Thorn of the Rose: Issue 31: Pistil’s Breaking Loose
When Stamen texted him from a public Port in the Denver Greyhound bus station, Pistil was ready to go out there and join her. He already knew that something like this would happen—soon. They would need a plan, and he was the man, and he could be the fan. “Because that cow manure was going to hit very quickly and he had the strength and the gall to spit it all back out.
His bags were packed: a comb and a toothbrush was all he would give for hygiene. He’d ransacked the kitchen for food, and even had two water bottles. For cash, he had his Port, the gold and pearl necklace his mother gave him for his 16th birthday last month, and a compass time watch from Manny, his big brother to sell. For clothes, he snagged a blue and green plaid shirt and a red and black one. Four pairs of socks and eight pairs of underwear, for he needed his breasts bound tightly. A dark pullover with the hangman’s noose on the front. Two pairs of Stamen’s jeans—he had kept them from the camp because they fit well and looked rugged.
And, besides, they were Stamen’s. Not that he was going to be at all sentimental about their affair. Their love. He was going to be strong about that and not gush over into any girly stuff. Yet, having Stamen’s jeans encase his legs, his belly, his waist made him feel so close to her, like wearing her on his skin. He took one last look at his room. Here, he had grown up, loathing every part of the neatly matched fuschia bedspread and curtains, the Princess Doily rug, the neat little unicorns prancing over rainbows in the matched set of prints on the wall. He thought about getting his stash from under the bed, then thought the better of it. No, let his mother have the heart attack when she finds the transformers and black widows.
The only thing he removed were the eight boxcutters he’d collected over the years and slowly reshaped into killing blades, running them through his Curly Sweet dolls over and over again. He hefted the pack. Not bad. A little light—he could afford to take maybe one of his Kickbox Particle Danger figures, the ones he stole from Johnny, his oldest brother, after Johnny had moved off to college and his mother had turned that bedroom into a shrine no one should enter. (He’d wrapped toilet paper over his shoes to avoid leaving tracks in the room.) But which should he take? Leaping Leopard was the snarliest with superhuman jumping. But Hunger Hank could eat anything ever and could melt the strongest metal into brittle isotopes in a moment. He grabbed all of the Particle Danger figures from their place of pride under the bed, and spread them out to decide.
Of course, his mother would pick that moment to come in. Her timing always could be counted on to be impeccable. “Oh dear,” she sighed heavily. “We’ve been through this how many times now? These boy games are just to channel anger and aggression from the male ego so that men can have a productive place in society. Women, with our calming influences of estrogen and nurturing, have no need for such violent toys. What are you trying to prove, Elizabeth Cady Lowell?” Pistil knew that when his mother used his full original birth name, there could be no reasoning with her. And to stoop to a physics and chemistry discussion about the genders was to lose everything. So he just shrugged instead.
His mother continued, “Honey, I know how keen you are on getting a Spark Prize, and I think your ideas are just wonderful. But you know you do not have to pander to the male ego any more. This is the 21rst century, sweeting. You can be whatever you want to be. You don’t have to burn your bras or pretend to be a man. In this day and age, anyone can have a brain and a womb and use both. So, put down these toys. Take up peace. See, I got you entered into that new quilting class. Jane is going to come pick us both up at three tomorrow and we can have a high tea and quilt all afternoon. Just us girls. Won’t that be nice?”
Not for the first time around his mother, Pistil simply wanted to gag. “Right Mom. Thanks Mom. I’ll just give these toys to Billy down the street aways. He needs to get out his aggression, so I thought I’d just show him these. I asked Johnny and Johnny said sure. After all, those men need to stick together.”
Pistil carefully put all of the Particle Dangers into his pack, hiding the rest of the contents from his mother. “Oh that is a lovely thought, dear. Such a gracious and sharing spirit. That is most certainly my daughter,” his mother gushed. “When will you be back? Remember to be home in time for dinner, and I’ll make you your favorite—banana pudding pie with lots of coconut.”
“Gee, that’s sure swell, Mom. Thanks!” Pistil gave his best Leave it to Beaver smile and skedaddled off to the bus stop. All of those hours watching ancient two-d tv pad off sometimes.