Dr. Verge says "family" and I kick the screen with my boot. It doesn't break. Fuck the girl in the mall. Every day she feeds off the reinforcement of the beauty myth. It doesn't matter if she was born Paris Hilton skinny and blonde. Every day she goes out and people treat her better because of how she looks. The world needs balance, and if I have to be unbalanced to supply it then so be it.
If I could punch her in the gut every day, I would. She doesn't deserve it? Well, cry me a river. She doesn't deserve the praise either. Who deserves anything? What does that even mean? She gets the praise, she gets the punch to the gut. That's justice. If I could suck off a blindfolded straight boy and pull back the curtain every day, I would do that too. Every time a straight person laughingly calls someone a faggot, a straight boy should be tricked into a homosexual act. He should have to live with that fear that someone will find out about him.
Dr. Verge says "family" again, but will it fix anything if I kick the television? I kick it anyway.
I walk down the steps and onto the street, and the sun is bright and hot. I feel like something has been flapping inside my head and it's finally come free. At the liquor store I buy the biggest bottle they have, something that says XXX on the side of it, like in a cartoon. Or no, maybe it says something realistic on the side of it. I can't tell. I lift it up to my lips and drink it right there in line.
The girl at the cash register doesn't ID me. She takes the money and gives me a receipt and a paper bag to drink it out of. She knows. Walking to Michelle's house, I drink right from the bottle, the cap in some gutter on the way, and the bottle in its paper bag. I drink it down like I'm my mother.
I remember the way. When I get there, I'll have to speak like I'm drunk. You have to use the right words in the right order. I'm the drunk man, showing up to fuck her. I have to remember to be obnoxious. There's a script to be followed.
And why not? I mean, what makes a man and a woman different? What is it that makes people like Dr. Verge wrong about family, about homosexuality, if it isn't the fact that we're all the same person with different masks on? How can one mask be better than another? This XXX shit burns going down, but that just means I get to grit my teeth and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand. Tough like set theory, but easy like Home Economics.
Michelle's at home when I get there, and I push past, into the apartment. I storm to the back, and find the bottle of pain killers. "I'm stealing your pills," I tell her, and I put two on my tongue and wash them down with liquor. Pills and Liquor, pills and liquor. We're getting really dark and gritty now. Everything is shot through a blue filter.
"Alex is a boy now. True or false?" I say. "Richard isn't some bisexual candy-ass faggot failure. True or false? We should take off our clothes and get right down to it. I've never done anything more than gnaw on a girl's fake cock, and you clearly just need a good visit from the cock deliveryman. True or false?"
"Are you drunk?" Michelle says, reading from the script. She's the sober woman who's visited by the drunken lecherous male. She's reading the script with her hair all shaved off like a dyke, but we can squint our eyes and picture any one of the dozens of appropriate TV actresses. Anyway, isn't this the part of the movie that everyone's been secretly waiting for, where the lead character and the awesome dyke character get together? It's awesome that they're fags and all, but "Kiss! Kiss!"
"Of course I'm drunk," I tell her. "My nose is red, isn't it? I'm hiccupping, Aren't I? Now, pencils down! Take your pants off and let's see if you passed. I want to see what it's like to enjoy heterosexual privilege. This is what god intended, isn't it?" Wait, no, that's not my motivation. I put my hand out to steady myself on the wall. Focus. "I mean, if gender's nothing, then what the fuck is lust? I've been getting hard over a concept, haven't I? I've fucked post-op trannies, dickless and satisfying, because I knew they were men. Well, you're a man. Spread your fucking labia or whatever the shit it is."
"I'm not a man, and I'm not going to fuck you," Michelle says. "I'm not into men. I like women. You know that."
"So you don't think that gender's just a construction, then?" I say, and she shakes her head.
"I don't care what it is," she says. "It gets me wet to think about my body with another woman. The idea of a penis makes me physically ill. So, I choose orgasms. They're satisfying and plentiful, and if I have to buy into a constructed ideal, so be it."
Out in the street I drink some more. The bottle's bottomless. I start walking again. There's got to be a bar here somewhere, close by. There's got to be a place with a middle aged woman drunk in the afternoon. If Michelle won't fuck me, someone will. Someone will drive me out to their little house in the suburbs and let me try again and again until I'm satisfied that I can do it.
She's sitting at the bar with flowing black hair, and a smile full of teeth. I drop onto the stool next to her and say "You ever fucked a faggot?" and she nods and says that she had a problem for a while, where all her boyfriends went gay after sleeping with her. The bar is empty, so I don't say "Oh that's right. Having bad sex is probably what makes people gay. Why didn't THE SCIENTISTS think of that yet?" and instead I say "I hope you live somewhere with expansive green lawns." And she does.
In bed she's wet and moaning, and my cock's inside her and there's no lube and it's fucking awful. She's such a woman. I pull out, and she grabs my ass to pull me back in, but I can't even stay hard. I've heard that it's better if you don't look. I can't help it. Jesus. I need a man, whether that's giving in to the idea of a valid dichotomy of genders or not, I don't know. But I need a man. This is awful. It's like nails on a chalkboard, except both the chalkboard and the nails are my cock.
"I'm sorry," I say, and she laughs at me, drunk still.
"You too?" she says, "The world is full of impotent men."
"I'm not impotent," I tell her. "I'm just disgusted by your sloppy fucking mess." And I get my pants and I leave. There's an SUV parked in front of the neighbor's house, with a baby seat in the back. I take my bottle and I put it right through the back window. "Hey, I christened your boat!" I yell at the house, but nobody comes to the window. Whatever.
I keep walking. I christened their boat, and I named it "That bitch at the mall should have got a kick in the box while she was down" and it's a good name for a boat.
Three blocks later I come across a little girl on her way home from school. "Hey kid," I say. "Did you know that if you grow up gay, you mommy and daddy won't have to die?" She looks at me for a minute, and I smile and stagger a little bit. "The instant you let a boy put his cock in you," I say, "Your mommy's name gets written down on God's list of people who have to die. Your daddy gets written down on the devil's list." She starts to run away and I shout after her "You're going to murder your parents you little straight slut!"
For a second I worry what if she wasn't straight? I just assumed that she was. But then she's got nothing to worry about, does she? Her parents will be fine.
Michelle opens the door and lets me in. "Don't look at me like that," I say. The room is spinning a little, but I'm fine. I feel better than I have in days. I tell her "I want to make bumper stickers for politicians and gay rights advocates." I sit on the couch, and Michelle sits on the chair. She nods.
"Bumper stickers, huh?" she says.
"Yeah," I say. "They would read 'My other pro-tolerance message is also condescending.'"
As the room spins I wonder whether you need gender to have lust. What about those androgyny loving people. They're still jacking something off, though, aren't they? They're not just sitting around looking at chrome toasters and having instant orgasms. Are they? "I couldn't do it," I tell her. "I don't know how you can deal with that shit. It's like a meat shop, down there. I need stability, you know?" Michelle rolls her eyes.
"I'm not going to get into an argument with you over the pros and cons of our genitals," she says. "You've grown up with yours, and I've grown up with mine. Penises seem unnatural to me, too. Different strokes, that's all. Have you seen the news in the past few hours?"
I shake my head and she says "They found the books at one of the schools, and they shut it down while people from the church searched the lockers and classrooms. It was the school you and Richard went to."
"I told you we should have broken into people's houses," I say, and she shakes her head.
"No, this is great," she says. "I talked to Richard on the phone. He wants to call the newspapers, claiming responsibility for the books. He's gonna go out of his way after work. Give them some details that nobody else could have, and say it was done by gay children's icons everywhere."
"We should go tonight," I say, "and break into people's houses. Put them on their shelves."
"We got what we wanted," Michelle says.
"We didn't want publicity. This wasn't just about getting on the news," I say. "We wanted those kids to find the books and read them. We wanted to actually try and influence the youth of today, not just give their parents more ammunition." Michelle sands up.
"Well, I'm not breaking into anyone's house." She says.
In her kitchen I call Richard at work. "Tonight," I say. "We go and deliver more books. The same way we got that TV, you know?"
"I'm not," Richard says. "I'm going out dancing tonight, to celebrate. You should come."
"Celebrate what?" I say. "How many kids do you think actually saw those books?" But he has to go, and I hang up the phone in Michelle's empty kitchen. She's sitting in the living room, watching TV. "Do you have a knapsack I can borrow?" I ask her, and she nods.
I pick up the phone book while she's getting it, and I flip it open to Hubert, J. The address is right there, and I tear the page out. That whole neighborhood is probably perfect. Anyway, mister Hubert won't be home from work for a while, and it's across town. Michelle brings me the knapsack, and I fill it with books.
"You're drunk," she reminds me, and I nod.
"Wish me luck," I say. On the street I flag down a guy on a bike. He stops beside me, and grins in his shiny glasses. "Are you heterosexual?" I ask him, and his grin gets wider.
"Fuckin' ay," he says, and I kick him in the dick. He topples over, and I snatch his bike up and I ride. I wonder for a moment whether he would still be heterosexual if his junk got all infected and they had to cut it off. Masculine, feminine, neuter. The toaster fuckers would love him.
"Thanks a lot!" I shout as I turn the corner. "I hope you don't have to fuck toasters!"
I ditch the bike a block from Mrs. Hubert's, and I walk the rest of the way thinking what I have to say to her, about gender and construction and the futility of trying to unravel the nature of our ideas. Every new hidden layer can be deconstructed. I wonder if she'll be the way I pictured her, skinny and botoxed and my last hope of the straight world understanding.
But when I get there, there are two cars in the driveway, and I can see a man standing in the living room. It makes me sort of ill to think that I want the understanding of the straight world, and I sit down on the curb. Well, understanding is better than hatred, isn't it? It's better than tolerance. Fuck. My knife is in my hands and open and I'm standing now, walking toward the cars.
I slit the tires and walk back to the bushes where I left the bike. I drive back towards the Hubert household, pumping the pedals as fast as I can, up onto their expansive green lawn, and into the side of their car. There's glass and blood and I'm falling.
"Are you alright?" the man says, and I sit up. I'm in the living room, and a small, squat woman is reaching for my forehead with a wet facecloth. It's warm. "Can you hear me?" he says. He turns to the woman. "He's drunk."
"Have you got kids?" I say. "Have you ever thought that maybe things don't have to work the way they do? I mean, it has to be. I can wear makeup and breast forms, and I can be something else. I'm more than just this," I gesture at my pants, "aren't I? If it was all gone, wouldn't I still be me?"
"He's delirious," the man says, but Mrs. Hubert is looking at me, and she knows.
"Go and get him some water," she says, and when he's gone she says "Are you the boy who keeps calling?" but I'm already standing and looking around for Michelle's backpack. There's no reason for me to be here.
"Have you got a son?" I say. I push a book into her hands. "Take this."
The bike is fucked, and I start walking back the way I came. A bus comes and I climb on and sit at the back. Richard isn't home when I get there, and I lean against the door instead of picking the lock, even though I know he wouldn't mind. I fall asleep.
I'm made of insects, changing and growing, forming breasts and a cock that stretches for blocks, sliding into the mouths of strangers, men on their way home from work, their lips forced open to accommodate my cock as it explores their whole body from the inside. They choke on it, these straight men in their hats. I push the insects that form my breasts, and they move, and then regroup to form the tits again. There are children climbing up my body, trying to suckle at the breasts. I push the breasts again, and the insects move again.
I panic, because the insects are trying to make me something I'm not. I dig at them, pushing my hands deeper and deeper beneath the insects to find myself, but all I get are handfuls of beetles and flies. There's nothing underneath.
Richard wakes me up, and I climb to my feet.
"Why didn't you let yourself in?" he says, and I shrug. "Just felt like falling asleep here," I tell him, and he nods.
"Well I hope you're ready for a night of dancing," he says. "Because I'm in a fucking good mood. You should have heard the reporter on the other end of the phone. I told her it was Bert and Ernie and Velma and Wonder Woman. Let's turn the news on," he says. He walks to the TV, which is laying on its back, and he lifts it up.
It still works.