Posted in Fiction, lgbtq+ romance

The Package is a Bonus

Chapter 1

In which we are introduced to our hero.

Uhhnnh!” he grunted, feeling the burn of that last bit of liquid as he pushed the syringe to its depth. “Damn, ten years and it never gets any less painful.” Danny Price wiped the entry point of the needle with an alcohol swab. He picked up the black sharpie marker on his desk, leaned over and xed out today. Then he circled another day three weeks from today. He made a mental note to program the date into his phone as well. Danny Price was an active man. He worked a full time job as a property manager for a real estate agency, which included working with his maintainance crew on site when apartments, condos and houses needed repairs, updates or remodels. when he wasn’t working, he was outside in nature whenever possible, hiking, biking, camping and kayaking. Keeping organized by using calandars, both analog and digital was essential. He had a record of most events. It was one of the ways he kept his life long battle with anxiety at bay.

He tugged at the pair of well worn levis hanging over the back of his desk chair. Standing on one leg, he winced a little as he lifted and bent his left knee and put his foot into his jeans. Switching sides he finished pulling them on. The old denim hung snugly but not tight, on his slim hips. He admired his own taught belly. “Just a light treasure trail.” he mused. “Not that it matters, no ones been anywhere near that trail in a long time, except me of course.” He slid a small, callused hand beneath the waist band of his plaid boxer shorts and strummed himself lightly. It didn’t take much for his lower region to show signs of life. Sighing quietly, he grabbed the plain, white tee shirt from his desk top and pulled it on. He smoothed back his short, black hair and looked at himself in the mirror. Rubbing his chin he felt some stubble. “not enough to shave” he concluded and proceeded to put his size 7 feet into his buck skin work boots.

Danny Price was born Daniella Louise Price and lived her life carrying what felt like an unruly moniker for 34 years. Ten years later, Daniella was long gone. He had changed his name in the year leading up to his first T treatments. The moment he received his new documentation in the mail, he felt like he had been granted a reprieve from the life sentence of living as an alien in his own body. The first year was challenging, to put it mildly. But he was determine and persevered. Danny Price was no poster boy. He had no desire to march on Washington or educate the masses. He just wanted to be comfortable in his own skin.

There were critics. Plenty of them. Family members who thought this was yet another ploy for attention, another way for Dani to be “different.” Strangers on the street, or who came into the business where he worked, took pains to continue using the obsolete pronouns. As if continuing to use words like “she” and “her” could hold back Danny’s transition. It was as if they were desperate to force Danny to stay in his prison so they wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility that they might need to take a look at what constructs oppressive or not, they, themselves might be living in.

And then there were the friends, the lovers, members of his queer family who thought he needed to be broadcasting his change. Writing a blog, posting youtube videos recording his voice changing and making public service announcements. “You owe it to your community to blaze a trail for others. Make noise. Be seen. Make waves, cause a scene, fight the “man.”

Ten years post transition, Danny was tired. He’d been a mentor. He’d taken young transmen under his wing. He showed them how to inject themselves with T, gave them pep talks, the ones no one had given him. He’d been the token FtM on University panels, spoken to groups like PFLAG and GLSTN. But now he was tired, he just wanted to live his life. “What was the point?” he thought, “of going through all this trouble to feel whole, to have the ability to wear life like a loose garment, if I’m living other people’s ideas of what my life should be?” “I don’t want to be an activist. Sure I’ll be there for someone who asks. But I transitioned so I could have my life. And now I’m having it.”

His family came around eventually. Gradually they got used to his new “look.” and family gatherings slowly devolved back into as normal situations as they ever were. His old friends were another story though. Girlfriends, ex lovers fell by the wayside as they confronted their attitiudes toward men, masculinity and what it meant to them and their own gender identity. His ex girlffriend summed up the general consensus. “If I’d wanted to be in a relationship with a man, I’d be straight!” Well, that was that. He muddled through and somewhere around 7 years post transition, he got his job with the realty agency. He started as a laborer and now three years later, he was property with a crew of 6 guys who answered to him. Other than being below average height for a man. (He was five foot seven.) Nobody at Devon Square Realty knew him by any name other than Danny Price. To his coworkers he was Danny, the wiry, energetic worker who never balked at climbing ladders, scaling walls or hauling scrap. Danny, who could throw back a couple of cold ones at the Devon Square Tavern and cheer on the Steelers, Penguins and swear at the Pirates.

And the women, well, they always flocked to him. He was goodlooking with his jet black hair that never quite stayed in place, his gray eyes and wide, sincere smile. His buds from DSR would always tease him. Seemed he couldn’t sit at the bar for one minute before the waitresses at the Tavern would each take a turn trying to get him to pay some attention to them. He was always nice of course, but it had been a couple of years since his last girlfriend had uttered that damning sentence.

He could probably pull off the stone butch thing for a little while, but that was not what he wanted for himself. Somewhere in this town, he knew there was a woman who not only found him attractive, but would appreciate the more subtle things about him, like the fact the was a great cook and didn’t mind sewing, had a cat, read Jane Austen and besides all that would be open to his, …condition. Who was he kidding? Pittsburgh was such a small town, surely who ever this fabulous girl was – he’d already met her, pissed her off or beat up her brother or something. He wasn’t pessimistic by nature, in fact he was optimistic to a fault. But experience had shown him little peace. Better to be lonely now, he figured.

Posted in Fiction

Cutts, Shoots and Leaves

This is the beginning of a short story I started back in 2019. Consider it a work in progress.

The motel room was dark. Cutts flicked the switch, already knowing the layout of the room.  She ticked off the amenities on her fingers. Two queen size beds, television, desk, armchair, minibar, bathroom.

She’d always known this was how it would end.  Well maybe not always but she’d recognized that there was a good probability that she’d live her last moments in just this sort of place.

Thick drapes blocked any connection to the outside world. “It’s a tomb.” She thought.

The sea bag was light. It took no energy at all to pull her sack across the threshold. Hell, there wasn’t much in there. Just a pair of skivvies, a baggie with her works, a fifth of Beefeater wrapped in her dress blues, a gun and a roll of plastic sheeting. She’d had the forethought to change to her dress shoes before leaving the apartment. ( It wasn’t so much an apartment as a rooming house, where she rented a room and shared a bathroom with two other tenants.) 

Still, there was a commitment in every step Cutts took. The first when she packed her seabag, methodically placing each item into the bottom. Careful to slide the roll of plastic sheeting in first so as not damage her works. And then when she lifted the sea bag and placed the strap over her shoulder.  Each movement toward the hotel room was another signature to her now decided fate.  She did not pause however to ponder this.  Yet, this was the truth. Every movement, every breath was a step closer to bringing about her own end. Even when she straddled her soft tail and started it up, the hallmark eruption of  sound was yet another action moving her towards imminent death.

She wasn’t exactly sure if she’d change into her dress blues. Just as she was unsure if she would use again.  It seemed appropriate to dress for the occasion.  As if bringing about your own end would or should be a formal occasion. Shooting up would entail the possibility of passing out or changing her mind. And she did not want to change her mind.

She had come this far and did not want to begin again. Not start over. Not admit she had fallen. Not cop to being human and that thing she repeated every time she shared in a meeting. How long had it been lip service to introduce herself as, “I’m Cutts and I’m an addict?”

She also didn’t want to leave a horrendous mess. Of course there would be splatter, but why cause the hotel staff any more trouble by ruining their bedclothes? No, she would spare them at least that.

The room began to materialize and Mad surveyed the scene. “Typical.” She said, clucking her tongue. “Nice, clean hotel room. Resolved actor dutifully unrolling plastic sheeting and covering the bed. Wow, this chick is OCD or nuts or what?” Mad was speaking aloud. Although she was pretty sure Cutts would not be able to hear her. And if by chance she did, well, maybe she would stop this nonsense and avoid everything that would have to come after.

Suicides are a paperwork nightmare. Mad pushed her hand through her short, cropped, hair and sighed.

Cutts had everything laid out.  One bed was covered in plastic sheeting. On the other bed she unrolled her dress blues, picking up her works and laying them tenderly next to her clothes. She even laid her skivvies on top of her trousers in exactly the right place they would go on her body. She laid one pair of black dress socks neatly on the floor just below the legs of her trousers. Last to be unpacked was the gun in its case; a Glock 9mm. She placed it carefully next to her works. 

“So it’s come to this.” She whispered to herself.