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Authors: Joyce Turiskylie

Just North of Whoville (19 page)

BOOK: Just North of Whoville
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Hey Barb, we’re here!” I overheard a Southern woman yell into her cell phone. “Can you believe it? We’re right here in Rockefeller Center! We’re about a hundred yards away from the tree. I can smell it from here. I can just smell it!”

 

All I could smell was the recently-filled diaper of the child next to me. Apparently, the mother, who held the doo-doo baby in her arms, had completely lost her olfactory sense. It was terrible. What could that child have been eating? Diarrhea?

 


Timmy, we’ve got to move,” I said quietly as I looked for a way out of the chaos.

 


Timmy Tinsel!” I heard a voice cry out from the crowd.

 


Ohmygod! Prancer!” Timmy yelled back and waved frantically to a young man carrying skates. Within minutes, someone named Prancer managed to get us thru the crowd and onto the ice.

 

Sure there was Christmas music playing everywhere. But here, it actually seemed appropriate. If you couldn’t play it here, then where could you? I felt like I’d finally made some peace with the Christmas gods. Timmy’s long, spindly legs looked even more toothpick-like with the giant ice skates. He hesitated at the edge of the ice.

 


Do you know how to ice skate?” I asked.

 

He paused a moment and he looked down at his feet. “No,” he said with the saddest look I’ve ever seen; as if he were embarrassed that he hadn’t mastered such a vital Christmas component.

 


Look, it’s easy,” I explained. “You just step onto the ice and then you push one foot forward at a time like this. See?” I said as I went around in a small circle. Not that there was room to do much else. The rink was so packed with people that if one person went down, it would be like a bunch of dominoes hitting the ice. Prancer stepped in to help. The two of us got on either side and held him up on the ice as he took his first baby steps.

 


Trust me, Tinsel,” Prancer explained, “In a few minutes, you’ll be skating around the rink like a natural.”

 

If nothing else, Timmy took to positive reinforcement and within minutes, lost his fear. He still insisted on sticking close to the rail, but was quickly moving along at a no-hands pace.

 


Well, he seems to be doing pretty good,” Prancer said as he shot a smile at Timmy. “Think you can take over from here?” he asked me.

 


Yeah. I think I can handle him. Thanks… I’m sorry. I feel silly calling you Prancer. What’s your real name?”

 


Not going to tell you. It’s my elf name and I love it!” he said as he quickly skated off.

 


What’s his real name?” I asked Timmy.

 


You know, I don’t even remember. We just use elf names around the office.” And off he went. Feeling his icy oats as he wrested himself from the rail and skated off into the crowd.

 

The two of us took turns passing each other on the ice, and occasionally met up near the rail to point out someone doing something stupid or something daring or fancy on the ice. As I spun around a bit, I wondered what special magic Mrs. Tedescu hadn’t seen in me? What kind of woman sets up a Reality Booth for a ten year-old girl? I mean, I don’t doubt I wasn’t Olympic material----but we’ll never know now, will we?

 


It’s time! It’s time!” Timmy squeaked as he skated up to me. Everyone on the rink suddenly stopped and looked up at the tree. Then suddenly, there was light. It cast a rainbow glow over the rink as everyone cheered and applauded. I almost felt a part of what they were feeling as Timmy, like a little boy, held my hand. Then, he looked into my eyes, leaned in and kissed me full on the lips.

 


What are you doing?” I practically yelled.

 


I love you!”

 


But you’re…” I looked at him carefully trying to figure this out. “…too young,” I finally decided to say.

 


I don’t care about your age,” Timmy scoffed. “I love you, Dorrie!”

 


Oh no. No you don’t,” I quickly squashed that idea.

 


But I do!”

 


Timmy,” I decided to try a different tactic. “I just don’t think this would work out.”

 


Why not?” he looked at me with those big elf eyes that took up half his big elf head.


Because…you’re confused.”

 


Confused? About what?”

 

I couldn’t say it. I just skated away.

 


Confused about what?”

 

 

When I got home that night and shut the door, I finally yelled out the words I’d been dying to scream.

 


Because you’re gay!”

 

Heidi immediately darted into the closet.

 

 

 

 

13

 

 


Dorrie, good news,” Alex said when he called me at work the next day. “She took me back.”

 


Celia?”

 


No. Tanya. Big favor---I’m working late tonight so can you pack up my stuff and take it down to her place? She’s in 3A.”

 


Okay. Sure.”

 

As I walked in my apartment the evening, I saw Heidi’s tail slide under the bed. Poor thing, between Alex and the roof repair she had to be a nervous wreck. She’d become Sasquatch Kitty----the only evidence of her existence being a foot print, a tuft of hair, and a blurry black and white photo.

 

But if nothing else, I was finally getting rid of an unwanted houseguest. I packed up a box and an old suitcase full of Alex’s things and began hauling them down to 3A. Just then, the door to 3C opened and out stepped Nate.

 


Dorrie!” he said as he eyed the box and suitcase. “You’re moving out?”

 


Well,” I said uncertainly as I looked down at Alex’s things, “sure looks that way.”

 


Let me give you a hand with that,” he said as he grabbed the box. “I’ve got my car here, if you need a ride.”

 


Oh, that’s okay. I’ll be fine.” For once I was happy I had a habit of first refusal. It was about the only honest thing I had going.

 


You’re not taking a taxi, are you?”

 


No. I’ve got a friend coming to get me. Me and my stuff.”

 


Well, I think it’s going to be the beginning of a great new journey for you,” he smiled. “If you need something, let me know. I’ll be here for a bit. Some business…” he seemed to wonder whether to go any further. “Do you know the guy in 3C?”

 


No. I don’t know anyone in the building.” Truer words had never been spoken. I had been extremely careful not to cultivate any sort of relationship with my fellow tenants. You never knew who was going to rat you out for a dishwasher or the permission to have a dog.

 


Well, it turns out he was an illegal sublet. Three years. I’m in big trouble at work.”

 


Wow. That stinks,” I said, as I saw the lids on the box of Alex’s things start to mysteriously pop open revealing his Facial Cream For Men.

 


Yeah. Really stinks. My boss said I should have been paying more attention to the units. But it’s so hard. They’re hiding from you. What are you going to do? My uncle used to own the company. It was different then. It was a great job while I was writing. But last year, my uncle retired and sold the company to Herb---that’s my boss. The whole housing situation is different now. They’re serious about getting the old tenants out so they can go in there and gut these places and then quadruple the rent. I might lose my job over this.”

 


Oh, I’m sure that won’t happen.”

 


Well, according to Herb, I cost him forty thousand dollars. Plus the money he had to spend hiring a private detective.”

 


They hired a detective?”

 


Oh yeah. Pretty standard in Manhattan once you suspect something’s up.”

 

I immediately began to wonder what my dossier looked like.

 

11:06 a.m. Suspect enters building with a large bag of what appears to be cat litter. Unusual, as no cat appears to be on the premises.

 

My plan was to just sit on the front stoop “waiting for my friend” till Nate left, then I’d drag the stuff upstairs to Tanya in 3A, and then sneak back into my apartment---the “my” looking more and more precarious every minute.

 

As I sat outside shivering in the cold, my cell phone rang.

 


Dorrie? It’s Timmy,” he said in a shaky voice like a four year-old who’d been crying. “I tried to call you and work, but you already left and…and…and…” he sniffled. “I’m sorry,” he started to bawl. “I feel so bad. That was a violation of your person!”

 


You didn’t violate my person, Timmy. I’m fully intact,” I said as I saw Nate coming out of the building.

 


You still here?” Nate asked as Timmy sobbed into the phone.

 


I need to see you and apologize,” Timmy begged.

 


Is that your friend?” Nate asked. “I can drop you off at home. Where do you live?”

 

I suddenly had an idea.

 

 


You live in Coney Island?” Nate asked as we drove across the Brooklyn Bridge.

 


Yeah. I guess I do. Sorry about that.”

 

As we drove all the way out to Coney Island with Alex’s belongings in the back seat, I just wanted to curl up and die. This super nice guy had taken the time out of his day to drive me all the way to Brooklyn. For what? Absolutely nothing. I felt horrible. And I felt even worse as we drove down the street and I tried to pretend that everything was absolutely familiar.

 


Which building is it?”

 


Hold on,” I said as I rummaged thru my bag pretending to look for something, all the while keeping an eye out for Timmy standing on the curb. About halfway down the block, I spotted Timmy waving frantically in the air.

 


Right there,” I quickly pointed out.

 


You mean the little guy with the big head?”

 


Yeah, just pull up here.”

 

We got out and took the suitcase and box out of the back seat as Timmy looked on with concern.

 


Hi, I’m Nate,” he introduced himself to Timmy who was clearly intimidated by this other man. “Are you Dorrie’s roommate?”

 

Timmy, clear on his instructions, looked to me for the answer.

 


No. He lives down the hall. My friend Timmy.”

 


Hey,” Nate shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

 


Nice to meet you, as well,” Timmy said lowering his voice a bit in an effort to appear buff. “I’ll take that, little lady,” he said as he grabbed the suitcase and then toppled under its weight.

 


Well…” Nate seemed as confused about Timmy’s sexuality as I was, “are you okay from here?”

 


Yeah, perfectly fine. Thank you so much for your help,” I said as I leaned in to give him a friendly hug. Timmy did not seem pleased with this development at all and simply stood quietly at the curb with a blank look on his face.

 


Well, let me know if you need anything else. I’ll see you at rehearsal tomorrow,” Nate said as he got in the car and drove off.

 


Who was that?” Timmy asked.

 


My building manager. Here,” I said as I picked up the suitcase. “I’ll carry it. Let’s make this quick,” I said as he opened the door to his building and followed me inside.

 

 


Can I get you a drink?” Timmy said in some sort of weird, deep, sexy voice as he waved a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps in front of my face.

 


Peppermint Schnapps?” I said in disbelief. I don’t think I’d seen a bottle of that since freshman year college.

 


It’s really yummy with hot chocolate!” he immediately reverted back to his usual chipper self. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to get you drunk and take advantage of you. I’m not that kind of a guy.”

 


No. Thank you,” I declined. “A glass of water is fine.”

 

While Timmy went into the kitchen, I took the opportunity to take a look around the place, hoping it might to lead to some clues as to what kind of a guy he really was. Not that I doubted for a second the kid was gay. But the question then becomes: Does he not know he’s gay? Or does he simply think others can’t tell and he’s still in the closet? There could be some odd third possibility, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that could possibly be. At my advanced age of thirty-five, I was used to being around people who were gay, straight, bi or transgender. And there was no mistaking this for metro-sexual. At thirty-five, my Gaydar was pretty finely tuned.

BOOK: Just North of Whoville
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