We don’t control much in our lives – if anything at all. But that being said, I had a pretty good private eye business going until she walked into my life.
“Are you Sam Malone?” she asked as she draped herself on the chair in front of my desk.
“I know who I am doll, the question is: who are you?”
“That’s a harder question than you can possibly know, ” she countered.
I pulled out my flask and offered her a drink. She declined with one of those graceful gestures that only certain types of dames can pull off. I swallowed the last of it and put it back in my drawer next to my gun.
“You got a name?” I asked.
“Of course. You may call me Alice.”
“So how can a bum like me help a classy dame like you, Alice? You need your husband tailed? Or your boyfriend? Or maybe you lean in a different direction altogether. That’s fine too. as long as I get paid on time. Tell me your story.”
“It began when I was six or seven. That’s when I realized that I was different than the other boys my age.”
There was a long moment of silence as I tried to comprehend what she was saying.
“Other boys?” I finally asked.
“Yes, Sam. The one thing that most people take for granted is simply that a boy is a boy and a girl is a girl. But somebody messed up. I was girl in a boy’s body.”
I took out my cigarette case, cracked it open. Alice withdrew a cigarette and held it up to her lips waiting. This was a dame who was used to having men fighting over who got to light her smokes. I took it back from her, and lit it on the tip of my own cigarette. Now there are three things I’m expert at: women, whisky, and women. And I wasn’t buying her cockamamie story about being born a boy. It just didn’t add up.
“So, you telling me that you’re a – what do they call them – crossdresser? And that under that beautiful dress, you’re packin’ the same equipment I am?”
“No,” she laughed. My family had money, lots and lots of it. Let’s just say that there are people who can do real magic, if you have the money to pay for it.”
“Must be nice,” I said,
“How’d you like a chance to find out?”
“Find out what?”
“What it feels like to be a woman. Just for an evening. When it’s over, it’s over. You’re the same as you are now only 15 G’s richer. My male persona has some papers to sign so that he can disappear from the world. So Alice can live.”
“So why would -“
“Simple. When you are as rich I as I am, you are watched night and day. Look out your window.”
I obliged. Sure enough, there was a two bit gumshoe on the corner pretending to read the paper.
“Yeah,” I said, “So how do I fit in here.”
“Easy. See, I can transfer the spell to you while I take care of business. You hit a bar or two and make a racket. All eyes will be on you. Then when I’m done, We meet and I become Alice again. You become you and we go our separate ways.”
I wanted to hate the idea, toss this crazy piece of work out of my office. But there was something – something I kept hidden deep, deep inside – that was excited at the opportunity. So I said yes. It worked precisely as she had said it would. Suddenly I was Alice and she was a man I had never seen before. He had several changes of clothes waiting for us. We agreed to meet at 1:00 under the streetlight on H street and switch back.
My part was easy. I hit the swankiest clubs I could find and drink dance and make noise. I was a little alarmed at how easily I took to the role. At Little Havana, I met Francesco. He and Alice seemed to have been intimately aquatinted. I have to say he knew what he was doing on the dance floor and in the hat check room as well. Our lips pressed hungrily against each other, his fingers sought out Alice’s most sensitive areas. And though we might have been a bit hurried, he taught me how superior women’s orgasms are to men’s.
My time as Alice was running out much too quickly. I wanted just to stop time. But I headed over to H street like we’d agreed.. I leaned on the post and waited, and waited. There was a commotion about a block away – a man and a woman fighting – and then the gun shot. I knew instinctively what had happened. He wasn’t coming back. For better or worse, I was going to be Alice for the foreseeable future. Hell, who am I kidding- for the rest of my life.
I stayed by the lamp post a while longer, taking in the sights, sounds and smells that I thought I knew well. They seemed new, and fresh.
I thought about how lucky Alice had been that she had oodles of money, and that magic existed. I wondered if there were people who felt the same way, but didn’t have those benefits. I figured I’d never know. After all, that would be one of those secrets that people would bury deep under layers and layers of sadness and confusion.
I just didn’t know if the city was ready for a private dick who didn’t have one. Well, i thought, they better get ready, because my happy ever after was just beginning.