Looking for Hope
By Dawn DeWinter
The characters are fictional, their names and lives a
fabrication. The story is not intended
for commercial use and is not to be posted at any other site without the
author’s permission. Its themes make
this story suitable for adults only.
Chapter One – Down the Manhole
Hope is gone. There is no sign of hope. Hope is nowhere to be found. She hasn’t replied to an e-mail since the
eleventh. Why doesn’t she answer? She can’t be on vacation. If she were, she’d have told us all. She’s always kept in touch before. Why not now? It’s not like Hope to have gone missing.
Where is Hope? Does anyone know where she lives? Where she works? Does she live or work in New York City? Tell me if you know:
Where has Hope gone? Tell us
that Hope still lives.
These e-mails had
been pouring in from Dawn’s friends, readers, and acquaintances. “Do you know what happened to Hope?”
they all had asked. Some of the people
had never before written her, but they were writing to anyone who might know
the fate of Hope, even someone as unlikely as Dawn. Others who wrote had once
been Dawn’s friends, but had gone silent because Dawn had abused their trust by
retelling their life stories as thinly veiled “fiction.” Yet they were now willing to forgive Dawn if
only she could tell them where Hope had gone.
“Do you know where
she is?” pleaded Demi, an Iowa teenager in her first e-mail to Dawn in a
year. “Has Hope been writing you
recently?” queried Josie and Denise, a Boston couple. From New York came a fax:
“My crystal ball has gone black.
You’ve got to tell me where Hope has gone. Everyone I know is asking.”
Dawn herself had
been puzzled by Hope’s absence from her inbox.
Hope had been Dawn’s most faithful correspondent. No matter how empty was her mailbox, there
had always been a word of encouragement from Hope. Yet when Hope stopped writing, Dawn had been more miffed than
alarmed. She assumed that Hope had
tired of her, that Hope had become the muse of another, younger, more deserving
“Hope promised me
she’d never abandon me, no matter what I did, no matter what I wrote. And yet she’s dropped off my radar
screen. That bitch. She’s been as faithless as my fifty-two
boyfriends. Why does everyone have to
leave me?" whined Dawn. “I’m
really quite lovable – deep down, when you really get to know me.”
self-pity, Dawn had become completely self-absorbed. Even more so than usual.
She hadn’t bought a newspaper in weeks.
She would also have tuned out the television news, had she still owned a
TV set. But she’d hawked it to pay for
her lifeline – for her Internet service.
For three weeks she had been spending most of her waking hours on-line
burying her head in TG science fiction so that she could avoid thinking about
the fact that even Hope had dropped out of her life.
But now as the
e-mails clogged her inbox, Dawn realized that she’d been wrong to feel
slighted. “Everyone else has lost track
of Hope,” she now understood. “It’s up
to me to find her. That’s what I’m
going to do with my spare time.” (Which
accounted for most of her time off-line, inasmuch as Dawn was an unemployed
writer with a writing block.)
How could Dawn
expect to find Hope when no one else could?
Well, Dawn might have said if you caught her in a boastful mood – that
is, on most days – that she was smarter than her friends. After all, she’d almost applied to become a
member of Mensa, and her second-grade teacher had said she’d never met a worse
“know-it-all” than Dawn. Mr. Peepers,
Dawn’s seventh-grade drama teacher, had even told her that he’d never met a boy
who so quickly understood how he was expected to act after being invited home
for an audition.
Yes, Dawn was a
male, but a really smart one – smart enough to know he’d rather live his
life as a woman. He expected one day
to have sexual reassignment surgery, but he hadn’t yet found the money even for
hormones or implants. Thus, his body
was as biologically male as the day he was born.
You wouldn’t know
it, however, when you saw “her” dressed, for Dawn wrapped herself in padding
like a female football player getting ready for the big game. She went about with enormous breasts that
she’d bought from a mail-order house in Zimbabwe. They didn’t match Dawn’s coloring, nor did they have a nipple,
and they were rather shapeless. But
were they ever big!
“Don’t you think I
look like Jayne Mansfield,” Dawn would ask anyone old enough to remember – as
she did – the buxom actress of the 1950s.
She’d then show them her profile, so they’d get the hint. People never seemed to know how to
respond. Most started coughing, which
wasn’t surprising, given the air quality in Newark, New Jersey, Dawn’s
hometown. But a handful would say,
“Come on now, Dawn, you’re smarter than Jayne Mansfield. She was the original dumb blond.”
So even when Dawn
was fishing for compliments about her bosom, people would remind her that she
was valued most for her brains.
Understandably, in this moment of crisis, Dawn knew that she – and she
alone – had the smarts to find Hope.
Wherever Hope had gone, Dawn would find her.
But where to start
the search? “In my e-mail archive,”
thought Dawn. “I’ve kept every e-mail
Hope ever sent to me. There’s got to be
at least sixty of them. Somewhere in
one of her letters there’s bound to be a clue to her whereabouts.”
And so, Dawn printed
out all sixty-two e-mails she’d received from Hope, her best friend on the
Internet. Hope was everything Dawn
wanted to be. She was, for example, an
insightful critic of the arts, who recognized the genius of Dawn’s
writing. So few people did. Dawn often felt besieged by
Philistines. Even the teenage cheats
for whom she wrote term papers mocked her abilities. But Hope never did.
When Dawn was
feeling really down – when, for example, the students at the middle school
refused to pay her because their English themes had failed to receive a passing
grade – Hope would reassure her: “It is
not you who have failed, Dawn, it’s those small-minded teachers. They don’t understand that great writers go
by their own rules of grammar. Anyway,
what’s so wrong with a triple negative?
As for capital letters, the great poet e. e. cummings said they weren’t
necessary at the beginning of sentences.
girl, you’re a genius!”
of Dawn as an author was sufficient by itself to make her Dawn’s best friend on
the Internet. But Hope was much more to
Dawn than merely an admiring critic.
She was also Dawn’s Ideal.
She was the person Dawn wanted to be.
She, unlike Dawn, had started her hormone therapy. Hope actually had small breasts, but – and
this weakness endeared her to Dawn – she hadn’t let anyone actually see
them. Hope was springing forth in the
privacy of her room, but she went out in public with a super tight sports bra
that, thanks to two outer layers of cotton, hid her budding femininity.
Hope was, even so,
always one step ahead of Dawn on the journey to revelation; and so she had
earned Dawn’s infinite respect. They
were marching to the same drummer, but Hope was in the vanguard. Dawn was following her slowly but steadily
to a feminine future – one that Dawn’s whole being ached for, yet she still
feared to embrace. But with Hope’s
help, Dawn would one day be the undeniable mistress of prose – the most
celebrated female author in the world.
Was that likely to happen? No,
but as long as there was Hope, Dawn could dream. And dream she did.
had endeavored to find out as much about her friend as possible. She had pestered Hope with questions, but
rarely got a straight answer, for Hope was anxious to keep her real-life
identity secret. True, she did admit
that most of the world called her “Allan” and that she lived in the United
States. But in which city? In which state? Hope never said, and her e-mails came at such odd hours that it
was impossible to figure out whether she lived in the East or West.
Did Hope have a
job? Was she a college student? She wouldn’t say; nor would she discuss her
age, except to admit that she was younger than Dawn. This admission didn’t tell Dawn very much since Hope knew that
Dawn’s first love – at age five – had been a Korean War sailor. Dawn said she’d merely lusted from afar, but
the memory of his buttocks had thereafter made anything and everything Korean
erotic. In fact, M.A.S.H. had once been
her favorite television show. She’d
curl up under a sheet and feverishly masturbate while she watched the U.S. army
medics stretch out on their bunks in Korea.
She saw herself as Klinger, the cross-dressing corporal, and fantasized
seducing the unit’s chaplain, commanding officer, and – blush – the commander’s
That horse was quite
a stallion. But enough about that
horse! Television fantasies weren’t
going to bring Dawn any closer to finding Hope. Dawn knew that Hope was younger than fifty. But how much younger? Dawn had no idea at all, for Hope never
talked about her past. She was
Nor had Hope said
much about her looks except to admit, sheepishly, that most people found her
appealing to the eye. Her race,
ethnicity or hair color she would not discuss.
“Whether I am black, brown, white or yellow doesn’t matter,” Hope would
say. “We love each other as
friends. Isn’t that enough to know?”
It had been enough –
until now. But Dawn wished she’d had
learned much more about Hope. It was
disconcerting not to know whether she was young or told, African or Indian,
rich or poor. All Dawn knew for certain
was that Hope was transgendered – just like Dawn, but even more so.
Hope also had an
eastward looking window, for several of her letters thrilled to the view of the
rising sun over the “mighty river” nearby.
“Dawn is my favorite time of day,” Hope would say, “because the new day
stretches in front of us – a day in which so much good can be done and so many
dreams fulfilled. That’s one reason why
I love you so much, Dawn. You have such
a hopeful name.”
As Dawn read and
re-read Hope’s letters, her mind became fatigued. “I’ve got to lie down for a moment,” she thought. “Maybe if I listen to some beautiful music,
I’ll get inspired.” So she went to her
collection of New Age tapes, records and CD’s to find the right selection. Briefly, she thought of putting on her very first
purchase – “Dawn at New Hope,” a recording of bird songs at daybreak in the
touristy Pennsylvania town – but then decided to listen to her most recent
It was her first
disk of German music. She’d never liked
German music, for she’d found the driving beat of polka music unsettling, even
unnerving. But this was classical
German music, the two buskers had explained.
They had been playing for dimes and quarters on the boardwalk at Asbury
Park – a pan flutist and an accordionist.
Perhaps it was their bare chests on a chilly September day or perhaps it
was their inspired playing, but whichever it was, Dawn had made an impulse
purchase of their homemade CD disk. And
now she settled back to listen to their remarkable rendition of Beethoven’s
As she reclined on
her red vinyl couch, a pink velvet cushion from the horse show at the Iowa
State Fair cradling her head, she fantasized about blowing on a shepherd’s
flute. She came in unison to the
symphony’s climactic thunderstorm (memorably recreated by someone banging on an
“Drat,” Dawn moaned.
“I’ve soiled my panties.” And indeed
there was now a small yellow spot on her “Winnie the Pooh” cotton panties. Fortunately, she had pulled down her white
tights and pulled up her white lace petticoats and blue satin dress before
she’d started playing with herself, and they remained as pristine as her white
pinafore. Actually, there wasn’t much
risk of Dawn’s soiling either her petticoats or dress because they were
remarkably short. All of Dawn’s dresses
had been mini-length since the 1960s.
Indeed, half of her skirts dated from the 1960s. (She was proud that she
could still – with the help of a corset – fit into them.)
particular dress was almost spotless for it was part of her newest
ensemble. She’d just spent a year’s
savings to buy it from a fetish wear company in London, and she’d been wearing
the new outfit every day since it had arrived at the post office two weeks
ago. That is to say, she’d been wearing
it in her bachelor apartment, but she wasn’t yet ready to walk the streets of
Newark dressed as Alice in Wonderland in a miniskirt.
Ah, but she did love
her outfit – from her shoulder-length blond wig and sequined black velvet
hairband down to her black, patent leather Mary Jane shoes. If she only dared, it would be the only
thing she’d be wearing from now on, as she, Dawn, looked for her Lewis Carroll
As her mind drifted
to the mellow sounds of the Pan flute, Dawn suddenly remembered a key clue to
Hope’s whereabouts. It was a rare local
reference in one of Hope’s e-mails, and it pointed Dawn in the direction of
Pennsylvania. Or, more precisely, to a
station in Pennsylvania.
As Dawn lay on her
couch cogitating, she had a Eureka moment.
It went something like this:
“Eureka! I know where Hope is to
be found. I know why Allan called
himself Hope rather than something more alliterative or rhyming like Alicia,
Lana or Susan. He took his name from
his own hometown. That’s it. That’s the ticket. My friend lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania. It all fits!”
“Fits? In what way?” dull wits might ask. Well, New Hope does look east across the
mighty Delaware River; and the notion that Alan might have called himself after
his hometown wasn’t entirely far-fetched.
And New Hope was indeed in Pennsylvania. But why was Dawn so convinced that Hope had to be there? Well, if truth be told, Dawn didn’t have
enough money to find Hope if she lived more than sixty miles away. Since Dawn couldn’t believe that she was
beyond Hope’s recovery, she had to believe that her friend either lived, like
Dawn, in New Jersey or, at worst, in a town just across the state line. New Hope fitted the bill, especially as Dawn
had been anxious to visit it for twenty-five years, ever since she’d bought
“Dawn at New Hope” and found her femme name and identity.
So excited was Dawn
at figuring out Hope’s whereabouts – had any detective ever been cleverer? –
that she rushed about the room looking for her purse. Finding it at last under a heap of dirty clothes by the side of
her bed, Dawn hurriedly thrust her money into it, and then, quite forgetting
how she was dressed, ran out of the apartment and into the street. “I must catch the last bus to New Hope, I
really must. I must not be late. I must not be late.”
She was flagging,
almost out of breath, when a jogger reinvigorated her. He flashed by her in a fluffy white cotton
jogging suit and pale pink sneakers.
“Gosh,” thought Dawn, “he looks just like a rabbit. With that hood, he looks like he’s got two
pointy ears. But he definitely doesn’t
have a rabbit’s body!”
It was his body that
really caught her attention. The jogger
was the shapeliest male she’d seen in twenty-four hours; so naturally she
chased after him. He too seemed to be heading
for the bus terminal, so Dawn ran after him so enthusiastically that she even
got close enough to see him look at his chronometer and say, “I’m not making
good time. I’m late, I’m late for the
As Dawn stared at
the jogger’s furry wrist, she lost track of his feet – and hers. Suddenly he leapt over an open manhole. “Wow, what a butt!” Dawn exclaimed out loud
as she watched him soar.
She was just about
to grab her jogger from behind when she fell down the manhole. Down, down, down she went. Frantically she grabbed at the sides of the
hole – to no avail. She began cursing
as she realized she’d broken two nails.
Suddenly, the manhole narrowed as its wall became rough and uneven,
apparently because of ongoing repairs.
Her descent abruptly ended. Her
gigantic bosom had broken her fall.
“My god, my breasts
have saved my life,” thought Dawn, just before she passed out from the stench
of the sewer.
Chapter 2 – Tears of the Fool
It pissed rain all night.
Dawn would have drowned had her mouth remained as wide open as it had
been during her pursuit of the jogger, but mercifully her jaws clamped shut as
she lost consciousness. It was an
automatic reflex, for Dawn wasn’t proud of her teeth, which were stained coffee
brown from her addiction to caffeine.
As the rainwater poured into the manhole, where it mixed with oil and
grease from the street, Dawn became more slippery than usual. Inch by inch, she slid down the hole. Her descent was uneven, for Dawn was
lopsided. Gradually one of her breast
forms fell to her navel, while the other rose to her head. At long last, just as the first glimmer of
dawn’s early light lit up her manhole, her body tore itself loose from its
captor and splashed noisily into two feet of sewage. Her left breast form, freed by the final plunge, arced lazily
into the air before landing kerplunk on top of Dawn’s ravishingly blond
Dawn cried and cried.
She couldn’t remember when she’d felt so low – or been so low. Where had her search for Hope brought
her? To the sewers of Newark! Not the sewers of Paris or Rome – they
reeked of history and romance. But the
sewers of Newark – they just reeked. “I
had such good intentions,” Dawn bawled, “and where have they brought me? To a cesspool! Boo hoo, boo hoo.” Yes,
she actually said “boo hoo, boo hoo.”
Indeed, she yelled it four two hours in the hope that someone would hear
her. But no one did. It was, after all, early Sunday morning and
few people were moving about. In fact,
there never were many pedestrians in Dawn’s neighborhood, for most of it had
been slotted for demolition and renewal.
Dawn should have quit her apartment months ago, but she
liked the peace and quiet of living in an empty building. It was the perfect place for a writer to
work her wizardry, especially as her landlord had forgotten to turn off the
electricity. Heat hadn’t been a problem
during the summer, and Dawn was confident that her space heater would see her
through the winter. She did wish,
however, that her neighborhood weren’t quite so empty. There was no one, it seemed, to come to her
“I’ll have to rescue myself,” she resolved. “Just like John Valjohn in the sewers of
Paris. Watch out, world,” Dawn shouted,
“Here comes she who is less Mizerable.”
It didn’t take her long – no more than an hour – to
determine that she couldn’t climb back up the manhole, for there was no ladder
or stairway. So Dawn decided to wander
down the sewer toward the beckoning light from another open manhole two hundred
feet away. Again, there was no ladder
up, nor was there at her second stop.
However, her spirits brightened as her feet found dry land and her eyes
espied an electric light flooding down upon a small table and three chairs in a
broad opening just ahead. Underneath
the table she saw two empty quarts of gin.
Well, they weren’t entirely empty.
One of them had three drops of gin that Dawn, desperate for liquid
refreshment, eagerly slurped.
The gin was a tantalizing reminder of her hunger and
thirst. She needed more! The table had a single drawer, which Dawn
frantically emptied of its cards, dice, dominoes, cribbage board, checkers,
chessmen, Parcheesi set, computer games, girly magazines, crossword puzzles,
horseshoes, croquet mallets, badminton net, and lawn darts. “Who needs this crap?” Dawn complained to
the salt-stained walls, “There must be some food and drink. I can’t believe the sewer workers played
these games stone sober.”
Just as she was about to despair, Dawn saw a small wooden
box in the shadows. It contained a
quart of Minnesota rosé wine that Dawn quickly quaffed to relieve her
thirst. After she had relieved herself
against the sewer wall, she looked for something to eat. There was a small cellophane baggy filled
with a dried herb – Dawn judged it to be oregano. “Beggars can’t be choosy,” she said, and she washed down the
entire bagful with the last of the crackling rosé. One giant burp later she looked for something more
substantial. “Hunger is making me
light-headed,” Dawn moaned. I’ve got to
some find real food fast.” Then she saw
the four sugar cubes. They too were in
a baggy. This one had a label: “DO NOT EAT ME!”
“And why not?” demanded Dawn. “I’m starving. I need
energy food. No baggy is going to tell
me what to do!” Always the rebel, Dawn
gobbled down the sugar cubes as fast as she could.” Satiated at last, Dawn sat down so heavily on one of the chairs
that its forelegs crumpled. Once again,
she found herself sprawled on the sewer floor.
It was an ordeal to get up as her feet wobbled under her. “My, my,” she thought, “I’m going to have to
lose some weight. My legs can barely
keep me upright.”
Was she getting heavier?
So it seemed. She looked
enormous. Never had her arms looked
chubbier. Never had her belly looked so
much like Old Saint Nick’s. Her head
felt like a watermelon. Her legs looked
like tree stumps. Even her feet looked
like redwood logs. In total despair at
becoming so hopelessly fat, Dawn tried to regurgitate her breakfast; but
nothing came back up. “I need a diet
pill,” Dawn feverishly thought. “I must
weigh four hundred pounds. I look like
a Japanese sushi wrestler!”
Frantically she searched the back recesses of the wooden
box. Her pudgy fingertips found another
baggy, this time half-filled with a fine white powder. Yet again the bag carried a bossy tag: “DO NOT EAT ME!” And once again, Dawn disobeyed.
She ate the white powder so quickly that you’d have thought she was
inhaling it. “I do hope this will help
me to lose weight,” was Dawn’s last lucid thought for forty-eight hours.
She did indeed lose weight as she ran through the sewers at
lightning speed for two full days, always five or six steps ahead of the
municipal workers and their net. Her
mind played tricks on her. She thought
she was being chased by pink flamingos, cigar-smoking caterpillars, and crazed,
hip-hopping hares. She thought she was
losing her mind when a talking mouse jumped out of a singing teapot, a lobster
began to calypso, and twittering bluebirds encircled her wig. It was the ultimate nightmare: Dawn was trapped in a Disney cartoon! Eventually, Dawn lost her pursuers, and
easing herself into a comfortable fetal position, she had a three-hour
discourse about the meaning of life and the reasons for hope with a rock
outcropping that she mistook for Mickey Mouse.
After seeing how many times she could say that word in sixty-nine
seconds, Dawn suddenly remembered her mission:
“What am I doing down here in the sewer?” she wondered. “I’m supposed to be looking for Hope. People are counting on me to find her.” Unsteadily, with the help of the sewer wall,
she got to her feet. She then tottered
towards the light shining down from an open manhole. This outlet had a ladder to the street; indeed, all the city’s
manholes were now equipped with ladders to the street, for the municipal
workers had become desperate to get “Big Alice” out of their wonderland. Shakily Dawn climbed the ladder.
Suddenly she was standing – well, actually sitting – on the
street. Two taxis squealed their tires
to avoid her. Dawn dusted herself off,
pulled up her tights, straightened her dress, and tugged on her wig. She had wandered far from home. She didn’t know this part of Newark at
all. But she could see a highway sign
for Pennsylvania, and so she decided to resume her journey of Hope. As she’d lost her purse somewhere in the
Newark underground, she decided she’d have to hitchhike to New Hope.
There weren’t many drivers who’d pick up a male hitchhiker
these days, but Dawn was dressed like Alice in Wonderland. So she had high hopes. A surprisingly large number of cars passed
up the chance to give a lift to a ravishing blond in an extremely short dress. “Perhaps they can’t see me in the building
shadows,” Dawn speculated. So she stood
in the middle of the road. A truck
squealed to a halt six inches in front of her, but Dawn didn’t flinch – well,
not very much when you consider it was an eighteen-wheeler bearing down on
her. She didn’t do much more than
The truck door opened invitingly. As Dawn mounted the step, the trucker leered invitingly. “Well, babe, you don’t look like much. But I’ve been driving non-stop for sixteen
hours and I need some shut-eye. I could
use some company in the back of the cab, if you know what I mean. You be real friendly to me while I make a
rest stop in Newark, and I’ll make sure you get to where you’re going. I know a heap of lonely guys on the road
who’ll give you a lift once I hail them on the CB radio.”
The trucker had muscular arms. As they reached towards Dawn to help her into the cab, she
quickly made her decision. “I’m
exhausted. I need those arms around me
“Whoa there, sister.
I don’t sleep with no dames with a five o’clock shadow. I don’t know what sex you really are, and
normally I don’t much care – at least not when it comes to getting a
blowjob. In fact, I’ve found that most
trannies have tongues that never quit.
So you see, I’d be willing to give you a ride even if you are a guy in a
“So give me a hand up and let me start working on
“I don’t think so, babe.
I’ve got some standards. And
you’re the filthiest pervert I’ve ever seen.
What are you? A dirt queen? Anyway, you smell like shit. So goodbye, Miss Piggy. Maybe you can hitch a ride on a garbage
truck.” He then pushed Dawn away,
pulled the door shut, and roared off.
It was true: Dawn smelled like sewage. And she definitely needed a shave,
especially if she was going to pass herself off as a young girl. The real Alice was definitely beardless,
Dawn supposed, so she’d have to be as well.
She hadn’t shaved for a week; it was about time she did. But first she needed to shower. As it didn’t look like rain, and she had not
a dime, Dawn trundled down the road until she found a gas station with an automatic
She snuck inside
unnoticed and stood in the spray. It
felt like an Irish spring or a fresh summer day. She hadn’t felt this good in weeks. The sight of her pinafore and dress molding themselves around her
ample bosom was even turning her on.
Her right hand slipped under her dress; its fingers reached inside her
panties and tights. Distracted, Dawn
momentarily forgot where she was. She
became heedless of danger.
Thus, she never saw
the huge brush that rolled her onto the hood of a 1972 Chevrolet Impala. Her face crushed against the windshield as
the brush moved up and down her back, she looked helplessly into the car. Inside, a mousy, elderly man squinted at her
through the coke-bottle lenses of his wire-rimmed spectacles. He squeaked with horror as one brush tossed
Dawn to one side, and another pressed her body against the front passenger-side
Dawn grabbed the
door handle for dear life. Briefly, the
roller retreated. She pulled open the
door and dove onto the car’s front seat, just as a wave of soapsuds broke over
the startled “driver.” The mousy
little man was still gasping for breath, soap bubbles floating skyward from his
mouth and nose, as his car received a blow dry and a wax job. By the time the
Chevy had been released from the moving chain, the myopic little man had
recovered enough to realize that Dawn was turning blue. She was on the verge of drowning even though
most of the water had seeped from the car through its “airtight” seams.
It was like a wet
dream. Dawn was French-kissing someone
– for the first time in months. Who was
it? The mousy little man who had been
trying to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That’s who it was. With
difficulty he pried himself loose from Dawn’s grasping tongue.
“Come on you two,”
yelled the carwash attendant. He didn’t
have a clear view, but what he could see disgusted him. An old man was lying on top of a female of
indeterminate age, but much too young for him, judging from her little-girl
dress. This was the most brazen child
molester he’d ever come across. “I
should call the police. I really
should!” he yelled. “Get the hell out
of here, you pervert! I know your car;
don’t let me see it around here no more, never again.” He then gave the Chevy a violent kick.
“Oh my, oh my,”
squeaked the mousy little man as he fumbled with the ignition. To Dawn he said, “I wasn’t trying to molest
you. I’m not a … masher. I was just trying to give you the kiss of
Dawn thought to
herself, as the Chevy jerked into gear, “For an old geezer, your kiss had a lot
of life to it. I’m ready for
more.” To the mousy little man, she
said quite demurely, batting her eyelashes, “I know, I know. You saved my life. Is there any special way I can thank you?”
went her long eyelashes. As they did,
soap suds flew off in all directions.
Two globs coated the little man’s glasses. Almost totally blind, he yanked the wheel hard right and the car
came to an abrupt stop, with its two right wheels halfway across a sidewalk.
The mousy little man
quaked with fear and mortification. As
he was afraid to speak to Dawn, he complained to his side mirror, “What am I
going to do now? I can’t go back to the
carwash ever again. What or what am I
going to do?”
Dawn spoke for the
mirror: “What’s the big deal. So you’re not wanted at the carwash for some
reason. So what? There’s lot of carwashes in town. Jeez, there’s one near where I live that
costs half as much, and they use recycled water!”
understand,” the little man replied to the mirror. “I’m terrified of driving.
I’ve been afraid ever since my wife was killed in a car accident. That was almost thirty years ago. This is the car I bought with the insurance
money. I’ve been keeping it looking as
good as new in my wife’s memory. So I’ve been getting it washed once a week
ever since I got it. I’ve memorized
every inch of the route to the carwash.
It’s only two blocks from my home.
It’s been my weekly outing – something for me to do in retirement. Now whatever shall I do? Woe, woe is me.”
Dawn’s mouth gaped
in astonishment. Never had she met a
more timid little man. “You’re afraid
to drive more than two blocks? What are
you a man or a …” She didn’t finish the sentence for the answer was self-evident.
The little man
nodded abjectly to the mirror.
Dawn considered her
options. She needed a ride to New Hope
and this little man needed some hope in his life. It was high time that he hit the road looking for adventure. For the mousy little man’s own good Dawn
decided to fib a little about her age.
“He’s more likely to help me get to New Hope,” she thought, “if he
thinks I’m as young as I dress. After
all, who could abandon a child in distress?”
So Dawn asked,
“Mister, do you have a name?”
little man glumly replied, still staring at his side mirror.
“No, I mean your
last name. My mother told me I should
always call adults by their last name.
What is it, Mister? Tell me
“It’s Raton. My father was south Peruvian.” Still he was afraid to look at the face of
“Here, Mr. Raton,
let me clean your glasses. They’re
covered with soap.” As Mortimer timidly
and slowly turned towards her, Dawn took the tip of her pinafore and
deliberately used it to smear the lenses, making it almost impossible for him
to see out of them. Even had they been
as clear as his social calendar, Mortimer would still have had difficulty
seeing Dawn for what she really was for he was almost as blind as Mr.
“How old do you
think I am, Mr. Raton?” chirped Dawn in
a little-girl voice.
as he remembered the accusations of the carwash attendant. “I know you’re a little girl, what with the
way you’re dressed. I wasn’t trying to
kiss you; you must know that. You’re
much too young to kiss anyone but your parents – or maybe your
grandfather. And even then, only on the
kissed Mortimer on his right cheek.
“I’m old enough to kiss boys,” she said. “After all, I’m a …
teenager.” And then, as she thought
about the trip she had to make, she added, “I’m even old enough to drive. I have my learning permit. As long as you’re with me in the car, I can
drive anywhere in daylight.”
Mortimer had liked
the peck on his cheek. It had been a long
time since anyone had shown him that much affection. He couldn’t for the life of him understand why Dawn had been
hiding in a carwash. Maybe she was a
runaway. Whatever her story, she needed
his help. Granted she was almost
full-grown, but she was still scarcely more than a child -- a child in
trouble. As a responsible adult, he had
to help her as best he could.
“What’s … your name,
child?” Mortimer timidly asked.
“It’s Dawn, and I’m
not really a child. I’m old enough to
drive this car,” Dawn reminded him.
“But Dawn, you still
dress like a little girl. So you’re not
as grown up as you think. You remind me
of Judy Garland when she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. She was a big girl too – as big as you – but
she was at heart a vulnerable little child.”
“If you say so,”
Dawn cooed. “I am too young to
hitchhike. That’s for sure. Yet I’m off to see my bestest friend in the
whole world. She lives in New
Hope. Can you take me to see her? Can you, pretty please? Please, please, please, Mr. Raton.” She kissed Mortimer again on his cheek.
“But Dawn, I’ve told
you that I’m afraid to drive more than two blocks from my home. How can I possibly drive you to New
Hope? I would drive you if I dared. But I am too fearful.” He began to sniffle noisily.
“Move over,” Dawn
said brusquely. “I’ll drive.” As Mortimer had never disobeyed an order in
his life, he grimly circled the car to switch seats with Dawn. He brightened up, however, when she gave him
another peck on the cheek. Then, their
seatbelts firmly buckled, Dawn gunned the engine. Its wheels spinning, the Chevy for the first time in its long
life had a racing start. With Mortimer
holding on to the door handle for dear life, his face puffed up under the
g-force, Dawn steered the car into its first chicane at sixty miles an
hour. As the city traffic scattered,
Dawn threw back her tresses and laughed with delight. She and Mortimer were bound for glory.
Continued in Chapter 3 – All Must Have Prizes