Girl Clothes
by Cody

The darkest hour of night; flip-flop sandals scuttling precariously over a dew-damp lawn. Irrepressible giggles and frantic hushing that only leads to outright laughter.

“Shh, god, shut up. I’m--shh,” more laughter, “Okay, should we--”

“In his mailbox! Put it in his mailbox.”

“It won’t fit, stupid. I’ll put it on the doorstep.”

“Let’s put it--” burst of giggles, more breath than sound. “Put it-- yhea, and then ring the doorbell and haul ass!”

“Dude, no!”

“No, come on, then we’ll duck in those bushes and watch him get it.”

“Hell no, I ain’t ringing the doorbell. You ring it.”

“Fine, I will. I don’t give a fuck.”

One shadow came forward as the other retreated, and put it on his doorstep, rang the bell, and ran like hell. The shadows collided and tumbled behind and partially into a bush as a jumble of limbs and laughter.

“Oh shit, we did it!”

“Yay! We rule!”



“Did you ring it?”

“Yhea, I rang it.”

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know. He’s coming.”


“He’s not coming.”

“He didn’t hear it.”

“Go ring it again.”

“Fuck you, it’s your turn.”


“Okay, fine.” One shadow got up, sprinted forward, hit the bell, ran and dove back into its leafy hideout.

“Shit, you fucking elbowed me!”

“Sorry, sorry.”

“It’s okay. God, where is he?”

“I don’t know. I hate him!”

“I’m ’bout to go break into the fucking house and throw it at him!”

“I know! Let’s do it!”



The sun was rising. Neighbors were leaving for work. The shadows weren’t shadows anymore, and they gave up with irritated grumbles.

“Screw it, he’ll find it later.”

“Yhea, let’s get out of here. I’m hungry.”

“You wanna go to Denny’s?”

“Ooh, pancakes.”

“Hell yhea! That’s what I’m talking about!”

“Fuck you, JC!”

“Fuck you!” Two arms raised in one-fingered salutes. They left in search of pancakes.


The thing was, JC could sleep through anything; phones, doorbells, nuclear warfare. The only thing that always woke him up was his alarm clock, which was currently set for 11:50 am. Why 11:50? Because Crossing Over with John Edward came on at noon, and that gave him time to wake up a little and brush his teeth before flopping onto the sofa and tuning into his favorite daytime television program. Let Lance have his soap operas; Chris could keep his trashy talk shows; JC was fucking addicted to Crossing Over.

It’s just that he had so many questions, and he found himself clinging to this prospect of possibly getting some of them answered. He wanted to get in touch with John Edward and ask him, fuck, so many things. But he didn’t want a reading; he was scared of who might come and what they might say. Ghosts, everywhere, are they watching? Did they see him in the shower? In private moments, touching himself? Perverts. Or when he’s alone and being stupid? Or when he’s taking a shit? Weirdos. Did they listen when he spoke to himself? Did they read over his shoulders when he wrote in his journal? Nosy bastards. He was scared of being told on, of how he’d feel if he knew who was looking and what they saw.

How could he be so hungry when he’d had such a big dinner last night? But he was fucking starving, and the mere thought of a mushroom and pepperoni pizza literally made his mouth water. He ordered during a commercial break and got a Dr. Pepper to tide him over till it arrived. Why is it that food commercials always play when you’re hungry? But he didn’t want to fill up on chips or anything; he’d wait and then tear into the pizza like... like a fucking jackal, man. He recalled images of a Discovery Channel special that’d showed jackals ripping apart some sort of deer-type animal. A gazelle, maybe? He liked that word: gazelle. Gazelle and gossamer. He said them out loud, softly, dragging out the z and s sounds.

The credits for Crossing Over rolled, and JC sang a warbling, “Pizza Man, where are you? Are you lost? Why don’t you come to me?” in no particular tune. Hungry, hungry hippo. Feed me, Seymour. Feed my Frankenstein. Leapin’ lizards, he was gonna die if the damn Pizza Man didn’t hurry the fuck up. He sang sadly, “This is The End. My only friend, The End,” and pictured his tombstone saying, “Here Lies JC: Still Hungry.” Then he thought about how that might actually be a nice epitaph, because it would describe his eternal search for discovery and…

Pizza! The doorbell sounded and JC jumped off the sofa and did a little jig all the way to the door. He gave the Pizza Man, who ended up being the Pizza Lady, a twenty and told her to keep the change. Happy, happy times! Pizza smelled so good! Mmm mmm!

And that’s when he noticed it. Just by chance, he noticed it. A cardboard box on his doorstep. It was unmarked. A bomb!, he thought immediately, but then, Nah. He went inside and carefully placed his precious, yummy yum pizza on the coffee table before returning to get the box. It was light and not very big; he shook it a little in his arms, rustling of cloth. Maybe a fan knit him a blanket or something. Joey had received a couple of baby quilts since he’d had his daughter. Maybe it was something he’d ordered. But, no, it couldn’t be, because there wasn’t any postage or addressing on the box. It had been hand-delivered, probably by some stalker-fans. Hopefully by nice, harmless crazies and not by creepy, crazy crazies. Like the ones who’d put crucified *N sync dolls on the lawn of the WEG compound. He really, really hoped those people didn’t know where he lived.

The box wasn’t even taped shut; the flaps were just folded over each other so they’d stay in place. He pulled at it with one hand while his other reached for a slice of pizza. “Multi-tasking,” he told the box when the flaps didn’t open, before putting a foot on it for leverage and yanking until they came apart.

The box had clothing in it. And a short note written in thick, black-marker block letters: For JC, the Prettiest Girl At The Prom! He tucked his chin at that. The fuck? He rifled through the clothes, wasn’t much there. He pulled out a woman’s undershirt, one of those spaghetti-strapped tank top numbers, lavender with a tiny pink material rose on the center of the neckline. Hanes, the label said, 100% Cotton. He tossed it aside, reached for the next article and rubbed it between his fingers, finding it pleasantly slippery. He stretched the tag taut to read: 92% Polyester 8% Spandex. Polyester made him think of discos and sweaty leisure suits, of rough material, but this wasn’t anything like that. It was a just a piece of fabric with strings attached, and it took him a minute to realize it was a shirt. A whatchamacallit, halter top. Pretty; white with little yellow flowers embroidered along the hem. And lastly, a pair of jean shorts. Pink and short jean shorts. Very pink and very short. He set the shorts down with the shirts and thought, What the fuck am I supposed to do with this? Was it some sort of joke?

He sandwiched two slices of pizza and bit into them, contemplating the possibilities. It could be from some weirdo fans or it could be from someone playing a trick. What kind of trick was a box of girl clothes? Ha ha, you have pink booty shorts? Why is that funny? It was funny if he wore them around, maybe, but why would he do that? Chris, it’s Chris. Chris with one or all of the guys in cahoots with him, most likely. JC strategized: Lance was a waste of time; he lied like a sleeping dog. Joey, despite his goofiness, was smarter than the average bear and loyal to boot. He wouldn’t give anything away. Justin was where the money was. Catch that guy drunk, high, or in the right mood and he’d crack like an egg.

So JC put the clothes back in the box, closed it and set it beside his sofa, and reached for the phone.


“Hey.” JC stepped back to let Justin in.

“Hey.” Justin gave him a lopsided grin, pushing his sunglasses away from his eyes to rest on top of his head. “What’s up?”

“Not too much,” JC shrugged, leading Justin into the kitchen. “You want a beer?”

“Nah.” Justin hopped up to sit on the table. “I drove here, so.”

“Oh.” Well, that threw a wrench into the plan. Shit.

“I wouldn’t say no to a Snapple.” Justin wiggled his eyebrows. There was a running joke about JC being hyper-protective of his Snapple supply, which was really unfair. There was just one time on the bus he got pissed cause he’d bought an entire six pack of Peach Iced Tea and hadn’t gotten to drink a single one, and he’d kind of yelled at everyone for it. But that was three years ago, and the guys still acted like he was Snapple Obsessed. He didn’t even like Snapple all that much. He liked it, but he wasn’t crazy about it or anything. It was an old, and not really funny to begin with, joke and JC really wished they’d just let it go already. The horse is dead. He handed Justin a bottle. “What are you up to tonight?”

“Eh.” JC ran a hand through his hair. “Just chillin’.”

Justin popped the bottle top open, twisted it off and immediately put it in his mouth, then took it out. “Wanna come to a party?” He put it back in.

“Nah, I’m just gonna hang out. I’m tired.” JC slapped Justin’s hand away from his mouth and took the bottle cap out. “Dude, what’s wrong with you?”

Justin sipped his drink, unfazed. “Too tired to play some ball?”

Ball. Yes, good. Justin was always in a good mood after playing ball, and sports equals thirst equals who wants a beer? “Lemme go change into some shorts.” JC looked at Justin hard as he said it, watching for a sign of laughter.

Justin looked back at JC with no outward signs of amusement. “Okay.”

“Okay, then.” JC waited.

Justin got off the table. “Okay,” he said, awkward under JC’s intense scrutiny. “I’m gonna… go… warm up, I guess.” He went out the back door.

JC sighed.


“Unbeatable, back is the Incredible!” Justin sang out, which rang a bell and set him off, “My name is Tim Shady, I been crazy way before JC didn’t play me!”

JC just wiped his face on his t-shirt and followed Justin through the backdoor and into the kitchen. Ah, air conditioning.

“Get it?” Justin persisted. “Tim Shady. Timberlake.” singing again, “My name is Tim Shady.”

“Yhea, I got it.” JC headed for the fridge.

“Whatever, dawg.” Justin waved a dismissive hand at him. “You just don’t feel my flava. Don’t nobody feel my flava!”

“Right.” JC held out a Heineken. “Beer?”

Justin shook his head. “Dude, I’m driving, remember?”

“Oh, right.” JC turned back to the fridge so Justin wouldn’t see his eyes roll. “Forgot about that.” He tossed Justin a bottle of water and stood for a minute, deliberating. Then he said, “Let’s get high.”

Justin choked on the water a little, laughed, “Dude, what?”

JC looked at him solemnly. “Let’s get high.”

Justin tilted his head to one side, smiling quizzically. “Uh, okay.”

“Okay.” JC rubbed his hands together, heading towards his stairs, “Let’s go.”

“Right now?” Justin was at his heels. “What brought this on?”

“I’m just in the mood.” He reached under his bed and pulled out a large Nike shoebox, inside which was his stash and pipe collection. He pulled out a glass pipe and his sack and sat down on the mattress, immediately starting to load the bowl.

“Wait, are we smoking in here?” Justin was surprised. Usually, JC made people smoke in the backyard behind the garage.

“Yhea, it’s too hot to go outside.” Really, JC was too impatient to deal with dragging chairs from the back porch to behind the garage, and they couldn’t sit in the grass cause there was an ant hill out there.

“Cool!” Justin sat on the bed gingerly, careful not to disturb the bowl-packing process. He was obviously getting a kick out of being allowed to smoke inside JC’s house.

JC handed the pipe and a lighter to Justin. “Here you go.”

“Dude, it’s yours. Go ahead,” Justin said graciously.

Goddamnit, JC thought, taking his two hits quickly. He watched Justin hit, and smiled encouragingly at him.


Justin sneezed. “I’m allergic to cats.” A pause. He leaned closer, put a hand on JC’s knee to ensure he was paying attention. “I’m allergic to cats.”

“I don’t have a cat.” JC got off the bed, holding the shoebox.

“I know.” Justin sprawled out, stretching until his entire body arched.

“You’re not allergic to cats.” JC kneeled down to slide the box back into its hiding place.

Justin rolled onto his side and curled up. “I know.”

“So,” Okay, how to broach the subject? How about, “I know it was Chris.”

Justin turned heavy-lidded eyes towards JC. “What was Chris?”

“The box.” He liked this, it was like one of those police TV dramas where the cop pretends to have evidence against a crook to make him confess, when really the cop’s just going on a hunch.

“What box?” Justin was smiling lazily now, but it wasn’t the right kind of smile. It was anticipatory and guileless. Justin was eager to be amused by Chris’s antics, but he didn’t know about them yet.

Let him go, boys. He don’t know nothing. “Nevermind.” Maybe Chris did it and didn’t tell Justin about it, but that was unlikely. Chris liked to brag and he told Justin everything; it was their Achilles’ heel as pranksters: they both had big mouths. So it wasn’t Chris. Then who was it?

“The Cat in the Box,” Justin said.

JC shook his head. “The Cat in the Hat.”

Justin lost his smile for a moment, but it came back twice as big. “I’m allergic to cats.”


He needed something to paint in, something he didn’t care about getting dirty. He had designated painting jeans, an old, faded and ripped pair now marred with streaks and splatters of paint, but he didn’t have a designated painting shirt anymore. He’d been using an old dress shirt he’d stopped wearing because of an unsightly wine stain, but Lance had brought Dirk over the other day and he’d messed on the shirt, so JC threw it out. Now he was rifling through his closet, wearing his painting jeans and becoming increasingly impatient. He hadn’t thought about needing painting clothes last month when he’d cleaned out his wardrobe for donations to the Salvation Army. All his old t-shirts were gone, and he liked to have a shirt on while painting so he could wipe his fingers on it if need be. “Need shirt,” he mumbled, searching his chest of drawers. And then he thought of it.

It’s just a tank top. No big deal. It wasn’t a fucking bustier or anything. So what if it had that little rose on it? He liked flowers. Besides, it’s not like anyone was gonna see him wearing it. He was just going to wear it in the privacy of his own home. No crime in that.

So he took the box from where it still sat by his sofa and opened it. There lay the lavender undershirt. He picked it up, studied it. Just a shirt. He pulled it on, smoothed his hand down his chest. See? It was comfortable. He went to his painting room and picked up his easel and brush, ready to go.

A little less than three hours later, he was done for the day. He wiped his dirty fingertips against the cloth stretched over his ribcage. His shoulders had paint smudges on them. The thin straps had kept slipping down and he’d kept having to push them back into place, eventually giving up and letting them hang. But the shirt was a good enough painting shirt, all in all. A shirt was a shirt was a shirt. It would do.


It was Nelly Furtado’s fault he wore the shorts, in a roundabout way. He was watching MTV and her new video came on, and he thought, Look how skinny she is. I bet she could fit those little pink shorts. and that of course brought about, I wonder if I’d fit them. Before he knew it he had the box open on the coffee table and was holding the shorts up for inspection. They looked too small, maybe.

Only one way to find out.


He couldn’t explain why and was mildly disturbed by how much it pleased him that the shorts fit. He twisted in front of the mirror, checking himself out. They certainly were short. But, surprisingly, really comfortable. His legs looked long and muscular; his ass flashing indecently if he bent over, which gave him a kind of cheap thrill. He had to tuck himself just right so he wouldn’t hang out of them, and the way he tucked was rather, um, flattering. And he liked that, too. Slut, he admonished, scowling over his shoulder at his reflection.

Then he bent over again.


The pink shorts became his guilty pleasure. Whenever he was alone in his house, he was in them. He liked the material, the jean was brushed or something. So soft, he thought. And thinking of that lead him to thinking of other soft things.

Like the halter top.

He opened the box once again, took out the last item. Let it slither through his fingers. Slippery smooth. He pressed his teeth into his bottom lip, finally asking himself, Well, why the hell not? and tying the sets of strings around his neck and torso. He rubbed his chest, delighting in the texture of the shirt. Silky. Felt good sliding against his skin. He wondered how it looked.

Lots of skin, bare shoulders and back and midriff. Which was new for him, like wearing a shirt, but at the same time not wearing one. He rolled his shoulders, watching his back muscles ripple, faced the mirror and admired his abdomen. He brushed his hand across his stomach, let it dip under the waist of the shorts.



He’d wear the halter and shorts outfit when he wrote songs for other groups, sometimes. When he wrote songs for the female groups, for inspiration. It was oddly easier to find a line to follow You’re my man, and I’m your lady when he was wearing an embroidered halter top. Like method acting.

That’s what he was doing, sitting at his piano working on a new song entitled, “I’ll Be Your Dream Girl”, which kind of ripped off Janet but not enough to make him scrap it. That’s what he was doing when he got caught.

“Hey, Jace, I brought your thingy back,” Justin’s voice. JC’s eyes went wide with panic. Footsteps coming closer. JC thought quickly, reached up and untied the straps of his halter top. Justin stopped in the doorway, leaned against the frame. “Hey, man, thanks for letting me borrow it.” Justin waved JC’s portable MP3 player around. “I bought my own today, so I thought I’d give yours back before I forgot.”

He started to come closer, but JC put up his hand to stop him. “Don’t move.”

Justin froze. “What?”

“Don’t come over here.” A little frantic, maybe. “I’m, uh…I’m naked.”

Justin laughed now. “What?”

“I’m not wearing any clothes. Stay over there.” JC looked down at himself. “Um, I’m gonna go get dressed. Close your eyes.”

Justin obediently closed his eyes. JC stood cautiously and started towards the door. He nearly jumped out of his skin when Justin screamed, “What the fuck are you wearing?!”

JC was caught somewhere between humiliation and indignation. “Dude! You’re supposed to have your eyes closed!”

“Dude, is that a halter top?” JC was glad that Justin was finding the situation so amusing.

“Shut up. Why the hell were you looking, anyway? You thought I was naked, you perv.” He was trying hard to sound more pissed than embarrassed.

Justin was blushing, but he was cracking up, too. “Yhea, but you weren’t! You’re wearing… pink Daisy Dukes!”

“Shut up!” JC rushed for his bedroom, knowing Justin would follow him. He walked progressively faster, but Justin kept up. By the time they got upstairs, they were full-out running, and Justin slammed up against the bedroom door before JC could shut it and lock him out. “Go away.”

“Why are you wearing girl clothes?” Justin was gasping for breath, still laughing.

“Leave me alone.” Almost begging.

“When’d you get them?” JC pressed harder against the door, but Justin returned the pressure, so he gave up.

He went to his dresser, pulling out a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and going into the bathroom to change. “I didn’t buy them. Someone left a box of clothes on my doorstep.”

Justin strode into the room like he’d just randomly wandered in. “So, do you like… you know.” He shimmied his shoulders a little. “Get off on it? Dressing up all pretty?”

JC contemplated drowning himself in the toilet. “God, I hate you.”

“No, I’m being serious.” Justin came to the bathroom door, poked his head in. “Why do you wear it?”

JC shrugged, his spine stiffening, grasping at the last shreds of his dignity. “It’s comfortable. I like the fabrics.”

Even though he was doing a horrible job of it, Justin was trying to hide his smile, and the thought counted. “Oh. So do you have, like, a whole bunch?”

No.” JC made a face. “It’s just that stuff. And one other shirt. It’s just. I’m not like, I’m not…”

“A woman trapped in a man’s body?” His grin was teasing but friendly.

JC cracked a smile despite himself. “Shut up.” They laughed together. JC cleared his throat a little nervously. “So… do you think you could do me a favor and maybe forget to mention this to anyone? Like, ever?”

“Yhea, sure thing.” Justin opened the bathroom door completely, stepped close and clapped a hand on JC’s shoulder. “You can count on me, man. My lips are sealed.”

JC gave him a relieved, grateful look. “Thanks, man. I owe you.”


JC was the last to arrive at the WEG compound for dance practice. When he walked into the rehearsal room, he stopped cold at the sight of Chris. Wearing mid-thigh length wind shorts. Pink ones. And a white halter top. Grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

JC shot Justin a death glare.

Justin seemed suddenly fascinated by the wallpaper.


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