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The Cross Dresser, Part One

The man walks down the street. The same street, in fact, where in several hours he will die a rather violent death. Looking at him, you would not think he was anything out of the ordinary. Brown hair, turning gray at the temples and slightly balding. A brown overcoat, gray trousers, a white collared shirt. He is carrying a briefcase, black and worn. The man is getting tired. He pulls a purple handkerchief out of his overcoat pocket and wipes his sweating forehead. Suddenly, his attention is caught by a mannequin in the window of a retail clothing store. Her white skin gleams in the sun, artificial plastic breasts straining taut against a pale yellow boat necked blouse that was stylish twenty years ago. He wipes his forehead again, nervously glancing around over his shoulder.
The dinging of a small bell catches the attention of the store clerk and she looks up as the man enters the store. “May I help you?” Her Texas drawl fills the still air of the stuffy store. The man wipes his forehead. “I’m looking for a, uh, dress for my w-wife.” She looks contemptuously down at the small sweating man in front of her desk. “Women’s dresses are in the second aisle, third rack down.” She looks back down at her magazine, the man and his sweat already forgotten. Tentatively, the man tiptoes to the second aisle, stopping at the third rack down. He flips through the many ugly dresses, wrinkling his forehead in despair at the atrocity of some of the fabrics hanging from the metal bar. Sighing, he frowns in disappointment. There is nothing worthy of his attention in the shop today. He is about to turn and leave when something in the corner of his eye draws attention.
A red sequin, glimmering with promise like a beautiful sunset. Reverently drawing out the shimmering fabric, he gazed at the dress with worshipful eyes. The dress is long and sweeping, flaring out at the bottom, strapless, with a tight fitted bodice and gold straps criss crossing the front. The skirt was full and swirling, covered in glinting red sequins. The man gathered up the dress in his arms and glanced nervously around. Slowly he sidles toward the fitting rooms. The clerk turned a page in her magazine and snapped her gum. Sweating profusely, the man inched forward a few feet then quickly dashed into a wooden cubicle, catching the door as it swung shut so that it closed silently. He laid the dress down on the bench and wiped his forehead with a maroon handkerchief pulled from his pocket. Hesitantly he slipped his overcoat off and hung it on the wall hook. Turning to face the mirror, he stared at his reflection, at once admiring and condemning the face he saw there. Glancing at the dress, he ran his eyes over the fabric, reaching out a hand as if to touch it. Hearing the clerk cough, fresh beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. With fumbling fingers he hastily unstrung his tie from around his neck. Opening his briefcase, he folded the tie in half and carefully placed it in the bottom of the briefcase. He started to undo the buttons on his shirt, one by one. On the third button his fingers slipped and he spent precious seconds wrestling with the miniscule white object. Finally he undid the last one and slid his shirt off. It also went into the briefcase. Removing the rest of his clothing, he slipped the dress on over his head and dared a look in the mirror.
Smiling roguishly at himself, he took a blonde wig from an inside pocket in his briefcase, the golden curls spilling through his fingers. Twisting the wig onto his head, he adjusted it so it fit comfortably. Reaching back into the pocket, he removed a makeup case and stepped closer to the mirror. He delicately applied the eyeshadow, eyeliner, foundation, and lastly a bit of Coral Bliss lipstick. Opening the door a crack, he peered out and saw the clerk still absorbed in her magazine. He ducked back into the fitting room and quickly pulled on a pair of nylon pantyhose and satin pumps. Then, after stashing the briefcase under the bench, he purposefully stepped out and quietly walked to the back door of the shop and left. Out on the street, he paused a minute to let the noise of the crowded city wash over him.



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