I’m sorry I make your life reek of flatulence. But your demeanor in front of the Weavers last evening is something I cannot forgive. I am your husband, and you should stand by my side regardless of the weather, but instead you somehow found it necessary to embarrass me, to make a complete fool of me. You know I have stomach issues. It’s a medical condition. You’ve been to the doctor with me on numerous occasions. I don’t make fun of you for being anemic and culinarily challenged so why do you make fun of me for excess flatulence? And now you have gone and told our good neighbors that we no longer sleep in the same bed because I make the room smell like a pig stye. I know I disgust you on many levels and in a myriad of situations, and for the things I have the power to change and have not, I am truly sorry. But to berate me, to stop loving me because of a condition I cannot help… I can no longer be with you. I refuse to live like that. By the time you awake and find this note, I will be on an Amtrak headed west. Yes, Ambrosia, west. Where the sky is big, and the air is clear and crisp. Perhaps there I can live freely and without ridicule and shame. Perhaps beyond the borders of your beloved Tennessee, the people will be more tolerant and loving and forgiving. Perhaps I will come upon true Christians rather than hate mongering ignorant cave dwellers. Do not try to find me. Do not follow. Just go on and live your life without the stench that is me. I wish you well. Goodbye.
Your loving husband,
Reginald slowly turned the pages of a colorful astronomy magazine as he sat in his assigned seat on the No. 58 train bound for Denver, Colorado. His comprehension of the words on the glossy paper was made muddled by the great amount of activity buzzing all around him. He looked out the large window at the platforms, long like piers on water, the tracks running between. He saw all the various people upon the platforms, set there like little plastic painted figurines on a realistic model train display. Some stood still, some moved. Some were quiet while others spoke and made gestures. Some were lost and sad, others were joyful and ripe for adventure. But then his dreamy thoughts were derailed, so to speak, and he suddenly clenched his stomach via his backside, but hard as he might, he could not refrain from releasing an invisible yet audible mushroom cloud of retched gas from the confines of his inner bum.
Reginald winced with embarrassment as other travelers came down the aisle searching for their seats. He noticed how the expressions on faces suddenly changed from intrepid glee to looks of disgust as they came near him. A stodgy woman wearing a feathered female bowler and with over-inflated party balloons for breasts stopped at his row. She looked at her ticket, and then up at the letters and numbers above the seats there. Her entire face was puckered as if she had just sucked on a lemon wedge with great gusto. “My, my,” she groaned in a concrete tone as she waved a hand around in the air. “I do hope that awful smell isn’t coming from you. It would be quite a miserable journey all the way to Denver if it were.” She cheerfully laughed at herself, stowed her bag above and wriggled her way into a seat across from him.
Reginald Rangoon then told a lie. “No, mam. It wasn’t me. Must just be the scent of the city working its way into the train car. This is such a filthy and overburdened place. That is why I am starting anew out west.”
“How wonderful,” the woman said to him. “I suppose you could say I’m doing the same thing.” She sighed. “I’m no longer wanted here. You could say that I’ve been run out of town.”
“But why?” Reginald wondered aloud.
“I’m an entertainer… And there are certain prejudiced ideas being put forth here in this state by the current ruling political junk and their mindless followers. Our so-called leaders are supposed to represent all people, but they don’t. They want to legislate their own specific brand of morality, which in itself is immoral. They are closed-closet thinkers. They believe they can decide what is right and what is wrong… For everyone.” She put her hands out in front of her, one at a time and with palms up. “They claim to be this, when in all actuality they are that. And the that is no good at all. The that is akin to bigotry and hate. They idolize fear and the greatest buffoons of history.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
The woman extended one of her large hands toward him in a gesture of introduction. “My name is Milton, but you can call me Millie.”
Reginald shook her hand. The grip was strong. He studied her carefully. There was something different…
“Honey, let me spell it out for you… I’m in drag. I’m a drag queen.”
“You mean, you’re really a man?”
“Does that disappoint you?”
The tornadic swirling of Reginald’s guts came on again. An air bubble inside him boldly bloomed and then violently burst. He couldn’t help it. The air around them suddenly turned foul. “It doesn’t disappoint me in the slightest,” he said through clenched teeth as he desperately tried to hold in yet another assault of intestinal origin. He relented and let it blow. He wasn’t strong enough to defeat this demon. He was powerless to stop it. “I’m so sorry,” he said to her. “I wouldn’t be a bit offended if you requested a new seat assignment,” and Reginald quickly got up and made his way to the on-board lavatory with the speed of a cartoon desert roadrunner.
Reginald had to flush 14 times to vanquish this latest horror to the netherworld. He cried in the mirror while he scrubbed his hands. He suddenly feared his new adventure would be nothing but the same. He questioned if his existence would ever be better. An impatient stranger pounded on the door. “Are you almost done in there?” Reginald dried his hands and came out. The impatient stranger went in. And as Reginald walked away up the aisle, he heard the impatient stranger cry out, “Oh my god!”
When Reginald returned to his seat, he was surprised to see Millie still sitting there. The train lurched forward in impending departure. Reginald wobbled on his feet, nearly fell into his seat. She looked up from her knitting. “Everything okay?”
Reginald sighed. He felt betrayed by his own body. He felt defeated. “For the moment,” he said. He looked out the window and the movement of the world passing by began to pick up speed. “You didn’t change seats. Why? I was entirely prepared to make the journey alone… As I so often do.”
Millie smiled. “Honey… We all have struggles in this world, some more than others. I’m not going to look down upon you because you’re different. I’d be no better than the fools running the show here in this fascist state. I’m different, you’re different… Hell baby, we all are different. What gives them the right to make my way of life illegal? They don’t have any. Just like I have no right to bash you over the head for having a bewildering ass. But here we are, both of us escaping our present-tense situations because we can’t live the way we want to live. History is full of situations just like this. Full I tell you. Yet here we are again, having to fight to be who we want to be.” She stopped to take a breath and look out the window as the same world that passed him by passed her by as well. “But they’ll get theirs in the end,” she exhaled with hope. “Hateful folks like that always do. And when it comes, I will make a joyful noise and dance upon their toes.”
Then Reginald Rangoon made a joyful noise of his own and he soiled the world around them with his own brand of rugged individuality, and they both gagged for a moment and then laughed like Jokers, and they settled in and carried on to newer and better lives atop the rails, steel wheels biting and sparking in defiance.