Castro Bridge Mix #2: Rubber BridgeSep 27, 2013
No matter how much he tried to change his looks, JT Madison had a face which always risked instant recognition.
The thirty-six-year-old superstar had appeared on the covers of countless magazines and tabloid newspapers and had been featured in television, movies, and on Broadway. His daily workout regimens with a top personal trainer ensured that he maintained his chiseled physique. But what his millions of fans never knew was that whenever he was under extreme pressure, he lost himself to binge eating. Only moments before he had darted outside to wait for his ride, JT had learned from his agent that he was now in serious contention for the starring role in one of the planet’s highest grossing big screen action-adventure franchises.
JT’s upper canine teeth punctured the jelly donut in his leather gloved right hand with the dexterity of a screen vampire. As soon as he had his fix, he quickly rinsed with a nearly microscopic bottle of mouthwash and tossed a handful of Altoids into his mouth. JT retrieved his smartphone to photograph the carnage, but at the last minute, he tossed the donut into a nearby bush and instead he photographed a bright orange carrot stick he had carefully stowed away in his pocket encased in a Ziploc bag. He quickly texted the picture of the carrot stick to an individual on his phone known only as “Poo Butler.”
JT repositioned his black and brilliant orange San Francisco Giants baseball cap and gold-framed aviator sunglasses which were placed firmly over the flawlessly contoured bridge of his nose. He focused on the two toned silver and black 1931 Packard Deluxe Eight Sports Phaeton with whitewall tires barreling down iconic Lombard Street’s incredibly winding pathway as it headed straight for him. He could instantly spot its driver’s white felt pork pie hat trimmed in black.
“Well, if it isn’t the world’s oldest living confederate widow fag hag.” Jim spoke confidently to the elegantly dressed driver of the impressive four-door vehicle which had slammed on its brakes and pulled up beside him. He leapt inside and took off like he was inside a launched rocket ship.
JT felt the crack of Lullabelle Fitzsimmons’ right hand across his exposed cheek causing his sunglasses to fall to the pristine white leather floor mat of his front seat. “What the fuck was that for?”
Lullabelle’s voice drenched with a thick honey Southern drawl greeted him as if nothing had just happened. “Well, I’m so sorry, Mr. Waffles. It’s just, I could have sworn you had a fly grazing on your left cheek. I never want you confused for that other thing that tends to attract flies.” JT’s millions of adoring fans knew him by a large number of names. But to all of the Bridge players at Mae’s, there was only one. He was just Waffles.
“Got it. Is that Lady Lu-speak for don’t be a little shit?” Waffles watched Lullabelle nod her head in agreement. He slid from side to side on the ice skating rink smooth surface of Lullabelle’s black and white leather front seats. “Slow down, Lady Lu. Are you trying to get us both killed?” He felt her swerve the motorized behemoth she was helming with a rapid fire turn of her steering wheel.
“Hold on to your reproductive organs, sugar. We have a few more stops to make.” She instinctively floored her accelerator pedal as she saw the yellow traffic light at the intersection. They narrowly missed colliding with a shamrock green moving van that was entering the intersection at precisely the same moment.
Waffles‘ face drained of all of its color. He scowled at his driver whose magnificent red hair was pulled back neatly and fashioned into a bun at the back of her head underneath the crown of her latest pork pie hat. “How could you do that?”
“I just can’t help myself, honey. I simply have a need for speed.” She shrugged her shoulders innocently inside the confines of her magnificent black and white diamond printed silk Prada suit. Lullabelle briefly removed her glasses to reveal her still breathtaking azure eyes that had shone brightly for nearly seventy-five years.
He glanced at Lullabelle’s enormous thick black circular framed glasses. “Yeah. Well, Harriette Potter, your need for speed almost got us killed back there.” He wondered who else she was schlepping to Mae’s today.
“Fess up, Mr. Waffles. Are you really peeved by me almost getting us killed or for having your picture being taken by that red light camera back there without the chance to pretty yourself up just in case the tabloids get a copy of your picture?” Lullabelle grinned mischievously.
Waffles ignored her astute observation. “Looks like your next stop, driver. I can spot Eleanor Rigby and Popeye hanging out over there at poo corner.” Lullabelle abruptly halted her car and in popped Kay Lam and Earl Grey Rodriguez. Earl had initially bristled at Waffles’ affectionately coined nickname Popeye Roboto, which referred to his heavily muscled, almost robotically moving physique. A few months later, Earl did an about-face and actually decided to adopt the name as his own for use at Mae’s.
Kay was a rather petite Asian woman barely over four feet tall with exceptionally pale skin that made her look like a porcelain doll. Yet, her larger than life personality often made her seem almost twice her natural size. Her heavily accented voice boomed with enthusiasm. “Thanks for ride, Lu. It welcome break after driving so much from one salon to next. Could’ve taken Muni, but had bad experience with guy who want get too close. He made my leg feel like it did the nasty after I got off.”
Waffles glanced over at Kay. “I’ll bet you did.”
“I see little blob jelly on your chin, Waffle. You using again. Gonna give you buffalo butt. Not pretty in film.” Kay didn’t even look up at Waffles as she spoke.
Waffles stroked his chin hurriedly. He looked at his hands and realized that Kay had played him. He didn’t have a trace of jelly on him. Maybe she had smelled his jelly donut through his Altoids. He simmered in the front seat as he spotted a text from Poo Butler congratulating him for his healthy food choice. He was safe for now.
Kay carefully observed a large black cat contemplating crossing the street ahead of them. Once the cat had changed direction, she hurriedly retrieved her emails off her iPhone. Kay had her hand in so many businesses in the Bay Area that she had become more of a life force than a person.
“Was he a rubber or a snuggler?” Popeye Roboto was a well muscled man in his early thirties wearing a tight tank top and white form-fitted rugby shorts. He was reviewing his song list for his upcoming concert as a proud member of the very popular San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. As he exhaled, his massive chest propelled the tiny rainbow pendant hanging from a black leather rope around his neck straight up into the air. He hadn’t removed the pendant since the first day when he had received the present.
“What’s that you say, Mr. Popeye?” Lullabelle was getting ready to make her final stop before landing them at Mae’s.
Waffles interrupted in order to explain. “A rubber or a snuggler? Rubbers like to rub up against people on overcrowded trains in order to get themselves off. Personally, I think the snugglers are the ones to watch out for. They’re the ones looking for love in all the wrong places.”
Popeye stared at Waffles incredulously as he sipped a blueberry smoothie which had turned his tongue a brilliant shade of purple. “And since when have you ever taken mass transit, Waffles?”
Waffles rolled his eyes at Popeye’s bright purple tongue. “For Christ’s sake, Popeye, you look like you just rimmed Barney.” He paused as he recalled his time spent on Muni. “I took Muni a few times to get into a part I was playing as a barista commuting to work. It was a Method Acting phase. Every time I think about getting on Muni, I hear the voice of God movie trailer announcer over an image of the Muni passengers all around me. Close shot on each of their faces as he begins, ‘These are the people you will meet on your way straight into the bowels of Hell.’”
“Hold on y’all.” Lullabelle slammed on her brakes and they slid up to the curb in front of San Francisco’s rather ornate City Hall.
“Howdy gang.” Dereck Kingsley opened the rear car door and climbed inside the snug area next to Kay while the car idled by the curb. Barely in his forties, Dereck was arguably one of the sexiest men in San Francisco. Yet, he somehow appeared to be completely unaware of his own incredible good looks. Dereck winked at Lullabelle causing one of his very prominent jet black eyebrows to elevate.
As soon as Dereck entered the car, it was painfully obvious that Kay was becoming uncomfortable. Without being able to help herself, she began staring directly down at Dereck’s crotch.
Waffles couldn’t hold himself back as he watched the awkward situation unfolding through the rearview mirror. “Careful, Dereck. I think she may have misplaced her special friend. You know — her Victorian vibrator that’s powered by mice.”
After the fifth turn of Kay’s head towards his crotch, Dereck finally decided to comment. “The boys are flattered by the attention, Kay. But they don’t respond well to fish. You can ask my ex-wife about that. Right now, I’m pretty much as set in as Yertle the Turtle on a really bad day.”
“My seat.” Kay was almost unintelligible as she kept looking at Dereck’s seat.
Waffles smiled at Dereck with lust in his unconvincingly innocent pale green eyes. “Seriously, I don’t think she’s really interested in your package, Dereck. Kay’s a tad superstitious, you know. And you happen to be sitting in her winning car seat. After all, she is our princess.”
Kay swatted Waffles on the back of his head. “Kay not Princess. Kay Empress.”
Popeye smiled widely as he thought about San Francisco’s Emperor and Empress competition each year which involved aggressive canvassing for votes in the Castro. The Empresses were often men in drag. “I don’t think you’d qualify for Empress in this town, Kay. You’re an RBW.”
“What that you say?” Kay looked quizzically at Popeye.
“RBW. Real biological woman.” The term shot out of Popeye’s mouth as if every gay man in the Castro would automatically recognize it.
“Damned tootin’.” Kay stared over at Dereck once again.
“Okay. Okay.” Dereck climbed over Kay and squeezed himself next to Popeye.
Waffles had been watching every step of Dereck’s swift movement in the car intently. “Wow, Dereck, you have the grace and strike of a Cheeto. You must get that from chasing after your perps and bringing them to justice.”
Dereck looked incredulously at Waffles. “Chasing Perps? Waffles, I’m not a cop. I’m the San Francisco District Attorney. And don’t you mean the strike of a cheetah? God makes cheetahs. Cheetos are made by Frito-Lay.”
“Nope. I mean Cheeto. And, you know, I think God makes Cheetos too. They’re so incredibly tasty and they possess that uncanny ability to turn your fingers fluorescent orange.” Waffles contorted his rather malleable face before transforming it into an outrageous smile.
Dereck reluctantly pulled out his cell phone which had been vibrating in his pocket and immediately took the call when he realized who was calling. He listened for a few moments after identifying himself. “Are you sure that you have the deceased IDed correctly? Well, actually I play Bridge with him.”
Lullabelle tried to concentrate on the road as she wondered who at Mae’s had just died. Finally, she couldn’t hold herself back. “Jimminy Christmas, Dereck, who just bought the farm?”
Dereck put his hand up gently to pause her question and concluded his call. “I understand. I know it’s still early in the investigation. If there’s anything you need on my end let me know.” He hated breaking bad news. He turned to the rest of the passengers. “It seems that Marc Nesbitt fell in front of a Muni train on his way to the Castro.”
“No! That’s impossible! You have to be mistaken.” Popeye couldn’t believe Dereck’s words as he held his pendant. “You’ve got to be wrong about this.” He tried to control the growing flood of tears pouring down his cheeks with his hands. Marc was too careful to accidentally fall in front of a train. And suicide? He would never do something like that. But who would want him dead?
© Will Morrison 2013. All Rights Reserved.