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      By S. Wisneiski

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I was always fascinated with the way women moved and looked. Especially my mother. I would always watch her, enchanted. One day, I got enough gall and went into her closet. There, I became lost in the fabric of her clothes. The distinct smell of my mother grabbed me. That hint of my father’s beer cologne. But mostly it was my mother and the smell of the Earth. But then my father caught me in my mother’s heels and took a belt to me. Between every smack of the belt against my bare ass, he told me with gritted teeth that I was a bot and little boys--smack­--didn’t--smack--wear women’s--smack--clothing. Unless I wanted to grow up and be a queer I should stay out of Mommy’s things.
“Queers grow up and rape little boys and die. Do you want to die Blake? Do you want to be a rapist? Do you want to bleed out of your ass and have people beat you everyday like I just did because you’re a fairy?”
I shook my head no and Daddy sent me to my room where I laid down on my stomach because my behind hurt so bad. I didn’t know than what a rapist was, or even what a queer was, but if I was going to die or get beaten like that all the time, I sure as hell didn’t want to be one.

"Stop staring at my dick!” Chuck yelled. He was chasing me in the student parking lot after school. This had become somewhat of a routine.
“I wasn’t lookin’ at your small dick, dumbass!” I said. Truth be told, I was.
“Then how did you know it’s sma--"
I looked back when I no longer heard Chuck’s footsteps. He stood staring at me next to some red car. Either shock or fear was on his face, and I didn’t want to stay looking at him long enough to decide which it was.
“Bye asshole! Race you tomorrow!” I quickly got into my car and tried to shake myself free from the adrenaline that was coursing through my body. At least this daily “race” with Chuck helped keep me in shape for the soccer season.
Driving home, I just try to prepare myself for what’s waiting for me there. Will Dad be drunk today or not? Will Mom be out of bed yet? Will Dylan, my younger brother, even be home? Did he go to school today? Oh listen to me. No wonder Dad calls me his little woman and drinks till he sweats Jim Beam. He was right when he told me I’d grow up to be a queer.
Pulling into the driveway behind my dad’s rusted out black Ford pickup, I try to calm my nerves by telling myself that today is going to be a different kind of day. One day I need to stop lying to myself.
I get out of my car and walk up to the front door. It needs to be painted. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend to make my father happy. Taking in a deep breath, I enter the house.
“Shut the damn door, you queer.” It’s wonderful to be home. I swear it is.
I make a beeline for my bedroom, quietly, so I don’t disturb my father in his drunken stupor. I don’t need my ass kicked right now.
In my room, I head straight to my desk and start unloading my backpack. I stack my books from largest to smallest, carefully making the spines line up and the smaller book perfectly in the center of the larger one underneath. Next come the notebooks in a pile to the left of the texts which are on the right side of the oak desk. Each is slowly but surely being filled with my small precise writing, the complete opposite of my father’s unsteady, loopy script.
As I get ready to start my English homework, Please read the first two scenes of Romeo and Juliet and answer the following questions, the phone rings.
“Hey you queer, your dyke friend is on the phone!” My brother, he certainly does have a way with words.
I leave my room and head to the little table in the hallway where my brother stands with the phone against his stomach. “You should really stop having your fag friends call here. Dad doesn’t like it.” He slams the phone into my waiting hand and stomps away to his bedroom.
“You should really tell your brother that I’m not a dyke. Fag hag yes, but not a dyke.”
“Well Laura, he’s just mad that you won’t suck his dick.”
“He’s fourteen!”
“Kids are maturing younger and younger these days. Face it, he wants you and you probably secretly want him.”
“Shut the fuck up! Anyway, the real reason that I called, even though I so love talking about suckling your brother’s dick, um, I don’t know how to tell you this otherwise, but my mother noticed the bruises yesterday. She wants to call social services or something. She says she’s tired of pretending that you’re just a clumsy kid.”
Of course, the second that I think that maybe this is a parent who won’t do anything, a parent who may even become a substitute for my own, she has to go and do something like this. It isn’t the first time though. Parents of other children that I had played with when I was younger saw my wincing when I would interact with their children. Most thought I had an aversion to sunlight, other’s ignored it, and a select few went out of their way to find the bruises on me. Which never really was that hard since all they had to do was roll up my sleeves or look down the back of my shirt. Thank God teachers today are over worked and underpaid. Otherwise I don’t know what would have happened had they’d paid enough attention to see the signs of child abuse. Good thing I’m just naturally quiet. Good thing the only “symptom” I showed was the bruises. Good thing my Dad didn’t hit me where they could see it.
“Does she want to talk to my parents or something?”
“I don’t know, probably.”
“Just tell her that I got the shit kicked out of my at school and the principal is dealing with it.”
“I don’t think she’ll take that as an answer again.”
“Then tell her to fuck off.”
“Listen Blake, she just wants to help you. She doesn’t want you to hurt anymore. I don’t want you to hurt anymore either.”
“I can deal with this. Besides, I’m a junior now. I won’t have to deal with it much longer. And what is a social worker going to do with a seventeen year old anyway? Take me for a few months then throw me to the wayside? Thanks, but I’ll pass.”
“If you say so. Mom’s calling me for dinner. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”
“Yeah and tell her ‘hey’ for me. And put a little ‘fuck you’ behind.”
I hang up the phone and try to shake off the feelings that having someone worrying over you can bring on. There’s no point in having people love you when they’ll just turn around and hate you in the end anyway.

I’m thirty-five and I’ve just had my sixth beer in a row. Maybe the next one will make me feel beautiful. I’m sitting alone in my two room apartment, free beer in my hand with my chipped pink nail polished fingers. I’m in my mother’s old purple cornflower summer dress with a bright red wig on my head. I look like a child who’s gotten into their mother’s make-up, save for the four week old beard and burn scars on my face when my father threw boiling water onto it. At least I’m trying.
“Isn’t this what you wanted me to do. Isn’t this who you knew I would become?”
I scream but nobody answers. The TV is on mute and my neighbors are all gone. People have better places to be than some squalid apartment building on Christmas Eve. All I have to do is to sit here and wait for the flashing lights of my future. Maybe they’ll be here soon.

“Pass the corn, fag,” my brother says.
“Knock it off, Dylan.”
“But Mom, he started it.”
She doesn’t refute his argument. I get blamed for everything because I’m “limp-wristed.”
My mother just ignores us. I see she’s still wearing her favorite cornflower blue sundress hat she’s been wearing for the past week. It used to be my favorite too, until she started wearing it for days at a time. She carries the barely gotten out of bed/I’ve given up on life stench. Now whenever I look at my mother, instead of being fascinated, all I see are the pit stains, rumpled fabric, and my mother’s greasy hair laying in chunks down her back.
We sit in silence for awhile. None of us want to disturb my father’s constant alcohol induced headache, and it pleases my mother to see all her food that she’s gotten out of bed to prepare eaten. I, being who I am, decide to ruin it.
“One of the parents from school is reporting you guys for child abuse again.”
My brother’s mouth is hanging open, mashed potatoes falling out of his mouth and off of his fork. I know what’s going through his mind and I ignore him. My mother ignores me. She knows the drill by now. Ignoring phone calls, avoiding places where she would run into parents of my classmates. The grocery store, the Laundromat, the movie theater, church. When I was thirteen, she didn’t go grocery shopping for three weeks. It wasn’t until my father started beating up on her instead of me, did she finally start feeding us again.
My father slams his fork and his fist on the table. “Fucking shit!” This would be my cue to leave the room. All at once the table is flying and so am I. My brother’s covered in food as my mother uses her cat like reflexes to get away from the table quickly. This is my second daily race. I usually lose this one.
I know no amount of begging or pleading will make this one end. I know if I cry or show fear, it will just make it worse. I know if I act like I don’t feel anything, it will last longer. As long as I put up a little bit of a fight, then my father feels that he has every right to go to town on me. While this makes it hurt more, it ends sooner. They’ve been shortening anyway since age is finally catching up with him and he can’t fight when he can’t breathe.
Maybe one day I’ll outrun him . . .
After, when I can feel every fresh bruise on my body, I lie in bed and plan when I can finally do my homework. I’ll have to wait since he decided to stomp on both of my hands tonight to teach me some lesson that I don’t really understand. Maybe I’ll skip school tomorrow and hope it’s for the best.

I’ve wasted my life. I’ve given into everything that my Daddy said I would become. I lay down on my couch that smells of all kinds of piss and wet cigarettes. I let the cold from the damp seep into my skin and I close my eyes. This is what it all comes down to. Maybe if I fall asleep, the flashing red and blue lights will descend upon me and I can finally begin the rest of my life.

“Blake, I’m sorry. I really am.”
It’s been two days since my latest scuffle with my father. I woke up the morning after and couldn’t move my fingers. Yesterday there were hints of bruises. Today, they’re kind of yellow and green but I can hide my hands in my sleeves. Thank goodness for cold weather.
Laura approached me as soon as she saw I was back in school. While I wanted to be angry at her for her mother, I know that she’s my only friend and I brought this beating upon myself.
“It’s no big deal, really. It’s not like it wouldn’t’ve happened anyway. And I didn’t have to bring it up when I did. It’s all about timing with them and I just happen to have a really bad sense of it.”
Laura shakes her head as the bell rings. I know she means well, but I’ve only known her for a little less than three years. I’m used to going it alone. It’s the only way that I know how.
I get through the day like any other. I keep on having to remind myself that this is all almost over. Soon I’ll be able to just wake up one day and not have to fear what comes with it.

My hand is down his pants and my Daddy’s voice is in my ear.
“Queers grow up and rape little boys and die. Do you want to die Blake, do you want to die?”
My whole body flinches and I snatch my hand out of the little boy’s underwear. I’m surely going to die. Daddy was right; I did grow up to be a rapist.
I look down at the little boy sitting next to me on my couch which my new cat has been trying fruitfully to make her litter box. My red wig reaches down to his shoulders. With tears in his eyes, he studies my mother’s purple cornflower dress. He’s probably going to die too.
I bring his smooth little boy hand to my freshly shaven left check that is covered in layers and layers of make-up as I decide to make him feel better. I know what will make him feel better.

“Today class, we’re going to talk about Shakespeare as a person as it relates to his works. I figured you all could use a break in the brain drain that is brought on when trying to understand what he’s written in iambic pentameter. So, can anybody tell me anything they know about Shakespeare?” Our English teacher looks at us. She’s a stout old woman, Mrs. P. She dresses like it’s the 1800s and she was probably one of Shakespeare’s long lost lovers. But we still love her just the same.
“No one? Come now kids. Give me anything! I’ll even take his hair color at this point!”
A few of us chuckle when Chuck chimes in with, “He was a fruit!”
“A what? I’m sorry, I don’t think I heard you correctly. Did you say fruit?”
“Is he a banana? A mango? I’m sorry, I don’t think I understand.”
“He was a fag!”
“A cigarette?”
“No, he liked to fuck dudes!”
“I will not have that language in my class, Mr. Davis! You should know better than to say such things! Imagine what your mother would say.”
“She’d say that she wouldn’t want her son reading faggy garbage in a public school.”
“I’ll have you know, Mr. Davis, that Shakespeare is one of, if not the, best British writers of all time. As to you referring to his sexual orientation, it has never been proven if he was a homosexual, a heterosexual, or even a bisexual. So if you please, give me one fact about Shakespeare that is actual truth and not some preposterous wives tale!”
The class is silent again for a few seconds when Mr. Chuck Davis decides to take it even further.
“If Blake was the author, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
The whole room bursts out in laughter. Even Mrs. P cracks a smile. How can she defend some guy who’s been dead for hundreds of years, but she be bothered to stop someone being slandered that is right in front of her, right now. The bitch.
“Alright kids, settle down.” That only sets them off even more. Chuck’s smiling at me, as if asking me to thank him for the attention. I feel rolled up paper hitting me in the back of the head. I shouldn’t have chosen the front row today. “Really now, stop or I’ll give you a pop quiz on all of Shakespeare’s work, most of which you haven’t read yet.” That shuts them up right quick.

After school, I lose the race between me and Chuck. His excuse this time, I was getting my faggy breath on him during phys. ed. It’s not my fault that our last names are right next to each other on the roster and I have to do everything around him. Excuse me for having the last name Daniels.
Adding to my already extensive collection of bruises thanks to my father, I now have a foot twice the size, my belly button looks like it’s outlined in purple magic marker. My right eye is swollen shut. It hurts to breathe on my right side. I can’t raise my left arm.
They should stop teaching little kids to just crouch into the fetal position and take it. One of these days that is going to contribute to my falling apart.
Getting home, I enter the house to find my father sitting on the couch instead of laying on it. I try to ignore him staring at my every move as I slowly put my jacket in the closet next to the door. I’m sure he’s seen my limp by now. He can’t have missed my eye, he’s not blind. If he is and I don’t know it, he certainly has good aim.
As I’m about to make the long climb up the stairs, he says, “The school called. They say you were beaten up after hours and then it becomes a police issue, not a school one. They think we should press charges.”
“Oh? Well, don’t worry. It’s not that bad. I’ve suffered worse from you. The kid who did it won’t take your title away.”
He seemingly ignores my comment dealing with his prestige about being the best bully to ever get a hold of me. “I told you to stop acting like a fag in front of people. You disgust me.”
I can’t decide which is worse, him yelling at me or him talking to me calmly.
“Hopefully this lesson will stick with you.”
My father gets up off the couch and stares at me, emotionless. His anger I can handle, but his calm—his calm is the absolute worst.
“You will open that closet once more and take out a broom. You will hand it to me and lay down on the floor. You will not scream out. You will not try to get away from me. You will tell no one this happened. Am I clear?”
“But Mom, Dylan--”
“Are out doing some errands. You don’t have to worry about being humiliated in front of them.”
Do you want to bleed out of your ass and have people beat you everyday like I just did because you’re a fairy?
I limp back to the closet and open the door. This is a new line that has never been crossed before. I open the door and there it is: the broom. I grab hold of the handle. My green and yellow fingers are shaking. My breath becomes stuck in my throat but I still turn around and face my father.
“Come here and lay down on the floor.”
I obey. Do you want to bleed out of your ass?
“This is what you have to look forward to with your life full of queers.”
I scream.
I scream and I bleed.
Do you want to bleed out of your ass and die?
Do you want to die?
Take me.

“Of course I can watch Scott, Mrs. Nolan. It’s no trouble at all. I understand about forgetting plans that you can’t get out of and you can’t bring your child too. I’ve baby sat before for my brother’s kids. He should be no trouble at all. Bye-bye now.”
I close the door behind me and look at the sullen six year old on the couch. He’s disappointed he can’t go with his parents to some pre-holiday season party.
I join him on the couch and he looks at me as if he’s frightened. “What’s wrong?”
“What happened to your face?”
“You see, when I was a bad boy, my Daddy liked to punish me. One day, just before I left home, he decided that I should always have the scars of his lessons so I would never forget them.” Of course he didn’t know I had been shitting blood ever since I was seventeen. “So, he decided to throw some boiling water on my face and I’ve looked like this ever since.”
“Oh.” It escapes the young boy as if he’s too frightened to say anything else. He turns his head and looks at the television. He doesn’t even ask if he can watch it, he just stares at the blank screen as if it’s the most entertaining thing. I know what will make him feel better.
“Do you want to play dress up? Your mommy told me you liked that game.” His eyes light up and I tell him that in my room there is a bunch of old clothes that we can put on, as well as fake hair, and make-up.
“Boys aren’t supposed to wear make-up,” he says, as he makes a disgusted face.
“It’s okay right now since we’re playing dress up.”
He smiles and rushes toward my bedroom where at the foot of my bed is an open truck overflowing with my mother and father’s old clothing from when they were alive. My father succumbed to cirrhosis and my mother finally drove herself insane enough to end her life.
After he’s been gone a few moments, I call to him. He rushes out with my mother’s favorite purple cornflower dress, a bright red wig, and what looks like my father’s only suit and tie and make-up. He’s laden down his entire burden of almost my entire make-up collection.
“Who do you want to dress up as?”
“I want to be the Daddy. You can be the Mommy.”
He quickly throws on the jacket that is about twice as tall as he is and just as wide. He begins to know the tie and he gives up and asks me to.
“Okay, first you lay it flat on your neck, like this, with the pretty side out. Now, the fatter part of the tie has to be longer otherwise it will be all messed up. Then you bring the fatter part over the skinny end twice, making a hole the second time.” I demonstrate this from behind him. “Then you put the fat end through part around your neck and the other hole. And then you pull the skinny end down. And there you have it young sir, a half Windsor.”
“Awesome! Can I put on your make-up?”
“Of course, but let me change first, a lady never changes in front of a man of such distinction.” He giggles and I’m sure I’m speaking over his head, but I’ve never spent a lot of time around children who actually like you. My brother’s kids usually call me Uncle Faggot and leave me alone.
When I’m done changing I go back to the living room and sit down on the floor. Scott quickly begins to open and use every tube of lipstick, every compact of blush and eye shadow. Eye and lip liner are the new nose crayons. Concealer covers my forehead and my chin. As long as he is having fun, I don’t care.
When he’s done he jumps up on the couch and plops down. “What now?”
“Well, I do have this other game we could play. It’s a lot like dress up where you pretend to be other people, but in this game, you actually do what the people would do. How does that sound?”
“Okay, who am I?”
“You play the husband and I’ll play the wife. I’ll show you how a wife takes care of her husband.”
I reach over and all of a sudden, my hand is down his pants and my father’s voice is in my ear.
Queers grow up and rape little boys and die. Do you want to die Blake, do you want to die?
My whole body flinches and I snatch my hand out of the little boy’s underwear. I’m surely going to die. Daddy was right; I did grow up to be a rapist.
I look down at the little boy sitting next to me on my couch which my new cat has been trying fruitfully to make her litter box. My red wig reaches down to his shoulders. With tears in his eyes, he studies my mother’s purple cornflower dress. He’s probably going to die too.
I bring his smooth little boy hand to my freshly shaven left check that is covered in layers and layers of make-up as I decide to make him feel better. I know what will make him feel better.

My heart starts to pound in my chest as I wait. Perhaps I should just end it myself. I achingly pull myself up and off the couch, leaving an indent where I made my home for the past four weeks. I walk to the phone that’s sitting right next to the door. I dial.
“Hello?” The answer is sleepy. I don’t realize that it’s four in the morning. Do you want to grow up and rape little boys and die Blake?
“I’ve done something bad.”
Laura’s silent. Confused. This has never happened before.
“I’ll be there as fast as I can.”
I wait until I see Laura parking her car behind me on the street below before I make my next call.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“Four weeks ago, I first molested and raped a little boy.” Do you want to grow up and rape little boys and die Blake? “I want to turn myself in.”
I buzz Laura in and I hear her climbing the stairs to my second floor apartment.
“Okay, may I please have your address so I can send over a police officer?”
I tell her as I let Laura in. “It smells like fucking cat piss in here.”
“An officer will be there shortly.”
“Thank you.” I hang up the phone and turn towards Laura. “I’m turning myself in tonight, this morning, whatever, for molesting and raping a little boy. I just wanted to say goodbye to you. I know this means the end of our friendship. I just wanted to know if you could take the cat. He’s around here somewhere.” I turn my head to pretend to look. I know where the damn cat is. I put him in the bathroom just . . . a few hours ago maybe with some food.”
“That damn cat better still be alive,” Laura says. “You know how much Ginny loves that thing.” Ginny, a perfect red-headed angel, Laura’s only daughter and the sole remaining line that Laura has to her dead husband’s family. “Wait, you did what to a little boy?”
“I violated him. Did exactly what my father said I would do. I turned into a rapist and now I’m going to die.”
“You’re not going to die. I always knew that your father fucked you up big time.”
She starts looking around for the cat. Suddenly she stops and turns to face me. “You never touched Ginny did you?”
“No. This was the first and last time I will ever do that.”
She looked visibly relaxed as I hear the sirens in the distance. They’re coming for me.
“Look, you better get the cat out of the bathroom and go somewhere, anywhere else but here. They’re going to think that you’re like, an accomplice if you’re here when they barge in. So go, go, go!”
She quickly does what I ask of her and gets the hell out of dodge.
I sit down on my couch as the sirens fill the streets and red and blue lights paint my walls for just seconds at a time. I hear the police men getting out of their vehicles and breaking down the door. I take a deep breath.
“Oh, um, is this Blake Daniels's home?”
“Yes, I’m Blake.”
They study my form for a few seconds. I’m clearly everything they’ve been told that a pedophile is. A gay man in women’s clothing, living in a small, rank apartment that smells like cat food. I’m probably their worst nightmare come true.
“Well, you’re going to have to come with us and go to the station.”
“That’s perfectly fine gentlemen. Do you want me cuffed or not?”
“We’re going to have to cuff you.”
I walk to the tree officers standing at my door and hold out my still limp-wrists in offering.
One of them cuffs me as another one whispers to the third, “What a fag.”
“Excuse me? Did I hear you right? You’re going to walk into my home, arrest me for a crime that I am willingly admitting to and then you’re going to call me a fag? That’s very professional of you.” To make my point I knee the second cop right where it hurts.
And then I lose another race.

Are you going to be a rapist, Blakie?
No Daddy.
Are you going to be a rapist, Blakie?
No Daddy.
Are you going to be a rapist, Blakie?
Isn’t this what you wanted?

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