â€œI wish I were a man.â€
I stood in front of Stanâ€™s full-length mirror, on the mezzanine that doubled as his boudoir, holding a Marie Antoinette dress to my chest. â€œMen get to wear loose stuff, comfortable shoes. The worst they have to suffer with is a tie.â€
I was booked to do a Halloween gig with a swing band I sometimes sang with, and couldnâ€™t figure out what to wear for a costume. Life on the upper floor of this run-down alternative gallery was pretty halloweenish anyway, and Stan â€” my drag-queen roommate, and the gallery owner â€” kept suggesting high camp. I didnâ€™t really feel like spending the night in a bustle, or a corset, or four-inch stilettos. Every idea he came up with seemed to entail something that was going to hurt, or bind, or pinch.
â€œGod, I wish I were a man,â€ I repeated.
â€œWell, thereâ€™s an idea!â€ Stan was doing his very convincing impression of Blanche DuBois. He did it a lot â€” usually when he was taking the piss out of me. â€œIâ€™ll be queen and you can be king. Weâ€™ll go as royals.â€
â€œIâ€™m not wearing a crown. Forget it.â€ I could picture having to sing holding some stupid plastic thing on my head all night. â€œHey, are there any actual â€˜drag kingsâ€™? Is there such a thing?â€
â€œProbably. Not really my neck of the woods, though, Goldilocks. But there was Marlene Dietrichâ€¦ â€˜Falling in love again, what Iâ€™m I to doooâ€¦â€™â€
I stared at Stan. A man, pretending to be a woman, pretending to be a man; for a drag queen, he had one hell of a baritone.
I hung the over-blown fru-fru gown back in his closet. â€œThatâ€™s it. Iâ€™m going as a man.â€
Stan rolled his eyes. â€œWhereâ€™s the fun in that?â€ He struck a pose, took a drag on his pastel Sobranie, and play-acted: â€œOh, and who have you come as? A jock? How droll!â€
â€œNoâ€¦ not a jock,â€ I said, eyeing myself in the mirror again. â€œIâ€™m too small to be a jock, but I could definitely pass as a South American pimp.â€
â€œO-oh, thatâ€™s class,â€ said Stan, sarcasm sharpening the words.
I pressed my tits flat against my chest. It wasnâ€™t like they were that big anyway. â€œIâ€™m not after class, Stan. Just blatant masculine sexuality.â€
As much as he whined, Stan was actually very helpful when it came to the costuming. We found a smallish dark suit and a pair of black oxfords at the Sally Ann, and he was the one who suggested the pressure bandage over the chest.
* * *
A week before the show, I was back in his room, trying everything on.
The tits strapped down a treat, the white dress shirt felt so nice and uncomplicated going on, the suit was a little baggyâ€¦ it hung nicely in a slouchy sort of way. I posed and turned in front of the mirror.
â€œThis is niceâ€¦ I like this. I like it a lot!â€ The image before me seemed so much simpler, so much more concrete. â€œWow, Stan. I donâ€™t get why you want to dress like a woman. This rocks!â€
He stood behind me and frowned at the image in the mirror. â€œIâ€™m not even goinâ€™ there, honey. But, I have to tell you â€” donâ€™t be mad now, you donâ€™t look anything like a man.â€
My heart sank. Okay, I wasnâ€™t exactly large, but I was androgynous enough. I had short, black hair, and a squarish kind of face. â€œWhy? Is the suit fitting wrong? I could darken my eyebrows some more and get a fake mustache.â€
â€œItâ€™s not the clothes, baby. Itâ€™s the way youâ€™re moving in them.â€
â€œWhat?â€ I didnâ€™t understand what he was talking about. I shoved my hands into the trouser pockets and glowered at the mirror.
He looked at me apologetically. â€œWellâ€¦take a good look. Would you fuck you?â€
I gazed at myself side on, trying to hold my shoulders up. The truth was, there werenâ€™t that many men Iâ€™d sleep with anyway, given the alternative. â€œProbably not. Can you fix it?â€
Stanâ€™s face was serious â€” not something that happened all that often. â€œI canâ€™t, but I know someone who can.â€
Three hours later, I was walking, sitting, smoking, talking for an audience of two. I was in basic training for maleness, as Stan put it. Heâ€™d called his butch friend, Bob, over and every time I did anything even vaguely femmy, Bob would holler, â€œFag!â€ at me. I was being tutored on how to act like a man by a drag queen and a guy who spent his whole life acting straight. It was disconcerting.
I spent the whole week trying to practice what theyâ€™d been teaching me, and it was starting to feel pretty natural. More than that, I was starting to really like the way people reacted to me on the street, in stores, in elevators. I canâ€™t really explain it, but they definitely treated me differently.
One evening, Stan and I went to the supermarket to pick up some stuff. I was busy looking through a pile of cantaloupes for a ripe one, picking them up and giving them a sniff. Suddenly, this woman walked up next to me as said, â€œWow, Iâ€™ve never seen a guy who knew how to do that.â€
Iâ€™d never been so proud in my life. Then I spoiled it all by giggling like a girl.
* * *
The day before the gig, Iâ€™d been helping Stan paint the walls in the gallery, ready for the next show. We were sitting around the kitchen table, having a couple of beers.
â€œDo you think itâ€™s going to work, Stan?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know. Do you feel ready?â€
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
Stan gave me a long look. â€œTo do drag really well, you have to feel the part. You canâ€™t feel like your faking something. Somewhere inside you, you have to be convinced that this is a part of who you are. Like youâ€™re showinâ€™ a side of yourself that was always there, but hiding. You have to be someone real, sweetie. Who are you, when youâ€™re in drag?â€
I shrugged. â€œI donâ€™t know yet.â€
He nudged my shoulder and smiled. â€œYou will, honey. Iâ€™m Ava Gardner.â€
â€œYeah, I kind of knew that.â€
* * *
Halloween was on a Friday, which promised a huge turn out at the club. I went to the sound check as usual and refused to be goaded into telling everyone what I was wearing. Dennis, the bandleader, was going as Bam Bam from the Flintstones. The pianist, Will, was going as Frankenstein â€” which I could kind of see as suiting him.
When I returned to the club, at ten, the place was packed to overflowing. I tried to insist that I was a member of the band, but the doorman told me to fuck off, so I paid to get in.
Pushing through the crowd at the bar, I caught up with Dennis.
â€œWhat time are we going on?â€
He looked at me for a while and then his face broke into a huge smile. â€œFuck, Emma, youâ€™reâ€¦ wow. You look like a guy. A little short, but very convincing. You look likeâ€¦ umâ€¦ Ricky Ricardo.â€
â€œHey, Lucy!â€ I called at him and grinned.
â€œDamn. Thatâ€™s uncanny. Nice suit. The mustache makes it, though.â€
â€œThanks, I mascaraâ€™d my peach fuzz.â€
â€œWhoa. TMI, babe. Weâ€™re on at eleven.â€
I got a drink and wandered through the crowd. I recognized a number of people in the audience; they were regular, die-hard, swing fans who always turned up at our gigs. I kept looking for a glint of recognition, but nothing.
Standing by the cigarette machine, having a last smoke before we went on, a petite redhead came up and leaned on the wall beside me. I didnâ€™t recognize her as being one of the usuals, but she was certainly a cutie. She was wearing the most outrageous pink organza cocktail dress from the fifties, which clashed charmingly with her hair.
â€œHi! You ever seen these guys before?â€ She batted emerald green eyes at me.
â€œThe band? Yeah, Iâ€™ve seen them.â€
â€œThis is my first time,â€ she grinned. â€œIâ€™ve heard about them, though. My roommate bought tickets.â€
Suddenly, the most annoying thing happened; I got all shy. I couldnâ€™t think of what to say back. I started wondering if this was what was bad about being a guy.
â€œSoâ€¦ You come alone?â€ she asked, looking at the toe of her matching pink pointy-toed shoe.
â€œI did. Did you?â€
â€œWell, no. I came with my roommate.â€
Oh. Jesus. What was this crap? Is this what men did? I was having serious doubts about how fun this was going to be after all. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the band climbing onto the stage.
â€œLook, I have to go for a bit. Are you going to be here for a while?â€
She laughed and pursed her lips. â€œOf course, silly! I came to see the band.â€
â€œWell, I hope you enjoy them.â€
I fled through the crowd to the stage, feeling like a total loser.
* * *
The nice thing about songs from the thirties and forties is that everyone covered them. Almost all of the lyrics have male and female versions. We did the first few songs, and then some of the people at the front started recognizing me and grinning and cat-calling. I hoped Miss Pink Thing was at the back, and oblivious.
Then, about the fifth song into the set, I saw her on the floor, dancing with a guy in a sailorâ€™s outfit. We were doing a nice slow number: â€œThe House is Haunted,â€ a Mel Torme classic. It was the easiest thing in the world to slip into crooner-mode.
*â€The house is haunted by the echo of her last goodbye,
The place is cluttered up with memories that refuse to die.
The ceiling is white, but the shadows are black,
A ghost in my heart says sheâ€™ll never come back.
The house is haunted by the echo of your last goodbyeâ€*
She was dancing with him, holding him close, but she was looking over his shoulder, at me.
For the rest of the set, I kind of fantasized about being her man â€” a guy out of some stupid forties romance. It was only when we finished the last song that I started thinking about how stupid I was. I wasnâ€™t a man. Sooner or later, she was gonna find out.
* * *
She was waiting for me by the side of the stage, when I got off. It was a little club, with no back room, and usually that didnâ€™t bother me â€” I like mingling with the crowd. But there she was, in all her pinkness, with her scorching red hair and her cherry red lips, and I wished I could have run away.
â€œHey! Itâ€™s not nice to keep secrets,â€ she said, slipping her arm through mine.
â€œYou have no idea,â€ I muttered. â€œWant a drink?â€
â€œYou should have told me you were in the band. So yeah, you owe me one. Iâ€™ll have a gin and tonic.â€
It was crowded at the bar, and there was nowhere to sit at the tables, so we ended up back by the cigarette machine. We talked for a bit, and joked. And I bought us another round of drinks. The alcohol was kicking in nicely and giving me a little more confidence.
Her name was Carmen. It was a good name for a girl with red hair and a good name for the mood of the evening. She didnâ€™t ask mine and, somehow, I didnâ€™t volunteer it. She kept chatting away, and I responded with inanities. Mostly, I was looking at her shiny red lips, and at the way her dress fit so nicely across a pair of very pert titties. I stood in front of her, close to her, backing her very slowly up against the wall. My thumbs itched to touch her nipples, through the pink organza, but I didnâ€™t.
â€œYouâ€™re not listening to a word Iâ€™m saying, are you?â€ she asked, all of a sudden.
â€œNoâ€¦ not really. Iâ€™m staring at your lips.â€
She smiled; they stretched like sweet taffy across her face. â€œWhy? Do you like them?â€
â€œI love them. I think they are probably the sexiest lips Iâ€™ve ever seen. Where ever did you get them?â€
Carmen giggled. â€œOh, they were a present from my mother.â€
I pressed up against her, my hands on the wall on either side of her head. Her sweet little breasts crushed up against the lapels of my suit jacket, and she was doing the most alluring squirmy, kittenish thing. God, I wanted her so bad. I wanted to slide my hands up under that frothy pink skirt and make her squirm a whole lot more.
I was inclining my head to kiss her when a voice came over the P.Aâ€
â€œEmmaâ€¦ Oh, paging Miss Emma! We have another set here, babe.â€ It was Dennis. Iâ€™d lost track of time.
â€œShitâ€¦ I have to go, Carmen.â€
She looked at me funny. â€œEmma? Your nameâ€™s Emma?â€
I rushed to the stage.
* * *
I didnâ€™t see her in the crowd during the second set. I tried to get into the music and forget about her. After all, she was clearly straight and had probably had the shock of her life. If my name had been Evelyn, or Sydney or something, it might have been fine. But no parents, no matter how sadistic, call their son Emma.
It was one-thirty by the end of the second set. The floor was packed and writhing. We closed with â€œJump, Jive and Wailâ€, which usually gets me in a good mood, but I could hardly drag my ass through it.
She wasnâ€™t at the side of the stage when I got off, nor was she at the bar. Sheâ€™d disappeared into the night, and it was probably a good thing for both of us that she had.
I helped the guys tear down, and we were taking gear out to the van, when I saw her standing under the streetlamp in the parking lot. She was coatless and clutching her purse to her chest, looking kind of cold.
â€œCarmen?â€ I said, walking over to her. â€œUmâ€¦ donâ€™t you have a coat? Itâ€™s cold out here.â€
â€œEmma? Your nameâ€™s Emma?â€
â€œYouâ€™re a girl.â€ She said it venom.
I shrugged. â€œYup, I am.â€
â€œBut youâ€¦ you look exactly like a man.â€
I grinned. â€œItâ€™s Halloween.â€
â€œI knowâ€¦but. Geeze!â€
It made me laugh. The way she said it. â€œYou disappointed?â€
â€œKinda. I mean, I knew the mustache was fakeâ€¦but I thought the rest of you wasâ€¦ you know. Yeah, Iâ€™m kind of disappointed.â€
â€œHm-m. Me too. How about we let the Emma slide, for tonight?â€ I got brave and put a hand on her shoulder. â€œWe could pretend I was a guy.â€
Carmen looked really confused. â€œIâ€™mâ€¦ Iâ€™m not gay.â€ There was something apologetic in the tone.
â€œBut youâ€™re still here, arenâ€™t you Carmen?â€
â€œYeah. I guess.â€ She shivered.
â€œAnd I still think you have the most kissable lips in the world.â€ I took off my jacket, like any decent gentleman would do, and wrapped it around her shoulders. It gave me an excuse to put my arms around her.
I was expecting her to flinch, but she didnâ€™t, so I pulled her closer. She was all trembly and small in my arms. It made me feel kind of protective and predatory all at the same time. I kissed her.
At first she didnâ€™t respond. She didnâ€™t pull away or scream either, so I tried again, pressing my lips against hers gently, teasing them a little with the tip of my tongue. I swear I could taste her indecision mixed in with the expensive lipstick.
It was then I realized what the problem was. Gentle wasnâ€™t going to cut it. I pulled her tight, slid my hands down on her ass and kissed her hard, pressing my tongue between those lovely lips and eating her up, right there under the streetlamp. I felt her arms side around my waist, under my jacket and she moaned, opening her mouth and taking sexy little sucks on my tongue.
There was a smattering of applause and a couple of hoots. We had the band as an audience. They would all pay for this, but later. I pulled out of the kiss.
â€œBelieve it or not, I actually have some etchings. Wanna see them?â€
Carmen, whose cherry red lips were now adorably messy, looked nervously over my shoulder.
â€œDonâ€™t look at them, their assholes. Look at me.â€
â€œYouâ€™re wearing my lipstick.â€
I grinned and thought about wiping it off with the back of my hand, but I didnâ€™t. â€œIâ€™d like to be wearing a whole lot more of you.â€
Tracing the circumference of her lovely waist, I moved my hands up to her breasts and soothed the itch in my thumbs, grazing them over her covered nipples. It might have been the cold, but they were standing up like little soldiers, and regardless of the cause, my own responded in kind. They twinged and ached like beacons.
Her chest rose and fell unevenly beneath my hands. She made a tasty little noise that was obviously her attempt to say something. I wasnâ€™t going to wait for it to be the wrong thing.
â€œCome on,â€ I said, wrapping and arm around her shoulders and leading her out of the parking lot. â€œI promise to act like a gentleman.â€
I flagged a cab, pulled her in, and gave the driver my address.
I the dark rear of the taxi, I kissed her again, and this time she went all gooey in my arms, pressing her pink chest against me. As I explored her mouth with my tongue, I had a black and white film running through my head: a couple, kissing in the back of a cab as it sped through the rain-slicked streets of Manhattan. Plumes of steam rose from the grating as it passed.
She mewed as I slid my hand up her stockinged thigh. My fingers traced the warm, naked flesh where the stocking ended.
â€œHeâ€™s gonna see,â€ Carmen whispered, even as I felt her hips arch a little at my caresses.
â€œWhatâ€™s he going to see that he hasnâ€™t seen before, a thousand times?â€
Beneath her skirt, my fingers roamed upwards and over, exploring the suspender that held up her stocking, and further over till they met the edge of her panties.
They werenâ€™t the stretchy, elasticized kind; they were those silky little tap pants. God, even underneath her clothes, she was all girl. I slipped the tips of my fingers beneath them, teasing the fold where her thigh met her body.
It was the contact with that very soft skin that drove me crazy. Burying my mouth against her neck, the film returned. It was still in black and white, but this time she was shuddering and coming in my arms. Her arms wrapped around me, her head flung back.
I could feel my pussy fluttering, weeping juices onto my boxers, when the cab pulled up in front of the gallery. The place was dark. Stan was either out or in bed.
The click of her heels rang off the hardwood as I led her through the dark, empty space of the gallery.
â€œWhat is this? You live here?â€
â€œYeah, upstairs. I wasnâ€™t lying when I said I had etchings.â€
I was expecting her to cut and run, about then. Worried that, in the dark and the silence, on the way up the stairs to my room, sheâ€™d have time to think â€” time to change her mind. But her hand held on tight, her fingers nestling in my palm.
When I got her to my room and closed the door behind her, I pressed her back against it and kissed her again. I could feel the sticky remnants of her lipstick on my mouth, and her pointy little tongue, darting this way and that, against my own.
Actually, I could have stood there for hours, just kissing her. Every roll of her head, every opening of her mouth added another reason not to break the kiss. But this time, when my hand slipped onto her breast, she moaned into my mouth and arched her back. I moved my leg between hers and pressed my thigh to her crotch, rubbing her through all those layers of organza. They rustled as her hips started to move.
The fear that sheâ€™d bolt was gone, but it was replaced with something else. How was she going to react to the reality of my body? I reasoned desperately that if she were hot enough, horny enough, it wouldnâ€™t matter.
It made me think back to my first time with a girl. Kendra hadnâ€™t given me a lot of time to think about it, and she had something Iâ€™d always lacked: seriously aggressive tendencies.
I eased Carmen away from the door, and hunted for the zipper at the back of her dress. The sound of that long metal zipper, opening in the dark was something truly special. I slid my hands into the gap, and followed the curve of her spine down to the swell of her ass. She giggled in the dark as I squeezed her cheeks and pulled her against my hips.
It was like we were dancing, groin-to-groin, in the dark. The curtains were open, and the streetlamps bled into the room, enough for me to see her profile, enough to turn the world black and white. I could hear her breathing as I ground myself against her, getting quicker and louder.
She wanted it, no matter what I was. And I wanted her in every way possible. Slipping one hand between her legs, I found sodden silk, slippery with her juices. My fingers teased the wet fabric, pulling it tight against her, tugging it into her slit. She was so wet, it glided through her folds.
â€œFuckâ€¦Baby, youâ€™re dripping,â€ I whispered, my lips pressed against her ear.
My fingers pushed the silk aside and slid through her until I found her clit. It was easy to find â€” hard and pulsing under my fingertip. I circled it slowly, smiling as I felt her spread her legs a little.
â€œThatâ€™s right, Carmen. Give it to me.â€
My heart was hammering in my chest, my own pussy was throbbing. The stuff of her dress sighed as she moved against me, rolling her hips as I fingered her.
â€œOh-h, oh-h,â€ she kept whispering. It was the sweetest thing.
She made a little crying sound and burrowed her face into my collar, as I pushed my thumb into her hole. Her juices spilled out around my thumb, covering my hand.
I knew I could bring her off like this, standing there, but the need to taste her, to lick up what sheâ€™d covered me with, was overwhelming. I eased my thumb out of her, and catching the side of her panties, pulled them down her legs. They whispered over the stockings and she stepped out of them.
â€œI have to taste you, Carmen. Iâ€™ve just got to,â€ I said, turning her around and lowering her onto my bed.
I shrugged off my jacket and let it fall to the floor. While I fought with the tie, I watched her watch me in the dim light. She lay on her back, still in that gorgeous insanity of a party dress. I thought about pulling it off her, but changed my mind.
Easing her legs apart, I crawled onto the bed between them, and pushed the volumes of skirt up. The smell of her pussy, thick and sweet, rose to meet me as I exposed her dark triangle in monotones. As I lowered my mouth to the patch of white thigh, above the stocking top, my mindâ€™s eye coloured what the light couldnâ€™t. I made my way, kissing and licking, to her red thatch and pulled her lips apart with my hands.
She was salty, and tangy and flooded. Her hips rose and trembled, pushing her cunt against my tongue. I teased and circled, flicked and lapped, reveling in the moans and the whimpers her frustration was pushing out her throat.
When I thought sheâ€™d had enough, I surrounded her hard, unhooded clit with my lips and sucked. She keened and bucked beneath me. Every time I stroked the tip of my tongue against the throbbing little button in my mouth, I felt her twitch.
She was so close. I could taste the change in her juices. Pushing two fingers into her, I curled them towards me, rubbing her g-spot each time I thrust in. Then, I went back to sucking that throbbing little nub as I fucked her.
Carmen yelped and grabbed my hair, pulling my mouth hard against her as she began to spasm. I added a third finger to the others, and sank them as deep as they would go. Her walls squeezed at them, over and over. Her cum flooded out around them, hot and gooey.
I ate her, lapping at her gently even after sheâ€™d stopped twitching. Drinking up the remnants of her pleasure, taking them into my body.
â€œEmma,â€ she moaned. â€œOh, god, Emma.â€
I peeked over the crinoline of her skirt and smiled. Sheâ€™d called my name.
It was time to shed the costume.