Fifi visited Elspeth in hospital. It had been three months since the drag artist had had her sex change op. The final stage of the transformation were breast implants. Elspeth had booked herself into the local private hospital.
Fifi took a moment to spy on her friend through the port-hole window in the door.
Elspeth was talking to her husband John, who was seated next to her. She nodded occasionally towards the television which hung from the wall on a metal bracket.
Fifi noticed the array of large vases filled with flowers. Elspeth had many friends.
Fifi thought she looked beautiful. She was dressed in a champagne silk negligee revealing her new ample cleavage, her baby blonde hair coiffed to perfection and her make up as always flawless.
On entering the room Elspeth’s husband had kindly offered to leave the two women to catch up. They both watched him leave before they spoke.
It was Elspeth who spoke first.
“He’s my rock Fifi,”
Fifi took Elspeth’s hand.
“I know he is. You look great by the way. How are you feeling?”
“I’m very good thank you darling.” Elspeth offered her cheek for Fifi to kiss.
“I’m blessed to have him you know. He loved me as a gay man and now he loves me as a woman.
“You know what he said to me when I told him I wanted a sex change? Obviously I was worried. John is gay Why would he love me as a woman? My operation could have been the end us Fifi.”
She looked mournful.
“He told me that a person’s gender is not what we fall in love with. We fall in love with the person. What’s inside.
“He told me he had loved me from the moment he saw me. That first day we started Primary School together and I wouldn’t share the doll’s pram with him.”
Both women laughed.
“We’ve been together nearly thirty years Fifi. He’s my soul mate.”
Looking back up to the television, Elspeth changes the subject abruptly.
“Now,” she puffs out her new implants. “If I have to sit here and listen to that daft sod a minute longer I’m going to go out of my mind.”
Elspeth nods towards the television screen. The celebrity comic Russel Brand is being interviewed. He is telling the young pretty interviewer how he has found inner peace through yoga.
“He reminds me a cult leader. Don’t follow him into the desert lovey!” Elspeth shouts at the television. “We’ll never see ya again! He’s a bloody cross between Deepak Chopra and William S Burroughs. Oh my god he gives me the willies!”
Fifi loves Elspeth’s melodramatic wit.
Smiling coyly, Fifi replies: “I think she wants his willy.”
“I read somewhere he’s a sex addict. He’ll probably take her off into the deset and hump her to death. I take it you still haven’t found yourself a man yet?”
Elspeth changes the subject again before Fifi gets a chance to answer.
“Anyway, what have you been up to over last couple of months? I’ve hardly seen ya and when I have you’ve been very quiet. Is there something you want to tell me?”
“Possibly, if I could get a word in. Your gob never stops.”
“Eee I don’t know what you mean! Open that cabinet door and grab a bottle of champagne. I’m parched!”
“You’re not allowed that in here! The tea trolley will be round shortly anyway.“
“The tea tastes like piss. I’m not having it. Tell me what’s on your mind.” She smooths down her negligee over her new pert breasts.
Fifi takes a deep breath.
“Come on, out with it,” Elespeth demands.
“I’m skint, bankrupt, all gone, no money left.”
Elspeth immediately hops off her bed and grabs a bottle of champagne from the bedside cabinet. Popping the cork she takes a large gulp from the bottle then hands it to Fifi.
“Not for me. I’m fine thanks.”
Elspeth climbs back into bed with the bottle in hand.
“How skint?” she asks, bemused.
“Very. I have about five grand left. Just about enough to get me to L.A to Estelle’s for your party. My mother has run up thousands in debt – credit cards, mortgage in arrears, it’s a mess.”
“What do you mean mortgage in arrears? She lives in a bloody council house.”
“I gave her the deposit to buy it. I also gave her the credit cards in my name. I haven’t exactly been frugal myself Elspeth. I lost a fortune on the property in Dorking. Anyway I went to the job centre last week.”
Elspeth downs the last of the champagne, choking on the bubbles. The foam drips from her chin on to her nightdress.
“Oh my god, the shame!” she wails. “The dole! I’ve never heard the likes of it, Celebrities On Benefits. Actually, that would make a good television show. You should pitch the idea to Luka. He might get you some cash.” Luka was Fifi’s gay German agent.
Fifi thought Elepeth was doing her best Bette Davis impersonation. She deserved an Oscar for it .
“It was quite interesting actually,” replies Fifi. “The lovely Mark signed me up for an administration course and workshop to update my C.V”.
“C.V! Your C.V? I can just see it. Former stripper, come page-three model, come writer of dirty stories. Who’s going to give you a job with a work history like that? Not unless you’re planning on sitting on some old barnacle’s knee whilst taking dictation.” Elspeth simulates oral sex with the champagne bottle.
“And if you don’t mind me saying Fifi ya looking a bit rough round the edges nowdays pet. Ya no spring chicken anymore and the facelift has dropped and gone.”
Fifi smiles at her friend.
“I’ll be fine. Lets get you out of here and we’ll jet off to L.A. I’ll have a couple of weeks to get my head round it all. It’s been years since I wrote ‘The Life And Crimes Of A Stripper From Newcastle.’ Maybe it’s time I wrote something else, something more literary and serious.”
Tears roll down Elspeth’s cheeks. She wipes them away with her handkerchief, smearing mascara around her face.
She definitely looks like Bette Davis now – ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane’
“I think I’m going through the menopause!” she sobs.
“You’ll be fine”
“I know I’ll be fine. It’s you I’m worried about ya stupid bitch.”
Six weeks later…
Fifi sat on Venice Beach looking out at the ocean. She would be back in Newcastle on Monday, signing on at the dole. How much her life changed over the last months. She had enjoyed her adventures in Dorking. She thought about the people she had met there. General Frankie, Mrs Patel, the weasel Ted Pemberton, Dorking’s controversial book reviewer. She promised herself she would pay a visit to Wrekenton’s new W.I. as soon as she got back.
From out in the distance she thought she could hear someone calling her name.
“Fifi! Miss Fifi!”
Shielding her eyes and squinting into the sun she could just make out Jose. He was coming out of the sea waving to her, his black hair glistening, his muscles rippling and his smile dazzling.
Jose is Estelle’s Latino gardener, with whom Fifi nearly had an erotic encounter one afternoon. After sharing a bong at the pool with Estelle. Fifi had had to be carried upstairs to bed. Jose had tried to seduce Fifi, but she’d vomited before he could carry out the dastardly deed. She had smoked way too much weed with the Marijuana Moms Club on that visit to L A.
Fifi waved back to Jose. Smiling to herself she reached inside her bag for her notepad and pen and began to write.
Join me soon for more adventures here at Café Spike.
Story by Fiona McAndrew.