Ali scanned the racks of party dresses. Christian had taken her to one of the sleek new stores in downtown Dallas. Everyone around her was a size zero and wore a fashionable bob or crew cut. Christian was animatedly chatting up the sales woman about wether or not she would look good in tight black or flowing black. Whatever that meant. Ali was more amused with her rubbing his arm. All she wanted to do was run up and shout he’s gay. Alas, Christian was not out of the closet.
She turned away from the clothes to look out the window. Across the street was the old bookstore and and a hipster cafe. No wonder the old rednecks hated this part of town. Across the street a glowing sign was above the alley way. Lone Star Market Place. That was new to the area. She watched the people entering the alley way. Some had green skin, others had horns. I guess it was a themed pop up shop gathering. Dallas was innovating faster then she thought.
“Ali, come here. I think I found the outfit.” Begrudgingly she turned away from the odd crowd and towards Christian and the sales woman. She was holding up a tight black dress. “Your kidding me, C?” Christian shook his head no. “It is time to show those curves to the world.” The sales woman put her hand on his shoulder. “And not just keep them a secret for our star rodeo boy.” Ali looked at the girls hand. She didn’t like anyone touching Christian. He was hers, even if he was gay. Christian always called it her weird mix of mothering, over protectiveness and possessiveness. Either way, she was committed to be his beard and no man of hers would be touched by another woman.
She walked over to him and grabbed the dress, giving him a kiss on the cheek. The sales girl withdrew her hand. Ali grabbed his hand and pulled him into the dressing room. “I’m gonna need help with the zipper.” He made a face but followed her to pull him in. They could hear the sales girl gasp.
Once inside she had Christian unzip the diner dress and started squeezing into the latex contraption he called a dress. “That wasn’t very nice of you, Ali.” He said as he helped her pull it up. “She was touching you.” He yanked the latex up over her hip bones. “You do remember I’m gay right. She could be dancing nude right in front of me and I still wouldn’t look.” Ali did a little jump so the latex could make it over her boobs. “Doesn’t matter. A good Christian girl wouldn’t flirt with other people’s boyfriends.” He pulled the zipper up and turned her around.
“Ali, we talked about your possessive issues. I am going to find a guy you know.” She hugged him tight. “And I am prepared to loose you to a guy. Hell, I am prepared to find him for you. I will not loose you to a girl.” He sighed and opened the curtain. “Let’s just go get you to make up.”
She followed him to the make up chair, sticking her tongue out at the sales woman. No one, but the perfect guy would get to see Christian’s amazingness. Ali wouldn’t allow it. The makeup artist was an overdressed woman, who quickly got underwhelmed by her lack of makeup knowledge. After Christian saved the mood for her, she let herself drift away to the girls thick southern drawl.
Ali was in her fathers shop. All the different clocks on the wall were ticking to the same beat. She could see her father bent over his work bench. On the table was a large clock he was trying to figure out how to fix. The customer was coming back in an hour, expecting her father to be finished. She walked over and tapped the desk. They had a code. One knock was for a drink. Two knocks was food. Three was an emergency. Her father looked up after the second knock.
“Leave it over there.” She put it down on top of a stack of books. “Dad, I was wondering if we could talk for a second.” Her father’s head snapped up right away. They did not often communicate like that.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, the weird look of worry in his eyes. She sat down on one of the random stools he had cluttering the store.”There’s a school project for sociology.” His head tilted in confusion. School wasn’t something she normally had an issue with. “And the problem is?” She looked down at the tiny watches scattered over his desk. “It’s a family tree project.” Her father’s face lit up with that weird worried look.
“You know my parents were immigrants without records.” She looked over to her father. Askan Byström was indeed an immigrant to Texas. His tall, lanky frame, slightly pointed ears, purple-grey eyes and white hair was not a native image to Dallas. His parents had fled the Nazi’s occupation of Sweden and somehow managed to conceive him late in life. Only to die a few years later.
Ali picked up a watch and started to wind it to the right time. The sound of ticks always comforted her. “I was thinking about mom.” Her father took the watch from her hands, stood up and started pulling her towards the door. “I must finish this clock. We can look together for something another time.” Ali stopped herself in the doorway, as the clocks striked noon a chorus of melodies and animals came to life in the shop. Her father saw her smile and waited till the clocks stopped before kicking her out.
Ali, clicked her car keys and heard Sleipnir’s rumble from across the lot.
“So do you like it?” Asked Christian. Ali snapped back into reality. Her reflection in the mirror looked like a totally different person. This was a girl who liked to take time with her appearance. Everything was perfectly put into place. “I love it.” Christian sighed in relief. The makeup girl frowned. “Are you sure? You were very quiet this whole time.” Ali nodded. “I’m just not used to this whole make up thing. It was nice to watch you work.” The makeup girl seemed to like that answer. She relaxed and turned her chair around.
“Christian said you like to be casual. You can just braid your hair in a loose braid and it will match your dress and makeup.” She explained. Before she could nod, Christian got behind her and did it quickly. He took her hand and pulled her up. “Let’s teach you a new dance for that new dress.” Ali snorted. “My dancing is not that bad.” Christian smiled. “Even the Pointer Sisters learned to do more then point, Ali.” She was going to protest when she heard the store start to blast a Justin Bieber song. That was her cue to leave. She hurriedly paid at the counter and pulled Christian out of the store and towards the alley way.
“Before we go out can we check this place out?” Christian looked down the alleyway and then up at the glowing sign. Lone Star Market Place. “When did this place open up?” He asked. “It just opened! Isn’t it great. We’ve been needing this in Dallas for so long.” said a girl with polka dots running up and down her arms. He looked at me and shrugged. “If we’ve been desperately needing one as guaranteed by a girl with polka dots on her arm.”
Ali smiled and pulled him into the darkness.
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