Moonlight Shadow

MOONLIGHT SHADOW

by Cute Kitten

Let the padded times roll.

That was Sam’s plan for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, anyway. Was being the operative word. What better place to be diapered under his clothes and go unnoticed than in a big crowd of drunken revelers? Fat Tuesday was the last big hurrah of the Carnival season, everyone in costumes, plastic beads and confetti everywhere, getting their last kicks and indulgences in before dawn brought somber Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.

This was the third day of his vacation, and he hadn’t been diapered once. He didn’t even put a dress or skirt on. He thought being in a place full of strangers he’d never see again would give him the courage to put a diaper on and go out in public for the first time. No matter where he went, even far from home, his cowardice traveled with him. Everywhere he was still a giant chicken.

Sam snorted and pushed his crawfish gumbo around with his plastic white spork, careful not to slop any of the brownish red sauce over the bowl’s rim. He’d been eating at this little hole in the wall near his motel every day for lunch. And supper.

And doing what he always did. Move to a new place and immediately establish a new routine to help himself feel comfortable and stable, when what he wanted to do was shake things up. No routines, no plans. Live spontaneously for once. Go out in a diaper and a dress instead of carrying them around in his plain dark purple backpack with the small, cute pink werewolf keychain plushy he’d gotten from a street vendor selling t-shirts, hats, and toys to tourists.

In his defense, the food here was delicious. The menu and sign on a wall above him with a picture of a dark skinned Creole woman, her hair wrapped up in a scarf, claimed some of the recipes were passed down from the infamous voodoo queen herself, Marie Laveau. He didn’t know how true that was, but he liked the matronly woman who owned and ran the joint, Ms. Yvonne. Maybe it was his age, only 18, or his pretty, feminine baby face that tugged on her motherly instincts, but she tended to hover. Especially once she learned he was traveling all by himself at such a tender age and just out of highschool. He hoped it wasn’t pity for his disability, but he didn’t get those vibes off her.

The most courage he’d been able to muster was to ask her for a lobster bib, even though he wasn’t eating lobster. A fancy dish like that was out of his budget. Other patrons wore the thin plastic bibs for their lobsters or crabs, and the sight gave him a small boost of confidence. He fit right in. Perfectly normal. Except nobody else wore a bib to eat gumbo.

He asked Ms. Yvonne in a small voice, his big blue eyes fixed firmly on his lap, baby soft cheeks pink in embarrassment, for a bib. “Of course, sweetheart.” She melted at how timid the delicate boy before her was. His slender hands shook with nerves, heart pounding, as he tried and fumbled to tie it around his neck. With a glance at his metallic purple forearm crutches leaning against the wall, she tied it for him.

He blushed hard and tried to protest- he felt like he was taking advantage of her, but his fingers trembled too much for him to tie it. So she insisted and did it for him. He always made sure to leave her a generous tip.

Now every time he came in, he insisted on tying his own bib but Ms. Yvonne waved him off each time and tied it for him. Nobody in the various lunch and dinner crowds gave him any weird looks; he blended right in with the crowd. Normal. He looked normal. Quite a few giggly, tipsy college girls from Bourbon Street sent him flirty smiles and fluttered their lashes at him while a few buzzed guys winked and smiled.

Cheeks red, he ignored the lustful looks, too shy and insecure to react. His crutches leaned against the cracked plaster wall, and his ankle braces were hidden under baggy jeans and wide boots. He wondered how many of those winks and smiles would last once they saw him get up and walk?

Sam scooped up a bite of crawfish, rice, and vegetables- chopped onion, celery, and bell peppers, the Cajun trinity. His pretty doll looks garnered attention and initial attraction from women and men alike. His thick black hair was stylishly tousled, his alabaster skin baby smooth with full pink lips, and his big sky blue eyes were framed by long inky black lashes. It never went beyond that- soon as they saw his crutches, realized he couldn’t run or rock climb or keep up with them, wasn’t “normal”- all interest faded. Shifted to an awkward mix of embarrassment, regret, and pity, expressions reading ‘Oops sorry thought you were normal but you’re different and I’m sorry but I just can’t handle that so I’m no longer interested but I don’t wanna look like a jerk help how do I get out of this?’

He did what he always did and ignored it. He was too much of a mess, too much of a freak, for a relationship. Deep down he wanted one, longed to find his soul mate. But who would want a disabled boy? Who liked to wear dresses? Who liked to wear and use diapers? Degenerate perverted weirdo. In a previous century, he could’ve been a circus sideshow attraction. Ladies and gentlemen, step right up! Come see the cross-dressing, diaper pissing gimp!

Sam cringed at the cynical thoughts and pushed his gumbo around. He thought leaving home, a change of location, would give him the guts to expand his boundaries more. In the privacy of his bedroom, when he was all alone, he was comfortable with his diapers. Could wet himself easily. He had a small collection of dresses he only wore at home. He took a few below the neck selfies and posted to a few forums for feedback and everyone cooed over how pretty he was, his slender androdgynous form. He was a boy, but a soft pretty boy that with the right angles passed easily for a pretty girl.

It wasn’t a fetish for him. Diapers provided a sense of security and comfort, lessened his anxiety and helped him stay calm. Maybe it was a weird coping mechanism for his lonely childhood. As a small child, his parents fought a lot; they were on again- off again, his father in and out of his life until he was out for good with only the occasional phone call. His mom bounced from place to place; he lived all over the country, changing one slum for another as his mother chased one high after another and ran from the police. His childhood was a string of roach-infested motels, falling apart, slumlord apartments, and occasionally living out of a car with his mom. She stripped for money, getting by on what remained of her once-vibrant beauty, but blew most of her money on drugs. He was a child who fell through the cracks in an overburdened, outdated system, and they moved on so fast and so often making friends was impossible and not worth the effort.

Dresses and skirts he just liked. They were comfortable, like his diapers. They didn’t turn him on; he just felt pretty and cute and they gave him more ways to express himself, wider fashion choices. What was so wrong about a boy in a skirt? Some younger male celebrities did photoshoots in skirts, and some haute couture fashion designers put their male models in dresses, but that was considered avant garde.

Were his fashion taste and underwear preferences really so wrong? He wasn’t hurting anyone. He’d keep his diapers well concealed in public. No one would know. Nothing stopped him from getting up right now, going to the cramped, one stall bathroom and putting on the pullup and skirt he carried around in his bag, just waiting until he plucked up the courage to put them on. That courage was MIA. Every night in his motel, he promised himself tomorrow was the day. Every morning, he put his skirt and pullup, which was much thinner and more discreet than a diaper so he’d feel more confident wearing it in public, in his purple bag and told himself he’d put it on later. Later, later later. Never. Until it was time to go home and he’d be full of regret, kicking and berating himself for a coward and wasting this opportunity.

It didn’t have to be that way. Get up! Go! Now! Seize the day! He only had one life to live, so go live it his way!

Sam didn’t move. His slender fingers nervously toyed with the edge of his white thin plastic bib with a picture of a red lobster on it. His heart sped up just thinking about it. Change, in public? This was an old building and the bathroom was so tiny, not ADA friendly at all. It was probably a grandfathered in exception. He wouldn’t be able to manage at all, fumbling with the bag, his pants and boxer briefs, then sliding on the pull up while trying to stay balanced on his crutches or leaning against the wall and hoping he didn’t fall. No, it was too awkward and risky. Even if he managed it, coming out dressed in different clothes would be too weird. What would the other patrons think? They probably wouldn’t notice. But Ms. Yvonne? Nope, way too risky. Better to change in the privacy of his motel. Tomorrow morning, he’d wear his pull-up and a skirt. And this time he wouldn’t chicken out.

With a sharp nod and promise to himself, Sam slurped up a big scoop of gumbo. Reddish brown sauce trickled down his chin and dropped onto his bib, but he didn’t notice. Tomorrow he would also try another place to eat. New Orleans was a big city with a wide variety of restaurants, a foodie’s wet dream, and he’d been promising himself the same lies for three days now.

Something kept calling him back here, a feeling, an instinct insisting he needed to be here. It was important. A premonition he couldn’t shake, so he came. He told himself it was just his usual fear and anxiety acting up and making him seek out anything familiar. Deep down in his bones, in his heart, he knew it was more than that.

The one thing he hated most about himself. The thing that made him a super freak and as far from normal as one could get. Precognition. Clairvoyance- the supposed ability to get information about a person, object, place, or event through extrasensory perception.

Sam crushed his lower lip between his teeth to suppress a snarl. Bullshit. That pseudoscience garbage didn’t exist. Nothing more than coincidences and the mind playing tricks on itself. Yet despite his refusal to believe, sometimes he just knew things. Like the various times he was little and his mom almost brought a john who an undercover cop back to their sleazy motel. Or the time he’d interrupted his mother scoring another hit and making her leave just before a rival drug lord and his thugs shot up the place. Due to his crying and begging, she couldn’t complete her buy so she dragged Sam out and around the remains of an old caved in garage and was about to beat him black and blue with a belt when the gunfire rang out. They’d have been dead if they’d been in the crackhouse a moment longer.

Sheer dumb luck. If that psychic shit was real, how come he never picked a winning lottery ticket?

The door banged open, old cowbells hanging off the knob clanging. The patrons chattered on, only a few near the door looking up. Sam barely paid attention, too lost in his own thoughts and emotions to notice the girl frantically weaving through the tightly packed tables until she plopped down in the only seat available- at his table.

“Hi, sweetheart! Sorry I’m late! You know how crazy the crowds get, especially the weekend before Fat Tuesday!”

Sam jerked, yanked out of his own head to find a stranger beaming at him from across the table. He stared, too shocked to form a reply or think. Her smile was wide and forced, voice a little breathless as if she’d been running. Her curly brown hair was pulled up in an artfully sloppy bun with a pen stuck through like a hair pin, stray curls framing her face. Her blue hoodie with the name of some sports team- football? Baseball? Pro or college? Hell if he knew- was ripped at the neck like someone roughly grabbed her and she fought them off. It could’ve been an old hoodie but the color was still vibrant like it was new, and the cuffs and hoodie string weren’t worn or frayed. Small drops of red spattered her cheeks, almost blending in with her small brown freckles.

“Look, just pretend to be my date. Please? Some scuzzy creep won’t leave me alone. If I have a date, maybe he’ll finally buzz off.” She leaned across the table, whispering loud enough he could still hear her. Her gray-green eyes stared directly into his, wide and desperate with pleading.

His mouth went dry, mind blank. He licked his full, pink lips. How could he possibly help her? He was hardly the intimidating, bulked up beefcake that radiated testosterone and scared off other males. The type whose mere presence just screamed “mess with my chick and I’ll rip your head off and shit down your neck, you tiny-dicked beta loser.” He’d get beaten up and dominated just as easily as she would. Maybe even worse- at least she could run away. What was she thinking, coming to him? Maybe she didn’t think, didn’t look, so desperate she just leapt for the first empty seat she saw. Any port in a storm.

Awkward and unsure, he looked away. The crowd was back to eating and talking, each person absorbed in their own world. The cowbells on the door clunked again as the door opened. The girl immediately looked over her shoulder then shrunk in her seat, trying to blend in with the crowd and hide.

A tall, cut and hunky man in a multi colored silk shirt and charcoal gray slacks with polished loafers sauntered in. He was the kind of good looking man women threw themselves at; no matter how much of a jerk or a douche bag they were, women came crawling back for more. Sam’s mom dated many such men. A few knocked her around; knocked Sam around. Some were more interested in Sam than in his mom, and most were interested in using his mom and mooching what they could off her- money, drugs, a place to stay. Sometimes she was the one doing the mooching. Often she used Sam for whatever angles and freebies she could, playing the part of poor martyred single mom struggling and doing her best to provide for her child. Her poor, suffering, struggling disabled child. Even now, the loathing and embarrassment churned his gut at the memories.

The man scanned the crowd lazily, a lion eyeing up a savannah of gazelle. A casual smile graced his handsome face, a predatory hunger lurked in his eyes. Sam’s insides went cold; he quickly dropped his gaze, afraid to make eye contact. He knew men like that all too well. He glanced at the girl’s ripped hoodie, and his heart squeezed. Sam wasn’t much of anything, but he couldn’t leave her on her own.

Sam caught the girl’s gaze. Wide eyed and imploring, she still stared at him. He gave her a little nod; she returned a tentative smile. Her curvy body was rigid; he could feel the fear radiating off her and it had nothing to do with his stupid sixth sense that did not exist. This was just reading the air and being aware of his surroundings and how people behaved.

He peeked at the man. The girl’s back was to the door. She never turned around; her eyes were glued to Sam. The man took his time looking through the crowd, chatting with a waitress in faded jeans and a yellow, purple, and green t-shirt that said Yvonne’s. Ms.Yvonne was nowhere to be seen, probably back in the kitchen or the office supervising her employees. The man kept his body and head facing the waitress like he was engrossed in conversation, but his eyes roamed the crowd. The waitress giggled as she chattered away, empty tray dangling in her hands. That searching gaze fell on them.

Sam’s pulse skipped a beat and he shivered. He looked at the girl, eyes widening in warning as the man started moving toward them after giving a polite nod to the blushing waitress. The girl tensed, took a deep breath, and forced her body to relax.

Her head came up and she coolly met the man’s gaze as he approached. She puffed up like a viper looking ready to strike, flipping like a switch from helpless and scared to cornered and dangerous. “Fuck off you insufferable sex pest. I told you I was meeting my girlfriend for a date.”

Girlfriend? Did she think he was a girl? Sam started at the word, almost knocking over his bowl of crawfish gumbo.

The man held up his large hands placatingly. His cuffs slid back; Sam noticed the beginnings of deep, angry red scratches by his wrists. Was that where the flecks of blood came from? Girl had some sharp nails.

The man’s voice was deep and smooth with a light Cajun accent. The predatory gleam was gone; he seemed friendly and sincere in his approach. “Chėrie, you need to calm down and think about what you’re doing. You really don’t want to cause a scene or draw unnecessary attention to yourself. Especially in a town like this during Carnival.”

The girl’s gray-green eyes narrowed at the threat lurking under his light, cajoling tone. “Oh, I very much know what I’m doing. Cops might not care about some stupid college tourist girl screaming about getting molested in a crowd- after all, that’s a dime a dozen and they’re more worried about crowd control. But someone causing a ruckus in a business? They’ll care, very much. So if you don’t fuck off and leave me and my girlfriend in peace, you can explain it to the cops.” Her plump lips twitched in a mocking smile, egging him to escalate. “In fact, I’d love to see it.”

The man sighed as if dealing with an irrational, hot tempered child. “They might throw me out, but they’ll question you, too. You really want the police poking around and getting curious about you? You want the attention from others in the community that would draw?”

Sam was as tense as the girl. The two strangers danced around each other on eggshells; violence liable to break out any moment, man going for the girl’s throat or the girl for his. Sam’s head spun with apprehension. His hands shook. The girl leaned in, never breaking the man’s gaze, and took Sam’s soft, slender fingers in her own. Her hands were warm; a little too warm as if her blood ran hot. Her touch was reassuring, protective. He couldn’t relax, but her warmth kept the fear from mounting. Wasn’t he supposed to be the one helping her?

Her voice was casual but her eyes pure ice . “What’s there to be suspicious about? We’re two people on a date. That you ruined when you molested me, ripped my shirt, and made me late. Now here you are, following me in and causing trouble. The police are going to be much more interested in your antics than in two lesbian tourists quietly going about their vacation.”

Sam wanted to open his mouth. Say something. Anything. The whole not a girl thing could wait- how could he get the lounge lizard to slink off back into the sewer where he belonged? He glanced around- no one noticed their predicament. The kitchen door opened and Ms. Yvonne came out, but she was focused on her staff.

“But it’s still gon’ attract attention, chérie. The wrong kind of attention that you’ve been trying to avoid. Now, we can make all this unpleasantness go away if you’ll just come with me and cooperate.”

Say something. They were fencing in circles, neither one giving nor gaining ground. Sam just wanted the man to go away. Maybe the girl, too. He didn’t know. But he liked how his hands felt in hers. He was being a fucking coward. Like always. Get a backbone you fucking loser. This man assaulted her, stalked her, and she was brave enough to stand up to him. Sam was the one trembling, both from the danger the man represented and from bad memories of men like him.

“G-go away.” The words tumbled out as a stuttered squeak. But at least he spoke, a small release of his fear.

“Pardon?” The man turned to Sam as if just noticing him for the first time.

“You heard him. Take your ugly mug and go stand on Canal Street and get hit by a street car so I can tap dance on your grave.” The girl spat out quickly, as if trying to draw his attention back to her.

The man ignored her, staring at Sam intently, gaze raking over every inch of him. “”Well, ain’t you a pretty little thing.”

Sam squirmed under the hungry scrutiny, wanting to crawl under a rock and hide. He felt raw and exposed, helpless like a rabbit cornered by a fox. He whimpered, courage crumbling. He couldn’t run, had nowhere to hide. This man could take him, break him and he couldn’t fight back.

“Oh yeah. You and me, we could have a real good time chérie. Even if you are a lesbian boy.” He laughed, deep and warm and mean, as if Sam were an amusing joke.

The girl stood up so quickly her small rickety chair fell over. Several people nearby turned to look. She still held Sam’s hands tightly in her own as she snarled at the man. “You just fuck off you slimeball and leave him alone.”

“Hoodoo Harry. You’re trespassing. Now you best get your lying, scheming, shyster butt out my door and off my property. I told you last time I was only gonna be nice and call the cops once. You best leave unless you wanna find out what I’ll do to you.” Yvonne came up behind the man. She was calm but firm with her arms crossed under her ample bosom, looking ready for a showdown.

At the appearance of Yvonne, the girl immediately picked her chair up and sat down. Sam relaxed fully at the sight of the owner; there was just something about her motherly presence that made him feel safe even in the face of danger. He frowned at the loss of the girl’s warm touch and wondered why the loss bothered him so. Before the stranger could reach for him again, he hid his hands in his own hoodie pocket.

Hoodoo Harry spun around, jumping at Yvonne’s voice and raised his hands placatingly like he’d done to the girl. “Now, Ms. Yvonne, I ain’t come here to talk business with you, though I still think we’d make a killing if you let me sell my genuine werewolf hair gris-gris to tourists. This one.” He jerked his head to the girl. “Dragged me in here. I just wanna finish up my business with her, but she ain’t cooperating.”

“Sexual assault isn’t business, and I want nothing to do with you!” The girl snapped, voice raising.

Yvonne narrowed her eyes. “Told you I’m not calling the cops this time, Harry.”

Hoodoo Harry took an uneasy step back, all the menace gone. “Now, now, you wouldn’t do anything in front of all these people.” He didn’t sound so sure.

Yvonne’s smile was nasty.

“You’ll be in a world of trouble with the other houngans and mambos.” Harry took another step back.

“What makes you think anyone here would notice what I’d do to you? The others aren’t gonna care what happens to a backstabbing, immoral bokor like you. Hell, they’ll be thanking me you won’t be around to cause any more problems in the Big Easy.”

Sam blinked at the strange turn. Houngans, mambos, bokors, gris-gris? A bit of a nerd, he’d researched New Orleans before visiting. The practice of voodoo had deep cultural ties in the city’s rich and vibrant history, so he’d read up on it too. Houngans were voodoo priests and mambos were voodoo priestesses while a bokor was one who practiced serving the loa, or the voodoo spirits, “with both hands” and did both good and evil works. Gris-gris was an amulet, talisman, or charm to ward off evil and bring good luck. And everyone here spoke like all of that was as real as his psychic powers. Maybe people in New Orleans were just super superstitious, especially during Carnival season? Something in the culture and spirit of the city he hadn’t read up on?

He looked at the girl; she sat stiff and still as she stared at Yvonne, ignoring Hoodoo Harry. Why on earth would she be frightened of warm, motherly Yvonne?

Yvonne took a step forward; Harry took one back. Hands still raised, he calmly started for the door. She followed.

The girl breathed a sigh of relief once she was gone. Sam stared at her, waiting for her to explain, to thank him, to say something. When the silence dragged on, he pushed his cold, half eaten gumbo aside and finally found the courage to speak. “So, w-wanna tell me what th-that was all about?”

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