed how much, before. Now, with something to contrast it with, he saw it. Dani wasn't a "babe", but god DAMN she was pretty. In some other way. In the... in the...
In the Dani way.
Unable to decipher – and a little worried by – the look on Kevin's face, Dani said, "Uh... you gotta go pay now. I picked out what I needed. About a hundred bucks."
"Oh. Yeah. Sure," he said, getting up.
"Can I have my purse back?"
"Huh?" He'd forgotten he was holding it. "Oh. Yeah. Here."
"You okay, Kev?"
"Yeah. I, uh... I gotta go pay for the stuff" he said, still dazed. Dani's eyes were green. Amazingly green. How could he not have noticed that before?
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