The Girl for Me
His upper lip in her mouth, their faces pressed close together, breathing through their noses against each other's cheeks, their bodies pressed close, her eyes open, his eyes shut, his arms around her back, pulling her tightly against him, her arms between them, as if to fend him off, but not doing so, she was warm, he was firm, her eyes closing without her being aware of it, him forgetting why he was doing this in the first place, then her upper lip in his mouth, soft and warm, breathing harder, the smell of her perfume, his cologne, his arm sliding down to the small of her back, her hand reaching for his throat, holding his cheek, his thigh pressing into her groin, him pulling her even tighter, her feeling his pulse through her whole body, and him hers.
But wait -
They separated, mouths still partially open, eyes still shut, arms still where they had been. Their eyes open at the same time, looking into each other. Into each other. Everything had been forgotten. There was only him, and there was only her.
And she was a guy.
And he didn't like guys.
Kevin withdrew his arms and ran for the front door, panicked, leaving a confused Dani standing there, still dazed, lips still partially open and still warm, too. "K – Kev?"
"I'm afraid that was my fault, Dani. He was trying to prove something to me..." Uncle Keith said, still sitting behind his desk.
Dani looked over at him as if he were some kind of stranger at a bus-station, some crazy person shouting obscenities at every passer-by. What? No... no, it didn't matter what this crazy man had said. Where was Kevin? She ran after him out of the drawing room and through the ornate front-doors.
Uncle Keith watched her go. He'd been right about Kevin all along. That should have been more satisfying than it was, though. The way he'd run off after the kiss was just the icing on the cake. And yet... could there be... well, yes, there was. There was something between Kevin and this girl he'd brought with him. He had a hunch. Uncle Keith had learned to trust his hunches. He didn't know what was going on between the two teenagers, but there was something. And if Kevin actually could hook up with a girl like Dani... Well, maybe he wasn't such a lost cause, after all. He'd have to keep a closer eye on the boy. A girl like that could turn anyone's life around.
Dani stood in front of the doors, looking for Kevin. There he was. At the far end of the veranda, sitting on the steps leading down, his back to her. She walked towards him thinking about what had just happened. Kevin had kissed her.
Kissed her passionately, too. No, wait, that wasn't the right word. He hadn't had an erection or anything – if he'd had, she would have felt it. She thought she felt it anyway - hard or not - he'd been holding her so tightly. So the kiss wasn't exactly "passionately". But what then? And... why?
Oh, of course. To prove that she was his girlfriend. That's what Uncle Keith had meant. He was just acting like he was her boyfriend. But... that wasn't right either. There had been more to it than that. In that three seconds of so of eye-contact afterward, she'd felt it. Something had passed between them. A new thing. Dani had never felt anything like that before, and she was willing to bet that Kevin hadn't either. The pieces fell together before Dani got to the stairs – Kevin was straight, and had just... soul-kissed another boy. No wonder he was panicked.
She said softly to Kevin's back, "Do... uh... do you want me to leave you alone?"
His shoulders were still going up and down as he breathed deeply, trying to clear his mind, but he knew the answer to that question without thinking - "No."
She stepped down to his level and sat beside him on the white marble stairs. He didn't say anything. She didn't either, but instead looked at the colorful New Hampshire fall foliage in the distance. He stayed quiet for a long time.
Kevin wasn't thinking about the kiss. True, what had happened was the reason behind why he ran out in the first place – but he'd stopped thinking about it before he'd even reached the stairs. Because it was unthinkable. He didn't understand yet that such things are – by definition - "unthinkable". They are to be felt, not thought about.
Finally, he said, "He knows. He knows I made you come here with me just to impress him."
"God. This has got to be the stupidest idea I've ever had. Fuck, man... Everyone here is outta my league. Uncle Keith is outta my league. Aunt Mary is outta my league" he paused for a second, and then added, "You're outta my league. I dunno why I thought I could pull this off. What an idiot."
"Stop saying that, Kev. I thought it would work too."
"Let's just go home, Dani. I'm never coming here again. Fuck this. Fuck him."
"Okay," she replied quietly. But they still hadn't talked about the kiss – and there was definitely something there that needed talking about. Kevin was already on his feet and going down the steps, though. Well, it could wait.
And it did wait. Once in the car, Kevin put on a CD and filled the ride home with Classical Rock. All three hours of it. Not a word was spoken. He didn't shut it off until he was sitting in Dani's driveway again. But, again, he left the engine running.
"Kevin... turn off the car."
He looked over at her, and tried to make up his mind how he should react. In the end, he just turned the ignition off. He knew what was coming.
Dani stared straight ahead and said, "You kissed me..."
"Yeah. I was trying to show Uncle Keith that you were my girlfriend. It was stupid."
"Will you stop saying you're stupid? Please?" Dani said, and then realized that Kevin was just trying to throw her off track. "Anyway, Kev... there was more to it than that, and you know it. I think we should talk about it."
Kevin sighed deeply, "Yeah. I know. Look, Dani. Daniel. Whatever. I just... I forgot, is all, okay? I mean... you make such a pretty girl, and you act like a girl, and you talk like a girl and... and I swear to god, Dani, everything about you is just...'girl', all right? Sometimes – when you're in drag – I forget. 'Cuz it's not just that you're 'a girl', it's that you're this... great girl, y'know? You really are. Everyone can see it, too, not just me. God, I wish you were a girl..."
Dani swallowed. That hit her right in the heart. Kevin thought that she was a "great girl". No amount of poetry read to her by a quiet lake on a summer evening could have meant more to her than what Kevin had just said. She had to remember to breathe. "M-me too" she said softly.
He looked over at her.
She turned away, "I've never... told anyone that."
Kevin didn't know what to think about what Dani had just said. Something told him it was important, but he didn't know why. He was feeling a lot of things at once – and he didn't like some of them. They were confusing. They were contradictory. They were... out of his league.
Then Kevin - having just filled Dani's heart to the brim with newfound and unexpected joy - stomped on it.
"You really have the act down, I gotta tell ya. It's amazing how well you do it. You should be one of those female-impersonators or something."
She opened her door as she were attacking it and got out, slamming it behind her. He just sat there, dumbfounded. What had he said now?
Dani came around to his side of the car, opened his door, and said, standing there, "Don't ever come here again, Kevin! Our deal is over! I did what you wanted, so it's over! Don't even... don't even talk to me again! I fucking mean it!" Dani slammed the the door as hard as she could and tried not to run towards her house. It was hard. The tears were already starting. Fumbling with the lock was a nightmare.
Another nightmare awaited: "Danny? Is that you?" her mother said from the kitchen hall, watching her son run towards the stairs. In a little black dress.
Dani just kept running, taking the stairs two at a time. Fuck. Just... fuck...
"Danny!? Breakfast!" his mother yelled up the stairs.
He opened his door and came slowly down to the kitchen, sat at the table, and looked down at his French toast. His Mom only made French toast on special occasions. Danny hoped that Kevin was right about his Mom... He'd been right about the Linda girl, after all. In fact, Linda kept threatening to have her brother at college set him up with dates, she was such a gay-guy fangirl. Sheesh. He tried to quiet his roiling brain. His stomach was already trying to jump up his throat. He'd have given anything just have someone there who would understand him, who knew the secret he was about to tell. But his sister Stacy was away at college, and Kevin... well, Kevin was an idiot.
"Did you want butter or peanut-butter this morning?" his mother asked, as if it were any other morning.
"Uhm... I don't know... just butter, I guess..." Danny said. He tried to open the syrup, but gave up because his hands were shaking too much. "Mom... I know you saw me last night..."
"Oh. Yes. Coming back from some kind of costume party?"
Danny sighed. His mother was giving him an out. He hadn't really expected that, but grasped at it out of reflex - "Yeah. Costume party," he said, and winced inwardly. No, no, he was not going to take that bait. Mom knew better anyway – she had to. Her son had come home dressed as a woman and crying and had run up to his room. Costume party. Yeah, right. "Uh... I mean... No. I'm... I'm gay, Mom."
After a tense pause, she said, still from the kitchen, "I see. I did give you a fork, didn't I?"
"Mom – would you come sit down? Please stop pretending this isn't a big deal. Say something."
She did come in and sit down, but she didn't look at him, or say anything.
"What do you want me to say? Look, I know this is hard for you. I do know a little about the... gay thing. I understand that it's not a choice. Uhm... are you sure, Danny? It's not just... experimenting?" Now she was grasping.
"Or maybe your bisexual and just leaning towards-"
"Ah. So... And Kevin's your, uh-"
"No! Mom... No, he's just a guy I help with homework. That's all. Nothing like that. I don't have a boyfriend. And... I've only had one, anyway, ever. Remember Pete?"
"Pete? Little Peter Kopp? He was... you were..." she forced herself to stop talking, let it sink in, "Uh... okay. Peter Kopp... Honey – just tell me this: do you practice safe sex?"
"Well I'm sorry... but you wanted me to say something..."
"Well... say something else then! Gawd. I've never even had... well... Oh, fer... yes Mom. We had 'safe sex'. Okay?"
"I'm sorry, Danny... I'm just kind of at a loss here."
"Well, you didn't have to bring that up right away..." Danny paused to try and remember the things he'd wanted to say, "Uhm. So, is it okay? I mean... are you going to send me to therapy now or anything?"
"Therapy? Why? Is something troubling you?"
"No, I just meant... nevermind. So, IS it okay, then?"
She sighed, "Well, as I understand it, it's not really anything to do with me. I guess if you're happy that way... well, I'm supposed to be happy for you. And proud of you for coming on to me."
"'OUT', Mom... Coming 'OUT' to you. If I were coming 'on' to you, I would be going to therapy. My god..." Against all odds, a smile played on Danny's lips.
"Oh. I'm not quite up on all the terminology, I guess."
"No kidding. But Mom – I'm not 'out' to anyone but you. And Stacy. And... Kevin. I'd kind of like to keep it that way?"
"Oh, of course, honey. Although... I've read that I should really support you in order for-"
"Mom? Can you just forget everything you've heard, and read? Can it just be something between us? I don't have anything to hide. Well... anymore. We can talk about it, right?"
"Well, okay..." she said, then, nervously continued, "Uhm... that was a nice dress you were wearing last night..."
Suddenly, saying he had "nothing to hide" didn't sound half so true. "Yeah. Uh... maybe we should give it a break for awhile after all... Pick it up again after school?"
"But you said-"
"I know Mom. And I'll tell you all about it. But... I'm gonna be late for school if I don't go now..."
"Okay honey. Oh, Danny? You... be safe at school, okay?"
He sighed. "Geez Mom... It's not like... oh, all right. I'll be safe, Mom. Really, I'm all right. See ya after work."
Well, that hadn't gone as well as he could have hoped... but it did go a lot better than he'd feared. You'd better be right, Kevin. Gah. Why am I even thinking of that asshole?
Kevin had his own problems, and by the truckload. As a back-up career option, Uncle Keith was now out. That left football. And without Dani to help him, he was on thin ice there, too. He was going to have to study his ass off, and had no one to turn to for help. In the back of his mind, his football dreams were starting to seem a little less of a sure thing too. The shot of reality from everything that had happened on Sunday had done that to him. Lots of guys dreamed of being football stars, didn't they... and not a lot of them were.
While Dani had been around – strike that. While Daniel had been around, everything had seemed so bright. Anything was possible. Even a "B" seemed within his grasp. That would have freaked out his Dad, he knew. Ah well. And what was her – his – problem, anyway? Why had she just gone insane like that? Women. Or, y'know, fags, then. Whatever. And anyway, why did they all have to be so crazy?
Those were the things he thought the first night. He and Danny scrupulously avoided each other at school the following Monday, not even glancing in each other's direction.
The asshole bastard, and the crazy faggot.
This went on the whole next week, too. They each went through their own compensations-
"Hey, Monica. Are you busy on Saturday? Wanna go out?" Kevin asked.
"Oh, I'm sorry Kevin, but I'm going to the Mall with Cheryl and Lisa. We're going to buy new outfits for the Fall Ball next week."
"Sounds like fun. Maybe I could come and... y'know, give you girls a guy's opinion on stuff."
Monica giggled, "I don't think so Kev... we all know what guys like. This is a girl thing. Really, you'd just be bored, baby..."
"No, really, I-"
"Kev? Maybe next time, 'kay?"
Well, there were others... and eventually, he did get a date....
"... so, there were firecrackers all over the place, right? And I'm-"
"Those things can be dangerous, Kevin. You're lucky you weren't hurt."
"Uh... yeah, I guess. Anyway, I was sort of scooting-"
"I had a nephew had to go to the hospital when a Roman Candle shot out through the wrong end of the tube, y'know? Right down his sleeve. Third degree burns. It was disgusting."
Kevin sighed. Katelyn liked to be the one doing the talking, it seemed. "Ah. Uhm... was he okay?"
"Not really. He still has this really gross scar all the way up his arm to his elbow. We went to see him at the hospital the next day, and he was all bandaged..." she continued. And continued. And continued.
Kevin sat back and looked at her, nodded, and made the appropriate noises when he got a chance. Wasn't much to it. Wasn't much fun, either. Oh, she'd be fun later, all right. Katelyn was a hot one in the bedroom. But Kevin found himself wondering if it was really worth the price of admission, after all.
By the time dinner was over, he'd decided that it wasn't. He'd rather just take her back home and jerk-off by himself, than spend any more time with her.
As for Daniel, he finally relented – for lack of a better idea – and let Linda Flornoy's brother set him up with a gay college boy. The brother wasn't actually gay himself – but he knew a lot of guys that were. He was majoring in Music, apparently. Daniel guessed there must be lots of gay guys in Music. The date was set for the following Saturday – same as the Fall Ball at St. Augustine's, but that was okay, since Daniel hadn't planned on going to that anyway.
A blind date. With a guy. An older guy. Daniel was so nervous! Excited... but nervous, too. A college guy? Daniel would be 17 next month. Better not let Mom know about this then... The question was, should he go in drag, or not? He'd been out in public in drag a grand total of three times now, and with the exception of meeting The Bastard Asshole, they'd all gone great. But... a blind date? And with a college man? That might look a little... on the other hand, at least they were both gay, for a change. He'd understand. He'd probably like it! It could be SO fun!
Kevin stayed home from the Fall Ball as well. He just didn't feel like going through all those motions. Dancing wasn't really his thing. Girls were his thing. But lately, he'd found himself feeling unsatisfied in some way, even when everything went the way it was "supposed to". It wasn't... serious enough, or something. All this pinging and flirting... it was just getting kind of old. If only he could find a girl friend... or maybe, a "friend-girl" - putting "friend" first. Like Danny had been. Sort of.
So he stayed at home and watched Flight of the Phoenix, the old version, again.
His cell-phone played a snippet of Dixie Chicks, and he picked it up.
"K-Kevin? It's Dani..." Kevin forgot about the movie he'd been watching. From the tone of Dani's voice, he could tell something was wrong. Seriously wrong. Before he could say anything, he heard her sniffle. He knew that sound. She was crying.
"Dani? What's wrong?"
"Could you come and get me, Kev? I... I didn't know who else to call..."
"Come get you? Where are you?"
"Fontana Center, 71st and Lewis. I'll be in front of the Edison's. You'll come?"
"Heading out the door now. That's a long ways, Dani... it's gonna take awhile."
"I know. Hurry, okay?"
"Keep talking to me, Dani. What happened?"
"I... I'd rather not say, Kev. But this phone is in kind of a bright place, and everything's all deserted... and... and I'm in drag, Kev. I don't wanna stay on the phone here. I didn't bring my cell. I'll be in front of the Edison's, okay? And – come in the Lewis street entrance, so I'll see you driving up, all right?"
"Lewis entrance. Getting in my car now. Dani... are you okay?"
"I'm okay, Kev. Just... a little scared. Thanks. 'Bye."
Kevin drove. He did not play any music. He hurried. It seemed to take forever. He didn't like how Dani sounded scared like that. And he couldn't do anything about it but drive. It was maddening.
He pulled in the Lewis street entrance, into the empty, amber-lit parking lot, working his way down the aisles towards Edison's. A figure stepped out of the shadows behind one of the columns supporting the facade of the store. A lone dark figure. In a knee-length skirt. He pulled up to her and she got in.
"Just go," she said.
"Dani? What are you doing out here? What happened? Are you all right?" Kevin asked faster than she could have answered.
"It's a long story, Kev... There's... There's a bar at the back of the shopping center. You probably don't know. It's a gay bar."
"Yeah, I've heard about it. You... you actually went to a gay bar?" Kevin couldn't believe she'd actually do something like that. Not Dani...
"My date brought me. I... he's still there, I guess. Doubt if he's looking for me though. Kevin – I really don't want to talk about it, okay? It's just... it's been a bad night. I just wanna go home. Thanks for coming to get me."
Her date brought her? "You're not... hurt or anything, are you? Did he-"
"No, nothing like that. I'm okay. Please stop asking me about it, Kevin. I just want to forget the whole thing."
"Oh. Well... good. Okay. I'll shut up."
And he did. Until once again, they were sitting in his car, on her driveway. He cut his engine.
She was making no motions about getting out, though.
"Thanks Kev. Seriously. I was kinna... scared back there..."
"Want me to come in? You don't have to talk about it, if ya don't want to. I just thought..."
Actually, Dani would have liked that. Dani's mother was over-nighting at some bank conference down in Massachusetts. But it would have been just way too awkward. "It's okay. I'll be okay now. You don't have to come in."
"We could just... play games or something. Get your mind off it..."
"It's all right, Kev, I'll see ya in school."
He had one more chance – though it pained him to play this particular card. "I'll play Doom with ya, if ya want."
Dani had already opened her door, but froze just as she was turning to get out. She looked questioningly back at Kevin. "I'd... I'd kick your ass, Kev..."
"Maybe. Maybe not."
"I've been playing Doom for six years, Kevin. I'd SO kick your ass!"
Even after what she'd been through, Kevin had brought a smile to her face. "Yeah. Yeah, come on in. Welcome to your slaughter."
It had worked. He got out of the car and began following her up the walk. "Uh... you gotta give me a handicap."
"I gotta do no such thing. That wasn't part of the deal, Kev. We always stick to our deals, don't we?"
"Oh come on, Dani... how about: you only use the shotgun?"
"Maybe I'll think about it. Eventually."
This was going to be a blood-bath of the first magnitude.
Kevin made himself a gaming position on the floor with pillows from the couch while Dani changed into his pajamas. Four hours later, Danny had stacked up 373 frags against Kevin's 4. Danny had relented after the first hundred, and agreed to only utilize the chain-gun. It didn't really make much difference.
"Danny... it's 4 am. I don't think I can stand this anymore, I'm falling asleep."
"Yeah. Me too. Uh... it's hardly worth going home, Kev. You wanna just stay here and have sex?"
"But you're not making a pass or anything."
"Oh, no. Of course not. You only like girls."
"That's right. I only like... Danny? Are you ever gonna tell me what was wrong that day?"
Danny sighed loudly. "It's just... It's like... What I want to say is 'if you don't know then I'm certainly not going to tell you', but it sounds stupid. That's how I feel though."
"Christ. Just like a girl."
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is. See, Kev... you... you don't get it. You made me feel so good about myself that day, then you opened your big fat mouth and ruined it. I... hated you for doing that."
"I made you feel good? Uh... you're not talking about-"
"No, you stupid... No, Kevin. I wasn't talking about the kiss. I was talking about when you said what a great girl I made. You can't imagine how that felt for me."
"So..." Kevin prompted. He was still in the dark about what the hell he'd done.
"So then you go and say what a great ACTOR I was! How I should get a job as a female-impersonator, for god's sake! Goddammit, Kev... Don't you understand? When I'm a girl is the only time I'm NOT 'acting'! All the rest of the time, I am! In school, during football... ALL the damn time, Kev! And when I actually got to spend a day NOT 'acting', you tell me what a great actor I am! How well I can pull it off! Jesus Christ, Kev... you don't understand, Trace didn't understand... I don't think Mom understands, either. Is it that hard? Or is my 'boy act' just SO good that no one can tell..."
"Uh... I'd never thought of it that way. I... I'm sorry. Really. Who's 'Trace'?"
"Oh. The guy I had a date with tonight. College guy. Linda's brother set it up. It was a blind date. God what a nightmare."
"You wanna talk about it now?"
"Yeah, I guess it's okay now. See..." Danny told the story.
Trace was gay, all right. Gay and proud. Gay and obsessed with his gay-ness, more accurately. And he wasn't the only one like that at that bar that night. His buddies had been there too. At first, Trace – and his friends – had tried to hide their distaste for how Dani was dressed. For how Dani acted. He was only a kid, after all. They tried, not too subtly, to "set him right": he should be proud of being a gay man. He shouldn't try to act all girly. He damn sure shouldn't DRESS girly! And as the night wore on, and the beer flowed, they'd become more and more open about it.
Dani was a traitor to the Cause. An enemy to Gay Men everywhere, they told her.
Here she'd thought that she'd finally meet people who would understand, who would enjoy her for what she was, and instead...
Instead they found everything about her disgusting and stupid. And the more they drank, the angrier and more tactless they'd become about telling her that. Until finally, she'd just left, by herself. And called Kevin.
"Yeah. I didn't know there were gay Assholes too, see? Imagine my surprise."
"I was feeling pretty... down on myself, when you picked me up."
"I could tell."
"I feel a lot better now, Kevin."
"I just can't believe they would say stuff like that. Gawd."
"It's no worse than what you straights say about us, usually," Danny observed.
"Hey, I never... I mean..."
"I didn't mean you. You're okay. For a breeder."
Danny was looking right into Kevin's eyes. No, Kevin had never said things like that, but he might have, before he'd really thought about it. Before... now.
"Uhm... Danny? When I said you made a 'great girl'... I meant it. I'd just never thought about... the part about acting like a guy all the time."
"It's okay Kev. I'm over it. And thanks for saying that. 'Cuz I know how much you hate phonies."
Kevin couldn't let that go unanswered: "Danny... The first thing I ever noticed about you, back at that party with all the scene kids, was that nothing – I mean absolutely nothing – about you is phony, no matter what clothes you wear." He yawned hugely, "Look, I'm gonna crash here on the floor, all right? G'nite, Danny."
"Good... good night, Kevin" Danny stammered. He watched Kevin roll over onto his side. He stared awhile, and then went up to go to bed.
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