Authors: Ian Cooper
Tags: #romance, #love, #short story, #androgyny, #legs, #light comedy, #ian cooper
Not too much. Just looking
for a new job, at least I think I am.” Brandon listened, not going
on too long.
Try and draw them
Yeah. I hear you.” The
voice was low, soft and sultry—and yet kind of generic when he
What made a woman’s voice any
different from a man’s would be questions of frequency, timbre,
tone, a certain non-smoker’s lack of vibrato…all of that was
bullshit and he knew it, unfortunately. In some ways, it could be
anybody on the other end.
So, Brandon. What are you
doing on the weekend?”
His heart pounded. They’d exchanged
phone numbers after having what amounted to a wonderful time, at
least for Brandon. Now he had a better idea of how Kim felt about
it. But even so, under those circumstances, the question of gender
wasn’t all that pressing.
It was just two people having some
hotdogs and that bitter, dark coffee and doing more people-watching
and talking about baseball than anything else. Kim was a big
Well. Not much, as far as
I know.” Kim was drop-dead beautiful, too.
That was the real problem, and why in
the hell did Kim ever ask Brandon to dance? That wasn’t exactly
unheard-of, but rare—certainly in his experience.
It really wasn’t in character for an
ostensibly-shy girl (or boy) to suddenly walk up to a stranger in a
club and ask them to dance. Especially when he wasn’t exactly the
most macho, or the best-looking, or what the hell am I telling
myself? He wondered at his own thought processes at times. He was
reading too much into it and had ridiculous
Maybe that was the key—low
We could go
Ah—yeah. I would love
that.” His mind raced.
How much money have I got? Not much,
I mean, I’m kind of broke
Aw, that’s all right. I
don’t mind going Dutch.”
He laughed, surprised by
the old-fashioned expression. Better to explain
No, uh, I don’t think you
understand what I mean. I mean, broke—as in dead broke. That’s one
reason I’m kind of interested in other forms of
Oh.” He could imagine her
thoughts, but then how do you really know?
And notice I just said her
Yes?” Kim was more
doubtful now, and Brandon realized that it sounded like some kind
of a brush-off.
We don’t have to go
What do you
Well, I don’t know. There
are parks and things. Trails—you know. There’s supposed to be a
waterfall up by Lyndock Hill. Somewhere up there, in a conservation
Hmn. I have to admit, I am
intrigued.” That seemed bold for Kim.
Kim really didn’t impress
Brandon in terms of coy repartee. You never knew though—as his old
man once advised him,
‘nice girls fuck too
and they’re a lot less trouble.’
Kim obviously thought for a
Are you working now,
Kim had told him
he, she or it
worked as a supply-chain specialist for a prominent stocking
manufacturer, in fact a famous brand name.
Yes. But I get off at
four-thirty, just like every other working slob.”
His heart stopped—he thought Kim was
going to say ‘girl’ there and settle all doubts.
Kim had called him from work. It had
some kind of significance, if only because there were implied
alternatives. Kim might have other options. She was lining up her
One couldn’t assume anything of
course, but hurting Kim’s feelings, male or female, really wasn’t
So you learn something new about
I’ll tell you what.” Kim
didn’t have a car, he knew that. “Why don’t I pick you up at the
front door. We’ll grab a six-pack, and some KFC, and we’ll go there
up and look for that waterfall.”
Sure.” A smile was evident
in Kim’s voice. “Pick me up outside the front gate. There’s a guard
shack, on Dumb-ass Street, right?”
Dundas Street. No-brainer.
They rang off and Brandon sat back in
his overstuffed rocking armchair, lost in futile
If Kim is a man, what in
the hell am I going to do?
Oh, oh—and one more thing.
How in the hell do I get
Like the total idiot that he was,
Brandon had forgotten to ask what Kim was wearing.
He was relieved to see that Kim had
worn, or had somehow changed into, low brown walking shoes,
knee-high white socks, a short, pleated grey skirt and a loose
white blouse with long sleeves. There was a considerable extent of
pale white skin exposed between the socks and the skirt. It was a
warm day and there was no black leather jacket in evidence. Cute as
a button, and looking like the school-girl from hell.
The sight ought to have been
reassuring. Surely a gender-confused individual would be clad in
appropriate attire, at least during working hours. Kim’s boss might
be a man, woman, or nut-case. Interesting thought, but
Usually all caught up on
the news, or at least the hot-button
of the day, Brandon wondered
what the corporate policy here was, on cross-dressing in the
work-place for example, in these politically-correct
Kim looked fresh and
inviting, the hair lower and flatter today, combed out long and
straight and looking jet black with stunning highlights in the
blazing sun of late afternoon. Ah, mousse, he realized. That’s how
Hold the illusion for as
long as you can, for surely it is a good one.
What the hell.
The closer she gets, the
taller she is.
Kim’s stride was long, powerful, and
damn it all, Brandon was going to call Kim a she until otherwise
The hips went back and forth, left and
right, and those incredible eyes were locked right on
Okay, the Mustang, silver with a black
hood stripe, was unmistakable—but his guts flipped over when he saw
her smile and wave. Holy crap, he had to restrain his glee—it was
like he wanted to rub his hands together and cackle like a mad
Hey.” Kim’s door thudded
into place and he repressed a wince. “Oh, sorry. I guess I didn’t
need to slam it that hard. So, where is this place?’
Brandon pulled it into drive and
checked over his shoulder carefully, as there were buses and
jay-walkers all over the place now that the day was over. He pulled
into the lane. He gave Kim a sidelong glance.
There were those legs. Oh! My God. No
razor burn…no suspicious-looking black specks all over the upper
legs. Her face was smooth, relatively makeup-free today, and in
this light it was definitive. He gave the throttle a little squirt,
burning a bit of rubber at the intersection, giving Kim a look of
pure, masculine masterfulness.
Nice.” She was checking
out the dashboard and the interior.
He nodded with a wink, settling down
again for the drive.
Hopefully his faith would be
Yeah, it’s not too far.
Out on the outskirts, up in the Pines area.” This was an
upper-class enclave, with hills, a few babbling brooks coming down
out of the highlands and a string of nature trails and small public
parks. “But first, what do you want to eat?”
Oh, God. I don’t care. I
am famished, though.” Kim gave him a famished
and a squeeze of his right
Brandon said a silent little prayer
and headed for the nearest commercial strip, sure that they would
find something in the way of fast food that they could both agree
He already had four cans of beer and a
small bottle of a fairly dry white wine in the plastic cooler that
was supposed to be for work, but lately he’d just been eating off
Stuck for small talk, he joked around
with Kim and told her all about it.
A highly-polished contraption on the
back of a flat-bed pickup truck, they served sandwiches wrapped in
cellophane, big hunks of heavy cake with even heavier icing,
presented the same way, even little paper bowls of Jello. Then
there was the half-pints of chocolate milk on machine-made ice
chips, sitting right on the end in a big steel tub.
They didn’t even have a cash register.
The attendant had a pen and paper and was good at adding figures in
their head, and everything was rounded-off to the nearest
Brandon and Kim sat in the still
evening air, not much bothered by flies and mosquitoes. The picnic
table was thirty yards from his car and other people, a family of
five, couples, a few single folks, came and went.
A popular trail for walking dogs, it
was also a fairly busy place, as these places tended to be in good
weather. Brandon loved the escarpment in all seasons, and had spent
some time on lonelier days hiking good sections of the trail
system. There was a nice casual air to what they were doing,
It was a natural act, and a good thing
They were eating KFC, greasy but also
strangely intimate. You sort of had to let your hair down—and eat
the stuff with your fingers.
Kim’s wonderful eyes took in the
surroundings, tall trees and lush green grass neatly-tended, hills
and dales, with the roar of the cataracts off behind her in the
This is really
Yeah. I’m looking forward
Kim’s collar was buttoned up to the
top, but it ended well below where the Adam’s apple should have
been, or would be in a male. The scent had impressed him at first
as a feminine one…and of course then the doubts crept in as anyone
could wear a scent.
Either way, that lack of a bump in the
throat didn’t prove anything, although Brandon couldn’t immediately
recall the name of the procedure. He knew they had one, and so the
doubts and questions continued. It was expensive, elective surgery
he thought, and not everyone could afford it or would even do it if
they could. It was maddening not to be able to focus.
All of this is
madness—Slam’s kind of madness, the kind of madness the modern
world puts into our brains…every stinking day.
The inkling of an actual idea began to
eat at the tissues on the verge of Brandon’s brain stem.
At least that’s how it felt at
What if the most simple,
answer was the correct one.
What if Kim was really a girl, and
just a bit androgynous in appearance, and nothing more?
She was a tall, skinny girl with a
certain fashion sense. He’d never met anyone quite like
It certainly bore some thinking
Brandon and Kim gathered up the
remains of the meal, and put it in the trunk of the Mustang. He put
two cans of Bud Light in his jacket pockets and they followed the
trail markers. The shadows were deeper down in the gorge, and they
held hands, picking their way carefully around boulders, fallen
logs and muddy spots. The beer was a bad idea. There were people
around and the cans kept threatening to fall out of his
Careful…careful.” She made
it across a slick flat rock, with a little help from
He could feel cold wet mist on his
face. He grinned, alive with the moment. Still it was out of sight,
but just around the corner. A vertical wall bulged out, and the
stream fell in from the right bank somewhere up ahead. They could
see white spray and splashes on the rocks and foam floating on a
green pool. They picked their way carefully.
Oh!” Kim stopped, and they
looked up at the falls, coming down from a good forty feet
They edged up closer, and then Brandon
looked around and stood on a flat rock about four inches higher
than the surrounding gravel.
He pulled Kim’s hand. She came and
stood in front of him, looking at the falls, the cliffs, and he
wrapped his arms around her from behind. Brandon just stood there
marveling at his own fortune, and perhaps, nerve.
She didn’t seem to mind,
along in the first place.