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TALES OF THE TOWN: Part 16

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Flambé and Devon Settle In, as Election Day Nears

Flambé felt desired.

She lay on her side in Devon’s big bed. He was spooning her, asleep, his arm thrown loosely across her ribs. It was early, before dawn; the streets were mostly empty, although the first garbage and recycling trucks were beginning the day’s noisy advent. Flambé reached for the pack of cigarettes on Devon’s side table, tapped one out, and lit it with his butane lighter.

Beside her, Devon did not stir. They’d had a long, late night. The lovemaking had lasted hours. Flambé’s mind retraced events: how Devon had kissed her from head to toe, lingering in certain areas that made her groan. How he knelt before her, she a princess royal, he a supplicant. How he took off her panties as carefully as if he were polishing crystal.

He treated her well, like a lady. That was all she’d ever wanted: to be treated like a lady. Few had done so. She’d been with many, many men, and would not undo any of them, but deep within her she knew that she was disposable. Flambé could have been Desirée, or Farrah, or Trixie, or any of ten thousand other drag queens, trannies and cross dressers across the Bay Area.

There had been many times when, returning alone after a crazy night to wherever she happened to be living, she felt welling tears in her eyes. Part of her knew how deeply unhappy she was, but another, greater part understood that there was no point in feeling sorry for herself. The great secret transsexuals hold close in their breasts is Hope: that things will be better. Flambé did not believe in white knights coming to the rescue. But she did not disbelieve in them, either, or, more accurately, she dared not disbelieve. If she did, the entire edifice she had carefully constructed around her personality might collapse.

Devon, in their time together at S.F. State, had been the best thing she’d ever found. He was (to use a discredited phrase) “a real man,” real, that is, in the sense of being utterly handsome and charming and strong. His self-confidence inspired her, since she, herself, had so little. Flambé, during those years, did not fully understand the breadth of Devon’s sex life. She knew what he was with her; she did not know what he was with anyone else. Devon kept his cards close to his vest, and Flambé liked that. To the extent he was a mystery, he rose in her esteem as a man.

Now, he began to stir. He stretched the long body, catlike, lengthening joints to make them supple. He yawned. Flambé turned under his arm, toward him. He opened his eyes and saw her gazing at him trustfully and unabashedly.

“Morning, babe.” His breath was warm and a little sweet, like honey. Flambé leaned in, kissed him deeply. He uttered a little moan, got hard. They made love again. Flambé could still orgasm, in the old way; she was intact (and Devon loved that), although taking the next step—the neo-vagina—was increasingly on her mind. There were pros and cons about that final, radical intervention. Among the cons was the cost: at least $50,000. She could not have raised even ten percent of that impossible amount.

She knew the rules: she must be out of his apartment and gone by 6 a.m., to avoid anyone seeing her. Devon couldn’t afford the potential scandal. It wasn’t the way she would have preferred it to be, but she acknowledged that, if Devon were to have a political future, she would have to be relegated to the sidelines. It wasn’t even (he had explained to her) because she was a transsexual. If she’d been a straight woman, or even another man, he would still have had to be on the down-low with her. At least until after he won the election, that was the way it had to be: just as rock stars hide their marriages because being available makes them more desirable to women (and not a few men), so too a good-looking, ambitious politician must be seen as unhitched. Of course, Devon told Flambé, the ideal would have been to show off a pretty wife with three or four gorgeous children. But since that wasn’t about to happen, his next best choice was to remain single, surrounded with an aura of erotic mystery.

“As soon as this damned election is behind us, babe,” Devon told her on numerous occasions, “then we can go public. But trust me on this.”

She did. She went to his place three, four times a week, always after midnight, and always leaving by six, often with a hat pulled down low over her face. To Nick, she offered no explanation, nor did he expect one. They still maintained the façade of a relationship; indeed, they both cared for each other, on a deep, visceral level. But the steam was gone. Nick knew it. But he was too much of a gentleman to make an issue of Flambé’s increasing absences. She’ll either get over it, he told himself, and come back, or she won’t. Either way, I have no right to cage her. Meanwhile, Election Day neared.

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