I Write The Songs . CONTEST ENTRY
TITLE: Andrew In Drag (Inspired by the Magnetic Fields song of the same title)
CHARACTERS: Eric, Jason, Sookie
DISCLAIMER: The characters listed above and as they appear below are the sole property of Ms. Charlaine Harris; I will own as I have taken several liberties with their habits and dispositions, but such is the nature of fic. I refuse to pull a "50 Shades," so copyright lawyers can rest assured that this bit of scribbling is intended solely for entertainment and will never turn a profit, commercial or otherwise. With respect to the inspiration, none of the lyrics appear within the story, but if they did, they'd be ©2012 The Magnetic Fields.
PEN NAME: esquilo-negligenciadas
BETA NAME: moxiemollymo
VIRGIN WRITER : Not for a long time now.
TEASER: When his friend signs up for amateur drag night at a Bourbon Street club, Eric tags along for the entertainment value, but his evening (and his life) is quickly turned on its head as "Sookie" takes to the stage. An entry for IWTS 2012, inspired by the Magnetic Fields song.
Jason had always said that the only reason he put up with all the gay dudes hitting on him at work was that straight chicks loved drag bars. Considering how often the man came home smelling of sex (or floral body wash, which was - for all intents and purposes - the same thing) in the morning, I had to assume that the dual charms of being a good-looking bartender and the only straight man in the room were paying off in spades. I preferred to play the field elsewhere, where I would get just as much ass and wouldn't have to act like a queen to fend off unwanted advances. Not that I could be convincing in that role - the closest I'd ever been able to manage was ambiguous, which tended to give the impression that anything was possible, rather than the opposite.
When my friend and roommate informed me that he'd signed up for a slot on amateur night, the pros suddenly outweighed the cons. Beautiful women who'd dig me for being comfortable enough in my sexuality to hang out in a drag bar, plus the opportunity to laugh at a buddy dressed up as a woman? Couldn't pass it up. Hell, I'd have gone even without the high probability of being laid - no way was I missing out on that kind of entertainment.
The Mistress of Ceremonies for the night was one of their regular performers, who introduced herself as Sophie-Anne LeClerc. From what Jason had told me, she normally went by Andre and ran a capoeira studio during the day, but tonight she was dressed like Carmen Miranda, complete with two-foot headdress and blindingly neon clothes. It was immediately evident that she ran a tight ship, keeping the show moving smoothly by ushering the particularly bad acts off the stage quickly while making jokes that would draw the audience back in without humiliating the performers. It was impressive.
However, after three Cher impersonators and more ABBA covers than I cared to count, there was nothing she could do to keep my interest. The only reason I hadn't bailed was I really wanted to see Jason in a dress. He was just under a foot shorter than me, which worked to his advantage, but he wasn't scrawny enough to sell it. Or so I thought.
Sophie-Anne introduced her as Sookie - I only noticed because it sounded weird - and she was a vision in red, utterly perfect. I couldn't say what song she sang, only that unlike the rest of the performers, she was actually singing it. The pitch was low for a woman, but in a sultry way, the sex-filled purr of it carrying me away to visions of her writhing with pleasure on my sheets when I buried myself inside her, of my mouth on her full breasts, which looked like they were just the right size to fill my substantial palms. I wanted her with my entire being, but she wasn't real.
As the song entered its final strains, I shook myself free of my imagination and the dream of our hair, so similar in shade, twining together on the pillow while our bodies twined further south. My vision cleared just in time to realize that "Sookie," now bowing off the stage to enthusiastic applause and catcalls, was Jason, and that I'd just fallen in love with my friend's one-off, female alter ego.
The man of the hour found me after the show was done, a garment bag over his shoulder and his face a little flushed from removing all the makeup that had gone into creating "Sookie." He was grinning, though his face fell a little when he noticed me staring morosely into the tumbler that had lately held a double of scotch.
"Hey, dude. Who pissed in your Cheerios?"
I blinked and switched on a smile. "Hm? Oh, just some work shit. Nothing you'd have any experience with."
"Damn straight. You know how me'n office work get along - like mudbugs and mountains." He slid into the chair next to me, dropping a bouquet of flowers on the table to free up a hand for punching me in the shoulder. "So what'd y'think? Your ears don't seem to be bleeding, so my caterwaulin' couldn't've been too bad."
If I'd had any drink left, I would've choked on it, remembering how not bad Jason's act had been. Instead, I nodded at the flowers. "Well, it looks like someone liked you."
He laughed. "Oh, these? Naw, they're not mine. They're for my sister."
"You have a sister?" He'd never mentioned her before, so it seemed weird that he'd be bringing her flowers all of a sudden.
"Uh, yeah," he replied, and the post-show exuberance draining rapidly from his face. "Yeah," he said again, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. "You wanna get out of here?"
I frowned. "Uh, sure. I'll settle up and meet you outside." Jason nodded, his expression unusually somber. After a moment, though, he perked back up and slapped me on the shoulder. "What're you waiting for? I'll be right outside." Having nothing else to say, he stood and started making his way to the front of the club.
Walking through the door was like walking into a sauna, even though the sun had been down for hours. Even with a breeze coming in off the Gulf, the city couldn't help but be muggy in early July; even so, expecting it didn't make it any less a shock to go from the comfortable air conditioning of the club to the street's sticky, humid air. Jason was leaning against the wall a few feet away, but pushed upright when he noticed me. He fell in step as I passed, and we walked in companionable silence to his truck. The garment bag was tossed unceremoniously into the bed as I stepped into the cab, and my friend situated himself behind the wheel a moment later, laying the bouquet on the bench seat between us.
"Alright, where'd you come up with the name Sookie?" We were rolling out of the lot, so he didn't answer right away.
"Yeah." His face had gone dark again. For it to happen once in one night was chance, but for Jason, any more than that and something was up. "I'm gonna drop these off with my sister. You mind comin' along?"
"Nope. Actually, I'd like to meet this sister you've been hiding away."
He inhaled sharply. "Sure. That's a good idea." His voice was a little rough.
I didn't feel like talking, because the only thing on my mind was Sookie, and apparently Jason wasn't in a chatting mood, either, so I passed the rest of the ride in silence, not really paying attention to where we were driving. I noticed, though, when we pulled into a cemetery near Metairie.
"I thought we were going to see your sister."
"We are." He pulled into a spot in the empty lot and hopped out of the truck, taking the flowers with him. "Scared to go into the graveyard at night, Eric?" His tone was teasing, but his eyes were serious.
"Of course not, just confused." I opened the door and stepped down onto the pavement.
"Good. Grab the flashlight out of the glovebox before you shut the door, wouldya?"
"What is she, the groundskeeper or something?"
"You'll see. C'mon."
He led me through the cemetery with confidence, his path through the city of the dead well-rehearsed as he counted each crypt we passed. I followed behind, shining the flashlight at his feet, until we came to halt in what was obviously a newer section. After several seconds of silence, he gave an exasperated sigh.
"Dude, you're not gonna to learn anything lightin' up the grass. Shine it on the tomb already."
I did. There was a long list of names, most of them Stackhouses, and those that weren't were Stackhouse relatives. At the bottom, though, was the name I realized I'd dreaded seeing.
Sookie Stackhouse July 1st, 1988 - December 8th, 2007
It was a punch to the gut. She did exist, or at least she had, four years ago. I'd fallen for her ghost, in a way, and rather than making the situation with Jason less awkward, it made the whole impossible mess infinitely more painful. I stood there, gaping, while Jason laid the flowers at the base of the mausoleum, and then the question just tumbled out of my mouth.
"Pediatric schizophrenia." His answer was matter-of-fact. "She started hearing voices when she was seven, maybe eight, and even with th'meds and therapy, she never never quite got a handle on bein' normal. She hung herself," his voice hitched at the memory, "a few years before you and I met. Tore our family apart. Gran had a heart attack when she heard, and between one thing an' 'nother, m'folks split."
I'd known his parents were divorced - he made a yearly pilgrimage to Texas for Thanksgiving with his mom - and that his grandmother's health was in decline, but the details had never come up before. Clearly his sister had been the glue that held the family together, and if the woman who'd stolen my heart within seconds of stepping onstage was the barest shadow of the girl who'd actually lived, I could see why.
I swallowed down the thick ball of sorrow that had lodged in my throat; this was definitely worse than the object of my affection being a fictional character. "So...the show?"
"July first, y'know? When I saw the flyer, I knew I had to do it. She'd be twenty-three today."
Of their own volition, my feet carried me forward, and I crouched down with him. "Tell me about her."
He snorted. "Aw, hell. She was my sister. She was great. When the pills were working, she was sunny and cheerful, and she worked really hard at getting social stuff right. It was hard for her, though. She couldn't handle being in public for long, and school was almost impossible. She had a hard time figuring out which voices were real and weren't, I guess 'cause they sounded like they were the thoughts of the folks nearby. It was tough, and I guess she's in a better place, but I still miss 'er." He sniffed, rubbing his nose with the back of his hand. "She was a funny kid. I think you'd've liked her."
"Yeah?" I patted him awkwardly on the shoulder. "C'mon, man, let's get out of here before you start weeping and I have to take your man card away." I made no mention of my own, recently-surrendered, man card.
"What?" His tone was all indignation, even if I couldn't quite make out his face.
"Mmhm. Drag counts as two points off, so if you start crying, it's game over."
I held up my hands as we stood. "Hey, I don't make the rules."
"Yeah, whatever. Let's go, asshole."
At home, we raided the fridge for beer and disappeared into different parts of the apartment without a word. I couldn't say what Jason was doing, but I was lying on my bed and trying to reconcile the start of the evening with its end. I hadn't liked the prospect of being in love with a woman who didn't really exist and whom I'd never see again, but I had been prepared to deal with it. That "Sookie" was a tribute to a real Sookie, one who'd killed herself at the tender age of nineteen because she just couldn't deal anymore, that was unquestionably a revelation for which I was unprepared. It made things complicated.
I didn't like complicated - it's why I'd never fallen in love before. Sex was easy, after all, but emotions were hard, made everything messy. These emotions...I had no idea what to do about them. I was mourning a woman I'd never met, years after she'd died, through an avatar that her brother had dreamed up. I was probably going to need therapy, right after I drank myself into a stupor.
I was headed back to my room with enough beer to get started on that plan when Jason came into the hall and thrust a framed photo at me.
"Here. Thought you'd want to see her." I took the picture automatically, juggling bottles to make room for it, and Jason fell back against the wall, crossing his arms and waiting.
It was her, all right. Her, grinning at the camera despite the pain in her eyes, an arm happily flung around Jason.
Jason in drag.
The love of my life.