Theme: We’re all using the same photo to fictionalize a backstory.


by Laura Gene

It was Halloween on Cedar Springs, affectionately known to locals as the ‘gay’-borhood. The annual parade of characters sashayed/ rolled/ carted/ skated/ teetered down the police-barricaded three-block strip in Oaklawn every October. Attendance was mandatory for any person residing in Dallas for more than six months. The parade had become popular, like really popular. Perhaps too popular. Parents with koala-kid appendages didn’t even bother to dress up for the occasion; their participation limited to pointing and gawking and being dusted with fairy glitter from colorful, winged passersby. It was equally a showcase of ingenious creativity and a visual cornucopia of flamboyant base humor.

Too many people and too few port-a-potties became a big turn-off — that and the overweight, middle-aged bald man waddling around in nothing more than a makeshift cloth diaper and baby bonnet crying Mommy? to each beachy youth that walked by. Aside from the crowds, the lack of facilities and ‘baby’ men, the event was still worthwhile: a photo-op landmine. Once I stole a photo of drag Elvira, an actually-transformable Transformer and a larger-than-life Queen of Hearts (a la Tim Burton), I’d had my fill. I was over it. I made my relatively tame appearance that night in skin-tight polyester as Catwoman — a proud moment to finally flaunt my 30-pound lighter frame in all its newly-discovered slutty glory. Of course, nobody noticed. It was the perfect avenue for my still terribly self-conscious, insecure self. No one was paying me any attention, especially when there was a dude in ass-less chaps proudly bearing his cold-stained pink cheeks for all to enjoy.

My friends and I were restless. Five years in a row we made it down here. Five years of begging and pleading to squeeze into fire code-breaking bars to throw away money outrageous door covers and imbibe on watered-down house cocktails. Five years of strategic planning: bribing someone to volunteer as the night’s DD; determining the best parking spot to minimize the amount of walking we’d have to do in our stripper heels; locating a crash pad for post-parade depravity; modifying costumes to hold and hide flasks of Ciroc to remedy aforementioned weak cocktails. We had our system ironed out, nearly foolproof. That’s when we knew the parade had somehow become…boring. It was no longer worth playing Frogger between the vomit obstacles or fighting with drunken debutantes over a taxi van.

So we went in search of Paul. Paul was eccentric, and everyone loved him for it and the 70s shorty shorts he strutted around in during the sweltering summer months. Never had I met a person more carefree, and careless, than him. He was one of those guys that said yes to everything with a wholehearted ear-to-ear grin. Guys were unnerved by him; girls were desperately unhinged by him. If you found Paul, you’d find fun and most likely an unbelievable story to boast to your progeny.

I didn’t have Paul’s number, but crash-pad host Davos did. That night Davos made the Paul call. Fifteen minutes later we were ditching the parade and high-tailing it to the South Side. Paul didn’t provide us with an exact destination which was decidedly annoying for the taxi and slightly terrifying for the rest of us. Turn right at the house with the metal chain-link fence around the front yard. We were waaay south. Go straight through the first stop sign; at the second one, take a left. I was confident we were either going to find this unmarked building in the next two minutes or get hit by stray bullets. Luckily, the next left had us pulling up to the nondescript black-boxed warehouse, with a bouncer-type standing like a genie with crossed arms ready to grant a wish, or a punch in the face. As the taxi squealed off, abandoning us on the front steps of god knows what awaited us on the other side of the tunneled walkway, the mix of excitement and terror made me giddy as blood rushed up my tattooed chest and neck and across my cheeks. What the hell is this place?

Davos, Christian, Siobhan and I crept into the venue through elongated rubber mudflaps which unveiled a scene staged with steaming hot tubs stuffed with grayhairs and women of all shapes and sagginess. Sounds of laughing and sloshing emanated throughout the main thoroughfare. We made a beeline for the bar, in dire need of liquid courage. Stat. There we found the walking ball of charisma that was Paul, slinging bottles of Absolut and Shiner indiscriminately into red solo cups. Our dropped jaws and wide eyes amused him. I leaned over and pseudo-whispered over the techno thumps to him, This is so crazy! His coy acknowledgment spoke volumes. Though we paid a cover to get in, we still had to work for our drinks: eat this dead pickled roach -or- do a dare. Davos went for the roach immediately, swallowing before I even had a chance to decide. I, on the other hand, dared to dare.

Accordingly, Paul popped up and over the crude bar like a vault horse gymnast and grabbed my arm. Right this way, my lady.

I left poor Christian, Davos and Siobhan to fend for themselves as Paul gleefully escorted me through a maze of rooms, each dedicated to one fetish or another, until finally we arrived upon a blank black wall guarded by a bustier-flaunting headmistress. Paul explained to her our most dire situation: I had chosen the dare. The bemused, bountifully-breasted woman smirked and nodded, acknowledging she’d take over my care from here. Then Paul just left, keeping with the night’s theme for the night: abandonment. I stood there, wide-eyed and dumbfounded. Big Boobs wasn’t talking, just looking me over, up and down. Awkwardly I attempted to avoid eye contact while she molested me with her artificial lilac blue eyes until, behind her, the wall began sliding open to the left revealing a strangely well-lit gray room. Mistress Mute Melons motioned me in. As I did so, the wall slid back into place completing the octagonal concrete-walled room and locking me inside.

The light from above was blinding and unexpected. While my eyes adjusted, I could hear metal clinking like a drawbridge being lowered over a moat. On a single iron chain, a foot appeared, balancing on a single metal ring. A sinewy naked body followed. Her body was willowy but strong, and suddenly very close to my own. Matte red lips and silken ebony hair popped against her pale illuminated skin. As I admired her, I said nothing. I could say nothing.

Finally, after an intense few minutes of silence, during which my mind ran through a catalog of possible and unlikely outcomes, the masked woman spoke for us both.

You asked for dare, no?


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