Thursday, December 21, 2006
The Recruiting Visit
A short story by Monica Roberts
Dedicated to all the GLBT peeps either deployed in Iraq or serving in the military.
Paula Morgan was in the bathroom applying her favorite shade of lipstick when the doorbell rang. She put on a final coat and checked her appearance in the mirror before heading over to answer the front door.
“Good evening ma’am. Sorry to disturb you. Is Tracy home?”
“Yes, but we’re leaving in 30 minutes. Who are you?”
“I’m Sergeant McGill from the Armed Forces Career Center. I would like to talk to him about possible career options in the military.”
“I know he was thinking about that during his freshman year. Come on in.”
“Thank you ma’am. Since y’all have somewhere to go I’ll be brief.”
“Would you like something to drink?”
“Water would be just fine for me, Ms. Morgan.”
Paula returned with two glasses of water as Sergeant McGill took a look around the modestly decorated living room of the Morgan home. In one corner were several large trophies in addition to the academic awards that Tracy had earned. He also took a look at the family photos perched upon a bookshelf. In addition to pictures of Tracy at various ages he noticed several pictures of an attractive young woman who resembled a younger version of the curvaceous lady sitting next to him. There was a large one of the same young woman wearing a cap and gown. But as he recalled his earlier conversations with Tracy he never remembered him mentioning that he had a sister.
“You must be very proud of Tracy.”
“Yes, I am. My baby’s graduating with honors.”
“Yes ma’am. We noticed that he had excellent scores on his SAT and ACT tests. He also scored very high on the Military Aptitude Test.”
“Tracy’s always been a smart child. Couldn’t understand why he wanted to join the military.”
“It’ll give him an opportunity to travel the world and develop his leadership skills “
“That is true. Tracy’s grandfather was in the Marines.”
“Montford Point Marine. He fought at Iwo Jima.”
Paula checked her watch. They'd been sitting there talking for fifteen minutes and Tracy still hadn’t appeared yet. “Baby, we need to be leaving soon. What’s taking you so long?”
“Just packing the rest of my stuff, Mom.”
Paula returned her attention to the handsome recruiter sitting on her couch as he asked,” So you two are leaving on a trip?”
“Actually, it’s for a competition here in town.”
At that moment Tracy yelled from the bedroom, “Mom, I can’t find my black pumps.”
“Oh, I’m sorry baby, I borrowed them for my date last night. Check my closet”
“And hurry up. You know you need to be checked in for the pageant by 7.”
“Pageant?” stammered Sergeant McGill. He took another look at the graduation photo and realized the young woman he was looking at was Tracy.
“Yes, Tracy’s so talented. Does a killer Patti LaBelle impersonation and is building quite a reputation in the femme queen ranks in the ball community. Those are his trophies in the corner.
Sergeant McGill tried to digest the news as she continued. “I always knew there was something different about him when he was growing up. Not long after he took that military test I caught him dressed in my clothes. When I asked him why, he confessed to me that he was unhappy as a boy and wanted to be a girl."
Paula took another sip of her water as she continued. "All that matters to me is my child's happiness. If that means he becomes my daughter, so be it. The only reason that Tracy was considering joining the military was that he thought it would make a man out of him.”
“Ms. Morgan, no one needs to know that Tracy's transgendered. Just looking at that graduation photo I couldn't tell. It would still be a wonderful...”
“Spare me the sales pitch, Sergeant. I’m not allowing my only child to join the military for that superficial reason so he can be shot at in Iraq. If this so-called War on Terror isn’t important enough for rich folks kids to fight in it, then I’m not sending my child over there, either.”
There was silence for a few moments before Paula checked her watch and said in an urgent tone, “Tracy, let’s go.”
“I still can’t find my black Nine West pumps.”
“Then get my J. Renee’s. But make sure those thieving queens don’t get their paws on them while you’re onstage.”
Sergeant McGill turned to Paula and said,” Ms. Morgan, thank you for your hospitality, but I need to go.”
“Yes, you do. Goodbye, sergeant.”
Sergeant McGill rose to leave. Just before he opened the front door Tracy emerged into the living room carrying a hanging bag. Tracy’s face was perfectly made up and she was wearing a short Baby Phat top with jeans that hugged her unmistakably feminine curves. Tracy's shoulder length black hair was bone straight and nails were freshly done in a French manicure.
The sergeant pivoted to leave, closed the front door of the Morgan home and walked to his car.
“Damn, looks like I won’t be making my quota this month, either." he muttered to himself as he got behind the wheel of the car and slammed the door shut.