Friday, September 2, 2016

#FlashFiction Friday! How Well Do You Know Your Spouse? a #FREE Read by Fiona McGier

How Well Do You Know Your Spouse?
By: Fiona McGier

She sighed with exasperation. "Really, Robert? You forgot your dentures? Where did you go without them?"
         Jealousy ate at her. They'd had a whirlwind courtship involving lots of passionate love-making. Their wedding had been a private affair with only a few friends invited. They'd squeezed it in between the election and the inauguration. But lately, he'd been going out at night alone at least once a week and coming home late smelling of perfume which was not hers. She grabbed her keys and her cell phone and called his chauffeur. "I know it's his night out, but he forgot something really important. Where is he?”
After finding out he’d been dropped off at a club she’d never heard of, she got into her Corvette, one of the last vestiges of private life that she had insisted on keeping. At her destination, she handed her keys over to the valet before going inside to find her errant husband, after raising her well-shaped eyebrows at the exorbitant cover charge. She edged over to an open stool at the bar while scanning the crowd, but still hadn't seen any familiar faces when the house lights dimmed and the show started. It was a mildly entertaining variety-type show filled with innuendo-laden skits broken up with music and dance routines. During one of the dance routines, she grinned as she noticed one of the performers trying to be discreet about tucking padding back into the top of the strapless dress.
"Excuse me, is this a drag show?" She asked the bartender as he brought her the glass of Chablis she'd ordered.
           He smiled, "Aren't you the observant one, honey?"
           A loud laugh went around the audience, and she turned to see an extravagantly-clad dancer begin to do a sexy samba, while wearing 5-inch spiked sandals, with a fruit basket balanced precariously atop a towering wig. She laughed along with the rest of the customers, at the dancer who managed to look sexy while being extremely funny. When the dance was over and everyone was cheering, the dancer bowed multiple times, to thank everyone. As she/he turned to the bar area, he looked directly into her eyes and she saw recognition along with a quick flash of fear. The curtain closed and the house lights came back on.
Karen was already on her feet, heading for the backstage area. She gained access to it with a few choice bills handed to the bouncer. “Which door for the last dancer?”
The bouncer tilted his head towards the end of the hall.  
She strode quickly over to knock on the door, turning the handle even before she heard, "Come in."
He was alone. Their eyes met once again and the dancer sagged into the nearest chair in a position of despair.
           "I didn't mean for you to find out this way," he began.
           "How were you planning on telling me? And when?" She tried to keep the irritation out of her voice.
           "I thought I had more time..."
           She peered closely at the face she barely recognized under the stage make-up.
           "How is it you have teeth?" She opened her purse and took out the case that held his dentures.
           "I have two pairs. The ones I'm wearing now have less teeth. It helps to make my face more effeminate." He looked away, ashamed to meet her eyes. "I never forgot the other ones before."
           "I thought we agreed to share everything with each other. Why didn't you tell me?" As the words left her lips, she momentarily felt hypocritical, but she took a deep breath to calm herself.
           He shrugged elaborately, disturbing the layers of ruffles on his shoulders.  "It's kind of hard to just bring up in a conversation, 'Oh by the way, honey, the man you married likes to wear women's clothing and shake bootie in front of paying customers.' I had no idea how you'd react, so I've been putting it off."
From the glimpse she got of his eyes before he turned away again, she could see despair, self-loathing, and unhappiness. His knuckles were white, hands clenched tightly together, a habit she recognized as his reaction to extreme stress.
           "You could have tried trusting me. I love you, you know. Here I was worried about why you were going out alone and coming home smelling of some other woman's perfume. If I'd have known you were the other woman...I'd have felt so much better about things."
           A faint glimmer of hope flashed across his face. "Really? Can you accept this part of me? I love you all of the time, Karen, but this is something I've enjoyed doing for many years. I have no idea why it never made the news during the primaries and the campaign. But it didn't, so I thought I was safe."
          She smiled. "People were too busy focusing on the fact that one of your opponents had a wife and two mistresses, all of whom were raising his children, and the other was a woman with a wife of her own. Maybe they figured this was insignificant compared to that?"
         "Insignificant? It wasn't so long ago that trannies of any kind were outcasts."
         She approached him tentatively, forcing his hands apart with a gentle touch, then taking them both into her own, forcing him to meet her eyes.
"I know you're not gay, but are you bi-sexual too?"
           "Nope. I'm hopelessly hetero. The only one I want to ravish is you, my gorgeous Chablis-swilling wife."
          She breathed in a deep sigh. “Well that’s a relief.” She nodded her head around, noting the various costumes strewn around.  "When are you done here?"
         "My part of the show is already over. I usually enjoy the rest of the show as myself. Only the staff and the other drag queens know who I really am."
         "Then you'll need these, huh?" She grinned, holding out the container with the dentures.
         Trepidation lingered on his face, but hope shone from his eyes, "You'll stay to watch the show with me? Or do we need to talk?"
         "We have the rest of our lives to talk. From what I've seen so far, it's a pretty entertaining revue."
         "I want to hug and kiss you, but..."
         She shook her head, grimacing. "Wash that stuff off your face first, please."
         He moved behind a screen to change clothing. She glanced around the room, taking in the colorful dresses, the gaudy jewelry, and the cluttered vanity covered with various stage cosmetics.
           "What name do you dance under?"
           "Roberta. Why?"
           "I'm just thinking that if the polls show you trailing in the mid-terms, maybe you should introduce the rest of the country to your other self."
           He snorted. "I don't think the country is ready for a transvestite to be a heartbeat away from the presidency."
          "No one thought the country was ready for a gay president either until they elected him...twice."
          When he emerged from behind the screen, it was her husband, dressed in casual slacks and a polo shirt wiping his face with a damp towel.
           "You're really alright with this?"
           "I'm just relieved you're not cheating on me. Besides, it could be worse."
           It was her turn to look guilty, “I’m afraid you’re not the only one who has been hiding something.”
His eyebrows rose in consternation, “What?”

She looked down, stealing herself. Looking up and into his eyes bravely, a small smile played on her lips, "At least you didn't meet me until after my surgeries were done. No need for both of us to worry about being publicly outed as trannies..."