Already the irritating fly that eluded my swatting earlier takes its vengeful residence amidst the rapidly-mounting pool of blood in which I lie; a sea of deepening red that this morning flowed warm and sustaining through my veins. Yet I do not shoo the fly away. My lifeless body is numb and unresponsive in spite of my active mind that buzzes with replays of the horror of this day, of flashbacks to the days that preceded it, and of visions of the days that would go on without me.
Is this an eternal torture I am fated to endure, a perverse punishment for my supposed deceit; a fervent mind in a lifeless vessel? “This is not justice,” I scream in my head. “I never planned to trick anyone.” All I wanted was freedom to follow the urge that beckoned from my heart. No more than any person ever wants, or deserves. Hurting Ron was no callous, calculated act; it just happened.
Soon, Jolene and Sean will return, and I am horrified that they will find me this way. A dead husband, a dead father, a stiff, contorted body riddled with gaping knife wounds at the bottom of the staircase. There could not be a more shocking discovery, right? Wrong, my friend, so wrong. I should have trusted in Jolene and my love. I should have trusted in Jolene. She would have understood had I only allowed her the chance, but now it is too late. Any chance to explain has passed, the opportunity to right my wrongs forever gone. Never will I be able to look Jolene in the eye and ease the hurt, the confusion, the anger of the woman I have always adored.
And what will Sean think, my precious little boy, when he sees his Daddy dressed in a pearl-white silk blouse and black knit skirt, opaque tights and shiny knee-high black boots? What will my little boy think of his father’s bright red lips, of his mascara-coated lashes, of his blonde wig? What will Sean think of me then? Will he ever again remember throwing the baseball around together, our annual father-son camping trip, the wrestling matches on the living room floor? Will he ever recall anything about his father beyond the glossy red lips and stocking-covered legs?
It started quite innocently. The feelings, the urges, the needs, they had been bubbling below the surface for some time and then all of a sudden they broke through and I had to act on them. The missing part of my life; it had to be fulfilled. So when Jolene left for her regular girls-night-out Fridays, and when Sean had gone to bed, Lisa Baker would come to baby sit and I would become Hannah Ross. The first few times, fear kept me anchored in the bedroom, but on the fifth Friday, I found myself at the Diamond Bar and Grill, sipping a mimosa.
“Can I buy you another?” a heady masculine voice had said, and my heart almost stopped. Surely when I turned to face the voice’s owner, my charade would be over. But it wasn’t. He smiled. “No strings, just a drink,” he spoke softly, possibly mistaking my silent panic for coyness.
“Great,” he replied, as he settled on the bar stool to my right. “I haven’t seen you here before. You new to the area?”
How many times had I used that line before I met Jolene? Sitting on the receiving end, I realized how corny men’s pick-up lines sounded. Yet I liked this guy; he had a kind face and he was keeping his physical distance, not pushy.
I cleared my throat. “Yes,” I lied, “just moved here from Kansas last week.”
“Great place,” he commented. “I used to travel there for work a lot. By the way, my name’s Ron.”
“Nice to meet you, Ron. I’m Hannah.” I thought my voice sounded a little gruff, but if it did, Ron hadn’t noticed.
“Hannah, that’s a beautiful name,” he said.
This game was getting harder, and I had never planned on attracting a man; that wasn’t my motivation for dressing as a woman. It was simply an urge I could no longer suppress.to be out in public as a woman. I could not explain it, but I needed to know how that felt, hungered for the experience, but I did not strive to become a woman. My love for my wife had not lessened, and I never intended to stop being her husband. Only I wanted to be Hannah Ross from time to time, too.
At least that is how it started.
I agreed to meet Ron the next Friday night, and then again the next Friday, and the next. We had a good time together. Conversation flowed effortlessly: after all, we did have a lot in common.
Not once had I thought of my relationship with Ron as cheating on Jolene. After all, he was a man and nothing sexual had ever passed between us. On occasion, Ron had suggested taking our relationship to the “next level,” but I had always successfully diverted the topic. So when I returned from work one Monday to find Jolene sobbing on our bed, I was shocked when she asked me point blank if I was having an affair. “Good heavens, no,” I exclaimed. What on earth made her think that?
As it turned out, the ‘what’ was a ‘who.’ My paid-extra-to-keep-quiet Friday night baby-sitter had slipped up and Jolene had discovered my secret Friday night adventures. Although she knew nothing of the crossdressing; only that I would slip out of the house after she left. For a brief moment I considered being honest, telling her about this other part of my soul that demanded fulfillment, but foolishly, my faith in our marriage was too weak. So instead, I fibbed to Jolene that I had joined a bowling league and we played Friday nights. I claimed I hadn’t told her because I knew how she felt about leaving Sean with a baby-sitter, that she had told me the only reason she went out on her Friday girls’ nights was because she knew I would be home with Sean. It was a pathetic, contrived tale, but Jolene accepted it, or at least claimed that she did; she needed to.
There was anger and tears, and then the decision to start spending Friday nights at home, together. Even had Jolene and I not come to that conclusion, I knew the time had come to put an end to whatever it was Ron and I shared; and I owed him a truthful explanation. Afraid of re-activating Jolene’s suspicions if I ventured out alone again, – or perhaps that logic served to excuse my cowardice – I chose to reveal all to Ron over the phone. Words alone were insufficient to capture the force of Ron’s emotion. How dare I trick him that way, he demanded to know. He had never met anyone more disgusting, more vile, more perverted than me, Ron said. I listened to him gagging, he spat into the phone. I was scum and I would pay for what I did to him. By the time Ron slammed the phone down, I was shaking uncontrollably, sick to my stomach from knowing the pain and anger I had unintentionally caused him, repulsed by my own selfish needs and actions, and terrified by thoughts of how he might seek revenge.
But the weeks passed without incident and Jolene and my life returned to normal, if normal can be defined as the way it was before I fed my desires. And I stopped watching my back whenever I left the house; I pocketed Ron in a folder in my mind labeled: “regrettable mistakes” and I moved on.
Then one night, Jolene went to a bachelorette party and Sean had a sleep over at a friend’s house. I was alone, totally alone, and I could no longer resist. The box’s seal snapped easily, just as I had known it would, and its contents almost leapt out at me. My beautiful clothes, my make-up, my wig; oh, how much I had missed them. I took my time, savoring every part: the smoothness of the stockings against my legs, the snug fit of my feet and calves in the boots, the silky softness of the blouse against my chest. Slowly and carefully I applied my make-up.a little more rouge, a touch-up of the lipstick, the almost ceremonial placement of the wig. At last, Hannah Ross was back. You look stunning, darling , I whispered to myself.
And then I heard the back door slam. Darn. Jolene? Sean? No, no, no! But it wasn’t either of them; it was Ron. Six feet four inches of enraged male screamed at me to show myself. Grabbing a hairbrush as my feeble weapon of protection, I headed downstairs to confront my aggressor. Surely I could calm Ron; he had always seemed such a gentle, rationale man. The heel of my right boot caught in the carpet on the second to last step and I tumbled, landing on my back, the hairbrush thrust from my grip by the force of the fall.
Then, there he stood towering over me, his face reddened with rage, his breathing slow and heavy. “I told you I’d make you pay,” he scowled.
“Ron, please, Ron.” His vice-like grip around my neck choked my pleas.
Ron scoffed. “Look at you now, all decked out. Heading off to your next victim, were you? Huh, huh, were you?”
Still I couldn’t utter a sound, and it felt as though my eyes were bulging from their sockets.
“Well I’m going to save the poor sucker,” he spat. “Goodbye, Hannah Ross. Or whoever you really are.”
Helplessly, I watched him raise the butcher’s knife high with his free right hand. He laughed hysterically as the first plunge of shimmering metal pierced my stomach. And then the second, and the third, and the fourth.and by the thirtieth or so jab I felt no more pain. I listened to his footsteps retreat into the kitchen and out the back door. He didn’t even bother to close it on his way out. And I knew I was dead. Dead and degraded in my own home, murdered to avenge a crime I did not truly commit. But then again, it is oft said that crimes of passion are rarely born from sanity.
I hear the key turn in its lock in the front door. Jolene and Sean are laughing. “Honey, we’re home,” my lovely wife calls out. Although they do not know it as yet, my wife and son have laughed for the last time.