The Real Enemy

| May 16, 2016
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The author.

The author.

In hindsight I should have listened to my instincts before I entered the bar. I’d had a feeling there was something hinky about the place but the second I walked in I knew I’d made a serious mistake. At first it seemed like any other bar with a bunch of regulars there to drink, watch the game, and maybe shoot some pool. But right now the only sound was coming from the game on the vidscreen, because everybody had stopped to stare at me.

That in itself was nothing unusual. As a Profem TG I sometimes had that effect on people, and my gendblend looks and half-buzzed long purple hair still raised eyebrows in certain circles, even in postwar society. And I had just stepped into one of those circles, big time.

The bar was filled with thick burly guys, thick burly women, and slight but curvy women with short and severe haircuts. In another bar I might have assumed the women to be butch dykes, but given their body language I pegged them for involuntary TGs from the early resequencing attacks before the other side genelocked their troops.

According to the pols the war was over. Had been for years. And yet I half expected there to be a banner on the wall proclaiming, “The penis shall rise again!”

Most people in that situation would turn right around and congratulate themselves for dodging a bullet. Me, I walk right in, just like always. That attitude helped me survive the war — forever charging in where angels feared to tread — but was also responsible for getting me drummed out of the service not long after the war was over. Wartime hero, peacetime fuckup, that’s me.

I sat down at the end of the bar and the bartender didn’t make a move before a couple of the women — a big brawny one and a cute little slip of a girl — came up behind me.

“I think you’re in the wrong place, queenie,” the big one said in a deep voice.

“Free country,” I said. “I just want a drink, I’m not looking for trouble.”

“Well you fuckin’ well found it,” the little one squeaked. I managed not to laugh, but she obviously saw the amused twinkle in my eye and grabbed my jacket roughly in her tiny little hands. “Somethin’ funny, you he/she bitch?” she challenged.

Her threat was completely adorable, but I knew from hard experience that these girls had a lot of anger, and a lot to prove. It’s like losing their dicks made them overcompensate, and it made them…unreasonable. I felt my soldier’s instincts take over as I sized them up, glancing behind them to see who else might jump in.

Which was everybody.

“Hey, whoa. Stand down,” a big guy said, moving up alongside the two women. “It’s okay, she’s with me.” The women didn’t seem particularly satisfied with that, so the guy nodded to the bartender. “Hey, Frank. A couple beers for the guys here, yeah?”

Temporarily mollified, the two women backed down and returned to their game of pool as their group continued to bore holes in my back with their eyes. Meanwhile, my rescuer sat down next to me and put his beer on the bar. The guy was a wall of muscle, huge and barrel-chested. I pegged him immediately as a double-Y chromo and he had ex-military written all over him.

“Thanks,” I said.

“Keep it. I just didn’t want a fight. Frank’s still sore from the last time things got rowdy.”

I nodded. The level of testosterone poisoning in here was shocking. The double-Y chromos were known for their anger management issues, but the involuntary TGs were always on a short fuse. We used to joke that the new girls didn’t handle PMS very well.

The guy nodded towards the bartender. “What are you drinking?”

“Beer.”

He breathed a small sigh of relief. “Thank God. If you’d ordered some fruity girly drink then shit would’ve gotten real in here.”

I gave him a hint of a smile as the bartender glared at me and served the beer. “Cheers,” I said.

My new friend took a drink from his glass and looked me over like he was sizing me up, but he was just being polite. We both knew he’d done that the second I’d opened the door. “You got balls coming in here, I’ll give you that.”

“Not any more,” I said with a smirk.

He sniffed. “Yeah, I guess that’s what the whole thing was about, right?”

“Guess so.”

He sat quiet for a minute. “Where’d it all go wrong?” he wondered.

I put my glass down and stared at him incredulously. “You’re fucking with me, right? It started when your people started genelocking innocent kids, because God forbid they should be like me.”

It was a stupid thing to say, I knew that. I might as well have thrown the first punch. So I was surprised when he didn’t take the bait and just calmly responded, “Right. Then you folks responded with the gene reseq attacks. Nice escalation, there.”

I lowered my voice and leaned closer, mindful of the new women playing pool nearby. “Oh, boo fucking hoo. You gonna tell me how a lot of brave young soldiers lost their pricks that day? Me, I never wanted a fight. I just wanted to live my life. It’s you people that wanted to make me a pariah.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen your propaganda,” he said.

“Well, why don’t you ask Little Miss Muffet over there how much she enjoys sitting down to pee or being on the rag? She can write me a love sonnet about how hard it is being a genderjoke.”

He looked at me seriously. “He’s got a name, you know. Joseph Hodge. He had a wife and two little boys, but she left him since she couldn’t handle becoming a lesbian. He doesn’t even want his boys to see him like he is now.”

“Couldn’t choose to become a lesbian. That’s rich,” I muttered. “But maybe Miss Hodge over there should go make herself pretty, marry a nice guy, and squeeze out a few kids. Apparently that’s just a ‘choice’ she can make. I’ve read your propo, too.”

“You’re wrong, you know.”

“Shocker,” I said, taking another drink.

“No, I mean about where it went wrong.”

“Ha. A double-Y schools a trans woman on where tolerance failed. This should be good.”

“That’s it, right there. That sanctimonious attitude where you act like you’ve cornered the fucking market on pain and needing understanding. You scream for other people to feel your pain and refuse to look past it to acknowledge anybody else’s.”

“Big talk. But I doubt you’ve ever had to fight for the right to use a bathroom where you wouldn’t get beaten up by neanderthals.”

“Unreal. You just did it again. You could have challenged me on what pain I could possibly feel that compares to yours, but you didn’t even bother. It’s all about you.”

I put my beer down and turned to look at him. “So I’m a shitty listener. You’re saying that’s what caused the war?”

“It didn’t help,” he said. “Look, I don’t know you. I don’t know what color underwear you wear, which bathroom you use, or who you like to fuck. But I don’t hate you. I hate what you represent.”

“Do tell.”

“I built my life on the granite foundation of some unshakeable truths. Loyalty. Family. Love is good. Killing is wrong. God’s in heaven, men are men and women are women.”

I scoffed. “Let me guess. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, right?”

“You know, I might’ve come around. I knew guys like that. But then you come around and tossed out all the rules. Men get to call themselves women just because one morning they say they are? That’s messed up.”

“It’s not that simple. And I didn’t ask to be like this,” I said. “I just want–”

“–understanding. Yeah, I get it. But when you kicked over one of the pillars of my beliefs, where was your understanding then?”

“So I shouldn’t get to live my life just because you’re not comfortable with it?”

“I don’t begrudge you living your life, but I do begrudge me and mine having to rearrange our lives so that you can be your own unique snowflake. I hate that you casually upend the rock-solid beliefs I built my life around without so much as a by-your-leave just because you think you’ve got it tough. Well, it’s tough all over, sister. But what really pisses me off is that you think you can just walk in here and think there wouldn’t be consequences just because some limp dick pols a thousand miles away signed a piece of paper that says I have to put up with your shit.”

“If that’s how you feel, why didn’t you just let your friends kick the shit out of me?”

“I wanted to,” he said. “And it would have been satisfying. Hell, I might’ve gotten a couple licks in, myself. But I’m tired of hate. Tired in my bones.”

We sat quietly for a few moments. I looked at the bar’s vid screen and noticed that the game was in product placement mode, and the players now resembled characters from some escapist sci-fi franchise.  “Do you like movies?” I wondered.

“What?” He sounded annoyed.

“Did you ever see The Matrix trilogy?” I asked. “The originals, not the remakes.”

He snorted. “What, the pre-war version made by the two trannys? You know damn well that was on our ban list.”

I didn’t say anything.

“Yeah, I saw ’em,” he admitted. “So?”

“I always thought it was funny how they ended. In most vids back then, Neo would’ve blown up the machines, destroyed the Matrix and freed the people. But the–” I hesitated, “–filmmakers foreshadowed how the humans and machines needed each other even if they didn’t like each other. Because at the end Neo didn’t fight to destroy the machines, he fought for the chance to coexist in peace with them. Because he realized who the real enemy was.”

“What, that Smith guy?”

I nodded. “He was just raw hate. So driven by rage that he was willing to destroy everything and kill everyone. The humans were at war with the machines, but the real enemy was the hate.”

He sniffed and took a drink. “I remember those movies with more shooting and kung fu.”

I smiled. “Maybe you’re right,” I said. “Maybe we went wrong when we stopped listening to each other. I used to think you were all just ignorant backward bigots.”

“And now?”

I peered over my shoulder at the women behind me who were roughhousing over a pool bet. “The jury’s still out,” I said. “And maybe you’re not all bad. I guess that’s progress.”

“Tell me twice. I just bought a tranny a drink,” he said with a smile.

“Heh. All for a good cause, right?”

“Yeah,” he said, casting an eye over at the other patrons. “Bar would have gotten smashed up, my boys would be in cuffs, and you’d probably be headed for that big gay drag show in the sky.”

“I’d like to think I’d have gotten in a few good shots,” I contended. “What do I owe you for the beer?”

He glanced over at the arguing women. “You can pay me back by getting out of here before they decide to pick a fight again. And maybe the next time some meatheaded dub-Y wanders into one of your fern bars you can step in and buy him a beer.”

I gave him a lopsided grin and held up my glass. “Here’s to fighting the real enemy,” I said.

“I’ll drink to that,” he replied.

We finished our beers and I left, and as I opened the door and squinted into the late afternoon sun I realized I’d never gotten his name. But as the door swung shut behind me I put on my sunglasses and headed for more familiar haunts.


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jnorth

About the Author ()

Jenny North is really enjoying referring to herself in the third person. She has long been involved in the TG community and some may remember her from her TGFA web site (www.tgfa.org). She enjoys going out en femme, working with local TG support groups, attending conferences, and startling her neighbors with her cosplay. As a writer, she lately posts TG stories on Fictionmania that may be fantastical or humorous but often grounded in her real-world experiences as a trans woman. Her secret hope is that one day someone will refer to her as a raconteur without being prompted, and she can be reached at [email protected]

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