Danny - Part 1
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Submitted by bobbie-c on Tue, 2009/08/25 - 11:33am
DANNY Part 1
Author’s Note: I started writing this December 2005, soon after I discovered the now-defunct Fictionmania site, and I decided to try my hand at writing Transgender Fiction. And it took me this long to build up the courage to actually upload it for others to enjoy (or not — your option heheh).
I have resurrected what little I have of my old story, and though I am by no means a real writer, I hope to finish the rest of the story asap
I first uploaded it in Crystal’s StorySite, and, though still incomplete, I was convinced to try uploading it in Topshelf as well. Feedback would be most appreciated, so I do hope people write me back through my site-registered email address.
I am by no means a real writer so I hope you will forgive any grammatical and literary flubs that you see. Further, given that this little piece had close to five years of gestation, many of the cultural referents will be off - for example, many of the songs used in the story are not current but in the story they’re treated as if they were, yet at the same time other songs are really current songs. I hope you will forgive the temporal mismatch here, and try and enjoy the story despite this.
Apologies also if the quoted lyrics are wrong — I got most of them off the net, or from my own memory — I didn’t get them off official sources.
So, without further ado, here we go with the story. Hope you like… (Don’t forget! Feedback please!!)
Part One: Hyper-Female
In Part One, we learn about Danny, his twin sister Danielle, and Dan’s unique abilities as well as other things.
***** (Danny) *****
I damaged my larynx when I was seven, and had to have an operation. Or otherwise, I would have died right there and then. I remembered that time, one of the scariest in my life.
Our yearly traditional family barbecue with my cousins and their family were at their house that year (who have since relocated to a different part of the country). I and my twin sister were playing with my cousins at their house on that sunny Thanksgiving Day. Back then Danielle and my cousin Roberta were still tomboy enough to insist on playing with us guys. (Danielle and I are fraternal twins - not identical twins. Obviously.) At the time, action shows were big on TV again, and we were playing a game we called Secret Agent: our own version of Cowboys-and-Indians - combining a game of Shoot-Em-Up, Tag, and Simon Sez. Don’t ask me to explain.
I pushed through some of the stiff drooping branches of the tree in their backyard, tracking down my cousin Alex. I spied him crouching near a hedge that bracketed their house’s front door. Obviously, he was using the bushes to hide, but his luck was out because I was behind him and could see him clearly.
I smiled and moved in for the kill. I used my hand to push away the branches and held my rubber-band gun out, aiming for his head. I need to hit him at least three times, according to the complicated rules we made up for Secret Agent. Anything less than three doesn’t count, and he would still be alive, and can turn around and fire his gun at me.
I was concentrating so hard on my aim that some of the smaller branches slipped out and whapped me on my chin and throat. It stung a lot but I was able to fire off my three rubber bands. I saw him rubbing his cheek where I got him, and decided to use up the entire wad of rubber bands for good measure. I ran forward about to whoop in victory when I suddenly found out that I couldn’t speak.
I stood stock still, my right hand on my throat. My eyes goggled in panic, and I tried to inhale and make some kind of sound. I found that I couldn’t, and would have whimpered in panic if I could. I dropped my rubber-band gun and pounded my chest, panic growing in me. I desperately wanted to get a breath in.
Alex was shouting at the adults to get their attention. I saw red dripping down my shirt, and I saw my fingers with flecks of blood. I fainted dead away, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in a hospital bed.
I got the story from my family, putting the bits and pieces together over the next couple of weeks to my eventual satisfaction. It seemed that my larynx was almost crushed by my throat being whacked by the tree branches, and because of my blocked air passages, I couldn’t breathe much less speak. My dad did an emergency tracheotomy right there in the front yard, making a cut low on my neck with his penknife just above my breastbone, and then pushing a drinking straw in. My uncle should have done it - he was a first-year medical intern and knew how to do it - but he was scared to death to touch me. At least he was able to tell Dad what to do. At first, Dad tried to do it by cutting at my neck right on top of my Adam’s apple. But Uncle Nathan was able to stop him in time, and he started again at the right place. By then, I was turning blue.
I was barely awake from the anesthesia as my mom explained, and I struggled to understand her.
I found out that the blood that I had seen on my shirt and fingers was nothing, just blood from a large but non-critical gash immediately underneath my lower lip, and Mom said that they had to use some stitches to close the wound.
I shakily raised my left hand and touched the stitches but was stopped by a thick bandage covering my chin, just below my lower lip. I touched my throat and felt a big pillow-like lump covering my neck and upper chest.
I looked at my mom and patted her hand, trying to comfort her. I gestured for a drink of the Pepsi Free in her hand. (Remember those?) She was on one of her diet jags again. Instead of the Pepsi, she gave me a small drink of ice water from a glass with a straw.
I stayed in the hospital for close to a month, and I got to eat a lot of ice cream - the coldness of the ice cream helped keep the swelling down, and I actually enjoyed the hospital food because of the desserts. Much later, I found out that everyone was afraid I would lose my voice. The doctors did their best, but I was lucky that my voice box was not damaged much. What damage there was however necessitated a little surgery on my vocal cords. Extremely little as it turned out, but it resulted in the shortening of the cords as the detached fibers reattached to the muscles. The resulting shortening of the chords, and the scar tissue at the juncture of the muscle and the tendons made any sound coming from my mouth rough-sounding. Weeks after the operation, when I could speak again, I found that my voice was rougher and the pitch higher. A pre-pubescent bubble-gum chewing Rod Stewart. God. Good thing it smoothened out eventually. In fact, after therapy, my voice became soft and smooth as silk. Too soft for my own good. And it remained at a higher-than-normal pitch.
When they took off the bandages and the wounds healed, there were barely scars, but the scars above my chin (the little that there was) made my lower lip very pouty. They also had to fix up the wad of muscle that everyone called the Adam’s apple that was inadvertently damaged by Dad. To this day, I have virtually no Adam’s apple.
As I got older, I found my voice eventually smoothening out - the muscles which regulated the vibration of the cords (which I found out were called the Vocalis muscles) relaxed as time went by, and stretched somewhat to accommodate the shorter cords. But my normal speaking voice sounded higher than what a boy’s voice ought to be, and I always sounded a little breathy. When I became a teen-ager, I found that my voice did crack like the others, but it stubbornly remained in a register higher than a boy’s, with a timbre that was like a girl’s, and everyone teased me about it, no one more so than my twin sister Danielle. And for a boy who was just discovering girls, no blow was more painful than girls giggling about my feminine-sounding voice. Many times I found myself close to tears, and so angry with my sister that I wanted to punch her out. After one of her vicious taunts, I pushed her against the lockers, banging her head against them. She screamed at me, and I turned away and walked down the hallway, shivering with still-unreleased anger. I was a little bit in awe of my sister, a bit of hero worship not uncommon to siblings. That’s why her jibes were all the more painful.
Peer pressure forced me to try and change my voice and make it sound lower and more masculine. It did require a deliberate effort on my part, though, but eventually, with practice, not only could I make my voice sound lower but different altogether.
Constant playing with my voice made me an excellent mimic though, and I could usually make my buddies fall down in stitches anytime I wanted to by imitating some of our teachers and classmates. Their favorite was the voice they named Bimbo Betty. I accidentally invented Betty when I tried to imitate one of Danielle’s friends from California (who long since had gone back). I made her sound like a pure Valley Girl bimbo mall-rat, clueless and oversexed. And it sounded extremely sexy on my best friend Morgan’s cellular phone (actually his Dad’s old cast-off phone - he gave it to Morgan when he bought a newer and sleeker replacement). During many of our sleepovers at Morgan’s backyard (backyard camping at our age, can you believe it), I would use Betty and play practical jokes over the phone.
Morgan would bring out their kitchen phone and an old-style speaker attachment that he “borrowed” from his dad’s office. He’d attach a long extension so we could call people from the enormous tent that we would pitch in his backyard. We’d laugh our heads off as we made calls to people that we knew. (Talk about kid’s stuff…) The most memorable one was when I called Tom Hennessy, the biggest jock in school. I spit my gum outside the tent and went into Betty mode. I had him practically jacking off to Betty’s voice, but we had to hang up ‘cause we couldn’t hold in the laughter anymore. Morgan’s mother came out because she heard Betty and thought we were fooling around with girls. We laughed all the harder and Morgan’s mother went back into the house confused.
I guess my talent with my voice was one of the things that made me closer to my friends.
We weren’t the most popular bunch in school. Unlike Danielle and her girlfriends - all of them smart and, umm, easy on the eyes. But that’s okay. We got each other.
All of us were too scrawny to play basketball, football or soccer, and usually got picked on in gym class, and the girls that we lusted after, like those in Danielle’s crowd, would probably not have given us a second look. I wasn’t as scrawny as, say, Mickey, but I was a close second. I just couldn’t bulk up at all, but at least I wasn’t fat like Jerome. Jerry had some glandular problem, and no matter how much he dieted (he reminded me of my mom that way); the best he could do was to be considered “chubby.”
The exception in the group would be Morgan. He was relatively tall, athletic, and, I thought, handsome. For guys, though, another guy being handsome is largely a theoretical idea.
I, on the other hand, eat like a horse and don’t gain an ounce. My sister is the same way, too. But, whereas it was an advantage for a girl, for a guy, not being able to bulk up was not a good thing.
That was okay. Like I said, we had each other. What we couldn’t get from our peers, our friendship was usually enough to make up for it.
Another of my voices was the one I called "Brad Pits". Though it didn't sound anything like Brad Pitt's voice - it was a parody of all the voices that girls seemed to find so sexy and dreamy, full of testosterone and suave self-assurance. Believe it or not, I used David Hasselhoff as my basic pattern, which got Morgan laughing hard when I explained. During one of the campouts, we decided to call some of the girls we knew the numbers of, and played the same trick that we did with the Betty voice. On the third call, I again used the Brad voice and pretended to have dialed a wrong number. I didn’t see the number that Morgan had dialed, but a bunch of girls answered over a speakerphone. Their voices sounded familiar, especially the voice of the one I was talking directly with, and it was only after several minutes that I recognized Danielle. She sounded so giggly and flattered that “Brad” was talking with her. She shushed the others and tried to concentrate on “Brad,” but I started to feel like a heel. I politely ended the conversation, saying I will call again sometime, and hung up.
“Godammit, Morgan, that was my sister,” I almost shouted in my normal voice. (This still sounded girlier than Danielle’s. Gahh.)
“So? What do you care?”
“Yeah dude,” Jerry said. “That was a mean trick. You wouldn’t have done that if it were your sister.”
“Well, hell, dude,” Morgan answered. “We were just goofin’ around. Besides, it’s just a bunch of stuck-up bitches.” And then he cocked his head to one side. “Anyway,” he smirked, “I think it was pretty hilarious.” He screwed up his face into a parody of a girl’s. “Oh, Brad,” he said in a high falsetto, “I’m so glad I answered the phone. Hope you call again real sooon…” He broke down laughing, and I found my mouth twitching. I finally couldn’t hold it in anymore and broke up, too.
And, at home the following day, Danielle couldn’t help but gush over the senior that she talked with over the phone, and speculated about his looks, trying to match the voice with a face. I had trouble keeping a straight face.
***** (Danny) *****
We were twins, fraternal twins, and were born almost at the same time. But she got to call me “little brother” on account of I was born about thirty minutes behind her. Still, we looked so much alike that when we were babies, everyone thought that we were identical twins. Mom told us later that when we were babies we looked so much alike that she had to resort to peeking down our diapers. Or looking at which hand we preferred to use. I was left-handed and Danielle was right. When we were sucking on our bottles, I would hold mine in my left hand and Danielle’s in her right. It also didn’t help that we have always been about the same height, weight and same hair color (both of us were also green-eyed redheads like Dad, but not with as many freckles, though. We were both almost freckle-free.). We were also given the same names, Daniel and Danielle (courtesy of our screwy Uncle Nathan). Of course, when I got older, I started to use the classically unsound version of Dan.
When we got older, it became a lot easier to tell us apart. For one thing, my lips were a lot poutier than hers, owing to the slight overbite that I had, and the scar under my lower lip. That and my constant bubblegum-chewing (or so my mom says).
Danielle regularly teased me about my lips, making kissy faces at me. Although when Tomb Raider came, with Angelina Jolie and her oh-so-kissable lips, Danielle didn’t tease me about it anymore. Jealous probably. Well, I would have given my lips to her in a nanosecond if I could have more masculine looks.
Mom also kept Danielle’s red hair long, and I would be given short-cut hair like what my Dad preferred, sort of like a crew cut that has grown out. This made it a lot easier for everyone to tell us apart.
Like what identical twins are apt to do, we’d do switching games where we’d switch roles, or pretend to be each other. Or at least Danielle did. Danielle had an easy time masquerading as me: she’d just tuck her long hair into my baseball cap and wear my usual baggy jeans, hi-tops, and loose plaid shirt and jacket, which did an excellent job of hiding her breasts. Her tricks had landed both of us in hot water many times. The last one was when most of the school started believing that I was fooling around with Nikki and Drew. As I got the story, people from school caught me (who was of course not me but Danielle) helping Nikki and little Drew shop for clothes. I, of course, denied it, but everyone pooh-poohed my non-denial denial. And, tell the truth, I couldn’t help but strut a little with my new reputation as stud muffin. Which greatly amused Danielle, Nikki and Drew. They’d suddenly pop in just as my math class would be letting out, and escort me to the cafeteria for lunch. I, of course, made a big deal out of them screwing with me and my reputation, but inside, I was flattered with this pseudo-relationship. The guys knew all about it, though - I thought I’d best tell them instead of them finding out from someone else. But they found it hilarious and aided and abetted the girls in the conspiracy. Everyone except Morgan, who had a big crush on Drew. The shit hit the fan when Drew’s dad got wind of it, and went to our house to talk with two-timing me.
Mr. Logan and Drew’s older brother Jim pounded on the door, and my Dad got up off the couch and stomped out to open it, irritated by being forced to miss his favorite show. Danielle and I gave each other a look. Oh-oh.
When Jim, Mr. Logan and Dad started shouting at each other, Mom got up, and we timidly tiptoed just behind her to watch the fireworks. It was always scary when big men shouted at each other. Danielle looked so scared that she looked like she was about to puke.
When Mr. Logan saw me, he pointed at me. “There he is,” he shouted, and the argument went up another decibel.
Mom looked at the both of us and, with her mom-radar, or whatever it is mothers had, figured out something was up. She cleared her throat and the men stopped shouting.
“Dear,” Mom said to Dad, and gestured towards us. “I think the kids would like to say something.” She pushed us forward.
We looked at each other, and I gave her a little nod of encouragement.
“Umm,” she began. “Well, Mr. Logan, it’s like this…” At the end of it, the adults were laughing and both of us were beet red. Jim’s mouth twitched a little.
When Jim and Drew’s dad left, Dad gave the both of us a stern talking to and grounded us.
Danielle stomped upstairs to her room. “It’s your fault,” she hissed.
“What do you mean, my fault! Who decided to wear my clothes to school?”
“Well, if your geek friends could keep their traps shut…”
“Are you sure it was the guys? Who decided to go to my class and walk me to lunch, in plain view of the student body? I didn’t ask to sit with you and your friends.” (A little lie there - who didn’t want to sit beside Nikki?) “Who decided to go shopping with Drew and Nikki anyway?”
“I don’t care! It’s still your fault!”
“In a pig’s eye!”
She turned to me. “Shut up!” She slammed her door on my face.
***** (Danielle) *****
I stood there behind the door and cried, but I put my hand over my face so that Dan wouldn’t hear. I sat on my bed and let go, sobbing great silent tears. In my mind, I knew it wasn’t his fault. But I couldn’t help doing it. Thinking about Dan always made me a little frustrated. I would imagine his face that looked so much like mine, and see it so clearly, with every blemish and scar and freckle. Or remember holding his hand when we were kids, waiting for Dad to bring ice cream cones while we sat by my uncle’s pool. Or him pulling me up over the little dirt embankment near our house as we played some game I didn’t remember anymore. There’s a big house there, now, and that made me sad.
I want to be close to him so much, more that anything. I used to pal around with the twins Judy and Stacey Parker, and remembered how they practically read each other’s mind, sometimes not needing to speak - a short look or gesture being good enough. I used to proudly tell people that I also had a twin, and being that young, I probably thought that declaring it would automatically make it happen, that we’d have that closeness, or oneness that I craved. Judy and Stacey would do things together, wearing matching outfits and all that. I would daydream and vicariously imagine that Dan and I were them. I desperately wanted it so. And I cried buckets the day they had to move away.
In a way, I wanted what I was doing to be discovered. And maybe make Dan feel what I felt. But I guess he didn’t. I had hoped that with Drew and Nikki flirting with him, he would have played along. Especially with Nikki. It was one of those things, you know. Everyone knew how stuck my brother was on my best friend, except for Nikki herself. I chuckled at that, and held my pillow all the more tightly. I felt so small in the middle of my bed.
I felt more than heard Dan knocking, but I didn’t want to get up. Go away, I thought. But I felt his concern. Maybe it was the softness of the knock. It’s open, I thought. He should just come in. And he did.
I sat up on my bed, still clutching my pillow, and he came to me. His face asked what the matter was. I looked into his eyes, which were my eyes, too.
I shrugged and looked down. He took me by the chin, and lifted my head. He didn’t understand, probably thinking that being grounded wasn’t that big a deal. I shook my head. That wasn’t it. He climbed onto the bed and hugged me then. Whatever it was, he seemed to be saying, I’ll be there for you. I’ll try to make it better.
I hugged him back fiercely, and my tears slowly died away. We stayed that way for a while on my big king-size bed - my grandparents’ wonderful old bed that was now mine.
I broke out in goose pimples. This is how it should be.
And my brain started to churn out some more ideas. I giggled.
***** (Danny) *****
Nothing more was made of the incident, with Drew prevailing over her Dad and older brother to let it go and to not spread the word around. Jim agreed to keep quiet but the price was that Drew would fix him up with a date with Danielle. Thank god Danielle didn’t make a big deal out of it, and the whole issue faded in time, and everything went back to normal, or what passed for normal around here, and Danielle kept on with her role-switching thing.
With my short hair, I couldn’t really switch as easily to being Danielle. But, last year, Danielle found a way around the hair thing. She had insisted on us dressing up for Halloween Costume Day at school that year. She and the girls that she pals around with had already thought up a scheme. Danielle was going in a man’s tux, but she needed someone to dress as a bride, sort of to complement her groom’s costume. She and her girlfriends had cornered me alone in the house, and convinced me. ‘Course I wouldn’t have agreed, if Nikki, Danielle’s best friend, hadn’t asked me. I looked into those blue eyes and fell in love all over again. Guess who was going to be wearing white.
Danielle made Mom buy a long red wig in a color close to my real hair’s color, and she would be lending me an old used costume that she bought from a costume rental place downtown. She fully intended to wear the sexy thing herself, so she had altered it to fit her. But after thinking about it, she chickened out and changed her mind. And since I was her exact size…
She woke me up early and made me take my shower. Still yawning, I stepped into the bathroom and relieved myself. I peered into the bathroom mirror and rubbed the side of my face. I couldn’t feel any stubble despite the fact that the last I had shaved was days ago. Par for the course. Dad didn’t have much facial and body hair either, and it looks like I wasn’t going to be any different.
I took a quick shower and toweled myself dry. I went easy with the towel, since my skin has been very sensitive lately.
I had just gone to the barber’s several weeks ago, so my hair was still short enough that I didn’t need to blow-dry it. Though I’m gonna need to go again soon. Danielle and I had fast-growing hair. Again courtesy of Dad.
I stepped out and put on a pair of boxer shorts. Danielle grabbed me and pulled me into her room, almost tripping me up on my junior-size Strat guitar that was lying on the floor.
“Now, it’s time for you to get into character,” she said. She was already in her costume, a man’s black tux and tails, with appropriate cummerbund. She wasn’t wearing any makeup yet, though.
She gestured towards her bed where the dress was, and I came fully awake.
“Danielle, I think I changed my mind,” I said, forgetting to change my voice and spoke in my natural girly voice.
“Too late for that, Bub.”
I backed away. “Nope. Uh-uh. I’m not wearing that. No way.”
“Sorry, but everyone’s expecting us to be in costume.” She grabbed my wrist and dragged me back into her room. I saw her makeup kit in her other hand and I let out a scream. With my voice, I should have cracked glass.
I think I was a little too loud because I woke Mom and Dad up. Dad actually yelled at me to pipe down. As we struggled, Mom sleepily walked in the room, still in her robe. “What the heck’s going on?”
“Mom,” I screamed, “Danielle wants to put makeup on me!” Mom looked at Danielle.
“I have to make him look good enough so the dress’ll look okay on him.” She held up the extremely short white dress.
With that, Mom finally woke up. I’m sure she remembered Danielle telling her about the Halloween costume and what the wig was for. “What do you have in mind?” Mom asked.
“Something really simple,” said Danielle, “so it’ll be easy to fix at school if we have to.”
“I don’t know,” Mom said. “Maybe we can do something that’s elegant but easy to maintain.” It was like they had the same mind.
“Mom! Don’t tell me you’re going along with this?”
With a small smile of conspiracy, they both dragged me into Mom’s bedroom.
They had plunked me unceremoniously in front of Mom’s makeup vanity, and proceeded to work over my face. Mom shooed Dad into the bathroom and made him take his shower.
“Mom, please.” I pleaded with her. “I don’t want to go to school with makeup and dressed like a girl!” Danielle cackled in her best mad scientist laugh.
“Hush, Dan,” Mom said. “Now hold your face steady, unless you want some of this in your eye.” She started to put powder on my face and forehead, and a layer of another more pinkish powder on my cheekbones. I saw myself in the mirror. Because of the powder on my cheekbones, I looked like I was perpetually on the verge of blushing.
Mom started to put some other kind of powder from a little stick onto my eyelids. I smelled the cosmetic and, because I associated the smell with pretty girls, I sort of got excited. After smoothening out and smudging the colors on my eyelids with her finger, Mom put a thick black liquid on my lashes, making them more noticeable and longer looking than normal. “Mascara,” she said. She then took a pencil-like thing and drew my eyebrows into little crescents.
After the pencil thing, Danielle handed Mom a tube of lipstick. “What do you think about this color?”
Mom took off the cap and held the lipstick beside my face. “I think the color doesn’t match. Could you get something a little lighter?”
“How about this one? This is my favorite.”
Mom looked at the color. “Yes, I guess this’ll work.” She then ran the stick over my lips and painted the corners with care using a little itty-bitty brush. “Open your mouth,” she said. She then proceeded to put more of it on my lips.
Danielle handed her a tissue. “Here,” Mom said, “blot the lipstick with this, just using your lips.” I sort of bit down on it with my lips the way I saw girls do it, and Mom threw away the tissue. Mom searched through her table and came up with large clip-on hoop earrings, and attached them to my lobes. “No time to do her nails, anymore,” she said. “Danielle, the wig.” She held out her hand.
Danielle took the long, flowing wig out of the box and handed it to Mom.
Mom took out what looked like a hairnet from inside the wig and put it on my head. The hairnet went tightly but not uncomfortably over my real hair and made it look like I was wearing a hairnet skullcap. She then took the wig and shook it out a little bit and put it over the hairnet. She pushed down the little adhesive tabs just at my hairline, and tugged the wig down snugly on my head. She then pushed little hairpins through the wig and into my real hair, making sure the wig wouldn't fall off. The bulk of the false hair hid the pins. “There, does that feel secure?”
I felt my head and the false hair. It wasn’t as warm as I thought it would be. The wig felt like a skullcap, and the material like real hair, but it smelled a little musty. Mom started to brush the wig, from just behind the hairline at the forehead straight back, smoothening out the tangles. It sort of felt like someone combing my real hair, but without the tingling that you’d usually feel. The hair fell in smooth waves down past my shoulders and I felt it laying down my back, the ends just going past my butt. It was a way long wig!
She then turned me towards the mirror. “Now, what do you think?”
I gaped at myself. The image in the mirror was that of a pretty redhead, as pretty as Danielle. Big sparkling green eyes framed by long lashes, a small and narrow nose, perfect eyebrows, small chin and long shiny red hair half obscuring the hoop earrings. “Oh my God,” I mumbled to myself. I moved my head to make sure that the babe in the mirror was me. She moved in synch with me. My bright shiny oh-so-pouty lips trembled, and I looked like a nervous girl, naked from the shoulders up, and about to hurl.
The style and hairdo made me look sufficiently different from Danielle (and, therefore different from the old me, too) that you would not have associated Dan the guy with Dan the Robo-babe. Except for the red hair, I could have been just another one of Danielle's sexy friends instead of her geeky brother.
I was about to touch my cheek, but Mom stopped me. “Careful,” she said. “You don’t want to smudge my work of art.”
I searched the face, looking for imperfections, or some false note that would give away the fact that I was a boy. I couldn’t find any, but maybe that was because I didn’t know what to look for.
Danielle held out the dress “Now for the rest,” she said, and waggled her eyebrows evilly. I looked at the dress and then at Danielle’s gleeful face. Knowing I wouldn’t get any sympathy from her, I looked to Mom.
“Sorry, little girl,” she said with a giggle. “You won’t get any help from me.” I almost cried.
In the end, I went and put on the costume. Danielle could always make me do whatever she wanted.
I wore what I later learned was called a gaffe (I also found out I was wearing it the wrong way that time). I wore panties over it (Danielle insisted) and sheer white pantyhose, white high heels, something called a waist cincher, and the dress (I wouldn’t have been able to put it on at all if Danielle didn’t help to button up the back). It was a very tight sheer white wedding dress, though no one would have thought it was a wedding dress without the veil and long white opera gloves - a hooker’s wedding dress, if there was such a thing.
It was a very sexy dress - a stretchy, opaque lycra-spandex one-piece with a very short skirt that barely covered my crotch, and a collar like a turtleneck. And although the front was fully covered, my shoulders and upper back was completely bare. The veil was also relatively short — not long enough to reach the floor. Mom pushed the veil away from my face and made it all hang at the back. I could feel the veil and my wig on my bare shoulders and back, the ends of the wig just tickling the upper back part of my thighs. I found it hard to believe, but I was having some trouble with the sheer weight of the wig.
Danielle had modified the dress so that there were large realistic bumps where the breasts were supposed to be. I looked at Danielle, and she smirked. “Shoulder pads,” she said.
Though the back was mostly bare, the dress was high enough that the waist cincher was hidden. I was already a thin guy, and with the waist cincher on, I now had an extremely narrow waist, changing the lines of the dress into the cliché hourglass figure, making my hips look wider than they were.
"I don't think we'll need to pad out your hips anymore," she said, looking me over. She moved the wig to the side and ran her hand over my spandex-covered butt, and I shivered. That felt good. "You’ve got a great butt, Danny-boy. Almost as good as mine. No padding needed there, either."
"Danielle Louise Fairchild!" my mom cried out.
Danielle giggled. "Just kidding, Mom. But doesn't Dan's butt just look so sexy?"
Mom looked at me with a happy smile on her face. “My God, Danielle. You're absolutely right. Danny, you’re positively gorgeous! Now, I have two beautiful daughters.”
I frowned at her and stomped my foot. “Mom!” She laughed at the little involuntary display of feminine frustration. This just made me angrier.
Danielle was giggling a little, and I turned to her, my hand clenching into a fist. She ducked behind Mom. “You!” I bellowed.
Dad came in the room, freshly washed with a towel around his waist. He saw me and, in a stunned way walked into the closet door. Mom and Danielle laughed, causing him to blush. I on the other hand was so mortified that I started to cry. Mom and Danielle stopped laughing and stared.
“Dan!” said Danielle, shocked and distressed at my tears. Mom rushed to me and took me in her arms. A dam broke and I cried on her shoulder.
“Mom, why? Why are you doing this to me? I can’t go to school like this. Please. Please…” My girly voice only made me cry harder.
She led me to the bed and sat me down and held me. Danielle tried to get near me, but Mom subtly shook her head no. Dad put his hand on Danielle’s shoulder and looked on in worry.
“Listen to me, Dan,” Mom said. “Don’t take this badly. It’s just a costume. If you really don’t want to wear it, you don’t have to.” Danielle was about to protest but Mom gave her a look that stopped her. “But is it such a big deal?” Mom continued. “Wearing a costume won’t change who you are. You’ll still be the same nice, handsome boy you’ve always been, and girls will be lucky to have you as their boyfriend.”
“But, Mom, people will make fun of me.”
“Listen, dear. It’s Halloween Costume Day. Do you think you will be the only one with a costume? Why should anyone pay attention to you more than they would the others? I remember last year. If today is going to be anything like that, you won’t be the most outlandishly-dressed boy today. No one will pay attention more than normal. Believe me.”
I sniffed and rubbed my nose. I smiled a little at her, and looked at Danielle, her arms around Dad. She looked so remorseful. "Oh, Dan. I'm sorry. I didn't think you’d take it so badly. I didn't mean to hurt you.”
I smiled a little and held out my arms to her. She ran to me and hugged me so tightly. “It’s okay, Sis.”
“I’ll call the girls and tell them you won’t be joining us in the contest.”
I looked at her. “You really want me to do this?”
“No,” she said quietly, and looked down.
I knew that she was lying. But I said: “It’s okay, Danielle. Like Mom says, no big deal. I’ll do it.”
She perked up and looked at me. “Really? You don’t mind?”
“I don’t mind. Well, not much anyway.”
She clapped her hands. “Cool! I’ll tell the girls.” She kissed me on the cheek and ran out to call her friends.
I looked at Mom and we shared the same tolerant affectionate smile. “Come on, let’s fix your makeup. You’ve absolutely ruined it. George, go downstairs and get breakfast started, would you?”
“Okay, Dear,” Dad said, dressed rapidly, kissed mom as she worked on my makeup, and went downstairs.
In a short while, Mom had me looking like before and turned me around towards the mirror. I was again transfixed, and was about to touch my face. “Uh uh,” said Mom, and I dropped my hand. I smiled at her ruefully.
“My dear, you really look gorgeous.” We both peered at the new face in the mirror.
“Thanks. I guess.”
“Come on, let’s go downstairs and have some breakfast.”
I sat down by the kitchen table, and Dad plopped a pile of his famous blueberry waffles in front of me, five pigs-in-a-blanket (that’s sausages fried wrapped in dough), and a big plate of scrambled eggs.
Mom and Dad were having a whispering fight while they were fixing breakfast for themselves. Obviously the fight was about me.
"Guys, we can hear you," Danielle said loudly, and they stopped.
"We'll talk about this later," Dad grated.
Danielle was already eating, more slowly than her usual lumberjack pace. She was obviously trying not to get her rented suit messed up.
I took the cue, and tried to be equally careful, what with my white dress and made-up face.
As an added measure, Dad handed me his "'lobster bib," which he usually uses when he’s barbecuing, or if we're having shrimp takeout or spaghetti or other kinds of food where he’s in danger of splattering or something.
Mom sat next to Dad, and had just one piece of toast and orange juice. Me and Dad looked at each other and rolled our eyes at this. But Dad quickly looked down self-consciously, not able to meet my eyes. I tried to control the tears.
Danielle and I finished almost at the same time, and Dad, anticipating us, loaded up our plates again, and watched with slight amusement as we dug in with a vengeance.
Dad insisted on bringing us to school, which I was subtly grateful for - I wouldn’t have been able to stand going in the bus with a lot of kids making fun of me, and I was too distracted to drive my car. But before she let me get in, she touched up my makeup first. Apparently, after every meal, girls have to repair their faces.
As I feared, when we got out of Dad’s car, my buds were shocked indeed, and gave me grief about my getup, especially Morgan, but not as much as I thought they would, probably because they were all feeling silly in their costumes, too. Mickey was going as a seventies Gene Simmons from Kiss, Jerry as a terribly overweight Indiana Jones, and Morgan as a leather-clad biker punk, the 75cc Honda he rode completing his ensemble. He even had a bulge on his shoulder, but I was pretty sure it was his crappy old celphone and not a pack of smokes. Well, at least he had a celphone. I wanted one so bad.
They were all oggling me, and I fidgeted around so much that it looked like I needed to go to the bathroom. Danielle’s friends came up, all decked out in their costumes. Nikki was looking especially sexy and believable in the classic hooker costume. She was wearing lots of makeup, lots of costume jewelry, a short pink middy sweater, a black leather miniskirt, opera hose, and an extremely high pair of red heels. Joanne was wearing a loud polyester suite, a fedora, large wayfarer shades and an Afro wig and faux mustache. You could almost feel how slimy the “guy” was from ten paces away. Because she was dressed like a man, and with her dark-brown complexion, she looked somewhat like a seventies Jimmy Walker or a taller, bad-ass version of Chris Tucker. She was easily believable as Nikki’s pimp. She had immediately started in on Morgan, and how he should trade up on his dinky Honda bike and its little sewing machine engine.
Joanne's mom was an assistant manager for a Suzuki dealership, and she promised Joanne a hefty commission if she could get one of her friends or their parents to buy a Suzuki. Morgan sighed and told her, for the umpteenth time that he'll think about it.
Nikki's and Joanne's outfits were complemented by Mel's policewoman uniform, handcuffs and a baton hanging from her belt.
But little Drew had on a Batgirl costume, like the one in the current Batman cartoon, fake red hair sticking out of the back of the headpiece and a very short cape reaching just below her shoulderblades. Her costume wasn’t in synch with the others’ costumes, but the tight yellow belt, black opaque tights and the tall yellow boots made her swinging hips extremely sexy, and none of us guys felt she was out of place at all. Especially Morgan.
All eight of us, minus Kyle, walked through the main gate of the school, everyone complimenting each other for their costumes. The girls were excessive in their compliments on my costume while the guys were oddly quiet, giving me stares when they thought I wasn’t looking. Danielle insisted on taking our time walking to our homerooms, giving the rest of the school a chance to see the two of us walking down the hallway arm in arm. With friends around me, I felt protected. And, oddly enough I slowly felt comfortable enough that I sort of sashayed down the hall.
I had brought a jacket, but Danielle said not to wear it until after homeroom. So I shivered slightly from the cool air and walked to our rooms. With the veil hanging from the back of my head, I felt more ridiculous than embarrassed.
“Whoa, baby,” Tom Hennessy said, and did a double-take. He didn’t recognize me, even though I was arm-in-arm with Danielle.
Something came over me. With my friends protecting me, I decided to screw with his mind, and smiled my best seductive smile. “Hey, good looking,” I said in a variation of my Betty voice, and thrusted my already prominent “breasts” out.
Tom's eyes goggled at the triple-whammy of boobs, outfit, and my voice. “My God! You’ve got such a sexy voice.”
I smiled my most vapid smile and wiggled a little. “Really?”
“Really, really! God, you look and sound incredible.”
Danielle tugged at me, making me walk. I frowned a little in irritation, because Danielle was spoiling my fun. The guys were barely in control of their faces, but Tom was oblivious to all of this, being so smitten with lil ole me. I let Danielle pull me along, and I exaggerated the swing of my hips as I walked. Tom walked beside me and ogled my ass, mesmerized. “So, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?” he asked. As if on cue, the girls all groaned simultaneously.
The last bell rang, and everyone, including other hangers-on, disappeared in the directions of their homerooms, including Tom. He shyly gave me a little wave and said he hoped to see me later. I dropped Danielle off in her homeroom, with accompanying wolf whistles and assorted sound effects from the class, and Morgan and I went on to our own homeroom, with me having to hold onto his arm. My feet hurt like hell! I could barely balance on the heels, making Morgan so nervous that he was just about to jump out of his skin.
“Cool it, bro,” I said. “It’s just me here.” I took pity on him so I let go.
“I’m cool, I’m cool,” he said. “Come on, walk a little faster! I don’t want to be late.” He walked at a very fast pace, and I tried to keep up, but I was having trouble with the tight dress and heels.
The fast tap-tap of my shoes was quite loud and got everyone’s attention. Not that the costume and veil didn’t. Most of the guys had their eyes riveted to either my ass or my boobs, as they wiggled involuntarily. I tried to find a way to walk in the heels and skirt that wouldn’t make my hips sway too much, and I almost fell on my face. Morgan caught me just in time, and reluctantly offered his arm again.
“Better take it, or do you want to break your neck?”
“Thanks, Morgan.” I sighed in relief.
Before entering the room, Morgan hastily let go of me and walked to his desk. I walked to my own chair, and the kids made cat calls.
“Ho ho ho, lookin’ good, babe,” said my seatmate Blane.
“Drop dead, dickhead,” I said, and sat down. When I got off my feet, I breathed a sigh of relief. I wondered why girls put up with high heels.
Mr. Wilson had everyone sit down and started roll call. “Mr. Fairchild,” he called when it was my turn, and I raised my hand. He raised an amused eyebrow. “Or should I say, Ms. Fairchild?” Everyone laughed and tittered. I blushed and scrunched down in my seat. I took off the veil and put on my jacket. It sort of helped, but I could feel eyes on me the whole time. I tried to ignore the feeling. The wig felt uncomfortable, trapped inside the jacket’s collar, so I did one of those patented girl things and swept the hair out so it would lay on the outside of the jacket. I blushed, belatedly realizing what I just did. I noticed some of the guys and girls behind me, looking at me with mouths agape. I blushed all the more, and scrunched down my seat even further.
Mr. Wilson started handing out ballots for best-of-homeroom costume, and I was voted unanimously (I charitably didn’t put anything in my own ballot).
Morgan and I had the same classes in the morning, for which I was grateful since I now had someone I could hold on to and help me keep from falling. We walked to our next class. My feet hurt! God…
It was a new experience being whistled at as I walked around. At least I haven’t fallen on my face yet. Or get patted on the ass, thank God. I kept my hands in my jacket pocket, and kept my big boobs hidden.
Because of me, Morgan and I walked in late. “Glad you could join us Mr. McPherson,” Ms. Greene, our history teacher said. “Who’s your new girlfriend?” Everyone looked at the two of us with interest. Morgan blushed and whispered in Ms. Greene’s ear. Ms. Greene giggled and gestured. “So, umm, go ahead and find your seats, so we can begin.”
Good God, no one recognized me! I took a vacant seat at the back, not my usual one, with the hope that not many people will see me, or associate Dan with the present me. A couple of times during the class, Ms. Greene had to remind the guys to look up front, as they tried to stare at me. And not a few of the girls, either. Morgan shook his head and tried not to look at me. I was trying to keep my nervousness under control - this was the most attention I’d had in a long time.
After class, I got up to leave and several guys swarmed over me and tried to chat me up. Shit! I tried to keep cool and keep my lies as simple as I could. I had changed my voice a bit, too, just so I wouldn't be recognized right away and allow me to escape.
Morgan came to my rescue. “Guys, we’ll be late for our next class,” he said, and possessively took my arm and walked me out, surprising the hell out of me.
One of the guys whispered under his breath, “lucky bastard," he said, and nervously looked to see if Morgan heard. He saw me looking at him, and he ducked his head.
It was like that for the next few periods, and I felt relief when it was time for lunch. At lunchtime, me and the guys hung around each other, sort of as mutual protection as we stood in line in the cafeteria. Oddly, I found I was in the middle, with a phalanx of my buds around me, sort of protecting me. I felt small, vulnerable, but thankful and flattered by their attention. And then I hit a mental speed bump. Wait a minute...
I still wore my old bomber jacket over the dress (which looked a little weird, but in a sexy kind of way), long, fake hair streaming back. I was feeling a little cold and embarrassed so the jacket helped a lot. Though I found it didn’t help all that much ‘cause some guys walked up to me to compliment me on my looks or my outfit, or asked my name. Morgan gave them the evil eye and they sort of faded away. Hey, guys, it’s me, Dan!
Danielle, Nikki and their gang were all in costume, too (Mel was there having lunch with them for once), and were the most conspicuous clique in the cafeteria during lunch, making a boisterous time of it, and enjoying the attention. But, wonder of wonders, me and my buds were running a close second because most of us were in costume, too, except for Kyle, who was in his regular sneaks, loose jeans and plaid shirt. Mickey was enjoying his costume too much and started getting into his character. He would strum a riff off an imaginary guitar and stick his tongue out the way the real Gene Simmons would. But he was doing it too much, and was in danger of getting slapped or punched or something.
Danielle wanted me to hang around her and her friends - my costume complementing hers well. Actually, without me, no one would know what Danielle was supposed to be, and then where would she be - just a pretty girl wearing a tux. So that meant that my own crew got to hang out with the girls, too. which the guys thought was a good deal.
“So,” Danielle asked, “did ya get voted?”
***** (Nikki) *****
I couldn’t believe it was Dan. He was looking so hot, it was incredible. Sure, I thought my slut costume was good, and Drew had that sex kitten look down pat, but neither of us could hold a candle to Dan. There was just something about him. I looked and looked, and there was really nothing unusual in his appearance. Sure he looked like an incredible hotty - long, gorgeous red hair, beautiful eyes, sexy lips and makeup, what appeared to be big boobs, narrow waist, long and shapely legs, a tremendous ass, all in that sexy form-fitting dress. But then again, there were girls in school that were as gorgeous (but nor many). Danielle, for one. So, what was another gorgeous babe? But, God, he looked more beautiful than Danielle, and I would have thought that a little impossible. There was nothing to account for this sexy aura that seemed to surround him. This was Dan-the-Nerd, for God’s sake.
It was the entire package, I guess. His slightly naíve demeanor and air of innocence coupled with his hot-to-trot costume and gorgeous face made him the ultimate virgin: wanton, but untouched and secretly afraid. And the thought that he was a guy underneath all that just got my engine revving.
We made room for them ay our table. He sat down beside Danielle, and started talking with his nerd buddies. I smiled at him a little shyly.
Clearly the kids at the other tables were feeling it, too, especially the guys. They were almost creaming in their pants. And Joanne was practically drooling as she stared at him with goo-goo eyes. I wanted to hit her. And then I stopped. Why should I care? Am I actually jealous?
But I looked at him, and felt a funny feeling in my stomach. What is it with him? What is it with me, for that matter?
Morgan and his friends accused Dan of being some perverted fairy walking around in girl clothes, and he started to get angry. Me, too. I found myself defending him.
“You guys are so puerile,” I said. “Why don’t you lay off her, umm, I mean him. Whatever! Just lay off, okay? It’s not even his idea.”
“Oooh! Puerile!” said Mickey. “What’s that? Like we’re, like, Greek gods or something?”
We rolled our eyes. “Get a brain, why don’t you,” said Mel.
“Yeah, dude,” said Joanne. “It was all our idea. So don’t give him any more grief.” She lifted a balled fist. “Or you’ll answer to this!”
The guys backed up. “Whoa, bitch,” said Mickey. “Don’t get your panties in a bunch…”
Joanne’s fist flew and hit him smack in the mouth. He fell back and his head connected with the linoleum floor. Pow!
We gasped. Morgan hauled him up. Mickey’s head lolled around his shoulders, completely knocked out. Joanne sheepishly looked at her fist. Kyle suggested that they bring him to the nurse, and they practically carried Mickey out of the cafeteria. The people in the cafeteria cheered.
Joanne rushed to catch up with them, holding her face in horror. She ran back and dragged Mel along for company. “Yikes!” she yelped. “Bye, girls!”
That left me alone. With Dan! Well, Drew and Danielle were there, too, but that hardly counted.
“I hope Mickey will be all right,” said Drew.
“He’ll be okay,” Dan said. “He’s hit his head a lot harder than that before.” But Dan thought it over, and moved as if to get up. “I guess I better go after them.”
My hand shot up to his arm and pulled him back down.
“No, Dan!” I practically yelled. He and the girls looked at me in surprise. “Umm… I was, umm, gonna say that I think Morgan and the others got it covered. Sit down and finish your lunch, for God’s sake.”
Dan grinned shyly at me and sat down. I blushed. I couldn’t help it.
“Oooh,” Danielle said, and pinched me and Dan playfully.
***** (Danny) *****
Most of the student body was already in the auditorium when we arrived, the pep rally was scheduled after the mandatory homeroom role call to make sure no one had snuck off. As far as we could see, the only available seats left were in front. Nikki and her friends were waving to us from the front. I looked around and saw Morgan, Kyle and Jerry way at the back, no sign of Mickey. Mickey was sent home early. Morgan signaled and shook his hands - no more seats.
“Shit,” I said to Danielle. “We’re gonna have to sit up front.”
“No sweat, Dan. Let’s go.”
We walked down the middle aisle amidst catcalls and wolf whistles. Danielle smiled at me as we walked to the front. I held onto her arm with a death grip. With my head-dress and high heels, I towered over Danielle. But other than that, I thought we looked good. My bride costume matched Danielle’s coat-and-tails. Danielle was getting off on all the attention, and waved jauntily at the crowd. The girls tittered, and the guys howled.
“Swing your hips,” Danielle whispered.
“Swing your hips!” She put her hands on my hips and demonstrated how she wanted me to do it. I complied and sashayed the rest of the way. It drove the guys wild.
When we got to the front row, I thankfully sank down into my seat. I was starting to feel cold, but I didn’t know if it was because I was scared to death or because of my short dress.
“Lookin’ good, girl,” said Joanne, and gave me a peck on the cheek and giggled. I blushed. Mel also gave me a little kiss, and I playfully slapped her, laughing in embarrassment.
Nikki gave me a long look, staring at me in a funny way. I smiled at her in embarrassment, and she then suddenly leaned over and gave me a quick kiss on the lips. My eyes grew wide, and she blushed furiously, matching my own red face.
Our principal, Ms Harmon, stepped up the stage with Betsy Haley, our class president, and started the program.
All of the representatives from the different homerooms were asked to step up the stage. Ms Harmon announced each of our names and we climbed up one by one. Nikki was called and she climbed up. She primped and did a little curtsy. Drew was also called, she did a hand flip before getting in line, and got some applause.
When it was Danielle's and my turn, Betsy handed our names together. Ms Harmon called us together, and we stepped up the stage. The rest of the class hummed the wedding march, and the girls tittered. As we planned, I threw the bouquet to the crowd. All the girls reached for it, but it ended up landing on the head of Tom Hennessy. Who couldn’t get his mouth to close. Everyone laughed. Tom threw it to the front in anger. Joanne reached out and grabbed it out of the air, and squealed theatrically.
Good thing I was one of the last to be called, because that meant I wouldn’t be standing there as long as the others. I needed to get off my feet. And soon. Thankfully, Betsy had everything organized properly and the voting went really fast. I got tied with two others for first place, someone dressed as Darth Maul from Star Wars, and Drew. After the runoff vote, I ended up first place, Drew at second, and Darth Maul at third.
They gave us our prize money, and we each got a round of mandatory applause. The class trickled out of the auditorium, and we left the stage to grab our stuff. I took off the veil, and sat down heavily.
“Oooh, my aching feet,” I said, and wiggled my instep. A shadow loomed over me, and I saw Tom Hennessy. I also saw several other guys behind him. “Umm, what’s up, guys?”
“So, you think that’s funny, huh, sissy-boy? You thought you could make fun of me, huh?”
I stood up, a little panicked. “Make fun of you?”
Morgan and the guys ran up. “Hey, look,” said Tom. “Here are sissy-boy’s geek friends. What, you need someone to fuck your butt, now?”
Morgan stepped forward, but Joanne held him back. “Not worth it, kid.” She gave Danielle the same look. “Chill, Danielle.”
Mel looked at the mean crowd that was gathering, and ran out of the auditorium.
“One of your dyke girlfriends just ran off, babe,” Tom said.
Joanne refused to be baited, and stood her ground.
Danielle stepped forward. “What’s this all about, Tom?”
“Nuthin’. Just wanna talk to your fairy brother, here.”
“Like what’s he doing dressed up like a girl.”
“It’s a Halloween costume, Einstein,” said Morgan. “Duh.”
“You little prick!” He moved to Morgan. Jerry and Kyle moved to back him up. I couldn’t let my buds down so I stepped forward, too.
“Hey,” Morgan said. “Not everyone’s as dim as you, man. It’s your fault if you let your dick think for you.”
He was about to pop Morgan one, when we heard someone clear her throat.
We turned around and saw Ms Harmon, Mel right beside her. “What is this all about, Mr. Hennessy?”
“Umm. Nuthin’, Miz Harmon. Just wanted to congratulate our winner, here.”
“I am sure Mr. Fairchild appreciates your congratulations. But you and your friends should go home, now.”
Tom glared at me, and moved off. He roughly brushed passed Mel, and his cronies followed.
I let out my breath. “Thanks, Miz Harmon.”
“Think nothing of it, Mr. Fairchild. You and your friends should run along, too.” I smiled my thanks and turned to go. “Oh, by the way, Mr. Fairchild. Congratulations.”
I smiled my nervous smile and we fled out of the auditorium.
We went to the MacDonald’s at the end of town - well away from school, and we pigged out on fries and Cokes - Drew’s and my treat, courtesy of our prize money. Danielle and I were having the same - triple fries and quarter-pounders, of course. Except I was drinking a Dew, and she was drinking a Coke Light. Hah! What diet?
Drew had taken off her Batgirl mask, and Joanne had taken off the afro. I wanted to take my wig off, too, but Danielle insisted I keep it on until I could change clothes, otherwise I’ll look like a transvestite. So I kept it on, though I did slip off my heels to relax a little.
Mel was looking at Danielle and me, mouth agape.
“Jesus,” said Mel. “I still can’t believe it. You two eat like pigs!”
“Mmffrrgh,” I said, and she shook her head.
“Where do you put it all?” Mel asked.
Danielle let out a little burp. “Doesn’t seem to be a problem for us. I think we just have fast metabolisms.”
“Ayuh, nrrpffpllbm,” I agreed.
“God, you guys don’t know how lucky you are.” She turned to Jerry. “How about you?”
Jerry was just drinking a small Coke. It was a little funny for a big guy to be drinking from such a small cup. “I’m not as lucky,” he said.
Joanne reached across the table and gave him a friendly pat on his shoulder. She was sitting between Danielle and me.
Morgan was still looking at me. “I still can’t believe that you’re wearing that getup.”
“It’ff her faultff,” I said and pointed at Danielle.
“Hey, it’s just clothes and a wig, for God’s sake,” she said. “No big.”
“Cool it, girlfriend,” Joanne said. “They’re just concerned about Dan.”
“Hey, guys, trust me. I’m not turning gay or anything.” I wiped my mouth.
“Coulda fooled us, babe.” I blushed at that.
“Hey, watch it with the ketchup!” Danielle said. “That’s still my dress.”
“So,” asked Kyle. “What do we do tonight?”
“I know,” Joanne snapped her finger. “There’s a party at Betsy’s tonight. Wanna crash?”
“Betsy?” Asked Mel. “Betsy Haley is throwing a party? You’re kidding.”
“What’s so crazy about Betsy throwing a party?” She paused a bit. "Well, it's actually being thrown by her parents..."
“It’s Betsy, for God’s sake! Geek City.”
“She’s not a geek!” Joanne said. “She can be cool. I like her.”
“You just like her because she has red hair.”
“Yeah? So, I like redheads. So what?” She gave us both a hug, and gave Danielle and me pecks on the cheek.
“Hey!” I said. She pulled back. “Umm, my fries…” Everyone laughed.
“Where did you get to know Betsy, anyway?”
“I met her when we were both attending violin classes.”
“Violin?” Drew said.
Mel made a buzzer sound. “Geek alert! Geek alert!” Joanne smacked her head lightly.
“So, you play the violin?” I asked. “Cool!”
“Well…” she looked down embarrassed. “My dad made me quit after a couple of months. He said he couldn’t stand my playing…” We broke up laughing.
“But he said he would pay for any other class! Like piano or something…” We laughed some more at that.
Danielle caught her breath. “So, how about Betsy? Did she quit, too?” giggle.
“No! She really had talent for it. She’s still attending her classes as far as I know. And the one time I heard her play, I thought it was wonderful. We're friends.”
"Well, why weren't you invited to this little soiree of hers?"
"Actually, I was. but I didn't know how you felt about her... so I said 'no.'"
Kyle happened to look around, checking out the other girls in the place. “Oh-oh,” Kyle said.
“What’s up,” Danielle asked. We all looked over to the front of the restaurant.
“Holy Shit,” said Mel. “We gotta get out of here!”
All of us scooched down the booth and waited for Tom and his buddies to go inside the bathroom.
“Now’s our chance,” Danielle said. “Go! Go!”
Everyone grabbed their stuff and ran for the door. I grabbed my heels but didn’t bother to put them on, and ran.
As we passed the men’s room doors, Tom stepped out. “Hey!”
Jerry and Kyle careened off a bunch of people, and got out the door. The others followed suit. My nylons were making me slip on the floor, and couldn’t go as fast as the others. I saw Tom’s buddies step out, and I redoubled my efforts as they gave chase.
I built up so much momentum I found I couldn’t stop. So I slid passed the lines in front of the registers. “Wow!” said one of the uniformed waiters. I held out a hand and stopped myself against the glass door. I panted a bit and waved to everyone
“Bye, all,” I said in my Betty voice and ran out.
Nikki had the passenger door of Joanne’s mom’s minivan open, and Danielle was in the back, waving me to hurry up. I slammed in right beside Nikki. “Ooof!”
Joanne floored the gas, and we peeled out of the parking lot. Everyone tumbled to the right side of the van. “Watch it!” Jerry snarled. Nikki squished against me, and I held onto her for dear life.
We saw Tom’s red Camaro in the rear view, roaring after us. We screamed down the street towards our neighborhood.
When we got a little bit of a lead and were out of their sight, we turned off into a small blind alley, and Joanne switched off the lights. Everyone kept quiet. We must have stayed that way for a while, wondering when it would be safe to go again, and then saw Tom’s car flash by in the rear view. We all sighed and caught our collective breath. In the silence, we heard a wet squishing sound.
“What’s that?” Kyle asked in a quivering voice.
“Umm, fries anyone?” Danielle held out her fries, munching. Everyone exploded in laughter.
***** (Danny) *****
After going back to MacDonald’s to pick up Morgan’s cycle, everyone had decided to crash Betsy’s party, so we went to her place. It was the first time for me to be at their house. “It’s huge,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Joanne. “Her folks are successful real estate owners. They have several condominiums and housing developments all over the country.”
“You never would have thought Betsy was so rich, the way she acts.”
“That’s just Betsy being Betsy. But watch out, though. The Haleys are a little hoity-toity. But Betsy’s okay.”
Joanne drove up the front, just behind another minivan full of kids, and we all piled out as a pimply-faced kid dressed as a valet got in and drove the van away. Betsy was there in front, greeting guests. She was wearing a fairy costume complete with wings and a wand, and she looked extremely cute, despite the thick horn-rimmed glasses she wore.
“Hey Bets!” Joanne called.
Betsy squealed and hugged Joanne. "I thought you weren't coming!"
“Hope you don’t mind, I brought some friends of mine.”
“I know them. Hi, Nikki, Danielle. How’s everything?” Everyone went ‘Hi’. She leaned to buss all the girls welcome. Joanne introduced the guys, and she shook their hands, acting a little like she was in a country club or something , but in a nice way.
When Joanne introduced me, she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, just like I was one of the girls. She suddenly realized what she did. “Oh dear.”
I giggled, and switched to Betty. “That’s all right, girlfriend. I don’t mind.” Then I kissed her back. That got everyone laughing. Betsy gaped at me.
We went in and were greeted with the sight of the extremely large reception-dining hall, fixed up to look like a ballroom. In the corner was a band playing watered-down pop music, with a lot of kids gyrating in the middle. Betsy apologized for the band, explaining that it was her dad who picked them. We didn’t know anyone, except for a few of Betsy’s friends. We said hi, and made a beeline for the refreshments.
I was reaching for the canapés, but Mel slapped my hand away. “Hey!” I said. “What was that for?”
“Don’t you go stuffing your face, again. Not ladylike.”
“I don’t see you stopping Danielle.” She had a plate heaped with food.
“She knows how to eat like a girl. You don’t.”
“What do you mean by that?”
She demonstrated. “When you want to eat like a girl, you have to sort of pick at it. You know, little bites. You can eat a lot, but always in little bites.”
“I don’t want to eat like a girl.”
“Just for tonight. We don’t want to spook these nice people.”
I sidled up to Nikki, who was picking at her food. I got out a plate and aped her. She caught on to what I was doing, and she giggled. I gave her a sour look. She looked at me in mock pity, and started feeding me canapés.
Morgan and the others were out on the floor, dancing with Danielle and the others, and some of Betsy’s friends. Morgan waved to me to jump in, and I sighed. I was having trouble standing up, much less dance.
“What’s wrong?” asked Nikki.
I looked at her. “It’s my heels.” She understood my predicament.
“No big deal,” she said, pulled me by a table, and we sat down. Nikki lifted my feet onto her lap. She took the heels off and started to give me an incredible foot massage. I sighed.
“Nikki, you’re an angel.”
“Just lay back, sweetie. Aunt Nikki will take care of you.” I lay back, and put my plate on top of my fake boobs, using them like shelves. I took some bites, and fed Nikki some canapés. And we got to know each other a lot more. Joanne and Betsy sashayed passed us, dancing a slow dance. Joanne gave me a wink and nodded towards Nikki.
Some of the guys took a break from dancing, and congregated at our table. We were keeping everyone in stitches as Nikki and I carried on a Valley Girl conversation. After a short lull, I then did a fake conversation with myself, well more actually between my "Betty" and "Brad Pits" character. Drew and Danielle had shocked looks on their faces. And I remembered. Oh-oh.
“It’s you!” Danielle screamed, and pounded me on the shoulder. “You were the one on the phone! You asshole!”
“Ow! Hey, quit it!” Drew and Mel tried to hold her back and calm her down. Joanne explained to Betsy.
“You asshole,” Danielle repeated.
“I didn’t know it was you until it was too late!”
“I don’t care! You still could have told me!”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I promise I won’t do it again!”
She snorted and walked away. Joanne and Mel ran after her. I looked after them. “Oh, man. Now I did it.”
Morgan patted me on the shoulder. “Chill, dude. She’ll get over it.” He rubbed his hands together. “Now, how about some more dancing?” Everyone slowly walked out to the dance floor, Nikki dragging me along.
“Nikki, I don’t dance!” I said desperately, still worrying about Danielle.
“It’s easy, I’ll show you!” She gently dragged me out into the middle, and soon I was moving somewhat to the beat. “See? Told ya!”
“I guess.” I looked around and saw Morgan being spun around by a big girl who was probably six feet tall, and Jerry was incongruously slow-dancing with this little wisp of a girl. She had about the same terrified, about-to-be-crushed look that Morgan had. I pointed the two couples out to Nikki and she snickered.
I winced a little bit at the flat rendition of the singer - who was also the keyboard player. Jeez, where did Betsy’s dad get these turkeys? I looked at Morgan. He looked at me, apparently with the same thought.
Morgan made his excuses with the tall girl, and I did the same with Nikki. We walked up the stage, Nikki following. Morgan was talking with the singer. All I heard from the conversation were the words “Singalong” and “Karaoke”. Soon Morgan and I were taking turns singing. I consciously used my repertoire of female voices, however, to remain in synch with my look. Soon, most everyone were taking turns on stage. There weren’t too many songs to choose from though. The band couldn’t play without sheet music, and most of the sheet music they brought were really old.
Everyone made do with what was available. Soon, we were all grooving to off-key oldy-moldies from Hall and Oates, Phil Collins, Bruce Springsteen and Queen (everyone had a wild time with Morgan’s and my version of “Another One Bites the Dust”). When the girls got hold of the mike, we were treated to a bunch of old slow songs, like “Be My Number Two,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and “Babe” by the Styx.
I didn’t see Danielle the whole time, and was starting to get worried. I must have really embarrassed the hell out of her, with that Brad Pits thing. But Nikki said to leave it alone - she’ll come out when she’s ready.
I was starting to wince at the saccharine music, and Morgan whispered to me that it was so sweet, he was about to die of diabetes. I couldn’t take it anymore and went up the side of the stage and looked through the music that they had. I fished out a copy of “Dancing in the Moonlight”. It was the original, though, the 1972 version by King Harvest. I hummed the song to myself to figure out the key, and gave it to the band leader, telling him to switch to a higher key.
He switched his keyboard to xylophone and played the opening bars.
I picked up the mike and sang. I tried to get the nuances of how it was sung by Toploader, but I used a voice similar to Sheryl Crow’s.
“We get it almost every night, when the moon is big and bright. It’s a supernatural delight - everybody dancin’ in the moonlight.
“Everybody here is out of sight. They don’t bark and they don’t bite. They keep things loose, they keep it tight. Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight.”
Everybody was clapping in rhythm and singing along in the refrain.
“Dancing in the moonlight. Everybody’s feeling warm and bright. It’s such a fine and natural sight. Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight.”
The people had a sort of conga line going, and I was hamming it up, twirling the microphone’s cord. Everyone was hooting and clapping, and those who didn’t know the lyrics just mouthed the words.
“Dancing in the moonlight. Everybody’s feeling warm and bright. It’s such a fine and natural sight. Everybody’s dancing in the moonlight.”
The band faded the music out, and we finished up to a thunderous applause.
I saw Mel and Joanne come out with Danielle, walking towards Nikki. She had her tie and cummerbund off, and her eyes were red-rimmed. I wanted so much to apologize, to do something for her, and I remembered something I saw in the pile of music sheets. I dived into the pile and grabbed what I wanted. I went to the guy on keyboards and whispered to him. He looked the music over and gave copies to the others.
***** (Nikki) *****
I hugged Danielle, and I gave her a little kiss on the forehead. I suddenly noticed the silence. I looked up at the stage, wondering at the lull in the music, and I saw Dan hand something to the keyboard player. He’s so beautiful and smart. And so talented.
“Okay, ladies and gentlemen,” the keyboard player said. “We’re playing a request. It’s ‘Reflection’ by Cristina Aguilera.” Everyone groaned. “And it’s specially dedicated to someone named Danielle.”
Hearing her name, Danielle looked up. I heard the opening bars of synthesized tones float out, and Dan started to sing.
“Look at me. You may think you see who I really am. But you’ll never know me. Everyday, it’s as if I play a part. Now I see if I wear a mask I can fool the world, but I cannot fool my heart.
“Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? When will my reflection show who I am inside?
“I am now in a world where I have to hide my heart, and what I believe in. But somehow I will show the world what’s inside my heart and be loved for who I am.”
Dan looked down at Danielle. Everyone saw their similarity, a reflection of each, almost like the reflection that the song was about. Dan stepped down from the stage and walked to her. Danielle let me go and took a couple of steps toward Dan, but stopped. We were shut out of their world. This was for them alone. My eyes were bright with tears.
“Who is that girl I see staring straight back at me? Why is my reflection’s someone I don’t know? Must I pretend that I’m someone else for all time? When will my reflection show who I am inside?”
Dan held out his hand. She took it but did not come closer. He sang the words with more feeling than anyone I know. He was so beautiful. My heart was almost breaking.
“I won’t pretend that I’m someone else for all time. When will my refection show who I am inside? When will my refection show who I am inside?”
Danielle finally hugged her brother, and her tears shone in the reflected light. I couldn’t stand it anymore, and hugged them both. Belatedly, we heard the applause.
We were riding home in Joanne’s minivan. Almost everyone had been dropped off. Joanne was driving, with Drew in the passenger side, and me, Danielle and Nikki in the back. Nikki seemed to be as wiped out as I was because I felt her snoring beside me. She had unconsciously wrapped her arms around my waist.
“Never again, Danielle,” I whispered against my sister’s neck, so tired that I couldn’t lift my head. “No more dress-ups.”
Danielle leaned her cheek on top of my head. “’Kay, lil brother. I won’t again. But it was fun, wasn’t it? All things considered?”
I was too ashamed by the fact that I did enjoy the day, the dressing up and the attention I got as a girl. I slightly nodded my head against her neck. “Forgive me,” I asked her.
“Already did,” she said. “Don’t sweat it, Dan. I love you.”
She stroked my cheek. I moved her hand away, not wanting her to feel my tears. “And you know,” she said, “you really look good.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
We stayed quiet for a few minutes, Danielle toying with a strand of the wig. “You know, it would be a shame to just go back to your old look. Maybe you should keep some of it.”
“Huh?” I jerked up, dislodging Nikki.
Nikki stirred groggily. “Whassup?” she said, looked around a little bit and recognized us, smiled a sleepy smile, snuggled closer to me and went back to dreamland. I just realized how nice and soft she was, and how nice she smelled.
Danielle shook her head, bringing me back to the conversation. “That’s not what I meant, dummy. I mean, you really look good tonight. I just realized it. You could change your image a little bit, and I’m sure you won’t have problems getting dates.” I gave her a dirty look. “Regular dates. With girls, I mean.”
I snorted at that.
“I’m serious,” she said. “You could dress up a little neater, you know. Girls like neat.”
“Yeah, but not too much. You know, neat but cool.” She waved her hand, having trouble saying what she meant.
“Give me a for-instance.”
She gave it some thought. “’Kay, how about this. You could keep your shirts the way they are, but you could maybe change your pants to something with a better fit?”
“But that’s what the other guys are wearing…”
She was starting to get frustrated, not being able to get across what she wanted to say. “Look, your pants don’t have to be on the verge of falling off. And shouldn’t have to be dragging in the dirt all the time.”
“All right, all right, I think that can be okay.”
“And you can keep your hair longer instead of that godawful crewcut.”
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
“It looks like a lawnmower chewed up your head!”
“No, it doesn’t!”
“How about you keep your hair a little longer? You know, like that guy from CSI? The guy who was framed as a serial killer?” I knew who she was referring to, though I couldn’t remember his name for the life of me. She and Nikki sort of had a crush on him.
“So you want me to look like a serial killer?” I joked.
She hit me on the side of my head. “No, idiot. But you could keep your hair long like that guy, you know. And keep it combed a little bit. I’m sure you’ll look real good.”
“If you say so,” I huffed. “But I don’t want to look like a girl.”
“Trust me, honey. You won’t. Leave it to me. You’ll be the cutest guy in school!”
***** (Danny) *****
Halloween and Christmas had passed. No biggie. And my hair was now passed my shoulders, which I would usually keep in a neat ponytail, low on the back of my head instead of higher like a girl’s. And I didn’t get picked on as often. Girls were talking to me more, and the guys weren’t beating up on me. I guess Danielle’s makeover helped. At least I think it was Danielle’s makeover… I had grown a little bit during vacation, too. Hormones finally kicking in, I thought. But more like hoped.
And it was getting near the end of term when I was tricked into going for that audition.
I always believed that I had musical talent, and though the songs that I liked are quite pedestrian, sticking to the latest pop tunes, I felt like I had cool taste in my music. I can play my beat-up junior-sized six-string almost decently, and could follow a tune from scratch. I could also play a four-string bass guitar, though I had no one to jam with at the time. And, with my skill in manipulating the way I sound, I had an excellent singing voice. Or so certain selected friends have told me - It seems that stories about that thing in Halloween had made the rounds of my friends and school acquaintances.
And my little circle of friends suddenly acquired a new member - Betsy Haley. During the party, someone gave Betsy more details of our run-in with Tom Hennessy and his goons (I bet it was Joanne), and the following week, for some undisclosed reason or another, Tom got a visit from some shady characters. No one would admit to actually seeing these mystery men. I imagined them as big biker-type guys wearing leather jackets and carrying lead pipes. He wasn’t beat up or anything, but he was running scared for a while after that. He won’t be bothering us any time soon. And I bet it was all due to Betsy and her dad’s connections. For that, Danielle and I will forever be grateful.
The music that I preferred ranged from seventies pop up to the current songs. I had a big thing about cover versions. But real aficionados would probably just dismiss my tastes as strictly top-twenty bubblegum pop. Not enough angst, I guess. Most everyone made fun of my taste in music. But that’s okay. At least my best bud Morgan liked the same kind of things. Morgan and I would usually try to stump each other by making each other guess songs. I had about 5 gigs worth of MP3 songs in my really old but trusty Sony Vaio Pentium-2 that I lugged around almost everywhere. I’d play about five seconds of a song on my WinAmp program for him and he would almost always guess right, too. But I wasn’t far behind him in music trivia.
Over the years, I had developed a fair talent for figuring out the right chords to the songs I liked, and it became almost instinctive. Give me a chance to listen to a song once or twice, and I can play my guitar exactly like in the song. Well, almost... Morgan had the same ear, I think, but he didn’t play any instrument. Though he did accompany me in singing them, and I dare say we sounded pretty good. I would usually sing the female parts, of course.
I was a small guy with a very slight build, still am actually, not even five-two at the time when I started getting into playing guitar. In fact, Danielle and I were just about the same height then. And with my small hands, I had trouble with regular guitars. So I bought a junior-size imitation Stratocaster, sanding the head down to take off the hokey label and then spray-painting the sanded-down part glossy black. And because it was smaller, I could get my hands around the neck a little better, and my fingers to the right strings on the fretboard. I wanted a junior-size bass guitar, too, but I couldn’t find one, so I bought another fake Strat (second-hand) and replaced the stays with taller four-string ones and the pickups with four-string bass pickups mounted higher. I left the top two knobs in even though they weren’t in use anymore - didn’t want to leave holes or mess up the look. I put on the correct strings, and, with the higher stays, I could now pluck them like a real blues master, and imagined I was a guest artist in The House of Blues in New York, jammin’ with the greats, Wayfarer shades cocked rakishly and the sleeves of my dark blazer folded up above my elbows.
Naturally, my friends would make fun of me about this. When we were walking down the school Commons a couple of weeks before finals, Mickey called me Fumblefingers for the umpteenth time. I said he was just jealous. And as guys are apt to do, the argument escalated. Obviously, that bump on the head last Halloween hadn’t improved his disposition. Mickey, always the hothead in the group, wouldn’t let go of the thing. It got so heated that Mick and I were about to trade punches. And, as usual, Morgan broke it up. I was breathing hard, and so was Mickey, not ready to give up the fight. By chance, his eyes fell on the bulletin board, and he noticed the little yellow flyer tacked to it. These flyers were all over school, and everyone knew about it except me, apparently. He tore it off and shoved it at me.
“Here,” he said. “Prove it!”
“It’s a band advertising for new members. Let’s see ya pass the audition, and we’ll see just how good you think you are!”
“Hah,” I said, “I can do that easy, with my hands tied behind my back, even. But who’d want to be part of some garage band, playing lousy music?”
“What’s the matter? Are you too chicken to try?” Mick made some clucking noises, and I felt my face turning red. “Come on. I dare ya.”
I waved my hand. “Not worth it.”
Mickey clucked and flapped his arms. “Chicken! Chicken! Dare ya!”
The others sort of got into it. “Dare ya, dare ya! Double-dare ya!” Just like kids.
I put my hands over my ears. “All right, all right,” I yelled, and noticed my voice had reverted to its normal girly voice. I clapped my hand over my mouth in embarrassment.
“All right,” I repeated, a lot more calmly. “I’ll do it. You’re gonna be eating your words, bro,” I waggled my finger at Mickey.
Mick just smirked. “We’ll see, fumble-fingers.”
Back in my room, I picked up the yellow flyer that Mickey had torn off the bulletin board at school. It was from that band that used to play a lot around town. Now they were calling themselves ‘Unlimited Bandwidth,’ which I thought was pretty cool. They needed a vocalist-slash-guitar player. Auditions were set for the eleventh. I looked at my calendar. Ohmigod! That’s tomorrow! I grabbed the phone and dialed Danielle’s office number in panic.
I drove up to the audition place, well on the far side of town. None of the kids I know would go to the place - so far from our regular school hangouts. I parked my old beat-up Ford Mustang convertible, which I bought as a junker months back. I was still working on it, though. My car could have been an incredible showpiece. That is, if I could get rid of the spots covered in primer, tuned up the engine, fixed up the exhaust, etcetera etcetera. I parked in the lot just outside of the place, shut off the engine, slung my fake bass guitar on my shoulder, grabbed my six-string and walked into the restaurant. A sign said the place was closed for the auditions. Before I stepped through the door, I ran my hand through my now-shoulder-length red hair, trying to fix the damage the wind did. The wind fluffed it up too much. I was badly in need of a brush.
I had to admit, I felt my hair was cool, imagining I was Jon Bon Jovi or Eddie Van Halen. Few would recognize that name, anymore. I myself had just re-discovered him recently. Morgan and I couldn’t take the refrain from the song “Jump” from our heads for weeks. ‘Course, neither of these music legends had red hair, though.
Many times people had mistaken me for a girl. Par for the course, I thought. Danielle’s advice worked, though - Nikki and I were going together now. At least I think we were. We sort of ended up going on semi-regular dates. Nothing official. Yet. And I wasn’t considered a complete geek, anymore - constantly hanging with the girls had upgraded my social status to nerd, probationary status.
Anyway, my buds were there at the auditions, and they waved when they saw me enter. Mickey was there, too, of course. I waved back, and fell in line to sign up. There were a lot of people there for the auditions, and I just barely got myself signed up before they declared that that was it, no more for the day. The others who weren’t as lucky groaned, and walked out, though some stayed to watch the auditions. I met Joe, the keyboard player from the Halloween party. He thought he recognized me, but he wasn’t sure. I was relieved. I privately thought he didn’t have a chance in hell, but I still gave him a friendly smile, and wished him luck anyway.
The people who were auditioning were all decked out in typical band attire, ranging from grunge to black leather. I had tried to be different and had followed Danielle’s advice. I was wearing a plaid shirt, but not my typical baggy one. This one fit a little more snugly. I left the top three buttons undone, showing a plain white t-shirt underneath, and tucked it in old faded blue straight-cut jeans torn at the knees. I didn’t want to wear the tight white t-shirt - you could see my nipples, but Danielle said it looked okay. My chest had been bothering me for some weeks now, always sore and a little achy, and the nipples were always erect.
“I look like some freaky nerd,” I said to Danielle, but she misunderstood.
She explained the whole point of the getup. It was an audition, and she wanted the attention to be on my playing and singing, not on the getup. And I wouldn’t be dressed like the others, she was sure. It was an attention-getter trick that she learned in her job as a news production intern in the local TV affiliate in town. I, however, insisted on my thick-heeled black construction worker boots to offset my below-five-three height (I had grown only about a half-inch taller than Danielle since the last time I checked. Though I told everyone I was five foot seven. Not that they believed me…). “’Kay, Danielle. If you say so,” I had said to her. I imagined I looked like a teenage Bruce Springsteen. Though I probably looked more like a post-operation redheaded Michael Jackson. Yikes!
And now that I had a look at the rest of the people at the audition, I started having more doubts.
The audition was a little different from what I expected. We were instructed to play with the band, and they’d see if we were any good. The band members were already there in front, on stage with their instruments. They were about our age, a trifle older - at most by a couple of years, maybe, but not enough to matter. There were two guys, one on drums and one on bass, and there were two girls, the one in front seeming to be the band’s leader. Janet was very pretty, and quite tall for a girl. She had her guitar slung over her shoulder, and had long lemon-blond hair with red highlights at the tips, like Cristina Aguilera in her older videos. The other girl looked about our age. She was on the keyboards. She was also pretty, but the first thing you noticed about her was her boobs. Which was enormous, especially when set against her petite figure. Which would probably get Mickey drooling, I thought. She reminded me of Drew, actually.
I walked to my buds, and high-fived everyone, except Mick, who I gave a cool greeting. “Hey, man,” I said, feigning boredom.
“Hey,” he said, equally cool.
Since I was to be last, me and the guys stayed in the back so that we’d be out of the way.
Let me tell you, there are a lot of untalented people in this world.
Janet and the others were extremely bored when they got around to me. I was almost ready to write off the audition: Being last, I was almost sure I wouldn’t get a fair audition, with everyone tired and itching to go home. But with one look at Mickey, I resolved not to give him the satisfaction, and I went onstage with my two guitars. I gave my hair a final shake, wishing for a brush again.
“Okay,” Janet the leader was saying, “we’re ready when you are Miss…” she looked at me, and then the list in her hand, puzzled, “…ter? Um, Miss? Mister? Fairchild. Umm, Danielle?”
I looked at her in irritation. “Umm, yeah. I’m sorry. That’s Daniel. Fairchild. You can call me Dan.”
“Uh, sorry ‘bout that.” She snickered. “Okay Dan, what will we be playing?”
I remembered Danielle’s advice. I wanted an attention-getter, so I gave her my most smart-alecky smile. “I don’t care, you pick.” That got a rise out of them. Janet didn’t smile, though. Oh-oh, I thought. Tactical error.
“If that’s what you want,” she said and finally gave me a smile that I didn’t like at all. She huddled with the band. My stomach flip-flopped. Oh, boy.
She turned to me, and said, “We’ll go easy on you. How about this? ‘Mother, We Just Can’t Get Enough’ by The New Radicals.”
Before I could react, Janet played a short riff and went, “Owww!” She started playing the backbeat chords. Yikes!
I peered at her hands on the fret, and figured out the key. I frantically looked for where to plug in my own guitar. I saw a jack on the floor. Praying that this jack was for the guitar, I plugged in. I dropped my bass and started playing my six-string, my pick ticking the strings of the fake Strat. Good thing the sound mixer was on the ball. I started getting the rhythm, and aped Janet. After a few seconds, I got it. The girl with the big boobs was singing backup, and laying a mean backbeat. “Hey, whoa! Hey, whoa!” I did something different: I faced the band instead of the audience, and played to them.
I stepped closer to the mike stand a little bit, and crooned, “There’s something about you - tears me inside out whenever you’re around.” I found it a little difficult to sing and play at the same time.
“There’s something about you - speeding through my veins and never hit the ground.
“There’s something about this rush. Take it away.
“Made me feel so good, I got a feeling. I got a feeling. We get a feeling, that we could die…!”
I pinwheeled my arm like Jon Bon Jovi. “Mother!” I screamed. “We just can’t get enough, just can’t get enough!
“Mother! We just can’t get enough, just can’t get enough!”
I tried to pull out all of my tricks, but couldn’t do much with just three chords. I started to groove on the scene, raging against the mike, my voice just so. It was the first time for me to start playing with a group, after all, and enjoyed it a lot. I sidled up to Janet, and matched her chord for chord.
“Mother! We just can’t get enough, we just can’t get enough!”
I really started enjoying myself, and the people watching were clapping in rhythm. I couldn’t believe the energy. The keyboard girl and the drummer were going apeshit. Man!
“You better give up, c’mon, give up! Yeah, you better give up! Give up your love! Owww!”
I sexily rubbed my shoulder up against Janet’s. I couldn’t help myself. It was like I was high on something. Adrenaline, maybe.
“It’s you for me, me for you. You make my dreams come true,” I crooned to Janet. Janet blushed, and grinned like a fool.
“Off the wall, I wanna say, I got to be with you, now, baby!”
I got Janet to smile some more, and she started to play along and rubbed back.
“This world ain’t got too much time. But, baby, I’m fine ‘cause, baby you’re mine.”
The audience was whooping it up, and grooving on the band. The bass player laid down a convincing stream of nonsense words during the bridge, and then it was me again.
I switched to my best little-girl anime-character voice.
“Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah!” The band looked at me in amazement.
Janet went, “Oh yeah. All right, feels good tonight.”
I then went, “Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah!” The one at the mixing board added a reverb to my cutie voice.
Janet again, “Oh yeah. All right, feels good tonight,” and we faded everything out, and the audience went crazy. God, it felt good. We basked in the warm feeling that the applause gave. I was sweating like a pig, breathing as if I had run a marathon. “Yes!” I yelled, and pumped my arm up and down. I couldn’t help myself.
Janet gave me a high-five. “Great voice!” she said. I gave her a wink.
“Let’s do another one,” yelled the bass player, who I found out later everyone called Dale.
“Yeah!” thundered the audience.
“How about something newer?” June, the girl with the big boobs yelled. “Everywhere!” she screamed.
“What does she mean?” I asked Janet.
“June just discovered Michelle Branch,” Janet explained.
“You know, that girl with the long hair and the guitar? ‘Everywhere’?”
“Oh, right!” I said. “That song, ‘Everywhere’. Okay.”
“I’ll do the lyrics in middle C,” she said, and I raised my hand.
“Lemme do it. It’s my audition, after all.”
She gave me a look as if I was bonkers. “You sure you know the song? It’s a girl song.”
“Sure! Lemme start it, and get your guys to follow my lead?”
She shook her head. “Okay, little dude. Your ass, after all.” She got her guys together and explained. I took the opportunity to readjust my guitar.
I reduced the echo and reverb of my guitar, to make it as close to an acoustic as I could. I cleared my throat a little bit, and went back to something close to my anime-girl voice.
I waited for Mongo to do an eight-count on his sticks, and started playing, hoping my fingers won’t cramp up and that the guitar will sound okay.
After playing the opening chords, I sang in my girly-voice.
“Turn it inside out so I can see the part of you that's drifting over me,
“And when I wake you're never there. But when I sleep you're everywhere.
The band looked at me in amazement. Not exactly Michelle Branch. Sort of a cross between Aqua and Janet Jackson. Me, Janet and Dale, the bass player, pounded on our guitars during the bridge. I grinned. Yeah!
“Just tell me how I got this far. Just tell me why you're here and who you are.
“Cause every time I look, you're never there. And every time I sleep you're always there.”
I took a deep breath. “Cause you're everywhere to me.” The energy from the driving music was unbelievable. “And when I close my eyes it's you I see. You're everything I know that makes me believe I'm not alone.
“I'm not alone.”
Another stanza and refrain, another power trip. God, this is great!
I went crazy with the guitar, spiraling the music up and up. And then I stopped, and sang the next lyrics almost in a deadpan voice, with almost no accompaniment, except for my muted guitar and Mongo’s tapping sticks.
“And when I touch your hand, It's then I understand the beauty that's within. It's now that we begin. You always light my way. I hope there never comes a day, no matter where I go, I always feel you so.”
Then the band pounded out the refrain again. I looked at Janet’s wild smile as she rocked to the beat. She looked beautiful.
“Cause you're everywhere to me. And when I close my eyes it's you I see. You're everything I know that makes me believe I'm not alone.
“Cause you're everywhere to me…”
We were in the zone. God, what a feeling. The audience was lapping it up. And, when we got to the tail end, the band snapped off. We were in total synch. I faced Janet, and sang the last line in almost total silence.
“You're in everyone I see. So tell me, do you see me?”
The audience exploded. I couldn’t believe it. I took Janet’s hand, and we bowed to the crowd. “Yeah!” I heard Morgan and my friends yell. I saw Danielle, Nikki and their friends clapping madly like the rest. I hadn’t seen them come in. My eyes gravitated towards Nikki, and she looked at me in a way that I recognized from the Halloween party, and I blushed. I blew a kiss her way, and most of the girls in the kiss-zone smooched back. I was a little put off because I wanted it just for Nikki. She looked back at me with a sappy smile, and I grinned like a fool.
Janet suddenly grabbed my face, bent down and gave me a big kiss. I almost fainted.
The audience oohed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Nikki frown. I was delighted.
I looked at the band, and they were looking at each other. “I think we found a keeper,” Janet said, and turned to me. “Congratulations. You’re it.”
I pumped my arm up and down. “Yes!”
The audience yelled and clapped. “More, more, more!” Morgan and my buds chanted over and over, and the rest picked it up. “More, more!”
“How about…” Dale started to say, and his voice sort of faded when the rest of the band groaned.
I looked at Janet with the question. “Dale’s a big fan of Rod Stewart,” she explained.
“So?” But Janet nodded and signaled June.
June switched her Yamaha synth to Jamaican steel drums, and started to play, and after a few bars, I recognized the song, “Love Touch.”
I cleared my throat again, and mentally projected my Rod Stewart imitation in my mind.
Dale was about to sing the opening lyrics, but I beat him to it.
“Ooh, baby I don’t know why, but somehow I always seem to get tangled up in my pride.” I saw Dale from the corner of my eye, and I belatedly noted my snafu. I shrugged my embarrassment towards Dale. Dale didn’t look happy at all, but he nodded towards me, and let me have the song.
“Ooh, baby we’re not that blind. Deep down inside you know this love’s worth one more try.
“Don’t push it all aside, ‘cause I wanna be good for you. I didn’t mean to be bad.” I was singing in Nikki’s direction, and Nikki and her friends were looking my way, clapping and singing along.
Janet suddenly swiveled my head to face her. It almost broke my rhythm. “But, darlin’ I’m still the best that you ever had. Just give me a chance to show you how much.”
I swung back to Nikki, and pointed to her so there wouldn’t be any mistake this time. “I wanna give you my love touch. I wanna give you my love touch.” The girls tittered and went, “oooh!” Nikki put her hands on her cheeks. She cocked her head to one side and gave me that sappy look again. Janet frowned at that.
The band played flawlessly, but I was a little off. Janet winced a little bit, but they all covered for me so no one noticed. I forced myself to follow their beat. Many from the audience started to dance in the middle of the restaurant. Somebody had pushed back the chairs and tables. It was starting to feel like a party. The song progressed, with more and more starting to dance. Danielle, Nikki and her friends were in a six-girl hug, and swayed to the beat. I grinned and kept my voice in a raspy falsetto. The band continued playing, no one making mistakes (except me). It gave me goose bumps, we were clicking like a well-oiled machine.
I crooned the refrain. “Cause I wanna be good for you. I didn’t mean to be bad. But, darlin’ I’m still the best that you ever had. Just give me a chance to show you how much.
“I wanna give you my love touch.”
The audience sang along. “Love touch, love touch...”
We stretched the song a bit, repeating the last stanzas and the refrain a few times. By the time we wound down, the audience was delirious. Janet raised my hand in victory, and I threw a V-sign. The crowd hooted and clapped.
A fat balding man walked through the middle of the room towards us, caught Janet’s attention and pointed a finger at his watch. Janet whispered, “that’s Mario, the owner of the place. I guess he wants the place back, now.”
The crowd hissed and booed. Joe shrugged. “Sorry, folks,” he said, “but you can catch the band in the regular show. Soon!” That sort of cheered them up, and some started clapping.
The crowd streamed out of the place. Some of the others who auditioned waved back at me, and Joe gave me a congratulatory thumbs-up. I waved back and yelled my thanks.
I wiped my face with my open hand, and shook the sweat off my fingers. “Eeww!, said June. “I’d shake your hand, but not now!”
I laughed. “Thanks, anyway!” I made a show of wiping my hands on my handkerchief, and June shook it.
Janet introduced me to everyone: June on keyboards; Dale, the bass player; and Mongo, the tall but silent drummer.
I said “hi.” Mongo sort of slinked forward and shook my hand, sweat or no sweat.
“Great voice, dude,” Mongo croaked. “You should do imitations.” My arms broke out in goose pimples, but I still gave him a feeble smile. I got a little creeped out.
June giggled and elbowed Janet. The elbow came up just below Janet’s ribs. “You should be glad,” said June. “That’s high praise, coming from Mongo.”
Morgan, Mickey and the guys swarmed up the stage. “Hey, wuss,” Jerry said, and jokingly slapped my head.
“Watch it, jerk,” I hit him back. “Guys, these are my friends.” I introduced Morgan, Jerry, Kyle and Mickey. I glared at Mickey. “So. Looks like someone lost a bet.”
Mickey looked down a little sheepishly. “Yeah.” He stuck his hand out. “You’re right, man. You’re not Fumblefingers.” He grinned. “You’re actually Kate Bush!” Everyone roared with laughter. I blushed.
“What’s this about a bet,” Dale asked, and I explained.
Janet frowned at that. “You auditioned because of a bet?”
Janet thought about it a little bit, and smiled. “Well, then. You’re stuck with us, now. ‘cause of a bet.”
“Hey, don’t get me wrong! I’m glad to be part of the band. It was just…” Everyone cracked up. “Yeah, you got me. Hilarious…”
Danielle and her bunch came up to the edge of the stage, giggling.
“Hey, Handsome,” yelled Danielle.
I saw them and gestured them up the stage. They grabbed me and hugged me to pieces. I introduced them to the band. Everyone was there: Nikki, Drew, Joanne, Mel, Betsy and Danielle. I introduced Danielle last of all.
Mongo looked her over. “Danielle and Daniel. That’s cool.” No one spoke for a moment. No one knew how to react to Mongo, yet.
Joanne moved forward then, was all smiles as she stood beside Janet, looking up at her. Janet raised an eyebrow suspiciously. I noticed them. “You better watch it, Janet. Joanne’s got her eye on you.” Joanne smacked me lightly on the head. Everyone laughed. Joanne wasn’t the least bit worried about her bisexuality. And she hadn’t been putting any moves on anyone. At least not much, anyway. So everyone was okay with her.
June found herself beside Drew. They looked each other up and down. It was like looking at sisters. And they were wearing almost identical clothes. Danielle and the others giggled.
They shook hands. “Pleased to meet you,” said Drew. Her voice was a little cool.
“Likewise,” said June in the same tone.
June turned away, and went to her keyboards. Drew walked to Danielle’s side. We looked at each other and shrugged collectively. “Must be the outfit,” I said.
Janet and the band had finished breaking down their stuff and took their leave. Janet congratulated me again, and set up band practice for next Saturday, giving me directions to the rehearsal. She tousled my hair playfully. “See ya later, carrot-top!”
I waved goodbye, and me and my friends moved towards the exit.
“Good job, bro,” Morgan congratulated me. The guys thumped my back.
“Watch it,” I said, grinning at this unaccustomed attention. Jerry offered to carry my guitars, which I found weird. I shrugged and I handed them to him.
“I’m so proud of you,” Danielle said, and bussed my cheek. The other girls giggled, and they said I did pretty well. All except Nikki. She was looking down, not making eye contact.
“Nikki?” I asked, puzzled.
“You did good, Dan,” she said, not looking up. Catching something, Mel and Joanne winked at each other.
Danielle playfully punched Drew on the shoulder. “Hey, Drew. What the heck was that with the keyboard player.”
“I dunno. I guess I just didn’t like her.”
“Why, for heaven’s sake?” asked Mel.
She gestured spastically, and shrugged. “I dunno. I just don’t. But, you know, who would like someone like her? Showing off her breasts like that. What a slut.”
“Hey!” I said. “She wasn’t showing off her boobs. And where do you get off calling her a slut? You don’t even know her.”
“What do you know? You’re a guy.”
“Whoa!” said everyone.
“That was a low blow, sister,” said Joanne. The girls giggled.
“I thought she was kinda cute myself,” said Mickey.
“You would,” said Nikki.
We went to Danielle’s favorite place, and rode in convoy: my car, Joanne’s, and Morgan on his 75cc Honda. It was a conspiracy, with Danielle and Joanne as the main instigators. The two made the seating arrangements: Drew and Mickey rode in the back and Nikki sat in the passenger seat. The rest rode in Joanne’s mom’s minivan.
Joanne roared off ahead of us, giggling. The guys hooted and made catcalls as the van zoomed by. Morgan stopped his bike beside my door, and gave me a thumbs-up before following the minivan.
Nikki frowned, and folded her arms in mild annoyance and embarrassment. She looked out the window, refusing to look at me. I blushed, put the gear in first and pulled out of the parking lot.
I pushed open the doors and held it open for Nikki and the others to go through. Drew quipped, “What a gentleman you are!” Nikki just ignored me.
Mickey sniggered. I decided to retaliate and wagged my eyebrows at him and cocked my head towards Drew. Mickey frowned and “harrumphed” at me. I sniggered myself as he rushed to catch up with Drew.
When I got to our table, everyone was already seated, with only one place remaining, right beside Nikki. Everyone had suspiciously innocent smiles plastered on their faces, except Nikki. She was fairly fuming as she ignored me while I sat down.
It was a noisy table, and everyone wanted to know about how the audition was, and how it felt. I told everyone how much I enjoyed it, and how incredible it felt to be part of a team, working together almost without thinking, everything just clicking in place, and everything turning out just right.
“Did you pick out the songs beforehand?” asked Mel.
“No, they sort of sprang it on me. It was good that they picked songs I knew.”
“No problem there for Mr. Kasey-top-twenty-Kasem,” said Mickey.
“What do you mean,” she asked.
“Dan-the-man here must know every top twenty song since nineteen seventy-one. You should listen to his collection.”
“Oh-oh,” said Jerry. “Don’t get him started, dude.”
“Hey!” I exclaimed. “I’m not that bad. At least not as bad as Morgan.”
“Where’d you learn to play the guitar like that,” Joanne asked.
“Practice,” I said, looking down in false humility.
“What did you guys think about Janet?” Joanne asked in a whisper.
Danielle elbowed her. “Why are you whispering?”
Joanne ignored her. “What a fox, huh? Dan, is she going with anyone?”
“How would I know? I just met her myself.”
“I don’t know. But you seemed like good friends up there on the stage.” Everyone went, “ooooh!”
I blushed. “It was all an act, guys. Part of the song!”
Jerry and Mickey imitated me. “Oh-oh-oh, yeah! Oh-oh-oh, yeah!”
“Guys, shut up!” I said in mock protest.
I waved my hand in denial. “No, no. It was just part of the act. We took turns singing the lines.”
“Sure, sure,” said Morgan. “We believe you.”
“Lay off already!” exclaimed Nikki. “He already said he didn’t know her!”
Everyone stopped. “Oops!” Mickey said.
“You guys are assholes,” Nikki exclaimed, and stomped off towards the ladies’ room. The girls excused themselves and got up to follow.
We were all quit for a moment.
Morgan hit Mickey on the head. “Hey!”
“You dumbass. ‘Oops’!”
“I couldn’t help it! It just came out.”
“I think you guys should lay off a little,” I said.
“Yeah,” agreed Morgan. “Especially you, Mick. Put that mouth in neutral.”
***** (Danny) *****
After a few gigs with the band, I soon started to feel like a legitimate part of the group. We’d play Friday and Saturday nights at Mario’s, and I’d almost always be the featured singer. Sometimes it would be Janet but the crowd seemed to prefer me. And we were starting to develop a fan club. Or should I say, I was developing a fan club.
Saturday, sometimes also Sunday, we’d practice at Dale’s house all afternoon. I found that the band had similar tastes in music to mine - they loved cover versions, and top-twenty music like me. We’d try to look for songs that were a bit obscure, so we ended up playing eighties or nineties pop, with a few of the new hits thrown in the mix. It was great. I had Marie, our mixer, record our songs. I would bring the cassettes home, have Morgan clean it up via my PC’s SoundForge program, and convert them to 360K sample-rate MP3 files.
I continued following Danielle’s advise, and dressed in my jeans and shirts. Why mess with something that works, I thought. What I didn’t count on was that most, if not all, of the people who went to our gigs thought I was a girl. I couldn’t figure it out. My outfit was not a girl’s, and I wasn’t wearing makeup or anything like that. The only thing that could be causing it was my hair. Once, Dale, apparently not thinking about what he was saying, said absentmindedly that it was a shame that I was so pretty but I didn’t wear anything sexier to the gigs. Of course, he realized what he said after and apologized profusely.
And Janet did not disabuse the audience of this impression, which pissed me off a bit. But I didn’t want to make waves - being the newest member and all. So I gritted my teeth and bore it. In fact, I think Janet deliberately fed this idea by having the band play more female-type songs, and got me to sing them. In fact, Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere” sort of became our trademark song, and we’d almost always play it at the end of our show. At least, when Danielle was there, no one assumed we were siblings, and we therefore avoided comparisons. That would have been the last straw for me. I guess it was how we looked: as opposed to her well-groomed feminine look, I looked more butch. Elegant grunge, June likes too call my look. Though we looked similar (especially since we had the same hair color), we at least didn’t appear like twins.
The part of our gigs that people liked best was our 'By Popular Demand' section, where we allowed people to pick the songs we would play. It started as a short three-song portion, but it grew to become, like, half of our show, with about nine or ten songs each time. The way it worked was that people would write their songs in little slips of paper and leave them in the little derby hat that Mario would leave at the bar. Then in the following show we’d play the most requested ones. Pretty soon, our shows started packing them in. The gimmick was a great way to develop regulars, and kept ole Mario happy, what with the fortune he made in food and drinks.
What was amazing was that, even when Danielle and I were seen together after a gig, people that knew both of us never associated me with my male alter ego, despite the Halloween costume thing. I was just another pretty friend of Danielle’s. And not that geeky ole Danny Fairchild. I wondered at that a little bit, since, except for a few details, Dan the guy didn’t dress that much differently from Danny the girl-singer. It’s probably the setting that throws them off, as well as my attitude and behavior. It reminded me of Superman’s Clark Kent persona, where a simple pair of glasses was enough to change people’s impressions of who he really is.
What really bothered me was that feeling that I was being forced to play a girl, which was being reinforced more and more by the band’s selection of songs, and the catcalls the audience would sometimes make, such as “ooh, baby,” or “hey, beautiful.” Yesterday, besides my friends, a bunch of other kids from my school was there. I was sort of nervous, and wondered if I’d start to get a reputation in school now. But they clearly didn’t recognize me and thought I was a girl. At the end of the show, I was a little relieved, but also very disturbed. I had a lot to think about as I drove my friends home, and then drove back to our house. I arrived a little after midnight, but Mom and Dad knew where I was, and I had a sort of special dispensation on Friday and Saturday nights. As usual, Danielle was there waiting up for me. She let me in the house, gave me a sisterly peck, and bade me goodnight.
More than anything, that fear of me being recognized forced me to re-evaluate my situation, and to question my own sexuality. I read the term “hyper-female” in one of my GQ magazines once, and I dug up the article again. The terms hyper-female and hyper-male relate to how people looked. Obviously, in fashion, that was important. A hyper-masculine guy’s face would have the stereotype characteristics of masculinity: angular, squarish head with a strong, prominent jaw and jawline; low forehead and sort of squinty eyes. A Hyper-female’s would have the opposite: Big round eyes, high forehead, high cheekbones, small and rounded jaw, small nose, soft, triangular face.
After re-reading the article, I went to a mirror and did an inventory. High cheekbones - yup. High forehead - right. Small nose and jaw - check. Big eyes - OK. Triangular face - yup. Oh, boy…
I panicked. I went to Danielle’s room like a bullet from a gun, and pounded on her door. She opened it and I slipped passed her and started rifling through her magazine rack. “Hey!” she screamed, as I picked out a special summer issue of one of her fashion mags, with a picture of Elle McPherson on the cover in a really tiny bikini. I ran back to my room and locked it. She chased after me and pounded on my door. After a minute of this, she gave up. Undoubtedly to look for Mom.
I feverishly leafed through the magazine and came to a photo spread called “Summer Beach Fashions.” I looked at the photos in the article, picture after picture of really sexy girls in very skimpy bikinis and body-hugging swimsuits. I took off all of my clothes and stood in front of my full-length mirror and held the magazine in front of me. My eyes jumped from the mirror to the picture and vice versa, comparing. My hips curved outwards and my waist inwards. Just like the models. I had no muscle definition to speak of, and my arms were as skinny as a girl’s, my thighs and legs as smooth as those of the women in the magazine. I guess I was avoiding it, but I finally looked at my chest. I had been ignoring it all this time, but I finally quit deceiving myself and admitted it. Though they started small, they were now too big to not notice. I had to admit that I had started growing breasts.
***** (Danielle) *****
Still angry, I dragged my sleepy mom to Daniel’s room and tried the doorknob. Locked.
I pounded on the door. “Danny, open up!” I knocked on the door again, louder and longer.
“Goddamnit, Danny! Mom’s here so you better open up!” I continuously pounded on the door, but no reaction. I started to get a bad feeling. “Daniel?” I said, a little softly. I turned to Mom.
“Mom! Something’s wrong!” Mom sensed something, too, went back to their bedroom and came back with a keyring. She shook the ring, selected the proper key and unlocked the door. I rushed passed her and saw Daniel naked, crumpled in front of his full-length mirror. I saw my magazine in his hand.
Mom rushed to his side and lifted his head. She lightly slapped him on the cheek. “Honey, are you all right? Wake up Danny! Wake up!”
Slowly, Danny opened his eyes. He started to focus and recognized us. He started to cry softly. Mom hugged him, and waited for the crying to die away.
I kneeled down and hugged him awkwardly from the side.
“Tell me what’s wrong, dear," she said when he started to become calmer.
He gestured with the magazine in his hands. “It’s this, Mommy.” I knew something was terribly wrong when he called her “mommy.” Mom glanced at the magazine.
He pushed us away a little, and gestured at his chest. “And this…”
Mom and I gasped. “Those are, uh, what are they?” My mind locked and ideas didn’t want to connect.
“They’re tits,” Dan said in anguish. His pained voice broke my heart and I hugged him again.
After what felt like a long time, we got him to take half a Valium and finally got him into his bed. He soon fell into a troubled sleep. I sat beside him stroking his cheek and smoothing his hair, trying my best to comfort him. Mom had gone downstairs and called an ambulance. She would have driven him to the hospital herself, but Dad had taken the station wagon with the automatic transmission, and Mom and I couldn’t handle a stickshift, so that left Dan’s car out. We couldn’t wait for Dad to come back home from his trip anymore, so there was no choice but to call an ambulance.
Mom came back in. “The ambulance will be here in a few minutes. I asked them not to use the siren.”
She pulled back the covers. “Let’s get him dressed,” she said. Dan was laid out on his back, still naked, with one arm thrown over his forehead, and the other over his budding breasts. Mom and I looked at each other, then back down at Daniel. We couldn’t believe how feminine, how girly he looked. I glanced at his penis, noted how well developed he was, and suddenly dropped my eyes in embarrassment and a little shame.
“What do you think?” Mom asked. I was momentarily thrown by the question. I looked at her in shock, but she was gazing down at Dan’s face. “Has he been taking hormones or something?” Oh…
I blushed, and went to his dresser to get a change of his clothes, not willing to look at him again. “No,” I said. “I don’t think so. Otherwise, I would have known about it.” I handed her the clothes and she gently got him dressed. Dan did not stir through the whole procedure.
***** (Danny) *****
I woke up, and had a momentary feeling of confusion, but I immediately remembered that I was in our little community hospital. Have been for about a week or so. I sat up and looked out the window. It was still early and the sun had just cleared the horizon. I sighed a small sigh of, I don’t know, contentment, I guess that’s the closest word. What the doctor said gave me hope. Maybe the tests will explain what was happening to me.
I felt a little at home actually, remembering my stay here before when I was little, and I was recovering from my throat surgery, eating all the ice cream I wanted. I stretched luxuriously, feeling good in my bones for a change, and glanced around the room. I saw big sis curled up in the chair beside my bed. She must be really uncomfortable in it. I got up and walked over to her to cover her with some of my bedclothes, and walked to the window to open it and spread the curtains more. The cool morning breeze made me shiver in the flimsy hospital gown I was wearing, but I enjoyed the crispness of the air.
I felt my backside becoming colder, and my ass exposed. I decided to tie the strings at the back tighter, twisting around with a little bit of difficulty, and climbed back up the bed. Aside from the jacket, all I had on were my jockey shorts. I shivered a littler bit and snuggled under the remaining blankets. I laid on my side, hugging my knees. I looked out the window, sneaking glances at the sleeping Danielle, and closed my eyes.
After an hour or so, a nurse came in with a breakfast tray. I smiled my thanks, and she put down the tray and left. I looked at Danielle, and wondered again why she was here. I chuckled as I saw a little saliva travel down from the corner of her mouth. Unconsciously, she slurped the little rope of drool back up, and I laughed out loud.
Danielle mumbled and opened her left eye. She looked at me, and eloquently said “mmmpfh!”
“Hey, Danielle,” I said solicitously. “How’s it going?”
“Hey, Dan,” she mumbled. “You up already?”
“Been watching you.”
She sat up and rubbed the side of her face. “Yeah?”
I looked into her eyes. “You should be home in bed.”
She shrugged. "'S’all right.” She looked down and brushed imaginary lint from her blouse. She seemed embarrassed about something. “Just checking on my little brother.”
She looked at the room, casting around for something else to talk about. She saw the tray. “Umm, you hungry?” She gave me a guilty look.
I grinned. “Be my guest. After seeing you drooling in your sleep, you must be hungrier than me.”
“Ha-ha. You’re a liar.” She sat down to eat. “Are you done with all the tests?”
“I think so. The test results should have been finished yesterday afternoon. But I’m waiting to get the results today.”
“Was it bad?”
“No, there were just a lot of them. Lots of x-rays and samples. They took a lot of blood. Look.” I pulled up the sleeve of my hospital gown and showed her some needle marks. I felt the flimsy jacket pull at my chest, but I ignored it.
She leaned over and looked at my arm. “What are those,” she asked, pointing at some slightly puffy marks.
“Allergy tests. They also dunked me in a big tub full of water, but pulled me out right away. I didn’t know what that was for. They also used a thing that looked like a pair of barbeque tongs and pinched my skin. Like this.” I demonstrated by squeezing a fold of skin on my stomach. “They did it to my tummy, arms, legs and chest. And my ass, for God’s sake!” Danielle laughed. “Yesterday, they x-rayed my neck or something, and they looked down my throat with this long metal thing with a light on one end. Made me gag. They also made me drink this liquid and took me to a big CT-scan machine.” I gestured how big the machine was. “I was slid into the middle of this big donut-shaped thing, and I had to stay in there for an hour. There was a dull thumping the whole time, and I couldn’t do anything but lie still and wait for it to be finished.”
Danielle wrinkled her nose at that. “You must have been bored out of your mind.”
“I was more scared than anything, but, yeah, I’m glad that’s over.” I paused a little bit, a little embarrassed. “Umm, Danielle? Could you do me a favor? Could you maybe go and get me a change of clothes? I don’t like this hospital gown. I feel like my ass is sticking out.” I blushed.
Danielle laughed, reached behind her and pulled out my big pack. She pulled out two plastic bags. “I’m way ahead of you. Here.” She tossed them to me.
I opened them and found my high-tops in one, and some pants, underwear, socks and a shirt in the other. “Gee, thanks,” I said and went to the bathroom to change.
I completely undressed and looked at the bathroom mirror. It wasn’t a full-length mirror so I had to step back to see my entire five-feet plus reflection (I was still only a trifle taller than Danielle.).
The first thing my eyes gravitated to were to my breasts. I was afraid to touch them. A few weeks ago, they were just sort of like bumps, and I could ignore them. Now that I was paying attention to them, they looked enormous - to me at least. And were now hanging down a bit. I remembered a rerun of the sitcom Bette (starring Bette Midler, of course). Danielle liked the show, but I only watched it ‘cause she wouldn’t let us watch any other program. I couldn’t remember the details of that episode, but there was one funny scene where Bette stuck a pen under her boobs to check out how big they were, and if the pen doesn’t fall, then her breasts were okay.
With my new bumps, they weren't big enough for me to even try that trick. But the fact that I was even thinking about trying it worried me. Danielle had run an expert eye on me a couple of days ago and declared that I was probably a larger-than-average A-cup, now. ‘Course, I was way smaller than her growing C-cups. But I was afraid that I’d actually be catching up with her soon at the rate I'm growing. I wiped a single tear from my eye, and looked at the rest of my body.
There wasn’t much muscle development anywhere, so my arms and legs were smooth and without bulges anywhere. My hips were not wide at all. Well, to be truthful, they were a bit. But I still looked wide-hipped because I had such a narrow waist. (I snuck into Danielle’s room once, and looked for the white dress from Halloween - the plastic bag that came with the dress said that the waist was 22. Jeezus!) I ran my hand over my cheeks and neck, checking for any new facial hair, but there were none. As usual. Just like there wasn’t any on my chest, arms and legs. Even my armpits. My hand ran over the barely noticeable scar on my throat, and again noted the lack of a prominent adam’s apple. I turned to my face. I looked a lot like Danielle, actually: an extremely faint smattering of freckles, small ears, small nose that turned up a little, small, pouty cupid mouth, small chin. The only features of my face that were big were my green eyes surrounded by thin, almost translucent reddish eyebrows, and very long lashes. When we were younger, my mom said that she loved looking at Danielle and me while we were sleeping, because our lashes would lie so prettily on our cheeks, and we looked so beautiful.
I looked at my crotch and there was a thick patch of red pubic hair on it, barely surrounding my penis. I showed Junior to Danielle once years ago, and she looked at it and said it looked pretty much average. Trying to submerge my embarrassment, I wagged my eyebrows at her and asked her how she would know that. She playfully slapped me.
I stepped out of the bathroom, feeling better dressed in my own clothes, though my undershirt felt tight on my chest as usual. I left my shoes off and wore bathroom slippers over my socks. I sat on the edge of my bed and faced Danielle. She was just finishing up the little fruit cup that came with the breakfast tray.
I was swinging my blue-jean clad legs and watched the sunlight reflect on the chrome of my bed. I wondered what the doctors found, if any. I started to feel down, and a little bit scared.
Danielle saw me, and walked to me and gave me a little hug. “Don’t worry,” she said. “It’s gonna be okay. I’ll stay with you until Mom comes, and we’ll find out together.”
***** (Danielle) *****
I felt Dan’s worry, and couldn’t help but reach out to him. It’s at times like this that I felt truly connected to him again. Like when we were kids, or when we were in one of my role-playing games. He was such a shit most of the time, but I still love him. Though I won’t say that to his face.
I wondered why we couldn’t have been identical twins, like the Parker twins that moved out of the neighborhood years ago. That probably would have been fun. I would have loved a twin sister. But even the way we were now, we looked a lot alike, and were about the same height. Although I was a little shorter than Dan now, maybe by a miniscule one-half inch.
I just realized that, deep in my subconscious, I was glad that this was happening to my brother. Because I could imagine that we were becoming like real twins. But also sad, because, realistically, I knew that that will always be just a dream. In a way, I guess that’s why I was such a shit to him. I blushed in shame, and turned my face away from him so he couldn’t see my eyes.
I hugged him some more, marveling at how good this made me feel, and how close I felt to him. I’d forgotten how soft and smooth his skin was, and it felt like I was hugging my best friend Nikki. That sort of creeped me out so I pulled back. I brushed away some of his hair, which he had started to keep fashionably long as I had suggested, and I tucked a lock of it behind his ear. It was almost the same copper color as mine, though it was a little darker. It smelled faintly of soap.
Mom came bustling in, full of the same nervous energy when she was angry, or was worrying about something but didn’t want to show it. She was carrying a big bag that she put down on the floor. She gave us both big bone-crushing hugs and pulled out several Tupperware containers full of food.
I was the first to it, with Dan a close second.
Mom caught up on things with Dan and I as we picnicked in his room. Mom was sucking one of her diet drinks, and paused to wipe food off our faces. As usual, we acted like pigs, though I try to be more ladylike when I’m around my friends. We demolished the food in nothing flat, and Dan belched loudly in appreciation, Mom hitting him on the shoulder in mock anger. I covered my mouth and made my own little burp.
The nurse came in to tell us that the doctor would be coming in a few minutes. Dan and I smiled guiltily, but Mom apologized for the mess and made some excuses. The nurse smiled indulgently and left.
Mom cleaned up the leftovers and shooed us into the bathroom. Dan brushed his teeth while I took a piss. We heard a knock and went out to the room. Doctor Roberts was sitting down with Mom. Dan and I sat down on the bed, and he introduced me.
***** (Danny) *****
Dr. Roberts was a white-haired gentleman who dressed in expensive designer suits, currently covered by a newly-pressed lab coat. He was extremely new to the hospital, and is supposed to be some kind of specialist. We were not told exactly of what, but the hospital staff spoke well of his credentials. He had taken an interest in my case, they said, and volunteered to work on it. He had just arrived two weeks ago, but had supposedly reviewed all of my test results. For some reason, I didn’t want to trust him. It felt like he was hiding something. “Well,” Doctor Roberts began, as he stood and rubbed his hands briskly. “I’ve got some good news…”
Danielle interrupted, “and some bad news, yeah yeah…”
He smiled at that. “No, no. Actually it’s all good news. Come here, son.” He beckoned me to the couch. I sat down, and he opened some folders.
“Let’s see, where to begin… Ahh!” He pulled out what looked like a series of x-rays. “Let’s start with this,” and tapped the film.
“First off, let me put your mind at ease. As you guessed, you have been undergoing some changes, brought on by some chemical, hormonal or genetic cause. We won’t know specifically what yet until we see how the medicine we’ll be giving will affect you. But let me assure you that with the medication, the development of the secondary female sex characteristics that you’ve started exhibiting will slow down over the next several months, and will reverse. You can set your mind at ease on that.
“There is indeed an imbalance in your testosterone levels, as well as in other hormones, but close enough to the normal range for a boy your age that there’s nothing to be worried about.
“We also found nothing wrong with your x-rays. Lungs are normal. No obstructions or masses anywhere. Your bones have a higher than normal density for a boy your age, and your mass a little lower than average but well within the normal range for a teenager of your height and build. You do need a little exercise, though. And the EEG and the CAT scan also shows that everything is normal.”
He pulled out a sheet of computer paper. “Your body-density test showed that you have a low fat density, and your bloodwork shows that you have an excellently low cholesterol count. That means that you have very little excess fat. Though the pinch test showed that you do have a lot more than normal subcutaneous fat, and that would have thrown us if it weren’t for the body-density test. Tell me, how’s your appetite?”
“Still the same.” I had switched to my “normal guy” voice, lower than my regular girly speaking voice. “I still eat like a pig.”
He laughed. “That’s fine. All it means is that you have a very fast metabolism. That would fit in with your blood pressure, which is normal. You have a somewhat elevated pulse, even while at rest, but still within normal ranges, and the ECG shows your heart is completely healthy.”
He got another sheet. “Allergy tests show that you have no unusual reactions to allergens. So that's good.”
He raised my chin to look at the scars on my neck. “Your mother said you had a throat injury when you were young, but x-rays show that everything’s fine. And these scars are barely visible. Were you young when you had the accident?”
“I was seven or eight, I think.”
“That explains it. Your mother also said that they had to do some surgery on your voicebox. Obviously, your voice wasn’t affected.”
Danielle snickered. “Wanna bet?”
The doctor looked at her. “What do you mean?”
Danielle looked at me. “Go on, Dan. Show him.”
I shot imaginary daggers at her with my eyes. “I’d rather not,” I said in my “normal guy” voice.
“Come on, spoilsport. Show the nice doctor what you can do.”
Dr. Roberts looked back and forth at the both of us, his curiosity piqued.
“Danielle, I’m warning you…”
Mom sighed. “Stop it you two. Dan I don’t think Dr. Roberts will make fun of you. And he may even be able to help.”
I clamped my mouth shut.
Danielle and Mom insisted, so I hummed the scales, from my lowest C to my highest, showing him my freaky eight-octave voice. I went through the scales a second time but I changed the timber of my voice so that this time I sounded like a girl. I then changed it several times, showing Dr. Roberts a hint of the kinds of voices I can do. He was fairly impressed.
“That’s amazing, Dan,” he said. “In any case, I’d like to set your mind at ease. Your remarkable voice is obviously due to a mechanical change rather than a chemical one, or even a genetic one. Nothing showed up in any of our tests or scans, so it has nothing to do with your feminization. It’s the surgery.”
“Will it become better? Will my voice become more like a boy’s?”
Dr. Roberts shrugged. “I don’t know, Dan. But at your age, the changes in your voice should have started to happen. I hate to tell you this, but this could be a permanent condition.”
I looked down a little sad, but Danielle came up to me and put a comforting hand on my slumped shoulder.
He cleared his throat, and picked up another sheet. “About the blood tests… hmm.”
I looked at him, a little worried. “What?”
“Like I said, you do indeed have a hormone imbalance. But still close to normal ranges. We don’t know what’s causing these variances, since you seem to show normal sexual development in your, umm, primary sexual, umm, parts.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “The results do show, however, that your condition is not life-threatening, and the effects, we believe, reversible. But, I am telling you that it is just a slight imbalance. It won’t affect you much physically, and, with the medication, it should clear up when you get older and your hormones start to level out. But it is what’s causing the buildup of subcutaneous fat… and other things.”
He paused a little bit, seeming not to know how to proceed. He cleared his throat, embarrassed. “Tell me, Dan,” he asked, “do you like girls?”
“I like them fine, but what has that got to do with anything?”
“Nothing, just an idle question. Could you take your shirt off, please?”
I unbuttoned my shirt, took it and the tanktop underneath off, and Dr. Roberts stared a little bit. “I see what they mean,” he said as he saw my budding breasts. He started feeling and pinching them. “No lumps or masses — that’s good. I can’t tell, as of this point, but they seem to be completely normal, umm, pubescent female breasts. Still, hmm… Your hormone imbalance should be too small to cause this. How do they feel?” he asked me.
I was a little embarrassed, because his touch actually felt good. I was starting to get an erection, and was glad for my baggy jeans. “Not bad. Though a little achey and itchy.”
His hand lingered on my left “breast” and he suddenly realized what he was doing, and hastily let go.
A little embarrassed, he started moving a stethoscope over my chest and asked me to breathe deeply, and to cough a few times.
“Okay, that’s good. Nothing amiss.” He put his stethoscope around his neck, and looked at my chest for a while. He started poking at my chest again. “Does this hurt? No? How about this?” He pinched the side of my waist and I giggled.
“Watch it, Doc. I’m ticklish.”
He smiled, gave me a wink. I wondered what that meant.
“Okay!” he said. “That about does it. You, son, are a hundred percent healthy. And, with the medication, you’ll soon be on the road back to complete normalcy. But you should learn to start putting on some more weight.”
I sighed. “I know, Doc. But I can’t seem to. I like to eat, and I am a pretty active guy. But I just don’t put on any weight.”
“I’ll ask one of our dieticians to visit you before you leave today, and she can prescribe some vitamin and mineral supplements, and maybe give you advice on diet and exercise. I’ll have your prescriptions ready, and I’ll expect a visit from you once a week, until you’re back to normal. As well as a weekly session with our staff psychiatrist.”
Danielle spoke up. “Is that necessary, Doctor?”
“I don’t think so. Dan seems to be a pretty stable guy. But, you know, no harm to cover all bases.”
I was feeling a little down. “OK, Doc,” Danielle said. “If you say so.”
“Wait a minute!” I said. “That’s it?”
He put a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Daniel. That’s all that we can do. But you are on the mend. The medicine will take a while before visible signs of improvement can be seen, but it’s going to happen. And we’ll keep tabs on your progress, and do regular tests, and make sure you’re all right. You’ll see.” He gave me a friendly pat.
The doctor asked to see Mom, and they stepped out of the room. Danielle and I looked at each other. That was a bad omen.
Danielle hugged me. “See?” she said. “Everything will turn out okay. The doctor said so.”
“Oh, God, Danielle. I’m so scared.”
“Shhh. It’s okay, little brother. It’s okay.”
end of part one
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