The rent-a-room was dark and humid. The only sound was the hum of the refrigerator. He liked it dark. In the dark he couldn’t see his own reflection. The dark didn’t mock him as the light did.
Lakme dropped his bag on the floor and flopped onto the couch. The feeling of the cool vinyl ripped through his body. Every nerve was on fire. He was alive again. The sensation would only last for a brief while, but for the time being, every synapse was firing on high. He felt no pain, feared nothing. The “doctor” was on a manic high that felt like it could last forever. He wanted to run to the window, throw it open, and shout to the world that he was the bringer of order to gender. No one had to be a servant to the X or the Y because he could mix and match them at will. He was the weaver of the fabric of gender.
Lakme’s heart was racing at the possibilities. It felt so good to stand next to God, to know that he could fine-tune the mistakes made by a God too busy for such details. Oh, he hoped this high would last. He had stopped taking the meds long ago. Unfortunately, that meant the lows lasted equally as long, and suicide was just a blade away.
He smiled at the thought. As he was a blade away from death, his patients were just a blade away from life, from womanhood. A blade away. The thought brought a peaceful smile to his lips. How delicate the scalpel was, and how fine a line it traced on the skin.
Once the vinyl had warmed, he realized how thirsty he was. His work drained him of fluids, and he had to refuel. The refrigerator was mostly empty, save for a few cans of soda and some random condiments. He opened a soda and sucked it down. The bubbly liquid made him feel young.
Lakme stood in the middle of his kitchen and stripped. There were still remnants of blood on his clothes, and he didn’t want to have to think about his work right now. No, now he just wanted to relax.
Back on the couch, he grabbed the remote and turned on the television. The late edition of the news was about to start, and he wanted to see what was happening in the land of Louisville.
“Tonight on WISH TV Late News: Police have identified yet another victim of the killer they are calling Dr. Lakme. Tye Siam, a local entertainer made famous by his act at Club Connect, was found dead in his home by his partner….”
He stared at the television in disbelief. Obviously, the newscaster was mistaken. Tye Siam wasn’t dead. Tye Siam had just been brought out of his cocoon. Tye Siam was far from dead. Only his male self was gone.
He grabbed the remote and switched to another news channel. The same story was being reported, only they were showing images, a body being carried out on a gurney. A body carried out of Tye Siam’s house. It had to be some kind of joke. It had to be someone else. Was someone following in his footsteps and ruining his work? Was there a killer destroying everything he had done?
The term ‘killer‘ was bouncing around inside of his skull. He knew that he had killed no one. He had only given them what they most deeply desired. He changed them; he didn’t end them.
“I’m not a killer. They’re wrong. I’m a doctor, not a killer.” He repeated the phrase over and over as he rocked on the couch.
“I’m not a killer!” He screamed, as he stood and ran to his bedroom. The escalating fear led him straight to the closet. He stood and stared at the odds and ends hanging in the dirty closet. Inside was comfort. Better than a stiff drink. Better than his tranquilizers. Better than his meds. Clothing. He pulled out a cotton peasant dress and slipped it on. “I save souls. I give life to the dead. I am a messiah. I can not kill.” He went to his dressing table and started applying makeup.
“They’re wrong. They’re lying. The police are lying. Everyone is lying. I’m not a killer.” He slipped on his wig.
“I have to show them. I have to prove to them that I didn’t kill anyone!” He slammed his fists down on the table and stood. He walked over to his smashed full-length mirror. When he saw his broken reflection, he became entranced. He stared deep into the mirror, into the past.