Mariposa Honeymoon - Chapter 9
published October 22, 2018
On the morning after, Derek gets some answers about what has been going on, and makes a surprising new discovery.
The past two days had been so eventful that it seemed like weeks since Derek had seen Pierce. Now Derek realized he had been seeing Pierce the whole time. He just hadn’t known to look for him in the form of an unremarkable Mexican man or a blond beachcomber.
Pierce sat on the edge of the sofa, hands raised, palms facing Derek, as if he had just been cornered by the police. He was wearing only Beau’s floral shorts which were pooled loosely around his waist, laughably oversized on Pierce’s petite but well-toned body. Pierce unleashed his most charming smile and said, “I can explain.”
“You better,” Derek said. Restored to his runner’s physique, Derek was now wearing the fishnet tank top that Jesus had worn to the club and some cashmere sweatpants which Pierce recognized as his own. Owing to the difference in the men’s sizes, the sweats looked more like compression shorts hugging tight to Derek’s thighs and the cuffs wrapped just below his kneecaps. Yesterday’s hoops and stud still adorned his earlobes, the only visible remnants of his day as a punk. “I did a little rummaging while you caught up on your beauty sleep. Found these empties tucked under your bed.” He read the slips of paper adhering to the Mariposa bottles in his hands. “The one labeled ‘Tarzan’ obviously turned you into Beau, which would mean ‘Mocha’ was responsible for Jesus?”
“Excellent detective work,” Pierce said. “You’re a regular Mike the Spike.”
Derek placed the empty bottles on the floor and folded his arms, not in the mood for Pierce’s humor at the moment. “So what was your big idea here? Was it actually your goal to break up our marriage on our honeymoon, or were just trying to get us to act like idiots for your own personal amusement?”
“Neither one,” Pierce said, although he had found some of the events of the past two days highly entertaining. “I just wanted to make sure you guys had some fun on your honeymoon.”
“Right, because the two of us stiffs would be incapable of doing anything remotely fun without you around to pull the strings?”
“That’s not it at all.” Pierce folded his hands together and leaned forward. “You ever heard of Rumspringa?”
“Is that one of those complicated drinks you were ordering last night?”
“No. It’s an Amish custom. When Amish kids hit adolescence, their parents know that’s the prime age for rebellion, so they give their kids a little leeway to explore what life is like outside their insulated community. I mean, when you’re trotting along the road in your horse-drawn buggy, wouldn’t you be curious about those people zooming past you in their fancy metal automobiles, listening to their loud, discordant, electrical music and wearing their fancy ‘tee-shirts’ bearing the image of the icon they hold most sacred, Saint Taylor the Swift?”
Derek was annoyed at Pierce for making him laugh when he was trying to remain indignant. “Yeah, I think I’ve heard of that.”
“Yeah, I’m sure they did a piece about it on NPR. Probably one of their ‘What In The Dickens Are Those Peculiar Non-NPR Listeners Like?’ segments.” Pierce never tired of needling Derek about white liberals getting all their information from NPR, although Pierce actually listened to public radio far more than either Derek or Charles. He was never one to let facts stand in the way of a good joke. “So anyway, these Amish teenagers are allowed to venture out and experiment in the ways of ‘the English’. Wear modern clothes. Ride in motorized vehicles. Maybe drink a beer or smoke some weed. The premise is that, if you let them get a taste of it, it’ll lose that allure of ‘the forbidden’. They won’t always be wondering what that world must be like. They won’t always be thinking ‘Maybe things would be better over there.’ Thing is, those Amish parents are pretty smart. After getting it out of their system, most of the kids decide to go back to their families and their traditions. You see where I’m going here?”
“Sure. You think that, as far as being gay is concerned, Charles and I are Amish.”
“Well, you ain’t exactly RuPaul, darlin’.” His tongue was growing parched the longer he talked. “Is it okay if I get some water?”
“Of course,” Derek said, leaning back in his chair.
Pierce cinched the drawstring of his shorts as tightly as possible around his narrow waist to keep them from falling. On someone of Pierce’s stature, they could hardly be described as shorts, as the hemline hung halfway down his shins.
Pierce’s suite was a mirror image of the one next door, minus the fist-shaped hole in the bedroom wall. Pierce crossed to the mini-bar and grabbed himself a bottle of water, offering a second one to Derek. Derek looked at the bottle skeptically. “It’s just water, right? It’s not gonna turn me from Dr. Nero to Mr. Hyde?”
“Pure agua, I promise,” Pierce assured him, tossing the bottle to Derek. Pierce took a prolonged gulp from his own bottle and began pacing. Being on his feet and mobile made Pierce feel more relaxed and less like he was being deposed. “So. Anyway. Where was I?”
“Right! Ya see, I thought it might be a good idea for you guys to have some experiences that were outside your comfort zone, just so you wouldn’t be sitting around in five or ten years, dissatisfied with your marriage and wondering what you had missed out on by settling down. There’s an old Native American expression that, for all I know, really came from some old white guy writing dialogue for a Western in the Thirties. It says ‘Never criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.’ Mariposa actually lets you do that, only instead of moccasins, it’s, you know, a mohawk or a lime green thong. I thought you’d get a kick out the chance to be somebody else for a day. You’d get to fuck other people, only without actually fucking other people, because you’d still really just be fucking each other. Maybe you’d be like those Amish kids and appreciate each other more once you got back to being yourselves. Maybe it’d open your eyes to being a little bit more adventurous in the future. That’s all I was trying to do. It wasn’t done with malice. It was done with love.” Pierce shrugged, having pleaded his case the best he could. Retaking his seat on the couch, the defense rested.
Pierce always had a knack for explaining things in ways that convinced you he was right. Derek had long thought that Pierce had more of the natural skills for being a good lawyer than Charles did, but any time Derek suggested that Pierce should explore the law as a profession, Pierce laughed it off. He had no interest in squandering his life doing something so serious, so respectable, so dull. If, when Derek and Pierce were college roommates, a time traveler had arrived from a decade in the future and informed Pierce that he would end up as an international flight attendant who moonlighted as a Prince impersonator, Pierce would have gleefully hurled his tedious engineering textbooks into a blast furnace and said, “Hallelujah, I do find my true calling after all!” He then would have asked the visitor from the future if the Jonas brothers were still hot where he came from.
Despite Pierce’s explanation, Derek was not willing to let Pierce off the hook just yet. “Okay, but even if you had the best of intentions, you should have given us more of a warning about what it would do to us!”
Pierce had to laugh. “If I had told you up front, ‘Hey, drink this stuff. It’s totally safe, but it’ll turn you into a Chinese muscle dude or a 300-pound daddy bear for the day,’ you guys would’ve immediately pitched the bottles in the garbage. Even with the little warnings I did give you, my best guess was that only you would be willing to try it. You’d drink a third of a bottle at most before chickening out. You’d undergo an unfulfilling partial transformation. Charles would freak the fuck out, and you’d spend the next two days reading books on the beach and bitching about what that awful Pierce had tried to do to you.”
“Well, that shows how little you know about us. Charles doesn’t read books. What if we’d had a bad reaction?”
Pierce tapped an index finger on his temple. “See, that’s where Jesus and Beau came in. I know how important it is to have someone looking after you and talking you through it the first few times that you do Mariposa, but I knew I couldn’t do it as myself. You guys would never have loosened up if you knew that fucking asshole Pierce was in the room next door, spying on your every move. So, voila, here comes Jesus. Nice enough local guy, but pretty nondescript. Not a hundred percent fluent with the English. Not really an expert on Mariposa, but he’s heard some things that might help you out. Why would you suspect that he wasn’t exactly who he said he was? Next day, I gave myself a treat, made myself a totally chill surfer dude. After you survived the first day, I thought I’d give you some space, only intrude if there was an emergency. Then I heard you screaming and I had to step in. I hadn’t banked on Charles flaking out and running off like that.”
“Well, you had me fooled. I never suspected, although I should have gotten suspicious when Beau turned out to be such a Prince expert. You should be an actor.”
“Yeah, I probably should, but, honestly, Mariposa does most of the work. For the most part, I just go along for the ride. I mean, you experienced it yourself. It’s not like you had to put any effort into doing gymnastics or speaking Chinese. It just came as standard equipment.”
Derek was still getting his head around all the planning that Pierce had put into this scheme. “So, let me figure this out. You came down on the same plane with us?”
“Yup. Tucked away in the very last row of coach, stuck by the goddamn toilets. Don’t say I never sacrificed for you. I knew you’d never see me way back there. I mean, why would you leave first class to explore the land of the poors? Most of the flight, I hung out with the crew in the galley and drank free booze.”
“And you were Jesus that whole time?”
“Oh, no, no, no,” Pierce said. “You can’t fly on Mariposa. How would I explain at customs why my face didn’t match my passport? Nope, as soon as I got off the plane, I ran to the men’s room, downed a bottle of Mariposa, ‘activated it’…” To illustrate, Pierce moved his cupped hand in a “jerking-off” gesture. “Then I had to quick go pick up the rental car before I met you guys at baggage claim. I’d already arranged for one of the desk clerks to have the six pack waiting in your room before you showed up, so you wouldn’t suspect Jesus of having anything to do with it.”
“Well, you went to a hell of a lot of effort, I’ll give you that much.”
Pierce waved his hand dismissively. “It was nothing. Besides, I’ve been having a great time. I can’t remember the last time I smoked as much pot as we did yesterday.”
“Isn’t that risky for you?”, Derek asked. “Doesn’t the airline do drug tests?”
Pierce smiled. “That’s one of the best things about Mariposa. You can drink as much as you want, smoke pot, do ’shrooms, whatever…and it all burns out of your system when the changes fade. It’s like somebody else did it all. They could drug test me today and wouldn’t find a trace of marijuana. It’s like the best drug ever. Plus you can party all you want and there’s no hangover. Well, there is kind of a hangover. Did you notice any ‘souvenirs’ left over on your body from yesterday?”
Derek tugged at the jewelry on his earlobes. “These earrings are still wedged in pretty tight. I can’t figure out how to take ’em off.”
Pierce walked over for a closer look and winced, noticing that the pierced holes created by the Mariposa no longer existed. “Yeah, I prob’ly shoulda told you to take those out before you changed back. Your earlobes healed up around them, and they’re stuck in there good. Might have to get someone to cut ’em off. On the bright side, you do look pretty hot with them.”
“I appreciate that, but I’m not sure this is the image I want to give my patients.”
“Why not? Aren’t they all doped up when you work on them anyway? But that’s not really what I meant by a souvenir. The Mariposa didn’t give you those earrings. You bought them. Now you’re stuck with them. What I’m talking about is some part of the transformation itself that didn’t fade away when you went back to normal.”
“Not that I noticed,” Derek said, standing up and walking to a full-length mirror to inspect himself. He saw nothing out of the ordinary. His short brown hair had returned, as had his brown eyes. He turned in profile and saw that his glutes had receded back to their standard flatness. “I don’t see anything. Hair grew back in. Same flat ass. Even all the tattoos are gone.”
Pierce asked, “You sure you’ve looked…everywhere?”
Derek was posit… No, he realized there was one place he hadn’t checked. He hustled into the bathroom and closed the door. A few seconds later, Pierce heard a muffled scream, and Derek burst back into the living room. “I’ve still got barbed wire tattooed on my cock.”
Pierce’s eyebrows leapt. “Nice! Can I see?”
“I’m not gonna show you my dick!”
“Can’t blame a guy for asking.”
Derek flopped onto the sofa, shaking his head. “So what did you keep from Beau? Obviously not his height or his muscles or his hair.”
“Probably nothin’. Once you’ve done Mariposa enough times, your body builds up a tolerance. It’s really just the first few times when you keep some leftovers.”
“So what DID you keep from your first time?”
Derek patted his hand over his perfectly maintained core. “Didn’t you ever wonder how I came back from Spring Break with chiseled abs?”
“Spring break? You mean junior year? When you went to Cabo? You told me you worked out a lot!”
“And you believed me? God bless you, you’ve always been so trusting. Like I would spend my whole vacation doing crunches instead of shots. Whoever heard of anyone coming back from a week of binge drinking in better shape than they left? That week, I drank a six pack of Mariposa all by myself, a bottle a day. They were literally ‘six-pack abs’!”
“Hang on. You’re telling me you’ve been drinking this stuff since we were in college, and you never mentioned it until now?”
“We all have our secrets, honey. I’ve done a LOT of things you don’t know about.” Pierce smirked, and Derek didn’t doubt it. “Back then, Mariposa had just come out and it was still ultra cheap. Then, once people found out what it actually did, it got harder to find, and prices went through the roof. I probably didn’t do Mariposa for five years after that first time, ’cause I couldn’t afford it. I hope you and Charles appreciate just how long I had to save up on my salary to buy you guys those six bottles.”
This was all too much for Derek to absorb. He looked across the room at his charismatic friend with the unearned abs, wondering what else about him had been altered permanently by the mysterious elixir. “Okay, so I get why you thought Charles and I could use a little Mariposa to spice things up, but why would YOU need it? You’re already sexy and outgoing and interesting just the way you are.”
“Yeah, maybe a little too interesting,” Pierce said with a rueful laugh. “Did it ever occur to you that I might get tired of being so goddamn interesting all the time? Look at me. I’m a short, gay Native American. No matter where I go, I stick out like a tiny, dark-skinned, rainbow-striped thumb. I’ve never been in a room in my life where people like me are the majority, because there are no other people like me! I never had any choice but to lean into who I am, because wherever I am, people can’t help but notice what makes me different. The world won’t allow me to be anonymous. Don’t you know how much I’ve always envied you?”
This may have been the most shocking revelation Derek had heard all morning. “YOU envied ME?”
“Absolutely! You can walk into any room and NOT be noticed! You ordinary, average white guys don’t even realize what a luxury that is, to be ignorable. Boring comes to you naturally. Me, I’ve gotta work at it!”
“I was really expecting that to be more of a compliment than it turned out to be.”
Pierce cringed. “It sounded better in my head. But I mean it, man. All through college, I wished I was you. I was desperate to fit in, but that was never in the cards. Until I discovered Mariposa, the closest I ever got to anonymity was when I would do my Prince impression. When I was onstage, for once nobody was looking at Pierce, that weird Indian faggot who they saw flitting around campus being annoying. All they saw was fuckin’ Prince, and everybody loves fuckin’ Prince. That’s why I drink Mariposa. It gives me a vacation from being me.”
After all the years they had known each other, Derek had not imagined there was so much he didn’t know about his old friend. He felt like he was seeing an entirely different person than had been in the room five minutes earlier, even though Pierce looked exactly the same.
Pierce gazed out the window toward the beach. “Jesus was kind of a bore, but that was by design. But, god-DAMN did I loved being Beau, that big, gorgeous, Nordic-god motherfucker.” He glanced at Derek, grinning. “Don’t lie, you liked him too. I could tell you were on the verge of cumming every time you so much as looked at Beau. Am I right?”
Derek shifted uncomfortably in his seat, but couldn’t dispute the allegation or successfully hide his embarrassed smile.
“Ha! I knew it. You wanted to fuck me! You couldn’t keep your little tattooed paws offa me on the smoking patio.”
Derek raised a finger in the air to interrupt. “Smoking…? What do you mean? Except when we were dancing, I barely touched you.”
“Oh, no, don’t try this ‘I was a perfect gentleman’ crap. The way you were grabbin’ at my tits and grindin’ on my lap, I was sure you were gonna make me blow my load.”
“Wait one damn minute…” Derek was shouting now.
Pierce raised his volume to match Derek’s. “And then you got up and had to go ‘pee-pee’ and stuck me there with blue balls.”
“I have no memory of any of that,” Derek said with complete sincerely.
“All right,” Pierce said, raising his hands in surrender. “I’ve seen this before. The convenient amnesia when you don’t want to admit something embarrassing. Fine, you tell yourself whatever you need to tell yourself, but remember, I was there too, and I can hold my pot way better than you can. Now, don’t worry, I won’t tell Charles. What happens on Mariposa, et cetera, et cetera…” He turned his attention back toward the beach and grew wistful. “Man, to think that I had that fine a body for a whole day and didn’t even have sex once! What a shame. I definitely have to find another bottle of him someday.”
Derek pointed to the Post-Its on the empties he’d found. “So you know what changes every bottle is gonna make?”
“I’ve figured out a few of the colors over the years, and I try to track down the ones I wanna do again, but they got so many varieties and a lot of the colors get to look pretty similar. Plus they keep adding new ‘flavors’ and tinkering with the old ones.”
“Did you know what was in the six-pack you gave us?”
Pierce waggled his hand in mid-air. “The Chinese gymnast I knew. I was him in Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago. That was awesome. I wished I’d brought my copy of the Kama Sutra on that trip, because that boy was flexible. I don’t think you took nearly enough advantage of what that body was capable of doing. Ginger jockboy must be a new addition, ’cause I’ve never seen him before, but the tattooed punk is a classic. That’s like one of the original six flavors. It’s like Classic Coke, but they keep messing with the formula. His mohawk used to be green, and he didn’t used to have nearly so many tattoos. If you ask me, it’s overkill now, but then I’ve always preferred subtlety.”
That came as news to Derek.
“To be honest,” Pierce continued, “I was kinda hoping Charles would grab the punk bottle. Woulda been funny to watch him coping with that mohawk.”
“Well, I’m glad you found our tribulations so amusing,” Derek said with a snide tone. “Thanks to you and your miracle drink, my husband went to bed with that little bellboy Chico.”
Now was Pierce’s turn to be surprised. “Whaaaaat? When was this?”
“After I dumped you in here last night, I went next door, and saw Charles in bed with him.”
“And they were fucking?”
“No! They were both asleep.”
Pierce took that as a positive sign. “Maybe that’s all they did was ‘go to bed’. Of course, I can’t really blame Charles if they did…ya know. I mean, that Chico IS pretty damn cute.”
Derek glared. “You’re not helping your cause here. You don’t console the spouse who’s been cheated on by saying, ‘Well, on the plus side, he did screw a total hottie.’”
Pierce took on a lecturing tone. “Hey, don’t blame me OR the Mariposa for this. I’m Mister Mariposa, but no matter how far gone I’ve been on it, I’ve always known precisely what I was doing. I’ve never done anything I regretted, and it’s never ‘made me’ do anything. I mean, I could easily have fucked you last night, but I didn’t because I have self-control!”
Derek got in Pierce’s face. “You didn’t fuck me last night because you’d had enough pot and booze to tranquilize an elephant. Besides, what YOU might regret and what CHARLES might regret are two very different things.”
“Oh, is that how you see me? You think I’m just some cock-crazy slut who’ll fuck anything with a functioning dick, but Charles is some saint who never even thinks about other guys? You think you married a robot? Maybe Charles thinks about fucking other guys all the fucking time, but the Mariposa finally gave him the courage to fucking do it!”
Derek was getting steamed. “You’re talking about my husband.”
“Is this the husband you just told me fucked Chico? Don’t try to pin your husband’s moral failings on me or on something he drank. Charles only fucked Chico if Charles WANTED to fuck Chico.”
Derek stood motionless, fists clenched, then turned quickly and walked over to open the door to the hallway.
Pierce asked, “Where are you running off to?”
“Next door,” Derek said, “to ask my husband what really happened!” Derek stepped into the hall and yanked the door furiously, but the door hinge was designed to operate slowly. Derek stood in the hall and watched impotently as the door closed gradually, seriously undermining the dramatic impact of his exit.
Pierce crossed the room and joined Derek in the hall. “I better come with you. You’re gonna need an eyewitness at the murder trial.”
“How do you know Charles and I won’t team up and murder you?” Derek slid a key card into the lock and once again got a red indicator light. “Fuck! Here, take your damn key!” He handed Pierce the first card, then took the other from his pocket.
Just as Derek was about to slide the other key into the lock, Pierce raised his hand and whispered, “Do you hear that?” He placed his ear against the door. Derek did the same and could hear intense grunting and moaning from the other side of the door. Derek grew furious, unlocked the door and angrily pushed it open. Unfortunately, the effect of his gesture was once again hampered by the slow door hinge.
The sounds of fucking were even louder as Derek entered the room, with Pierce hanging a few steps behind him. Derek rounded the corner into the main room and shouted “AHA!”, expecting to catch Charles and Chico in the act. Instead, he found Mike “The Spike” Cochran on TV in the act of fucking a witness in another one of his porn masterpieces.
As Derek sighed with relief, Pierce took a look at the screen and instantly recognized the source. He whispered, “Ooh, I know this one! It’s ‘You Don’t Know Dick’!”
Derek shot Pierce a dirty look, then continued into the suite. He stepped cautiously toward the bedroom, afraid of what he might find there. When he got to the bedroom doorway, Derek leaned in suddenly and saw the bed was rumpled but empty. “Charles?” He moved to the bathroom and flipped on the light, but no one was there.
Derek doubled back through the living room and slid open the patio door, stepping outside to see if Charles was anywhere in the area, but there was no sign of him…or, for that matter, Chico.
Derek returned to the room, frowning. Pierce had hopped up on a bar stool and was swiveling back and forth, his attention riveted to the porn movie. Derek picked up the remote from the coffee table and shut off the TV, disappointing Pierce.
Pierce pointed to the hole in the bedroom wall. “By the way, I’m not payin’ for that. I got a reputation around this hotel, I stay here a lot, and I don’t want them to think I’m responsible for this kind of hooliganism.” Derek leveled him with a severe glare, and Pierce’s tone turned far more amenable. “Or I can cover it. That’s fine. No problem.”
As Derek stood in the middle of the room, hands on his hips, he noticed the Mariposa six pack on the bar behind Pierce. He walked over and took a closer look. All six bottles were now empty. “Shit! He did it without me again!”
Pierce spun around and looked at the bottles. “Hmm. So who drank the other one?” He looked at Derek. Neither of them needed to say Chico’s name out loud. “Man, I never would have guessed that Charles would be the one who really got hooked. Guess you never do truly know another person.”
Derek angrily pulled his phone out of the pocket of his sweats and placed a call. Moments later, he felt a vibration in his other pocket. Pierce pointed toward Derek’s crotch and declared, “I think your dick is buzzing.”
Derek let out a wordless scream of rage, extracted Charles’ phone from his other pocket and flung it at the sofa cushions. He glowered at Pierce and asked, “Those last two bottles. Any idea what they did?”
Pierce shook his head, genuinely sorry. “I can’t even remember what color they were.”
“Wonderful. So Charles and Chico are running loose in Cancun, and we haven’t got a clue what either of them looks like! Well, if that’s Charles’ idea of how to spend our honeymoon, I’m not gonna let him be the only one having a good time.”
Derek turned to Pierce with determination and asked, “So what bottles do you still have in your stash?”