Sunday, February 17, 2008


Geez I write some wierd crap sometimes.


He is unsteady but moves with a focused determination. He thinks he should have opted for a lower heel. Three inches is quite a reach for his first time in stilettos. He is reasonably certain the rest of his outfit is satisfactory. The decision to wear slacks instead of a skirt had been a hard one, but there was so much else to concentrate on that the ease and familiarity of pants legs just made too much sense.

Through the parking structure of the Tropicana, down the half flight of steps to the casino floor and past the first row of slots. The casino air feels smooth on his newly shaved face. No more beard. No more moustache. After twenty years. He would find some explanation for his wife when he got back to Indianapolis. Past now a small bar on the gaming floor and a look in the mirror. Without breaking stride, all he can see are his full, gel-padded breasts. Forty-two D. He is not a small man and would not, therefore be a small woman. In the next mirror, again, all he sees are breasts. He stops at this bar and orders a whiskey and ginger ale. He considers his hands on the glass and guesses that he has known women with bigger hands than his. He sips his drink and studies the mirror.

The wig is good. Not too long nor too short. A casual style. Feminine without being frilly. His silky blouse is tasteful; jewel garnet in color and high in the neck. The breadth of his shoulders is unavoidable. He smiles at the barman. The barman smiles at him. Charles knows that the barman knows and he doesn’t care. But suddenly he thinks the barman may ask his name. He has no name; no new name. What would he say? Who would he be? How did he miss this detail? It couldn’t be a name that sounded made up. He couldn’t be Fantasia or Desiree. But he wouldn’t be Sylvia, either, nor Francine. Jill. His mother had told Charles that she thought he was going to be a twin and that she would have called his sister Jill. But he decides not to volunteer this name. He’ll keep it for emergencies.

His drink finished, he walks on, thinking that it might not have been the smartest thing to drink while learning to walk on high heels. A few people glance at him. He categorizes their looks. Some know. Maybe most know. A few much older men look him up and down. One winks and stares at his chest. Two women pass and he hears one comment on the color of his blouse. Luscious. That is the word she uses.

He walks up the Strip for maybe a block but it is very hot and he worries about sweat spoiling his make up. He worked hard on his make up. He turns and walks back to the Tropicana and back to the bar. He needs the cool air and he needs to think. He needs to take the next step but it’s not clear what that next step is. He orders a straight ginger ale and sips.

He takes a breath and says to the barman, “I’m looking for a bar. Someplace where…” He hesitates.

“Someplace where you’ll be comfortable?” says the barman.

“Yes. Exactly that. Nothing too…” He hesitates again. He almost says, nothing too queer. Charles is not queer. Charles is very straight. It’s just that today he is a straight man with tits and a garnet jewel colored blouse.

“You want Sandy’s,” says the barman. “It’s not too…much.”

“Right. Not too much. Exactly that.” He pays generously for his ginger ale and leaves with a brief, small stumble. He has forgotten about the heels.

In front of the Trop he has no problem hailing a taxi. He says, “Sandy’s,” the cabby nods and Charles settles back to watch the Strip go by.

Down Las Vegas Boulevard, a left at a wide street the name of which Charles misses, then down to Industrial, a right turn, another left and there, between a strip club and a party store is Sandy’s. Stepping form the cab, Charles feels the heat reflected off the beige cinder block walls. He enters the club, pays a twenty dollar cover charge and waits while his eyes adjust. The dark seems complete at first, with only a few shallow pools of light to his right and sharper neon beer signs by the bar to his left. Within a minute more detail resolves and he sees his way to a bar stool. He stands beside it, not wanting to have to hike himself up.

He orders a whiskey and ginger ale, “Easy on the whiskey,” he says.

Charles looks around the bar and sees that he is in company. Gay men holding hands with gay men. Lesbian women holding hands with lesbian women. A stern woman in leather. A much less stern man in a silk shirt. One other cross-dressed man who looks to Charles to have taken much less care in his appearance. A man in a business suit asks Charles to dance. Charles says, “I’ll try. I’m not much of a dancer.” It is a slow song and he spends most of his time paying attention to his feet and little of his time noticing his feelings. The dance over, Charles thanks the man. The man kisses Charles on the cheek. He is surprised. It is not unpleasant, but it is not pleasant, either, and certainly not erotic.

Charles looks back to the bar and sees that it is full; his place is taken. The bar is filling up. The tables he can see are occupied. He walks to the back of the bar, looking for a place to be; a place to observe; a place to assemble himself.

At one table sits one girl, unaccompanied. Charles’ calves ache. He touches a chair at this table and says to the girl, “Would you mind?” She half smiles and half nods, and he sits.

After a short while he asks, “Are you waiting for someone? I could leave.”

“No,” she says, “I’m just sitting.”

“Have you been here before?” asks Charles.

“No. You?”

“No. I’m from Indianapolis,” he says as though that will explain things.

“Fresno,” says the girl

Charles says, “I’ve never…been here or anything like that. I’m married. I’ve never…”

“Dressed? This is you first time out?”

“Yes,” says Charles.

“You look wonderful.”

Charles wants to say, “Really?” He wants to angle for compliments. He wants to hear how he looks.

She looks him over. “Yes, really,” she says.

“This seems to be a decent place,” she says. “But still, be careful. I don’t know anything about the guys you might meet here.”

“I’m not looking for a guy.”

“Oh,” she says. “Then what?”

“I don’t know. I think I just wanted to do this. To be this, even just this once. But I’m not looking for a guy. I’m married. And,” he says, “I’m straight.”

“Can I ask,” Charles says, “What you’re looking for here?”

“I don’t know either. I thought maybe I’d like to meet another girl. I’ve never been with another girl. I have a boyfriend. I’m not a lesbian.”

They both scan the room. “Why?” asks Charles. She looks at him. “Why did you want to be with a girl?”

The bar is dark enough that honesty is easy. “I like the way they look,” she says. “Women…look nice. I guess somehow I imagined I’d like to be with a girl but then in my mind, if it ever came to…intimacy…I don’t find that idea appealing. I don’t know.”

They, at that moment, look at each other.

“You know what we want?” askes Charles. “We want each other.”

She furrows her brow.

“Yes,” he said. “You want a woman with a penis who likes women.”

She laughed, “Yes, and you want to be a woman with a penis who meets a woman who wants her.”

For an hour they chat. And then there is an awkward silence. She says, “You know the chances of us meeting like this are microscopic.”

“In Vegas?” says Charles. “Chance is everything. But, you know,” he went on, “when we leave here, we will not be leaving together.”

“I know that,” she says. “You’re married.”

“And you have a boyfriend.”

They stand together. “Good bye,” she says.

“Good bye,” says Charles. As she walks away he whispers to the back of her neck, “We’ll always have Vegas.”


At Monday, February 18, 2008 at 6:16:00 PM EST, Blogger Stewart Sternberg said...

I loved this when I first read it and love it still. I think any time people step outside their roles or examine other parts of their personality that they feel have some negative stigma, it makes for fascinating character development.

Look forward to seeing you Thursday. I actually have something new to bring. I'm looking forward to seeing what new stuff you come up with, too. How is that writing coming along? Need a writing prompt?

At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 8:46:00 AM EST, Blogger Jon said...

Something new from you? Cool. A prompt for me? Bring it...I need some ideas.

At Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 12:13:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Very well written. Kinda weird seeing my name on the protagonist. I didn't think anyone knew.

The best line: "It’s just that today he is a straight man with tits and a garnet jewel colored blouse."


At Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 7:41:00 PM EST, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...


I really loved this story. It seemed so sweet and innocent, a total romance without being sappy. I love the main character's hesistancy and the fact that he isn't punished or made miserable like so many first time out stories.

At Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 12:19:00 PM EST, Blogger Avery DeBow said...

In Vegas, everything is false. Everything is a facade. You dressed your character in that concept, giving him a false front for a false city. But, instead of making it all about show and pretend, you gave a very honest and innocent portrayal--accented by the dishonest and impure Vegas landscape. Very nice.

At Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 6:44:00 PM EDT, Blogger Kate S said...

LOL. Great stuff as always.


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