Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Mar 9 22:57:32 PDT 2008


            CUT OUT MY HEART
             PT. TWO OF TWO            ....
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| |____________________________________________| |
| ____________________ |
| |    PREVIOUSLY    | |
| |    ==========    | |         GEM
| | # 4, the first   | |     I lost my virginity for 
| | part of "Cut Out | |  the second time in the men's
| | My Heart", Tuck  | |  room of a bar.  It doesn't 
| |   and Cordelia   | |  really matter which bar, and
| | divorced in the  | |  it doesn't really matter who
| |  wake of Tuck's  | |  the man was, either; I was
| |   decision to    | |  a little drunk and in a rush
| | become a woman.  | |  to take my new body for a
| |__________________| |  spin, so to speak.  It
|______________________|  it was.  I mean, I could
                          certainly feel something
moving inside of me, pulsing and warm through the
condom.  But it wasn't pleasurable and it wasn't
painful.  It just was.
   I didn't think I'd have an orgasm right off the
bat.  I know that it's harder for a woman than a man. 
But I had sort of built up this anticipation in my
head, I had wondered for so long how it would feel-- I
had imagined it, tasted it, felt it with my brain for
so many months-- and so I expected there to be,
y'know, something.  But there wasn't.
   And, y'know, that's fine.  It was never really
about sex anyway.  But it was still very
disappointing, another in a long series of
   I had a few boyfriends, and then a few girlfriends,
but nobody-- not even the legendary Joanne de Cloots,
championship clit-licker of three counties-- could
untangle my tingle.  I tried everything-- from vanilla
to kink and back again-- but with no results.

   When I look at myself naked in the mirror, I want
to see a woman.  I want to see Gem.  But bits and
pieces and chunks of Tuck are still there, still
poking through: the shape of my thighs, the stockiness
of my torso, the bones in my face.  Even after a few
more operations-- cheekbones heightened, chin
smoothed, nose narrowed-- the beautiful smooth face I
wanted is beyond my reach.
   Some days, it's all too clear that I will never
really be a woman, that all I've succeeded in doing is
making myself an in-betweener-- half-finished, never
to be whole again.  On those days, I want to take it
back so badly.
   But that's just the thing.  I can't take it back. 
I'm stuck with what I've done, and what I've lost--
everything I've lost-- I've lost for good.
   At least that's the way it seemed for five long
lonely years.  Sure, I dated, I cohabitated.  But I
also hated, hated myself very deeply.  I tried to take
my life many times.
   And it didn't used to be that way.  I was never my
biggest fan, but all this anger, all this
self-loathing-- it was a new thing, like it had been
grafted onto me with the new parts, like it was shot
into my veins along with the hormones.
   Before all this happened-- when I was Tuck, when I
had Cordelia-- I was happy.  Or at least that's what I
tell myself now.  The pain I've got now is closer to
me than the pain I had then, so it's easy to minimize
it.  But, when I'm honest with myself, I remember.
   I remember being unable to move and unable to
think.  I remember wanting so desperately to be happy
and so desperately wanting to be anyone but me.  I
remember trying to tell Cordie.  It wasn't that there
weren't any words.  I had words, mountains of them,
powerful words, but when I spoke them they lost their
power, they dwindled to grains of sand-- gritty and
inelegant and completely incapable of expressing
whatever it was that was inside me.  I remember trying
to show her, trying to make her understand how big a
deal it was-- and I know that I wasn't happy then.
   I remember the long months before I told her,
before she even knew I had been into her clothing, how
much I wanted to tell her and how afraid I was that
she would leave me.
   And she did leave.  She divorced me, and the last
time she saw Tuck was when he dropped off a box of her
parents' stuff a couple of weeks before the big
operations.  I was supposed to take Pacino home after
the change.
   But I never came back.

   Five years after my life started over, I saw her
again.  She had aged the five years and then some, all
packed underneath her eyes.  I recognized her
   I wanted to talk to her; I didn't know what I
wanted to talk about.  Part nostalgia, part curiosity,
a lot of love and tenderness and pain.  I wanted to
apologize, and I wanted her to apologize to me all at
the same time.  It was very much like the pain in the
old days, wanting to tell her but being afraid,
wanting to speak things that were ineffable.
   Ineffable.  Now, that's a Cordelia word.  I always
said that she had poetry in her, and that Tuck had
none.  I think I have a little now.  Five years will
do that to you, I guess.
   But I just kinda stood there, in the grocery store,
staring at her, watching her, falling in love with her
all over again.  I didn't say anything, didn't try to
get her attention.
   As she turned away from the bell peppers, though,
she looked at me and saw me staring at her.  She
didn't stare back-- just kinda shook her head and
muttered.  Then she turned away and went back to her
   She didn't recognize me.  Didn't know who I was.  I
wondered for a moment if I had made the mistake: there
had been times in the past when I mistook passers-by
for my ex-wife.
   But it was her.

   I wanted to do something.  Had to do something. 
But I didn't know what.
   And so I let her walk out of my life again.

   That night, I went over my life again and again.  I
didn't sleep a wink, and I kept at it through the
   I arrived at the conclusion that I made a gigantic,
colossal mistake when I got my sex changed; shortly
thereafter, I arrived at the conclusion that it was
something that I had to do.  That I had no choice.  I
couldn't live as Tuck.
   But I couldn't live without Cordie, either.
   All-in-all, I was feeling pretty low.  And just
when you thought it couldn't get any better...

   I lost my job that day.  Like so many jobs before
it, somehow someone found out about the operation. 
That's not the reason they put down on paper, of
course, and they'll deny it up and down in court and,
every single time, they've won.
   But the fact is, no one wants a freak.  No one.

   I decided to go to the library.  I wouldn't exactly
call it a quiet place-- too many kids running around
for that-- but I still found it calming.  I like
reading, and a decent book would give me something
else to focus on.  That was my thought, at least.
   As I muddled and puttered on through the rush hour,
I got kinda emotional.  I started crying; my mascara
ran down my cheeks in big black blobs.  And I prayed. 
For the first time in a long time.  For the first time
in this lifetime.
   I prayed to God, and I said something along the
lines of, I know You're not supposed to give us more
than we can carry, but I don't think I can carry much
more than I've got.  That I was breaking down.  That I
was broken and tired.
   If we all have a purpose in life, then I felt like
I didn't have a purpose, or that my purpose was to be
a joke and to suffer.  "I want something good in my
life."  I said that a few times: I want something good
in my life.  I want to be happy.
   And I got to the library, and I parked my car, and
I cleaned up my make-up.  And I said to Him, "It'd be
nice if I could see Cordie again.  It'd be nice if I
went into the library and there she was.  I'd really
like that."
   And I walked into the library, and there she was,
sitting in a chair with a stack of books on her lap,
one of them cracked open and absorbing her attention. 
I sat in a chair perpendicular to hers, without the
pretext of a book or a paper, and she looked up.
   "I know you," she said.  "You're the woman from the
grocery store.  You were staring at me yesterday."
   "I'm sorry about that," I said.  My voice cracked.
   "Do I know you?  Have we met before?"
   I shrugged.
   "Well, why were you staring at me?"
   That was very much like her; she hadn't changed
much at all.  And there was something about that,
about the edge in her voice and the bluntness with
which she conducted herself, that I had found very
appealing the first time we met.  Something sad and
sweet swelled up inside me.  "You're very beautiful."
   "Are you trying to pick me up or something?"
   "I dunno," I said.
   "I'm not--"
   "No, you wouldn't be."
   "I'm very flattered but--"
   "I didn't think you were.  I'm sorry.  I don't know
what I'm doing."
   "Did you follow me here?"
   "It just seems odd, that you'd show up twice in a
row and stare at me."
   "I was just coming here just to come here," I said.
 "Helps me calm down when I'm feeling blue.  But I..."
   "But you what?"
   "Never mind."
   Cordie closed her book around her index finger. 
"Do you really want me to never mind, or are you just
saying never mind so that I can drag whatever it is
out of you?"
   "I was hoping you'd be here," I said.  "I had no
reason to think you would be.  But I prayed in the
car, on the way, and I prayed that you'd be here."
   "So you could talk to me?"
   "I guess.  I dunno.  Again, I'm sorry.  I know this
was weird.  It was nice just talking to you,
though..."  I started to get up.  Part of me would
hope that she would stop me.
   She didn't.

   About a week later, I'm walking down the street
with my groceries when she honks her horn at me.
   I approached the driver's side as she rolled down
her window.
   "Well, well, well," she said.  "If it isn't my
stalker."  She smiled.  It had been a long time since
I had seen that smile.  "This time I know for sure if
was an accident.  Unless you were praying?"
   "No," I said.
   "Where's your car?"
   "In the shop."
   "How far do you have to go?"
   "Just a couple of blocks," I said, nodding towards
the apartment complex where I had moved in about three
months before.
   "Well, that's not far at all."
   "Well, be seeing you."  She started to roll up the
window.  I motioned for her to stop.  She did, though
she didn't roll the window back down.  "Yes...?"
   But of course, I had nothing to say.  So I just
shrugged and stared down into my groceries.  She
sighed, rolled up her window, and drove off.
   She did a Uie and parked across the street.  She
got out of the car.  "So, what is it that you want
from me?"
   "I don't know."
   "I'm not a dyke."
   "I know.  You said that already."
   "You don't even know me."
   "I'm crazy, okay?" I said.  "I'm just crazy."
   "You're not crazy," she said.  "You're sad.  And
you're alone.  And I understand that.  I'm sad, and
I'm alone.  But I can't be with you, okay?"
   "That's fine," I said.  "I know that.  I'm not
usually crazy like this.  Usually, I'm okay.  Just-- I
dunno, I get around you and I get all mixed up and
it's weird."
   "This ever happen before?"
   "No, never."
   "Not with anybody?"
   She stared at me for a long time.  "Well, obviously
fate keeps throwing us together, and who am I to fight
it?  Maybe we're supposed to be friends, and maybe
we're supposed to be bitter enemies, but either way,
we've got to stop meeting like this.  So.  My name is
Cordelia.  And yours?"
   "Short for something?"
   I swallowed.  "Gemelle."
   She blinked.  "That's my mother's name."
   I figured then that the whole thing would be up and
out in the open.  But it wasn't.  I thought for sure
she'd have to remember that I had chosen her mother's
name.  She didn't seem to have any inkling who I
really was, or rather, who I had been.
   It's weird; I look at myself and all I see is Tuck
poking through, jutting out like a bunch of knives. 
But there was this one girlfriend who was surprised
when I told her that I was a transwoman.  She said
that I looked very feminine.  I thought she was lying
to me, trying to be nice to me.
   But here was Cordie-- and a sharper pair of eyes
I'd never known-- and she had no idea that I was her

   We started hanging out, started talking.  The
connection we had had before, that uncommon rapport,
had started up all over again.  Like a second chance. 
Though this time it was strictly platonic.
   But it wasn't all sunshine and peaches.  The fact
was, I was lying to her.  She might not have known it,
but I did.
   Part of me was worried that she would find out;
part of me was worried that she wouldn't.  It was just
like the old days all over again.  Wanting to say
something, hating myself because I couldn't, but being
paralyzed by the fear.
   And part of me knew that I was falling in love with
her all over again.  I couldn't stop thinking about
her, I couldn't stop wanting her.  But I knew that
this new relationship was founded on it remaining just
a friendship.  If I made another pass at her, if I
tried to make it anything more, she might just cut me
off completely.
   And so here I was, yet again: crumpled up with pain
because I wanted to tell her I loved her, and just as
crumpled up because I knew that if I did I would lose
her again.  Each alternative more terrible than the
other, each moment I spent in her company more
excruciating than the last.

   Two or three months of this, and she invited me
over to her apartment for the first time, confident, I
guess, that I wasn't some nutjob who was going to
strangle her at a moment's notice.
   "Oh, shit," she said. "You're not allergic to cats,
are you?"
   "No," I said.  "I love cats.  Do you have one?"
   "Yeah," she said, opening the door.  "But he's not
very friendly.  Only person he liked was my first
   For all our talk, we never really dived into the
past.  Whenever anything like that came up, I was
pretty scant when it came to details; I think because
I was guarded, she didn't feel the need to reveal much
   She offered me some tea and I said yes; then I
asked how many times she had been married.
   "Twice," she said.
   She briefly told me the story of myself, leaving
out the entire transsexual thing.
   "So, what happened?" I said.
   "He died," she said.
   "Oh," I said.  "I'm sorry to hear that."
   "Yeah, well... what can you do?" she said.  "It was
a pretty bad time.  I still miss him a lot."
   "He... he sounds like he was a pretty special guy. 
What about your second?"
   "That was about a year later," she said.  "I rushed
into it.  I think part of it was, Tuck didn't really
want to have children.  He made that abundantly
clear."  She rubbed her cheek with the flat of her
hand.  "And I'm not getting any younger, you know?  So
I wanted to have kids, and here was a guy who wanted
them.  But he... he wasn't the right guy.  Wasn't much
of a husband and he wouldn't have been much of a
   "So you never had any?"
   "No," she said.  "First couple years, and nothing. 
We went to a doctor.  Turns out I can't have a child."
 She threw up her hands.  "Joseph left me after that. 
Found someone nice and young and fertile."
   "I'm sorry," I said.  "I didn't ask to upset you."
   "That's okay," she said.  "So.  What about you? 
You ever been married?"
   "I'm sorry," she said.  "I forgot."
   "Well, I wasn't always a lesbian," I said.  "I had
a few boyfriends.  Sex wasn't great.  Hell, it's not
great with women either.  Truth is, I haven't had an
orgasm in over five years."
   I could tell this line of conversation unnerved
   "You ever been in love?" she asked me.
   "Once," I said.  "Once, almost a whole 'nother
lifetime ago.  But I let her go."
   "I don't know," I said.  "I made a choice, and that
choice cut her out of my life.  But at the same time,
it wasn't like I really had a choice.  There was
something inside me.  I mean, it was my fault.  It was
totally my fault, and if I could take it back, I
would.  But at the same time-- if I had the choice to
do-over again, I don't know how I could have done it
differently.  Because the thing inside me was eating
me up.  I was in a lot of pain inside, and if I didn't
make the choice I did-- I'm just gibbering on.  I'm
   "No, you're not," she said.  "I understand.  I
totally understand what you're talking about.  But
here's the thing, Gem.
   "Whether you would take it back or do it over
differently or whatever, that's irrelevant.  I learned
that a long time ago.
   "There are things I wish I did different, but
wishing doesn't make it so."
   "I don't know," I said.  "I prayed and there you
   She smiled at me.  "You're sweet.  You really are. 
You're a good friend, Gem."
   And so we drank our tea, and we talked of other
things, things that weren't of any importance and thus
the most important things we could talk about.
   And then, after about the third cup of tea, I
became aware of the fact that she was staring at me. 
That's when I looked down in my lap and noticed that
Pacino had curled up there, and that I had been
scratching his head and his fat little belly.  He
never let anyone do that-- except for his daddy.
   I looked back up and into Cordie's eyes, and I saw
the hurt there.  And then she called me by a name I
hadn't answered to in five long years.
   I nodded.  "Back from the dead."

                 THE END


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