72 HOURS: A Very Strange Love Story - DAY 2

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I became far more discrete about telling people of the changes I planned to make to my body + the new life I hoped to embark on after I kept hearing stuff like: “No matter how much you mutilate your body or try to pretend, you can't change what you are. It's a simple fact of biology!”

And: “Instead of giving in to this sick fantasy you need to get psychological help, and learn to accept
yourself as the person God made you!”

And also: “How can you be a mermaid when there's NO SUCH THING AS MERMAIDS?!!?”

But a mermaid was who I'd always been in my heart + soul, and life as a human girl felt almost as wrong to me as being a male had. And maybe there was no such thing as mermaids, but if all went according to plan in just 48 more hours there would be: ME!

Madness?! Folly?!! Bizarre Body Modification?!!? Perhaps... But for me and for Greg---my wonderful loving mermaid-obsessed fiancee---turning me into a mermaid was absolutely the right thing to do!!

72 HOURS: A Very Strange Love Story
(with GLOO!)
Laika Pupkino - 2018
Part Two of Four

.

DAY TWO:

I woke up in a bed that wasn't my own but that I certainly recognized.

And as I came more fully awake I remembered that this actually was my bed, and my bedroom, and had been for the past 24 hours...

I'd left the keys to my old place in the planter box like my landlady instructed when I'd shut its door for the last time and caught an Uber ride here at four thirty in the morning yesterday. My little one bedroom in Tustin was far from the worst apartment in OC, but it was a dump and a hovel compared my new home in Jacinto Springs, which had been the only house for miles around until orange groves gave way to a neighborhood of big fancy houses on one acre lots owned by some of Riverside's richer citizens...

I was always amazed by how quiet it was here. According to the clock on the wall I'd slept until almost nine, without being woken by somebody's car alarm or the couple in the next apartment starting yet another day with an argument. And wherever my boyfriend had got off to I couldn't hear him either. The door to the master bath stood three-quarters shut with the light on behind it...

“Greg? You in there?”

Apparently not...

It was kind of cold in here. The sliding glass door leading out at our mermaid-friendly backyard was wide open; and while it looked like the tropics out there the temperature had dropped to well below torrid in the hours before dawn.

I lay there trying to remember the dream I'd been having just before waking. It seemed important that I remember it but I couldn't recall a single detail. All that remained from it was a feeling, but it was a good feeling.

The big wall-mounted TV was on, with the sound off. David Tennant was standing on some windswept cliff in a suit and tie, conversing with a police woman while gazing out across a small seaside village. I looked around frantically for the remote to turn the volume up, until I realized he wasn't Who I thought he was. Tennant had somehow been drained of all the wit and energy and boyish charm he was usually brimming with, and just looked depressed about everything. Probably because he was stuck with being a mere human in this series- a feeling I understood all too well. I gave up searching for the remote.

“Hey Greg! You around?” I hollered more loudly, and was about to holler again when I heard a faint: “Be there in a minute!”

Our house wasn't as huge as the three story behemoths some of our neighbors lived in, but size isn't everything. Where most of their opulent trappings had just been stapled on, this sprawling 1940's ranch house was the real deal. With a utilitarian (yet quaintly retro) kitchen the size of my old apartment, five bedrooms (two with fireplaces), four bathrooms, a glass greenhouse atrium that now housed an indoor pool (actually a continuation of our outdoor one, with a gate-thing that could be closed in winter), an attached two-car garage; and an immense living room with beams 16 inches thick holding up its high, slanting ceiling, and a big fireplace- the concrete and river stone chimney of which helped decorate the wall above it.

It was like the main room of some hunting lodge, only instead of having the dusty heads of dead animals hanging all over, it had mermaid-themed paintings, sculptures and tapestries; plus the bowsprit and figurehead from an old sailing ship, which wasn't in the shape of a mermaid (unless she was hiding a tail under that poofy-sleeved white dress) but she was pretty cool.

But the best thing about the place was our backyard, with the big gorgeous fake lagoon surrounded by tropical landscaping, which I could see part of through the open sliding glass door. A ten foot wide sheet of water poured continuously into it from the rock overhang of an artificial hill the size of a house; and that dark space behind the waterfall I knew to be the entrance to a dimly lit but warm and inviting grotto, its ceiling dotted by colored spotlights. A smaller waterfall at the back of the fake cavern glowed mysteriously from blue lights hidden behind it. The grotto also has a landlubber's entrance---a tunnel leading in from the side of the mountain---and I'd walked through when it was still under construction, but hadn't seen it since it was finished and the lagoon was filled.

Swimming beneath our as-yet-unnamed waterfall into the grotto was going to be the first mermaid-type thing I did in my new life. My transformation might have started 24 hours ago when I was GLOO'd into this tail covered in beautiful sparkling emerald green scales; but I wasn't going to officially consider myself a fishgirl until 8:00 Monday morning- the magic hour when the GLOO! would harden so totally that no solvent on Earth would be able to remove it.

I was sick of just pretending to be a mermaid, like I had been doing every chance I got over the past couple of years with a cheaper, less authentic-looking mermaid tail I had. Wearing that tail had always looked and felt so right; but somehow it was never enough. Not when I always knew I would have to take it off at some point and return to life as a human. I had to admit that living as a female human was ten times better than as the boy I'd grudgingly presented as for the first 22 years of my life, but the human Lori still felt like a distorted reflection of the real me.

I know most people would consider me mentally ill for believing I'm some half-human creature out of mythology. But I couldn't base my whole life on appeasing their narrow minds and uncharitable hearts, when my only reward for doing that seemed to be some tentative promise that they wouldn't call me a weirdo (unless they found some other reason to do so, and they usually did...). A mermaid was who I was; and I needed to be one---permanently and forever---if I was ever going to feel authentic and whole!

And while being the only mermaid in a world of humans might be a lonely thing, I was blessed with having Greg my life; a man who loved me as much as I loved him, and if I was as deluded and insane then so was he. Greg had no desire to be a mermaid himself, or even a merman, but he had a total thing for my kind- to a point where regular women with legs instead of fish tails did very little for him.

When his wife Marcie---who was quite vain about her looks---realized he was finding her less and less attractive, and then found out why, this caused a resentment that led to their divorce and her trying to take him for everything he owned for “emotional cruelty” and a lot of made up physical abuse. But luckily she wasn't very credible and only wound up with half of everything, which he felt was reasonable; and her attempts to smear him as a dangerous deranged pervert mostly fell on deaf ears. Anyone who knew Greg automatically dismissed her wilder statements, and while they might have found the one true claim she'd made a bit peculiar (“Mermaids?! Really??”) they liked him anyway...

But my sweetie and I were on the same page about mermaids. He was as taken with the idea of sharing his life and his bed with a real live honest-to-God mermaid as I was by the idea of being one; which made us enthusiastic partners in this strange and wonderful adventure.

I think we were both knew that a relationship based entirely on a species identity disorder and a corresponding fetish would probably be a recipe for disaster, but we had much more going for us than just our shared obsession. He and I truly loved each other, and not only that we really liked each other; and we were fortunate that we had the financial means and just enough real estate to turn our folie á deux into reality...

46 Hours, 33 minutes.... I could hardly wait!

And now I heard him coming up the hallway, whistling some jaunty nautical-sounding tune.

He entered the bedroom in his pajama bottoms and a white terrycloth Westin Hotels bathrobe carrying a breakfast-in-bed tray that held my coffee mug, a glass of orange juice and a plate with toast, bacon and big fat omelet on it.

“What's this?” I asked. Not the smartest question I'd ever asked.

He bowed and clicked his bare heels together, “Breakfast for Her Royal Highness!”

He was teasing me about the childhood fantasies of being a Mermaid Princess I'd told him about, back before we'd ever met face to face or had even spoken on the phone. We'd just begun corresponding by e-mail, and the only thing each of us really knew about the other was that we both loved many of the same mermaid stories at an online amateur fiction site called Mer-Mania.

'That's not so strange,' he had written back, 'Every little girl dreams of being a princess...'

It would be another year before I confessed that technically I'd never actually been a little girl.

I wriggled clumsily up to the padded headboard at the head of the bed and leaned against it. There was only one plate on the tray. “Aren't you eating?”

“I had Grape Nuts. I've already had my eggs for this week.”

Good, I nodded. Bacon and eggs weren't really Greg's friend. I asked, “And you don't mind watching me eat something you can't?”

“No, I like it. Somebody might as well enjoy herself...”

“Until I get fat and my tail splits open.”

“You won't. I've seen the way you eat. Even when you claim you're famished you eat about a third and wind up just picking at it,” he said and started to set the tray down across my tail, but then paused. “Or do you need to use the bathroom first.”

“I'm good. I managed to use that bedpan thing at around four. It's full, I hid it under the bed,” I said; then pointed at the sliding glass door. “But right now what I'd really like is if you could shut that!”

“It is a bit chilly. I should've thought of that,” he said, setting the tray on the dresser and it shut, “We're not quite into summer here yet so it can get kind of cool at night. Did you want the heater on?”

“That's okay. But could you get me my Where's Waldo sweater?” I asked. Greg had named it this, even though its stripes were pink and white instead of red and white.

He nodded, opened closet's left-side door partway and found it easily, since only a few of the things hanging in there were mine. This sweater, two dresses, three blouses, two skirts, my fringed suede “cowgirl” jacket, a hanging metal contraption for sticking purses on---left over from the former Mrs. Greg---that had my one purse on it; plus a few items of male clothing still in there from back when I feeling cowardly and insecure about presenting as a girl (On trips into town, I mean. I never once felt insecure about looking female enough when it was just us...).

He tossed it to me. “You going to be okay wearing it after yesterday? It's a bit snug.”

“I think snug might actually be better,” I said as I leaned forward and shrugged into it.

The nascent breasts four months of hormone therapy had blessed me with (a very small blessing) had been itchy and sore before I caught my Uber ride here yesterday, so I'd decided to wear a very baggy shirt from the clothes I'd boxed up for the Goodwill. But the looseness of it had actually made things worse, since it was rubbing across them every time I moved; and by the time I got here they were noticeably red and irritated. But going topless for the past 24 hours had worked wonders.

“Yes, snug is definitely better,” I grinned when I saw my reflection in the closet's mirrored door. The stripes crossing my chest were no longer ruler straight like they'd been when I'd worn this sweater on a visit back in March, but appeared slightly contoured, so that I looked less like Waldo and more like his late-blooming kid sister. I stuck my chest out for Greg, “I think you're right about me starting to develop.”

“I told you. It's just going to take time,” Greg assured me, just like my doctor had last week. Although I'm not sure if Greg even knew there was such a thing as Hormone Replacement Therapy before he met me. But he'd googled and wikipedia'd everything he could find on the topic since then, probably looking for side effects to worry about. He asked, “Are you sure you don't want the heater on?”

“If I need it I'll just grab the blanket there,” I said, nodding toward where it lie bunched up at the foot of the bed. I leaned forward and rubbed my hands up and down my tail, saying, “But what's weird is how this whole part of me down here got as cold as the rest of me; Which I wouldn't have expected with all this stuff this thing's padded with.”

“'Vitaform- the miracle space-age polymer that's the nearest thing to natural flesh',” said Greg, quoting the big fat user's manual that had come with the tail. He said, “Well if your tail got cold at 51 degrees at least we know you won't be sweltering in there when it gets up to a hundred at the end of next month.”

“But with as dense as this shit is I don't see how it wouldn't insulate,” I said. I started prodding the gleaming scales along the outside edge of my tail with my finger, feeling the spongy give of the vitaform beneath them. I stopped. “That's weird!”

“What is?”

“I felt that!”

“Well you do have legs inside there.”

“Yeah, but my leg should be over here,” I said, and poked a spot closer to the tail's center. Then I poked the side again, and then a few other places, such as right in the middle where two inches of Vitaform gel separated my right and left leg. I said, “It's really weird, but it all feels the same. Like I'm poking myself!”

“So obviously the material shifts, transferring the motion to the nearest part of you in there,” he theorized, and said, “Close your eyes.”

I did, knowing what he was going to do. He started poking different parts of my tail---sometimes hard and sometimes lightly---and asking, “Did you feel that? Did you feel that?”; and also trying to fool me by asking this when he wasn't poking at me. I assumed he was finished when he clucked, “Well I'll be damned...”

I opened my eyes, “So how did I do, Doc? Did I pass the test?”

He shook his head. “I guess so... You knew when I was poking you, even gently and clear down past your feet. But you didn't feel it when I just ran my hand over the scales. That would've been hard to explain!”

“I think I did, though.”

“Then why didn't you say so when I asked you?”

“Because it didn't feel like poking; that's what I was waiting for. And it was so faint and phantom-y I couldn't be sure I wasn't imagining it. But I thought: 'that's his fingers there...' You dragged them across my ankles, then in like a circle around my knees, then from here to right here,” I said, sliding my hand up my tail's padded hip, which felt just like doing this on my bare skin.

“I'll be damned!” he repeated,”This stuff must really transfer force, or pressure. Like some kind of pressure super-conductor, although I'm sure there's a better word for it.”

“Maybe that's what's 'space age' about it,” I said, “Unless it's the GLOO! that's doing it somehow.”

“How could it? GLOO! is just glue.”

“You're probably right,” I shrugged, but I couldn't help thinking about my friend Rae, who worked in Research & Development at the job I'd just retired from at the age of 24; and some of the bizarre theories she had about the controversial adhesive.

“So then you still want to go through with this?” asked Greg.

“Are you kidding?! I want to do this more than ever now! And I still have 46 hours to change my mind. If my legs start dissolving like they're in acid or something I'll be sure to let you know.”

I snagged the blanket and draped it over my tail, and Greg lowered the breakfast-in-bed table down over me. Doting on me like a mother hen, he picked up my plate and coffee mug and said, “These are both probably cold by now. I'll give them 40 seconds in the microwave..”

Such a sweetheart! What did I ever do to deserve a guy like this?!

"I'm sure they're fine," I said as I grabbed them back from him. “You know, if you keep waiting on me hand and tail like this I'm gonna get spoiled rotten and become totally insufferable!

“Oh I have no intention of spoiling you! After I go pick up your chair on Monday I'm going to put my new live-in maid to work!” he teased, and even did the whip-crack thing with his hand.

Which was exactly what I wanted to hear. Not the being a maid part—as much as I liked little white lace hats this wasn't a fantasy I was particularly into---but just because I was eager to start doing my share of the work around here; since I'd essential become the housewife of a single-income household. I asked, “Did you say you're gonna go get my wheelchair on Monday?”

“Yeah, it's sitting down at the store with a red sold tag on it.”

I didn't know anything about wheelchairs. And none that I'd looked at on line had seemed any more stylish than any of the others, so when I was looking through Hemet Valley Supply's online catalog I just chose one that looked usable and that I could afford. I know there are people who are kinky over wheelchairs, and who when selecting one would have been guided by the same sort of aesthetic preferences and attention to detail (“Those are some sexy rivets in the stainless steel there!”) that had told me what I did or didn't want in a fish tail, and when I'd found the perfect one...

But a wheelchair wasn't anything special to me, it was simply the most practical way for a fishgirl to get around on land. It was either this or crawl on the floor. Nor did the idea of never being able to walk again hold any special appeal for me. I wasn't a “trans-abled” (which is what such people call themselves) human; I was a perfectly able bodied mermaid.

It was like being a vampire. None of the three serious would-be vampires I'd met in my life had named not being able to go out in the day as one of the main reasons for their wanting to be turned. It just goes with the rest of it. But when being an immortal bloodsucker without a pulse seems like the best thing in the world to you, and you know deep down that it's who you truly are inside, then being confined to an entirely nocturnal existence is a small price to pay for getting to be your authentic un-dead self...

“So did you sleep good last night?” asked Greg.

“I sure did,” I said, “And I...”

“And you what?”

And I'd just remembered something. “I had the strangest dream though, just before I woke up.”

“What was it about?”

“I don't remember.”

“Than how do you know it was a strange dream?”

“That's something I've been trying to figure out all morning. All I know is it left me with this feeling; a feeling like-”

I was interrupted by the front doorbell, its four tubular brass bells chiming the Westminster quarters.

For as affluent as it was, the neighborhood called Jacinto Springs was not a gated community. If people wanted gates and walls for their one and two acre lots they could provide them themselves. We had, but only for the backyard, and this was only so we could have some privacy back there when we were thrashing around naked. But our whole desert-landscaped front yard was wide open. I said, “I wonder who that is at this hour.”

“Probably the damned Technos again,” again sighed Greg, “I'll go run 'em off...”

A cult known as The Church of Technotology maintained a spooky desert compound about three miles from us. They always chose the weekends to send their drones out into the neighboring communities, to knock on people's doors and invite them to a free brainwashing session in the one building on the property that outsiders were allowed into. The 20-acre complex looked like something out of a James Bond film, complete with a constantly patrolling paramilitary security force, a monorail system, and what a number of YouTube conspiracy vloggers claim is a chemical weapons refinery; so the Technotologists clearly had a lot of their A-list celebrity members' money.

And now they wanted our money too. Plus our hearts and souls and every last shred of our capacity for independent thought.

As Greg headed off down the hall I hollered, “Squirt some GLOO! on their mojo-meter and ram it up their ass!”

Greg was gone a while. The silent television up on the wall must have been tuned to BBC America, because now it was showing a sitcom about an uncouth working class family living in one of those horrible run-down high rise apartment buildings that they would call the Projects over here. The shiftless thirty-something eldest son had brought a horse into their tiny flat, that seemed to be part of his latest crazy get rich scheme; a scheme the overweight Mother---who was obviously this family's voice of reason---was listening to skeptically. I thought: 'I should really look for that remote, if only to turn this off...'

I'd managed to finish most of my omelet when Greg shouted from down the hall: “Well it wasn't our spooky cult neighbors.”

“Then who was it?!”

“I don't know. By the time I got there they were speeding off in a van. But this left this on the porch,”
he said as he rolled a wheelchair into the room ahead of him. “Well, it corners nice...”

“Did Hemet Valley Medical Supply deliver it for us?” I started to ask, but then noticed all the odd things about it. “This isn't the chair I bought!”

“No, it sure isn't.”

“Then where did it come from?”

He shrugged, “I guess we have a mystery wheelchair donor.”

The wheelchair I'd ordered had been basic and clunky looking, and I'd selected it mostly on the basis of cost, since---like my tail, electrolysis and various body modifications---I'd been adamant about paying for all the parts of my new mermaid life that had to do with my physical self with my own modest savings. This thing was very stylish, with slanted wheels, like a wheelchair out of a James Bond movie. It had no motor that I could see but did have all kinds of levers and gizmos that did God-knows-what...

I looked suspiciously at the bulky square mechanism the seat rested on. “Is this an ejector seat?!”

“Sure looks like it could be,” said Greg, “Have you made any enemies lately?”

I shrugged. “A few loudmouth detractors at work since I came out. But I'm sure they're just glad I'm gone.”

He held up an envelope; a pink greeting card sized one that was stuffed so full of papers they were sticking out of the end in a fat wad, and said, “This was sitting on it.”

“What's it say?”

“Didn't read it. It's addressed to you,” he said, handing it to me.

When I saw LORi the MERMAiD!!! written on the front in purple ink, I gasped. “Bless her foxy little heart... she DIDN'T!”

“Who didn't do what?”

“My friend Rae who works at Yoyodyne. I think she built this!”

“She makes wheelchairs?!”

“Or maybe only customized it, but it's definitely from her,” I said, and held up the envelope, “You see how she dotted the i's and the bottoms of the exclamation points with little hearts? Last week she was making fun of me for doing that. Telling me: 'I swear, Lori! You're such a Girly McGirlface!'”

“Really?” he chuckled, like he found my girly little hearts amusing too, “What were you writing?”

“Uh, you know... just doodling in the break room,” I said vaguely, feeling silly now about how I'd filled a whole page with:

♥♥♥ LORi + GREG! ♥♥♥
♥♥♥♥ GREG + LORi!!! ♥♥♥♥
♥GLOO!♥GLOO!♥GLOO!♥GLOO!♥GLOO!♥
♥♥♥♥♥♥ MERMAiD LUV 4-EVER!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥

...that I'd hardly even realized I was doing.

“Funny she drove all this way and didn't stick around,” said Greg, “I would've wanted to meet her.”

“I wish she had too. But I guess she figured this 72 Hours is kind of like our mermaid honeymoon, and she didn't want to intrude.”

“So you told her where we live?” he asked. “It's okay if you did, but I got the impression you were being hush-hush about all this. I mean with your Hawaii story and all...”

“Y'know, I meant to give her my new address but it slipped my mind. But I did file a change of address with the post office; she must've got it from that.”

“She hacked the U.S. Postal Service?!”

“Maybe, or she hacked a spy satellite. She's a total mad scientist genius---chemist, physicist, wheelchair designer---she can pretty much do anything. It's a good thing she never wanted to take over the world, or we'd all be speaking Furry.”

“Speaking what?”

“Never mind, that was a joke,” I said. I pulled out the folded note Rae had included and read it aloud: Lori, my luv: Sorry I didn't get this to you in time for your farewell party. But here's the present I promised. For being a good friend. For never judging. For helping make those two years we worked there together fun. For being you... A fish might not need a bicycle but when she's on land she needs some kind of wheels; so here are yours. Enjoy. This was cobbled together from a couple of my failed prototypes; but it should be better than anything you could buy. Rather than have to write up a manual for it the blueprints should explain its different features + how they work-

“Blueprints?”

“I guess that's what these are,” I said and handed him the mass of paper that filled the envelope. As he sat down on the bed and started opening the giant sheets of blueprint paper on it I continued reading: Anything you don't understand, you got my addy. You're my beta tester for this model, so let me know what you like and what you don't. And since it is a protoype, please eat these blueprints after studying them [have enclosed condiment for said]-

I shook the last thing in the envelope out onto the bed, two packets of Taco Bell hot sauce. “A little joke. But she is does sound serious about we should destroy them somehow. And then she just signs off with: 'Be Strange but don't be a stranger. Rae.'”

Greg shook his head, “So she just whips you up a wheelchair. You made some really good friends at that job!”

“I never told you about Rae?”

“A little. You told me you had two best friends there---Rae from R&D, and I think the other one's Kelli---who both surprised you with how supportive they were about your plans to marry some decrepit old gray-haired deviated pervert you met on line, and be his live-in pet mermaid-”

HEY! I scolded him for putting himself down like this. “Your hair's not that gray!”

“I see what you did there,” he muttered, giving me a smirk like 'Don't be a damn smart-ass!”; and said, “But you did say how nice these two co-workers were when you told in them about your plans, when some of the others you confided in freaked the hell out; and that not being able to see Kelli and Rae every day was the one thing you regretted about leaving that job. We should have them over sometime. I mean we do have the best pool this side of Palm Springs.”

“Really?! I was going to ask you if I could.”

He held up both hands. “This is your home. These are your friends. You don't need my permission to invite friends over. I trust your judgment. It's not like you're going to be bringing the Manson Family home for dinner!”

“The What Family?” I asked. Sometimes Greg mentioned things from 'before my time' that I'd never heard of. And other times I just pretended I hadn't, to tease him. He wasn't buying this one.

“Or the Barrow Gang... Or Lizzie Borden, who I dated for a while, by the way. You know, because I'm such a decrepit old... What was that you called me?”

He was using his goofy Mr. Magoo voice again. I giggled, “I didn't call you that; you did!”

“Oh. We'll you see? That comes with the territory, me bein' such a senile old... What was my name again?”

“Oh come on! You're acting like you're ancient. You're 58! Astronauts go into space at 58. And not just once---to see if he'd explode or something---there's been so many that it's not even a novelty anymore. They send them up there because they're experienced at what they do! The same reason they raised the retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65. Not to mention all the people 58 and a lot older who have climbed Mt. Everest!”

I shrugged out of my stripey sweater. It was already too warm in here to be wearing it. A swirl of graphics on the TV caught my eye. The British sitcom had ended, replaced now by a spinning globe with giant letters orbiting it spelling out BBC WORLD NEWS; then three serious people sitting behind a big serious angular blue formica desk-thing, who were preparing to give us the bad news...

I told Greg, “I think you're only feeling funny about being 58 because of us, like it makes what we're doing improper or something. Although if we were really worried about being proper I think our age difference would be about the least of our worries; which are only worries if we worry about what other people are gonna think. Anybody who would see us together and think there's anything unwholesome or inequitable going on; Well then they obviously don't know the first thing about us- who we are or how we wound up together! I didn't fall in love with an age and you didn't fall in love with a genetic sex. We both overcame our hangups about minor stuff like that because you and me, we're like the missing piece to each other! We belong together! And if us finding each other wasn't some serious cosmic-destiny shit, I don't know what is!”

“I know! I feel the same way. But how long-”

“Oh, that! You mean the: 'It's all good for right now but what about in ten years?' thing?”

He said somberly, “Realistically, it is something to think about.”

“Realistically? When have we ever been realistic?! My God, just look at us! I mean look at me: Wheeeeeeee I'm a MERMAID! I squealed as I started wriggling around in a way I knew he loved, “And look at you, getting all turned on about me being a mermaid!”

He shrugged, grinning despite himself. “I guess we are kind of absurd.”

“Kind of? There's not one thing about us that's realistic, and yet this is the realest thing either of us have ever had!” I said, then gestured at the silent news program on the TV---where an orange-tinted ogre was standing behind a podium with an eagle-emblem on the front of it; making grotesque Mussolini faces and looking infinitely pleased with himself---and said, “And the world has gotten so ridiculous we fit right in! You and me, we're the way of the future! We're the way of the future! The way of the future! The way of the future! The way of the future! The way of the future-”

Greg bust up laughing when he realized I was imitating Leonard Di Caprio in one of hix favorite films, where Di Caprio played a famous 20th century businessman named Howard Stark, who had a neurological disease that made him get stuck saying the same thing over and over. And Greg---who usually wasn't quite this silly---started quoting another OCD incident from the movie, grabbing two of Rae's blueprint pages up off the bed and rattling them at me, going: “Show me all the blueprints... Show me all the blueprints... Show me all the blueprints... Show me all the blueprints-”

Caught up in the weirdness of this moment I impulsively lunged at Greg- or tried to. With this tail I had now it wasn't the mightiest or most graceful lunge, and I only wound up halfway in his arms. He pulled me the remaining halfway to him and we fell back laughing insanely.

As our tittering subsided I looked him in the eyes and said, “So let's not worry about in ten year. Ten years might not ever get here. For you, for me, for any of us. All we have is right now. And right now, you know what I want to do?”

“I have a pretty good idea,” he said and started kissing me, in a hungry way that told me he wanted to do it too. And so we did.

We did it mermaid style, until the sea cows came home...

It was almost noon when Greg let out a guttural cry and after one final sustained and straining thrust rolled off of me and onto his back.

I might have been worried, the way he was gasping, but he was laughing. “Holy FUCK! This just keeps getting better and better!”

“Yeah it does,” I said. I was gasping too, not so much from exertion but because I was finally getting some air. “So you wanna go again?”

“You've got... gotta be joking!” he panted, watching the ceiling fan spin lazily above us. “It's gonna be a couple minutes... 'til I can even move... My God, you're insatiable!”

“It was easier for me. You were the one doing all the work.”

“You did your share,” he said, raising his head to stare at me in awe, “How the hell did you do that?”

“Do what?”

“Keep going like that! I mean don't you need to breathe?!”

I knew what he meant. What we'd just done had been my favorite sex act, and if anybody deserved the label cocksucker I did. But I'd never understood why this was supposedly such a terrible thing to be. I loved doing it, and Greg and my three boyfriends before him had all remarked on how good I was at it.

It might have been the fact that it felt so right to me that accounted for my low gag reflex (something else they'd each remarked on), but suddenly this morning my response threshold wasn't just low, it was non-existent! And discovering this I'd really outdone myself. It was glorious, being able to give myself over to what I enjoyed so much without a single time-out!

His spent member was right where I could reach over and give it a squeeze, making a last drop of nectar well up from it. I said, “I guess not... I guess I needed this in me more. You know how oral I am!”

“Oral?! You're esophageal!” he laughed, “I was worried, you were going to asphyxiate if I didn't ease up for a while, but you wouldn't let me! You kept holding on, pulling me down into you. I don't see how any human being could go that long without air!”

“Maybe it's because I'm not a human. Because I'm finally becoming the mermaid I always felt like I was!”

I sometimes suspected that Greg was less committed to the delusional part of our new life together than I was. That in the rational part of his mind he thought what any sane individual would---that a person couldn't really be a mermaid---and that what we were embarking on was merely a very immersive role-play game. I suspected that for him a really good fantasy was enough. And that if he'd never said this, it was because he knew that challenging my belief that I was a mermaid would wound me as deeply as telling me or any other transgender woman: “Nope! Sorry... You got them big old hairy Y chromosomes; you'll always be a guy!”

But now he was looking at me like his own bedrock beliefs had been upended, and he was thinking: 'Holy Shit!! Maybe she IS turning into a mermaid!!' Because my exponentially improved deep-throating skills weren't the only strange part of our making love this morning.

As I'd said earlier I'd noticed how sensitive my tail seemed to be as I poked and prodded at the spongy stuff encasing my legs; And it seemed even more so now. When we were taking a break between rounds Greg had tried an experiment:

“Okay,” he instructed me, “Let's try this again... I'm going to trace letters on different parts of your tail with my finger, and you try to tell me what I'm spelling.”

I closed my eyes and started reciting back what I felt: “Let's see... That's an M... and there's a C- no wait! It's an E... and there's an R... and another M- Oh for fuck's sake!! I could've guessed that one!”

Which got us both laughing.

But I'd definitely felt these four letters far more clearly than those shapes time he'd traced on my scales just an hour or two ago; with nothing vague or ghost-like about the sensation this time. I said, “You must have been pushing harder than when you did this before.”

“No, much lighter. I was hardly pressing down at all. see?” he said, and slid the same finger down my hairless arm, as lightly as dragging a feather across my skin.

Which was baffling to both of us. And when he decided he wanted to give me the equivalent of a foot massage by kneading and stroking my tail's rubbery semi-translucent caudal fin I agreed, figuring 'Whatever floats my kinky sweetheart's boat!'

But I'd felt that too, as if the synthetic material it was cast from had a million nerve endings in it leading straight to my brain!

This was simply impossible, since this fin had no vitaform in it and was a good fifteen centimeters beyond where the toes of my angled feet should have been inside there; But suddenly I was feeling hands on what felt as much like a part of my body as anything up on my human half, and it was so ticklish I started giggling uncontrollably. My whole tail was thrashing and bucking like a fish out of water, and Greg had to stop before I peed the bed!

So something was definitely happening. Neither of us dared to say it in so many words, it was such a crazy notion; but it was as if this artificial tail I'd been gloo'd into was actually turning into part of my body! And if it was all just a product of my imagination---of a mentally disturbed individual's pitiful delusions---then I say: BRING ON THE MADNESS AND DELUSIONS!!!

Greg said, “I don't suppose I need to keep asking you if you still want to go through with this.”

"I can't imagine anything that could make me change my mind at this point, but keep it up. It's your duty to make sure I've thought this through. And for me, being questioned about this over and over is like getting ID'd at a bar. It might be a little annoying at the time; but you sort of miss it after they stop.”

“They've stopped carding you? That's hard to believe. I wouldn't be able to tell if you're 24 or 19...”

“If I went out as Bill Winstead again they probably would,” I said, my tongue stumbling over that dead and unlamented name I hadn't uttered in months, “But when we go out now it's five or six of us girls from work, descending on Tequila Junction at Fashion Island Mall en mass, and they hardly ever do.”

“A gaggle of 20-something hotties is always good for business in a place like that. The guys go where the girls are.”

“Hotties? Well Kelli is totally gorgeous, Mary and Sara are real pretty, and Rae... she's what you'd have to call an exotic beauty. So I guess collectively and on the average we'd qualify as hot; some of us making up for what others lack,” I said, frowning at the Skinny Minnie in the mirror, then smiling at how much better she looked as a mermaid. I affectionately rubbed my hand across the hair on Greg's chest, surreptitiously feeling his pulse. “So how you doing? You recovered yet?”

He sat up on the side of the bed, “Enough to do this, but not enough to... you know.”

“We can you know some more later,” I said, licking the goo (not GLOO!) off my sticky palms and fingers. “But right now let's check out this fancy wheelchair...”

With the help of Rae's blueprints we investigated my chair's various features. Its canted wheels had a clever pair of disc brakes worked by a Campagnolo brake lever, I guess so you could come to a stop if you were zipping down a mountain highway at 100 mph. And what we thought might be an ejection seat was actually a scissor jack device---worked by a lever that you yanked back and forth---that could raise you up on a stack of metal X's so you were as tall as a six foot person, allowing you to reach the highest shelves in a grocery store, and when you held a button set in the lever down it eased you back down however far you wanted with a pneumatic hissing noise. But a scribbled notation on the blueprints warned: 'DO NOT ELEVATE > 20 CM WHEN IN MOTION!'; probably because this would raise your center of gravity and make the chair prone to tipping over.

The chair had a cup holder with an adjustable aperture for holding anything from a shot glass to a Big Gulp cup, that could be folded down out of the way when not in use. It had quite a few other bells and whistles, including a bell and a whistle.

“I can see why you like this girl,” said Greg, making the chair's cheap little bicycle bell go: Brrrring-g-g! Brrrring-g-g! “She's got your sense of humor.”

“Or I've got hers,” I said, “But that thing must weigh a ton, with all that extra stuff she's got on there. I might have been better off with the one I was gonna buy. Or bought, I should say. Do you think the medical supply place will give me my money back for that?”

“They should, since it never even left the store,” he said, then lifted Rae's chair off the floor by its armrests. Set it back down. “Surprisingly, this chair's not a whole lot heavier than that one. Whatever isn't titanium on here is made of graphite. Even if she built it all herself this thing must've cost a bundle just for materials...”

“I'm sure she managed to bill the company for it.”

“Jeez! I just had to fire somebody for doing that. I hope she doesn't get in trouble!”

“Rae lives for trouble. Not that she'd get in trouble for this. She's singlehandedly made the Big Y millions- No exaggeration,” I said, and pointed at the chair's back and seat, “What is that? Leather? I've never seen leather like that.”

He ran his hand over the seat. “It's eel skin!”

“Of course,” I laughed, “It ties in with the aquatic theme!”

“And so does this,” said Greg, spinning the chair around so I could see the back of it. The seat's eelskin back was slug between two upright posts, like the canvas back of a director's chair. There was a real dried starfish Gloo'd to it, that had been gold-plated somehow. He smiled, “I guess she knew you like starfish.”

“That, and she's telling me I'm a star,” I said, suddenly getting a little teary-eyed. How did you repay a kindness this thoughtful? This definitely called for some sort of thank you gift, something bigger and more special than just the plush toy fox I'd got her for Christmas... But what?!

Greg wheeled the chair up to me, “Give it a try. I'll hold it steady for you.”

“No. Just put the brakes on and get out of the way,” I said, and when he did I grabbed onto the armrests and hefted myself up by them...

...and now I was backwards for sitting in my chair. My tail was no good for standing with but it was plenty good at being in the way. Greg reached out a hand to help me, “Here!”

“No, I gotta learn to do this,” I said, and managed none-too-gracefully to get myself turned around and seated in it. Then I undid the brakes and started wheeling it forward as fast as I could...

“Where you off to in such a hurry?”

“Bathroom- I really gotta pee!”

“Do you need any-”

“NO!!”

I used the handrails Greg had bolted to the sides of the little alcove the toilet sat in to clamber onto it, figuring out that the best way to do this was to start by grabbing the handrail one side with both hands, hefting myself onto seat by it and then using the other rail to get myself turned myself the rest of the way. This method also worked for climbing back into the chair when I was done.

It was my first big lesson in being able to get around on land without legs, and as I rolled back into the bedroom I was sure there would be more.

42 Hours, 15 minutes...

Lunch was leftovers from last night's Thai dinner. The last of the red curry and almost the whole styrofoam tray-box of pineapple rice. Keeping with his diet, Greg kept picking the cashews out of his pineapple rice as he found them and dropping them on mine, his hand going back and forth like a crane.

The takeout tasted as good as it had last night, and the curry sat in my stomach glowing warmly. I said, “That's a pretty good restaurant, but why do they call it 'Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down'? Does Riverside have like a big S&M subculture that a name like that would appeal to?”

“Well I do know one couple like that, but no; It's a pun on the name of a film Pedro Almodovar made back in the nineties.”

“That's pretty obscure. A 90's Mexican movie!”

“Almodovar's Spanish. I think you'd like him.”

“Wait a minute... Didn't he do that one where Antonio Banaderas is this crazy plastic surgeon who kidnaps some young guy, gives him face surgery and breast implants and turns him into a copy of his dead wife? That was a seriously fucked up movie! I was in high school, and one night when my parents were gone---because you know how they were!---I watched it on HBO. I didn't realize it was a horror film, and thought it might help me figure out this transgender stuff, and who I was. But it was just sick! I hated it!”

“That one was awfully dark for Almodovar. But there's a comedy by him I can almost guarantee you'll love. We can watch it tonight if you want.”

“All right,” I said skeptically; reminding myself that I'd been skeptical about King of Hearts last night, and I really enjoyed it. So hopefully this nameless flick would be as good. And if I didn't like it I could always bale on it and start the paperback I'd bought for a buck...

Back in the bedroom I realized that I hadn't unpacked yet, so I did that. Since I only had two small bags didn't take long at all.

I rolled myself around the room, appreciating how easily this chair glided. I put my laptop on one of room's two little identical computer desks with a printer on a small table between them. I set my phone and charger on the end table on my side of the bed, hunching down to plug them in. Then I hung my sweater and the empty laptop bag up in the closet using my chair's scissor lift.

The larger bag I just dumped out onto my side of the bed, but gently, because of one particular item. Out tumbled Sharpies, scrunchies, Colgate and dental floss, my library book sale paperback (it had a pair of blonde mermaids on the cover who appeared to be twins...), a yo-yo I didn't remember ever owning, my cheap little Nerf-ball breast forms, an amber plastic bottle full of estradiol pills; a dozen or so et ceteras, and what was probably my most valuable possession now that I'd sold my car: A sculpture of a mermaid who was bent into a shape like a letter C- as if she was swimming in a loop-de-loop for the pure joy of it! She was holding her arms down alongside of her but could have easily reached out and grabbed onto her dolphin-like fluke to form a complete circle if she wasn't made of heavy crystal. Everything about her was clear and sparkling and smooth and flowing like she was water herself...

The scupture was over eight inches in diameter and quite heavy, with an anatomically incorrect flat spot that was obviously its base. I set it lovingly on the dresser, my contribution of our home's mermaid art.

Greg was lying on the bed engrossed in a college basketball game, but this caught his attention.

“She's beautiful!” he said in a reverent whisper, “Where did you get that?”

“At the going away party they threw me at work on Thursday, my last day. I think they were preparing it since I gave them my two weeks notice- it was this big luau! The guys were all wearing flip flops and Hawaiian shirts and the girls all wore grass skirts—well, cellophane---and everybody kept joking about 'giving me a lei', hanging them on me until I looked like a Rose Parade float! The few who still had issues with me being Lori now didn't want to lei me, but even they had a good time. Maybe they were glad I'd soon be 3000 miles across the ocean where I couldn't give them any transgender-cooties.”

“So it sounds like they bought your story about moving to Oahu as the reason why you're disappearing off the face of the Earth.”

“Everybody did. My neighbors, my landlady, the guy I sold my car to. It's not like I'm ashamed of what we're doing. I mean it's not illegal---at least I don't think it is---I just don't want to end up on NEWS OF THE WEIRD with all the other Gloo stories- Professor Dicknose, the Octoboob Lady and the Bunnylove Twins!”

“No, I agree. When all it takes for a person to wind up a national news item these days is getting caught on someone's cell phone throwing a tantrum and shouting something sexist or racist or otherwise really uncool, someone as out of the ordinary as a Human Mermaid could wind up a celebrity whether she wanted to or not; So discretion is definitely for the best here. So did you give your parents the moving to Hawaii story-” he started to ask, but then he saw my face. “You didn't tell them anything, did you?”

“It's kind of hard to when they never gave me their new phone number. As far as they're concerned I already fell off the face of the Earth, and they couldn't be happier.”

He sighed. “I'm so sorry they're being like that!”

I sighed. “It is what it is...”

My relationship with John and Marsha Winstead had never been good, but when I came out as trans it plummeted straight down- from bad to worse to non-existent; which is what they finally declared me. I can wish things had gone differently with them. I can wish they were different people. I can garner your sympathy by telling you stories that would make you hate them. OR...

I can recognize that their final act of contempt was the best thing they'd ever given me: An opportunity to start over with a new name, a new sex, a new species, and a new (if smaller) family where I am valued and loved and respected.

'And new friends!,' I remembered as I glanced over and saw the mermaid figurine. Friends who I knew I could break the morose spell that'd fallen over the bedroom just by talking about. They had that power. I said: “But I did tell six people from work what I was really doing.”

“Kelli and Rae and those other girls you were talking about?”

“Yeah, my gaggle,” I grinned (I could easily see our little group embracing this term!) “And where a lot of people got me tacky Hawaiian joke gifts or some last minute thing they grabbed at random, their gifts were all special!”

He nodded toward the crystal mermaid, the wheelchair I was sitting in. “If they're anything like these two I'm sure they're amazing! Rae's letter said she made that chair from two failed prototypes; but I don't see anything 'failed' about it!”

“She probably wanted it to fly,” I shrugged, “Three of them chipped in to get me that mermaid; And Marnie and Sara each gave me a gift card that could be used at the pharmacy at STAY RITE, to help pay for my hormones. They came in a baby shower card that said, 'It's a Girl!!'”

“That's sweet,” said Greg, “So they accept you as a girl and a mermaid?”

I resumed picking up odds and ends from off the bed and putting them away. “Well Kelli warned me that I might be making a terrible mistake; and said I should try living in the tail for a year without the GLOO!; like a Real Life Test for fishgirls. And that would make far more sense to a practical person like Kelli. But like I told her, if I could take it off any time I wanted I wouldn't feel like I was a mermaid, but was just dressing up; So I had to do it this way. After that she just said 'Then I hope having a tail is everything you hope it will be and it makes you happy...' But Rae Droidlander is the one who totally understands my need to be a mermaid, and has been telling me 'Go for it!' from the minute I told her. But then Rae's kind of like I am...”

“Yeah, you kind of let slip that she was trans.”

“She is, but she's like me in other ways too.”

“She's a mermaid?!”

“No. Rae is a fox,” I said, deciding he was going to find out about her anyway when she came to visit.

“You like her, huh? There's that bisexual streak of yours...”

“Well she is really cute. But when I say fox I mean literally. She has the ears and and a big fluffy tail like a red fox. She's thinking of getting little fox whiskers implanted next...”

“So she's a 'furry'?”

“I don't think she'd object to the term, but it isn't just a costume she puts on. It's an identity, like me being a mermaid. And like me, she's made being a fox permanent.”

“With GLOO?”

“She's the one who convinced me that if I was serious about becoming mermaid GLOO! was the only way to go. And this was back before the Bunnylove Twins became YouTube stars; before the 'GLOO! Challenge' and the big media outcry about it started. But here's the weird thing: Rae can move her ears like a dog or a fox does, and can wag her prosthetic tail around like they can too. And she swears it's the GLOO! that made it possible.”

“It must be some sort of trick...”

“Maybe, I don't know. She had some theories about it, but they're pretty out there. Then again she's a beyond-MENSA level genius, so maybe she knows what she's talking about...”

“What kind of theories?”

“Well to start with: Nanites. She's run tests on it and says GLOO! is full of active nanites.”

“That's ridiculous!” sputtered Greg, “There's no such thing as nanites.”

“Sure there are! They've had nanomachines for a couple of decades now.”

“Exactly! And that's all they have. Nanomachines are machines of the simplest sort- like a pulley or a lever. They're built to do one thing and they do that. They're not tiny robots you can program remotely to do different tasks like in the sci-fi stories. And they definitely don't have a hive intelligence!”

“You mean they won't be unearthed by an underwater archaeologist and spread through the world's water cycle, raining down on all the cities and turning everybody into mermaids and mermen?” I pouted, referring to a popular ongoing serial at Mer-Mania by the author Diving Belle.

“Not unless the ancient Atlanteans were a lot smarter than anyone who's working with nanotechnology today,” he said, “I think your genius mad scientist friend is pulling your leg- er, tail!”

“She has been know to do that. And then she goes 'Psyche!' when you fall for it. So maybe she's just playing on my gullibility...”

'Or maybe not,' I thought.

Rae had said the first symptom of her synthetic ears and tail becoming so impossibly motile was a strange sensitivity she'd noticed in the first few days after she attached them; something I was now experiencing with this tail. I supposed time would tell if I was just deluding myself about this.

Greg had condensed all his stuff from the bedroom's dresser into the four wide drawers on its right side, making its whole left side mine. All my worldly possessions hadn't even managed to fill the shallowest top drawer. It felt kind of good starting out clean, and wondering what I would eventually fill the rest of it with. Certainly not socks and panties.

I slid it shut, then took the took my toothpaste, toothbrush and girl-pills into our bathroom and raised the chair to put them in the medicine cabinet. Announcing: “Well I'm done unpacking!”

41 Hours...

“Don't just stand there, you idiot! Shoot!!!” Greg shouted.

A buzzer sounded, and whatever had happened at the end of the quarter made him shut the TV off in disgust. I'd been reading and hadn't caught whatever it was. “Bad game?”

“I've seen better. And anyway it's too nice a day to just sit around. I think I'll take my walk. Care to join me?” he asked. He walked a couple of miles every day. Doctor's orders...

Joining him would mean putting on the long dress I had that could cover my lower half, and using this chair that I was still getting used to. And getting sweaty would mean taking a sponge bath that wouldn't be satisfying unless I got so wet that I risked getting water down inside my tail. I told him, “I'll start Monday.”

He left, and I went back to my paperback, which I'd bought at my local branch library because I was leaving for the next county and couldn't easily return one I'd checked out.

The book got my attention right on the first page when it turned out that the narrator was a fifteen year old transgender girl named Suzie. She was still presenting as male but had just come out as trans to her parents, and was on vacation in Florida with them when she wound up getting grabbed off a lonely stretch of beach by pirates who had come from the past somehow. There was some back-story about how she'd dreamed of being a mermaid when she was a little kid, and there was quite a bit of foreshadowing that she was going to wind up one pretty soon.

This was goddamn bizarre, is what it was. That of the hundreds of titles in the little “for sale” section at the front of the library, I'd found this particular book; and was now reading it while in the process of turning a mermaid myself, something the author---who had to be trans---might well approve of...

It made me wonder what the hell the this connection was between MtF transgender people and mermaids. Little Jazz Jenning was really into swimming in her mermaid tail a few years back, and in England there's an organization for trans youth called MERMAIDS.

Maybe I'm just an extreme case of something that exists latent in all trans people, because we all have mermaid genes. No, that's silly. But it might make a good story at Mer-Mania...

“You want to help me make dinner?” asked Greg at around 6:00

I said sure, and rolled into the kitchen after him, where he put me to work at the butcherboard table, chopping carrots, onions and tomatoes for a salad he was constructing. He opened the fridge, looking for something to make what he called our “rabbit food” dinner a bit more interesting...

“How about we crumble a little of this smoked salmon into it? It'd go good with just Italian dressing.”

“None for me thanks, I'm done with eating fish.'

“Why?! You love fish!”

“Not anymore. Now that I'm half fish myself it would be cannibalism!”

“You're a nut! You know that?” he laughed when he realized I was joking; then saw something in there that excited him, “Ooooh! These olives would work with it too!”

“Not too many!” I heard myself automatically order him. Then I said, “Sorry...”

“Don't be, that's good advice. A salad's not a salad if you load it up with fat.”

“Yeah, but you're doing so well on your own. A year ago you wouldn't have considered a salad any kind of dinner for a man...”

“Yeah; well a year ago I was heading blindly for the precipice. But after what happened on Christmas... Let's just say fear of death is a good motivator. And if the fear wears off and I start to forget I have you around to keep me in line.”

“You'd better believe I will!” I glowered.
.

Last Christmas Eve we'd been snuggling in front of the living room's big fireplace and the tree we'd decorated earlier when Greg started to feel dizzy. At first he shrugged it off, saying he'd had a long day, and that it had happened before and would pass. But instead it got worse, until he was on his back, saying it felt just like the whole room was flipping forward, end over end like some carnival ride in Hell; and we knew we had to get him to the hospital.

I'd long since shrugged out of my mermaid tail and put on some pants, and I made the call that a one way trip in his Dodge Caravan would be better than having to wait while an ambulance made a round trip. Even with me helping Greg fell down a several times on the way to the garage, and while I was hurriedly trying to put the back of the SUV into truck-bed mode so he could lay down, he puked up everything in his stomach. And then---barefoot, because my shoes hadn't turned up quick enough---I drove like the devil to the ER at Hemet Valley Medical Center.

Thankfully he hadn't needed a coronary bypass or some other big gruesome surgery, but they did wheel Greg right in for a procedure where a tiny a balloon was shoved up an artery into his heart to open up where it was badly blocked by plaque. Just a little more would have killed him.

It was Christmas morning when they came out and told me he was going to be okay, and I was so relieved I started bawling like a baby. The worst Christmas of my life had returned to being the best Christmas of my life! (Also, they let me keep the shower slippers they'd given me to wear.). They kept him there until the morning of the 26th; when they sent him home with pills and a strict new diet and exercise regimen.

When I saw how seriously my Honey was taking his diet, and wasn't treating the cholesterol reducing drug he'd been prescribed as a license to pound down the double/doubles from In n' Out, I was once again almost tearfully relieved. I wanted my Old Man (who compared to me was literally an old man) to be around for a long time!

'How did a girl like I wind up madly in love with a man over twice her age,' you ask?

It sure wasn't anything I ever expected. I didn't consider a relationship like ours to be morally wrong in some way, or even necessarily unworkable; if that's your thing. I just never thought it was my thing...

It wasn't as if I thought men approaching 60 were repulsive or anything; but one had never yet interested me romantically, and as a subgroup of humans they didn't seem terribly sexy to me. If I was at the store and caught a glimpse of someone from the corner of my eye who made me turn my head to get a second look, that person generally turned out to be between the age I was then and about thirty, or occasionally forty (I did fall madly in love with a thirty-four year old a few years back, but that turned out to be an unmitigated disaster). And beyond forty they didn't even register on my id's radar screen.

I might consider an older guy cool, charming, smart, or good company to hang out and watch TV with, but that was as far as it went. I might briefly reflect that some ruggedly handsome older film star was kind of sexy---(“Wow... Han Solo makes a great-looking President!”)---but only “kind of”; and always with that automatic qualifier “for his age”...

And whatever vague stirrings of interest some old geezer might produce in me would cause me to think something more like “I hope I can have a guy like him around when I'm a saggy old granny-lady myself” rather than to make me want to climb on and ride him like one of those coin-operated fucking machines they have out in front of the adult book stores in Copenhagen...

If you had told me three years ago I would fall in love with and get engaged to and spend a big chunk of this morning blissfully balling my brains out with a 58 year old man, my response would probably have been: “Why would I do that?!!”

But if three years ago you'd said that I would be falling in love and getting engaged as a mermaid, with a kind loving man who happened to be somewhat older than myself, but when he looked at me never saw the human boy I was transitioning from, but only the Daughter of the Deep I was in my heart...

And if you said that I would never feel more alive and like a sexy beautiful fishgirl than when I was squirming around impaled on his man-hook, my response would likely have been: “You mean I have to wait THREE WHOLE YEARS for that?!!!”

Because for a couple of Grade A weirdos like us the mermaid stuff was so entwined with who we were---with our minds and our identities---that it was only natural that it would be a HUGE factor in our relationship. And like I said yesterday, this all started at a place called Mer-Mania...

At first I just loved the stories at Mer-Mania, putting myself in the place of the women and girls and occasional boys who through magic or science were transformed into beautiful mermaids and began a whole new life Under The Sea.

Then I started to get a little more selective about what I read, as I realized that some of the authors just threw words up onto the screen any old way to get their story told, while others just took my breath away with their talent and their craftsmanship!

There was one author in particular---Ophelia Goglubglub---who when a new story by her appeared I YAAAAAY!!'d and dove right into it; knowing I would love it. They weren't particularly happy stories, at least not until right at the end, but they were moving in their darkness. Usually about some shy outsider girl, escaping from school bullies or abusive parents or a total scumbag of a wife-beating husband. She would usually be right about at the end of her rope when something came along and transformed her, allowing her to find her real home underwater, the other mermaids welcoming their new sister with open arms. Or if not them, the new mermaid would meet some lonely land-guy. A lobster fisherman, a shipwrecked castaway, a badly deformed lighthouse keeper who shuns the company, the whispers and taunts of other humans. And she and he would build themselves a perfect little world-for-two, far from everyone (Kind of like Greg and me, I suppose, but we don't intend on being anywhere near as isolated as the damaged souls Ophelia wrote about...)

I registered at Mer-Mania mostly so I could tell her how much I loved her stories. Some of my comments turned out quite lengthy, and they were 90% fervent praise. Ophelia never responded to comments, but one day I got a private message from someone named Admiral Whirlpool, telling me how much my comments meant to his friend Ophelia. Ophelia was a depressive sort already, he'd said, and recently Real Life was totally dumping on her; Everything from health problems to the threat of eviction. He said that when they talked on the phone from several states apart, it often sounded like my positive comments were the highlight of her day. And then---being a writer---he ended his PM with: 'And by the way, try one of my stories and tell me what you think...'

I replied to Admiral Whirlpool's message, a brief 'sorry to hear about this wonderful author's problems' and assuring him I would check out his stories. And that was how I met the guy I would later know as Greg. Neither of us could have dreamed what it would turn into.

His stories were mostly love stories too, but where Ophelia's all started with strife and heartache, his were fun, and funny. Greg was sometimes a bit reserved in real life when I first met him---coming off of a bad divorce like he was---but his humorous side really cames alive in his writing. I read them chronologically, starting with The Astronaut, the Genie & the Mermaid- a retelling of the first episode of I Dream of Jeannie where a 1960's astronaut in a space capsule lands on a tiny desert island and a servile dimwitted genie and a clever mermaid compete for his affections (the mermaid wins); followed by The Ensign & the Mermaid, The Pirate & the Mermaid, The Cowboy & the Mermaid, Jacques Cousteau & the Mermaid and a dozen more. His stories were more diverse in plots and more clever than the titles might indicate, and I told him so in my critiques.

Mer-mania also had a chat room, where I made quite a few friends and often stumbled into work tired the next day after we'd stayed up yacking in type until it was very late and it was only LORI and AW chatting...

Somewhere in here I posted my blog where I told about how intense my intense desire to be a mermaid was, and that it actually pained me that I wasn't one. It was the most honest I'd ever been about this in my life, and I still wasn't exactly honest, since I didn't mention anything about being trans. I just loved being accepted as the genetic girl everyone assumed I was, and didn't want to wreck this.

Most people were kind in their responses, and Admiral Whirlpool (“call me Greg”) was just wonderful in his understanding. And then in Private Messages and also now e-mails he spoke of his own deep obsession with mermaids and how much he wished he could meet and fall in love with one. He half kiddingly suggested: “If you're crazy enough to believe you're a mermaid I'm crazy enough to believe you are too. Since we're both crazy maybe we can be a pretend mermaid/human couple... Will you be my internet mermaid girlfriend?”

“You might not want me to,” I replied, because I sensed the seriousness behind his joking question and I knew it was time to come clean with this wonderful man who was so caring and supportive and understanding. I told him I'd been born male and his just barely started toward transitioning, and I would understand if this was just too weird for him.

It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life---in which I realized how devastated I would be if he rejected me---before he responded with: “Nobody's perfect. (951) 978-6418.”

I called, and after I got over my fear that my voice might sound too masculine it was just like talking with him in the chatroom, only better. We talked, we laughed, we shared more secrets, hopes and dreams; and when we weren't calling each other we were looking forward to the next time we would.

Somewhere in there we started saying “I love you”; and it felt so GOOD! I'd never thought about having a 56 year old boyfriend, and he'd never though he could love a transgender girl, but there we were.

Our online mermaid community was scattered all over the world, and if Greg had lived in Sydney or Dublin our relationship might have remained an intangible one. But it was just a little over 50 miles from Tustin to San Jacinto Valley, and we discussed where to meet. And when he said the magic word “pool” I agreed to drive to his house.

My friend had said he was “well off”, so I figured he didn't work at Home Depot or drive an ice cream truck; But as my car's GPS directed me into his Jacinto Spring neighborhood I realized he was a lot richer than I'd ever imagined. I don't think he'd been hiding his wealth so much as he just hadn't wanted to brag (Plus, when you're mostly talking about mermaids certain things just don't come up...).

He invited me in. I was wearing flats, a skirt and a blouse, and like a dork about the first thing I did was gesture at my tits, which were a pair of cheap little foam b-cup breast forms sitting loose in my bra and tell him: “These aren't real.”

And then I fell all over myself, babbling: “Oh my God, I'm such a dope! Just blurting out I mean why did I SAY that?!?”

In person his smile was even nicer than in the phone-pictures he'd sent me. He said, “Because you're nervous. I'm nervous too!”

“You are? Why?!” I asked, as if anybody who lived in a house like this would have to be all smooth and confident like the rich people are in movies.

“Because I really want you to like me. And I'm not exactly the guys from my stories...”

Which puzzled me, because the Greg I'd been talking to on the phone for months and who was now standing beside me totally was the guys from his stories. Smart, decent, kind, thoughtful, masculine but not macho; exactly the kind of human male a mermaid could fall in love with. But then it dawned on me that his story's narrators were all were all at least twenty younger than him, and he was insecure about being past his prime.

At this point Greg felt more conflicted about our age difference than he did my XY chromosomes and genitalia. That issue he'd gotten over, figuring that if I was a mermaid because that's who I was in my heart, then logically I was also female. But he was worried that he might be trying to act out the ludicrous and somewhat icky cliche of a wealthy middle aged male parading around his 22 year old girlfreind as a symbol of status and prowess in the guy half of the world: “Look what I got, because I CAN!

But I knew Greg's interest in me wasn't due to some midlife crises, because he had admitted that early on in our online friendship he'd pictured me as a 44-year-old housewife with a huge butt, and he liked me a lot then anyway. But he'd also thought I was probably married and maybe had a few kids, so our online role playing would have to stay on the level of innocent flirtations and him telling me what a beautiful mermaid I was, something we could both fantasize about.

I looked up into his eyes---he was taller than I'd thought---and said, “Maybe your not an action hero, but you're still those great guys from your stories. When you talk you sound like them; You have their character, their humanity, their decency. You're just a little older.”

“You're far too kind,” he demured, “And I'm more than a little older than-”

“No, I meant it!” I said, and did the first thing I could think of to convince him I meant every word of my praise. I kissed him. It wasn't a fiercely passionate kiss but it wasn't a chaste little peck either. It was a good solid smacker that sincerely conveyed my sentiments about him; that he was a man worth kissing.

And the way he started kissing me back told me he felt the same way about me... until we sort of mutually agreed that this wasn't quite the time to take this any further, and we separated. But it had been an effective ice breaker.

Greg smiled, “That was nice!”

“It was. And you know, if this turns into something, you wouldn't be the first older man I fell for, so don't worry about that,” I said, not mentioning that the guy was 34 and looked like a rock star.

“Who was this lucky fellow?”

“My philosophy professor at Fullerton, when I was 19,” I said.

He grinned wryly. "Should I be jealous?”

“God no! He was an asshole!” I spat. (Unfortunately, in spite of---or maybe because of---his rock star good looks, Professor Wood had all the arrogance, entitlement, deviousness and philandering ways of some prima donna lead singer for an 80's hair band.)

Greg started showing me his house, each room bigger and more beautiful than the one before. If he would have to work at it to get over his reservations about our age difference; what would make me start feeling awkward as we got deeper into our relationship was the economic imparity of between us. When an anonymous benefactor paid off all my student loans I told him never to do anything like that again. Not without talking to me first, and working out terms for how I'd repay him.

Since freeing myself from my parents' tender loving care on the very first day I was legally able to do so, I had always prided myself in my economic self-sufficiency. And his wanting to pay for everything we did and trying to give me expensive presents freaked me out! If Greg didn't want to be the walking cliché of a male midlife crisis, I didn't want to be a shallow amoral gold-digging bimbo, prostituting myself to some Sugar Daddy for an easy ride through life...

But eventually I realized I wasn't and could never be that stereotype. Like he had with me, I had been falling in love with Greg since long before I knew about his seven figure net worth that started with an '8'. And there is nothing calculating or mercenary about your being with someone if you loved him so much you'd take a bullet for him without a second's hesitation, like I would for my Gregory.

He pointed at the gym bag I was carrying. “What's that?”

“Take a wild guess.”

He broke into a grin. “Is it the one from those pictures you sent me?”

“It's the only one I own; so yes,” I said, “I know it's silly, but I wanted to wear it today.”

“It's not silly, it's who you are! And I'd like it very much if you wore it.”

It was a good, friendly, comfortable first meeting. I didn't wear my tail for the whole visit, but we both enjoyed it when I did; and it was a total blast be swimming together as a man and a mermaid in the much smaller pool this house had at the time. I took it off when we went to lunch, trying a new chain Italian restaurant that turned out to be so bad it was amusing, things we could have made a stink about and sent back, but we were enjoying each other's company so much we just made a game out of trying to guess what would be wrong with the next course, and decided we wouldn't be going back to Fibonacci's Ristorantore...

Back at the house I slipped back into my tail and we watched a movie on cable about the heist of a famous painting from the Louvre; but lost track of the plot because we were talking and paying more attention to each other, and we wound up kissing again. I could sense that a large part of his excitement this time was due to the fact that he was kissing a mermaid, which dovetailed perfectly with my own excitement over being kissed as a mermaid!

We didn't fuck and I didn't stay the night, both feeling we should take things slow enough that at least we weren't being reckless about this; But I think we both knew that this moratorium on sex wouldn't last more than another date or two...

Anyway that was our first little play date. It wasn't lavish or wild but it was the best day either of us had had in a while, and left us both with a sense of promise- that this might actually be love.

It was a promise that was delivered on beyond our wildest dreams.

A month or so ago Greg signed up with a film streaming service called Filmstruck, which was like Netflix but showed the kind of obscure stuff he liked: Old John Ford westerns, movies by Nepal's Greatest Living Director, or one that had won the Palme d'Or at Cannes back before the Franco Prussian War...

And after dinner he selected the movie that he'd promised would changed my mind about this Pedro Almodovar guy. Which it did. Women on The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was totally wacky and utterly fucking hilarious! I was laughing so hard I missed a lot of the subtitles.

Between this film and last night's French one Greg almost made up for the one we watched two weeks ago, which he called "The greatest science fiction film of all time!"

The longest science fiction film might have been more accurate, because that's what it felt like. I really tried to get into it, watching in silence, refraining from smart-ass remarks, but I don't think I was ever so bored in my life.

“So what did you think?” he asked after the giant fetus floated away into space.

I tried to think of something positive to say. “Well... it had some nice miniatures.”

“So I take it you didn't like it.”

“And the wormhole or whatever he went through was pretty cool; but it didn't have much of a story.”

“Kubrick wanted the story to be deliberately cryptic and ambiguous, so everyone could interpret it for themselves...”

“But it wasn't cryptic. It was all pretty straightforward. It began with the aliens causing a huge leap in human consciousness, and it ended with them doing it again. It just took forever to get there! I mean it took the whole long version of the Blue Danube Waltz just for them to dock that space plane with the space station. I could've parked it faster than that! I know it's a classic, and I guess I'm glad I can say I finally saw 2001, but they managed to take what could've been a good concept and make it as exciting as watching paint dry... beige paint! So what can I say? I'm just another philistine from the attention-deficit generation.”

“A philistine one thing you're not. You understood it, you just didn't like it. It would be boring if we always agreed on everything. And that was a good critique. Very specific, with the color of paint and all,” he chuckled.

'That's one of the things I love about Greg,' I thought as we called it a night and sacked out right after the Almodovar film ended. 'He's never look down on me, assuming that if I don't like something it's because I'm young and lack the wisdom and maturity that allows him to appreciate it; like so many from his generation seem to think...'

And while he sometimes had a certain movie he wants me to see, this was only because he was such a cinema nut, and hoped it would be something we could enjoy together. Other than this he wasn't on any mission to educate me, to bring me “up to his level” so we could be peers. We already were peers. So he didn't use me as a captive audience for long-winded lectures about Important Culture or The Meaning of Life; like some sleazebag professor would do with the latest coed he's boffing:

“Here, read this. It's Nietzsche. It will help you understand the futility of existence. That way when I dump you at the end of the semester you'll already be so miserable and full of angst you'll hardly notice...”

“Gee thanks, Professor Woody! Tee hee hee... you're so smart!!”

Guys like this use intellect the way less articulate abusers use their fists. As a means of control. They lecture, they condescend, they toss a bit of praise your way when you parrot their opinions back at them. But what they never do is really listen.

Greg really listened to me. In this and every other way he was the total opposite of my old Cal State Fullerton philosophy teacher, who promised me his undying devotion and some wonderful future together (that included Paris, of course...) while treating me as an exotic variation on his usual game of seeing how many of his girl students he could bone; and who was the main reason I dropped out in my second year.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I considered killing myself as I stumbled through the rest of that day, in shock over having been so cruelly and mockingly dumped. Instead I took the less drastic course of removing myself from the place that was a constant reminder of him and of what a fool I'd been. And I realized I should have believed what several girls had warned me about him; But he'd said he loved me, and he made me feel like a real girl, even though for the most part I wasn't dressing like one then...

Professor Alan “Woody” Wood broke my heart when he turned out to be full of shit; not to mention a creep and a cad and an inveterate (and invertebrate) liar! And a bastard and a shit and an asshole and a douchebag and a louse and a rat and a cunt and a motherfucker!! Not only that, he was not a nice person!

And when his karma finally caught up with him he turned out to be a dickhead...

Because apparently I wasn't the only one who harbored a grudge against him. Six weeks ago I heard on the news that he'd gone missing. His car was sitting at a stoplight with the door open and the motor running, and footage from CCTV cameras at some nearby business showed hooded figures with guns shoving him into a van. And when no ransom demands were made people began speculating and joking about what he would look like when showed back up.

And sure enough... 72 hours later he was released, with a large and veinous day-glo purple artificial penis for a nose. Which is when---as often happens when one person breaks the silence---his victims started coming forward by the dozens, students and ex-students both male and female---and Professor Dicknose was fired and went into hiding. He wasn't the first man this had been done to, and I doubted that he would be the last.

Glooing a dildo to someone's face allows even the worst rapists, abusers and pussy grabbers to play the victim card, and there are always those who will believe it when they say they were innocent victims of violent man-hating feminist hooligans. And so for that reason (and because assaulting someone like them physically is stooping to their level) I'm not a real big fan of the #MEGLOO! movement. But like they say, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

But like that whole situation with my parents, his is not a story I'm going to waste any more time on in this journal. Not when I have a much happier tale to tell.

'And a tail!' I thought blissfully as I fell asleep in my lover's arms, completely contented and utterly at peace.
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(34½ Hours..........)
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COMMENTS MAKE ME DELERIOUSLY HAPPY...
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In this story by Ray Drouillard you'll find out more about Lori's friend Rae:
https://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/74866/glood-tails-01

And Chapter 02 of his story has stuff about Rae and Lori
and Lori's last days of working at Yoyodyne, unless that isn't
what Ray's calling their place of employment (it's a semivariable story universe):
https://bigclosetr.us/topshelf/fiction/74946/glood-tails-02

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And here's some chica loca singin' about GLOO:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoQiSn-johM
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