Mariposa Honeymoon - Chapter 14

By Cris Kane - criskanestories@gmail.com
published December 1, 2018
Summary

The guys return to the club for their final night in Cancun.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

“Lightweight.”

“Thanks for your diagnosis, Dr. Bart,” O sneered at Bart as he knelt beside the bed where Todd was squirming, clutching his stomach in distress.

The other Iowans were spread around the room, their attention fixated on their ailing compadre. Also hovering on the sidelines was their new pal “Nick”, who had been the first to point out how sickly Todd appeared on the beach and had insisted on tagging along when they rushed back to their hotel.

O placed a hand on Todd’s forehead. It didn’t seem warm but it was a bit clammy, which O figured could just be the sunscreen that Todd slathered on like cake frosting. “You want us to take you to the hospital?”

“NO!”, Todd shouted emphatically, seeming for a moment to be perfectly healthy before sinking back onto the pillow and moaning in agony.

“My money’s on Montezuma’s Revenge,” offered “Nick”, aka Pierce, showing almost as much concern for Todd as O was.

Kev weighed in with his own hypothesis. “Bet you a million bucks it was that blue shit he was drinking. That’s why I make a point never to put anything blue in my mouth.”

“So I guess you won’t be suckin’ off Nick’s blue-haired buddy then?”, Bart said with a cackle. Kev picked up a pillow from the other bed and hurled it across the room with deadly accuracy, knocking Bart off balance and dropping him to the floor. Bart lofted the pillow back furiously, throwing it in a high arc which missed Kev entirely, but did take out a bedside lamp.

“Children, behave,” O snapped, shaking his head at his juvenile contemporaries. “Well, whattaya say, guys? Should we order up a pizza and stay in for the night?” Kev and Bart groaned in mild opposition to this plan from the group’s de facto leader.

Wincing, Todd made a valiant attempt to sit up. “No. No way. Don’t waste your last night here on my account. You guys should go out and party. I swear I’ll be fine.”

“Ya don’t look fine, buddy,” O said, his brow furrowed. “You look pale.”

Bart laughed. “Dude always looks pale, O!”

“I promise,” Todd assured O weakly. “I just need to sleep it off. I’m sure I’ll feel better in the morning.” O didn’t want to overreact, but he felt guilty about leaving a man behind while the rest of them partied. Todd was touched by the obvious concern that showed on O’s face. “It’s okay, O. I’m not a baby.”

Pierce softly cleared his throat and said, “I can stay here and look after him if you want.”

Todd stretched an arm weakly in Pierce’s direction and said, “Seriously, that’s not necess…” Todd started coughing with enough force that vomiting didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Bart and Kev both flinched and looked away, just in case a gusher of blue booze was about to be unleashed.

“That’s awfully nice of you, Nick,” O told Pierce, “but we can’t expect you to…”

Pierce interrupted, “It’d be my pleasure. You guys have been so cool to me all day. Think of this as me payin’ you back.”

“That awesome weed of yours was all the thanks we need,” Kev said.

“Speakin’ of, you got any more o’ that shit?”, Bart asked. Kev bombed him with another pillow, even though he wouldn’t have minded a little more of “Nick’s” pot either.

O still found the generous offer beyond the call of duty. “You must have other plans for tonight.”

“Nothin’ I can’t blow off,” Pierce insisted. “I get down here pretty often. Who knows when you guys’ll get back to Cancun?”

“And you’re sure you don’t mind?”, O asked Pierce.

“Doy! I’m the one who suggested it,” Pierce said. “Go, have fun! Between the football and the pot, I’m so beat I’ll prob’ly crash before Todd does.”

Kev and Bart were already acting as if the issue was decided, shoving each other out of the way to see who could get to the shower first.

Todd gestured for O to go, adding a mild cough for emphasis. O conceded, asking “You got the car keys?”

Todd stared at O. “YOU got ’em! Remember? From when you drove us back from the beach.”

“Oh, right,” O said, feeling the bulge of the keychain in his pocket. He stood up and walked across the room to pick out his clothes for the evening.

Behind O’s back, Todd glanced at Pierce and smirked. Pierce gave him a quick thumb’s-up. Their plan was working.


Derek was tearing apart his and Charles’ suite in search of his phone, which had been MIA since that morning. He had exhausted all of the obvious spots. It wasn’t on the bedside table or on top of the bar or inside the mini-fridge or on the toilet tank. He had nearly shredded his clothes from the previous two days as he attempted to shove his Mike-the-Spike-sized mitts into the pockets of the drawstring shorts he’d worn to the exercise park and the black cutoffs he had sported during his short-lived punk phase. He had checked between the couch cushions and was now single-handedly hoisting the couch off the floor to see if the phone had been shoved beneath it. Finding nothing but dust bunnies and discarded condom wrappers, he let the sofa drop heavily to the floor.

“Where the fuck could it be?”, he bellowed in frustration, swiping his big hands over the beads of sweat on his shaved scalp. “Dial it again,” he commanded Blu.

“Again?”, Blu griped wearily from the barstool where he sat, having already gone through this routine three times. He pointedly lowered his middle finger onto the screen of his phone, redialing Derek’s number. Derek held out his hands in a shushing gesture and listened carefully for his ring tone. As had happened three times before, the room remained eerily silent. Blu whined, “Just forget about it and…”

Derek raised his palm dramatically in Blu’s direction, then took a few slow and steady steps toward the wall which separated their suite from Pierce’s. He pressed his ear against the wall and closed his eyes to focus. It was faint, but he was certain he could hear a slight buzz which stopped and started at regular intervals. He smacked his forehead with his hand and walked to the door, pulling two key cards from his pocket. In the hall, he looked at the identical cards and chose one at random. As a sign that his luck might be changing, the first card he chose opened Pierce’s door. There, on the floor in the middle of the living room, were the remnants of the gray sweats he had been wearing that morning when he hulked out and became Mike the Spike. The scraps of cloth were scootching across the floor, propelled by the vibrating phone still trapped in one of the intact pockets. Derek returned to his own room, clutching the phone victoriously.

“Halle-fuckin’-lujah!”, Blu exclaimed. “Now can we get ready to go out?”

Derek gestured graciously toward the door to the bedroom. “After you, Mr. Blu.”

Blu, still naked, hopped nimbly off his stool and was halfway to the bedroom door when he heard his own phone buzz atop the bar. He groaned, then walked back to check what it was. He saw a single line of text from Pierce, which he read aloud. “‘The Hawks have left the nest.’ Hawks?” Blu gave Derek a “what-the-fuck?” look.

“Hawkeyes,” Derek explained. “Your Iowa buddies. They flew the coop. Must mean that Pierce and your little blond buddy are ready to go.”

“Well, why didn’t he just say that?”, Blu griped. He picked up the phone and sent back a quick message, asking for the address of Todd’s hotel. Although Blu had been there yesterday in the form of Red, he couldn’t remember the name of the place and had no clue how to get there. Upon receipt of the address, Blu fired off another text:

“OK. CU IN 30. DRESS SEXXY.”

Pierce shot back a quick reply: “BRING MY BLUE CARRYON.”


Pierce stood in front of the hotel, still dressed in his unassuming ringer t-shirt and blue jeans. Derek lurked behind a pillar, remaining out of sight on the off chance that his traveling companions made an unexpectedly early return from their revelries.

“Here they are,” Pierce announced as he saw his rented Chevy pulling up to the curb. Todd stepped out of the shadows in an Iowa basketball jersey and camo cargos. He peered into the approaching car and could make out Mike the Spike at the wheel, surprised that such a big star would drive himself. Riding shotgun, Blu leaned out the window and shouted, “Helllloooo, boys. Ready to have some fun?”

To his disappointment, Todd didn’t see Red in the back seat. “Where’s your brother?”

“Oh, Charlie?”, Blu replied, making up an excuse on the fly. “He’s busy, but he said maybe he’ll try to meet us later.” Todd’s enthusiasm took a notable hit.

“You got my bag?”, Pierce asked.

“In back,” Derek barked. “Wouldja get in before people start honkin’ at me?”

Blu leaned his seat forward and Pierce held open the passenger door. Todd looked ambivalent, having been much more psyched about this escapade when he thought Red would be at his side to calm his shaky nerves. “C’mon, kid,” Pierce said, “don’t get sick on me for real.”

Todd was tempted to bail, to go back to the room, get a sixer of Corona and some wings, maybe watch “Infinity War” in Spanish, then turn in early to rest up for the long drive home. But Todd realized that, if he chickened out now, Bart would be justified in calling him a lightweight. He decided it was time to man up and face his fears. He climbed into the back seat next to Pierce’s carry-on suitcase, and Pierce slid in beside him. The interior was filled with the stench of the Cuban that Derek was puffing. Pierce was annoyed, but decided that paying the cleaning fee was preferable to picking a fight with someone the size of Mike the Spike.

As Derek pulled into traffic and followed the GPS directions to the club, Blu unbuckled his safety belt, knelt on his seat and faced backwards, wrinkling his nose at Todd’s outfit. “Don’tcha own anything that doesn’t have the word ‘IOWA’ on it?”

“I proud of my school,” Todd proclaimed defensively.

“Nothin’ wrong with pride,” Pierce assured him as he unzipped his suitcase, “but you’re not goin’ to a goddamn frat party. Take off the shirt.”

Todd was uneasy. “Here? In the car?”

“It’s extreme makeover time, bro, and we’re fresh out of private dressing rooms. Pretend you’re Superman and this is a phone booth.” Pierce stripped off his own shirt and handed it to Todd. “Here, wear this. It’ll probably be a little tight on you, but that should be fine.” Todd didn’t really see the need to change, but he figured these guys knew more about how to dress for a gay disco than he did.

“Whattaya think of what I’M wearin’?”, Blu asked, stretching upward proudly to model what he had chosen to wear from the clothes Pierce had supplied in their luggage: a yellow silk shirt and red board shorts.

“Hideous,” Pierce declared. “You look like you’re wearing the flag of Bolivia or something. I’ll find you something else.” Blu grumbled as he unbuttoned his shirt.

In the lights of the passing cars, Pierce noticed that Blu looked considerably younger than he had before he and Derek abandoned Pierce on the beach. Pierce was well aware that Mariposa made further incremental changes each time someone had sex, but from the looks of it, Mike the Spike had fucked a full decade out of Blu. “What you got on there, Spike?”, Pierce asked.

Blu rolled his eyes. “Black leather vest. Black leather pants. Soooo BOOOO-ring!”

Derek said defensively, “These are your clothes, remember?” He was wearing the exact outfit Charles had worn to the club two nights earlier in his guise as Chuck, the leather daddy. It was the only thing they had found in their collection which was large enough to fit Derek’s current form. Todd was baffled how Mike the Spike could possibly fit into Blu’s clothing, but chose not to ask for clarification.

Pierce craned his neck to get a look and patted Derek’s bare shoulder in approval. “Classic, man. Wouldn’t change a thing. You got enough headroom down there for the ol’ Spike?”

Derek nodded. “It’s cozy, but it’ll do.” While Chuck’s chubby legs had been squeezed into these pants like sausage, Mike the Spike’s athletic thighs left enough wiggle room to comfortably accommodate his foot-long kielbasa.

As Pierce dug through his suitcase, evaluating his options, he absent-mindedly handed a wadded-up ball of blue fabric to Todd. “Here, hold this, will ya?”

Todd unraveled the ball and discovered that it was a dainty lace thong consisting of more air than fabric. He cringed, not wanting to seem like a poor sport. “Do I hafta?”

Pierce looked up, harried. “Oh, sorry, I meant that for blueboy.” He snatched the frilly item away from Todd and tossed it to the front seat, where Blu grabbed it excitedly. He arched his back and excitedly undid his shorts, sliding them down to reveal he was wearing nothing underneath. To passing motorists, Blu appeared to be completely naked, with his shrunken dinky on full display. The driver beside them honked, his facial expression unamused.

Startled, Derek raised a hand to shield his view so he could concentrate on the road. “Jesus, put that thing away. You want me to have a wreck?”

“Alright, alright! Anyone ever tell you you’re awfully uptight for a porn star?” Blu reluctantly sat his butt down as he guided the skimpy thong up his hairless legs, tucked his cock and balls into the front pouch, and fed the back string deep into his ass crack. He instantly approved. He knew he would be going on a shopping spree for thongs as soon as he got back to the States. Any moment that he spent without something wedged into his ass felt like a moment wasted.

Pierce watched Todd as the blond squeezed his upper body into the loaner t-shirt. It was small on him, as Pierce had predicted, but that only enhanced the visual impact of his pumped arms and pecs which seemed ready to burst out of the fabric. The tail ended just shy of his belly button, offering a tantalizing glimpse of Todd’s cobbled midsection. “What’s your waist? Thirty-two?”

“Thirty,” Todd said.

Pierce pulled some gray pants out of his luggage and handed them to Todd. “These oughta work,” he declared.

Todd unzipped his camo shorts and fed his legs into the tight denim. He was starting to get into this whole makeover idea. The less he looked like his usual self, he reasoned, the less he needed to worry about what people thought of him. He wished there was some way to disguise himself completely. Maybe if he was totally unrecognizable, he could finally relax enough to be himself.

As Derek plowed aggressively through traffic, his passengers contorted themselves into pretzels in the cramped space, wriggling out of their clothes and into new options from Pierce’s bag of tricks, providing the motorists of Cancun an impromptu mobile strip show. After trying on each new item, Todd and Blu modeled for Pierce’s evaluation, which inspired him to suggest further tweaks. Once the clothes were settled, Pierce set to work on accessories and other finishing touches, doing what he could with his limited time, tools and options. When Derek parked outside the club, his three cohorts stepped out of the car looking completely different from the way they had started the drive, emerging like newly transformed butterflies from a four-wheeled subcompact cocoon.

Blu climbed out first in a shimmering royal-blue v-neck with capped sleeves. Spandex shorts drew extra attention, as if more were needed, to his bountiful badonkadonk, with alternating blue and black vertical stripes providing lines of longitude which emphasized his exaggerated curves. Three non-functional black leather belts with silver trim looped in separate orbits around his waist. His sleek legs drew the eye down to a pair of blue suede ankle boots. Pierce had vetoed Blu’s clattering bracelets, relocating a few of them to Todd’s wrists while providing Blu with a pair of fingerless black mesh gloves in exchange. Although he could do nothing about its color, Pierce had combed away the emo tendencies of Blu’s hair, leaving him instead with a shelf of gelled hair jutting forward, casting a shadow across his forehead and eyes. Pierce had swept a slash of baby-blue powder across each of Blu’s eyelids, but had abandoned his attempts to apply any further cosmetics in the moving car.

Pierce emerged next in a paisley vest, purple leather jeans and matching knee boots. Unlike the others, he had the advantage of wearing clothes that had actually been purchased with his current body in mind. This was how he usually dressed for his Prince impersonation gig, although the bonus muscle from this morning’s de-aging gave him a more impressive torso and made the pants extra-snug in a way that Pierce definitely appreciated. During the drive, he had undone his braided hair, letting his long dark hair hang wild and free. A silver necklace studded with purple stones draped low across his pecs, and a temporary silver ear cuff was attached to his right earlobe. He extended the handle on his carry-on, knowing that its bounty of revealing swimwear in a wide range of sizes was likely to come in handy later on.

When Todd hesitated to get out of the car, Blu and Pierce coaxed him out with the threat that, if he didn’t exit peacefully, Mike the Spike would yank him out by force, possibly dislocating Todd’s arm if he dared to resist. Todd stretched out his legs first, encased in distressed gray skinny jeans. His feet were squeezed into a pair of Pierce’s black boots that were two sizes too small but which looked so stylish, he didn’t mind how much they pinched. He planted his feet on the ground and rose to his full height, plus an inch or two as he wobbled on the boots’ Cuban heels. The clinging white tee made him acutely aware of every breath he took and forced him to consciously tighten his already solid abs. He looked down shyly as he felt the others evaluating him.

Pierce took a step back to study the overall effect, then rushed in to make some touch-ups. He removed the cuff from his own ear and positioned it on Todd’s, and rolled up the sleeves of the t-shirt to give extra prominence to Todd’s hard-earned shoulder muscles. Still sensing the need for something more, Pierce stood on tiptoe and dragged his fingers through Todd’s light blond hair, brushing it forward into shaggy bangs that made the kid look even younger than his nineteen years. Finally satisfied, he summed up Todd’s appearance in a single word: “Adorable.”

“I’m speechless,” Blu declared, proving it by saying no more.

Derek patted Todd on the shoulder and said, “You’re gonna break some hearts, kid.” Todd gazed up at the porn star and grew flushed. “You might wanna zip your fly, though.”

Todd looked down and flinched as he saw that his zipper was indeed down. Although he’d been practically naked as he changed clothes in the car, he still felt shy enough to turn his back to the others as he zipped up. He spun back around and said with a crooked grin, “Okay, let’s get this over with!”

“That’s the spirit,” Pierce said.

The foursome strode across the street to the club, side-by-side in lockstep, looking like a modern incarnation of the Village People, with Derek as the leather man, Blu as an emo kid, Todd as the all-American boy next door, and Pierce, as always, typecast as the Indian. As soon as they stepped inside, a murmur spread through the crowd. Such a distinctive group would likely have attracted a fair amount of attention under any circumstances, but this went beyond mere curiosity. People were pointing and staring and talking excitedly. In a bad movie, the DJ would have scratched a vinyl record as they entered.

Pierce found the response flattering. Having come here frequently over the years, he considered himself something of a fixture at the club, but most of his visits were incognito under the influence of Mariposa. It was rare for him to show up looking like himself, even if, in this case, it was a markedly younger version of himself, so he found it incredibly gratifying that the regulars would recognize him. He smiled cordially as an awed dude in mirrored shades with leathery skin and yellow hot pants approached, saying, “I can’t believe you’re really here.” As Pierce put on his humblest facade, the overly-tanned man veered to Pierce’s right and made a beeline for Derek. “I’ve seen every one of your movies…MULTIPLE times.”

Derek was simultaneously amused and creeped out. As he looked around, he saw several other clubgoers converging on him, all with unnervingly delighted expressions. He felt like Taylor Swift, or lunch in a zombie movie. With a frozen grimace, Derek glanced worriedly at Pierce, who instantly recalibrated his attitude and inserted himself between Derek and the masses. Pierce raised his palms to hold them back and announced emphatically, “Please, let’s give our guest some room here. He’ll be happy to meet all of you once we get settled in. Thank you!” He clamped his fingers around Derek’s triceps and led him toward the bar, gesturing for Blu and Todd to follow them to the sanctuary of the bar.

“¡Hola, Manolo!", Pierce said, approaching the bartender.

Manolo brightened as he saw Pierce. “¡Hola, Señor Pierce! Hace tiempo que no nos vemos. I almost did not recognize you. You look so young!"

“Clean living,” Pierce assured him.

“Bull shitting,” Manolo replied, leaning down to ask confidentially, “Did you have work done, Señor? The Botox, maybe?”

“Nope, just a little shot from your favorite doctor, Dr. Mariposa,” Pierce answered. He had known Manolo as a wizened sixty-year-old barfly before he mistakenly drank two shots of different Mariposa varieties one night and transformed into the studly shirtless barkeep now on duty before him. Pierce raised his voice and introduced Manolo to Blu, Todd and, tugging Derek closer to the bar, “this guy, who I’m sure you recognize.”

“Absolutely,” Manolo said, stretching out to shake Derek’s hand. “Big fan of your work.” He winked, and Derek didn’t know if that meant the bartender was flirting or if he knew Derek wasn’t the real “Mike the Spike” (if there really was a real one). “What are all of you drinking tonight?”

“How ’bout we start with four shots of your finest tequila?”, Pierce suggested, pulling out his wallet.

As Manolo began to pour, he shook his head at Pierce. “No, Señor, you and your friends drink free tonight.” He turned to the other three and said, “I always know it’s gonna be a memorable night when Señor Pierce is here.”

“¡Muchas gracias!” Pierce passed the rest of the group their shotglasses and raised his in a toast. “To a memorable night!”

As the foursome clinked their glasses. Blu commented archly, “Oh, so you CAN make a nice, short toast!” They downed their shots. Todd had been braced for something gag-inducing, but the tequila went down smoothly.

Todd felt left out as Pierce, Derek and Blu huddled with Manolo to discuss plans for the evening, so he took a few steps toward the dance floor, his body warmed and energized by the infusion of tequila. He gradually became aware of someone looming next to him. “So, uh, how do you know Mike the Spike?” Todd turned toward the voice and saw someone who looked even more nervous to be here than Todd was. A decently-built Mexican about Todd’s age but slightly taller in a turquoise tank top and blue denim shorts, his eyes were directed vaguely toward the dance floor with the watery lack of focus of someone who obviously required glasses but was forgoing them to avoid looking dorky.

Todd broke his usual guideline of telling the truth as much as possible. “Me and the Spike? Yeah, we go way back.”

“Seriously?”, the guy asked excitedly, turning his head to Todd. “Do you do porn too?” He squinted to see if he recognized the blond from Mike the Spike’s cinematic oeuvre.

Todd snorted a laugh and felt his skin turn red. He blurted out an emphatic “No!” His experiment in lying had lasted exactly two sentences.

“Oh.” Tank-top guy took a swallow from his beer to mask his embarrassment. “That’s too bad.”

The two young men stared forward awkwardly as Todd’s smile grew wider at the notion that anyone could think he was in porno. He found it oddly flattering. “Do you wanna dance?”, Todd asked impulsively.

The other guy’s efforts to look cool were instantly sabotaged as a mouthful of beer sprayed from his lips. After a brief cough to recuperate, he turned with surprise to Todd and replied “¡Si! Very much.”

As the pair moved toward the dance floor, Todd glanced back to the bar, where Blu was watching him with interest and pride.

Blu nudged Derek. “Check it out. Our boy’s goin’ in! Wanna join him?”

Before Derek could reply, Pierce interrupted. “He can’t right now. We gotta set up for the Q&A.”

As Pierce dragged Derek toward the DJ booth, Blu could hear Derek asking, “What Q and A?”

Blu harrumphed his displeasure. Even though it had been his idea to bring the “celebrity guest” to the club in the first place, Blu could already see things spinning out of his control as Pierce, in his typical fashion, imposed his will upon the situation. Pierce had overshadowed the newlyweds at the wedding reception. Pierce had disrupted their honeymoon by lobbing Mariposa into the mix like six Molotov cocktails. As Blu thought about it, Pierce, in his various guises, had spent more time with Derek over the past three days than had Blu, in HIS various guises. And now Pierce was monopolizing Derek on the final night of their trip. While Charles would have responded to the situation passive-aggressively by brooding silently over several glasses of white wine while growing increasingly testy, Blu was not about to sit and stew. He was determined to enjoy himself, and he would not be ignored.

Vowing to seize some of the spotlight for himself and, in the process, arouse some jealousy in Derek, Blu strutted onto the dance floor, waving his arms sinuously in the air and swiveling his pelvis to ensure that his scrumptious booty attracted as many eyeballs as possible. Feeling viscerally connected to the music in a way that Charles never had, Blu surrendered to the rhythm of the clanging EDM tune pumping through the speakers and hip-checked every hot guy in his vicinity. Finally, one lanky brunette was intrigued enough to ditch his initial partner and synch his dance moves with Blu’s. “Hey, sexy,” Blu cooed, looking flirtatiously over his shoulder. “I’m Blu. What are you?” He strategically waggled his protruding rump, brushing it tantalizingly against the front of the dude’s plaid Bermuda shorts.

Standing in the wings by the DJ booth, Derek attempted to keep track of Blu, but only intermittently spotted his gloved hands when they rose above the heads of the taller dancers who surrounded him. Pierce loudly cleared his throat to get Derek’s attention. When that proved ineffective, he shouted, “Earth to Spike!” and motioned Derek over to discuss his plans with the DJ. Pierce explained that, after the current song was finished, the DJ would announce Mike the Spike, and Derek would walk onstage with a wireless mic to answer questions from the crowd.

Of all the peculiar situations Pierce had forced Derek into over the years, this was by far the most nerve-racking. “How’m I s’posed to answer their questions when I’m not really him?”

“You’ve seen enough Mike the Spike movies to fake it,” Pierce assured him. “Just keep your answers vague. It’s not like these guys are gonna fact-check you. Ninety percent of them will just be staring at your crotch, so I wouldn’t sweat it.”

“Sure, YOU wouldn’t sweat it. You’re a performer. Tell you what: why don’t you do the Q and A?”

“Because,” Pierce said through clenched teeth with tangible annoyance, “I let YOU drink my prized bottle of Mike the Spike’s hard lemonade, because I felt guilty, because I thought you’d get a kick out of it. Don’t make me regret my generosity, Derek.”

Derek gazed down with discomfort at the enormous body he was currently inhabiting. “I’m sorry, but pretending to be somebody I’m not just isn’t me.”

“That’s the fuckin’ point, numbnuts! I’m starting to feel like the whole concept of Mariposa is wasted on you. Look at Charles. He’s got the right idea. He’s enjoying Mariposa more than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Derek looked onto the dance floor and finally located his husband’s blue hair, bopping around near the stage as he flaunted his assets to everyone around him.

“You’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime here,” Pierce said. “Why can’t you just go with it?”

“Maybe I just like who I really am,” Derek postulated.

Pierce stared at him, mystified by the concept. “Fine. You can be Dull Derek for the rest of your life. But for one fuckin’ night, can you stop being such a whiny little bitch and try to be bigger than life?” He slammed the microphone into the center of Derek’s massive chest and slapped a slip of paper into his sweaty hand.

“What’s this?”, Derek asked.

“Just a few jokes I jotted down, in case your mind goes blank.” He could see the panic rise in Derek’s eyes at the thought of going blank, so he patted the big man’s arm encouragingly. “Don’t worry, buddy, you’ll be great. If you get nervous, just imagine that the whole audience is naked, because that’s how they’ll all be imagining you.” He nodded to the DJ. The music faded and spotlights swept through the dry-ice-fogged air.

“All right, boys and boys, gentlemen and gentlemen” the DJ announced, “we’ve got a very special guest with us tonight. Some of you may already have spotted him. He’s a HARD man to miss!” A few cheers arose from the crowd. “You know him from such classics as ‘This Dick For Hire’, ‘Have Dick, Will Travel’, ‘Beverly Hills Dick’, and, of course, the epic trilogy, ‘Dick Hard’, ‘Dick Hard 2: Dick Harder’, and, one of my all-time favorites, ‘Dick Hard With A Vengeance’. The list, like his penis, goes on and on and on. And on. Please give a warm Cancun welcome to the baddest brother-fuckin’ dick on the block. I’m talkin ’bout…MIKE…THE SPIKE…COCHRAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!”

As the joint erupted with applause, screams, wolf-whistles, and appreciatively orgasmic moans, Pierce put his entire weight into a double-handed shove which sent Derek careening across the club’s small stage. He shielded his eyes from the glaring spotlights, scanning the enthusiastic crowd. He noticed Todd pointing in his direction and chatting excitedly with some guy in a tank top, undoubtedly bragging about how well he knew Mike the Spike.

Finally, the cheering dwindled and the club chatter dropped to a low din as the crowd waited for Spike to speak. Uncertain what to say, Derek jostled the microphone in his dangling hand, oblivious to the fact that he was holding the mic at waist level. Scattered giggles turned into steadily growing laughter at Derek’s unintentional miming of masturbation. An accented voice called out from the crowd, “I thought it’d be bigger!” The audience roared at the heckler.

Derek looked to the wings, where Pierce pointed toward the mic and gestured for Derek to bring it to his mouth. Mortified as he realized what was evoking the laughter, Derek raised the microphone and told the crowd, “Yeah, I get that a lot. But you know what they say, the camera adds ten inches.” The audience broke into hysterics, and Derek relaxed a bit, having gotten his first laugh. He glanced to the wings, where Pierce gave him the “OK” sign.

Derek couldn’t rely on himself to come up with another joke of that caliber, so he stared down at the paper in his hand and struggled to decipher Pierce’s handwriting. “It’s so wired…I mean, weird to see my fans in person,” Derek said, stiffly gesturing to the crowd. “Usually I only see you through the TV. I bet you didn’t know that I can see you. Did you?” Pierce cringed at Derek’s less than Seinfeldian delivery. “That’s right. While you’re watching me, I’m watching you. And, boy, are you guys a bunch of pervs.” Despite the stilted reading, the joke landed and Derek felt emboldened. He glanced down and read his next line. “It’s true. I’m a lot better actor than you realize. You got any idea how tough it is to act while you guys are doin’ what you guys are doin’? I bet even Meryl Streep would suck her audience, jerkin’ off…” A baffled audience remained silent. Confused, Derek paused to reread the notes. “Oh, wait! ‘I bet Meryl Streep would suck IF her audience WAS jerkin’ off.’” He sighed with relief and smiled painfully as the crowd responded with a polite smattering of laughts.

Derek flipped over the notes in his hand, only to discover that his sweaty palms had caused the ink to run. Whatever witticisms Pierce had written were now one big purple smear. Derek wadded up the paper and let it drop to the stage, then sighed deeply into the mic and stared at the audience for ten seconds. He became aware of Pierce stage-whispering something which he couldn’t make out as the word “questions” until its third repetition. Derek nodded and asked, “Questions?”

A timid voice asked, “Can you say ‘You’re fucked’?”

Derek nodded, closed his eyes to concentrate, then delivered his best impression of Mike the Spike doing his catchphrase. “You’re fucked,” he growled. The crowd clapped, but the room quickly fell silent again.

A drunken voice from the back shouted, “Show us your cock!” The clubgoers laughed with agreement.

Derek replied, “You first.”

The catcaller yelled back, “Okay!”

The intensity of the cheers and applause escalated. Some in the crowd began to chant “Dick! Dick! Dick!” Derek stood frozen onstage, unsure what to do next.

As the flopsweat rolling down from his shaved head threatened to drown Derek, Pierce rushed over from the side of the stage and snatched the mic from Derek’s hand. “Hey, hey, let’s give it up for Mike the Spike Cochran!” When the crowd responded politely, Pierce feigned anger and berated them, “That is really pathetic, people. You can do better than that, you ingrates! You need to clap for this man, considering that he’s undoubtedly gotten the clap for you! Now let’s hear it!” Pierce raised his arms dramatically and, in response, the patrons shouted and applauded with enthusiasm. Pierce kept his hands high, shaking them to encourage the clapping to continue and build in intensity. When he felt it had gone on long enough, Pierce closed his fists and lowered his hands, and the ovation subsided. Derek watched in awe as Pierce controlled the crowd like a skilled orchestra conductor or Freddie Mercury. “All right! That’s more like it!”, Pierce exclaimed with a big grin. He was in his element, swaggering across the stage while Derek stood inert behind him.

“Mike’ll be here all night if you want to talk or snap a selfie with him,” Pierce informed the clubgoers. “Just don’t fondle the merchandise, okay? He is not a piece of meat. Well, he’s not JUST a piece of meat. Mr. Cochran has also generously agreed to be the judge of our WET…SPEEDO…CONTEST!” That announcement prompted a new wave of cheers and whoops. “That’s right, boys, if you think you’ve got the cojones to impress Mike the Spike, come see me over by the DJ booth and we’ll sign you up!” As the DJ began to play something funky, Pierce switched off the mic and walked over to Derek. “And that, my friend, is how it’s done.”

As he watched Pierce sashay across the stage, Derek realized that, while being Mike the Spike had been amusing initially, and he had certainly enjoyed aspects of the past few days, the novelty of living as someone else had begun to lose its charm. Just based on the past few minutes, he couldn’t imagine wanting to be famous. Pierce might crave being recognized and idolized, but Derek only goal was to be the center of attention for one person, and for that person to show the same devotion back. He thought he had finally found that mutual devotion in Charles, but seeing the way Blu was frolicking on the dance floor, so uncharacteristically uninhibited, he had to wonder if Charles would feel the same way about him once the Mariposa wore off.

Pierce grabbed a clipboard from behind the turntables and took a seat on the stage, dangling his legs over the edge. He unzipped his carry-on to reveal the colorful array of swimwear stashed within. A line of eager contestants had already formed, led by a chunky local who gave his name as Miguelito. When Pierce directed him to grab a Speedo, Miguelito rummaged around until he selected a scanty red number which Miguelito’s body was likely to stretch to the thinness and tension of a rubber band. Pierce bit the inside of his cheek and said, “God bless you, sir. You can change in the men’s room, then go to the bar and Manolo will spray you down. Next!”

Miguelito excitedly scurried off, revealing Blu as the next in line. Pierce smirked, pleasantly surprised, jotting “BLU” onto the list.

Derek walked over with a scowl, arms folded across his chest, “You’re not seriously gonna do this, are you?”

“On the contrary, I’m gonna do it very seriously,” Blu replied saucily, turning to Pierce. “Pick me out something that’ll really show off my booty,” giving his own ass a dainty slap.

“Hell, boy, you couldn’t hide that booty under a burqa!” Pierce scrounged through the bag in search of a specific item, eventually pulling out a bikini bottom in a hue practically identical to Blu’s hair.

Delighted by the choice, Blu snatched away the scrap of cloth and spun around on the balls of his feet. As he scurried toward the men’s room, he noticed Todd propped on a stool at the bar. Blu scooted over to him and asked, “What are you doing?”

“Getting a good seat,” Todd replied. “This should be fun to watch.” He had grown noticeably more at ease in this environment, exhibiting only a modicum of shame as he openly ogled the beefcake that walked past him.

“No, no, no,” Blu replied sternly, moving closer, “we didn’t bring you here to watch, Iowa. You’re here to participate.”

Todd laughed uneasily. “I don’t think I’m quite ready for a swimsuit competition.” He stared curiously at Blu, amazed by how much younger and fitter he looked than he had on the beach. Todd wasn’t sure if that was due to flattering lighting or strategically applied makeup or the shot of tequila still working its wonders in his own system – probably a combo of all three, he suspected. If you ignored the hair color, it was easier to see Blu’s resemblance to his taller, hunkier, ginger-haired brother. “Maybe if Red was here.”

Blu huffed impatiently. “Red’s not comin’, okay? He’s out of the picture. But if he was here, I know he’d tell you the same thing as me, which is that you gotta get your little butt on that stage. You gotta stop bein’ embarrassed about who you are and start bein’ proud, just as proud as you are of your goddamn college. So, if you won’t do it for Red and you won’t do it for me and you won’t do it for yourself, do it for fuckin’ Iowa!” Blu waved a hand to get Manolo’s attention. “Another tequila for my boy here!” Manolo nodded. Blu looked back at Todd and said, “Maybe that’ll help with your decision making,” then pivoted toward the men’s room, eager to try on his Speedo.

Todd heard a shotglass scrape across the bar. As he turned on his stool to contemplate the drink, he realized that he had caught the eye of a young blond who was staring straight at him. He then chuckled when he realized he was actually checking out his own reflection. With his shaggy bangs and rolled-up sleeves, he had barely recognized himself, but he had to admit that the guy in the mirror looked kind of cute. Maybe shy Todd wasn’t comfortable prancing around practically naked in front of a roomful of strangers, but that guy in the mirror looked like he had no reason to be modest. He reached forward, picked up the shotglass, raised a toast to his reflection (who toasted him right back), and tossed the tequila down his throat.

A few minutes later, Derek was gazing over Pierce’s shoulder at the clipboard, as Pierce counted the number of contestants who had signed up for the contest. When they heard someone clear his throat and announce, “I volunteer as tribute!”, they both looked down and saw Todd grinning up at them, his face a mixture of exhilaration and intoxication.

“Good for you,” Pierce said with an encouraging nod. As he dug through his suitcase, Pierce looked concerned. “I’m gettin’ kinda low on options, kid. Wait, I think I’ve still got one that should fit you.” He searched some more and finally held up a pair of square-cut trunks, yellowish-gold with black trim.

Todd burst out laughing. “Hawkeye colors!” He had to go through with it now. It was fate.

Todd grabbed the swimsuit and headed toward the men’s room before he had a chance to change his mind. Along the way, he noticed that Blu had already changed into his blue trunks and was standing over a floor drain behind the bar, with several other be-Speedoed guys queued up behind him. Blu smiled as he saw Todd walking with the gold swimsuit in his hands, then yelped as Manolo spritzed his crotch with a mist of cold water from the bar’s soda gun.

As Todd walked down the mazelike hallway to the men’s room in a daze, he came to a sudden stop as he slammed into a clear plastic panel. Woozy, he regained his bearings and continued along to the bathroom, locking himself into a toilet stall to change, still not quite believing what he was about to do.

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