While the rights have reverted for this story, I’ve yet to pass it on to Elsewhere Publishing so they can give it a blurb and work their magic. In the meantime, here a bit of personal insight: For some reason, I tend not to write too many holiday stories. So, when this lighthearted fantasy began to take shape, I quickly realized it was my own love letter to fandom. I leaned in hard and had a great time.
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Retail workers think there’s nothing worse than working retail during the holiday season. And they might be right, but! Who do they call when Mr. or Mrs. A-Hole gets completely out of hand? Right, the supervisor or manager. And who do those folks call when their customer recovery tactics fail? Security. *
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An Embarrassment of Id’imps Copyright © 2020 by Ezekiel James Boston First published in WMG Winter Spectacular 2020, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, WMG Publishing, 2020
Published by Elsewhere Publishing
Cover and layout copyright © 2020 by Elsewhere Publishing
Cover design by Ezekiel James Boston/Elsewhere Publishing
Cover art copyright © artisticco | Depositphotos —– —– —–
An Embarrassment of Id’imps
by Ezekiel James Boston
It’s not a competition, but at least the store-roaming sales associates and cashiers get some mild-mannered customers and the occasional jovial gem. All we typically get are people so pissed off that they’ve dug deeply into their opinion and are demanding to speak with the owner, or with corporate, or with whoever can right the grievous injustice of them not being able to ride roughshod over the staff.
My name’s Gavel Chavez. Yes, Gavel is an odd name for a woman, but—if you couldn’t tell—my parents wanted me to be a judge. And, in the most pedestrian and underpaid way possible, I sort of am.
A radio call for an entrance violation at the new Games! Games!! G-G-Gamez!!! store—or Six-G as we called it—on the second floor had rumbled my radio. Because it was only one footprint unit wide, I had walked right past the cluttered, overstocked niche gaming shop with tall narrow rows twice before dispatch finally said it was between Hot Topic and Foot Locker.
I had heard security departments in Las Vegas were better, but so far they had the same barely competent people as Dallas, as Albuquerque, as Flagstaff….
Playing “Last Christmas” by Wham!, Six-G smelled like cardboard, paper, and packing peanuts. A few weeks ago, they had rushed to open for Black Friday, and it still showed in the never dwindling stack of collapsed boxes they were trying to move as Build Your Own Games on one side of the sale sign and Disposable Game Boards on the other.
The keep-us-from-going-under desperation was strong in here.
Six-G uniforms were baby-blue smocks over blue jeans, which made the employees look like they should be working in a fabric store. Then again, I shouldn’t jab. Modeled after Las Vegas Metro Police Department, the mall’s security uniforms were tan polyester and equally unflattering.
Even if all the employees weren’t pointing to the tall, broad-shouldered, bald black man facing the corner reading a book and wearing a worn-in, brown leather mid-calf trench coat, black jeans, and black sneakers, I knew—from the id’imp standing on his left shoulder—that he was the problem.
Being a manifestation of the person who crafted them, id’imps had a bad rep because—as the name of their kind implies—they are mostly id. Yes, as in Freud’s theoretical constructs. Which, on the imps’ behalf, usually meant barely controlled impulses, embarrassing displays of how the person felt, and Freudian slips.
Because of the normal lack of control, there were some stores that didn’t want id’imps inside. Usually they were highbrow places like art galleries or fancy-dress shops. Other stores, like Octavia’s Secret and Cosmos Candy encourage shoppers to bring in their id’imps. Six-G probably didn’t want them to knock over any of the high stacks of dust-gathering merchandise.
Mine had humiliated me so often that I regretted making her and always left her in her sanctum—mystical word for cage—at home. Of course, I could always call her to me, but why would I ever do that?
Without talking to someone, a lot could be understood about them by paying close attention to the id’imp’s appearance.
This guy’s, for example, stood the average eight inches tall and, oddly, was dressed identically to the man, signaling that the man was in tune or in touch with his wants. Collapsed angel wings protruded from beneath the id’imps leather trench coat, which meant the crafter was a nice guy. It—I couldn’t tell the gender yet—held onto the owner’s ear, which meant the owner was attentive.
If the store employees would’ve taken the time to look, they’d see that this little guy and his crafter weren’t an issue. But a store’s policy of no id’imps meant no id’imps.
Bored, the id’imp glanced around.
It was a male, with three horizontally inline flaming white lidless eyes: the man was true to himself and spiritual. The id’imp had a long chin (lucky), no nose (keeps to himself), and a mouth that took up half his face (talkative). He also had horns that went up from his temples to just shy of the halo. The man had quite the devilish side to him. The topper, for me, was that the id’imp had a tiny pink bandana with a tiny Powerpuff Girls logo at the center.
From the id’imp alone, I liked this guy. A lot.
It focused on me and leaned to whisper into the man’s ear. “Yo, five-oh.” Despite the constant contrary proof, id’imps always think they can whisper when—in fact—their little robust otherworldly voices always carried. “Let’s bounce.”
The man glanced to his id’imp before turning around the other way to face me. Clean shaven with dimples. His sparkling brown eyes met mine and latched on.
Was there anyone else in the world?
Smiling a slightly crooked, engine-revving broad smile, he had turned with the book—hardcover rules for the new Star Trek: Discovery game—in hand over his buttoned-up coat. “Yes?”
His voice wasn’t crazy deep, but, goodness, I felt it.
Sounding like Jayne Cobb from Firefly, his id’imp whispered, “Gee, sure would be nice if we had some roses right now.”
Face starting to flush, I glanced to the id’imp to glean more information about the man.
The id’imp’s coat wasn’t buttoned and the flair and cut screamed a diehard Browncoat. He wore an SG-1 team T-shirt with a Ravenclaw patch over his heart. The man was deeply into Firefly, Stargate, AND Harry Potter. Talk about hitting a trifecta!
Which deities had I pleased to be presented with a man like this? “Sir.” I rocked a thumb over my shoulder. “Can we talk outside the store?”
His lopsided smile became a grin. “Sure.” He slid the book back in place. “But, just so you know, there’s not a No Id’imps sign posted.”
When he passed, I caught an accidental whiff of the id’imp. The warm, marshmallow-choked hot chocolate smell felt like snuggling up with a good book next to a crackling fire.
I had to get to know this man.
And had to keep myself from walking right behind him to not revel in the id’imp’s scent as he went to the railing overlooking the hustle and bustle of the mall Santa posing for pictures down on the first floor. As I left the store, I glanced at the door: the No Amex and No Smoking signs were clear, but the No Id’imps sign was—from the outside—completely obstructed by a kickstanded 20% Off All Games sign.
Letting a chatting group of teens pass, I called in to dispatch that the situation was resolved. I then went over to the railing. “About the No Id’imps sign.” I faced the store. Many of the workers inside who’d been watching from the virtually customer-less store quickly busied themselves with minor tasks.
He asked, “Yeah?”
I pointed to the discount sign. “No knock against you, but they have it posted. They just didn’t think when they put out their lure.”
He glanced to the sign. “Is that what they’re called? Lures?”
I shrugged. “That’s what they called them in St. Paul and it sounded about right.”
Facing me, he gave a slight nod. “Well, it worked on me.”
The id’imp whispered, “Dude, ask her for her number.”
With a slightly embarrassed look that all id’imp creators know well, the man pressed his tongue into his cheek and glanced to the id’imp.
“Right.” The id’imp scratched his chin before snapping his fingers to conjure little tri-lensed sunglasses. He put them on and leaned nonchalantly against the side of the man’s head. “Play it cool.”
The man said, “It’s not that I’m playing it cool, but—” He glanced to my shoulders before continuing. “It’s just that I’ve found that I’m a little…unusual and like to at least see a woman’s id’imp before, you know, trying to get to know them.”
He asked, “Do you have one? If so, I’d like to meet her. Or him.” He added, not quickly enough. “Or it.”
Being a caster at their purest, id’imps weren’t always created with strictly human-like genders. Part of what drew my parents together was that both of their id’imps—yes, they both had crafted them prior to meeting—were blood-engorged hermaphrodites who had a fondness for skyclad rituals.
I asked, “Can you and I maybe talk over coffee first?”
From his expression, it was clearly not what he wanted. However, he said, “Sure.”
His id’imp pulled at his ear while pointing to my Gavel C. name tag. “Check her name, man.”
The man nodded. “I see.”
The id’imp said, “Now read it backwor—”
The man cut a look at his id’imp that could kill.
The id’imp kicked his head back and dropped to his knees before flopping over.
While I’m used to people and id’imps making light of my name, reading it backwards was new. Levag? Oh, C.Levag. What a clever, horny little bugger.
To me, the man said, “I’m sorry.” He looked to his id’imp. “Sanctum. One minute.”
Still laid out, the id’imp said, “I hate time outs. Can’t I just keep playing dead?”
Insisting, the man said, “Sanctum, please.”
“Okay.” The id’imp got to his feet and disappeared as it jumped a back flip. Its sunglasses hung in the air. “But, lovely Gavel, don’t go nowhere. Be here when I get back.” The sunglasses disappeared.
I said, “Since you know my name, can I get yours and your id’imp’s?”
He bowed his head slightly as he touched his chest. “I’m Darrius.”
He pointed to the shoulder where the id’imp had been. “And his name is Pickle, because he usually puts me in one.”
I laughed. It might have not been that funny, but I had to laugh because I empathized. “Mine’s name is Vergüenza and she’s an…acquired taste.”
Darrius’s eyebrows raised with intrigue. “So, when do you want to do this coffee thing? And, will Ms. V be there?”
I liked that he said Ms. V instead of possibly butchering her name. “Hold on.” He was scoring points and probably didn’t even know. I turned my chin to my shoulder to call her. “Vergüenza, could you come to me, please?”
“NO!” The pouty petulance in her tone was out of control and I was so glad that non-manifested id’imps voices were only audible to their crafter. “You leave me home all. The. TIME! And now, you want me to poof to you so you can showcase me like a just-turned-eighteen stripper?” She gave me a raspberry. “Fat chance!”
This was one of the many times that I wished I wasn’t so willful and resentful, because she wouldn’t be either. But I was, and so was she.
I lied, “She’s bathing.” Not a good start. I’ll have to admit to it later.
“Oh.” Darrius gave an understanding nod. “Okay. So, coffee?”
Thinking of the coffee joint across the street, and giving myself enough time to get home, change, and come back, I pointed southeast. “How about at eight at Café Cocoa Java?”
Smiling, he said, “Sounds good. See you two there.”
“Yes.” I smiled, too, and watched him walk away. He was going down the escalator when Pickle appeared on his shoulder looking around.
I gave a big wave to be seen.
While Darrius was overly focused on his phone, obviously playing it cool, Pickle spotted me. He made a heart as burning white as his eyes—Darrius really liked me—with his fingers and tossed it my way. Of course, because the mall is a public place, it only went a foot from Darrius before dissipating, but I wish it would’ve traveled.
Perturbed with Vergüenza, but knowing I had to make peace with her, I requested an early out and went home to have a little heart to heart with her.
Home is a crappy one-bedroom pre-furnished apartment. The kind where the living room, dining room, and kitchen were a large, unapologetic area only differentiated by the slated wood design to the kitchen linoleum. It’s one of the many alternating L-shaped Lego block floor plans in the maze of five-story apartment buildings a ways behind Casino Windsor out on the busy northwest corner of Flamingo and Valley View.
Between my part-time security jobs at the mall and Casino Windsor—hopefully full-time soon—I can barely afford it, but am on the waitlist to downgrade to a studio so I can save.
One of the worst things about the neighborhood is that someone is always bumping rap or blaring rock and on Saturdays, it’s a battle of who can be the most inconsiderate by blasting their music with their windows open until ten p.m. Today, well, this evening, my neighbor’s rock—the fast-angry growling kind—was winning.
Because the place was pre-furnished, I had bought those plastic furniture wraps for the sleeper sofa, cushions, and my queen-sized mattress. I then covered them with floral comforters so the place reflects me, not the landlord. The TV built into the entertainment center in the living room only picks up local channels, but I had hooked up my laptop to the small TV in my bedroom so that I can stream and download shows.
The main upside to Vergüenza was that my apartment always smells like my abuelita’s menudo and tortillas made from scratch. Which is why, no matter where I live, I always feel at home.
“Vergüenza?” She wasn’t in the main room. I glance to the top of the kitchen cabinets and fridge because she sometimes hides up there.
And she would be hiding because she knows I’m upset with her.
Expecting to have to check under the bed, in the closet, and under the narrow bathroom sink, I turned the corner to my bedroom to see all chunky fourteen inches of her lounging—on her angel wing nubbles—on my main pillow on my side of the bed.
She lifted her oversized head, and the main large, flaming white eye in her bull-thick, protruding forehead led a lazy blink that cascaded through tiny acne-like eyes on her cheeks. Because I’m so observant, each of her cheeks used to also be a large eye; however, I had betrayed myself twice in the past and each betrayal had busted open one of the large eyes into the smatterings that peppered the sides of her stubby little nose. Her large, thick-at-the-base, pointy-at-the-top devil horns kept her halo at an angle that looked like it was going to slide off at any moment.
Ready to co-author some fanfic about the Powerpuff Girls teaching at Hogwarts, she had on her comfy Blossom-themed sweats with the House Pukwudgie crest over her leftmost breast. The other three inline breasts—because I was, supposedly, nurturing—had the home symbol from SG-1, the Blue Sun logo from Firefly, and a Starfleet Command pin. Her sweat top covered the series of mouths down the center of her torso for each time I had been so embarrassed that I had moved and the tiny speck-mouths around them for each time I had told a grandiose lie about that particular move.
She said, “When we left off, Blossom was backing into the Room of Requirement and pulling Professor—”
“Why?” I interrupted. “Why, why, why didn’t you come when I asked?”
“Hmm.” Faking deep thought, Vergüenza put her finger on her nearly non-existent chin. “If I recall, one of us—I’m not going to point fingers—told the other to stay in their sanctum.”
“Well.” I put my fists on my hips as I glanced to the double-stuffed Buttercup plushie I had bought as the bedding of her sanctum on her side of the bed. “You’re not there now.”
Trying to change the mood, she put her arms out for a hug while still arguing. “Well, you’re home now. I can go where I please, no?”
Rolling my eyes, I said, “Yes.” I put my arms out, too, and walked toward the bed.
She popped up, bounded across the bed, and leapt into my arms. She buried her face into my neck, the tears from her dozens of eyes wetting me. “I’m mad at you!”
The plastic casing crinkled as I sat on my bed and hugged her until her arms relaxed. Before Abuelita had passed, I had asked her for a lock of her hair to craft Vergüenza and, because of that, these hugs held all her—their—love.
I set her next to me. “Well, I’m not happy with you, either.”
“No.” Vergüenza shook her head like I just didn’t get it. “I’m, like, really-really mad at you.” She did her best to cross her arms over her breast. “I never get to go anywhere anymore. Every single day it’s stay in your sanctum, stay in your sanctum, and stay in your sanctum.” She looked away toward the wall. “You don’t even let me go to movies with you anymore.”
I wanted to point out that her unbridled laughter at inopportune times isn’t appreciated by most and had gotten us—well, me—kicked out of several movies. But we could have that particular talk some other time.
Since even gently turning her head to face me would be an unwelcomed touch, I got up, walked to the other side of her, and sat down.
Her bottom lip was jutted out slightly and trembling.
I waited for the tremble to stop. “Vergüenza, you may think I’m going to movies, but I’m not. I work two jobs now. So, sometimes, I have to leave the house twice in a day.”
She opened her hands to inspect her palms.
If I were lying, the lifeline on her right hand—my dominant hand—would’ve quivered and turned like a weathervane to show her how bad the lie was. Because I was telling a long-honest truth about me not going to a movie since we moved to Las Vegas last year, all the lines on her left hand went horizontal.
While she was looking at her hands, I added, “And, because I often leave jobs because of you showcasing how I really feel, I’ve felt that I needed to leave you sanctum-bound so I can establish a life for us here.”
The long-standing truth of that made the horizontal lines connect into a deep groove.
To not see it, she turned her face away from her palms, but way too late. I knew she saw them and, in turn, she knew that I knew.
A rap song that was all bass behind a rapper rhyming expensive brands vibrated through the bathroom wall. The neighbor behind me was getting into the loud music brawl.
Speaking what I felt, she sneered. “I don’t like it here.”
I agreed. “Me either, but, it’s what I can afford right now.”
Turning her face to me and locking all her eyes on mine, she asked, “Can’t we just go back to the compound?”
My neck rocked back on my shoulders as I stood up to get some space between us.
Was I really considering that?
She popped up to her feet and walked across the bed to keep close, and stopped at the corner. “Life was better there. You only had to study and cook and teach, and we had lotsss of fantastic sex.” Stoking a base want that’d been building in me, her horns grew higher and—if physics affected halos—it would’ve fallen.
I bumped into the window blinds and almost knocked them down trying to get further away from my base wants.
“No.” My head was shaking hard against returning to Juárez. “That simpler life is behind us.” Vergüenza asking about seeing America had been what prompted me into breaking ties and getting my Permanent Resident Card. “I’d rather struggle here than carelessly float there.”
She pointed at my heart. “You just don’t want to go back a failure.”
Needled, I snapped, “That too!”
She hopped back from my wrath. Then reached back to touch her tailbone. “Careful. I don’t want that kind of tail.”
Now I pointed at her. “And I don’t want you to have one, either! But you poke there like that and I react.” Trying to switch to a happier topic—what I really wanted to talk to her about—I took a sharp breath and let it out as slowly as I could. “I met a man today.”
Just thinking about Darrius and Pickle helped me rapidly find my center. “And I’m willing to bet anything that you and his id’imp, Pickle, would align. Fulfilling why you both were created and giving you both a partner worth sharing sanctums with.”
I thought that would get her on my side, but the widening and thickening of her forehead—increased stubbornness—spoke otherwise.
“I!” she said, “Don’t wanna! Share you!” She pointed to her pillow. “I don’t wanna share Buttercup! If we can’t make it on our own, we need to go back to the compound.”
The truth between the two offers she presented showed in her shoulders and torso widening in independence to support a heavier load. I hadn’t noticed how her shoulders had been widening through the years. When I crafted her, they were barely wider than her neck, but they were now twice the width of her hips. There would’ve been enough room for her breasts, but, apparently, my increased independence also made me a better nurturer.
“That!” I tried to take the heat out of my words, but couldn’t. A part of me was thrilled about the loud music because I could yell without sounding crazy. “Will. Never! HAPPEN!”
Her mouth popped open as both of her hands went behind her. Tears streamed as she spun to show the long, pointed leathery tail that had sprouted and hung just past the back of her knees.
She sneered at me over her shoulder. “See what you did!” She dashed up the bed to flop on her pillow and immaterialized. “I hate you!”
I could still hear her as she cried into Buttercup.
My fists had balled with rage and my stubby nails dug into my palms. It took me a minute to unclench them. I still wanted to reason with her, but would have to wait for her to cry herself out.
Noticing the time, I jumped in the shower to get ready to meet up with Darrius for coffee. If she wasn’t going to go with me, I’d order her favorite and call her. That’d be the sure way to coax her into making an appearance.
Plan and trickery in mind, I went about getting ready for the date of my life.
Because Pickle kept sneaking me hearts when Darrius wasn’t looking, coffee couldn’t have gone better.
Well, honestly, it could’ve.
Vergüenza could’ve made an appearance when I called her after our order had arrived and, again, after our third order when he and Pickle had gone to use the restroom.
Because Vergüenza hadn’t shown, Darrius was ready to cut me loose, but I wasn’t going to let him let me go that easily. I rattled off an impressive string of tasks; mostly moving heavy stuff and rearranging my furniture, and not being able to ask anyone else.
While I was embarrassed about the noise and storehouse-like tenement apartments where I lived, and about the smallness of my apartment, and now—awkwardly—about my decision to use plastic and my choice of floral comforters, I had to stomach that to try and show him Vergüenza.
Pickle had come in first and the combo of his emotion-provoking scent mixed with Vergüenza’s made me long for a family. To make a family. To turn this crummy apartment into a loving home with Darrius.
Darrius, on the other hand, had come in closed off.
But, when he crossed the threshold, Vergüenza called from the bedroom, “Why’d it suddenly get hot in here, Gavel?”
Darrius didn’t react. She must’ve still been immaterialized.
Since I didn’t respond, she added, “My nethers are sweating.” She gasped. “Why do I now have two vaginas!”
Utter embarrassment lit my face on fire. Hoping he hadn’t heard that, I glanced to Pickle.
Gratefully oblivious to what Vergüenza had said, the little guy was snapping his fingers, creating Superman work gloves, a He-Man styled weight belt and back support, and a Wonder Woman hand truck.
Purposefully keeping his eyes off of me, Darrius pointed to the sleeper sofa and the entertainment center. “So, you want to swap their locations?”
Nodding, I motioned my head toward my bedroom. “And a couple of things in there.”
Shaking his head, he said, “I’ll help you out here, but you’ll just have to save for day laborers or live with what you got in there.”
Having been denied his ultra-minimal request to meet Vergüenza, I couldn’t fault him for making sure his lust—which showed on Pickle—didn’t get the best of him. His iron-clad self-control deepened my admiration of him and, somehow, made him even hotter.
Vergüenza yelled, “You’re trying to kill me!”
I had hoped she’d come running out to climb the fridge to get into the freezer, and see Darrius. But under the bang of bass competing with jagged guitar riffs, I noticed that my shower had turned on.
Working a different angle, I asked, “Can I show Pickle what’s needed to get his opinion?”
“No.” Darrius had started shaking his head halfway through my question. “I think you’d be better off hiring day laborers to get that stuff done for you.”
Pickle leaned close to Darrius’s ear. He whispered, “Come on, hoss. This lady’s in need.”
Darrius narrowed his eyes at Pickle’s double entendre. He brokered a deal with his id’imp. “If I say yes, you have to swear to only assess the need of moving furniture and nothing else.”
“Deal.” Pickle spat in his hand and presented it to Darrius.
Darrius licked his index finger and raised it for Pickle to shake.
Pickle snapped his fingers. His little trench coat vanished as he flapped his angel wings to lift from Darrius’s shoulders and fly into my room.
Leaving Darrius in the main room, I entered my bedroom, too.
Directly in the center of the room, over my bed, Pickle was flapping and assessing the location of my bed, nightstand, and dresser supporting my small TV and laptop.
“Okay.” Pretending to have to think it over, I put my hand on my chin. I then motioned to Buttercup. “Why don’t you have a seat while I tell you what I want?”
Nodding, he bent his legs into a sitting position as he flapped a turning circle toward the pillow. He tucked his wings in and plopped down on the edge.
Innately sensing the sanctum violation, Pickle was already standing.
Ready to fight and steaming moisture, Vergüenza appeared at the center of Buttercup in her Pukwudgie wizarding robes under her flared-open brown trench coat. The Kurt Russell Stargate beret on her head and large WWE-styled Buttercup championship belt showed that she meant business.
Still, she yelled, “Off of my sanctum!”
Standing on the bed, Pickle stepped in place to demonstrate that he wasn’t on anything that Vergüenza truly considered part of her personal property.
Sternly, she said, “Out of my room.”
Pickle glanced to me.
To let him know he didn’t have to go, I shook my head.
Vergüenza snapped her fingers and was dressed like Jayne Cobb. “Do you know what the chain of do what I say is?” She snapped her fingers again and a length of spiked chain appeared in her hands. “It’s the chain I beat you with until you do what you’re ruttin’ told.”
Not intimidated, and looking up at Vergüenza, Pickle snapped his fingers and was dressed like demonic Superman. “Darrius,” he said, “it’s about to go down.”
Vergüenza snapped her fingers and the chain turned into kryptonite.
Pickle snapped his fingers and transformed into a gamma radiated version of himself.
“What—” Darrius had rushed to the doorway. “—is going on in here?”
Vergüenza glanced to him and snapped her fingers. The chain was gone. The beret was gone. The house robes were gone. In a parted, long brown trench coat of her own design, the series of mouths down Vergüenza’s chest to navel were visible and her thick Buttercup championship buckle slimmed to a loose sexy waistband that dangled a floor plan of the small apartment as a buckle over her privates.
She batted all her eyes at Darrius. “Hello, sailor.”
I buried my burning face in my hands.
“Hi,” Darrius said. “I like your waistband.”
Vergüenza said, “What? This old thing?”
I dared to peek through my fingers.
He had entered my bedroom and was at the foot of the bed.
Swiveling her hips to—goodness, Vergüenza—give him glimpses of what was beneath, she walked down the bed toward him.
Not mentioning any of her physical attributes, Darrius said, “Cool coat.”
She grabbed the lapels and pulled them closed to model it for him. “While we can’t all be winners, we can honor the struggle.”
Smiling, Darrius said, “You’re gorram right.”
Vergüenza glanced over her shoulder at Pickle. “You may sit.”
Pickle glanced to me.
To not subvert Vergüenza’s permission, I shrugged and raised my eyebrows at him.
“Hmm.” Pickle snapped his fingers. He had a pipe that blew soap bubbles and was in an old-fashioned smoking jacket. “I’ve got a load I’ve been meaning to get off.” He sat down like a civilized fellow. Totally playing it cool.
Vergüenza appeared next to him. Plopping down, she snapped her fingers. A large bucket of popcorn appeared, covering their laps.
Pickle snapped his fingers and a cup rack with a large soda—with two straws—appeared between them. In perfect unison, they ate popcorn as they looked back and forth to me and Darrius as we drew closer.
He and I pulled each other closer and started a kiss that ignited the night.
Like always, my phone alarm that started off quiet, roused me as it eased up to volume two. Turning it off, I noted that it was five a.m. and the neighborhood was blessedly quiet. Next to me, Darrius’s soft, slumbering breaths continued undisturbed. A jovial modified line from Die Hard came to me. Now I have a boyfriend. Ho-ho-ho.
Across the room, on the dresser where we had moved the Buttercup pillow, Vergüenza lifted her head to check in with me. A few of the tiny eyes on her cheeks had joined. There still were a crazy smattering of eyes there, but the inner peace I felt from traveling the rocky road I had to get here ebbed a bit of the hurt away.
When I started texting my boss at Windsor that I was in need of a sick day, Vergüenza laid her head back down and cuddled Pickle—who was as out as Darrius—into her.
Pressing send and setting my phone back on the nightstand, I followed her lead. Curling up with Darrius, I blissfully went back to sleep.
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