by Kevin Z. Garvey
By force of habit, Brenda turned towards the men’s room entrance at the mall. Then she caught herself. Smiling, she moved past it to the ladies’ room, happy in the knowledge that she no longer had the equipment to use a urinal.
At the entrance, she heard a voice behind her.
“You had it right the first time, freak.”
Brenda turned and saw two young men standing there, glaring at her. “Excuse me?”
“The men’s room is that way,” one of them said, the taller of the two, gesturing with his thumb.
The smaller one snickered. “You tell him, Donnie!”
Brenda ignored the two idiots and went into the ladies’ room. To her surprise they followed her in.
“You don’t belong in here,” she said.
Donnie cackled. “Hear that, Mike? He says we don’t belong in here.”
“I’m not a ‘he,’” Brenda said, feeling her face flush at the thought of having to identify her gender.
“You ain’t no she,” Donnie said. “Look at your hands. So fuckin’ masculine.”
Brenda didn’t say anything. She wished there was someone else using the facility, but she and the two thugs were alone.
“You got man hands and a man face,” Donnie said. “Who you trying to kid?”
Feeling a growing sense of alarm, Brenda told herself to relax. This was nothing she hadn’t experienced before. In her youth, when her name was Brendan, she’d endured worse bullying. She’d been teased relentlessly for being an “effeminate” male. Now she was being accosted for being a “masculine” female. In a ladies’ room, no less. Would the torment ever end?
“If you don’t leave, I’m calling security,” she said.
“You ain’t calling jack shit, mister,” Donnie said and took a menacing step towards her. Mike stayed where he was, snickering.
Brenda had to get out of there. Things were turning ugly. But the only way to get to the exit was to walk past Donnie. Still, what choice did she have?
She moved towards the door. As she passed Donnie, he reached down between her legs, pawing at the crotch of her jeans. Brenda pushed him away. “That’s assault,” she said. “I’ll have you arrested.”
“You grabbed her by the pussy, Donnie!” Mike exclaimed, laughing hysterically. “You grabbed her by the fuckin’ pussy!”
“It didn’t feel like pussy,” Donnie said. “I felt something hard down there. This bitch got a dick!”
Brenda tried to push past Donnie, but he pushed back. He grabbed her crotch again. Reacting instinctively, Brenda threw a punch at Donnie’s face, a straight shot to the nose, the way her dad had taught her when she was a kid.
Donnie’s head snapped back. He rubbed his nose and looked at the blood that came away on his fingers. “You fuckin’ cunt,” he said. “You’ll pay for that.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife.
“Stick her, Donnie,” Mike said. “Stick her good!”
“You got a dick,” Donnie told Brenda. “I felt it. Now get the fuck out of the women’s room.”
“It’s not a dick.”
“Then what is it?”
“This,” Brenda said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out an expandable baton. She extended the baton to its full length, took a step forward and swung it at Donnie, cracking him on his knife hand.
Donnie yowled and dropped the weapon. Brenda swung again, but Donnie was already out of range, moving toward the exit.
“I’m calling the cops,” he said, hurrying out of the bathroom, his bravado gone.
Brenda turned towards Mike, who was cowering by the sink.
“Not so funny now, is it?” she said.
“No,” he said. “No, ma’am.”
“Get out of here,” she told him. “And don’t ever let me see you in this mall again.”
Mike slinked away. Brenda picked up the knife and pocketed it, along with the baton. She didn’t believe Donnie was really going to the police, but she certainly would be.
Just then another woman entered the bathroom. She smiled at Brenda. “How’s it going?”
Brenda smiled back. “Just fine, thanks. Now.”
Then, still smiling, she selected a stall, sat down and did what she’d come to do, which was to go about her business. In peace.
Originally published in At Midnight: Down in the Dirt. Available at Amazon