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?

note: I went back in and changed some things in this chapter, so if you read the old version, you might wanna re-read.

NOTHING BUT TROUBLE

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, reedy man in a multi colored polyester shirt and pleated charcoal gray slacks with scuffed loafers sauntered in. His long hair was slicked in a low ponytail with too much gel. Multiple gold necklaces and rings along with one diamond stud in an earlobe completed the scuzzy lounge lizard vibe. Sam knew the type well; his 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, such a heavy burden 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. Old fears and memories churned his gut. 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 casually 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 supervising her employees or in her office… 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 their table…

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 across from Sam tensed, took a deep breath, and forced her body to relax.

The man’s shadow fell over them.

Her head came up and she coolly met the man’s gaze… She puffed up like a viper looking ready to strike, flipping like a switch from helpless and scared to cornered and dangerous, instincts flicking from flight to fight. “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. “Zoey, you gonna run away over a lil misunderstanding? You came to me for help, not the other way ‘round. I’m the only one who can find that book you want so bad, cher.”

Zoey’s pert, freckled nose wrinkled in distaste at the use of the Cajun word for darling or sweetheart. The man smirked at her discomfort and Sam wondered if the creep did it on purpose. He’d heard a lot of locals use the word so he figured it was part of the local lexicon, part of everyday speech, so maybe the man used it reflexively and the girl’s disgust was a coincidental by-product.

Her gray-green eyes narrowed at the threat lurking under his light, cajoling tone. “Deal was off the moment you grabbed me. 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, Harry.”

Harry sighed as if dealing with an irrational, hot tempered child. “Law’s least of your worries, cher. You been pokin’ around in places you ain’t supposed to. Certain council members will be very interested to learn what you’ve been up to.”

Sam was as tense as the girl. The two strangers danced around each other on eggshells; violence liable to break out any moment, Harry going for the girl’s throat or she for his. Sam’s head spun with apprehension. His hands shook.

Zoey 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 to scold a waitress who dropped a tray of drinks.

“That really the way you wanna play this, cher? Think that’s gonna work?” Harry laughed. “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, cher?” Harry 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.” Zoey 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 like a butcher eyeing a fatted calf.

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.

“Such a pretty lesbian boy.” Harry laughed, deep and warm and mean, as if Sam were an amusing joke.

Zoey 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. “Fuck off you slimeball and leave him alone.”

“Hoodoo Harry. You know you ain’t welcome here. You’re nothing but trouble. Now 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. Her body language screamed fuck around and find out.

At the appearance of Yvonne, Zoey 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 it bothered him so. Before the stranger could reach for him again, he hid his hands in his own hoodie pocket, fingers tingling from her touch.

Hoodoo Harry spun around, jumping at Yvonne’s voice and raised his hands placatingly. “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!” Zoey snapped, voice raising.

Yvonne narrowed her eyes. “Warned 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.

Zoey 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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note: I made changes to ch 2 “nothing but trouble” so I recommend going back and re-reading it.

REMOULADE

part 1

Zoey jerked at the tiny, soft voice as if slapped across the cheek and gave the pretty, frail boy a warm smile. “I owe you one, buddy. Thank you. And sorry about that. I really did think if the pervert saw me with someone he’d leave me alone. But some sleezeballs just won’t take no for an answer, you know?”

Sam nodded.

She shrugged and slumped back in her seat. “Thank God he’s gone. But coming to Yvonne’s of all places? That really was a last resort. I mean, she’s gonna be pissed. And you really, really don’t want her pissed off at you. Seriously. You never, ever mess with Ms. Yvonne.”

“She’s been nothing but nice to me.”

The girl stared deeply at him like Harry had done, but her gaze lacked the hungry gleam. Her stormy grey-blue eyes probed his vivid blue ones, storm clouds meeting a bright summer sky, tender and gentle with no desire to harm him. She tilted her head, eyes flicked to his crutches against the wall, and gave him a soft smile. “Of course she would. You’re a pretty little babydoll. Anyone would wanna protect you.”

His cheeks flushed pink as his lips. Because of his disability? Something else? There was no pity or amusement in her eyes or tone. Did she like him? “I’m a boy.”

“I know. I only said that to try and get a rise outta old Harry.” Zoey grinned.

Talking to the girl was so easy, like drinking a warm cup of coffee on a chilly day. As the adrenaline rush faded, Sam’s fingers trembled. Was this what he’d been waiting for? He suppressed a snort. “You haven’t introduced yourself, Zoey.”

She laughed, genuine and warm. “You don’t miss much, do you, pretty one? You heard my name, but I don’t know yours. Ah, I’m being very rude, thrusting my problems on you and not even introducing myself. I’d say nice to meet you, but I’m sure you don’t feel the same.” Her smile was self-mocking.

“I’m Sam.” He didn’t know what to say next, so he pulled his bowl closer and poked vegetable chunks with his spork. Her interest would only last until he reached for his crutches. She knew he was disabled, but just wait until she saw him walk. She’d quickly backpedal, decide he was too much to take on. His heart squeezed at the thought. And for once, he was starting to like someone. She was bold, quick tongued and witty. With her curly hair in the sloppy bun and pen, she reminded him of a cute librarian or quirky artist.

“Well, least I can do to make amends is pay your bill. Whaddya say? I promise, I’m really not that crazy.”

Sam snorted; if only she knew about his diapers and dresses! She’d think he was unhinged. More of a disgusting pervert than Hoodoo Harry. He cringed, dropped his gaze to his bowl and spoke in a soft voice. “It’s okay. No big deal.”

“Oh, c’mon. Don’t be so shy. I feel horrible. Let me pay for your lunch. Please?”

Sam was about to shake his head when Ms. Yvonne came back over to their table. “Sam, honey? You okay?”

He looked up at Ms. Yvonne and nodded. “Yes ma’am.”

She gave him a motherly smile and resisted the urge to pat his head. The shy, soft-spoken boy was always polite and well mannered. She wished more tourists were like him. “Is she a friend of yours?” The implication in her tone was clear; is this girl bothering you?

“Everything’s fine ma’am. Thank you.”

Ms. Yvonne relented at Sam’s little smile but gave the girl a warning look. “Zoey, you know better than to truck with that Hoodoo Harry. He’s good for nothing but a headache, running schemes all over town. Got his fingers in as many dirty pies as he can, from pawn shops to laundry mats and food trucks. Which were shut down three times this year by the health department. And that’s just the start. Rumor has it he’s involved in money laundering and other shady businesses. Got some organized crime connections.”

Zoey straightened up like a school girl caught in the middle of mischief. “Yes ma’am. I’m sorry for causing trouble in your establishment. I wanted nothing to do with Hoodoo Harry.”

“But he wanted something to do with you.”

“Yes ma’am. And he doesn’t take no for an answer. I….was desperate to get away and went to the first place I’d be safe.”

Ms. Yvonne stared at Zoey a moment longer, sizing her up, before giving a small nod then an eyebrow raised in silent question.

“Um. I’ll be paying both our bills. And I’ll have a breaded shrimp po’boy, fully dressed please.”

Once Ms. Yvonne disappeared behind the kitchen door, Sam fiddled with his bowl. So much for convincing Zoey to just get up and go on with her life and leave him alone. “You a local? People seem to know you.”

Zoey crossed one leg over the other. “Not really. I’ve just been here since Epiphany and the start of Carnival to do some research that’s been going nowhere fast.”

“You really don’t have to pay for me. It’s all right.”

“What if I wanted to?” Zoey propped an elbow on the table and rested her chin in her palm.

He blushed and looked down, fiddling with his glass of water. There was a teasing, flirty note in her tone. He should flirt back, say something smart and witty to make her laugh. Like what? His tongue froze, brain groping for a needle in a haystack. Those story gray-blue eyes stared at him patiently, waiting for a reply.

“Um. Um. ‘s okay.” He mumbled out and wanted to facepalm. Very smooth, like tripping and falling flat on his face.

For several moments she didn’t reply. His heart picked up speed. Had she finally lost interest? He peeked up at her through a fringe of long, inky lashes. She caught his eyes and smiled.

“Traveling by yourself? A pretty lil’ thing like you?” The boy never told her this seat was taken or he was waiting for someone, so it was a natural conclusion. But Zoey couldn’t imagine parents, family or friends letting someone as young and vulnerable as Sam travel alone to a big, dangerous city. Especially during a time like Mardi Gras.

Maybe his disability added to how fragile he seemed, but it was something more than that. Deeper than his soft feminine features, slender body, and crutches. Shadows haunted those blue blue eyes, hinting at a painful past. The boy was scarred and broken, afraid to reach out. He wasn’t just shy- he actively withdrew and avoided interactions with people, did his best to clam up and discourage talking like a turtle hiding in its shell, afraid of predators. Yet under that pain and fear lurked hints of a gentle warmth, of love he desperately wanted to give but was terrified to open himself up to. So why was a boy like that doing all alone in a packed city party?

No wonder Ms. Yvonne took a liking to him. Zoey was intrigued. Originally, her plan was to pop in here and scare off the perverted pest Harry. Not a very well thought out plan, but looking ahead and strategy had never been her strong suit; she was more of a fly by the seat of her pants type.

Sam’s creamy pale cheeks blushed. How did she know? “Is it that obvious?”

“Yeah. You didn’t mention anyone or tell me to take a hike.”

He felt like an idiot: he should’ve said that right away to chase her away. He’d been too flustered to even think of such an obvious ploy. “Well, actually. I’m waiting for my girlfriend.”

Zoey tilted her head back and laughed deep from her belly. He noticed how sharp and white her teeth were, especially her canines and incisors.

“It’s not that funny.”

“Yes it is. You’re cute. Plus I’ve already ordered and you already agreed to let me treat you as thanks for saving me from that creep.”

“I didn’t do anything-”

She cut him off with a wave of her hand. “Yeah, yeah. Don’t worry about it. So what’s a babydoll like you doing in the Big Easy?”

Her pet names fluttered his heart and warmed his cheeks. Could she truly be interested in him? She was blunt, rude, and forward. She looked to be around his age, maybe a few years older. “Mardi Gras. Duh. Isn’t everyone?”

“By yourself? Most people come in a group.”

“I’m not most people.”

“Oooh, a lady of mystery.”

His cheeks turned scarlet and he sipped nervously at his water. He was very comfortable as a boy, but he didn’t mind being called a lady or a girl. It didn’t bother him or feel like an insult, just another part or side of him.

“I just wanted to shake things up a little.” He mumbled around his straw. Served up on a silver platter was a golden opportunity to shake things up and find his courage. Maybe if he had lunch with her, some of her boldness would rub off on him. After lunch, when he was alone again, he’d find an accessible bathroom and change into his pullup and skirt. He knew if he went back to his motel to change, he’d lose the courage to go back out.

He didn’t want to think about that, so he blurted out the first thought in his head. “You heare for Mardi Gras too?”

“Of course, isn’t everyone? “

“What about that book Harry mentioned?”

“Oh yeah. That.” Zoey shrugged, too casual. “It’s a rare book on the occult from the late 1700s. Super hard to find, but if it’s anywhere in the world, New Orleans with all its supernatural things- ghosts, vampires, voodoo, zombies, werewolves- it would be here. Or not.” She shrugged again. “I could be wrong. And the food. I mostly came here for the food. Have you had any beignets yet? They’re a deep fried orgasm for the tastebuds.”

Sam blushed at her vulgar word choice. That book was important to her. She played it off like no big deal, but she’d approached a crook like Hoodoo Harry to hire him to find it for her. Steal it if he had to? Sam didn’t want to think of Zoey like that.

None of his business anyway. He was just enjoying lunch with her. Then they’d part ways and he’d pad up. His whole body tingled in anticipation of finally, finally getting to wear a diaper and skirt out in public.

Not in a pervy voyeur way- Sam was very much against forcing that on unwary and nonconsenting public- but in a finally showing the world his true self way. His diapers would stay firmly hidden from view, as underwear should. His skirt was pleated A-line cut to hide any pullup bulk or bulge, and fell just below his knees. More modest than a Catholic school girl. The public would see him as an effeminate boy in a skirt.

It was okay to challenge some social norms as long as one didn’t push too far, right?

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Remoulade part 2

A young waitress dropped off two huge po boy sandwiches. Sam’s blue eyes widened at the size. He could maybe manage a quarter of one sandwich before his stomach was full. The puffy French bread held generous heaping of fried and battered shrimp, lettuce, tomato and pickles dripping with spicy, creamy house-made remoulade sauce, a bowl of spicy pork jambalaya, and a serving of corn maque choux- a Cajun side dish. The colorful blend of corn, red and green bell peppers, and onions braised in bacon grease, salt, and cayenne pepper looked tasty. Next time Sam would splurge and order some. The waitress sat down two glasses of sweet iced tea. Sam had to be frugal with his thin wallet, so he’d just been ordering plain old ice water.

Zoey eyed the food, rubbing her hands together in anticipation. “Oh, that smells so good. I tell you, it’s worth coming to the Big Easy just for the food.”

“You a big foodie?”

“Nah, I’m not too particular about food. I just appreciate a good meal.”

Didn’t foodies appreciate a good meal? Sam shook his head.

The waitress took his half eaten gumbo. “Ms. Yvonne said to heat this up for you.”

“Oh, that’s okay, it’s fine-” Sam trailed off at her look. Ms. Yvonne gave her orders and there was no use arguing. He just smiled his thanks and was sorry to be such a bother. Instead, he stared at Zoey’s bountiful spread. How could she eat all that food? Just a bowl of gumbo filled him up. That looked like the serving size people on My 600 Pound Life ate. His eyes slid to her; even under the torn, baggy hoodie he could tell she was nowhere near that fat. She wasn’t a tiny model; a little chubby and plump but he thought that added to her charm.

Zoey slid an iced tea towards him, pushing his water glass away. His blue eyes met her stormy grey and he shyly smiled his thanks before lowering his lashes. Iced tea was a welcome break from water. Especially since she was paying. He was on a strict budget; he had to pinch pennies even to afford this trip. Cheapest motel in town- grime, cockroaches, and bedbugs complimentary- and a Greyhound bus ticket. He’d regret it financially when he went home, but it would be worth it if he could find the courage to put that damned pullup on.

What would Zoey say if she saw or knew what was in his purple bag? She’d run for the hills. If his crutches didn’t put people off, his freakish desires surely would. Not that any potential relationship ever got that far. Hells bells, he’d never even been kissed.

“Oh, yeah. That hits good.” Zoey practically moaned her pleasure as she chewed and savored a big bite of her sandwich, lost in tastebud bliss. Remoulade sauce smeared around her lips.

Sam was tempted to reach out and wipe it off with his thumb. His pretty doll face flushed cherry pink; his body felt hot and cold all over at once. He fumbled with his straw and nervously sipped his tea. What was wrong with him? This was the first time a pretty girl stayed interested in him. Hope fluttered and he ruthlessly tried to squash it. His logical brain knew better than his stupid heart. Just wait until she got to know him better. She wasn’t sticking around. He was going to enjoy her company for lunch then. they’d part ways and forget all about each other.

Zoey finished one sandwich. He blinked at how fast she ate. “Wow. You really like those po boys.”

Licking her lips, she grinned. “Damn skippy, sweetheart. Once you’ve faced starvation, you learn to appreciate every meal you get. Especially the tasty ones.”

Stunned, Sam stared. What had she been through? Or was she merely exaggerating? He stared into her stormy eyes. Something lurked in her past, and he wondered if it was as painful as his own.

“Here. Try a bite and tell me you’re not in heaven.” Zoey picked up the second, uneaten sandwich and held it to Sam’s lips. Her insistence brushed away any hesitancy before it could form; Sam automatically opened his mouth like a baby bird and took a dainty bite. Flavors and textures crunched and swirled together, exploding on his tongue in a delicious melody. He closed his eyes and savored the taste.

Remoulade sauce and tomato juice dripped down his chin and onto his plastic bib. Zoey giggled.

“What?” Sam raised an eyebrow.

“Good thing you gotta bib on. You look like a big baby.”

Sam paled; her words punched him in the gut. Her teasing tone slapped his face. The pullup in his bag burned, fuel for his padded shame. He wanted to throw it and the entire pack back in his motel soon as he got back to his room. He feared she could sense his dirty little secrets.

“Hey, Sam. Don’t pass out. I’m just teasing you.” Zoey pressed her cold glass to his red cheeks; Sam gasped in surprise. Worry filled her stormy gray eyes. He dropped his gaze to his lap.

“Sorry.” His voice was small, mind rushing to come up with some logical explanation so she didn’t think he was a hypersensitive weirdo. “I’m not used to…to friendly banter.” Great. He just blurted out the truth. Smooth. Now she saw him as an awkward, anti-social misfit loser. King of the rejects.

The hurt and fear in his voice pinched her heart. Her face softened. “You were picked on a lot?”

Sam shook his head. “Sometimes. Not much. Moved around a lot. Not many bullies pick on the new cripple kid. But no one rushes to make friends, either.” Lonely social pariah. He wanted to crawl under a rock and die. He tugged on the thin plastic edge of his bib in his agitation, wanting to rip off it off in embarrassment and wishing he’d never asked Ms. Yvonne for one. His pulse raced and he wished he could get up and run away.

She nodded thoughtfully. “Kinda hard to fit in when you’re not like the others.”

Her gentle tone helped ease his pounding anxiety. She truly wasn’t making fun of him. His head grasped that but his heart took a few more moments. “Were you? Picked on as a kid?”

Zoey scrunched her nose in thought. “It was so long ago….yeah, a bit. Most kids are at some point in their lives. I was a little shy, like you. A real people pleaser, but I didn’t program well. Questioned things too much. Adults didn’t like that!” She laughed. Sam tried to imagine her as meek, shy and failed miserably. “But people change as they grow. I’m the life of the party now! Especially when I’m drunk.”

She toasted him with her iced tea, took a long drink, then started eating her jambalaya. One bite had her shaking her head. “Oh, that’s got a kick. Want a bite?”

Sam shook his head. “Spicy foods hurt my stomach.” Plus she only had one spork, and eating after a stranger- even if she was a hot one- was unhygienic. Zoey didn’t seem to care much about that.

The waitress passed by and dropped off Sam’s reheated and refilled crawfish gumbo.

Once she left, Sam poked the bowl, wondering how he’d eat all of it. “So, you’re here by yourself, too? You haven’t mentioned any friends for such a social butterfly.” He felt brazen and bold, with just a sprinkle of rude. He took a sip of his iced tea to cool off the blush on his cheeks.

Zoey laughed. “So the cute lil puppy has some bite! I like it! I’m flying solo. This is more of a work trip than a fun one. Well, more procurement than work, but it’s kinda all the same. And the food. Mostly the food.”

Or she tried to cover up how much that book meant to her. Sam nodded and poked his steaming bowl. “What are you gonna do if you can’t find your book?”

Gray eyes met his, wide and startled. The Zoey laughed again. “Probably get drunk. It was a long shot in the dark, anyway.” She dug into her food with gusto. She offered the second po boy again and he shook his head. He only had so much room in his stomach.

He managed to finish both his bowl and tea, distracted watching Zoey devour her food like a bottomless pit. He wrinkled his nose when she at the sandwich he already bit into. No, she didn’t care about sharing germs at all. Like it never even crossed her mind. Finished draining her tea, she slumped back in her chair with a lazy, satisfied grin.

“That really hit the spot. I could go for some dessert though. Maybe some coffee and beignets. Or cheesecake. You can never go wrong with cheesecake.”

Sam stared with his lips slightly parted. “After eating all that, how can you possibly have room for more?”

Zoey’s grin stretched to show her sharp pearly whites. “I have a very efficient metabolism.” She laughed like she just told a joke. Sam’s brows furrowed in confusion at the weird girl.

The table next to them emptied as the diners paid their bill and left. It didn’t stay empty long. Sam was good at ignoring people and crowds, mentally blocking them out, so he barely registered the young couple sitting down. Under the background wall of noisy diner chatter and cutlery clatter, a faint familiar crinkle perked up his ears. It sounded similar to a grocery bag or empty chip bag but there was a small, distinct difference only someone like Sam would notice. The deeper crinkle of a premium diaper with thick plastic backing.

His heart slammed into his throat. He finished his last bite of gumbo, licked sauce off his lips, and snuck a glance at the couple.

Because New Orleans was so far south, a lot of tourists, especially those from up north, wore sweater or jackets and hoodies instead of bundling up like they would for frigid northern February temperatures. The couple were clearly tourists. The girl was short with wavy red hair. She wore a lilac and white tie dye hoodie with black skinny jeans and lilac roses painted on them while the Korean boy was slim and a good bit taller than her. He was lean muscle while she was soft and plump in all the right places. He was pretty with his wide eyes and full lips but still clearly male with just a touch of feminine beauty. He wore a pink hoodie. Both of their tops said New Orleans: Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, clear tourist clothing. His loose black cargo pants did nothing to hide the noticeable bulge of his very thick diaper.

Sam wanted to die of embarrassment for the poor boy. How could anyone go out in public like that? Did he want to? Did he have a choice? The boy kept shifting and crinkling in his seat like he couldn’t get comfortable, tugging on his pink hoodie to try and cover his puffy crotch. His head stayed low, long black bangs hiding his face as if he was afraid to look around him and see the reactions of others. Sam looked around; no one else in the crowd paid attention, lost in their own conversations and food.

The waitress came over. The girl placed her order. “Joonie, what do you want?” The Korean boy shook his head without looking up. The girl frowned and ordered for him as well. Once the waitress left, the girl reached across the table and cupped his chin, forcing him to look up.

Tears sparkled in his sloe eyes. “Josie, I wanna go home. I hate this so much. It’s too much. I can’t do this.” A stray tear trickled down his cheek; her thumb wiped it away.

“Honey, shh. You’re doing so good. I know how hard this is for you, and I’m so proud of you. No one’s noticed, baby. It’s all in your head.”

Sam’s stomach flipped at the girl’s soft words. Lies and bullshit. Even if the boy needed diapers that thick, there was no reason to lie and gaslight him into believing that bulky padded monstrosity wasn’t noticeable. Maybe she meant to lie to spare his feelings, but it seemed more cruel than kind to Sam. Anger flared in his gut. If his diaper was showing as much as that poor boy’s was, he’d want to know about it!

Before Sam realized it, he opened his mouth. “Don’t lie to him. I noticed it. I heard his diaper crinkle soon as you sat down.”

His soft words dropped like a bomb. Joonie jerked like he’d been slapped, diaper crinkling with his movement. Josie tensed, switching to Mama Bear mode. Zoey raised her head from picking over the remains of her meal, gray eyes bright with curiosity at the impending storm.

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My brain immediately went to crinkle in the sky but that’s a different couple. I was pumped to think you might cross over your stories!