a convincing illusion
He was 6 months under the age of 21, and he had lived many lives already: different people, different roles, different professions… None of them significant.
Now he had 10 worn-out dollar bills in his pocket and he had a choice: stay and be the town queer or run and be free.
Become a stray dog or a hippie maybe. Grow his hair and live his life as simple as possible to maintain his values of love and happiness. And peace of course. Wear conspicuous clothes, listen to laughter and birdsongs. Become a vegetarian, see the world through psychedelic eyes, and have sex with people like him. Yes! He wanted to touch the bodies of Gods.
He said a last goodbye to the wallpaper in the house where he grew to hate his father and decided to head east. He walked towards the gas station on the outskirts of town. He did his best not to look like a vagabond, he didn´t want people to think he just escaped from an asylum. He put on a friendly smile and picked a spot where cars could easily pull aside. He had never hitchhiked before in his life.
He flagged a few cars and finally, a car pulled over. The driver asked him where he was going. He simply replied: East.
Before he hopped in, he took one last look at the town he would never go back to.
His eyelids grew heavy. He crossed an imaginary line in the dark, the world faded. He fell asleep to an urban lullaby.
He woke up as midnight grew near. He put his collar up as he got out of the car and braved the cold as he walked a few blocks. He wished he could have drifted in the comfort of his dreams a little longer.
He came to a hotel with a one-star rating. He put a few dollar bills on the counter for the night. his room was small, the mattress dirty. He went for a walk, wondering what he would find. He came to a track where a woman wore a puffy coat and not much else, her face covered in too much makeup for the taste. She just ambled along trying to make contact with cars driving by.
A man with one arm called out to him. Not much was said. There was no need for it. He didn´t even run back to grab his bag, too small to hold his fears, and jumped in for a ride to a house in a bad neighborhood. The next morning the stranger waved goodbye.
His life would start all over. He could smell the scent of pastries that wafted from bakeries. He pushed his way through ornate brass doors and found a friendly face at a counter.
He had a place to sleep on a couch and a few dollars in his pocket. He met strangers in clandestine places and kept his mouth shut. He pined up for the great unknown, just like the heroes from the books he read usually on the bus.
The allure of black and white from back home was absent. He grinned at the thought of,, back Home'' because he never felt home there. sure; it all lacked a little glamour, but at least fluorescent lights came on at night.
By day he waited tables at minimum wage. After dark, he would head out and find places where freedom coursed along invisible conduits. He was too young to get in any bar; gay or straight. He bought a 10-dollar fake ID, but a bouncer made him out, pulled him by his ear, and threw him into the street.
He found a clique of underage revelers and he learned to wait in the lobby of bars hoping for a lift back to his place.
He hung in a ramshackle juke joint, where music played and a large cook prepared cheap cuts of meat and sweet potato pie, a few blocks away from a park. During the day it beamed with the gay life he had always dreamed about. Men wearing work shirts, no matter what day of the week it was, walking hand in hand.
He watched, rapt in curiosity as he witnessed a man named Sam, blossom into womanhood as Samantha. He realized it was all a convincing illusion. They were queens of a netherworld, a demimonde, supported by wealthy lovers, that only existed at night hidden under the mantle of dark.
He clapped along with the crowd. He found it odd and disturbing, but it didn´t repulse him. It drew him in. what is drag but a long-held fantasy of fame? A masquerade coursing with the electric knowledge, that sometimes we have to become someone else, in order to find ourselves. A punchline, born from boredom and loneliness.
- “I´m Isis.” She said in a high-pitched drawl.
She mesmerized him. She had the magic to transform herself into a new person. One without a past. He could do the same, become someone who couldn´t remember ever being called a faggot, who never was bullied or rejected by his family.
Perhaps a beautiful woman: a femme fatale with raven black hair and long eyelashes.
When Isis was done with him, the mirrored door reflected somebody he didn´t recognize, and walking through it, he could throw away the portfolio of obscenities and meanness ever thrown at him.
The crowd pulled out sweaty dollar bills. First a few, then many.
When a long limousine pulled up, he got in and drove into the night. He had always known that one day, he ´d be riding in a big fancy car with a chauffeur at the wheel. He didn´t have a clue it was driving into the spectrum between life and death, hidden under the mantle of dark: a convincing illusion.
A farmhand found him one morning in a ditch like a packaged good, wrapped in a dingy carpet.
He was 6 days under the age of 21.