Sunday, March 10, 2013

Book Spotlight: Renee James' COMING OUT CAN BE MURDER



Coming Out Can Be Murder

Author: Renee James
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Windy City Publishers (June 1, 2012)
Amazon Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 493 KB
Print Length: 278 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1935766287
Publisher: Windy City Publishers (May 3, 2012)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Link

About the book:

First he wants her… then he wants her dead.

Bobbi Logan’s life and career begin to spiral downward when she comes out as a transgendered woman. But the gutsy hairdresser is determined to live her “new” life authentically, even as she is drawn into the investigation of her brutally murdered friend. 

The Chicago police have all but said they’re not interested in the death of a “tranny” and the media has failed to report it. As she follows a trail of evidence through the shadowy underground of the Windy City, Bobbi is led to John Strand, a seductive powerbroker. Coming face-to-face with the number-one suspect can only lead to one thing… murder. But who will it be?

PROLOGUE


She coos the words in his ear, her voice oddly androgynous, neither fully feminine, nor distinctly male. 

  “Johnnie, are we ever going to go out? Like in public? You know, maybe just to dinner or something?” His tranquility shatters. He becomes aware of where he is. Her breath is tinted with the smell of him. He feels the perspiration on his body and hers as she rubs against him. The feel of it is vile. Like they are painted in urine. 

    He feels the serenity evaporate, the rare calm that comes after an orgasm long denied, arriving like a bolt from a cloud of doubt. He tries to save it, tries to relive that glorious moment of eruption so violent it is followed by watery joints and a blank mind. A fat, sweet moment without guilt or doubt. Why does it work with this one? Why this…thing?

Their bodies slide against each other. He thinks of a snake sliding along his body, but suppresses the thought. When he lets his disgust take command of him, bad things happen. He blocks the serpent image but he can’t check his revulsion. The tranquility is gone. The satisfaction is gone. The relief is gone. He feels crowded, suffocating. He pushes her off him.

“Get me some water,” he says. It’s a command. As he gives it he looks away. It is her principal virtue that she knows she is a thing and responds to him like a dim-witted servant. And the fact that, for some reason, she arouses him when real women can’t.

She obediently rises quietly from the bed and pads off to the kitchen, naked. She looks back just before leaving the room to see if he’s watching. He isn’t.

He is staring blankly into space, his mind filled with fleeting images from an evening that started with such promise. A power date with the CEO of a new account. A hot, haughty bitch of a beautiful woman, eager to consummate a big business deal with dinner and a jump in the hay. She came on to him like a slut. She even got him hard, so hard he thought his body would work right this time. But the moment passed. He barely kept it together long enough to pleasure her and had to fake his own. He dashed into the bathroom as soon as they uncoupled so she couldn’t see the empty condom. Trying to save face, trying to save the deal, maintain an image.

Yes, he told her, everything was okay. Just pressure at the office, a full bladder.

He left as soon as he could. His scrotum ached. His teeth were clenched. He wanted relief. He needed relief. He was bursting with shame and tension.

He drove straight to her place, parked a block away. Knocked on the door at just past midnight. She answered wearing a robe, still drowsy. He had wakened her from a deep sleep. “Johnnie!” she said with delight, her voice a whisper just like he trained her so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. He was a stickler for privacy. That was one of their deals.

He stepped in and closed the door behind him. “Blow me,” he said. That was the thing about her. She could always turn him on. Real women were always a problem, but this fake one, this tranny thing, this vile creature he would never be seen in public with could get him up and running in minutes.

She removed her robe and serviced him. When he was good and hard and into it, he gave her the signal and they went in the bedroom. She rolled a condom on him, spread it lightly with lube then helped him slide into her anus. He climaxed in minutes and stayed hard until she started talking.

She brings his water to him, stands beside the bed as he drinks it. The sight of her starts to turn him on again, the big soft breasts, the boyish ass, the queer voice.

She notices his swelling penis and goes for a second joust. “Are you ever going to do me in the pussy?” she asks. “I mean, you paid for it.” She is trying to be seductive, hoisting one knee up on the bed to spread her legs and show him her vagina. She uses the fingers of one hand to open it, while the other hand rubs him.

The black rage comes from nowhere, just like the impulse to vomit. One moment he’s staring at her crotch, disgusted with the sight of it but fascinated too. Then he hits the bitch in her puke-ugly thing. She tumbles backward, sprawling against her dresser, her legs splayed, shock on her face. She coddles her crotch with both hands and cries, big wet tears, quiet sobs.

“Why are you so mean to me?” she asks. 

He ignores her. The room is silent except for her muffled sobs.

“My therapist says this isn’t a healthy relationship for me,” she says. “She thinks it’s time for us to break it off.”

Silence.

“I think so too,” she continues, still oblivious to his mood.

He gets up from the bed and stands in front of her. She looks up at him with wet eyes, wiping the back of her hand across her nose like a child. He smiles benignly. Bends toward her. A smile plays on her lips in anticipation of the makeup kiss. 

He reaches out with his left hand, touches her head softly, then quick, like a cat, he yanks her upright by her hair and before she can make a sound he hits her with his other hand, a hard fist. Her face splatters, blood covers her lips. He hits her again. A good shot. More blood. It feels good to him. She cries and holds up her hands, but he can’t stop. The beast has risen and there's no holding it back now. He hits her again. And again. She tries to scream but he won’t let that happen. Repulsive tranny queer! He grabs her throat and lifts her from the ground. Her bloody lips move but no sound comes out. She looks like a grotesque fish gasping for air and the sight enrages him more. How could such a gross, stupid thing turn him on? 

He releases her throat and smashes her face again, then her stomach. She crumples to the floor, back against the bed. There are more punches. He lifts her upright again and aims a hard right hand for her face. It misses, hits her in the throat. Her eyes show panic, she makes a gurgling sound. She can’t breathe. He has crushed her trachea.

As he watches the life ooze out of her, his rage subsides.

He waits for his pulse rate to return to normal, and clears his mind. This isn't the first time the beast has gotten out of control. He knows what to do.

He surveys the apartment. What had he touched? Her, the glass, the bed. Not the doorknob. Nothing in the bathroom or kitchen. He washes the blood off his hands and quietly goes room to room removing traces of himself. He wears his socks as gloves so he won’t leave prints. He finds a garbage bag and fills it with the sheets and the condoms. He throws his drinking glass in the bag. He vacuums the floors and throws the bag in his garbage bag. 

When he can’t think of anything else to do, he leaves. He will dump the garbage bag where no one will notice it and he will sleep a deep, guiltless sleep.

May

MY FAVORITE TEACHER in cosmetology school had a placard on her workstation that read: “I believe in the curling iron as a higher power.”

That was the most inspiring and spiritual revelation I have ever had. If you are a hairdresser, a real one, hair is beauty and hair is life. Painting is detached. Sculpting is artificial and cold. Music is one-dimensional. Hair is real. It’s personal. It can be as sexy as an X-rated love scene and as beautiful as a Robert Frost poem.

To mark the fifth anniversary of my father’s death, I laboriously handcrafted my own version of my teacher’s placard in a flowery font and taped it to his tombstone. With apologies to those who think God is a woman, it read: “If there is a God, he is a hairdresser.”

Dear old dad wouldn't have found it funny. He belittled male hairdressers as faggots and fairies and used them as the butt of jokes. Of course, the fact that his only son became a hairdresser was a mouthful of bitter irony that he just couldn’t swallow. Dear old mom said it killed the poor guy, but I was just one more item on an endless list of disappointments in his life. My enduring recollection of him is of a man with clenched teeth, pursed lips and a permanent frown. I can’t think of a time he smiled and he never laughed out loud in my presence. He was done in by his own anger and hate.

I don’t think about my father very often, but just at this moment I’m working on a client whose open hostility reminds me of him. She’s a large, unattractive redneck woman who is nearing morbid obesity. She is hyperactive in my chair so that foiling her bleach highlights is like trying to pin the tail on the donkey. And she talks non-stop. She has me pegged as a gay man, which most customers do, and she’s been on a fifteen-minute harangue about how homosexuality is a sin and an abomination to God.

What she’s doing in this salon is a mystery. Before launching into her Biblical diatribe, she gives me her life story. Born in some Kentucky backwoods. Escaped by marrying a boy who wanted to be a soldier. Got hit by a variety of ailments that caused her to put on weight and lose her youthful good looks. Abandoned by hubby, she’s alone, diabetic, and lives for evangelical TV shows. 

This service is going to cost her $125 and it’s not worth it. Her hair is trashed from endless bleach highlights done in speed salons where hair health takes a back seat to moving the client through. The best colorist in the city couldn’t make this hair look good. She might just as well have gone to another econo-salon and had this done for $70 or so.

We’re a very upscale salon on Chicago’s near-north side, close enough to the Loop to pull in daytime business people, and right in the heart of the trendy neighborhoods rich Yuppies call home. We’re just as snotty as our clientele, too. This lady came in without an appointment wearing shapeless polyester clothes, bad makeup, and cheap accessories. No one wanted her. She’ll be a crappy tipper because she can’t afford to be here in the first place. But her appearance is equally off-putting to the stylists. This is an image business, especially in high-end salons, and we get blinded into thinking only the rich and beautiful are worthy clients. We shouldn’t be like that, but we are. Me too, though I fight it. I should. After all, I have my own acceptance issues.

I took her because I take anyone if I have an open time slot. I mean, why sit on my butt in the break room when I could be making money, right? Plus sometimes these things work out.

But this won’t be one of those times. She keeps trying to start a conversation with me about being gay. I keep telling her I don’t talk about sex or politics with customers. She keeps telling me I’m going to hell for being a pervert. I want to tell her that an hour with her is enough to put anyone off women for a lifetime. But I don’t. Part of being a hairdresser is never giving a client a reason to dislike you, even if you won’t ever have them back in your chair again. Some clients will come up with reasons of their own to dislike you, usually completely unrelated to your work. They just want to vent their anger on someone and hairdressers are easy targets.

Especially fairies like me.

I wash out my brushes and bowls while she processes. When I come back to the chair she says, “Hey, are you a tranny? Is that why you look so gay?”

This woman is proof there is no benevolent God. 

I issue my standard refusal to talk sex or politics. It doesn’t daunt her.

“I read once that trannies hate having dicks,” she says. She asks if I still have mine and sniggers. Her voice carries like a bad stink. Heads turn in the salon. 

I stop working and make eye contact with her in the mirror. “Would you like someone else to finish this service? I’ll find someone.” My voice is grim. Not like me, but enough is enough.

She smirks. “I’ll be good.” Like it’s funny.

I go back to work and she’s off on a riff about moral decay in America, plotting Catholics and Jews, and a long chorus of Jesus loves you. 

She pays with a gift certificate and gives me a religious brochure in lieu of a tip. I’m so happy the service is over I don’t mind. I feel like a bad toothache has gone away and the timing is perfect. She’s my last service of Saturday afternoon. My weekend starts now.

- - - - - -

I DON’T KNOW if Miss Kentucky heard one of my colleagues call me a tranny or she made it up herself. In the break room, several of the girls refer to me as a queen sometimes, and so do I. I have long hair, and wear androgynous clothes and lots of jewelry. I like bright colors. There is a touch of femininity to my walk and diction. But I’m also six feet tall and have broad shoulders and masculine facial features, so the queen reference is a friendly way we can all acknowledge the fact that I’m a queer.

Of course, the funny thing is, I am a transsexual. It has taken me years to figure it out, but I’m transsexual. Nobody at work knows it yet, because, well, that’s a long story. Suffice it to say, being a full-fledged transsexual is a much more serious offense against humanity than being a cross-dresser, which is just part time weird, or being gay, which is full time weird but you look okay to everyone.

And let's face it, here in America, how you look is a lot more important than who you are.

I bring this up now because my cab driver can’t stop looking at me in his rear view mirror. He’s staring because I am in full girl mode and he’s made me but can’t decide how he feels about it. I get this a lot.

When I’m away from the salon, I live as a woman. I’m 38 years old, six feet tall and weigh 170 pounds. Months of testosterone blockers and estrogen supplements have given me a set of shapely breasts and softer skin and caused my male genitalia to shrink. Electrolysis has eliminated my facial hair and what little body hair continued to grow after I started the hormones. My personality has changed, too. I am more prone to crying and have less of an edge to my temper.

Although I am what the smut websites refer to as a she-male, I’m not one of those seductresses featured on-line. I still look more masculine than feminine and would never pass as a woman even in Cinderella’s ball gown and formal makeup. What I try to do is present myself as an attractive person, obviously transgendered, but nice to look at. That’s what I try to do.

I haven’t come out at work for lots of reasons. For one, I’m not sure I’m going to go all the way with this. Most people who have transgendered feelings don’t actually change genders. I’m still trying to make sure who I really am. 

The main reason for keeping my transsexuality a secret, however, is that I need my job and my clients. I might lose everything if I come out. It happens more often than not when transsexuals come out to co-workers, family, and friends. People who loved you just a minute ago now can’t stand to look at you. Employers think you bring shame to the company and cause angst in the ranks.

So I haven't told anyone at work. I just let my body develop and share my little gender secret with the outside world very selectively. My trans friends know, of course. And my neighbors have figured it out because I started presenting as a woman all the time months ago. I have no plans for coming out at work but my breasts are becoming a problem. My mother’s two great gifts to me were the miracle of life and a genetic predisposition to big breasts. About six months after I started hormones I was already nearly a B-cup. Even my doctor was impressed. I’ve been wearing a restraining undergarment to work for months, the kind used by female-to-male transsexuals to give them a male chest profile until they get a mastectomy. I’m almost a C-cup now and I’m starting to show, even with my breast-cover undergarment. The device is getting horribly uncomfortable. I feel like I’m mutilating myself.

I get a lot of stares as a transwoman, but this cabbie is making my skin crawl. I’m outside the safe cocoon of Boystown, the neighborhood where I live and where tolerance and acceptance are the universal language. I’m in the real world now. And I’m being eyeballed by an ethnic I associate with violence and a degree of intolerance that would make my last client seem like Mother Theresa. Thank goodness I'm wearing designer jeans and not a short skirt. It's bad enough that my blouse shows off the plumpness of my breasts.

“Did you want to ask me something?” I say finally, making eye contact in the rear view mirror.

Embarrassed, his eyes dart back to the road. He shakes his head no, but a few minutes later he starts staring at me again in the mirror.

When he pulls to the curb in front of my destination, he pivots to look at me directly. As I dig in my purse for money, he tries to peer down my top to see if my breasts are real. My lacy top reveals just enough cleavage to answer his question.

He says something I can’t understand. I beg his pardon. He repeats it slowly, his lips moving in exaggerated fashion, like a kindergarten teacher working with a student on a new sound. He is asking me if I want to pleasure him sexually in lieu of the fare.

It’s the only offer I’ve gotten today, so I guess in that respect it’s the best offer I’ve had. But it still makes me want to vomit.

I shake my head politely and hand him the cash and tell him to keep the change. It includes a nice tip. His overture was crude and I suppose I should be insulted, but I’m not. He was just asking.

Amazon Link (Paperback)
Amazon Link (Kindle Edition)

1 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

Sounds interesting, thanks for sharing.

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