Star Crossed Maskers

STAR CROSSED MASKERS

A MASKING EXPERIENCE STORY

BY RITA CHANTE

Author’s Note: This is a copyrighted story centered around two maskers crossing paths in their unmasked personas while at a convention with others, and not realizing why they are so attracted to each other.

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Oscar Emilio Ernesto Gomez: a man in his mid thirties. Lives at home with his parents after an

unsuccessful marriage. Masked identity: Debbie Garcia. Double masks as fur clad Rupaul

disguise at the conference ball.

Ramona Gomez/Gonzalez: Oscars ex-wife. Feels strangely attracted to Debbie. Disguises herself as

Kim Bassinger at the conference ball.

Pablo Armada: Ramona’s new boyfriend. Hits on Debbie. Was best man at Oscar/Ramona’s wedding.

Alicia Gomez: Oscar’s nosy, meddling mother. Wants to set him up with Elena Munoz, her comadre’s

daughter.

Manny Gomez: Oscar’s father. Met Debbie in a bar and wants to have an affair with her.

Elena Munoz: Girl who always loved Oscar. Wanted to commit suicide when he married Ramona, but

wound up being the maid of honor. Masks as “Debbie’s” twin, “Deborah Anna Alvarado de

Valencia” without “Debbie’s” knowledge.

Adrian Ramirez: College classmate of Oscar’s that winds up going into business with Oscar.

PART I: DEBBIE’S NIGHT OUT

“Oscar, mijito, why do jou have to go to dat convencion? Jou will miss the cumpleanos of Elena again,” said Oscar’s mother, Alicia Gomez.

“I have to go, Mama. It is part of my work and all the vendors will be there showing off their latest creations,” responded Oscar.

“But it promises to be a great birthday party, mijito. She will be turning twenty-five and will also be celebrating getting her teaching credential and Master’s degree.”

“I’m sure it will be a fabulous party, Mama, but I need to be at this convention. It is not like I am always gone, Mama.”

“I know, mijito. Jou need to get out of de casa, but not to a convencion with a bunch of strangers. Come with me to my comadre’s house. There will be many lovely young single women there. Elena will be dere too, Oscar.”

“I am way ahead of you, Mama. You did say that it was her birthday party, didn’t you?”

“Jes, Mihito, pero….”

“Look, Mama I like Elena, she is a nice kid, but ever since my divorce from Ramona, I don’t really want to get into any serious relationships with a woman.”

“But, mijo, how is jour loving papa going to have his immortality if jou dun’t have grand children?”

“You already have eight grand children by your other four children, Mama.”

“But jou were jour papa’s first born son, Mijo. Jour esister, Maria, will carry my line, but jou have to carry jour papa’s line.”

“I have heard all of this before, Mama. If you keep this up I’ll just have to move out. After all, there is that apartment behind the store I bought with the settlement from my divorce.”

“Jou and dat estupido estore. Jou are esuch a good computer engineer. Jou make esuch good money doing dat. Why do jou espend jour money on dat estupido estore?”

“Mama, the store is not stupid. It makes for jobs. I had Elena managing it for me while she was finishing her degree. In turn, she has hired a lot of college students to work there. It is like I am providing my own work study program at the store. Several of the graduates have gone on to start up there own businesses.”

“Wit jour dinero, Mijo.” interrupted Oscar’s Mama.

“I know that, Mama. But what good is my money if I can’t invest it in my community?”

“Jou would have a lot more if jour hadn’t given dat morana Ramona an estore of her own tambien, Mihito,” complained Mrs. Gomez.

“It was hers anyway, Mama. She had built up the business. She is really good at selling party supplies. Besides, that is good for me. She does so well that she didn’t ask for any alimony.”

“Why eshould eshe. Jou gave her jour casa too. Did jou know dat she has dat dummy who was jour best man living in jour house with her?”

“I didn’t know that Pablo was living with her, but it is her house and I guess she can have anyone she wants live with her, Mama. After all, she is the one stuck with those killer house payments and huge property taxes.”

“He es working wit her in jour estore too.”

“It’s not my store anymore, Mama.”

“Where did jou get de idea dat it es okay por a womans to walk all over a man. I think it is a sin dat jou permit a woman to do dis to jou, Mijo. Jou must get dis from jour Papa.”

“Give de boy a rest, Querida,” chimed in Manny Gomez as he came in to the room and gave his son a wink with his left eye. “Looks like you estepped in it again, Mijo.”

“I guess if you want to go into an early grave without jour immortality, I will be quiet, but I feel eso bad por jou, Papa,” said Alicia Gomez.

“Dere es nothing to feel bad about, Mama. Oscar is a good boy. He has bought me a new blue troka. Eshe is a f250, big-block extended-cab Ford. Eshe drives real good. I make a good living wit her.”

“Dat troka can’t give jou grandbabies, Papa. I don’t care how many time you wax it eirther.”

“I know dat, but Oscar will do dat when de time is centered por him. For now it es bedder to wax my troka dat my eson gave to me,” declared Manny Gomez.

“Jou and dat center of espace. Who needs it?” shouted Oscar’s mama.

“Jou are de center of my espace, Querida.” responded Manny Gomez.

“Oh. Well it es Oscar we are talking about, not me. Tell him to go to mi Comadre’s party en vez de la convencion.”

“Jour Mama wants to jou to go to a party por her, mijo, but I know dat a man’s work es his work and a man has to do what he has to do as long as he sees his Mama con respeto.” said Manny Gomez with another wink of his left eye.

“Thanks, Papa,” replied Oscar.

“What did dat all mean, Papa?” asked Oscar’s mother.

“Oscar knows what it meant.”

“It better have meant dat he will be at dat party, Papa, or jou won’t be getting any for a long time.”

“So what else es nuevo, Querida.”

“Not in front of our son’s sweet little ears, Papa.”

“He is thirty-five, Querida. He already knows these things.”

Oscar could leave the room safely now. His parents were off on one of their favorite topics, which meant that his Papa wouldn’t be getting any for at least a month, even if Oscar went to the party. Once out of the room, he decided to go down to the store. It wasn’t as good as the store that he had signed over to his ex-wife, but it had an excellent location in a shopping center that also had an excellent location. The problem with the shopping center was that the off shore owners had not maintained the infra structure of the facility and one by one, businesses had left the site until it looked more deserted than occupied. When Oscar had signed his lease, he had negotiated an option to buy the entire facility. He really hadn’t given the idea a whole lot of thought. At the time he didn’t have the collateral or desire to finance such an operation. The divorce settlement and the sale of all of his stock in a dot com start-up before the March 2000 crash, had given him large amounts of capital he had to reinvest, but all he wanted was the store. Recently, the off shore owners had contacted him, again, about buying the whole site. He had looked into community development block grant moneys to see if he could match his funds with community funds to purchase and renovate the Shopping Center. It was possible because of the programs that he was already running in his store, but he needed and approved development plan and a minority contractor that also was committed to the project. As Oscar pulled into the parking lot of the shopping center, he thought he recognized the large, tall form of his old classmate, Adrian Ramirez head into Oscar’s store with several children in tow. Instead of going to the apartment behind the store, Oscar decided to see how business was doing. Upon entering the store, Oscar over heard one of the clerks alert Elena to his presence. She came down an aisle like a shot and greeted Oscar with her customary hug. “Hello Oscar. What brings you into the store?” asked Elena with surprise in her voice.

“I didn’t know I needed a reason to come into my store, Elena,” responded Oscar with a flat tone of neutrality in his voice.

“That is not what I meant, Oscar and you know it. Are you going to be coming to the reception that my mother is having for my graduation with my masters degree and teaching credentials?”

“No, I will be at the buyers convention for party supplies in Seattle.”

“That is a four day convention, Oscar and the reception for my degree is on the first day. You told me that I could go for the final three days of the convention.”

“When did I say that?”

“When you told me get the plane tickets and I told you that I had a conflict on the first day,” declared Elena.

“I think I remember that. Did you get what you needed to go?” asked Oscar as he started to look for Adrian.

“Yes, Oscar, but I’ll be there, starting the second day.”

“That’s because I will be covering the first day, Elena.”

“Won’t you be there when I’m there?” probed Elena.

“Maybe the second day, we will see,” stated Oscar as he continued to look down the aisles for Adrian.

“Is there something you wanted to see in the store, Oscar?” asked Elena with definite disappointment and lack luster in her voice.

Taking no notice of Elena’s change of inflection, Oscar asked, “Did you see a big Chicano with a bunch of kids come into the store right before I entered?”

“Yes, Oscar I think he went into the children’s craft section. His daughter’s scout troop are planning on making their own Halloween masks.”

“I think he is an old classmate of mine. I’m going to go over there to see if I can help him out,” said Oscar.

“Don’t give away the store, boss,” said Elena as she turned away and went back to checking the stock.

Oscar didn’t respond to Elena’s last remark. In fact, he really didn’t hear it as he headed off for the children’s craft section. When he arrived at his destination he saw that the adult in the group definitely was Adrian. “Adrian, where did all these little girls come from?”

“Oscar, is that you?”

“Yes it is?”

“What are you doing here? Did your wife volunteer to be a scout leader too?” asked Adrian.

“No scout troop, no kids, I’m no longer married and I own this store,” responded Oscar.

“Nice store, too bad about you and Ramona. The two of you were a lot of fun in college.”

“College is over for me and Ramona still thinks that she is the life of the party,” stated Oscar.

“Well Rena and I have four kids; two of each gender. She is off doing the soccer bit and I’m doing the scout bit, and so goes our weekend. What’s happening with you? I thought you would be the head of some dot com by now.”

“I am a chief engineer a Cisco Systems and I dumped all my stock while it was still going wild. I bought a store for Ramona as a tax shelter. Then I got some more stock as a performance bonus that also went wild right before the bust in the dot com boom. When we divorced she got the store and I got the stock. For some reason I felt the need to bail. I was so depressed by the divorce. Everyone told me that I was making a mistake and that I should have hung on to the stock. Anyway I sold it and made a killing. Then the stock went wild some more. I thought that I had blown it, but I used some of my profits to buy this store to replace the store Ramona took and put the rest in CD’s. Now the stock isn’t worth pennies on the dollar, but I have my store free and clear.

“So you are one of the lucky ones that made a killing and got out.”

“I guess that sums it up pretty well, so enough about me. Are you an architect yet, Adrian?”

“Yup, I is. Pero, nobody wants to hire a Chicano architect. They think all we are good for is to restore the Gachopin’s missions.”

“That is too bad. I remember your designs in college. They were creative and innovative.”

“You got that right.”

“So what have you been doing with your life beside having and rearing kids,” asked Oscar as one of the girls pulled on his sleeve and asked him if he worked in the store. Once he said that he did he was deluged with questions. “Just a minute girls. Let me get our child craft expert back here to help you.” Oscar went looking for Elena and told her that the girls needed her help. Elena returned to the area and took over while Adrian and Oscar continued their conversation. “Okay, Adrian, so what is happening with you?”

“Like I told you, Oscar, I couldn’t get work as an architect. It seems that none of the Gabacho firms in the valley wanted to hire a Chicano Architect. So, I had to become partners with my Dad in his fencing business. In the process I have become a general contractor and I am now subbing on some of the biggest jobs in the valley, but I still can’t get a job to design and develop on my own.”

“If I could get this shopping center for you to renovate and develop, do you think you could do it?”

“Are you serious, Oscar?”

“I have to bury my capital gains in something before the end of the year or give it all as taxes to the State Franchise Tax Board and the Internal Revenue Service.”

“I could do this project with my eyes shut, compadre. In a flash. It’s fun to dream isn’t it?”

“This dream is not that far out of reach, Adrian.” Oscar told him about his option, the off shore owner’s offer, and the community development grant money.

“Sounds like you are on the fast track, buddy. I wish something like that would fall in my lap,” said Adrian.

“I might already have, Adrian. They say that luck is the ability to maximize your opportunities.”

“I have the ability but no opportunity, Bro.” responded Adrian.

“Well you do now. You see all I need to put this package together is a partner with lots of elbow grease. That partner needs to be someone I can trust. He needs to be able to create an architectural plan and a minority general contractor with a license.”

“Are you putting me on or did I just hear that you want me as a partner to develop this shopping complex?” questioned Adrian.

“Sounds like nothing is wrong with you ears, compadre.”

“You won’t regret this movida, Oscar. This will be the best and wildest place in the valley. People will pay to come here. You know the location is fantastic and you are supposed to be on the rail extension from Silicon Center.”

“I know, Adrian. I did my homework. Have we got a deal?”

“Absolutely, Oscar. This will be a show case for me to demonstrate what I can do.”

“Of course the devil is in the details, but Robert Rubacava is my attorney and I will have him make us some paper that we can show the Redevelopment Commission.”

“How long is the price locked on this place?” asked Adrian.

“Ninety days are left, why?”

“We had better get moving as quick as possible. We have a whole design to develop and to get approved by the Planning Office, the Public Works people, the Redevelopment Office, the Community Development Board, The Fire Department, and the Building Department. Then you have to secure the money and the grant. That is going to take a lot of time and shoe leather. Once the owners get wind of the package your are putting together, they will probably try to re-negotiate the price or do it themselves.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about, Adrian, except for the money end of it. Can you do all of the other stuff in sixty days so I can do the money end in the remaining thirty?”

“If I can’t, Oscar, then maybe I should be content to be a subcontractor for the rest of my life. I’ll do it with time to spare if I have to pitch a tent on the City Hall lawn. Is there any particular theme you want to focus on?”

“I want the place to be a Mecca for all things, Native American and Chicano. I want everybody in the region to come here when they think they need to go to Mexico for something. I’m talking iron work, furniture, bookstores, bridal shops, low rider auto goods, clothing, party supplies, food, discoramas, restaurants. You name it, Adrian.”

“That would be so wild. The market is here. That is why I came to this store, dude. I know I can create that concept I have dreamed of it like since forever. I can’t wait to get home to my drafting table to start, Oscar. Be prepared for me to make a pest of myself. I’m going to need your creative energy every step of the way.”

“I can do that if you can stand my constant badgering.”

“Sounds like a match made in heaven. Hey, where are the girls?”

“I think Elena took them over to some other supplies we have for making masks. I’m sure she is showing them the least expensive way to do it, instead of the kits we have here for the dilettantes.”

“You were always one for the big words, compadre.”

“We have to think big, Adrian if we are going to pull this off.”

“You will, Oscar. One day we are going to look back on this moment as the start of a colossal and successful happening that will be nothing more than the beginning of many others yet to come.”

“Let’s hope that those are prophetic words, Adrian.”

“They are, Oscar I can feel it in my bones, but I better round up the girls before my wife, Rena gets wind that I not watching over every move they make. That Rena can be a real bone crusher.”

“Is that why you have four kids, Adrian?”

“I can see you haven’t lost your ability to find a double meaning in almost every thing, Oscar.”

“Make sure you leave your number with the register clerk.”

“I’ll do better than that, I’ll leave a stack of my cards. I remember how you can get lost on you way to the bathroom when you are working on a project.”

“You remember a lot of things, Adrian.”

“Bet on it, compadre.” said Adrian as he disappeared into the aisle with Elena and the girls.

“I think I am about to bet the whole enchilada on that great memory, Adrian,” said Oscar softly to himself.” He walked to the back of the store and went into the back storeroom. He was surprised at how little stock was in the room. He buzzed the front register and requested that Elena meet him in the stock room.

“What’s-up Oscar?” asked Elena as she came into the stock room.

“Where is all the stock?”

“It’s out on the shelves, Oscar. We can’t sell it out of here.”

“I know that, but this means that we aren’t deep in anything.”

“That’s right. I have most of the store on a thirty-day turn. We are current with all of our bills and ready to take drop shipments from the vendors at the convention.”

“You really have the place humming, Elena. What am I going to do when you start your new teaching job in the fall?”

“I have been thinking about that Oscar. Either I can recruit and train a new graduate to take my place, or I could forget my teaching career. It would only take a couple words from you, Oscar.”

“The community needs you more as a teacher than this store needs you as a manager. If you need extra money, you could always work a day on the weekend, but I want to see you in the classroom.” These were not the words that Elena was hoping for, but she knew that if Oscar didn’t find his own way to her loins, no amount of trapping and posturing would get him there in a condition that Elena would find acceptable.

“Then I will start recruiting for my replacement.”

“That will be wonderful, Elena. You are a gem. The store will miss you.”

“Will you miss me?”

“Our mothers won’t let that happen, Elena.”

“I wish they would stay out of our lives, Oscar.”

“So do I, but that is not in the cards at the moment. Look, I have some stuff to do back in the apartment. My friend Adrian, you were helping his girls, has me really thinking on something.”

“He looked like and old friend,” commented Elena.

“He is,” confirmed Oscar.

“His children were polite and organized. I hope they bring a sample of there creations. Maybe I should start a couple of classes on Saturday. That would bring in a whole new type of clientele. We could rent one of the vacant offices next door.”

“That’s a really good idea, but strictly between you and me, if things go as I think they will, we may be using the vacant offices next door as the start of a new corporation,” said Oscar.

“That sounds wonderful, Oscar. That makes me very happy for you.”

“Remember, that is a total secret.”

“Mum’s the word, Oscar, but I still want to teach those classes,” said Elena as she backed out of the stock room into the sales area of the store.

“I think on it,” called out Oscar to Elena’s retreating form.

Oscar took one more look around the stock room and exited out the backdoor and down the hallway to the apartment. Oscar called it an apartment, but it really was a loft that had been used as a sweatshop to make custom dashboard and seat covers for cars, by the previous tenants of his store. He used the place as a get away/hideaway for his masking activities. Once the solid core fire door was closed and cane bolted behind him, he was in his own private fantasy world where the only reality was his imagination. The only natural light flooded into the room through four, large, triple insulated frosted skylights. The sound proofed walls deaden all sound, in or out. No one could break in on him unexpectedly through the windowless walls. No one could hack in on his email. He had created his own firewall of cyber protection. The only women that could pester him in here were the fantasy women he masked as in this private “wanderland”. When he masked in this loft, he felt free from his virtual reality workstation at Cisco Systems, the pressure of his family and the needs of his community. Oscar could stroll, jog, and/or dash through the back streets and side allies of his imagination. In this place and space, he could explore the meaning of himself and the multi-dimensional nature of his own personal identities. He felt free and unfettered behind the masks he wore and/or created in this personal development laboratory.

His personal favorite was Debbie Garcia. She was a tall, shapely, dark tan, brunette with sparkling raven eyes and dark mahogany lips. Oscar loved to dress her in PVC, leather and latex. Sometimes he layered all three formats on her. Over these three layers he would put on full-length fir coats. To wear these outfits and masks Oscar had a powerful Carrier Heat Pump installed in the loft so he could cool the place a low as forty degrees on the hottest day of the year, if he wanted to. Since it was the middle of August, the first thing that Oscar did when he entered the loft was to turn the heat pump to “maximum cool”. He then went to his wardrobe vault and picked out the items he wanted to wear. He decided that since “Debbie” was going to walk down the local watering hole after dark, that “she” would wear “her” silk jogging suit. It was feminine and very comfortable without being to revealing, but its iridescent quality made it kind of sexy. “Debbie” loved the feel of the smooth, skin clinging feel of “her” satin under garments. “Her” corset felt so secure and supportive, but pulling on “her” panty hose was still the best part. “She” loved the way they instantly masked “her” legs from obvious masculine to really feminine. To make sure of this quality, “she” always wore a suntan, opaque pair under the sheer pair. “She” did this out of ritual, even when “she” was going to wear pants like “she” was this evening. Since gloves weren’t appropriate with this outfit, “Debbie” put “her” prosthetic gloves over “her” hands. They perfectly mimicked the look and feel of a glamorous female hand. The artificial nails were painted the same mahogany red that would be the color of “her” face, once “she” pulled on the “her” mask. Pulling on “her” gloves was close to, but not as exotic as pulling the rubber latex mask on over “her” head and topping it with make-up, tinted glasses, and a gorgeous long, straight black hair wig. Once “Debbie” was dressed, “she” lay down and took a nap until it was dark. When “she” awoke, “Debbie” dressed the outfit up with a pair of conservative, black leather, three-inch pumps, left the loft and headed to the corner bar.

Oscar knew that his “Debbie” persona was almost undetectable as a mask and latex gloves, but he wanted to see how far he could go without detection. The only flaw in the disguise was immediately around the eyes, but he had taken the time to adhere the latex to his skin and used make-up to match his own skin to the mask. The tinted glasses added to the illusion. Even in the silk jogging suit, the tall elegant glamorous Chicana that drifted quietly into the Interlude, made most of the men in the place make a double take. As “Debbie” let “her” eyes become accustomed to the mellow light of the Interlude, “she” moved in the direction of a couple empty stools at the rear of the bar. The heads of the majority of the males in the place moved as one while tracing and memorizing every move of “Debbie’s, you can look, but don’t touch walk”. As “Debbie” positioned “her” long shapely legs for maximum effect while perching on the stool, the barkeep moseyed in “her” general direction and said, “What can I get you, Tuuts?”

“I would like a strawberry margarita, Jack,” responded Oscar as “Debbie” in her warm and round contralto voice.

Jack made a huge icy schooner full of the pungent rose colored liquid and served it to “Debbie”. Our girl puckered her full, lush, soft, mahogany lips around the large red straw the protruded out of the top of the schooner, and took a long drag of Jacks concoction. “This purrrrfect, Jack. You know the way to a girls heart, but I didn’t order the schooner.”

“Don’t worry about it, Tuuts. The guys down the bar almost killed themselves to be the one that bought this drink.”

“Who one the contest, Jack?”

“An old fart, but neat guy by the name of Manny Gomez.” said Jack in his low level “confidential voice”.

“Manny Gomez?” blurted out “Debbie” like the cold of the fruity drink had caught in “her” throat.

“Yeah. He is a regular in here. I can always tell when he is getting a rough time at home. It happens about once a week. Don’t worry, Tuuts, he is one of the harmless ones. His wife has him so beaten down that he has to look up to see the brass rail at the foot of the bar,” confided the bartender. “You could do him a big favor by dropping a kind word on him, if you will.”

“I don’t know, Jack,” said “Debbie” as she took another long drag on the refreshing drink. What if Oscar’s father hit on “Debbie” or worst yet, recognized “Debbie’s” true identity?

“Help me out here, Tuuts. If the other guys think that Manny got lucky, it will be like selling a winning Lotto ticket for me. They will pack the place just to talk about it for weeks in hopes of a return engagement.”

“Gee, Jack, I don’t know. I…”

“Look Tuuts, I’m not asking you to do anything except talk to this guy and leave the bar with him. All you’ll have to do is pour him into a cab,” stated Jack as he gathered up some empty classes from former patrons.

“Let me think about it, Jack. I don’t want the guys to think…”

“They already think that you are a brick house, Tuuts.”

“That is terrible thing to say, Jack.”

“You weren’t this shy last night, Tuuts.”

“Last night? I wasn’t in here last night,” stated “Debbie” as “she” puzzled over Jack’s comment.

“If it wasn’t, you Tuuts, it must have been your twin sister. You made every guy in here wish for their younger days and you didn’t hold nothing back.”

As Jack moved towards the other end of the bar, “Debbie” called after him and said, “it must have been my sister. It wasn’t me.”

“Whatever you say, Tuuts. She knew she was built and laid it all out,” replied Jack the bartender.

“Debbie” pondered who could be “her” twin. It would fun to meet this person and go somewhere as twins. “She” took another drag on “her” wonderful drink and reached for the salsa and chips that Jack had placed on the bar. Jack casually work his way back down the bar so it wouldn’t look like he was carrying on an extended conversation with the raven hair beauty at the back end of the bar. “Now that I think on it, Tuuts, your sister was dressed a lot hotter than you are. She knew she was built and really knew how to use it. I don’t think a guy in here went home with dry pants. That’s why the crowd is so large tonight,” admitted Jack.

“How do you know this Manny is so harmless?” asked Oscar as “Debbie”.

“I tell you that Manny’s wife has shrunk his balls to the point that he doesn’t even remember what sex is. Think of it as charity work,” suggested Jack as he moved off down the bar to fill a couple pitchers of beer.

When Jack returned to “Debbie’s” end of the bar, “she” asked Jack, “This Manny Gomez actually told you all that stuff about his wife?”

“Not in so many words, but he is a long time patron, and I’ve watched him melt into a lump with less substance than a road apple. Look I’ll stand for some snacks and the cab fare for both of you if you do it,” offered Jack as he started to work his way down to Manny’s end of the bar. Behind “Debbie’s” mask, Oscar considered his options. If there really were a twin out there, maybe his father would conclude that “Debbie” was the same girl as last night, just in a different outfit and mood. Jack had thought so. In addition, the lights of the Interlude were real dim, and this was a chance to get to know his father in a new light. He decided that if all they did was talk and leave for the cab ride, the chance of discovery was very small. The activity would also prove the quality of Oscar’s disguise as “Debbie”.

“Do you want me to freshen that schooner for ya, Tuuts? It’s on me.”

“Thanks, Jack. I’ve decided that you can tell Manny Gomez that I would enjoy his company for a while.”

“Take good care of him, Tuuts. You might be all he gets for the next year,” stated Jack as he refilled Debbie’s schooner of strawberry margarita.

“I hear you, Jack,” replied “Debbie”. Jack gave her a broad grin and strolled off in Manny’s direction like a homing pigeon on a mission. “Debbie” was pretty sure that Jack had delivered her sentiments by the cheer and cat calling that arose from Manny’s end of the bar. However, Manny didn’t arise immediately. He seemed to be getting some last minute consultation on the fine art of seduction from his cronies at the other end of the bar. With a big drag on his mug of beer, Manny rose to his feet and in a smooth, confident strut that Oscar had never seen before, Manny approached the vacant stool next to “Debbie”.

“Jack tells me dat jou wanted to talk to me about something, Little Lady. My name es Manny Gomez. What can I do por jou?”

“It’s what I can do for you,” said “Debbie” in “her” most erotic voice.

“Look, Lady, it’s been eso long since I’ve talked to a looker like jou dat I dun’t even know what jou could do por me.”

“Why don’t you sit down for starters and order me a snack on Jack?”

“I can do dat. De restaurante aqui tiene una quesadilla de chile colorado que es muy sabroso. Do jou want a couple of dose?”

“You are the boss, Manny.”

“Mi esposa use to esay dat about thirty years ago, pero horita, eshe es de patrona de la casa. Oyes, Joaguin, we would like esome of jour quesadillas,” called out Manny Gomez to Jack the bartender.

“Already on the way, Manny,” stated Jack.

“I guess he know what I like.”

“So you are married?” asked “Debbie” like she really wanted to know.

“Yup. I’m what jou might call a stuck in de ground Mexican.”

“What does that mean?” probed “Debbie”.

“It means dat I have a couple of car payments, a house payment, a big phone bill, credit card payments, kids, grand kids, and una esposa dat uses sex like she is a whip. Although de whip doesn’t get used as much as it used to.”

“Is it all that bad, Honey,” said “Debbie” sympathetically.

“It’s worse dan dat, Querida.”

“Why don’t you call me Debbie, Manny”?

“I always liked dat name. I had una novia wit dat nombre a long time ago. Damn, I wish I could have jou meet my boy, Oscar. He doesn’t get out much since his divorce. Mi esposa treats like he has only twelve years.

“Why does she do that?”

“I guess it make her feel jounger again,” observed Manny Gomez.

“How does your boy feel about it?” asked Oscar as “Debbie”.

“He es a lot like me, Senorita. He has respeto por womens and he es pretty much machista.”

“Isn’t it good for men to be machista?” inquired “Debbie”.

“It es esometimes, pero I hate it de way my wife makes it and de way de whip gets put in de closet every time I mention dat eshe may be cutting de balls off of our muchacho.”

“Tell me more about this boy,” probed Oscar from behind “Debbie’s” mask.

“My boy Oscar, he es a hard worker. He has una chansa at a great girl in Elena Munoz, but he doesn’t see it. Eshe es in love wit him big time, but he es too scared of marriage with womans to respond to it.”

“Have you talked with your boy about this,” asked Oscar/Debbie.

“No, I think he has to find his own way. I would love him to meet jou. I know dat jou could break his fear of womans. I think dat maybe if his mother would back off a little, the boy could figure out his own needs. I will bet that he could probably meet jour desire a lot better dan I could,” confessed Manny.

“I’m with the man I want to be with right now,” said Oscar behind “Debbie’s” sexy disguise. Even in the dim light, there was no denying that “Debbie’s” the last comment had definitely awakened Manny’s male organ. His father was a much wiser man than he had realized. Maybe he should give Elena a second look, but then there was the shopping Center’s development to think about.

“That is a beautiful song jou are playing Miss, but as much as I have dreamed of dis moment, I’d be little more dan a long dribble and a missed shot,” confessed Manny Gomez.

“Is that a basketball metaphor?” asked “Debbie”.

“It’s not a pastry, Miss. I was talking about not knowing how to put de ball through de hoop.”

“I had brothers, Manny. I know what your are talking about.”

“You are a lot sweeter tonight dan jou were last night, Little Lady.”

“Last night was a little hazy. Was I with you, Manny?”

“No, jou weren’t. None of us could even get close. Tonight somehow jou are familiar to me,” observed Oscar’s father.

“That explains the difference in the mood, Manny. You are a special guy and I don’t want you to forget it. I’ll bet there is enough fire left in your heart to light a woman’s world if you decide to not to take no for an answer,” declared “Debbie” as Jack brought them their quesadillas.

“I would love to take de time to eat dese quesadillas with jou Senorita, but I have a woman in my house dat has said no once too often,” proclaimed Manny with a new resolve.

“That’s the spirit, Manny,” said Oscar as he realized that “Debbie” might be encouraging his father to rape his mother. Manny downed his beer planted a kiss on “Debbie” and started to get off of his barstool.

As Manny got his feet fully planted on the floor and stood tall and pulled up on his belt like a boxer about to go into a championship bout, he said, “Thanks, Senorita Debbie. I had better take a couple of these quesadillas with me for estrength.”

“Take the whole plate, Manny. Jack can get me some more. Do you want me to walk with you to the door?”

“That would be wonderful, but de guys might get de wrong impression about jou, Senorita Debbie. Jou stay right where jou are. I have esome business to attend to and I don’t want to blur my focus.” Oscar beaned with pride for his dad behind “Debbie’s” face.

“You are a great man, Manny Gomez. Your wife doesn’t appreciate how special you are,” proclaimed “Debbie”.

“You got dat right, Debbie,” announced Manny Gomez with a pivot on his heel and wink of his left eye. With that, Manny strode out of the bar like an elegant twelve point bull elk that had just blown his entire harem. He didn’t even give a glance to his cronies at the other end of the bar.

“What the hell did you say to Manny, Tuuts?” asked Jack as he moved back to “Debbie’s” end of the bar.

“Not much, Jack.”

“He looked a foot taller than when he came in here tonight.”

“Something was taller when he left here,” joked “Debbie”.

“He went out here like you shoved a rocket into his pants.”

“The rocket you saw was all Manny’s own doing, Jack.” Oscar as “Debbie” finished the plate of fabulous chile colorado quesadillas, downed the last of “her” strawberry margarita and left the bar, knowing that Manny was going to be asked by his cronies from the Interlude, where he met the black hair bomb-shell later in the evening. “Debbie” felt good about what “she” had been able to do for Oscar’s father. “She” walked back to the loft and became Oscar once again. When he quietly stole into his room at his parent’s house, he could hear his mother moaning in fulfillment from his parent’s room. He wondered if he could get Elena Munoz to make sounds like that.

PART II: THE DEBBIE/DEBORAH ADVENTURE

“Are you whistling, Mama?” asked Oscar as he came into the kitchen the following morning.

“I just heard a cute tune on de radio, mijo.”

“But the radio isn’t playing, Mama.”

“She must have broke just now, Mijo.”

“Where’s Papa. I wanted to say good bye before I went off to work.”

“Jou leave jour Papa alone, Oscar. Somebody drugged him at the sin hole he goes to and he came home like a mad man last night. He es very sick and I am going to have to spend lots of time to fix him.”

“Is this his breakfast tray, Mama?” asked Oscar with a wink of his left eye.

“Jes it is, Mijo.”

“Is Papa that sick, Mama?” asked Oscar while holding back his laughter.

“Jou are too joung to understand dese tings, Mijo,” responded Alicia Gomez like she was talking to a ten year old.

“I see, Mama.”

“No jou don’t esee nothing. Jou can’t even esee a good womans when eshe es lookin’ at jou,” instructed His mother.

“Now what does that mean, Mama?”

“I know what I know, Mijo. Jou bedder go off to jour job eso I can help jour Papa get up again.”

“Was he up already, Mama?” asked Oscar with yet another wink.

“Jou had bedder eshow esome respeto, Oscar Emilio Ernesto Gomez,” declared his mother as she picked up the loaded tray and headed out of the kitchen. Oscar knew when he heard his entire name that the wall to prevent any further communication was in place until his mother decided to take it down. Still, he enjoyed the fact that he hadn’t seen that breakfast tray out of the cupboard for about fifteen years. His father must have planted a deep seed to get the “good plates” and the tray out of the cupboard.

***********

“Mijo?”

“Hola, Papa. What prompts this call?”

“Does a Papa have to have a reason to call his oldest eson?”

“I think this is only the third time you have called me at work, Papa, and the first two times was to tell that some one had died. Oh, my god, Papa is Mama all right? Is her herat okay? She was acting very strange this morning.”

“Jour Mama es just fine, Mijo. I got her heart working just fine. In fact I wuld esay dat eshe es about as fine as eshe has been in about ten years,” observed Manny Gomez.

“So what’s up, Papa?”

“I am, Mijo, but dat es not why I called jou.”

“Okay, so why did you call me, Papa?”

“I would like us to estep out together to de Interlude tonight.”

“Why, Papa?”

“It’s all jou can eat crab night and dere es dis esweet senorita dat comes in dere and I would like jou to meet her.”

“Are you trying to fix me up with a date, Papa?”

“No way, Mijo.”

“Mama is always doing that and I need my space.”

“I know how it es to need espace. It’s just dat dis embra es just what jou need to get away from jour Mama’s apron ropes. Eshe could take on jour Mama and make jour life a paradise, Mijo.”

“How do you know this, Papa?”

“Because if I was jour age I would have dumped jour Mama por dis womans. Eshe has a very especial way with de right hombre,” declared Manny Gomez.

“I’ll go with you to the Interlude, tonight, Papa, but you have to promise to be good. The last time I went with you, I had to carry you home.”

“I don’t remember jou doing dat, Mijo.”

“Of course you don’t, Papa. You were out like a light with the power turned off.” Oscar knew that he was safe regarding meeting “Debbie” since he would be there as himself, “Debbie” couldn’t be there too. For the moment he had forgotten about the mystery woman who Jack had called “Debbie’s” twin.

“Power or no, Mijo, I’ll meet jou dere at about six-thirty. Tonight dey have fresh crab for happy hour snacks. I just love tacos de mariscos.”

“See you then, Papa,” confirmed Oscar. He didn’t give his meeting with his father another thought during the rest of his workday. He had so many things on his plate as he prepared to take the next few days off to go to Seattle for the party supplies buyer’s conference. All of is spare thought time was taken up with making sure that he had all the things he needed to be “Debbie” for the conference. He also wanted to have a really creative costume for the conference’s Magician’s Masked Ball. He and his former wife, Ramona, had always entered the spectacular costume contest, but had never won it. Since this year the contest was being held in the cool weather of Seattle, the costumes promised to be elaborate.

At quarter to six Oscar’s phone rang. He thought it might be his father with a change in plans. Instead it was Elena Munoz. “Hi Oscar. Can you stop by the store on your way home tonight? I need some help ordering the preconference Halloween specials.”

“Does it have to be tonight, Miss Munoz? I am already late for a previous engagement.”

“Oscar, it is your store. You need to be more involved in its day-to-day activity,” declared Elena Munoz.

“Look, maybe I can get by tomorrow before coming into the corporation. Is seven in the morning too early?”

“Not if you are on time, Oscar. What is happening tonight that you can’t spare a few minutes?”

“I promised my father that I would meet him for Crab Night at the Interlude.”

“I guess your male bonding rituals are more important to you than your business,” stated Elena Munoz. “I guess I will have Rita close tonight. You might want to come by and pick-up the cash receipts. I will see you in the morning.” Before Oscar could respond, Elena hung-up. Oscar felt that Elena used the store to meet with him more than was necessary. He had told her to get a life on several occasions, especially after her suicide attempt prior to his marriage to Ramona. After Elena’s phone call he had to deal with a crisis on the night shift production line. It was almost seven o’clock when Oscar finally arrived at the Interlude.

“Sorry I’m late, Papa. I hope I didn’t miss last call for happy hour.”

“No loss, Mijo. I took care of the last call and eshe isn’t here jet,” informed Manny Gomez.

“Is Mama coming?”

“No, Mijo. Jour Mama es over at her sister’s to play cards. I’m out on my own tonight.

“Then who is the she you are referring to, Papa?” asked Oscar.

“Jou will know her when jou esee her, Mijo.”

“It better not be my ex-wife, Papa.”

“Don’t be a pendejo, Mijo. I wouldn’t do that to jou,” declared Manny Gomez.

“I already ordered us a couple pitchers of beer to get the happy hour prices, mijo. I also saved us a couple of large plates of crab and sour dough bread. This is going to be a feast.”

“It brings back a lot of memories, Papa,” said Oscar as he pulled apart a loaf of bread and reached for a cracked crab body.

“Do jou remember when I worked on de docks and jou used to bring me lunch, Mijo?” asked Manny Gomez.

“Yes, Papa. Mama would give me some fresh chiles, onions, lemons and a container of salsa. On my way to the docks I would pick-up a couple of loaves of sour dough that the baker sold real cheap because they were cripples and then I would walk by the crab pots and get the crabs with missing legs or broken shells. I remember eating until I thought I would burst.”

“Dose were good times, Mijo. I miss dem.”

“So do I, Papa. That’s why I’m here tonight. So where is this mystery lady?”

“I’m not her appointment esecretary, Mijo, but eshe comes in between eseven and eight, if eshe comes at all. I don’t really care if eshe comes on crab night, but it would be fun since jou are here.”

“Do you know this woman well, Papa?”

“Not really. I have only eseen her a few times and last night was de first time I talked to her. Jack eset it up esince I had won de pool for de evening.

“What pool was that, Papa?”

“We had a bet about what time de lady I’m talking about would eshow up. I had de time closest to de time eshe came in de place.”

“Is there a bet on tonight?”

“Oh sure. Dere es always esome kind of bet going on.”

“What is it on tonight?”

“Whether jou will get de lady to go home wit jou or not.”

“What if she doesn’t show at all?” asked Oscar.

“Den we will just roll all de moneys into a pot for esome other night, Mijo. But not to worry, de bet, eshe es going to be on tonight. I have a feeling in my bones,” proclaimed Manny Gomez. “All de guys don’t think you could escore with a bar estool, eso I got really long odds. Jou have a chansa to make me a rich man, Mijo.”

Oscar was just about to tell his father that there was no chance of anything going down at the Interlude other than the crab and beer, when a hush fell over the bar and “Debbie’s twin” walked into the bar. She was spectacular and dressed to kill. She had the same long black hair and face as Oscar when he was “Debbie”, but his body would never looked as good as this “Debbie’s” body did. This creature was as sexy as “Debbie” had been elegant. Her walk was an invitation to erotic adventure, if you dared to think about it. This female was the ultimate prick tease; every adolescent male fantasy ever imagined, all rolled into one vivacious maelstrom of sex. She navigated easily in what had to be at least eight-inch heels with four-inch platforms. Her PVC clad, waspish waist was supported by a rotating bulbous ass and topped by humongous tits. Not only was she built like a brick shit house, she knew how to display every bump and curve to maximum effect. She knew what she had and how to use it. Her long, black, PVC coat advertised that what you could see was only the smallest taste of what was available beneath it.

“What did I tell jou, Mijo? Eshe es here and eshe es in her killer mode.”

“What mode is that, Papa?”

“Anoche, eshe was in one of her esoft moods. Este noche eshe looks like a ball crusher. I meet her in my dreams every night jour Mama has frozen me in our bed. Jou gots jour work cut out por jou, Mijo, if jou are going to escore and make me rich este noche.”

Trying not to stare at the beautiful fantasy creature that was gliding towards their end of the bar, Oscar said, “forget the bet Papa. Let’s just enjoy the bread, crab and beer.”

“Es dere esomething about jou dat jou are not telling me, Mijo?”

“What are you saying now, Papa?

“Jou don’t date. Jou work all de time. Jou got esome good-looking women working por jou. Jou live at home. Jou wants to eat crabs and drink beer when de most fabulous creature I have ever eseen es walking toward us. What does all dat add up to jou, Mijo?”

“It adds up to I’m hungry and tired, Papa.”

“Do jou estill like girls, Oscar?”

“Yes, Papa. I always have.”

“Do jou like girls better dan boys?”

“What are we talking about here, Papa?”

“Jour Mama hasn’t made jou into an esissy boy has eshe?”

“No, Papa. You have nothing to fear on that front,” replied Oscar, sensing the sadness in his father’s voice.

“Jou have me worried, Mijo.”

“Would you feel better if I try to make a pass at this ball crushing female?” asked Oscar Gomez.

“I would feel bedder if eshe left with you from here tonight.” responded Manny with a smile of anticipation on his face.

“Okay, Papa, I’ll give it my best shot, but I don’t think my odds are very good. She could have any one of fifty men in here. Look at them falling all over themselves to talk to her. She isn’t just a ball crusher, she is also a clown maker.”

“Jou are made of good estuff, mijo. Eshe talked to me last night. I’ll duke you into her tonight.”

“If I’m going to do this foolish thing, Papa, let me do it all on my own. I don’t need your help to crash and burn.”

“Jou won’t crash, Mijo, eshe is headed right for us.”

“Good evening, Manny,” said the creature in a sultry, creamy, sex dripping voice.

“Is this stud muffin the son you were telling me about? He looks a lot more like an older brother?”

“He esure es my boy, Senorita Debbie,” confirmed Manny Gomez with pride while glowing in the compliment she passed his way. Oh brother thought Oscar to himself. My father would lick the bottom of her boots if she asked him.

“What does a girl have to do to get a stool between the two best looking men in this place?”

“Do something, Mijo,” commanded Manny Gomez.

Without a sound, Oscar moved to the empty stool next to him, leaving his stool vacant. Who was this girl? The beautiful voluptuous female gracefully perched herself between them while making sure that her femininity made assertive contact with each of their bodies. Oscar was almost sure that the “female” was in disguise, unless she was the real thing that his “Debbie” disguise was modeled after. If she was the model, she was his dream girl incarnate. On the other hand, she was almost too good to be real. “My father called you by name, but failed to introduce us in his enthusiasm to have you sit here. Please allow me to introduce myself,” proposed Oscar in his politest tone. “My name is Oscar Emilio Ernesto Gomez. It is a pleasure meeting you, Senorita…?”

“It’s Deborah Anna Alvarado de Valencia at your service and I assure you that the pleasure is all mine. Your sweet brother here has told me so much about you. I can see by your manner why he is so proud of you.”

“I’m his Papa, Debbie, not his brother,” said Manny with a chuckle.

“You can’t fool me, Manny. I have a niece that is older than me and she loves calling me Auntie. Your elder brother, Oscar is so lucky to have a sweet younger brother like you.”

Oscar could see that his Mother would be in for another exciting night when Manny got home, if he didn’t hemorrhage in his pants on the way. The creature between them knew every little move to turn on and rev up a man’s motor. Oscar was taking in each and every subtle nuance and putting it into his file on how to make his behavior as “Debbie” more seductive. She twinkled as Jack brought out a huge platter of cracked crab and fresh loaves of bread that he had obviously saved for her entrance.

“Jack is this all for little me?” asked Deborah in her demur seductive mode.

“There is more if you need it Tuuts.” responded Jack. By this response, Oscar surmised that Jack believed as Manny did, that this creature and his “Debbie” were on and the same. “Do you guys need your pitchers refilled?”

“Gracias, Joaquin. We are fine at de moment,” said Manny Gomez. Oscar could feel the heated stares of the other single male patrons as they analyzed and betted on the activities at his end of the bar. Then his attention focused upon the delicate way Deborah’s PVC clad hands, masterfully manipulated the morsels of crab that she placed between her full soft mahogany colored lips. He could feels himself turn beet red when she caught him watching her.

“Haven’t you ever seen a girl eat crab before?” she asked with enjoyment at his embarrassment.

“I…I…well…well you see…I…,” stumbled and stammered Oscar as his interior dialogue told him that if he was trying to impress her with his dazzling intellect he was doing the worse job possible.

“Has the crab stolen your tongue Oscar?” joked Deborah as she reached for her beer. Oscar just continued to blush and tried to smile without crying. Manny relieved the situation by telling Deborah about the bet. “Is there a bet on that I go home with you instead Manny? At least you know how to talk to a lady.”

“No, we didn’t make that bet.”

“Too bad, because Oscar doesn’t seem to have your charm.”

“He has me worried too, Debbie. We were just talking about that when you came in.”

“Thanks for backing me up, Papa. Why don’t you and Deborah Anne just sit here and enjoy the evening. I have to go to the store and pick up the day’s receipts anyways.”

“But what about the bet, Mijo.”

“You lose, Papa, and so do you, Deborah Anne. Thanks for a fun night!” exclaimed Oscar as he got up to leave.”

Deborah put her hand on his thigh to hold in on the stool and succeeded in knocking Oscar off of it. Without a word and to the mirth of the entire bar, Oscar picked himself up off the floor and strode out of the door.

“I think we blew that one, Debbie,” said Manny as he reached into his pocket to pay up his loses.”

“Let me help you with that, Manny. I am as much to blame for this fiasco as anyone. I would give almost anything to replay this evening without pushing him off the stool or assaulting your son’s dignity. He seems very nice. A real sensitive guy. I would like to know him better.”

“He moves slow if you chase after him and the guys in the bar see it, I’ll win my bet anyway,” said Manny.

“Consider it done, Manny, dear,” stated Deborah as she got up from her stool kissed Manny on the cheek and ran as best as she could in her platform boots out of the bar and into the parking lot after Oscar’s retreating form. She called out to Oscar to wait for her. At first he didn’t stop. But her second call did the trick and he turned and waited for her. She closed the gap between them quickly and through her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately. “Take me with you Oscar. Don’t worry about the kiss. It was for the guys in the bar.”

“Where is your car?” asked Oscar in a business like fashion.

“We can come back for it later. Come on we can get those store receipts, make the night drop and take a drive. What do you say?”

“Okay, but no funny business until I know what is really going on.”

“What does that mean, Oscar?”

“Do you want to take that ride or not?”

“I do,” said Deborah Anne.

“Then let’s go,” commanded Oscar.

“Which one is your car?” asked Deborah Anne.

“You know which one it is already. Stop with the games and get into it.”

“How would I know which one is your car?” questioned Deborah Anne.

“I guess you want to stand here and lose my father’s bet anyway.”

“Oscar, just tell me which car is yours so we can go.”

“I’m not moving until you pick out my car,” said Oscar.

“How can I pick it out when I don’t know which one it is?” inquired Deborah Anne.

“Guess,” suggested Oscar.

“That’s dumb,” countered Deborah Anne.

“Then go back to the bar or go home in your own car. I’m not moving,” declared Oscar Gomez.

“I thought you had to go to your store, Oscar.”

“I have plenty of time, Miss Alvarado de Valencia.”

Meanwhile, back in the bar a new bet was built around whether they would leave in the same car or not. Manny was staying clear of this bet. Both Deborah and Oscar knew that if she picked out his car, a major portion of “Deborah’s” cover was blown. If she didn’t, Manny was going to be paying off his debt for weeks. They had managed to create a three way game of “Chicken”. Deborah decided to call what she thought was Oscar’s bluff and started back towards the bar. He probably thinks I heading towards he car, thought Deborah as she spotted it in the lot. To break the bluff, Manny headed out of the bar towards Oscar’s car and told her to follow him. Now Oscar won’t know if she knew where the car was or if his father told her where it was. Deborah walked up to Oscar’s car and got in through the door Manny was holding open for her, as Oscar walked to the other side and opened his door and got into the car.

“Now the two of jou take dat drive and work esomethings out together,” advised Manny as Oscar started the car. Back in the bar there was an argument if the bets that were down were still good because of Manny’s action. At this point Manny didn’t care if he won anything, as long as the couple was together and he didn’t owe anything. It was time for Manny Gomez to go home and make love to his wife.

On the way to make the pick-up at the store, Oscar finally broke the silence with the question, “Before we can go any farther tonight I have a couple of questions for you Deborah.”

“What are they, Oscar?”

“Will you give me straight answers?”

“Yes, Oscar.”

“Are you wearing a disguise?”

“Yes I am Oscar.

“Are you my ex-wife?”

“No, Oscar.”

“Do I know your real persona?”

“Yes, Oscar.”

“Then who are you?”

“You said a couple of questions and I have already answered four of them truthfully. Before I answer anymore, I think I should have a couple of question of my own answered,” stated Deborah Anne

“Fair enough. Fire away.”

“Same rules about truthfulness, Oscar.”

“That’s a given, Deborah.”

“Would you stay with me if I was your ex-wife?”

“Absolutely not and I’m taking you at your word that you aren’t.”

“I swear that I am not your ex-wife Oscar. You have nothing to fear on that account.”

“So what are your other questions?”

“That makes five for you and one question for me, Oscar. I think I’ll save my other four for later.”

“Wait a minute. You are charging me for questions about the basis for our questions. That is not fair.”

“Fair enough. That still leaves me two questions less than you and I don’t think you should ask anymore personal question of me until I ask my two of you.”

“This is a ‘rule’ question and not a ‘personal’ question, so I don’t want to be charged for a question.”

“Agreed, Oscar.”

“Can we ask each other questions as long as they are not personal?”

“I think we can ask whatever we want as long as we don’t have to answer if we don’t want, but if we demand a truthful answer and it is personal, then they count.”

“If I were to ask you if you are a blonde and you don’t answer or decline to answer, it doesn’t count?” asked Oscar while trying to seek clarification of the ground rules.

“Right,” responded Deborah.

“But if I demand a truthful answer, and you consider it personal, it counts?”

“Right again, Oscar.”

“Interesting. I know one thing from that, Deborah.”

“What’s that, Oscar?”

“You are not some bimbo who dropped out of high school.”

“Right again and I won’t count that one,” said Deborah with a laugh.

“Well neither am I, but I’m sure my father has told you all that,” stated Oscar as he pulled up to the store.”

“You are batting a thousand so far. Do you want me to come into the store with you?” asked Deborah.

“That question didn’t count.”

“Right,” confirmed Deborah.

“I thought so. I think I have the hang of this game. Do whatever you want. Stay in the car or come into the store. It is cool with me either way, Deborah.” She got out of the car and went with Oscar into the store. He introduced Deborah to the staff that was starting to close the store. Martina helped him count out the day’s receipts. Everything balanced and Oscar filled out the deposit slip and stuffed the locked night drop bag. He then put the cash kept for change the following morning in the floor safe. By this time everyone was ready to leave and Oscar turned out the lights, turned on the alarms and locked the doors. They all got into their cars and headed off in their habitual directions. Oscar drove the three blocks to the night drop and made his deposit. “Is it time for your two questions yet, Deborah?”

“Not yet, but don’t worry I’ll ask them, Oscar.”

“Would you like to take a ride out to the beach, Deborah?”

“That would be nice, but it might be a little chilly.”

“I have some extra jackets and coats in the trunk,” informed Oscar.

“Then we could take a walk along the sea wall. I don’t think that I could navigate the surf and sand in these platform boots,” declared Deborah.

“Sounds like a plan, Deborah.” After they had been driving for a few minutes, Deborah stated that she wanted to use one of her questions. “Go ahead and fire away,” said Oscar.

“Remember the rules, Oscar.”

“You got it, Deborah.”

“Are you in love with anyone at the present moment in the sense of an attachment with the opposite sex?”

“No,” replied Oscar without a moment’s hesitation. Deborah sat in stunned silence deciding if she should waste another question along this line of thought. Instead Oscar stated, “That was the honest truth, Deborah. I’m sorry if it was the wrong answer.”

“I’m sure you are being truthful, Oscar. It just wasn’t the answer expecting,” countered Deborah.”

“I would ask you what that meant, but I can’t ask another question at the moment.”

“Thank you for following the rules. I heard that you were a gentleman and a man of your word.”

“I wish I could ask who told you that,” stated Oscar.

“You are a bag full of questions, Oscar.”

“You are a package full of mystery, Deborah.”

“Good. A little mystery never hurt anyone.” They rode the rest of the way to the beach in silence. Once they arrived, Oscar jumped out of the car and retrieved his spare warm clothing from the trunk of his car. Deborah chose to wear his wool, full-length, and hooded parka. Oscar put on his leather trench coat.

“This parka is really cozy, Oscar.”

“I’m glad you like it, Deborah.” They strolled along the sea wall in silence. They drank the moist sea air and listened to the crashing surf on the beach below. “This is really romantic, Oscar. I wouldn’t have thought this is what you would have done with a girl you met in a bar.”

“I wasn’t in that bar by accident, Deborah. My father had me meet him there in hopes that you would come by.”

“So this was all arranged?”

“Is that one of your questions?”

“Not unless the answer is personal.”

“Oh. Well it was not all arranged, except for me being there. I thought that as an overall thing, that it was pretty spontaneous.”

“I’ll agree with that, but we had better start back towards the car. Even with this parka, I am beginning to feel the bite of that fog laden sea breeze.”

“No problem. I don’t mean to be a stick in the mud, but I have a really early day tomorrow. I have to meet with my manager before I head out to the airport and I also have to pack for a conference I have to attend.”

“Your dad said something about a Party supplies exhibition in Seattle. Is that the conference you are referring to?” inquired Deborah Alvarado de Valencia.

“That’s right. When it comes to me, I guess my Dad is a real big mouth.”

“I think he is sweet.”

“That is easy for you to say, Deborah.”

“I’m in the party supply business too,” volunteered Deborah. “I was planning to go to that conference as well. Maybe I’ll see you there.”

“Anything is possible, after all, I thought we were kaput in the parking lot back at the Interlude.” Their trip back to the bar was really quiet. Oscar kept wondering how he had missed this beauty at previous conferences. Deborah had Oscar drop her off in front of the bar. Instead of walking towards a car she went into the bar. Foiled again thought Oscar to himself. He had hoped that if he recognized her car that he would know who was behind the mask. When Oscar finally arrived at his parent’s house all was still quiet. His mother must still have been at her sisters and His father was with Deborah at the Interlude. At least the peace and quiet gave him time to pack all of his gear without the fear of discovery. “Debbie’s” clothes took up most of his two suitcases. When he traveled as himself, he only needed a small carry on to get him through three or four days on the road. If he took his suit bag, he could last about ten days on the road. Oscar lay down on his bed to rest, but couldn’t fall asleep. He kept seeing Deborah Valencia cross before his eyes. This woman of mystery was everything he hoped he was when he was “Debbie”. It was like she had stolen his alternate identity and did it better than him. If it was a mask, then who was behind that mask? She must have known him as “Debbie”. She had too many of his moves down for it to be just a coincidence. Maybe it was a mistress of his father’s that had discovered Oscar’s secret and was using it on him and his father as some kind of perverted, incest fantasy. Was Deborah having an affair with his father and using him as a cover in case his mother found out? He drifted off into a troubled sleep. Oscar alternately dreamed of being “Debbie” and having an affair with Deborah as himself. But the full color dream that made him have a nocturnal emission was the one where “Debbie” had a lesbian affair with Deborah. It was a good thing he was getting away for a few days. The stress of his three-way life was getting to him. Adventure was one thing; terror of living on the razor’s edge was quite another thing.

In his sweat filled bed he began an analysis of where he was and where he needed to go. After some consideration of the alternatives, he decided that when he came back from Seattle, he would move full-time into the loft behind the store and get the shopping plaza project into full swing. That would keep him so busy, he would not have the time to think about or be Deborah or worry about being Debbie. He also decided that he would have to balance and reconcile the following paradox: when he was Oscar he masked his true feelings, but presented his true identity. On the other hand when he was “Debbie” the mask liberated his feelings, but masked his identity. Conference and the travel time to and from the conference would be a good place examine and balance his dual masking life and bring it to some logical conclusion.

PART III: THE DEBBIE/DEBORAH CRISSCROSS

Seattle’s Roosevelt Hotel was a stuffy old brownstone masonry structure built in the 1930’s. Even though it was twelve stories tall, it was dwarfed by Seattle’s twenty-first century skyline. The spacious grand ballroom and exhibitor’s facilities were just large enough to house all the vendors who wanted to participate, while still being intimate enough to give the small businesses that made up the majority of the party supply industry, a sense of importance. The mask displays were awesome. Several new vendors were hawking their wares and giving away free samples. Most of the samples were of the half mask variety, but with the proper hood or wig, could pass for a full head. Not only were the half masks less costly to produce, they could be used by a variety of head sizes and that provided the wearer with a lot more comfort than the full head counterpart. Oscar couldn’t wait to get back up to his room to try on all of the items he had in his “goodie” bags. He had been particularly impressed by the female movie star collection that was being offered by Rubber Girl Fantasy Corporation. Some of the displays were so real, that if you didn’t know that Marilyn Monroe or Kathryn Hepbern were in the Great Studio in the Sky, you would have sworn that they were presenting products at the convention. He had submitted his “Debbie” mask to the Rubber Girl Fantasy Corporation eight months prior to the conference. He knew that they had decided to produce it as one of their custom offerings and that several of the “Debbie” units had been sold.

Rubber Girl had done the “Debbie” unit in both the traditional low-tech rubber doll, latex format and in the high-tech PEM (Personal Environmental Model) formats. This fabulous suit used his own body heat generation to power a series of electronics that enhanced the look of the costume and mask as well as the participant’s ability to wear the suit and mask. Both formats offered the wearer costume size options and when used provided the user with the sense of “instant girl” or total “identity transformation”. While his royalty checks hadn’t produced enough where he thought he could make a career out of designing female personas, they were enough to pay for this conference. He had packed the high tech “Debbie” Pem in his suitcase for use on the trip. What he learned at the display and demonstration exhibit being conducted by Rubber Girl Fantasies, was that he could use the “Debbie” PEM as the base unit for most of the other personas that Rubber Girl sold. With the exception of the detachable wigs he could layer a half mask on top of “Debbie’s” PEM to create yet another persona. In this way, “Debbie” could take off “her ” mask, without revealing Oscar’s true identity or change to another bald mask for an almost instant identity change.

Back in his room he tried on a Star Queen Mask, a Bride of Frankenstein mask, a Kim Bassinger mask and a Julia Roberts mask. He couldn’t believe how each mask made his personal mood change or how many different ways a person could feel sexy. For the first time in several weeks he felt relaxed and in control of his life, even though he had no idea what was going to do for the next four hours. His regular daily life was so planned and structured that every minute and second had a directed purpose. In his room at the conference, surrounded by wonderful masks and no fear of discovery, what he did with the next three or four days didn’t matter. He put on the high tech “Debbie” PEM, layered the Kim Bassinger half mask onto “Debbie’s face, lay back on his bed, and took a nap.

When he awoke, fully refreshed from his sleep of dreams, he decided to go down to dinner as “Debbie”. He dressed “her” in a long slinky, black silk dress with silver bead work around the choker neck, wrists, and hem. To dress it down a bit, he decided to layer on a red leather vest, with matching red western boots, and gloves. “Debbie” looked relaxed, but not casual.

This event was the first time Oscar used the Personal Environmental Model that Rubber Girl had sent him with his first royalty check. The PEM was wonderful. The minute it warmed to his skin, it started using his body heat to generate the energy to keep his skin temperature at an optimal 84 degrees. The voice modularization system built into the neck of the PEM gave “Debbie” a sultry rich voice that dripped with sensuality. The advanced hearing and vision enhancement units took a little getting use to, but once Oscar made those adjustments, the clarity of vision and hearing was fabulous. The hearing enhancement was not only full range, but by pressing a point on the right side of the neck under the wig, the hearing could be made directional and operate like a parabolic listening device. The vision enhancing units had a like feature with the focal point imaging function. The vision’s zoom in and out features was operated from a pressure point on the left side of the PEM’s neck.

He got off the elevator in the lobby and walked across the marble floor to the stairs leading down to the bar and the dining room. The hostess walked up to “her” and said, “anything wrong, Miss?”

“One for dinner, please. The name is Debbie.”

“You party supply people are such fun,” said the hostess. “I’m glad that you are having a good time.”

“I can take my dinner at the bar if it makes it easier for you.”

“But I just sat you in one of our booths, Debbie.”

“That is not possible, Miss,” declared “Debbie”.

“All right, if it makes you happy, I will take you back to your booth again. Please follow me, Debbie.”

As they rounded the corner of the richly furnished, yet cozy dining room, they came upon a small booth with a gorgeous Chicana that was “Debbie’s” exact duplicate except for the boots.

“I’m so sorry, Miss I didn’t realize that there were two of you,” proclaimed the hostess apologetically.

“No apology need. I didn’t know there were two of us either, declared “Debbie”. Then turning to “Debbie’s” duplicate in the booth, Oscar from behind “Debbie’s” face said, “Deborah? I presume.”

“Oh my, I heard that I had a twin at the conference. My name is Maria Moneca. What is yours?”

Thinking that Maria Moneca had to be a pseudonym, (the name meant Mary Doll in Spanish) Oscar decided to play along and announced, “Me llamo es Monica Mundo.”

“I told you that you party supply people are fun. Do you want me to find you another booth, Monica?” asked the hostess with a chuckle.

“There is plenty of room here and I haven’t even ordered yet,” said “Maria Moneca”.

“Are you sure I won’t be invading your space?” asked “Debbie” under name of “Monica Mundo”.

“Not at all. It might even be fun,” suggested Maria Moneca. The hostess helped “Debbie” as “Monica Mundo” into the cozy booth. “Think I’ll have the salmon dinner. It is the house specialty. They say it is wonderful. What are you having, Monica?”

“I’m having whatever you are having, Maria. I can tell by your outfit that you have good taste.”

“Can I get either of you something from our bar?” asked the hostess.

“I would like a Corona beer,” responded Oscar as “Debbie” flying under the flag of “Monica Mundo”.

“Make that two Corona’s,” stated “Maria Moneca”.

“I’ll have those beers back to you in a jiffy,” said the hostess.

“Do you work for Rubber Girl Fantasies Inc?” inquired “Monica Mundo”.

“No, I do not. Do you?” countered “Maria Moneca”.

“Why do you ask?”

“I see that they have created a female character that looks like a replica of me. I was wondering if you were wearing their creation?”

Rationalizing that “Debbie” was his creation, and that he had made extensive make up alterations, he had “Monica Mundo” respond by saying, “I’m not wearing Rubber Girl’s creation. Are you?”

“I wish I could say no, but alas, I am. Are you the Female that Rubber Girl Fantasies Corporation used as a model to develop this PEM, Monica?”

“I guess you could say that, Maria.” stated Oscar as he recalled the research and computer generated graphics he had developed to create the generic beauty he called “Debbie”.

“Do you mind that eventually there maybe hundreds or thousands of you walking around and claiming your beauty as their own?” probed Maria Moneca.

“I have given that some thought when I first worked with the engineers at Rubber Girl on this project and to be honest there is some sense of personal loss, but I know that those imitations can never feel what I feel when they look like they are me. Then, there is also the competing emotion of flattery.”

“What do you mean?” inquired “Maria”.

“Most women or men who look at other person with envy and say, I wish I could like that, can, in my case, actually give it a try. Imitation is a form of flattery. I must say, though, I have never seen anyone imitate me as well as you do, Maria, although there was a lovely creature back home that came close.”

“Where are you from?” probed “Maria”.

“The inner imaginings of your mind, Maria,” declared Oscar as “Debbie” under the alias of “Monica Mundo”.

“That wasn’t a very helpful answer, Moneca.”

“Well it is the only one your are going to get to that question, Maria.”

“The suit was called “Debbie” when I bought it. Is that your real name?”

“My we are an inquisitive little doll.”

“Well is it?”

“Is what?”

“You are not going to tell me that either. Are you?”

“Tell you what?”

“Your real name,” answered “Maria Moneca”.

“I already gave you a name.”

“But that is not your real name,” suggested “Maria Moneca”.

“It is as real a name as yours,” countered Oscar as “Debbie” playing the role of “Monica Mundo”.

“I think you are really good at this hide and seek game. Almost as good as a guy I know from back home.”

“That’s interesting.” stated “Monica Mundo” as the waiter brought them their drinks and salads.

When the waiter withdrew from the cozy booth, “Maria Moneca” asked, “Aren’t you curious about where I am from or what I do?”

“I figure you will tell me if you want, but with the marvelous disguise you have on, you could be anybody from anywhere and tell me that you are some one else from some where else and I wouldn’t know the difference. This is both the treat and the thrill of being with an unknown personality in a total disguise.”

“You are good. I’ll have to remember that answer for some other situation. That was really good,” commented “Maria Moneca”. They ate their salads and chit-chatted about masking and the different qualities of various brands of masks throughout the meal. While waiting for dessert they discussed the pros and cons of various mask-making techniques. As Dessert came, they began to discuss the various masking sites on the web.

“What do you think about Maskon.com?” asked “Maria Moneca”.

“I think that it was a great place to generate a focus on masking. It allowed several others, like Andrea, Mikky, Inge and Chante to spin off their sites.”

“I guess I have to agree with that, although Kerry’s site has not stayed current.”

“But Kerry’s site is more of a commercial for her mask making business. I does not offer a full rang of stuff like Carol Decker’s did or Marti’s does.”

“But even sites, like Andrea’s, Holly’s and PJ Wright’s site have gone inactive.”

“Do you have a web site, Maria?”

“No.”

“Well I do, and they are a lot of work, especially if you want them to look nice and have some kind of progression to them. Just creating the format and posting to it takes a while. Then there is the scanning and uploading of the material.

Often the way you lay it out doesn’t work out on the various screen sizes that people down load on. And, since most maskers who do these efforts, often do them in a closet somewhere, they have no technical assistance to fall back on. This is not even considering the time that it takes to create the stories and photos that are the basic materials of these sites. Original material is hard to come by, and in itself takes a long time to create in a closet.”

“Sounds like you really do have a site?”

“I told I did.”

“What is it called?”

“Monica’s Masking Ally.”

“What is your URL?” asked “Maria”.

“Are we back to twenty questions?” queried “Monica”.

“No, but I want to look it up tonight back in my room, Monica.”

“Give me your email and I will send it to you,” suggested Oscar as “Debbie” as “Monica Mundo”.

“Okay, it is… wait a minute. You are very good. I give you my email and you start to peel away my mask.”

“If we are going to get past this point, one of us is going to have to peel away something.”

“I don’t want to do that just yet,” said “Maria”.

“Then let’s split the check and tip and then go our separate ways, Maria.”

“That sounds so cold, Monica. I have enjoyed our chat and meal.”

“So have I, but is time to move on. Maybe we can see each other later in the conference.”

“But how will I know it is you?”

“You won’t,” said “Monica”. Isn’t that fun?”

“I guess so,” answered “Maria” with disappointment obvious in her voice.

As they were about to leave the table a set of twin “Kim Bassingers” approached the twin “Debbies”. The one to Oscar’s left asked, “are you really twins or are you wearing one of the new `Debbie line’ from Rubber Girl Inc.?”

“I’m wearing the Debbie PEM and she is the creator of Debbie,” volunteered “Maria Moneca”.

“We just love our Kim Bassinger PEMs. Do you know if we can overlay a `Debbie half mask’ over our Kim Pem?”

“You would probably be best served by asking one of the Rubber Girl reps that question,” answered Oscar from behind his “Debbie” mask.

“Don’t you work for Rubber Girl?” asked one of the “Kims”.

“Not at the moment,” responded “Debbie” as “Monica Mundo”. As the “Bassinger twins” moved off in the direction of the bar, Oscar commented to “Maria” that, “There is something really familiar about the walk of one of the Kim’s.”

“Do you think she is some one you know?” asked “Maria Moneca”.

“I am almost sure of it,” said “Debbie”, not realizing that “she” had been talking to Oscar’s disguised ex-wife Ramona and Pablo Armada: Ramona’s new boyfriend. I’m going to take another walk around the exhibits before going to one of the management discussion groups. Do you want to come?”

“No I’ll take a walk out into the night air with the conference tour of some of the downtown clubs,” stated Maria Moneca in her professional looking “Debbie” outfits.

“I’ll see you around then,” stated “Debbie” as “Monica Mundo”, while she laid out enough cash to cover “her” end of the dinner. She then set off to take another tour of the exhibits and look for a management discussion group. She sat in on a couple of discussions, but found most of the interest was in the displaying and marketing craft supplies, or developing and running in store classes. Within an hour “she” found “herself” back at the 1890’s styled hotel bar.

“Hi there sweet stuff. Can I buy you a drink?” asked a “Kim Bassinger” masked human being.

Oscar as “Debbie” was almost sure that this was one of the “Kims” he saw at dinner, so he said, “Where is your other half?”

“She is either in the lady’s room or she has gone up to our room. Either way, I’m on my own for a while. I didn’t catch your name, Honey.”

“Honey will do just fine,” said Oscar as “Debbie”.

“Well then, Honey, what say you and I finish our drinks here and the fine some action in one of the clubs around here.”

“I would love to, but my boss wants me to catch an early workshop tomorrow morning.”

“Well how about tomorrow night?”

“Why don’t we play it by ear, Kim.”

“Why don’t you call me Armida for now, Honey.”

This “Kim” has to be Pablo Armada thought Oscar to himself behind his “Debbie” disguise. The walk he recognized must have been that of his ex-wife, Ramona. “On second thought, Armida, what my boss doesn’t know won’t hurt. Let’s hoist a few here and have a good time. When the waitress came for their order, Oscar tipped her thirty-dollars to make sure that Pablo’s drinks were almost pure liquor. Three drinks later, when “Maria” came back into the bar, Pablo/Kim was higher than a kite. Pablo/Kim was doing an outstanding act as an out of control lesbian that was putting the make on “Debbie”. As “Maria Moneca” came near their table, Pablo/Kim suggested that they, “Make it a threesome in one of our rooms.” “Maria” joined in on the fun, not knowing that yet another twenty dollars passed from Oscar as “Debbie” to the waitress to spike both “Maria’s” and Pablo/Kim’s drinks. Once “Maria” was feeling no pain and Pablo/Kim was starting to dance on the tables, Oscar slipped out to a house phone and anonymously called his ex-wife’s room. He cryptically suggested that Ramona’s partner needed help to get to “her” room, or “she” might be camping in some other room for the night.

Ramona showed up about ten minutes later in the bar without any disguise and saw “Maria” and Pablo/Kim having a great time. Oscar had not returned to the scene. Instead, as “Debbie” he was walking around in the hotel’s beautifully furnished, Victorian lobby. As “Debbie” he returned in time to see Ramona escorting both Pablo/Kim and “Maria Moneca” to the elevators. Maybe Pablo/Kim was going to get his threesome after all. On the other hand, Pablo/Kim and “Maria Moneca” might have been in for a bumpy night. Only the morning would be able to give Oscar that news. He went up to his room and to bed in his beloved “Debbie”. As far as Oscar was concerned, the first day of the conference had been a great success.

The second day of the conference had lunch scheduled on the wine train that ran from Renton to the Columbia Winery. It was a spectacular trip along the Eastern Shore of Lake Washington, and “Debbie” enjoyed every minute of it. No one seemed to know what had really happened to Ramona, Pablo, and “Maria Moneca”, but a lot of gossip and rumors were in circulation. Two of the cars on the train had been setup as exhibit cars and the during lunch there were small group discussions on just about everything to do with conducting business in the party supply industry that could be imagined. Oscar, dressed as “Debbie” in a navy blue pen striped business suit found the discussion group on the marketing of masks to be just what he was looking for.

It was four in the afternoon by the time that Oscar as “Debbie” returned to the Hotel. Instead of going into the bar with everyone else, he decided to take one of the Washington Ferries to Bremerton and back for the ride on Puget Sound. The Seattle skyline at sunset from the middle of the Sound was a breath taking view and he wanted the smell of the salt laden breezes to fill “Debbie’s” lungs. The hearing and vision enhancing elements made the trip all the more enjoyable. He had a couple of the passengers take “Debbie’s” picture at different points of the crossing of the Sound to record the trip for Oscar’s computer files. Oscar ate on the boat so that when “Debbie”, in her warm fur lined trench coat returned to the hotel, “she” went straight up to bed and didn’t participate in any of the revelry that the conferees had going in the hotel bar. Oscar arose early the following morning and tried on the entire sample he had gathered from the train exhibits as well as the ones he had gathered from the Paper Magic Corporation and the Oriental Trading Company during the previous morning’s sessions. Now this was the way that a true masker should greet each new day. He decided to attend the morning sessions as himself. He should make some kind of appearance and then he could switch back to being “Debbie” for the afternoon and evening activities.

“Hi Oscar. Where have you been? You have missed over half of the convention,” asserted his ex-wife Ramona.

“Good morning to you too, Ramona. Nice to see you able to get away, Elena. Who’s minding the store?”

“You know we closed it for inventory and restocking to get ready for Halloween, Oscar. The staff has detailed instructions as to how I want the place decorated,” informed Elena.

“Why don’t you come and work for me, Elena? I will pay you better than Oscar.”

“I’m just doing this for Oscar until I can get a better position in retail management, or teaching in a Community College, Ramona. I have already accepted a part time teaching job in a night school. I don’t see my life career as the manager of a party supply store,” declared Elena.

“It is not such a bad life, Elena,” countered Ramona.

“I didn’t say it was. It is just that I want to do something else with my life, Ramona. After all, I have just finished getting my teaching credential and Master’s of Science degree,” said Elena. What are you doing for breakfast, Oscar?”

“I was just going to get the early bird special, but there aren’t any tables,” replied Oscar.

“Why don’t you sit with us?” asked Ramona.

“Thank you for your kind offer, but I don’t think so. Wasn’t your mother throwing you a party in celebration of the completion of your degree?”

“I asked her to postpone it for a week. I have a couple of other job offers that I’m considering and I might want to announce which one I am taking at the same time,” declared Elena Munoz.

“Good, but keep my mother out of that plan. She is always making dates for me with you,” said Oscar. “I don’t want to burden you with my mother’s fantasies.”

“Being with you is no burden as far as I am concerned, Oscar,” announced Elena Munoz.

“Are you still afraid of women, Oscar?” asked Ramona with a devilish wink of her right eye.

“I’m not afraid of women, Ramona. I never have been. I just know the webs of fantasy and deceit that some women weave,” answered Oscar with an icy attitude that would freeze the pits of Hell.

“Present company excluded of course,” stated Elena.

“Present company included as experts. I think will I just catch a roll and coffee in the lobby. Good morning ladies,” stated Oscar as he quickly pivoted on his heels and strode out of the restaurant. The rest of the morning Oscar did his ordering for the store in earnest. He found Elena right before lunch and told her about the plans he had for the shopping mall and training programs.

“Why are you telling me all this, Oscar?” asked Elena.

“Because I think that you and Adrian Ramirez will make a good team and because I know that you are considering other career options,” declared Oscar. “Having your credential and masters will also be a selling point to the Feds. on future applications for funding.”

“Aren’t you going to be part of the team as well?”

“Yes and no.”

“What does that mean?” asked Elena.

“It means that I think I will function best as the capital behind the scenes and back-up artillery if you and Adrian get into a tight spot. I don’t think I would be good at the hands-on, day-to-day management.”

“Do I have to give you a decision right now?” inquired Elena Munoz.

“It can wait until we get back from the conference, but things are starting to snowball with the beginning of the federal funding cycle.”

“I’ll let you know when we get back, if not sooner,” said Elena. “I was serious when I told you and Ramona about those teaching job offers.”

“I am sure you were and I think that you would make a great teacher. Do what you think is best for you, Elena. I just want you to know that there is an economic future for you with whatever corporate structures I can create.”

Elena wanted to tell Oscar that the assurances he was giving her were not the ones she wanted to hear. While she was glad to see that he was cold and austere with Ramona, and didn’t appear to have any women in his life, except for some woman called “Debbie”, Oscar still didn’t seem to notice Elena’s loyalty, affection and devotion. Elena was almost sure that “Debbie” was a creative development that Oscar used to keep his mother and other women off his back. She had heard that there was a “Debbie” at the conference, but Elena hadn’t seen her around when Oscar was. With these thoughts in mind, Elena said, “Thank you for considering me, Oscar. I’ll let you know of my decision as soon as I can.”

Oscar decided not to ask Elena out to lunch. Maybe it was time for Elena to spend some time with “Debbie”, but figuring out how to make that happen might be difficult. “What workshops are you going to after lunch, Elena?”

“I thought that I would work on my costume for tonight, Oscar.”

“Need some assistance?”

“No I think I have it under control. I think I can get whatever I need at the Nordstrum’s Rack a couple blocks from the hotel. What are you dressing as, Oscar?”

“I haven’t made up my mind, but I’ll think of something,” said Oscar.

“I will look forward to seeing the results,” predicted Elena.

Not if I can help it, thought Oscar to himself. Maybe “Debbie” was going to do some shopping at the Rack too. Oscar made up his mind right then and there that he would see if he could get Elena to be “Debbie’s” date for the ball. He had heard that Nordstrum’s Rack had a great close out sale on PVC clothing. “Debbie” would have a great time with the stores corporate credit card. If the price was right, maybe “she” would work a deal where “she” would buy out the entire line of clothing, if the items were as spectacular as some at the conference said they were. Oscar noticed that Elena was trying to read his face. She really was quite beautiful. There was a magnificent intelligence and warmth about her great brown eyes. As he said good-bye to her, he wondered why he had never seen that quality in her before. Oscar didn’t feel like lunch as him, and decided to go to his room and transform himself into “Debbie”. He dressed “her” in a long gray jersey dress and layered the long black jersey jumper that was styled to go with the dress. Both garments were easy to get in and out of, if he wanted to try something on during his shopping trip. The dress went perfectly with the low heel, black, leather, knee high boots he picked out to wear with the outfit. The wrist length, black leather gloves and “her” long, swing line, black leather coat completed “her day time street wear look”. “Debbie” knew that as “she” navigated the streets of downtown Seattle, “she” would look like a businesswoman out on an extended shopping/lunch break.

As “Debbie” stepped out onto Steward Street, “she” felt the brisk Seattle wind weaving through the skyscrapers on its way to Lake Washington from the Puget Sound. In the distance “she” could see a lightning storm that was creating a fireworks display over Olympic National Park on the other side of the Sound. “She” turned into the wind and headed off to The Rack. This particular outlet was a huge seven-story affair. It was the close-out/clearance store for all the Seattle Nordstrum’s as well as their extensive online warehouse and mail order business. The place was bulging with 50% to 75% discounts on just about anything a buyer could imagine. The PVC Shop was no exception. After looking through the stock and picking out a corset, elbow length gloves and a hooded, fur lined, full length, PVC trench coat, for that evening’s costume, “Debbie” asked to see the floor manager to investigate a buy out on the entire collection. The manager called the store’s general manager, who in turn called the corporate office, and in a matter of minutes, stock clerks were packing the entire collection for shipment to Oscar’s store. “Debbie” had negotiated the sale at twelve cents on the dollar of the original retail price, shipping included. Since the mark up on PVC items were often at two and three hundred percent, he knew that while he was buying the collection at a much better price than a series of drop shipments from the various vendors, Nordstrum’s, with their massive buying power, wasn’t taking a bath either. As “Debbie” was about to leave, “Maria Moneca” walked into what had been the PVC Shop. The sales personnel told her that her “sister” had just bought out the entire collection, with exception of the shoes.

“Maria” walked over to “Debbie”. “I wanted to buy a coat like the one you are purchasing,” said “Maria”.

Straight out of the blue, “Debbie” announced, “You can borrow mine if you go to the ball with me tonight.”

“I already have a date,” lied “Maria Moneca”.

“Well I don’t. What do you say to going as a threesome?”

“Well I don’t know. I would have to talk to the other party.”

“Hesitation cost Hitler the Second World War,” suggested Oscar from behind “Debbie’s” beautiful face.

“I didn’t know we were at war,” countered “Maria Moneca”.

“It is just an expression about hesitation, Maria, not war.” stated “Debbie” as the store manager watched the dynamic between what she thought wear identical twin sisters. Then turning “her” attention on the store manager, “Debbie” asked, “Looks like I have an extra ticket for the Costume Ball tonight. Would you like to go as my escort?”

Stunned by the turn of events and without a moment’s hesitation, the manager said, “I would love to, but I don’t have a thing to wear.”

“Leave all that up to me, honey. Can you be at room twelve ten of the Roosevelt Hotel for dinner by 8:00 P.M.?”

“I believe that is possible,” said the manager.

“Good. I will lay out a costume for you and you can meet me at the hotel dining room.” Oscar was already hatching a plan where he was going to create yet another “Debbie”.

“How will I know who you are?”

“The guessing will be part of the fun, honey. I’ll have a key for you at the front desk. Give them this password.” As “Debbie” wrote out the password on a slip of paper, “Maria Moneca” turned on her heels and walked off without a word. Oscar as “Debbie” went back to the conference and picked-up a low tech “Debbie” from the Rubber Girl exhibit. Being the last day of the conference he got a seventy-five percent discount. He laid out the costume in the room as promised. He had the store manager dress in the items “Debbie” had picked out for herself that afternoon at the Rack. He added gloves and eight-inch heel, four- inch platform, patent leather, knee high boots. The long coat over just the corset, the boots and gloves made for a real streetwalker look. To add to the illusion Oscar laid out a long hair, white blonde wig. In the note that he left on top of the costume, he told the Rack’s store manager to tell the “Debbie” she met at the hotel dining room that her name for the evening was “Delia Flores”. (He failed to mention the fact that there would probably be at least ten “Debbies” at the dance as per the information he had be told by the Rubber Girl Rep). To confound the guessing game of whom was behind the mask, Oscar decided, at the last minute, to have his “Debbie” go to the conference ball as a double masked, fur clad Rupaul. Oscar as “Debbie” checked the hooded fur coat in the restaurant cloakroom and put the Rupaul mask in “her” oversize purse. She then went into dinner to see what other intrigues the conferees had brewing. When Oscar as “Debbie” arrived at the entrance of the dining room of the Roosevelt Hotel he had to laugh to himself at what a quick survey revealed. There were at least twelve “Debbies” in it. Fortunately they weren’t all dressed exactly alike. Oscar’s “Debbie” was the only one dressed in a tailored business suit. The majority was dressed in skimpy exotic/erotic clothing like the outfit he had laid out for the Rack’s store manager.

“Do you have reservations, Miss?” asked the hostess.

“Yes, the name is Delia Flores,” responded Oscar as “Debbie”.

The hostess scanned he reservation sheet. “I have you here, Delia. Is the rest of your party here?”

Oscar scanned the dining room and the waiting area. “I don’t think so, but when she arrives she will give the same name. Could you seat me now and show her to the table when she arrives?”

“Yes, Delia. What name will the other members of your party be giving?”

“Delia, Maria and Kim,” responded Oscar as “Debbie”.

When the hostess sat “Debbie”, she asked, “Could I get you something from the bar while you are waiting?”

“How about one of your famous pitchers of margaritas and four glasses,” responded Oscar as “Debbie”

“I’ll have that brought to your table shortly, Miss,” said the hostess.

The store manager of the Rack arrived dressed in the costume that Oscar had laid out at about the same time the pitcher and the glasses were being delivered to the table. “I hope you are the right Debbie,” said the Rack’s manager. I’m Delia Flores. Does that ring a bell for you?”

“I can’t say that it does, but sit down anyway. I think one of these glasses has your name on it. May I say that you look outstanding Delia.”

“I don’t normally wear things like this, but with this mask and torso, it is almost perfect,” commented the Rack’s manager as “Delia Flores”.

“Are you telling me that you are wearing a mask?”

“Yes. Can’t you tell?”

“Not in this light and don’t tell any of the others that it is a mask. Keep them guessing, that is half the fun.”

“Do I call you Debbie?”

“Oh no, My name is Armida Armada,” answered Oscar as “Debbie” while trying to set-up a trap for his ex-wife.

“Did I meet you in the Rack this afternoon?” asked “Delia Flores”.

“What is a Rack?” asked Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada”.

“I guess not, then. I wonder which of the Debbies is my Date for the evening?”

“Don’t worry about it. Who was your date supposed to be dressed as?”

“I don’t know, but she looked like you.”

“But there are at least a dozen women in the restaurant that fit my description,” observed Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada”.

At that point, a “Kim Bassinger” and “Maria Moneca” were shown to the table. “I thought we were going to have a table by ourselves,” said “Maria” to “Kim” as the Hostess started to seat “Kim” next to “Armida”.

“According to my reservations chart, this is your party, Miss,” stated the hostess.

“Were you in the Rack this afternoon?” inquired “Delia”.

“Yes I was,” declared “Maria Moneca”.

“Then you must be my date for the evening.”

“You look like a Debbie, Delia,” declared “Maria Moneca”.

“Well so do you, Maria,” commented “Delia” with a chuckle, “but then, so does Armida Armada.”

“Who is Armida Armada?” asked the person masked as “Kim Bassinger” as she poured herself a margarita.

“The Debbie looking person sitting next to you,” announced “Delia”.

“Pablo, is that you?” asked the person masked as “Kim Bassinger”. “I thought you left the conference last night.”

“Who’s Pablo?” asked Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada”.

“Very funny, Pablo. I just want you to know that I forgive you,” proclaimed Ramona as “Kim Bassinger”.

“Love is blind,” stated Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada”. Looks like Ramona has fallen into the trap, thought Oscar to himself.

“Has anybody seen Oscar?” asked the “Debbie” calling herself “Maria Moneca” as she poured herself a margarita from one of the pitchers on the table.

“Who’s Oscar?” asked “Delia Flores”.

“I hope he has gone home. He is my ex-husband and a drag on the spirits of any group. He is not wild like my Pablo here,” declared Ramona as “Kim” while reaching out to Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada” and attempting a giant bear hug.

“Don’t tell me about ex-husbands, girl,” asserted “Delia” as she poured herself another margarita. Oscar motioned to the waitress to bring the table another pitcher of margaritas. When she brought the pitcher to the table he ordered a giant platter of nachos as well. Meanwhile “Delia” was pontificating to the delight of “Maria” and “Kim” about the exploits of “Delia’s” ex-husband.

“When were you married to this guy?” asked Ramona/Kim.

“Why do you ask?” inquired “Delia”.

“Because you and I must have been married to the same loser, or they were twins that were separated at birth,” answered Ramon/Kim.

“Oscar isn’t all that bad,” countered “Maria Moneca”. “He can be really sweet in his shy unrefined way.” From behind his mask, Oscar confirmed for himself that “Maria Moneca” had to be Elena Munoz. She was defending him and she admitted to being at the Rack.

“You only think that because you weren’t married to him, Maria. I spared you that disaster,” said Ramona/Kim.

“Maybe if I had married him instead of you, he would have turned out different,” retorted “Maria Moneca”.

“You can’t make a silk purse out of a small dick loser like Oscar, Maria,” said Ramona/Kim as she poured herself a second margarita.

“Maybe you weren’t the right woman for the job,” came back “Maria Moneca”, who took the pitcher and poured herself an overflowing margarita.

“I thought I could do that to my `ex’ too, honey, but men just won’t reform to the quality that a good woman needs. For example, if a man was at this table, we would not be able to have this level of conversation without a whole lot of comments about tits and asses. Men are so one dimensional.”

“You can say that again,” commented Ramona/Kim. “Of course that doesn’t include you Pablo, dear.”

“Are you sure that is Pablo?” asked “Maria Moneca”.

“Who else would call themselves Armida Armada, order platters of nachos, and pitchers of margaritas?” My Pablo is so predictable. That is why I knew he would show up tonight to make up for being such a naughty boy last night. You are predictable aren’t you, Babee.”

“Oscar had always hated the way Ramona had called all of her men “Babee”. “If you say so Kim Darling.”

“That’s my good Babee. It’s my Pablo all right.” confirmed Ramona/Kim. You are going to be in for a bumpy ride tonight, Ramona, thought Oscar behind “Debbie’s” lovely face.

“Looks like we’re a couple tonight, Maria,” said “Delia Flores”.

“That’s fine with me,” announced “Maria Moneca”. “I just hope Oscar is all right.”

“Forget, Oscar. Delia tell Maria that you are Oscar for the night.”

“Would it make you happy if I were Oscar, whoever he is?” asked Delia.

“I guess so,” said Elena from behind her mask.

“Okay, honey. Then I’m Oscar,” said “Delia”.

“Are you really?” said Elena with a new level of joy in her voice.

“I told you that for tonight I am if that will make you happy,” responded “Delia”.

“I told you I thought one of the Debbies was Oscar, Ramona,” said “Maria” as she poured herself yet another margarita.

As Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada” reached for the pitcher and poured “Delia” her third large margarita, he whispered in her ear, “Call her Deborah”.

“So what test do you have in mind for me, Deborah?”

“Oh my God, Ramona. Delia conned you into saying all those things about Oscar and she is Oscar,” asserted, Elena/ Deborah as “Maria Moneca”.

“I knew it was Oscar all the time,” lied Ramona/Kim. Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Armida Armada” ordered another pitcher of margaritas along with a seafood platter and another platter of nachos. Now that the double-switched criss-cross had been implemented, Oscar set about implementing the second part of his plan. Once they completed there meal and his three partners were totally awash in Margaritas; he would pay the check and make some excuse about checking out an exhibit. Then he would go to the cloakroom put on the hooded fur and take the Rupaul mask out of “Debbie’s” over size purse, and make Debbie/Armida/Pablo disappear. Being one man short and knowing Ramona’s competitive spirit, Elena would find Ramona trying to ace her out of “Delia” as the alleged Oscar. From the events of the evening to that point, the real Oscar knew that The Rack’s store manager who was masked as a “low tech Debbie” going by the name of “Delia Flores” and thought to be a masked Oscar by both Elena as “Maria Moneca” and Ramona as “Kim Bassinger”, would surely play along as long as the margaritas kept flowing. Oscar, now double masked as “Debbie” wearing “Rupaul” would make an opportunity to egg “Maria” into scheming on Ramona for stealing her man again. Once Ramona/Kim Bassinger, the alleged “Oscar” and Deborah/Maria Moneca were seated at a table in the ballroom with the alleged “Oscar” between the other two competing maskers, the real Oscar masked as “Debbie” who was masking as “Rupaul” approached the table. “I don’t know who is in charge here, but I would love to ask this beautiful sister to dance.”

“Who are you referring to, Honey?” asked Ramona/Kim.

“Oh my. It is so impolite to point, Darling, but I was referring to this beautiful creature,” declared Debbie/Rupaul while pointing at Deborah/Maria Moneca.

“It’s okay with me if it is okay with Delia,” said Ramona/Kim.

“I’m fine with it,” confirmed “Delia”.

“What about you, Little Sister? asked Debbie/Rupaul.

“I guess so, but I never danced with a…”

“Gorgeous blonde like me before?” finished Debbie/Rupaul.

“Something like that,” answered Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca.

“Times a wastin’. Let’s do it, my lovely. My name is Rupaul. What is yours?” probed Oscar through his double mask.

“Just call me Deborah, Rupaul.”

“That is such a musical name. I think it is just precious, Deborah.”

“Thank you, I guess,” responded “Deborah” as she looked back over her shoulder at the table she had just left.

After the song that was playing ended a slower tune came up, the double masked Oscar asked, “What say we dance to this one too?”

“I don’t know. I…”

“What’s the matter, Little sister?” inquired Debbie/Rupaul.

“The woman that you made me leave with my date, is my date’s ex-wife. She already took him from me once and now she is about to score again. I almost killed myself the first time she did that.”

“You can’t mean that literally, gorgeous. No man, no matter how desirable would be worth such a sacrifice.”

“Oh it’s true, all right, but only you and my mother know about it. In fact, I don’t even know why I just told you.”

“Masks help us be honest because of the safety they provide to our hidden identities,” observed Oscar/Debbie/Rupaul.

“I suppose that is true too,” said Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca.

“Maybe you should just let that silly girl have that worthless bitch you are so worried about. Neither of them looked like all that much to me,” commented Oscar/Debbie/Rupaul.

“They are both masked like us, Rupaul. She is really quite beautiful in her own right and he is gorgeous and sweet.”

“Which one of the two did you want?”

“I want him, of course.”

“Silly me. Of course, if it is really a him, I would want him too.”

“But not for the same reason, Rupaul.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want to make babies with him.”

“That was a low, and I mean low blow, girl.”

“I didn’t mean any offense.”

“Of course you didn’t. So what do you want to do to them to get him and stop her?” asked Oscar/Debbie/Rupaul.

“I wish we could trade costumes so I could use you as a foil while I schemed on the woman that keeps stealing my man.”

“That’s a good idea, girl, but we aren’t the same size. If you promise to stay with me for the evening, I’ll take care to see that she is put out of commission.”

“How will you do that?”

“Just say that you will go along with whatever I do and I promise it will happen.”

“And all I have to do is spend the night with you?”

“Yes,” confirmed Oscar/Debbie/Rupaul.

“What does that entail?” probed Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca.

“Love is blind, girl. If you don’t trust that I will do what is in your best interest, the deal is off.”

“It is hard to trust a woman in a mask. That is how I was burned before,” said Elena.

“Would it help if I took off my mask?”

“Yes,” answered Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca.

“Then let’s step into the little girl’s room and away from prying eyes.” Oscar in his double disguise took Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca into the rest room and took of the fur coat and the Rupaul mask, revealing himself as “Debbie”.

“I would have never guessed it was you, Debbie,” said Elena/Deborah/Maria Moneca. You just have to let me become Rupaul. You can rejoin our party as me.”

“You can be Rupaul, but I want you to rejoin the party as myself,” said “Debbie”.

“What will that accomplish?”

“The target of your anger will think you have left the scene and given her a free shot. I will make a few moves that you back up out of innocence. I promise she will be out of the competition by the end of the evening, but remember, you will be spending the night with Rupaul.”

“Okay, I’ll be Rupaul for now and follow your lead, Debbie,” responded Elena as she now double masked as Deborah/Rupaul and put on the hooded fur coat to complete the disguise. “Except for your suit, Debbie, it looks like we switched costumes.”

“Good. But act like nothing happened to keep confusion working in out favor. Oh, and bye-the-way, Deborah. No more margaritas for you. Just fake drinking them. The cactus is about to bite our target in the ass.”

“This is going to be good, Debbie.”

“You have no idea how good it is going to get,” answered Oscar as “Debbie”.

The reversed couple went back to the booth. The couple in the booth was so involved in their own scheme that they failed to notice the switch. After a few jokes and another round of drinks, Oscar as “Debbie” asked “Delia” to dance with him. At this point, the Rack’s store manager needed to lie down for a while. Oscar took her quickly up to his room and tucked the sauced store manager into his bed after he took the corset and the low tech “Debbie” mask off of her. He then put on his matching corset and locked away all the costumes and her clothes in the adjoining room. All that done, he returned to the ballroom as Delia.

“What happened to Debbie?” asked Ramona/Kim with a wink.”

“She asked to be excused. I guess she isn’t used to the margaritas like we are,” declared Oscar as “Debbie” pretending to be “Delia”.

“Pablo just can’t hold his liquor like he used to,” said Ramona as a well-oiled “Kim Bassinger”. “Aren’t the margaritas here just great? I can’t seem to get enough of them. Can you order us another round, Delia?”

“Sure thing, Kim,” responded the Oscar who was now playing “Delia Flores”. “Why don’t you ask Kim for a dance Rupaul? Debbie wore my feet off.”

“My pleasure Delia.” stated Elena as Rupaul thinking that “Debbie” was pulling another one of her disappearing acts and not realizing that Oscar as “Debbie” was now dressed like “Delia Flores”. While Ramona/Kim and Elena/Rupaul enjoyed the music and danced like an aerobics class gone mad, Oscar as Delia stirred a hallucinogen into Ramona’s latest margarita. He figured that if she stayed her present course, Ramona would provide a floor-show that the conferees would remember for a long time to come. He figured that with the proper suggestions that he could get “Kim” to do a complete strip tease for the ballroom guests, while he took “Rupaul” up to the room adjoining the one with the sleeping Rack store manager. Whatever happened to Ramona for the rest of the evening was supposed to be her problem. All went off as planned until Oscar as “Debbie” got Elena as “Deborah” who was double masking as “Rupaul”.

As the door to the room closed behind them, Oscar/Debbie/Delia declared, “Okay Deborah it’s time for me to be Rupaul and for you to go back to being Deborah.”

“You said that you would do something to Ramona first,” stated Deborah as “Rupaul”.

“I did, Deborah. I guarantee that she will strip to the skin for the entire crowd in the ballroom as a start to her madness.”

“But I thought you would get her into bondage or something as well, Debbie.”

“Is that what you want, Deborah?”

“Yes,” confirmed Deborah.

“Do you want to help me do that?”

“Of course,” responded Deborah. “I have fantasized doing that to her for years. Every time she took a man from me that fantasy grew and grew.”

“Okay, but we had better get back down there before she does her thing.”

“One more question, Debbie.”

“What’s that? inquired Oscar as “Debbie”.

“What did you do with Oscar, I mean Delia.”

“That person is in its room right now,” said Oscar truthfully from behind his “Debbie” mask. They got down to the ballroom just in time to prevent Ramona as “Kim Bassinger” from making a total spectacle of herself. Ironically, because of Ramona’s activities, she had won the most “in character category” in the costume contest. The prize was breakfast at the hotel the following morning and fifty dollars in cash. Elena as “Deborah” masking as “Rupaul” assisted Deborah/Kim in the collection of her prize and then ushered her out of the ballroom and into the elevator where “Debbie” was waiting.

“Can you believe that she won a prize?”

“All the more fun for us, “Deborah”. Let’s put the Rupaul mask and coat on Kim while we are in the elevator, so if any one sees us on the way to the room, all they will see is two Debbies and a Rupaul.”

“Good idea,” responded Elena as Deborah. Once they were in the room, they stripped the Kim PEM and costume off of Ramona who was all but totally unconscious and susceptible to any suggestion she was given. “Let’s tell her that she is a raving lesbian,” suggested Elena as “Deborah”.

“Whatever you want to do, Deborah, now is your chance,” declared Oscar as “Debbie”.

“How do we make her think she has been in a lesbian act when she wakes up?”

“Have her come to in a sixty-nine position with another woman, Deborah.”

“Where are we going to find a woman that will help us do that?”

“How about you, Deborah?”

“I couldn’t do that, Debbie.”

“Sounds like you are all bark and no bite. How about placing her in bed with Delia.”

“But that is exactly what I don’t want to happen.”

“Why is that?”

“Because Delia is Oscar.”

“No she isn’t. She is the Rack’s store manager.”

“Are you sure about that, Debbie?”

“I put her in her room, remember?”

“But you said she was Oscar.”

“No, you said she was Oscar,” countered Oscar as “Debbie”. I just didn’t say she wasn’t Oscar.

“Then you must be Pablo.

“If you say so.”

“But Ramona was positive you were Pablo.”

“If you say so,” repeated Oscar as “Debbie” while enjoying Elena/Deborah’s confusion.

“Let’s put the Rupaul mask on Ramona and have her wake-up in a sexual position with Delia.”

“Good idea, Deborah,” responded Oscar as “Debbie” enjoying the fact that had been his intention in the first place. “I have some duct tape to make sure that they stay as we put them until they are both awake. Let’s make sure that they are totally naked except for their masks. I also want to remove all the sheets, towels and clothes from the room to prevent them from making any kind of covering for themselves.”

“I like the way you think, Pablo, but now that I know who you are, I can’t spend the night with you after we set-up Ramona and Delia.”

“Why is that?” inquired Oscar as “Debbie” while they started to remove all the sheets, bedding and towels from the room.

“I don’t want to steal you from Ramona and although he doesn’t know it or appreciate it, I want to be true to Oscar.”

“You are truly a strange, but wonderful lady, Deborah. I’ll have to tell Oscar that when I see him,” declared Oscar/ Debbie/Pablo.

“Don’t you dare do that, Pablo. I would be mortified. If Oscar comes to me, I want it to be totally voluntary,” declared Elena as “Deborah”.

“I see. Okay, help me get Ramona into her dream state so she will have one hell of a time explaining tonight’s activities to herself and the world. Then you can go to your room.”

They worked in silence as they stripped their victims to the buff and arranged them on the room’s bed. Oscar as Pablo in a “Debbie” disguise went to “her” bags and pulled out the large roll of duct tape. Oscar always had a roll of duct tape with him. It was a way to package large items that he purchased on buying trips as well as the ultimate repair and reconstruction kit. He had recovered the use of more than one suitcase with duct tape. As they finished taping Ramona in a “69” position to the Nordstroms store manager in the adjoining room, Elena as “Deborah” suggested, “We could have a night cap in the bar if you want,” suggested Deborah.

“No, I have had a long day and will have to be up early to check-out and catch my flight. Ramona will probably miss hers, but then she gave me a hard time and deserves the inconvenience.”

“Okay, but don’t say you weren’t asked, Pablo.”

“I’ll remember it. I’ll also remember that you went back on your word, Deborah.”

“I didn’t go back on my word,” stated Elena as “Deborah”. “I said I would spend the night with Rupaul. Now Rupaul is spending the night with Delia.”

“I suppose that technically you are right, but in your heart you know that you are not honoring our contract.”

“Pablo, you will feel better in the morning for what we are not doing tonight.”

“That has to be one hundred percent feminine logic, Deborah. Maybe we will meet at breakfast.”

“I wonder what happened to Oscar. I thought these were his rooms.”

“They are, but he lent them to me for the night, Deborah.” With that and without so much as a good night, Deborah left and went off down the long, quiet hall towards the elevator and her own room. Oscar took off his “Debbie” disguise, cleaned it and powdered it before packing it in his suitcase. He took a long hot shower made sure that everything that he had purchased or brought was packed away. Once he was squared away, he laid down for a few hours sleep. He planned to rent a car and spend a couple of days on Mt. Rainier, so he would have to chance of flying back without any of the masking conspirators or the Party Supply “crazys”. In the morning he checked out early enough to miss breakfast at the hotel. When he got the paper the following day at the campground trading post, there was an item about a crazy couple that was found in a strange circumstance at the Roosevelt Hotel. The Nordstrom’s corporation had no comment on the involvement of one of its managers, who claimed that she was out with clients and someone had played an ugly joke on her. The other party was an out of state conventioneer, who complained that there was an underground male sex club in Seattle that wanted to endanger the lives of professional career women. No mention of their condition when found or what they were wearing was mentioned in the piece. Oscar assumed that the hotel had managed to tone down what went in the paper.

He called into his work and told them he needed a couple of extra days off. The mountain top nature of his experience needed to have time to be truly enjoyed. They were such a world apart from his normal existence. He spent the extra days hiking and generally enjoying the great scenery and vistas of the Mt. Rainier National Park. The whole time, “Debbie” stayed neatly packed in the locked suitcase in the trunk of his rented car. Finally, he tore himself away from the quiet of nature and drove to Seatac Airport and flew home to the rat race of the day-to-day survival in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. He had gathered so much stuff that he had to buy an extra suitcase to get it all home.

Before going to his mother’s house and the ritualistic inquisition as to why he had stayed away so long and how her comadre had to change her daughter’s (Elena’s) reception because he and Elena had eloped to that silly conference, Oscar decided to stop off at his loft and put all of his masking toys and “Debbie” away.

In spite of all of the hassles, it was good to be home. For all the fun and fulfillment he had on his trip, there was a special quality to the solitude of his loft as well. He turned on his computer and scanned in all the images from the memory chips he had filled with his digital camera. Cropping, enhancing and saving them to a zip disc for future reference and the store’s planned web site took several hours of concentrated, solitary work. The candid photos he had taken “Deborah” and “Deborah” as “Rupaul” was strangely exciting. However, he chalked this feeling up to the idea that they were leading up to the Halloween celebration. He turned on the surveillance camera for the store and saw that Elena was indeed back on the job and the store was extensively decorated for the up coming Halloween season. She seemed even more capable than before. Yet, as professional as she appeared, she had a new feminine style about her that he wasn’t aware of until now. He couldn’t figure out what it was. Her hair was the same. As far as he could tell, Elena had not lost any weight. Her make-up wasn’t any different, yet her behavior was definitely modified in some way. Maybe he should take his mother’s advice and date, Elena. On the other hand, if Elena took that out of area teaching job she was talking about maybe starting up with her wouldn’t be such a good idea.

In fact, the store was currently loaded with shoppers. Elena ran a tight ship and all the clerks were busy working the crowd in the store. Much of the new inventory Oscar had ordered at the conference was still on its way, so the activity was being created by a close out sale of last year’s rentals and back stock items. The few new items that had arrived or had been shipped back by Elena from the conference were selling well. In addition, they were taking orders for the stock that was about to arrive. For Oscar this proved that the Barrio had money and would support a mall if the merchants had things the people of the barrio wanted to buy at prices they could afford and services they could relate to. His email was loaded with good news about the grants and permits Oscar and Adrian had planned for. If Elena developed the day-to-day business plan and managed it, the Barrio Mall and training center would soon be a reality.

Oscar continued to observe is store and the action in it. He was still trying to figure out what had changed with Elena while not realizing that he was the one that had changed. However, all of this observation and thought made him change his mind once again. Instead of going home or going into the store and telling Elena the good news about the permits and plans, Oscar decided to become “Debbie” for the evening and step out to the Interlude for an evening of celebration. Maybe “Deborah” would show up, or he could inspire marital games for his father and mother again. Facing his mother and Elena could wait until another day. If Elena loved him as she said she did, she would wait until he was ready. Maybe by that day Oscar would realize that having access to all the necessary supplies via the store, as well as access to Oscar’s vault, Elena had made a costume that matched “Debbie’s”. Maybe he would finally confirm that Elena was “Deborah. After all, Elena had even designed platform boots that made her the same height as Oscar when he did “Debbie”. To confuse matters even further, Elena had identification made the confirmed that her costumed character was a Deborah Anna Alvarez de Valencia, but this realization and star-crossing package would take yet another complete chapter in the saga of the Star Crossed Maskers.