Thursday, May 3, 2012

No Casualties

Photo by Graur Razvan Lonut
By Terri Sullivan
            Aw, Heck.
            They came spilling out of the elevator in a wave and began ranging around us like a pack of hyenas.  Mickie Mousse, Cheri (in boy clothes) and I had no choice but to back up against the wall next to the elevator.  I kept my considerable bulk in front of the “girls” as we assessed the threat.
            The hotel hallway lighting was recessed and everything beyond our immediate area was cast in vague silhouette. The air smelled of Febreeze, furniture wax, Mickie’s spicy perfume, adrenaline, and the cloying, sickly sweet smell of fear. The lights above the elevators displayed the danger in stark relief.  Eight young men, ranging in age from about 15 to 19 were stalking in front of us in a ragged half circle.  They were firing epithets at us:
            The tallest of them stopped in front of me and asked:
            “Are you a faggot?”
            I said, “No, I’m a dyke and your ability to discriminate gender is extremely lacking.”
            That was a mistake.  The pack became agitated and started to bounce on the balls of their feet, firing insults and jabs and glancing between one another for approval, or reassurance, or courage.  Every muscle in my body tensed and my palms broke out in a cold sweat.  My nerves buzzed and my hands trembled as the adrenaline hit my system.
            Cheri, (I cannot for the life of me remember her “boy” name even though she wasn’t in drag that night,) told our would-be assailants that hotel security was aware of their activities and would arrive at any moment.  This seemed to stir the pack mentality even further.  One brave boy lunged forward and tried to grab Mickie’s wig but she dodged the move easily.  Mickie’d been in the trenches for a long time and she knew how to avoid an old-fashioned wig snatching.  The boy faded back into his circling cue of pack-mates, grinning at his courage and seeking their approval with his eyes.
            Why was I protecting a pair of drag queens in a hotel hallway?  Here’s the deal:  We were attending Salem’s Coronation Ball.  This Friday night was the “Out-of-Town” Show, where everyone who was visiting for the weekend could perform in a marathon drag show.  Unfortunately, the ballroom shared the restrooms with the hotel bar, and management was not, let me repeat, NOT ok with drag queens sharing a restroom with drunken bar patrons.  Nor, in the alternative, did they think that drag queens using the women’s restroom was copacetic.  Therefore, with gracious hospitality, they gave the coronation guests a room on the second floor, free of charge, in which to take care of their bodily needs, change their outfits and repair their make-up.
            That should have solved all the world’s problems, right?  Not so.  An announcement went out over the mike that a group of young men were stalking the hallways of the upper floors and harassing and intimidating any drag queens found alone.  Therefore, anyone going to use the hospitality room was encouraged to take a friend.  Better yet, people should go to the bathroom in groups if at all possible.
            Which is why Cheri, (in boy clothes) and I were trapped in a hotel hallway with Mickie Mousse.
            The threat of discovery proved too much for the hyena-boys.  They looked from one to another and telegraphed their intentions through the scent of their flight or fight pheromones.  I was trying to follow the messages between them and kept looking from one to another, but try as I might, I couldn’t figure out where the real threat lay.
I was watching a boy yelling “you faggots” on my left, when three things happened simultaneously:  My face hurt, my glasses disintegrated and fell to the floor, and all eight boys vanished into thin air.
I grabbed my face, turned to Cheri and said:
“Don’t step on my glasses.”
The largest of the young men had punched me square in the face.
At least the girls didn’t get hurt.
They had vanished like cigarette smoke in a high wind.  The girls and I got on the elevator and headed down to the lobby.
Cheri, DAVID!  That’s his boy name, DAVID!
David went to the registration desk and ranted, as only a drag queen on a mission can, about the Heinous Assault that had just taken place on THEIR premises.
Mickie just drifted off towards the ballroom and the safety in numbers of “our own kind.”
After David wound down, the receptionist called hotel security who sent officers off to look for my assailant.  I also requested, much to the dismay of hotel personnel, that the police be called because I wanted to make a statement and to press charges.
I stalked around the hotel lobby like a tiger trapped in a cage, muttering and cursing to myself because my face hurt like hell and I can’t see shit without my glasses.  I watched blurry people cross the lobby and squinted to see if any of them was the young man that hit me or any of his accomplices.  I had studied them carefully during our brief acquaintance, and I was pretty sure I could identify any one of them in a line up.
When the police arrived, an officer took my statement, and then David’s.  Then they talked to the head of hotel security.  He informed them that the offending youths were guests at a young woman’s eighteenth birthday party being held in a suite on the eighth floor.  She was so frightened when told she could be considered an accomplice that she willingly gave them the names of all of the boys whom she knew.
As it turns out, the young man who hit me was eighteen. 
SCORE!  He’s an adult and can be tried as an adult!
By the time the investigation was winding down, they knew his name, his address, and the make, model, and license plate number of his car.  His capture was just a matter of time, right?
I went into the bathroom to survey the damage.  My eye had swollen completely shut and there was already a huge purple and green stain covering the lump on my cheekbone.  I was going to have one helluva shiner.
My friends were very worried and many, many people were wroth with anger and righteous indignation at the affront to my person.  Well, at least those in attendance at Salem’s ball.
I never did get to press charges and have my day in court.  It seems that even with his name, address, and the make and model of his car, the Salem police could never find that young man.
The newspapers carried a short story on page 7 about the “tensions surrounding a group of female impersonators having a convention at the hotel.  There were some heated verbal exchanges between the conventioneers and the guests of the hotel.”
“No one was hurt.”


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