No Escape From Death

I honestly don’t remember a lot about the morning after of 1983. It’s pretty hazy. I remember the ominous music, and I remember the Agents of Death demanding thirteen names instead of ten this time. I remember giving them three tickets again, especially since I’d been unprotected not only with women, but with men. I remember holding my breath as I listened to Pepper calling out people’s names. More than half of them were people that I knew and had recently interacted with in some way: Evelyn, Pen, Enrique, Mr T, Steven, Ruben, Abner, Trevor, Nick, Walter, Claire, Max… and Kimberly.

I remember my shock when I hear Kimberly’s name called, and my denial. There’s no way she’s going to die, I thought. She’s part of my group, one of my girls. I’m going to go down to the funeral field and she’s going to be fine. I think I really believed that, too… right up until I saw her laying in her coffin.

I remember waiting as the music continued playing, the only sounds in the room sobs and people shuffling about as they hugged and consoled each other. I remember the feeling of suspense as I wait for the Agents to come back and escort us down to the field where we would learn who passed. I remember the feeling of dread as I pause to peek into each coffin. The first one I stop at is Abner’s. I barely knew him, but he was a friend of Santiago’s, and I’d recently chatted with him about the possibility of including one of his poems in the Times alongside Sinclair’s interview.

I fling a flower onto his chest angrily. “Fuck you, Abner. And I’m still going to print your–” my voice cracks, “–stupid poem.”

I know before I even get there. Kimberly is nowhere to be found… she’s in one of these other caskets. I find her just behind Abner’s and look down for a moment, sobbing. I place a flower gently on her unmoving chest. “You fucking moron!” I gasp out between sobs. “I told you to be careful!” I am crying so hard that I can barely get the words out. But… it doesn’t matter.

The Agents call us back to begin the funeral. The Angel of Death stands before us once again. “We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Trevor.” It’s the same as last year: people hugging and sobbing. “We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Abner.” Grief, fear, determination, anger, sadness… all are present. “And we are gathered here today to mourn the loss of Kimberly.” As tears stream down my face, all of my emotions war for dominance.

I wonder which one is going to win.

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Tantra and Heavy Breathing

I spend the rest of the afternoon chasing after Evelyn. I introduce myself and find out that she’s a doctor. She also makes a point of telling me she’s straight. Well, “mostly straight” are her exact words. She shows zero interest, and I am becoming increasingly frustrated. I almost give up on her until Morgan taunts me again, making me even more determined.

“Hey, Nate,” I call out.

Nate, AKA the Queen of Manhattan, is the owner of Club Diamond. He’s one of New York’s best drag queens. He also has a knack for knowing all the gossip. He smiles and and kisses the air next to both of my cheeks.

“Katherine, darling. So good to see you!”

“And you! Hey, I was wondering… do you know anything about that girl over there?” I indicate behind him with my chin, where Evelyn is chatting with two other women.

Nate glances over. “Which one?”

“The one with the copper skirt. I hear she’s straight, but…”

“Hey, you!” he interrupts me as calls out to her. “No, not you – your friend. Yeah, you. Come here a sec.” She exchanges looks with her friends, but walks over. “You’ve met Katherine, right?” he says. “She works for the Times.”

Evelyn nods. “Yes, we met earlier. Hello again.”

Nate continues, “Well, she really likes your skirt, and wants to know if you’d be willing to take it off for her later.” With that, he walks off without a backwards glance.

“Nate!” I exclaim incredulously. There aren’t many people who can make me speechless, but somehow Nate manages it.

I turn to Evelyn, shaking my head in amusement. “Are you planning to attend the tantra workshop?”

“I am, yeah,” she replies.

“Great, me too. Let’s go.” I sling an arm around her shoulders as we walk over to the Pillow Room. It feels awkward, unnatural. We are both tense, and she doesn’t relax into me as most girls do. Hmm. This is going to take a lot more work.

We enter the Pillow Room and it’s packed. Somehow, thirty some-odd people have managed to cram into a space meant to sleep six people. The heat is stifling. We remove our shoes and squeeze in. Evelyn finds some space on the floor, and I quickly sit in the space right next to her, leaning up against one of the cots that’s been pushed against the wall.

Joani starts off by telling us that there is no actual sex involved in this workshop, and I sigh quietly. So much for that. Oh, well. I decide to struggle through the workshop and see if I can fake it, for Evelyn’s sake. Joani is droning on about breathing through your nose and chakras and some other stuff that’s a bit too “woo” for my tastes. Most people have their eyes closed, but I keep mine open because it’s so warm in there I’m afraid I might actually fall asleep.

Finally, Joani tells us to face our partners and take their hands. Yes! Getting to the good stuff, I hope??… oh, nope. She says something about joining our breathing, and I tune out again, focusing on the feel of Evelyn’s hands in mine. I catch her eye and make a face towards Joani. She smirks a little. Aha! So she’s not as into it as I thought. Good. I roll my eyes and she seems to be struggling not to laugh. A few moments later, Joani tells us to release our partners, and starts going around the room asking people how they felt, one by one. Huh. That’s it? That wasn’t sexy at all. When it’s my turn, I make up something about not having as intense an experience as the others – no point in hurting Joani’s feelings – and Evelyn echoes something similar.

After the workshop, I escort Evelyn out and back down the path towards the main cabin. We pause next door at the Darkroom where a large crowd has gathered. “Huh… what’s going on here?” I wonder aloud. Evelyn’s brother Chain is handing out pieces of rope… some kind of demo? Evelyn fidgets and refuses the piece of rope his… assistant? offers her.

I glance at her. Now or never, I think. “Do you want to get out of here?” I ask.

“Yeah,” she says, looking relieved. We continue along the path toward the main lodge, where some of Nate’s crew is setting up a stage for Club Diamond drag show.

“That was… interesting,” I say.

She laughs. “Yeah.”

“So…” I continue, “tell me about yourself.”

She chuckles softly. “Still a doctor… still mostly straight.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Mostly?”

“Well, I’ve had sex with women before,” she says.

I shrug. “Well, I think we’d have fun together.”

She glances at me, hesitates for a second. “Well… if it involves an orgasm, I’m down.”

I stop walking and turn to face her, my face lighting up. “Really?”

She shrugs. “Sure. Why not?”

I grab her hand and pull her towards the left, over to the bathroom cabins. As soon as we’re close to the entrance, I push her up against the wall outside and slip my hand under her skirt. I watch her face carefully, which is bathed in light from the single bulb above the bathroom door. Her eyes are closed, her mouth open in a perfect “O” as her hips writhe against my hand. Within minutes, she’s crying out. Loudly. We’ve got a screamer, I think to myself, chuckling.

When she’s caught her breath, I lean against her, pinning her to the wall with my body. She wastes no time, both hands reaching under my skirt, spreading me open with one hand and rubbing my clit with the other. I groan softly, gritting my teeth. “You’re–AH! Pretty good at this, for a–ahhh, ah– straight girl,” I gasp out. “Oh, fuck!” Her finger fucks me while she keeps rubbing my clit. I’m humping her hands and crying out as I cum, all pretenses of staying quiet abandoned.

“God, that was good,” I sigh contentedly. “Did you have fun?”

She smiles. “Yeah, I did.”

We go inside the bathroom to fix our clothing and wash up, then head back to the main lodge for the drag show. Once inside, we smile at each other again, but go our separate ways.

Surprising absolutely no one, the drag show is running late. Still slightly giddy, I spy Santiago conversing with some other party-goers and head over. Leaning in, I whisper into her ear, “Straight girl’s not so straight!” and then stride off without waiting for an answer, gloating.