Pia, or Miss Pia Tia Maria to give her her full name, was a six foot two transvestite from Queens. She had lived on the lower east side before it was a village and worked five nights a week at Madame Moo Moo’s over on Waverly and Grove where she had worked her way up from coat check girl to featured attraction. Un-accustomed to getting up before one, due to her punishing work schedule, she was not best pleased to be awoken by loud banging on her door when it was only eleven thirty.
She tried to ignore it but the knocking was insistent and somehow, as she was later to recount, she just knew something bad had happened. She peeled the pink satin sleep mask up on to her forehead and dragged herself from the grand, wrought iron, Victorian reproduction bed she liked to call home because it dominated the whole apartment.
“All right all right I’m coming,” she croaked, wrapping the Chinese silk robe beloved of so many performers, around her ragged frame.
“Who is it?” she called, in the more dulcet tones of miss P. She needed to know how much of a face she needed.
“Its me, Aniese”
Perfect, she thought, no face needed at all. She padded to the door in her size ten, velveteen mules and unlocked the latches. Aniese half fell, half flew into the big man’s arms. Her ashen face, a shade paler than usual, crumpled like an empty crisp packet as she clung to her friend.
“Sweet Jesus what’s happened to you?” said Pia, sweeping her towards the big bed. “Now lie here and let me make you some ‘erb tea”
Aniese lay bleached against the bed linen, Antique White from Bed, Bath & Beyond, and sipped the camomile tea.
“Now,” said Pia, rearranging her robe, “Tell me everything.”
Words swarmed around the apartment as the swirl of sirens filled the air. Aniese sipped her tea and told Pia the whole story. By the time she had finished, should there have been any sun the shadows would have been getting long. Pia sat and looked and listened.
“OK” she said when Aniese was done, “its not such a big deal.” She poured her friend the remains of a bottle of red wine that was standing in a ring on the bedside table.
“But somebody’s dead” sobbed Aniese, “and I’ve been dumped and…”
“And whatever.” Pia went to the other end of the room where the kitchen, such as it was, lived. She retrieved another bottle of wine from the cupboard under the sink and poured herself a glass.
“Look” she said, settling down on the other end of the bed, “You hated that job, the woman was crazy, you should be glad she fired you, you should be thanking her, now at least you’re outta there. And the boyfriend? Well what can I say? He’s a guy who lived in a T-shirt that said I don’t do therapy, there is nothing to say.”
“But I’ve just seen someone get shot”
“Yer well welcome to New York, what do you expect in alphabet city, Donald Duck’s on vacation this week. So one crack addict kills another maybe it’s not such a bad thing?”
Aniese drank her wine.
“But” she said, “the guy with the gun knows where I live. What if he comes after me?”
“Honey, you’re not going to say anything. What did you see for chrissakes? Some guy in a Yanky baseball cap? Its not like you found the bloody glove.”
She reached over to a the black lacquered box that stood on the night stand and fumbled in it for a half smoked joint of particularly potent weed.
“Here” she said offering it to Aniese, “its medicinal. Look you’ve had a nasty shock, maybe you should get out of the city for a little while, you know wait till the heats off.” Pia raised her chin and gave Aniese a dramatic wink, “go under ground for awhile.”
“OK maybe I’m being over dramatic but that kid Angel did shout out my name and someone was kicking at the door.”
She drew on the joint and passed it back to Pia.
“He said your name?”
“Yer, he was shouting at me to get away.”
“And this guy heard him?” she inhaled and passed it back to Aniese.
“Ah Hu,” Aniese nodded, still holding in the heavy smoke, “They both did.”
“Oh yer,” said Aniese, reclining against the pillows and letting the room swivel, “there was the guy with the gun, the guy on the ground, Angel and some other guy.”
“Was he one of the good-guys or one of the bad-guys do you think?” asked Pia.
“Well, I don’t know. I guess they were all bad-guys”
They both started giggling and Pia refilled their glasses with the new bottle of red.
“Yer but do we think he was one of the bad bad-guys or just another punk?”
“Well he was wearing a black Stetson” said Aniese. At this the two of them had complete hysterics and Pia rolled off the bed, clutching her sides and ended up on all fours on the newly acquired rag-rug she’d got in the Pottery Barn sale.
“Ride ‘em cowboy” she shouted, “yey ha.”
Aniese was throbbing with unsuppressed giggles. She took another toke on the joint, lay back and puffed the smoke out in little clouds like she was sending out signals. An S O S, it was almost time to send in the cavalry.
“Look,” said Pia, straining to regain her composure, “Are you sure they actually saw you.”
“I’m absolutely positive,” said Aniese, pulling herself together.
“Well maybe it’s not such a good thing that they know where you live then”
“Oh its probably gonna be fine.”
“Yes” said Pia, sucking down the last of the joint, “It’ll all be fine.”
“Good” said Aniese and she breathed a sigh of relief, “that’s OK then.”
The loud buzzing of the doorbell broke through the fug of calm that had settled on the bed.
“Fuck. What the fuck is that?”
“Its OK. Its Ok Its just the door.” Said Pia tightening the cord around her robe.
“Well who the fuck is it?”
“How the fuck should I know?”
Pia padded over to the intercom.
“Hello?” she intoned in pure Miss P.
“Did we order anything?” she said turning to Aniese.
“No,” said Aniese, now sitting bolt upright, “who is it.”
“We didn’t order anything” barked Pia, jabbing a finger at the speak button on the box, “who the hell are you?”
“What do you want?”
The door buzzed again. Aniese was standing next to Pia now and they both jumped and clung to one another.
“Tell him to fuck off” said Aniese, tears welling up.
“Fuck off” shouted Pia, “get away from here I’ve got a gun.”
“Don’t say that,” said Aniese, “they’ve got a gun too.”
The buzzer didn’t buzz again. They stood in the defining silence and then Aniese whispered:
“What shall we do?”
“I don’t know,” said Pia, “but we gotta get you outta the tri-state area.”
“They could be watching the building. Suppose they’re just waiting till I come out so they can get me?”
“I know,” said Pia, still whispering, “we’ll disguise you.”
Down stairs Billy Chen was really mad. The delivery slip definitely said East 7th and Avenue B, apartment 8. Now some crazy fucker was shouting she was gonna shoot him. And this was the third time that new fucker Raoul had fucked up this week. There wasn’t even a fucking phone number on the order. And the thing that made Billy really pissed was he couldn’t even eat the fucking pizza himself because who ever the fuck had ordered it, had ordered fucking anchovies.
Pia stepped out into the damp street that was merging with the dusk and straightened her skirt: a red PVC mini teamed with black fishnets and silver sling backs with a six inch stack. She topped this off with a black leather biker jacket and a gold lame turban. Aniese was wearing the wig. She checked the street and when she was quite sure it was safe she ushered Aniese out of the door and into the damp, dark air. Gingerly they teetered towards the subway, Aniese finding it difficult to combine the heady excesses of the red wine and super-strength weed with the six inch platforms Pia had insisted she wear. Who’d ever heard of a tranny in flats for chrissakes?
“Do you think this’ll work?” she said, adjusting the Jackie O sunglasses and pulling the cerise feather boa a little closer to her face.
“Sweetheart, have I ever failed you?”
“But I’m a woman disguised as a man dressed as a woman”
“And you look fabulous”
The potent cocktail of drink and drugs had resulted in a heavy dose of paranoia and had Aniese been under surveillance then she might have done better to walk down the street with a flashing light on her head. As it was they proceeded on their way unhindered, barely causing a cursory glance from the jaded denizens of the east village who'd pretty much seen it all before.
The End.....or the beginning.....