by Wanda Cunningham
The boy stared at the mannequin so intently the floorwalking department store manager became suspicious.
He didn't understand, he couldn't understand, how some males seemed so fascinated by plastic and metal and paint in the shape of a woman.
It wasn't like a mannequin had warm flesh, soft skin and a will of its own. No, a mannequin had to stand there, in whatever pose it might be placed in by the dresser. Now there was a nance and a fruit and ... well, queer was an out of date word. Gay? He snorted. What did the dresser have to be happy about? AIDS?
But the boy stood there staring and the manager wondered if he should go over and say something. That particular mannequin had been dressed today in a silken ecru blouse, with a short, short skirt of woolen tweed in navy, with green and red plaiding stripes. She wore bone colored pumps and clutched a vinyl ecru purse to her plaster bosom. Her wig today was that hideous shade of red that no real person ever had.
The manager shuddered a bit. Sympathy for a mannequin? He snorted to clear his mind of such a notion so he could get back to doing his job.
Watching the boy, that was his job at the moment.
Still the boy stood and stared and now the manager noticed something else. The boy, probably not more than 11 or 12, maybe 13, stood with one foot forward and on his toes; one hand clasped to his chest and the other extended downward with wrist flexed and fingers splayed. His head was turned at an angle, and tilted also and his shoulders were cocked at the opposite slant of his hips.
Realization for the floor manager dawned: the exact same pose the mannequin stood in! Obviously, the boy was pretending to be the mannequin, or pretending to be the girl the mannequin represented! Another damn pansy, fairy queer!
Why the little fag might do something to the mannequin or try to steal something that matched what the faux femme wore. Stalking forward, the floorwalker made his voice deep and gruff, "Here, now! What are you doing there, kid?" He couldn't call him a damn Fruity Pebbles queer fag pansy; at least, not out loud.
The effect was all the manager could have wanted. Saying nothing, not quite running, not even looking at the floorwalker, the boy fled. Out of the store and into the mall; let him go drool at the window sluts down at Frederick's or Victoria's thought the manager.
Standing at the scene of his minor triumpth, the floorwalker smiled. He still didn't understand it, couldn't understand it. But he knew. Without noticeably moving his lips he whispered to the mannequin, "I've got a nice chiffon dressing gown for you later, Emily, darling. And a matching one for me."
He blushed to even think someone might have heard him. Better go check out the power tool department, he thought, and scurried away. Not quite running, saying nothing else, not even looking back jealously at his motionless, painted, plastic-and-steel lover. Going to have a word with the dresser about that hideous wig, he resolved.
Copyright 2000, 2002 by Wanda Cunningham
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