Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

The Homestanders
Book Four of the Bradford Exiles
Wes Boyd
2005, 2011

Chapter 5

The evening grew late all too soon. In the effort to repair Dayna’s reputation as the black sheep of the class, she and Sandy got out their guitars and did several songs, all about prostitution, in keeping with their costumes. They did the old Cole Porter-Billie Holliday Love For Sale, and followed it with Sting’s Roxanne, Bobby Gentry’s Fancy – with Sandy singing, her voice better suited to country-western; House of the Rising Sun, the ancient and correct version, not the one the Animals mangled in the 1960s. From there on it got lots rougher; they moved into some old Memphis blues originally written by a couple of women who had been prostitutes working the streets along with being blues singers eighty years before.

They wrapped up with another song from that era, Bull Dyke Blues. As the title suggested, it was about lesbians, and it included the line, “Come a time a woman ain’t gonna need no man,” which pretty well said it. “Somehow that seemed appropriate tonight,” Dayna smiled as the song came to an end. “After all, tonight we can’t tell the players even with a score card.”

With that, it turned into a talent show of sorts. Aaron wasn’t bad with the keyboard and knew some oldies himself; Vicky also knew a few, and it turned out that Liz occasionally did vocals with a country-western band that included Mike, who borrowed Dayna’s guitar and accompanied her on a couple. That was followed by yet another surprise from Eve, who sung in what could only be called a cutsie-poo voice an a capella version of I Enjoy Being a Girl. Under the circumstances, no one could top that.

All in all, it was a pretty good party; it would have been a good one without Eve there, but she added an unexpected extra sparkle to the proceedings. She still had to drive back to Detroit for her conference the next day, and kept protesting that she needed to leave. She kept hanging around anyway, obviously delighted in the discovery of old friends she hadn’t known she had, and lasted until well after midnight and she really had to go – and it was in a new flurry of sincerely-meant hugs and kisses.

That set off a wave of people leaving. It had been a pretty liquid party, and a lot of people were fairly well lubricated, although no one wound up falling-down drunk as a result of the sneakiness of the punch. A few years before, when many of this crowd had been in college, they’d have been ready to hang the last dog, but they’d grown up since. Still, it was well that arrangements had been made to accommodate people who were flying a little too high to drive. Many of the out-of-towners like Shelly had rooms at a motel in Okemos, and it had been arranged for Vicky to haul them over to the motel in the van Jason had borrowed.

The alcohol had cut a swath in the ranks of those who Vicky was hauling back towards Bradford, and some of them literally had to be poured into the van when she returned from the motel run. Jason was one who was heading toward the last roundup and didn’t protest when Emily told him to get in the back, and that she’d ride up front to help keep Vicky company. They were barely out on US-127 heading for home before the van was filled with sounds of snoring. In the occasional lights of a passing vehicle Vicky could see in the rear view mirror that Dayna and Sandy were doing some serious cuddling and groping in the far back seat, as if that suspicion needed to be confirmed – Sandy had all but come out and admitted it to her in so many words years before, when Vicky was helping her leave her husband.

“That was a ball,” Emily gushed, flying a little high herself. “I can’t recall a better party.”

“It’s been a while,” Vicky agreed. “I went to some in college that were pretty good, but usually they turned pretty drunk. I don’t think anyone got totally wasted tonight. A couple got a little close, though.”

“It’s not the drunkest party I’ve ever been to,” Emily smiled. “That had to have been when you turned twenty-one.”

“How would you know?” Vicky snorted. “You were pregnant with J.J., I think it was, so you were the designated driver. You couldn’t have gotten that blasted on 7-Up. Now me, yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever been that drunk in my life, and you were the one responsible.”

“Hey, I wasn’t the only one responsible for it,” Emily giggled. “You brought it on yourself with all that teasing me about the good times you had in college.”

“You’d never have done it without Dayna and Sandy being involved,” Vicky charged. Back when she’d been a sophomore, she’d gone to the party Dayna gave Sandy when she’d turned twenty-one. Even in those days, Dayna and Sandy had a reputation for playing rough, but rougher with each other than they did with everyone else. It wasn’t the first party of theirs Vicky had gone to where they’d played rough, either, and she’d gotten swept up in the action a couple times. That night, to everyone’s surprise, Dayna had locked Sandy’s wrists and ankles in a set of stocks and, since Sandy was the guest of honor, invited the rest of the partygoers to serve her drinks, which they did with glee. Since the party had been at a bar and she was still underage, Vicky had been the designated driver that night too, and still got a contact drunk out of the deal. Where Vicky screwed up was in telling the story to Emily, along with the comment that she was damn glad Dayna and Sandy weren’t going to be around for her birthday.

Vicky turned twenty-one early the following summer; Emily and Kevin decided to throw her a little party down at Hank’s Bar in Bradford and invited some of the kids from the class – Scott, Andy, Liz, Shelly, Dean, and some of the others were there. Little did she realize that Emily had set her up big-time.

They were still on their first round when Dayna and Sandy showed up. Before she could say anything, Emily and Kevin had helped the two lock her neck and wrists in what they called a yoke, holes cut between a pair of boards. “You can fight or you can go quietly,” Emily told her. “But either way you wind up wearing it.” It wasn’t just beer that the partygoers poured down her throat – that was just the odd chaser. Mostly it was tequila, 151-proof rum, cheap but strong vodka, and anything else that would likely stun a mule. Emily and Dayna wouldn’t even let her out of the yoke to go to the bathroom; when she had to go, one of them would take her there and pull her pants down for her.

“I’ve never been so drunk in my life,” Vicky shook her head as she continued. “Christ, I had a hangover that must have lasted a week.”

“Yeah, but wasn’t it worth it?” Emily teased. “Come on, you enjoyed being the center of attention, admit it.”

“It wasn’t very comfortable,” Vicky grinned at the memory, “But it wasn’t very long before I was too anesthetized to care. I think I had a lot more fun at this party.”

“But you know what I was thinking all evening?” Emily replied. “I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like if we’d had a drag party like that back in high school, and Denis had been a little more sociable and showed up as Eve.”

“Never would have happened,” Vicky said. “Hell, you remember what high school was like; there’s no way we would have been able to get the guys to do a drag party, Denis or no Denis. And he would have never done it, anyway; he had too much to cover up. You know, for weeks I’ve been trying to dredge up memories of her from the Woodstock High prom, and I just can’t do it.”

When she was a senior, Vicky had gone to the Woodstock High School prom down in Indiana, the courtesy date of a distant cousin. She’d been more than a little surprised to see their classmate Shae Kirkendahl there, looking just absolutely drop-dead gorgeous in an extremely sexy dress that would have knocked everyone’s eyes out even if she hadn’t been wearing heels that put her up over an effective seven feet tall. Vicky and her date had been at the table next to Shae and her friends; after seeing him at the reunion Vicky had been able to bring up the vague memory of John McClellan, Shae’s date, who had become Eve’s husband. At the reunion she’d found out that Eve had been there too, the date of John’s brother Paul, who had transgendered himself and eventually become Eve’s sister-in-law. Shae had admitted at the reunion that she’d deliberately dressed that hot just to draw attention away from Eve, and it had evidently worked – Vicky had no memory whatsoever of the fact there had even been another couple at the next table. She had a strong memory of Shae from that evening – it was the first time she’d ever seen her as a sexy woman, not just a big, gawky athlete.

“Me either,” Emily admitted. She hadn’t been to that prom, but at the reunion Eve revealed she’d walked into the Spee-D-Mart to buy a candy bar the morning after graduation, the only time she’d ever been out in public in Bradford as a female before her surgery. Eve reported she hadn’t had a hint of recognition from Emily, who like Vicky had no memory of the incident ten years afterward. What that told them was neither of them had had a single hint of recognition at the time. “I sure am glad we eventually found out about her. She really is a neat person.”

“You know,” Vicky said thoughtfully, “I suspect if she’d been a girl in high school she’d have been a pretty popular kid. I probably wouldn’t have had a chance at homecoming queen.”

“You might be right,” Emily replied. “Although she went through a hell of a lot to make herself into a neat person. She told me on the phone the other night that being a transsexual is something she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy, but if it’s the hand life deals you it’s the hand you have to play. It worked out for her, for sure.”

“Sure did. I just hope we don’t lose touch with her now.”

“I think she’ll keep in touch, at least after tonight,” Emily smiled. “I don’t think we’d have handled it very well if we’d known about it ten years ago, but we’ve all grown up some.” She shook her head. “Like I said before, I wouldn’t trade Kevin and the kids for anything, but I sure envy her some of the things she’s been through, just for the sake of having the different experiences.”

“Don’t envy her too damn much,” Vicky snorted. “The grass is always greener, and all that. Just remember, she envies us even more. You’ve had kids. I mean, been pregnant with them, and I still at least have the option. I suspect that’s something she’d do if she could, but she knows she can’t and never will. There’s only so much that surgery can do for her, and she’s at the limit.”

“Yeah, I know,” Emily sighed. “Have you ever thought about it? Having kids, I mean?”

“Once in a while there’s a day that goes by that I don’t dream about it,” Vicky admitted truthfully, if rather agonizingly. “But not very often. See, Ems, I envy you, too. Back when I was in high school, my main goal was to be a wife and a mommy. I mean, a job, a nice house, and like that all would have been nice, but getting married and having kids were right at the head of my list. I guess I got a taste of all those neat mommy things with all I did with helping to raise Duane. But then, things went shit sour for me. I never had anyone in high school the way you had Kevin, and I always envied you that.

“I dated for a while, and then that fell through. Then I dated Scott, and that didn’t last, although like most of the girls in Bradford I wouldn’t have complained if it did. Then, after my freshman year in college I spent that summer with John Engler, and I was beginning to think I might have something. But then he went back to school. The next thing you knew Mandy had come out of the woodwork after they’d broken up a couple years before, and they were living together. Then for a while the following summer I thought I had an idea of how to get back with Scott, but then Sonja showed up and I knew I didn’t have a chance of getting to square one with him against her. So I went back to Central and wound up with Augie. I knew he wasn’t much but at least I had him.”

“But you never had kids with him,” Emily observed.

“Right, I kept some control on that and I’m glad I did,” she replied thoughtfully. “Like I said, I knew he wasn’t anything much, but I kept hoping he’d grow up. I guess I knew all along I didn’t want to be an ex-wife and a mommy. Marrying him was a dumbass thing to do, but I guess I learned my lesson. If I ever do have kids, I not only want them to have a father, but a decent father. I figure I owe that to them, but I’m not getting much closer.”

“I know you haven’t even been dating much,” Emily commented.

“It’s been a while,” Vicky admitted. “This guy from Hawthorne last summer. I learned real quick he wasn’t worth the effort. He was all hands, and figured that a fat slob like me was going to be so anxious for attention that I’d put out on the first date. Hell, I wouldn’t mind a little action, but not just for the sake of the action. I mean, it’d be nice if I liked the guy, even a little.”

“How about Jason? You seem to spend a lot of time with him.”

“That’s different,” Vicky protested, realizing she was getting near dangerous territory and wanting to take the safe course. “We’re just close friends, but we’ve been close friends since I was maybe four years old. There’s a little age problem there, you know. I mean, we like each other, we have some mutual interests, we spend some time together, but it’s not dating-time together. We’re long past that, and besides, he’s twenty years older than I am. He’s literally old enough to be my father. I mean, he even dated my mother when they were in high school. On top of that, if we were to get something going, he’s already been all the way through the fatherhood hassle once the hard way, I’m not sure how much he’d be willing to do it again at his age.”

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Emily counseled. “What’s more, don’t sell him short. You two seem to like each other an awful lot. What’s more, you act like it, both of you. I mean, Eve even commented to me that if she didn’t know the two of you weren’t married she would have guessed you were.”

“I don’t suppose the matching kilts would have had anything to do with that,” Vicky snorted.

“Don’t sell Eve short, either,” Emily said. “I suspect a lot of her business involves what people are feeling, and not just what they’re saying.”

It was something to think about, all right. While she’d already been thinking along those lines, it was a lot more than she would have been willing to admit to Emily. “It’d be tempting,” she told her friend half honestly, and continued with her main worry about her real feelings. “But we’ve been good friends for an awful long time, and I’m not sure that’s something I’d want to louse up by trying to make things more serious.”

“It’s a risk, sure,” Emily replied, getting her meaning. “But the two of you know each other so well that if you were trying to get something going, it would be a lot different than it would be for most couples.”

Tell me something I don’t know, Vicky snorted to herself without saying anything. After all, she’d been examining the thing from every possible angle for a couple weeks now. She was well past goals and into tactics, realizing they were going to have to be unconventional – and not pushy, either; whatever happened, Jason was going to have to think it was at least partly his idea, at least at the critical points. But Emily might be an ally at times. It was hard to think how that might work, but there were probably times ahead when she could say something that Vicky might not be able to say herself.

“Could be,” she replied after a moment’s thought about something innocuous she could say that might not give away her true thoughts. “I might have to think about that a bit.”

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To be continued . . .

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