Southern Sunshine

Chapter 2

Justin slowly awoke feeling a little better but still tired. He noticed that Dee was already up. He would have liked nothing better than to burrow back under the blankets and go back to sleep but the pressure in his bladder told him he needed to get up now. He padded into the bathroom but came up short and quickly averted his eyes. There was Dee standing there peeing. He was wearing the skimpiest undies he had ever seen and a little lacy camisole with delicate flowers. He loved his cousin but damn if he knew how he was going to get used to this sight.

"Hey Justin, you're up. Have any more bad dreams?"

"No," Justin murmured to himself. "Well that's one question that doesn't need answering."

Dee happened to hear him and laughed. "What, just because I dress like a girl you think I'd get snipped and clipped. Oh hell no. I love my dick."

"It's too early in the morning to be havin' this conversation."

Justin was going to wait till Dee was finished with the bathroom but at that moment Dee turned on the faucet to brush his teeth. Justin squirmed and made a beeline for the toilet. They were roommates now and they would have to get used to sharing a bathroom.

Justin's stomach growled loudly. "I'm hungry."

"Yeah, me too. We'll go to the diner and get some breakfast. Their chocolate pancakes are to die for. I can't wait to introduce you to some of my friends. You'll like Emmett a lot once you get to know him." Dee grabbed Justin's hand and led him back to his room. "Would you let me make you over?"

Justin eyed him suspiciously. "You want to make me into a girl?"

"Ok, I see that's not going to fly. How about a slight compromise? I'll make you look different, sort of androgynous, boy and girl all mixed together." Dee sighed, "I saw how scared you were last night. No one knows you here. You can start over, have a new life and you won't have to worry so much about someone finding you. Besides it'll be really, really fun," Dee smiled.

Justin thought it over; it was an interesting idea. He could blend into the background and be someone else. A girl, a boy he would keep people guessing this way.

"Ok, but just don't go overboard. I don't want to look like y'all," Justin teased.

Dee gasped and threw a pillow at him. "Go pick something out of my closet."

Justin quickly bypassed the dresses; no way would he ever wear a dress. He found a pair of jeans that looked kinda cool. They had sparkles ingrained in the fabric and shimmered when the light hit them just right. He was undecided about the baby blue peasant shirt he found but it was soft and looked comfortable.

"That would look so good on you; that's the one."

Justin got dressed while Dee picked out what to wear himself. Justin tugged at the waist of the jeans. They were so low cut, but they fit him well and the legs flared out. Luckily the shirt hung down low but if he raised his arms his tummy would be exposed. Dee threw a discarded t-shirt over the mirror and patted the bench in front of his dressing table. Dee styled Justin's hair simply arranging it so it appeared longer.

"You should let your hair grow out more."

"Yeah, I think I will."

Dee picked up a sparkly butterfly barrette that matched Justin's shirt.

"No way," Justin protested.

Dee pouted then stuck out her tongue and put it in her own hair. Justin laughed and rolled his eyes.

"How about a little eye liner?"

Justin wrinkled his nose. "Ok, but just a little."

Dee outlined his eyes lightly in kohl. The effect was startling. It brought out the color of Justin's eyes just like Dee knew it would. Justin picked up a few tubes of lip gloss and examined the labels. They all seemed to be fruity flavored.

"Try this one. It's my absolute favorite, strawberries and crème, yummy, yummy. It's not like it's lipstick or anything."

Justin shrugged and lightly ran the gloss over his lips. "Why not?"

Dee smiled at the finished product. His cousin was quite the looker himself. "Wow! If we weren't related…. Oh Ewww! I'm grossing myself out."

"Uck! As if I'd let you," Justin mock shuddered.

When Justin wasn't looking Dee spritzed him with some perfume, strawberries and champagne. Justin glared, a bit perturbed.

Dee removed the shirt from the mirror. "Look at you, little Mary Sunshine," Dee teased.

Justin stared at himself in the mirror in fascination, he looked so different.

"Huh, interesting." Justin smiled softly.

Not long after, the two young men, neither looking much like a man, walked into the Liberty Diner.

"Hi, hi, hi," Emmett Honeycutt called seeing Dee come through the door. He beckoned them over to the booth where he was sitting.

"Hope we didn't keep you waiting too long," Dee said as she and Justin slid into the booth across from Emmett.

"That's okay, sweetie."

"Emmett, this is my cousin…" Dee hesitated. She didn't know what to call Justin the way he was dressed.

"They call me Sunshine," Justin said quickly extending his hand to shake Emmett's. He remembered what Dee had called him, little Mary Sunshine. He certainly wasn't a Mary and Sunshine was pretty nonspecific. He could still be male or female. That was the way he wanted to keep it. "Dee's going to let me stay with her for a while."

"Nice to meet you, Sunshine." Emmett tilted his head from side to side and gave a big toothy grin as he gently held onto Justin's hand.

Justin couldn't resist Emmett's charm and smiled broadly at him.

"Wow! That must be why you're called Sunshine. Your smile just lit up this dismal place."

"Dismal! What the fuck are you calling dismal, Emmett Honeycutt?" Debbie Novotny stood hand on hip glaring at the hapless man.

"Sorry, Deb. Figure of speech," Emmett tried to backtrack.

"That was no fucking figure of speech. Watchit!"

"Yes, ma'am." Emmett did his best impersonation of contrite.

Justin watched in awe. He had never seen anything like this waitress whose name tag said "Debbie". He almost expected her to lash out and belt Emmett.

"So, who's the new kid on the block," the redhead asked looking at Justin.

"This is my cousin," Dee said quickly.

"They call her … him … Sunshine," Emmett said.

Debbie frowned and then seemed to relax. "What can I get you, Sunshine?"

"I hear the chocolate pancakes are to die for."

"You got that right. Dee?"

"Same for me."


"Make it three, and thank you ever so much, Deb."

Debbie smiled and all seemed to be forgiven. "Coffee?" They all nodded and Debbie went off to place the order.

"She's scary," Justin said.

"Not when you get to know her. She's salt of the earth," Emmett explained.

"I guess I'll have to take your word for it," Justin replied.

"Someone's interested in you," Emmett said nodding his head towards the busboy at a nearby table. He was young with a buzz cut and he kept glancing over at Justin and Dee as he filled the tub with dirty dishes.

Justin screwed up his nose. "I don't think so."

The busboy turned with his tub of dishes and still looking at Justin began walking to the back. His hand somehow slipped on one side of the tub and the whole thing started to slip out of his hands. There was a loud crash followed by a, "What the fuck!"

They all turned to see Debbie looking at a tub full of mostly broken dishes lying right in her path. Her arms were laden with plates that she was about to deliver to a table at the front of the diner.

"Are you fucking trying to kill me, Cody?" she demanded of the hapless busboy. "Get that cleaned up right now."

"Yes, ma'am," the nervous busboy muttered.

"You're going to have to do better than this or you're fucking fired."

Cody looked ready to cry. "That's fine with me!" he yelled at Deb. "I … I fucking quit!" the lad yelled and ran into the back room. He appeared again in just a moment carrying his jacket and bag. He ran out the front door.

"Well fuck!" Debbie said sidestepping the tub and delivering her orders.

Justin hopped up and grabbed the tub of dishes. He carried it into the back and then returned to his seat.

"Thank you, Sunshine," Debbie said on her way by. "You may have just saved my fucking life." In a moment she returned with their orders placing them on the table. "I guess I have to fucking clear my own tables now."

"I could do it for you," Justin offered gobbling down his chocolate pancakes. "These are so good."

"Are you looking for a job?" Justin nodded between bites of pancakes. "Any experience." He nodded again thinking about the other diner and Suzanne. He did have a few hours of experience. "You're hired. Finish your breakfast and grab an apron from the back." Justin nodded again as he cleaned his plate.

"Looks like you have a job, Sunshine," Emmett said airily as he munched on his pancakes. "With the scaaary lady," he added with a chuckled.

Justin stuck his tongue out at Emmett and headed for the back of the diner to find an apron and start his new job.

"That kid can sure Hoover in the food," Emmett said. "It's a good thing he has a job now or he'd be eating you out of house and home."

"He's a good kid," Dee said softly watching Justin who had already started to clear a table.


"Yeah, don't tell anybody but his name is really Justin. He had some bad trouble back home and he had to get out of there. He's not ready to talk about it yet, but he has nightmares."

"I don't like the sound of that," Emmett said. "Where's home for him? I thought I detected a bit of a southern accent."

"You did. He's from Georgia."

"Ah, the glorious south. I remember how well they treated me." Emmett made a gagging sound in his throat.

"I'm glad he got this job so quickly. I was wondering where he could go to look for work."

"Speaking of work," Emmett said looking at his watch. "I have to get to Torso."

"See ya, Emmett, and remember don't let on," Dee said looking pointedly at Justin.

"Your secret or rather Sunshine's secret is safe with me."

"Sunshine," Dee called waving Justin over to the booth. "Are you going to be all right here by yourself?"

"I'm not a baby," Justin said defensively.

"I know that. I have to go to work and I just wanted to make sure you were all right."

"I'll be fine," Justin replied although he didn't feel especially fine. He still wasn't too sure what to make of Debbie.

"I'll see if I can get an extra key cut for the apartment. In the meantime, I work at the Body Shop three blocks down if you need me."

"Thanks for everything, Dee. I really appreciate it."

Dee stood up and gave Justin a hug before heading out. Justin watched her walk past the window. She looked so much like a girl. He could hardly believe she was really Derek, or maybe she was really Dee. He shook his head. This big city lifestyle stuff was giving him a headache. He grabbed his tub and started clearing the rest of the tables. The breakfast rush was over.

"So Sunshine," Debbie said as Justin wiped down the last dirty table. "You did a good morning's work."


"How about a milkshake?"

"Sounds good. Thanks."

"Get rid of your tub and grab a seat," Debbie told him.

Justin took the tub of dishes to the kitchen and then slid into the back booth. He was kind of tired. He rubbed his back. Hauling that tub around all morning was hard work. His eyes burned slightly. He had not got as much sleep as he would have liked. Fucking nightmares! He rubbed his eyes gently.

Debbie reappeared shortly with a chocolate milkshake in her hand. She set it down in front of Justin. "I figured the way you polished off those chocolate pancakes before, that chocolate would be the flavor for you."

"Thanks," Justin said looking up at her. Debbie laughed out loud. "What?" Justin asked feeling afraid of this big, boisterous woman.

"Go to the restroom and you'll see." Justin looked quizzically at her. "Just go."

Slowly Justin slid out of the seat and walked to the restroom. As soon as he saw his face in the mirror he knew why Debbie had laughed. His face was covered with streaks of kohl from where he had rubbed his eyes. "Shit!" he said out loud and grabbed a paper towel. He cleaned his face leaving as much of the color around his eyes as he could. When he was done he took a deep breath and went back to face Debbie.

"That looks better," she said. She was seated in the back booth with a cup of coffee. He sat across from her taking a big sip of his milkshake. "Want to tell me about it?"

Justin shook his head. "I'd rather not."

"If you're going to wear eye makeup, don't rub your eyes. Rule number one in the female makeup book." She put a little extra emphasis on the word female obviously fishing for information.

"I'll be sure to remember that."

"I guess you haven't been wearing makeup very long."

"Not very," Justin replied non-committally.

"Are you interested in a permanent job here?" Debbie asked changing the subject which seemed to be going nowhere.

"I could use a job."

"I thought so. That little asshole Cody had only been here for a couple of days and he managed to break more dishes than his salary would cover. If you want the job, it's yours. You get $8.00 an hour and twenty percent of tips."

"Oh," Justin said pulling a wad of bills out of his pocket. "This is what I collected this morning."

Debbie looked at the bills. "I see you've made an impression around here."


"This was breakfast. People are notoriously cheap with tips at breakfast. I bet that pert little bubble butt of yours is responsible for this nice haul."

Justin snorted as he watched Debbie sort out the money. She made two piles. "There you go, Sunshine," she said pushing half the money at Justin.

"I thought you said twenty percent?"

"You saved my bacon this morning so you get half for today."

Justin smiled and pocketed the money. "I can really use this. Thanks."

"I thought maybe you could. You up for the lunch rush?"

"Sure," Justin smiled. He knew he wouldn't get paid until the end of the week, but the tips would come in handy in the meantime.

"We've got about an hour until that starts. If you want to get some fresh air or anything, go ahead. Be back here by eleven-thirty."

"I will," Justin said standing up. He wanted to look around Liberty Avenue.

Justin went outside and looked up and down the street. He saw several same sex couples walking along the thoroughfare. Some were holding hands and one pair even had a long, passionate kiss just across the road from him. Justin could hardly believe his eyes. Back home no one would have dared do any such thing. This was certainly a revelation.

Justin started walking down the street. He saw the sign for Torso and thought he remembered that was where Emmett had said he worked. He pushed open the door.

"Hey, sweetie," Emmett called from the back. "Be right with you." Emmett finished folding a sweater, added it to a pile of other similar ones and came up to greet Justin. "Fired already?" he asked with a chuckle.

Justin made a face. "Not yet. In fact I've been taken on permanently."

"No shit! That's great. I guess Debbie didn't turn out to be the ogre you thought she would be." Emmett gave him a hug of congratulation.

"She's actually very nice." Justin was not at all used to these displays of affection. He pulled back slightly.

"Sorry," Emmett said. "Didn't mean to overstep."

"I … I'm just not used to it," Justin tried to explain.

"Tell me about it. I'm from Hazlehurst, Mississippi. Two men hugging, not on this side of Hell."

"How … how did you get used to it?"

"It takes a while, but you'll get more comfortable as time goes on."

"That's good to know."

"So, now that you are gainfully employed are you here to get a fabulous outfit for Babylon?"

"Babylon? What's Babylon?"

"Dee hasn't filled you in on Babylon? Well, you'll have to see for yourself. Saturday night, you, me, Babylon!" Emmett ordered.

"I don't know," Justin said hesitantly.

"I do. It's an order and it's my treat."

"You don't have to do that."

"I want to. Consider it your welcome to Pittsburgh from a fellow southerner."

"Okay, thanks," Justin smiled.

"Now about that outfit?"

"It'll have to wait a few days. I want to earn some more tips before I even think about buying anything."

"Fair enough."

"I'm going to finish my walk. I have to be back at the diner by eleven-thirty."

"See you later," Emmett said as Justin walked out of Torso.

Down the street Justin could hear what sounded like someone playing the violin. He walked in that direction. He had never been fond of violin music, but this person sounded pretty good. As he got closer, Justin could see a young man with dark straggly hair and dark eyes. He was quite good looking except for some idiotic little chin hair. It made him look silly.

A few people were standing around listening. The man's violin case lay open on the sidewalk and Justin saw some of the crowd drop money in it as the violinist finished his tune. He was about to walk away when he heard someone say, "Hey!"

Justin turned and looked into the eyes of the violinist. "Not even a quarter for my efforts?" he asked.

"I … I don't have much money," Justin stammered.

"That's okay. You could have coffee with me instead."

"No thanks."

"Hey, don't be like that."

"I have to go." Justin hurried away.

Down the street he allowed himself to turn and look back. The violinist was still staring at him. Justin found it very disconcerting. Was the guy gay? Could he tell that Justin was gay too? He shivered slightly wondering if maybe his cover was blown already.

Walking quickly he approached Torso. As he passed the store the most beautiful man he had ever seen walked by him and went up the steps to Torso. Justin got a whiff of the man's cologne and he felt his dick grow hard. It was the most wonderful scent he had ever smelled. He turned and stared at the man who paused at the top of the steps with his hand on the door handle. He looked right at Justin.

Justin gulped a breath as he studied the impeccable suit, the stylish tousled hair, the high cheekbones and the deep golden eyes. His fingers itched for his sketchbook. He wanted to draw this man so badly. He wanted to…

Realizing that the man was staring at him too, he smiled. The man sucked his lips into his mouth, shook his head and went into Torso. Justin let out the breath he had been holding.

"Holy fuck!" Justin whispered. They never had anything like that man back home in Georgia. He wondered if Dee or Debbie or maybe Emmett would know who he was. He most definitely wanted to find out.

Return to Southern Sunshine