The Transvestite in the Alley
My mother warned us all to stay away from the back alley. It was a horrible place. Ki, the misunderstood teenage boy of our neighborhood, was there. Always with friends. His mother screaming from the kitchen window, calling him an abomination, a queer, a mistake.
I thought he was cute. I was seven, but even then I liked a man’s attention, and Ki looked like Davy Jones of the Monkees. The Davy Jones rerunning on my tiny TV screen in a permanent teenage love, not the real Davy Jones my older brother would introduce my seven year old self to, via a People Magazine Article, with gray hair and wrinkles mocking his Day Dream Believer Days.
There was a weekend when all the younger kids played outside. I was never a real fan of outside, unless we could make up stories and act them out, but my mom must have wanted us out of the house, so I did as told. We ran back and forth through the apartment complexes and duplexes on our block to the alley. Stopping outside Ki’s apartment to swing on the T-Bar the neighborhood women used to hang towels for drying.
Ki and his girlfriend came out the back door, that day. The girlfriend crying, her mascara running down her face and cigarette dangling from her lips. I thought she was a tragic movie star. He told her to wait, and she settled on the cement back steps, smoking and sniffing. My brothers did not see what I saw and began calling her names. I don’t remember them all, but I remember she yelled back revealing she was not a girl at all. “What the fuck are you looking at? Get out of here or I’m going to burn your little fuck faces.” She threw her lit cigarette at my little brother, Junior. The boys all ran off screaming, and for a moment I began to as well, and then I stopped. I picked up her cigarette and returned it to her telling her, “Don’t worry, if I smoked I’d throw cigarettes at them too.” She just groaned and I went away.
I liked her. I’m well aware she wasn’t a her, but I was fascinated and came back a few times that day to see her on the steps. Some times alone, some times with Ki holding her, some times with a budweiser, some times smiling. I couldn’t stop myself from coming back and checking that she was still there until the point that she was not, the way you keep checking under a freshly placed band-aid to be sure the bleeding has completely stopped.
I don’t think about Ki any longer, except for when Davy Jones finally died in February of this year. He was 66 when he died, and I still see him as a permanent teenager with stars that twinkled in his eyes each time he fell in love on The Monkees. And I’m glad Ki moved away a few months after that weekend, because he is always the teenager holding his girlfriend on the back cement steps even though her mascara was running.