"OK, we need Michael to get lost, at least until he's safe from some lying, bible-thumping idiot who thinks he can recreate what God has created," I said.
"Something like that," Adam nodded.
"What's going on?" Bobbie asked walking into the library with Susan.
"Later," Adam said sharply.
"I just..." Bobbie started again.
"I SAID later," Adam said in a voice which I had never heard him use with Bobbie, a voice which welcomed no comeback.
"I see a real problem in Miami." I said. "It may work, but I think if someone tried to board with the wrong boarding pass, all hell could break loose. It sounds easy, but one little slip and the game's over. How about if everything is strictly kosher so far as TSA and Homeland Security is concerned? I think we use the talent we have. Wolf, we need the services of Ms. LaKisha Detroit Bigbutt."
Wolf immediately pumped his fist in the air, shouted "Yes!" and added, "Ms. Bigbutt and her new honkie friend Miss Misty Muffy Hooter-Knockers. Yes!"
"Marc, will you please tell me what's going on?" Mrs. Crandall asked, looking very puzzled. We were all laughing our asses off. Even Susan and Bobbie who didn't know what was going on, but were well acquainted with Ms. Bigbutt, had cracked up as well.
"Wolf created a character for a talent show when we were freshman, Ms. LaKisha Detroit Bigbutt. He managed to keep it all undercover until talent show night when he brought the house down. Just about ended the school talent show. Some folks were upset by the last name, some by his being a female impersonator, and some by how he had portrayed an African-American girl -- but all laughed. At least once a year, some group pays Wolf to haul out Ms. Bigbutt for an event. She's an exaggerated-beyond-belief, over-the-top, street-smart, black beauty, but Wolf can and does tone her down for special events. Truth be told, she is one hot, good-looking woman. Wolf is excellent with makeup and all."
"So what did you have in mind?" Mrs. Crandall was looking very puzzled, but interested.
"I say we send Michael to Atlanta as planned, but Ms. Bigbutt goes with him. When they arrive in Atlanta, they, as you said, do not go to baggage claim, but to another concourse. Wolf sneaks Michael into a woman's restroom and he emerges as Miss Hooter-Knockers. The two very hot ladies leave the airport. Michael has disappeared. Your friend meets them at the East Point MARTA station instead of the airport and takes them downtown for the night then to Peachtree-Dekalb the next day. Could you handle that, Wolf?" I asked, and everyone looked at him.
"Sure help if I could have until noon or so tomorrow to round up makeup and clothes. 'Course it shouldn't be hard here as I have noticed more than a few ladies with Adam's apples around."
"I'll see what I can do about getting a delay," Mrs. Crandall said. "Ms. Bigbutt and Miss Hooter-Knockers," she muttered, shook her head and left the room.
While Mrs Crandall was calling Michael's father trying for a delay, Derek was on his cell trying to locate Antwon or Sharky who were still in Key West. Someone finally answered and he quickly and minimally explained what was going on. "Know any female impersonators?" he finally asked. "No, don't need one, just where he gets his makeup and all. Have a number? Got it. You going to be there for a while? Great! We may need you to make a rush delivery. If you need to leave, give me a call. Yeah, don't have time to explain right now, but we're in crisis mode." He disconnected and immediately started dialing again.
Wolf started to ask him something, but he held up a finger and said, "May I speak to Archie or Felicia? Fine, Felicia, I'm a friend of Antwon and Sharky... yeah, they are great guys. We have a friend who has a real problem and hope you can help out. We're trying to block his dad from sending him to God's Conversion Clin... that's right, Hooks Crossroads in Bumfuck Alabama... The plan? It's a bit complicated, but we need all it takes to transform him into -- get this -- Miss Muffy Misty Hooter-Knockers... Whoa, hold on. Let me put my boyfriend on... Wolf or Ms. LaKisha Detroit Bigbutt. Here, Wolf."
Wolf took the phone and before he said anything into it, said, "Someone find Mavis or someone, and get me a tape measure." He then walked over to a desk where he grabbed a sheet of paper and a pen and said in his Wolf voice, "Wolf here along with..." he switched voices, "Ms. Lakisha Detroit Bigbutt, baby." He and Felicia kept talking as Wolf took notes. Susan finally appeared with a tape measure and Wolf handed Derek the phone and told Michael to strip to his briefs.
Michael blushed and said, "Going commando, Wolf."
"Sandy, get the boy some panties. Meanwhile, off with the shirt. Shoe size?"
"12," Michael answered.
"Ever walk in heels?"
"Are you kidding?"
Wolf shrugged and said, "You never know. Hate to have to go with Mary Janes with only a slight heel."
Sandy bounded into the room carrying a thong, laughing. "Ladies, turn your heads or take a look at what you are missing. Michael strip." As soon as Michael had doffed his clothes and pulled on the thong, Wolf started measuring and calling out names and numbers to Derek. In ten minutes he had finished, took the phone from Derek and asked, "Think that will do it? You're kidding! Well alright. Hang on a second. Derek who did you call?" Derek told him Sharky had answered, but he and Antwon were together. "Fine. Grab Marc's phone and call back and tell them to pick up Felicia in half an hour at the Lady Pirate where she's working, and get their butts out here. Hang on Felicia. Want to make sure those gay boys aren't doing the nasty instead of paying attention to us more important people." Derek gave Wolf a thumbs-up. "They'll be there in thirty, Felicia, and I'm sure this will be well worth your while." He closed the phone and said, "Now we wait."
"OK, it sounds as though you guys got heat stroke or something today. What's going on?" Bobbie demanded. We, of course, had to tell the whole story. "So supposing you pull this off -- and it sounds pretty insane to me -- what next? You know Michael can't go back home."
"No reason to," Michael said. "I love my parents, but not enough to live in hell. I have some things there, but the main thing is my truck and it's at Sandy's."
"Yeah, but your dad will be sure to get it," Sandy said. I guess it took a while for it all to sink in or maybe he was hiding, but he had been very quiet.
"He can't, legally. It's mine and in my name. Clothes, CDs, books can all be replaced if they won't let me have them. I just have to be sure they can't touch me. Well, and find a place to live, but right now I have to get lost and spend a week with my baby." He kissed Sandy on the top of the head.
Mavis appeared with a tray of cheese, fruit and crackers along with juices and cokes. Even though we hadn't had supper -- we were scheduled for a cookout -- we, nonetheless, didn't dive in, appetites suppressed by Michael's situation. We ate very little, in relative silence, a very subdued crew.
Mrs. Crandall finally reappeared, poured herself a juice and said, "Michael..." she stopped, started laughing and said, "Francis of Assisi stripped and left his clothes in his father's house when he turned to the church, but I don't think that's necessary for you."
Michael turned bright red, grabbed his pants and said, "I forgot." I guess we all had.
"Michael," Mrs. Crandall started again, "I talked with your father. Before I could get a word out, he apologized for expecting us to get you on a plane tonight, then even admitted he couldn't get a flight out for you until after noon tomorrow. He gave me the information and then reminded me he'd have me arrested for transporting you across state lines for immoral purposes if you didn't board the plane. Not likely anything would come of it in the end, but it could be a real hassle. So you are scheduled to leave here at nine in the morning. You'll be in Atlanta at 5:30. Good time since it's rush hour and everyone's a little crazy. Are you making progress so far as reaching Miss Hooter-Knockers?"
"Very good," Wolf answered. "She should be arriving in a couple hours."
"In that case, it's 6:30 now. Would you like to go ahead with the cookout or wait for Miss Hooter-Knockers?"
"I say wait," Adam said and we all agreed.
Half an hour later, Antwon and Sharky walked in, accompanied by a gorgeous woman. She was carrying what was obviously a makeup case and a garment bag. Sharky and Antwon each carried a suitcase and another garment bag. Sharky said, "Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Ms. Felicia Kim-Simmons." She was tall, for a woman, and elegantly dressed, very striking. Sharky then introduced each of us in turn.
When he had finished, Felicia said in a low, but feminine voice, "And which of these fine gentlemen knows Ms. Bigbutt and Miss Hooter-Knockers?"
"I'm Ms. Bigbutt," Wolf said in his Ms. Bigbutt voice.
Michael tried, but just didn't sound feminine at all, croaking, "I'm Miss Hooter-Knockers."
"Miss Hooter-Knockers, we'll have to work on that voice. Also, from what Antwon and Sharky were able to tell me, this is no comic routine, so you need new names. Thinking about what you're out to do, the semi-slut Ms. Bigbutt and Miss Hooter-Knockers might be the best disguise, but the names call too much attention to themselves. Business attire or sloppy attire might call attention to masculine traits. So let's go for a toned down version of the loose women, Queen Lakisha and Ms. Baby Doll. OK, where can we work?"
"Our bathroom is probably best," I volunteered. "It has lots of mirrors and workspace."
"Then lead on and give us forty-five minutes. Sharky, baby, Ms. Felicia could use a drink."
"Your wish is my command, Ma'am," he responded as he walked to the bar and poured a Jack and water for the lady.
After the three headed for our bathroom, there was nothing for us to do but wait. Mrs. Crandall has gone out again to call Mr. Wilson and see what could be done legally. She didn't want to tip our hand and feared if Mr. Duncan found out some legal action was in the works, he'd employ more drastic measures to get Michael into the clutches of Brother Fitzsimmons.
Time seemed to pass slowly, but finally Queen LaKisha and Felicia entered the library. Queen LaKisha was toned way, way down from Ms. Bigbutt. "Ladies and Gentlemen, are you ready?" Queen looked around and we all had huge grins and were nodding. "The hell you are," Wolf said in his natural voice. Then as Queen LaKisha, "Ms. Henderson, if you will."
All we could do was stare as Michael walked in. There is no hiding the fact that Michael is big. He was, after all, co-captain of the football team, and that could not be changed, but it could be hidden or maybe used. Ms. Henderson was a tall woman with short, attractively styled blond hair. She was dressed in a sharp, dark gray business suit with a blood red scarf about her neck and pinned to her left shoulder with a gold maple leaf pin. She carried a black leather laptop/brief case and had a black leather shoulder bag over her shoulder. She obviously meant business. Well, her walk was a bit wobbly.
As we all stared, John said, "I think it would be hard for me to recognize Michael from five feet away, but I thought the businesswoman wasn't a good idea. Also, the question is how can you get that done in a public restroom before you are discovered? I mean, it took you the better part of an hour to do the transformation under ideal circumstances."
"Good question," Felicia said. "First, you can knock off at least twenty minutes since we spent at least that much time talking about who Michael would become, picking out things, making sure they fit and contributed to the look we were after. But there's more than meets the eye here. See, the main problem starts at the exit gate in Atlanta. Prior to that time, in theory, nobody cares who he is."
"I'm taking no chances on that," Mrs. Crandall said. "In talking to Mr. Thurmond and Mr. Wilson, both think Brother Fitzsimmons is finding rich pickings around Elizabethton, not all from his religion kick, although he seems to be raking it in with his revivals. The two think he's being paid generously by those interested in seeing Marcus Porcher is back in the Senate. All the good brother's railing against homosexuality is getting a lot of publicity, plus it's getting the fundamentalists stirred up and working to get Porcher reelected. He won't want to risk that meal ticket. Brother Fitzsimmons had groups all over the southeast and I'm sure he'll have a Florida supporter waiting at the airport here to make sure Michael boards.
"Michael is scheduled to leave on the 11:45 commuter flight from Miami. He'll be in Miami by then, having taken the 8:45 flight from here. There's a 11:45 flight out of Miami for Altanta and he will be on it. I'll call his father at 9:45, since it would take that long for me to get back here and there's no reason to call except to make sure he has time to get the clinic stooge to the Atlanta airport. I'll tell him we got Michael to the airport early and he took advantage of a standby seat since the commuter flights are known for cancellations. I'll give him his arrival time in Atlanta so the watchdog will have plenty of time to get from the clinic to the airport and meet the plane."
"So," Felicia said, "since no-one will be watching Michael on his way to Atlanta, he can start his transformation as soon as he's through security and is ready to board the commuter. It's Key West, folks, so a man putting on makeup will earn a shrug, if that. As soon as he reaches Miami, he can complete the transformation to Ms. Henderson -- make up, wig, business suit. He may not be a raving beauty, but more than passable."
"Maybe if I can walk in these damn shoes."
"You can, even if you have to practice all night," Felicia said. "Now in Atlanta, walking into the ladies toilet is much easier because Ms. Henderson is obviously a lady. There's the toilet, Ms. Henderson," Felicia said, pointing to the library one. Queen LaKisha and Ms. Henderson went inside and closed the door.
Fifteen minutes later Queen LaKisha -- much more the lady about town than when she had appeared minutes before -- and Baby Doll emerged. Michael's mother wouldn't know him. A long black wig had replaced the short blond one, high heeled boots had replaced the spike heels; he now boosted double D cups and a big butt. He had a bare midriff and was wearing a short, short skirt. He had several tattoos and several piercings. We all stood with our mouths hanging open while Mrs. Crandall was busy snapping pictures.
"Only fifteen minutes and Ms. Henderson could never be identified as Baby Doll or vice versa. The tattoos are removable, but easily pass as real. Obviously, where they are located will be concealed under Ms. Henderson's business attire. The piercings are actually stick-on so it takes seconds to get them on. Who cares if they are not exactly where they are now. No one seeing them will know where there were. Butt and bust are pretty much like pulling on briefs and T shirts. No makeup has to be removed, just more added. Ms. Henderson disappears into Queen LaKisha's shoulder bag from which Baby Doll's cloths, ass and tits appeared. What do you think?"
"Looks good to me," Adam said. "What do you think Sandy?"
"All I can say is I hope it works and he doesn't decide he likes it!" We all laughed, relieved, I'm sure.
"But, Baby Doll, you are going to get shaved tonight! A treasure trail on your bare midriff is nasty and those hairy legs are more than nasty."
"The best thing about this plan," Justin said, "is it's all in the family except for tomorrow night in Atlanta."
"Oh, that's in the family as well," Daniel said, stepping into the room. I wondered when he learned of our situation and why he decided to help out. "Betsy called us earlier and filled us in on what was going on. Dakota was aching to get in on this, but he's busy holding Jess' feet on the ground -- the exhibition is rocking -- and appointed me to the task. His pilot's flying me to Atlanta tonight to make arrangements, but sounds and looks as if plans have been slightly changed."
"Why don't we get the food going and explain the latest plan to Daniel?" Mrs. Crandall asked. We all agreed. We all moved outside and while the food was being prepared, we explained the plan to Daniel.
When we had finished, Daniel said, "Fortunately Dakota's clothes fit and his plane is at our disposal. So I'll be a big Texas oil man flying in from Dallas, picking up a couple ladies for a night of fun. Happens every day at Hartsfield. Get a couple of good photos, Mrs. Crandall? Good for an ID?"
She nodded and said, "I'll go make prints right now."
"So, I'll pick up my two new lady friends, we'll have a couple drinks in an airport bar, get a taxi to a downtown hotel, get out and get another taxi to Peachtree-Dekalb airport where the plane and pilot will be standing by. The pilot will file for Dallas, but make a change once we are airborne. So let's eat."
I guess the plans both excited and calmed us because we were all ready to eat. Needless to say, the cookout was not your average hamburgers and hot dogs, but wonderful steaks and ribs, fish and shrimp with potato salad, a fantastic green salad, corn on the cob and delicious southern-style baked beans. We had just filled our plates when Mrs. Crandall brought the pictures, handed them to Daniel and went to fill a plate for herself. Daniel kept two of the photos and passed the others around. By the time we had all seen the photos, dessert, an other-worldly strawberry shortcake made with real shortcake and alpine strawberries, was being served. We all overate, which is surprising because a few hours ago, none of us felt like eating.
We decided we'd not call our families about the plan, for fear someone might let it slip. Too much was at stake. After we had eaten, Mrs. Crandall invited Felicia to stay over, but he said he had someone waiting for him. When Sandy asked if he had a picture of 'someone,' he showed us a picture of his lover, a small, well-built man with a very defined runner's body, who looked Asian. "His father was American and his mother Korean. He's a half-breed. He has never seen his father and his mother abandoned him as half-breeds are nobodies to many Koreans. Their loss, because he is a bright, funny, wonderful, loving, gentle man and I love him dearly. Here's another photo. This one is of Mi-Cha." Mi-Cha was a stunningly beautiful Korean woman in traditional hanbok. "He'll be waiting for me to tell him all about tonight. We were both very pleased we could help out in a small way."
We all protested that it was not a small way and Mrs. Crandall said, "Indeed it has not been in a small way. You have my eternal thanks, but I know that doesn't buy groceries. Sharky tells me you and Kim are both students and working all the hours you can to make ends meet. Know now you don't have to worry about tuition and books until you get your degrees. Those will be taken care of."
"We can't accept that, Mrs. Crandall, I am just helping out friends of Antwon and Sharky."
"So am I," she smiled. No way he was going to get out of that!
"Then thank you from both of us and we will keep in touch to see how things work out for Queen LaKisha, Baby Doll, Wolf and Michael. Goodnight."
Later we all were in our suite's sitting room, piled on the furniture, the floor and each other. We talked about what had happened, of course. We all went over and over the plan and could think of nothing else to assure its success, that is until suddenly Wolf asked, "How are we supposed to know the asshole from the clinic? We need to know so we can avoid him."
"Good question," said Michael. "We want to avoid the bastard like the plague."
"Think that's important enough to check out with Mrs. Crandall. I'm sure she's not in bed yet." I went to the phone and rang Mavis and asked her to have Mrs. Crandall give us a call in my suite. The phone rang shortly after I hung up and I told Mrs. Crandall of our concern. She apologized for letting that get by when we were planning, and told me. We wished each other goodnight and I hung up the phone. When I sat down again, I said, "You're not going to believe this, but there will be two of them. They will be dressed in blue camouflage fatigues and Army combat boots. The fatigues have a Protestant Christian flag on their upper left sleeve, regular sewed-on name tags and, get this, 'God's Transformers' across the back. Should be very easy to spot."
We talked a bit more about what tomorrow might bring and what the final outcome would be. In the middle of that Susan said, "You know, this will be the last time we are all together for a while -- maybe forever. Michael will be back here for a week, Wolf for a month and Sandy six weeks. John is headed for summer church camp in western North Carolina as soon as we get back, Bobbie will be a counselor at cheerleading camp in Wilmington and I am heading to Colorado to work at a camp for handicapped children. Adam, Justin and Marc will be in Elizabethton working and at ESU in summer session."
"Maybe I'll be in the Black Hills in August," Justin added. "We need to all get together at Sunset Lodge for a farewell party Labor Day weekend or thereabouts."
"Yeah," John said. "We are at one of those painful crossroads in life when 'what has been' becomes 'no longer' and we're headed for the 'not yet.' Scary."