Walking home late at night was always a scary time for me. A woman with all the things men look for in their instant lusts. And getting off from the restaurant at roughly eleven-thirty at night is something not to scoff at, but take seriously. So when I came up to a lamp post in mid block, half way to the safety of my locked and bolted apartment door, I was relieved to see a girl standing beneath it. I had seen her from a distance with her voluminous, light colored, long sleeved shirt with its pointed hem. She was wearing white boots that were almost to her knees and black, or very dark, pants. It was a pretty outfit, I thought, briefly, but it belonged more on a Shakespearean stage than on the streets of this roguish town.
Her hair was long and almost white but I saw it to be quite gray, though of a very light shade, and very fine, flowing all around the upper body, unbound, tangling around her head in the good breeze.
She was doing something with her hands, playing with a ball of some kind, and didn't seem to notice me as I approached. I didn't try to get her attention and kept my eyes and head pointed forward like some kind of robot. She seemed very tall and almost scary, she was so tall. Meeting people at eleven-forty is not my idea of playing it safe, even if it was another woman.
She seemed different, though, not only in her styles and height, but in manner, and she moved with a silky smoothness, a fluidity he her flow that finally made me look that way, just ten feet from her.
I was more than a little surprised to see the ball she was holding wasn't really being held. An attention getter, for certain. It was floating above her hand below, with the top kind of controlling it, I guessed. I looked up into her face, then back at the ball as it suddenly came to life, glowing orange and then blue, then white, and suddenly caught into flame beneath those beautiful and delicate hands. She bid it move up and away from her then looked my way, smiling, and then back at the fire ball, still flaming and growing in warmth. I could feel its heat on my face.
"I always have problems starting them," she said, with a very lovely voice. It was low but it definitely seemed feminine, so well spoken and enunciated. Or was it a girls voice? I looked at her face, again, trying to recall the words. There was something not quite, exactly, right about my her. I had to admit to myself, I didn't know, right then, if she really was a woman, or a man.
"Would you like to hold it?" the person asked.
"Oh, no. No thank you. I can feel the heat from here." I had stopped, you see, to watch the flaming ball bobbing and floating in the air. Who wouldn't?
"It really isn't hot," she said, taking some steps towards me and coming quite close, as did the fire ball. "It just seems like it is because it's so bright. Here, see, I'm touching it. It's a cold flame. I can play with it too. It tingles, but there's no pain."
I was still reluctant and shook my head.
Without warning, this person took my hand, not forcefully, or surprisingly, but deliberately and his manner let me accept that he did, and she took hold, just firmly enough, guiding it in an extension of my arm as the ball came to my palm, and then he let go.
"You see. It's harmless. Just a little, well, shall we say, trickery for the time being?"
I stared at it. He was right. It didn't hurt, just a slight sensation of electrical charge, and that was about it. I smiled, finally, staring at it, fascinated, and then at its maker.
"If you want it to disappear, just toss it up in the air and say, Out!"
I watched it a few seconds more, playing with it, watching the flames curl around my gloves and fingers, not effecting them in the least, and then tossed it in the air as the person told me to, and raised my voice, slightly, saying, "Out." It fluttered away on the wind, pieces of it falling off and disappearing, and we both smiled at each other when it did.
"My name is Onji," he said, and this time I was pretty sure he was a man, though such a beautiful one and could easily pass for a gorgeous woman, too, if he wanted to, I thought. He had to be Eurasian, I considered, as his skin was like a kabuki dolls, so fair and so white, but a lovely fairness that suited human beings with such delicately feminine characteristics. If he were a woman he would have been the most strikingly beautiful woman I had ever met, but as a man, he was entirely handsome, both, really, at once. You might just have to see him to understand. He could easily pass through both worlds, I'm sure.
Floating up to me, his long fingers on his graceful hand encompassed mine, and the other invited me to continue on my way, he gently lead me down the broken sidewalk, and it was quite obvious to me that he would be accompanying me to my building, and possibly, to my door. It was five more blocks.
He released my hand even though I was enjoying his touch.
"I hope you don't mind if we walk together for a bit, do you? I have business down the street and it would be nice to have some company."
"Thank you. I'm always a little bit afraid to go home this late."
"Where do you work," he asked, though I had the strangest impression, he already knew.
I told him and he also inquired about where I lived, on what block, anyway, then smiled and nodded when I told him. He was very well mannered but because he was so much more different than the average midnight encounter, I was a bit apprehensive about what he was doing with me, this beautiful boy, or man, or girl, (I wasn't a hundred percent sure at this time), whatever he was, but didn't think I had to be afraid of him. There was some self assurance in the air that told me I could label him as a friendly.
"You've been wondering if I'm a man or a woman, haven't you?" I must have looked guilty. "It's alright. A lot of people wonder that at first. I am a boy, yes, a man. I don't have much of a beard, but I am quite normal, I assure you," he claimed. "Though, you don't care for my clothes, do you?" He smiled.
"I think they're quite, nice, actually, just very different than what most people, men, wear around here. Are you foreign?"
"No. I've lived her for some years. I'm a U.S. Citizen, though I'll admit, a bit of an eccentric," and smiled beautifully. He watched my reaction and read what I was thinking. "You're guessing again. You want to know if I'm gay or not, with all this makeup on, aren't you."
"I was wondering, yes. Not that it's any of my business."
"It's alright. Think what you wish. Most people do. I can almost hear what other people are thinking, too. Anyway, when I'm noticed in a crowd, there are so many strange thoughts going on. But I don't mind. I am what I am. Silly the way minds work, though, isn't it? But this isn't make up and I dress like this all the time, or something near to it."
I didn't know where that was coming from, unless he was speaking of some kind of prejudicial encounters he'd had. And if he did dress like that all the time, why hadn't I seen him before? But I could definitely see where some prejudiced, raciest, small minded man, usually, or women, would judge him, not knowing anything about the guy.
"Stop for a moment," he said, more as a request than a command, and I did. "Feel my face. I am just as you see me."
He guided my hand to his face as he removed my glove in a smooth slipping manner that astounded me. They were skin tight gloves and he merely pulled the one right off. I had to tug like crazy to get them on, or off. He was as magical as his ball of fire, kinda.
When my skin touched his face I didn't feel anything other than its complete and utter smoothness. He felt, warm, too, and his cheek had a slight glow of color in it. I wanted to caress it and hold him in my arms kiss his ... well, yes, kiss his lips, and then came out of the spell I seemed to be under. I was standing up against him, my body pressed all too lasciviously against his. I remember the warmth, the sexuality of his body, the feel of my heart beating against his thin shirt. And that was another thing; He was so warm and I was all bundled up and could feel his heat through everything.
"You see, it isn't make up at all, is it?" he told me, rhetorically, then took my hand by the wrist with his long delicate fingers and slipped the glove back on, as if there was no resistance at all.
He guided me to walking again, towards my apartment, when all I really wanted to do was touch him with my hands and feel that same thing I had felt moments ago. He was something I could not get enough of, yes, even that quickly. Who was he? I wondered. What was he that he could influence me thus?
"You're feeling something, aren't you? It's okay. I know all about it. That sometimes happens but I don't mean to alarm you. I won't take advantage."
Who said I didn't want you too?
He turned my way and smiled, again, as we strolled toward home, as if he heard me.
We were approaching a corner leading into an alley and three tough dudes were standing there, slunk against the warn red bricks, watching us carefully. They all three started towards us in a threatening manner, all at once, but I watched Onji glare at them, taking a couple of steps in their direction. They immediately backed away, their cocky looks disappearing immediately, and vanished back into the shadows of the alley. I heard running foot falls, slapping the ground as retreated, almost as if they were stumbling over each other to get away.
And then my thoughts returned to him. Was it manliness, chivalry, toughness, that drew me to him, and only him? How grateful I was that he was there that evening.
.... There is more of this story ...