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Queen of Hearts
By Debbie Kasper

I guess if a Puerto Rican transvestite hooker ever gets stabbed and bleeds to death in front of your apartment door, you really shouldn't brag about it, even if it is Easter. But I couldn't help it.

"You are one lucky gal," my mother said as if I'd just been nominated for a Peabody Award. "Everything happens to you, Debbie. Wait till I tell the girls."

"Well I hope I don't get murdered, too!" I screamed back into my end of the phone --never a shred of motherly concern from this lady. "This isn't Des Moines here! What if I'm next? People die every single minute in New York, you know!"

"I can't hear you, my garbage disposal is on," she shouted over the sound of grinding eggshells. "Call me later -- after Jeopardy."

My mother always made out like she had no control over appliances that were on, like maybe she had no hands, or even the skill to turn things off. So we'd just have to wait for them to run their course. Sometimes an electric carving knife would interrupt a rare intimate moment between us, and my mother would act as if "what are ya gonna do?" rolling her eyes, a helpless victim of modern technology. "I can't hear you, I'm using my battery-run eyebrow plucker," or, "I'd like to chat, but the new electric weed whacker is whacking the lawn and I can't stop it."

Sometimes it felt like Mom was merely taking my calls so she'd have something to say to "the girls" at bridge club.

By the next morning, she'd already be on her second polish of the transvestite stabbing story, in time for Wednesday bridge club, which was really just a suburban "open mike night" with cards. Ellen, Mary Ann, and Nancy would all sit there, sipping their dry Manhattans, in their faux pearls and polyester, swapping silly stories about their kids -- none of whom will ever even dare dream to have a transvestite hooker bleed to death on their Manhattan doorstep on Easter, or any other holiday! Mom would wait for the perfect moment, sometime between the second and third highball. She'd throw the cards into her electric card shuffler, while Nancy would speak above the dull hum of a buzz, blab about her bourgeois daughters who were both married and breeding. My mother would nod politely, unable to hear her and wait quietly, until someone would ask, "So what's new with Debbie? Is she still dating that bank robber?"

"No, but a transvestite hooker bled to death knocking on her door. Two spades."

I'd actually only had one date with the bank robber almost two years before, but they just could not let it go! I'd even unwittingly dated a child molester since, but my mother couldn't twist that one into a light enough story for the girls.

"Where in heaven's name did she meet a bank robber?" they had asked.

"At the bank. Trump!" my mother had said. They all laughed. Then they all worked it -- She was making a deposit, he was making a withdrawal. Well, at her age she can't be too picky -- at least she knows where he is nights. And on and on.

Oh they were funny those four, during their afternoon roasts, posing as bridge games, one club. And I would always be the girl that dated a bank robber. Until now. A dead transvestite trumps a bank robber.

The cops had labeled the transvestite's death as an occupational hazard, lecturing me on the phone from his precinct saying that, "He died 'cause of his lifestyle."

"Her." I said

"What?" The cop asked .

"Her lifestyle, I said. Her lifestyle. He's a her."

"But she had a penis. That was as much a man as me, except for the bra -- double wide," he snickered.

"But he wanted to be a woman, she called herself Chi-Chi and referred to herself as 'she'. I think since she took the time to stuff herself into a Betsy Johnson jumper, the least we can do, is call her a 'she.'"

"We ain't gonna be calling her at all, Mrs. Kasper, "she's stabbed dead."

"Ms. Kasper," I corrected. "It's what she wanted," I persisted.

"I bet what she really wanted was to not be dead," he replied.

I told Officer McCool on the other side of the cordless that I was scared for my life. A personal promise of mine was that if anybody in my immediate nucleus was ever a victim of a violent crime, I was 'sayonara.' It seemed a good time to move out of NYC. I told the cop I was thinking about moving out to LA right about now.

"LA? Why so you can get drive-by shot by a gang member? Better to stay here and get mugged. And FYI, don't worry, the chances of another moider in the same building are a bit unlikely," he said with a hint of a chuckle. "You're actually really lucky, you're in a good spot. The chances of two people living in the same building, statistically -- both getting moidered, are about a million to one. So unless you're a prostitute, too? Hey, why were you out so late?" he asked suspiciously. "Where were you last night?"

"I'm a comedian, I work nights."

"Yeah don't we all?" said officer McCool. "Life's a bitch and then you die," he said, stealing from a tee-shirt. "The chances of you getting raped in the subway are far greater at this point, as well. So take the buses, and walk. But don't move to that sunny septic tank with palm trees. My sister's kid moved out there, joined a cult, and changed her name to Raisin. Didn't even come home for Christmas."


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