It’s a serious MTF Transgender mistery-suspense story.
Renato (or Renata, after changing the gender) appears in the scene as a 15 year old boy living in the “Hood” located in the outskirts of Sopianae, Hungary. It is a very impoverished area without proper and people living in the Hood don’t have education or employment. A majority of inhabitants depend on social welfare, and/or illegal activity.
Driven by the fear of becoming “the Freak of the Hood”, Renato wants to improve the situation and to fulfill his dreams. When leaves the Hood behind, he becames a PE teacher and then proceeds his way to becoming a woman.
Later he appears as a 25 year old young girl, and finally as a thirty year old fully grown up woman.
Renato/Renata is relatively introverted but never late with a witty answer. Whatever life throws at him/her, she is ready to fight back. She never lost her capability to dream and has a strong motivation and great willpower to reach them. At first we see Renato as a fifteen years old boy, then as a twenty-five years old young girl and finally as a thirty years old, absolutely grown-up woman.
Mario is Renato’s best friend who betrayed their friendship. He is at the same age as Renato, a dark skinned guy with a medium-height. Later, when they meet, he’s less of a jerk now. Works in a bakery and has a flabby belly. He never comes out of the closet, his sexual orientation remains secret. Their secret.
David is Renato’s first boyfriend. A giant, bald, and near-sighted alcoholic. He is middle-aged, successful as an editor. He financed Renato’s surgery and from that on their relationship is out of balance. He is obsessive, jealous, hot-tempered and aggressive man.
Mark is Renata’s colleague, a 28 years old soccer coach. He is of the same height as Renata. He has a blond crewcut and green eyes. They share the same interests, they are both dreamers.
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
Ninja and Butterfly
I was born in the Mediterranean corner of Hungary, in a once great Roman-then-Hunnish-then Hungarian city that I’m only able to call by its Latin name: Sopianae. Child legend goes like this: in the Carpathian Basin, there was this six-fingered shaman guy who invited us here. We, the Hungarians, arrived from three different directions, asked for a horse, a spoon of earth, and a shot of water – then we declared it Hungarian land, once and for all. Historians might disprove this, but as we all know, history is pure aesthetics; empires born through simple cosmetic lies.
Sopianae was a cross-breed in every possible sense of culture and savagism; a city of duality located in the mountains, among calf-killing hills with impressive panoramas and a smooth breeze suffused with garlic ascending from the land of bears called Transylvania. Dracula’s castle operated as a storm catcher in the distance, while the strong scent of furry pigs and their loud oink-oinks drifted in from the nearby farms. Sopianae had steaming bowls of blood-red soups with hot chili paprika that made the tourists cry, served by sweaty, underpaid waiters who circled the tables shouting, “Goulash, goulash!” hoping for tips, while gypsy musicians lurched around the guests to cash in on their heartbreaking violin melodies. Do not let the fancy brochures mislead you! All is full of shit; nothing is as it seems. At least for me. Life, you can touch, smell, fuck.
Sopianae had the tendency to turn different faces to various travelers. Narrow roads led up to the mountain peak, speckled with “Danger! Deer!” signs. And yes, by night, deer and boars and foxes passed through the roads semi-regularly like a village bus, only to die terrible deaths mesmerized by the reflectors and the roaring engines. Their flashing eyes had been so deeply burnt into my memory, nothing’s been able to expunge it.
Fifteen years ago it was sweet Millennium, year 2000. I was fifteen, stupid and reckless..
Dad and I were watching Big Brother on TV. We’d popped two beers and had stretched our smelly feet out on the sofa in a holy moment after managing to set up the cloth hanger to steal electricity from the main cable. On the screen, a plastic kitten cried crocodile tears. Her face was pixelated, but at least she had a face. It felt like a luxury, and I was burping like a man.
Suddenly, a high-pitched scream shook the Hood, and a face appeared at the window like someone from a Z-list horror movie. It was Mario, my best friend.
“Jeez, Renato! Your mom is haunting the outside,” he said when I joined him in the garden.
“You mean she was hanging out bedsheets, and you pissed yourself from it?” I laughed.
“All I’m sayin’ is tonight the spooks have come at me in a row.”
“Too much Indica in your face, right?”
“Hell no! That amount of THC fucks you up bad. I only smoke home-grown. Want some?”
I nodded, and we lit up like two little fireflies in the night. Mario’s eyes were pink and shiny when he told me about his brother’s newest relic.
“So he took this Trabant from the dumpsters before it could get bashed, and we pimped it up. Time to take it for a ride. He’s waiting in the swamp. We needed a third man.”
“Because it won’t start without pushing it?”
Mario didn’t answer, just coughed from the last pull on the joint.
It was a random Tuesday, the first week of September. Every decent civilian was at home, munching on thick slices of white bread with salt and vinegar pickles — at least that’s how I’d pictured a perfect family night back then — and we, the lost children of the Hood, had nothing better to do after skipping the first two days of the new school year.
The Trabant was hidden in the swamp. An oil-feasting pile of metal crap with no number plate on it. We were about to become the king of kings in the Hood . . . if only the engine would kick in. This deserved some celebration.
“One more Joe before we go?” Pali asked of his brother. Already Mario was busy rolling; he respected his brother a great deal.
But it was a horror ride for stoners. Our lungs, nothing more than wrinkled raisins, struggled to keep up as we pushed the car back onto the road.
“Do you see that granny behind us?” I asked, looking back over my shoulder.
“What, somebody’s chasing us?” Mario swore and pushed harder.
“Like a velociraptor, man,” I said and struggled to hold back my laughter.
The Trabant slowly picked up speed down the slope, and we jumped into it. Beer cans crashed and crunched under us on the seats. Pali pulled something out of his pocket, and my brain became overheated.
I shivered. “Why do you carry a gun, Pali?”
“It’s a Scooter tape, you idiot.” He put the cassette into the player and we headed toward the mountain peak in a cloud of massive electric techno.
“Gens, our next stop is: bourgeois territory. Let’s choose a cabin! I’m feeling Jacuzzi tonight,” said Mario, and he punched me on the shoulder. We shared a look that made me feel like this Trabant was a nutshell, and in here, all dreams could come true. It felt precious, but temporary, fragile, and his expression stabbed me in the heart. Back then, I had no words for it. No words I could apply to myself, either. In the Hood, freaks were meant to die.
* * *
We hit the brakes by the gate. The automatic lights blinded us for a sec, then revealed the luxurious weekend resort, which ate up a good thousand square meters of the woods, abandoned during the weekdays, with no paid guards or even neighbors anywhere near. We walked around it once – officially out of safety reasons, but in truth, just to scare and chase and fall over each other blindly in the dark jungle.
Mario whistled in awe. “They must have an underground helicopter hangar or something.” Three garages, outside pool, quads in an open kennel, a yacht covered in the back and, of course, a three-story high wooden castle in the middle.
“Have you seen any blinking red lights?” I asked Pali, who was seventeen, so he knew significantly more about the codex of break-ins.
“Nope. No cameras, no dogs, no alarm.”
“What if they have a tricky hidden system?”
“Don’t be a pussy, Renato! Besides, Pali is a cunning fox.”
I gave in. I didn’t know how they felt, but my legs shook with fear as I made a step for Pali with my back.
“Higher, jackass. I can’t reach the top of the fence.”
“No can do,” I said and let him climb onto my shoulders, and he threw himself over the stone wall, then landed with a loud thud.
“All clear,” he whispered. Maybe he was a bit scared after all?
“Go next,” I told Mario, who was a head shorter and ten kilos lighter than me. To be honest, I had a hard on just with his crotch pressed to my neck.
He also landed on the other side, and they threw a rope over for me.
I jumped up and landed on my two feet, then rolled ahead effortlessly and straightened up with ease. I’d seen this technique in a ninja movie, and it took me a serious amount of time to master it.
“Not bad for a green,” Pali said and pulled a pin out of his pocket. He kneeled at the front door and, with a serious face, started to pick the lock.
“Don’t tell me you can go spy,” I giggled.
“Just watch and learn, young padawan,” he answered, and the lock clicked. The brothers high-fived and were about to enter, when sirens went off.
“Fuck me, they do have an alarm!” Pali shouted and ran back to the fence, scratching and kicking with Mario to escape. For a moment, I was sure they’d leave me behind, until Mario threw the rope and they both helped me over the fence. My heart was pumping like crazy as we ran to the Trabant, pushed it down the hill, and jumped into the seats. The car finally started, and we headed toward the Hood at maximum speed.
The old wreck coughed and spit and snorted, its old-school machinery ready to exhale its last stinky puff of smoke, when red and blue lights flashed in front of us.
“Don’t die on me, Carmen,” Pali begged to the Trabant, and if we weren’t so busy panicking about the cops closing in on us, I’d have totally appreciated the gesture with a one-minute hyena laugh that Pali had named his shitty car after Carmen Electra, the actress. But the police’s distorted shouts kept on repeating through the loudspeakers:
“Attention! Pull over! Stop the car, pull over!”
“You can kiss my ass,” Pali said, then leaned over the steering wheel as we rallied down to the ghostly outskirts of Sopianae, also called “Uranium City” after the mines. Mojo lived there. Whenever Pali got in trouble, he ran to Mojo’s loving arms. Five years later from this particular night, the guy simply grabbed Pali’s hair with one “loving” hand and pointed a gun to his temple with the other, just because a drug deal went wrong. And that gun wasn’t a Scooter tape. I’d heard later the rumors: Pali didn’t scream, didn’t beg, before Mojo pulled the trigger. The fragments of Pali’s brain must still hang in a distant corner of the house.
But now, we were on the top of our game. We cheered to good old Carmen for her to find some extra horsepower in that long-lived metal heart of hers. Or at least for the cops to get a flat tire. Or the hallu to end. But the THC left our system when the adrenaline had kicked in. And still the nightmare kept on rolling.
* * *
We took a sharp left turn and raced onto a one-way road, barely missing a head-on collision with another car. We’d slipped through, but the cops got stuck. And it was just enough for us to reach Mojo’s house.
He must have heard the car chase; he’d turned off the house lights and opened the garage door in advance. The moment Carmen finally rolled in, the garage door closed behind her. We were safe.
“Are you out of your mind, kid?” Mojo asked Pali and peeped through the tiny window. There was no sign of the cops. “What is this thing, pre-world-war disaster?”
“You mean Carmen?” I asked.
Mojo burst out laughing.
“He calls it that?”
We all went in, and Mojo lined up four glasses onto his bar made of empty beer boxes. He poured vodka into them, which we quickly downed.
Mojo and Pali set up a game of poker and grabbed the vodka.
“What about us?” Mario asked.
“You go up there and guard. Take something from the cellaret so you don’t freeze. If the cops show up, start switching off the corridor lights. Got it?”
“Sure thing,” Mario said and searched for some heavy weapon.
“Peach or plum?” I asked just to seem cool.
“Does it matter? Don’t be picky, you little motherfucker,” Mojo barked at me. “You’ll always get top quality at old Mojo’s house. Now, piss off.”
Mario and I set up our camp on the roof, though the little balcony at the top of the house was barely enough for us to sit next to each other. Only cats fucking and some early rooster broke the silence. We handed off the Palinka to each other. The drink was a homemade monster, more than 50% alcohol and no sign of fruit. Only a burning feeling in my stomach. Best prevention against panic and cold. Good old Mojo really knew how to release the stress.
“This was really something, eh?” Mario asked with his crazy shiny eyes, as if he’d just went to Wonderland and back. His eyes were always bright and wide open, while mine looked like two deeply seated grapes, or at least that was how my mother described them.
“Um . . .” I said and moved a little closer to him. The temperature had dropped significantly, now under fifteen degrees Celsius. The first days of autumn were always harsh after the dog days of August.
Mario didn’t move away as he let me crawl even closer. Maybe he was cold, as well, although I hoped it was because of our “special bond.” He lit a cigarette, then offered me one, too, with the same move as when we were ten and my sister had died, when everything was all blood and screams at my home. It was nice of him. Our ritual, and I felt loved because of it.
About two hours later, I went down a double-sided spiral staircase to the kitchen for a refill, and found Pali and Mojo blacked out from the booze with their foreheads pressed the table, both snoring on a pile of chips.
The night was still deep, buried under heavy clouds.
“Thanks, man,” said Mario, earnestly, when he saw me arrive with a second bottle of Palinka and a warm blanket.
“I only found one,” I apologized sheepishly.
“No prob,” he said and drank the booze in huge gulps.
For fifteen minutes or so, we sat together in silence. It felt cosy and sort of romantic, and unfortunately it gave me a chance to become introspective and come up with all sorts of bullshit.
“You know, I really appreciate how you look after me,” I told Mario, and I felt myself tearing up already. I silently cursed my fragile heart, eagerly waiting for his reaction.
“Macht nichts, mein Freund,” Mario said and put his arm around my shoulders.
I took it as a sign and turned toward him. His eyes widened as I leaned over and kissed his soft, brown lips.
What happened after that is pretty hazy now, but I’m 100% positive he kissed me back. And he let me lick his neck. Then he stood, pulled me up from the floor and, without a word, turned me to face the street. The busy lights of Sopianae shone over the roofs.
He unzipped his pants and pulled down mine in an aggressive move, my underwear along with it. Soon, I felt his hard cock searching on my backside.
He didn’t hesitate, just pushed himself in deep, moved in and out fast. I remember the pain and the fear of being torn to pieces, but I didn’t make a sound. Boys don’t cry. I just let him do his thing and aimed to survive the experience. His breath smelled of stomach acid and alcohol, and my fingers clutched the handrail for balance until they became numb, while his penis penetrated my unpracticed ass. With the last push, Mario quietly moaned, and a wave of his satisfaction ran through me. He backed away, and by the time I’d found my own courage to pull up my pants and look at him, he was already zipping up his trousers. He lit another cigarette without offering me one. I barely recognized his face – distant and hostile, wrinkled by wrath.
“We won’t talk about this ever, got it? Or I’ll end you.” And he covered himself from head to toe with our only blanket. His eyes focused on something in the distance, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if a laser beam from a mysterious source inside him shot out and set a barn or something on fire.
End me, I repeated his words. As if my life hadn’t ended in a certain way already. The world spun in the opposite direction, and I sank into the whirling ocean of drunken dreams.
* * *
Thank God a bucket was next to me when I opened my still-crossed eyes, otherwise I would have thrown up on my clothes. I wondered who put it there and who’d covered me with a blanket. Because let’s face it, last night wasn’t a lollipop ride.
And Mario was gone.
“Where is he?” Pali looked at me, stuffing his face with a chicken wing. But I just shrugged. Who knows? He fucked me and dumped me on the same night. Couldn’t care less. I thought this, but didn’t say it and didn’t mean it. My headache and my heartbreak was the worst combination I could imagine.
A mug sat on the table with a dead white rose in it. The concept of feeding human and plant life from the same source seemed lovely, and I greeted the newly known self-pity by gently placing the dead flower into the garbage. Because we’re all blooming and dying flowers in the dumpsters. I was already a poet deep down, just didn’t know it. I ranked myself as an emotional pussy, at best.
I poured coffee into the mug and looked out the window. Mojo was strategically packing about a thousand bags into a blue van, still wearing the same white sweatshirt with a giant cross around his neck as big as a basilica.
“What’s all this?”
“The girls are going back today.”
What girls? I wanted to ask, but a door opened behind me and my question was immediately answered.
Five or six girls rushed out with their purses, knee-high boots, clinking jewelry, and braided hair, all engaged in a loud chatter. I caught snippets of their conversation.
“And I told him, you got to pay double for that . . .”
“. . . and I saw this cute little coat, and I couldn’t resist.”
“I tell you they had a black Porsche by the club and they invited me . . .”
The last girl was about as tall as me, thin and elegant like a gazelle, wearing sparkling leggings and shimmering makeup. She stopped next to me and stroked my chin.
“What a cutie you are,” she said and smiled. But I just stood there, hypnotized by her huge blue eyes that reflected my pathetic, broken figure. The magic lasted only a second before she, too, flew out to the van, a heavy scent of sweet perfume in her wake.
“Who was she?” I asked, hardly able hide my astonishment.
“Tammy. Or Thomas. Take your pick. Manwhore last year, and a transie this season. They pay double in Germany for prostitutes like Tammy,” answered Pali as he stared at the girls who prepared to set off and go back to their “other lives” in the land of promise.
Mojo shut the van’s door and waved at us.
“So long, suckers,” he shouted, and the vehicle disappeared around the next corner with a loud honking.
Tammy. Thomas. He was a man, now a woman. What a woman . . . a lady, more like, I thought in childish amazement.
In that very moment it became clear to me I wanted to be just like her, if not ten times more beautiful. Transformation of a butterfly. A more honest life.
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