Trans Liberty Riot Brigade
L.M. Pierce © 2017
All Rights Reserved
A Sorta Prologue
“Oh yah? Well, fuck off then, you cuck!”
He’s a penny pickle dick anyhow.
I walk into the men’s public shithouse and slam the door behind me. The splintered starburst of mirror glitters under the yellow lights. The reflection’s sportin’ a shaggy haircut like someone’s gone faggin’ buggers with a pair of kitchen shears. My pupils are blown black and wide with the upshot of Flow coursin’ through my veins.
That pickle fucker ripped my shirt.
I examine the ripped collar in the refraction of the broken glass. My hair ain’t too long, ain’t too short. I’m still man enough, should someone, maybe Pickle Fucker, come pokin’ around after me. Though, if I’m real honest, I’m gettin’ sloppy. Just like Elenbar’s always sayin’—keep yer head down, don’t draw eyes ta ya—but it’s a chafe to move through the world as a mere pockmark of who you really are. Yah, I’m still me, though they call me a “she,” but if I keep hackin’ at my hair, I’m gonna look more like the dangerous “Transgressor” news stations are always shriekin’ about. But underneath it all, underneath the shag, that’s what I am.
A Transgressor on a shithouse mission.
On the cracked vid screen in the ceiling there’s some report about us right now—another undercover operation arrestin’ a pack of Transgressors. They don’t wanna get the snip-and-clip, the assignment surgery that’ll turn us from who we are, into what they want us to be. They’re reportin’ two dead already—more to come, if you know news like we do. I shudder, imaginin’ gettin’ my delicates all mangled up by a doc with a blade and a twisted sense of divine providence.
I approach the urinals squattin’ against the far wall. Smell of piss cakes and wankin’ stains waft through the air, a strong reminder of this location’s dual purpose. I peek under the stall doors, but there ain’t no tourist trout loafers tappin’ a signal for a blowie or a pop-off. Though pickle fucker was a bust, I’m still hopin’ to cop some rand coins from a trout. Since I made the long trip and all. Don’t matter, though. There’s other work to be done.
I slip down my pants and jut my pubic bone and mini-man toward one of the white bowl interiors. Urine spurts, and I huff with relief. There ain’t no company to gawk at me, and unlike squattin’ in lady piss stalls, like a good li’l “she,” this is good, it’s good. Feels right somehow.
I zip up, don’t wash, and at the exit, I whip out the chubby marker I carry with me everywhere. The embossed man symbol on the bathroom door gets a scrawled-on miniskirt, a crotch sweeper hardly proper enough for street walkin’. Though after I finish the big circle and the crosshatch over him, li’l man’s got an identity problem, the blessed “he” symbol now one of those dreaded Transgressors. A s/he, they hiss in the not-so-quiet corners of the world. Well, the Society will be along to reassign h/er in short tit order, I’m sure.
I press a kiss on the new Transgressor. It’s a tough thingtryin’ to be alive these days.
I hear a whistle, the chitterin’ bird call of my hip-mate. Waitin’ for me to do what I came here to do. So I scrawl TLRB in big black letters on the door. Somehow it don’t seem enough. So I write “A riot is the language of the unheard” next to it, one of my fav tidbits by a righteous guy. A guy who got gunned down for bein’ the wrong color and bein’ of the wrong mind. The Society don’t like people of the wrong mind. Hey, I know, the message ain’t nothin’ fancy, but the truth don’t have to be. It’s just gotta show up.
The Trans Liberty Riot Brigade was here.
“Spare us a Nut, would you?” Pint gropes at my chest, fingers searchin’ for some sign of the familiar rectangular box. His head of orange pubey curls tickles my chin, and his eyes roll loose in their sockets, the corners beet red and weepin’ yellowish slime. A puff of a Nutri-Stick could take the edge off a wicked withdrawal, but I ain’t got any and push him away.
“Jesus, here, fiending like a puckerfucker. Yer an embarrassment.” Elenbar flicks a Nut at Pint’s feet and sweeps back her long red hair.
He drops like a Bridge Street jumper, kneecaps a dull smack against the pavement. Blood seeps through his pants, and he fumbles with the stick, hands shakin’ with the withdrawal fever he’s fightin’. He brings the white tube to his chapped lips and jams the button to activate a smoky flow of vitamins and downer. Helps with the shakes, the fever, the gut punches to come.
Bosco glances up from his readin’ in the corner and shakes his head like he don’t approve of people bein’ alive at all. The whole room’s hot, air thick with chemical sweat and the smell of Pint’s sick body.
Everybody’s quiet, watchin’ Pint squirm and whimper on the ground. The small radio built into the wall of our headquarters mumbles:
“On this day, our Patriot’s Day, we remember those lost in the Great War and those still fighting the Daesh Eye threat overseas. Thankful are we to the Wall protecting our citizenry as we are thankful to the Society who guides us from ruin. Patriot’s Day of holiest remembrance, warriors of the Lord on High. Remember danger lurks not only abroad but within our own homeland. Those who would sow fear among us, the Transgressors who―”
“Turn that shyte off.” Elenbar glares at the green glowin’ light of the radio.
Bosco hops up from his seat and flips the switch to red.
“Faggin’ cucks.” Here I am, sittin’ pretty on the upswing of a warm solid high and good ol’ news from the Society broadcast gotta go bringin’ me down. See, lettin’ it get so bad is amateur shit for crotch sniffers like Pint. “You know, you gotta pace that shit out, stay in control, Pint. Stay on top of it. It’s how they get at us. If the Brigade’s nothin’ but a bunch of junk-tards twitchin’ and blasted off, who’s gonna listen?”
“Andi, just shut yer mawhole fer a pissy pretty second.” Elenbar slaps my dome with the flat of her metal clunker hand and my ears start ringin’. “Weather’s nice ’top that seat ya got? The pickle pricks yer sucking fer that seat? Brigade represents all people, not just the slick and squeaky clean. We’re like this fer a reason, ya know that, so stop talking like ya don’t.” Elenbar’s green eyes spark with rabid rage.
I rub my stingin’ head and eye my shitkickers instead of meetin’ her glare. “Look, I’m just gnawin’ on it. We might be like this for a reason, but we’d howl the Society right down if we weren’t just…” I need to drop it.
“Well, when ya get off and stay off the Flow perma-like, Andi, ya just fucking send me a postcard. I’ll slap yer fruity dicklips on the cover of Brigade: The Softer Side. Yer a junkie like the rest of us. Ya ain’t no better than any of us.” The gravel in her voice hurts more than the slap. “Ya do the marks like I told ya?”
She points her bionic metal finger at the borough map spread on the center table, the corners weighted by beer cans filled with gravel. This cinderblock shack is the headquarter hub of the Trans Liberty Riot Brigade. We just call it the Brick because it looks like nothin’ more than a maintenance shed. Basically is.
“Keepers. I marked up all the west front and the shithouses on the south.”
“Heard ya was hooking on the run. Again.” She flexes her right fist, curlin’ the metal jointed fingers like she’s testin’ it. The bionic arm’s a newly acquired thing and ain’t none of us used to it, especially not Elenbar.
Bosco’s eyes are on me, and I can’t keep the red outta my cheeks. “Just once and didn’t slop up anyhow. Just a tourist trout from outta the neighborhood.”
“Didn’t slop up? Then how ya think I’m hearing it? No hooking on the runs. Not ever, not fer nothing. Don’t care if the president’s begging ya fer a pop-off. Ya were seen, by one of ours, but ya might get remembered by someone else next time.”
“But not this time.” My beatin’ ticker’s takin’ missteps all over the place. I feel woozy.
“No, not this time. But it brings too much heat, attracts all sorts of problems. Ya keep it clean and straight fer the runs. Now, head ta Lover’s Lane with Bosco. He’ll fill ya in as ya go. Fagging twat.” She spits the last words and stalks outta the Brick, her lip wrinkled in a sneer of disgust.
Pint whimpers from his withered crouch on the floor. He tries to rock back on his feet but falls again. Don’t think he’s gonna be able to get up, and no one goes to help him. This ain’t the first and it ain’t gonna be the last time he’s quiverin’ on this floor. Pint’s got the hook worse than most of us combined. Smoke snakes from his mouth like someone’s lit him up from the inside. There are some things a good ol’ Nut can’t fix.
Elenbar likes to think I talk about things I don’t understand, but I do. The come-down off Flow’s some of the worst feelin’s in the world. The tremors start at the edges of your peripheral vision, li’l specks of dark like you’re rubbin’ your eyes too much, but they stick around, get bigger. Soon it’s rumblin’ through the threadlines of your nerves and your stomach clamps on your sack of guts. If you don’t rupture somethin’ internal, you can usually ride it out. But too many of us drag or get dragged to Dr. Chambers, beggin’ for a fixer. Most of the time he does us right, but he comes with a price. If you don’t have the rands to pay, he does accept other kinds of trade. Right and honest maybe, but still a sadist fagger.
Flow also comes in waves, and the nods are comin’ down on me, my body shudderin’ and losin’ some cohesion. I try not to let the fade happen too hard, or I’ll be right next to Pint on the ground. Gotta stay on top. Stay in control.
“Heh. Andi’s going wonky. Dr. Chambers’ll take it outta your ass, for effing sure, you wanker.” Bosco pounds me on the back, jerkin’ me from the pleasant grayspace I’d slipped into.
The weight of the nods dissipates a bit. “Suck a dick duck, ya cuck.”
He smirks, liftin’ his eyepatch to wink at me with the perfectly good blue eye underneath. He’s a faggin’ anglosax dramatic, fancies himself a limey punk-riot pirate. “Knockers. You coming with me to Lover’s Lane or what?”
“Keepers. Let’s get this shit right, though. I ain’t a fan of repeat business.”
Elenbar’s given us our instructions, and we gotta obey like the good soldiers we are. I try to pretend it don’t matter, but a trip to Lover’s Lane always gets at me, clawin’ deep inside my fleshy core where my feelin’ parts must be. I hate every minute, even though I ain’t seen her prowlin’. Every time I gotta go back, the possibility of seein’ her punches me straight in the mawhole. Nah, Lover’s Lane ain’t no love at all.
When we step outta the shack and into the night, I see Elenbar by the chain link, gazin’ at the shoreline of the Anacostia River. The water’s a shade of blotchy underpants, grayish yellow from the repeated wash and piss stains of the world revolvin’ around it. Lights fester on the river’s opposite edge, the shimmerin’ world of the Uppers, filled with people standin’ atop the shit crust of this Slumland the rest of us gotta live in. Elenbar cuts a statuesque silhouette against that distant glow.
Our little pocket of alleyway is littered with trash, knobs of it caught in the honeycomb fence line. You could follow that chain link all the way through the different sections of our quarter, if you wanted. Not that the fence serves any purpose. Rusted-away pockholes mean we could still duck to the water. Not that we would. The water incubates far worse than sewer sludge and dumped bodies, but there, across the rushin’ river, is Elenbar’s past, and I hope, someday, her future.
“Elenbar, you coming with us?” Bosco asks.
She wrinkles her nose at him. “I’ll stay here with Pint. Needs ta get shored up with Dr. Chambers. Apparently, I run a goddamn nappy factory, wiping yer shitty asses.”
“He’ll be all right,” I say.
Elenbar glares at me. “Aye, he will. But what about ya? Don’t fuck it up, Andi.”
Bosco touches my elbow, and together we slink back through the shadows of the alley, swallowed up in the bosom of the Slumland haze.
Back alleyways are transit of choice for scum breathers like us—like me—prowlin’ among the rats, kiddy-diddys, and other junk-tards. For the rest of society, it’s easier to ignore us, pretend we’re not there. We don’t fit into Temperance—the political catchphrase inflamin’ politics like a mutated case of syphilis. And though it smells of jizz wrappers and moldin’ dumpsters back here, I don’t mind the alleys so much. Keeps the questionin’ eyes away. Is she one of them? A Transgressor? A s/he? Why can’t they get h/er off the streets, reassign h/er like the rest?
But there’s more and more of us now. Some of us pass all right, wearin’ proper lady locks and skirts or sportin’ gentlemanly attire if such is our preference. But most of us struggle, eyes followin’ us wherever we go.
Bosco’s ahead, struttin’ to a prick-bustin’ beat pulsin’ out the back end of the Loosey Goosey Club. The back door butts up against the alleyway, and it’s here we come across Lucky Lips.
“Effing effer,” he whispers. Then he cups his mouth and lets out a chitterin’ series of bird calls. The ones we use to signal our hip-mates when we’re runnin’ our tags or an op.
She flinches and whips around like it’s a pinch on the ass. Bosco chuckles and sidles up to her, greetin’ her with a smarmy hug. His callused hands look like grease smears on her white latex dress. Lips’s got a smolderin’ Nut between her teeth, and she grimaces, pullin’ away from him.
“You smell like shyte, per ush.” Disdain strums her vocal cords, and she sounds prettier somehow, lighter and girly. Even her face, she’s already pale as milk, but her skin’s been painted ultra white, with large streaks of blue over her eyes. And her breasts, ones that don’t come natural home-grown, are crammed almost to her chin. I try not to stare. I’ve never seen Lips look this way, with tits like this, and in a dress too.
“Naw, serious now, where you been? Elenbar had the whole Brigade on fire lookin’ for you. Thought you up and drained out on us—you hawking Flow?” he says. His smile’s playful, but she frowns like it ain’t play at all.
Lucky Lips glances up the alleyway and drops her voice.
“Just shut it. I’m not Lips anymore. Name’s Lucy. Now get outta here. I don’t wanna call someone around, but I will if I gotta.” She glances at the backdoor of the club, where a bulgin’ beef steak stands with crossed arms. Watchin’ us.
“What the eff?” Bosco frowns.
“She’s been assigned.” I put a hand on his shoulder.
He wrenches free of me. The rims of his eyes water with horror. The look you get when you realize someone’s fallen beneath the waves and the person you’ve known and loved’s drowned and dead forever.
“Lips. What happened? What the eff happened? Is that what this is?” He grabs her wrist, his mouth a cavernous black gash of rage. Her nipples are hard in the chill clip of night, and he pinches one. “You think this is real? That you can escape what you are?”
“Feck you! Feck you, aye? Tell Elenbar she’s a fool. You all are now! How long can you go on playing at riot? It’s all a joke, ain’t—no, isn’t it? It’s all up someday, isn’t it?” She jerks away, cheeks burnin’ hot. Then she soothes her poofed dome of hair and nods toward the rump roast at the door. He slinks back inside, and she huffs an angry sigh. “Look, they patched me up. Got me off the Flow, and I can earn me some rands in a tight dress and clean hair. It’s not so faggin’ bad after all. Better than scootin’ around, s/he arses in the dirt.” Fury’s brought out her accent, and she sounds like Lips again. The real Lips. But I know, understand real clear, that Lucky Lips is dead.
“S/he? Oh, pardon, like weren’t a season ago you were swinging your pecker ’round the quarter? S/he now—look, Andi, we’re just s/he scumsuckers to Miss Cock Queen of all the Land!” He laughs, lookin’ crazy as he spreads his arms wide, and gestures to the grime of the alley we stand in. A roach sips from a puddle of gutter fly puke. “Society slut, you’re just an effing Society slut. Gonna take that dick along with the poke of the Society stick?” Bosco grabs her arm again, twistin’ hard, and Lucy shrieks, her wrist at a funny angle.
I grab his shoulder, tryin’ to stop him because if he don’t, they’re gonna—
“Citizen, desist! You are in violation of the peace. Release her.”
We all freeze. We are straight, lubed up, and puckerfucked. Bosco lets go immediately, his mouth a pinhole of surprise.
“All right, all right. We got heated, it’s all right.” Bosco raises his hands, palms out.
The clunk-a-junk Security & Citizen Enforcement officer glares, red glowin’ bulbs where fleshy eyeballs would be. Assignin’ security to portable lug nuts I guess makes sense from an Upper’s point of view. No subjectivity, no bias. You can’t bribe a clunker. They stand upright; a coffin-shaped reinforced body of painted steel, hidin’ all the mechanical guts, nuts, and bolts of the system. The head’s a calculatin’ mass of probabilities and policy, enforcement and control. What made sense on an administrative level don’t translate so well to us faggers who gotta live with it. They use human Enforcers in the Uppers. Down here in the Slumland? We got a robotic task force seemingly programmed to fuck us on the regular.
“Yah, he’s right. We’re leavin’ Lucy here and continuin’ on our way.” I say it slow and clear. No misunderstandings. Tryin’ to be cool, easy. But it ain’t gonna fly. Not even a li’l tit bit.
“Ma’am, please resume your normal activities. Sir, please submit to a gender screening,” the clunker buzzes, polite as pie, sinister as fuck.
“Ah. Well, I can’t, things make me gag. I’m liable to throw up all over the place, all over you and the lady—” Bosco’s green eyes meet mine. Ain’t none of us want to be on the radar, gotta stay out of the system as much as possible.
I sprint towards Lover’s Lane while Bosco splits in the other direction. The clunker processes for a second before rollin’ after Bosco. Yah, they roll. Spry motherfuckers have got off-roadin’ equipment, chains, and regular asphalt rollers. Ready to deal with any and all situations.
“Bye, Lucky Lips! Hope you choke on a bucket of dicks!” I shriek over my shoulder, reckless immaturity givin’ me strength and speed. I’m still sprintin’ because clunkers round up quick. No doubt, any moment, they’d descend on our location like cockroaches, infestin’ the dark crevices of our back-alley world.