At last! I'm free!
Ray Macrae, now aged 28, had just finished a ten year prison sentence for multiple charges of being an accessory to money laundering, extortion and threatening with menaces. Now he was a free man.
His sister, Emma, was waiting for him in her car just across the round. The motor was running. Ray crossed the road. The car was a brand new mercedes, gleaming in the sun.
Ray opened the passenger door and got in. Emma, his kid sister who had been a mini-skirted teenager the last time he had seen her, was of course older. But she looked good. She was an attractive woman who chose to wear her brown hair short and who wore a tailored trouser suit. She didn't wear any make up or jewellery, but then she didn't need to, Ray thought.
Ray looked around the car and took in its luxurious upholsetery and top of the range features "Nice car. Is this Dad's?"
Emma laughed "No! It's mine! I've only had it a week". Emma released the handbrake and manoevured the car onto the road.
Ray was confused. His sister was only....he tried to remember how old she must be by now and came up with an age of twenty-five. And she drove a car like this?
"So, Emma. What is it you do for a living?" he asked, casually.
"I work for Mum" she said "I'm her right hand at Al A Mode Fashions. Finance & Human Resources Director".
"Oh, right". Ray tried to sound disinterested, but his mind was awhirl with all sorts of thoughts. He had heard from his brother, his main visitor when he had been in prison, that his Mum had set up some kind of business. But he had assumed it had been really small scale, just enough to make ends meet until he and his father were released from prison to bring in the cash. But the car and his sister's tailored suit indicated that Al A Mode must be seriously successful. Ray wondered just how successful and if he could get piece of the action. He WAS the eldest son after all.
Ray was curious about his father. His father, Ray Snr, had been released from jail a year earlier than himself. What was he doing right now? He had been banking on teaming up with his father again and resuming their old ways of conning innocents out of money.
"How's Dad doing?" Ray asked his sister, after she had negotiated a tricky roundabout.
Emma shrugged "He's OK. Mum's looking forward to seeing you. And Eddie and Heather. Mum's done really well. You'd be really proud of her".
"Ok" said Ray. He was disturbed by his sister's dismissal of his enquiry about Dad. Dad was the head of the family and all she could go on about was Mum and how well she was doing.
Emma gave him a long look "You'll find that a lot has changed in the last ten years. A hell of a lot!".
Ray wondered what she meant by that.
Emma drove the top of the range car through the city, expertly weaving her way through the busy traffic. Ray noted that they were heading towards the south of the city, where the wealthiest citizens tended to congregate and not to the working class district where the family had once lived.
Finally, Emma steered the car up a long drive and into a double garage where a red sports car was already parked. Ray caught a glimpse of a large modern house. Was this where the family now lived?
Emma parked up and gestured for Ray to get out of the car. Ray followed her from the garage and into the house proper. Ray noted that there was a large garden and an indoor swimming pool at the rear of the house.
Emma led him through large spacious rooms that were tastefully decorated and furnished with expensive furniture.
Ray gawped in wonder at the luxury and splendour of the house. If his father owned all of this then he had landed on his feet, he decided. The future was suddenly looking brighter.
Emma hesitated outside an oak panelled door and stood aside to let Ray precede her "Go on, they're waiting for you" she whispered and then added "welcome home!"
Ray's mind was suddenly filled with many thoughts and emotions. He had dreamt of this moment for years, although he had not thought to be experiencing this moment in such opulent surroundings. He would be seeing his father, his brother, his mother and his baby sister again!
He opened the heavy oak panelled door and entered a huge room dominated by a large fireplace where a roaring fire was blazing. A trio of female voices chorused "Welcome home!"
To his surprise, and disappointment, there was only his mother, Heather, his baby sister, and another woman he could not place at first, but after some thought recalled that it must be his Aunt Joan, his mother's sister. His father and brother were conspicuously absent.
For the first few moments, Ray was swamped by the three females as they hugged him and planted kisses on him and offered effusive comments on how well he looked.
Actually, compared to the four woman in front of him, he looked and felt shabby. He wore jeans and a T-Shirt that had been given to him by the prison to replace the original clothes he had been wearing ten years ago when he had entered the prison system.
His mother was wearing a tailoured red trouser suit that looked like it had just come off a catwalk, his Aunt was wearing a brown trouser suit that was clearly new and Heather wore designer jeans and a denim shirt.
Ray noted for the first time the lack of any make up or jewellery on any of the women and that, without exception, they wore their hair cropped short. They looked mannish. Especially his mother.
There was something else about them too. An air of assurance and confidence. They were in control of their environment and of their world. After making some perfunctory enquiries about Ray's health and his plans, the four women (for Emma had joined them) sipped from glasses of wine and talked business, about this Al La Mode that his mother and sister ran.
Ray sidled up to Heather, who gave him a smile "Hi Bro!"
"Hi Heather". It was confusing,as the last time he had seen Heather, she had still been a little girl in a frock and with her hair in bunches, and now she was this mannish woman creature.
"Heather, where are Dad and Eddie?"
"Oh, they're out working" said Heather "Come on in and mingle! You look as nervous as hell!"
Ray was relieved to hear that his father and brother were out working. If he knew his father (and he knew him better than most), he would be trying to pull another con or a deal. His brother Eddie was too dull to work a con but he probably had a regular job somewhere.
He spoke to Heather for a while and was stunned to learn that she had done brilliantly in the intervening ten years. His baby sister was a student at Cambridge University, no less, studying medicine. She intended to be a top surgeon one day and, listening to her, her voice filled with passion and energy, he had no doubt that she would achieve that goal.
He probed her to get more information about his father, but Heather just shrugged and said "Dad's OK". Ray was getting frustrated, That was all he was getting about his Dad. There was endless chatter about his mother and sisters, but nothing about his Dad.
The reunion was interupted by, to Ray, a strange sight. A woman, dressed in a butler's uniform entered to room and announced "Ladies and Gentlemen! Dinner is served!
What the hell was going on here?
“Thank you, Higgins” said Ray’s Mother. She turned around to her companions “Shall we dine, Ladies?”
Ray realized with a start that she was including him in her invitation. I’m no lady! He thought. The real ladies had a little titter at his expense "Looks like you're an honorary lady for the evening!" Heather joked "Miss Ray Mccrae! Kinda suits you!" she took one of his hands in hers and said "Come along, Lady Ray, it's time to dine!"
The other women tittered again "Oh, Heather, you're such a witty girl!"
Ray felt uncomfortable. He felt awkward and lacking in confidence amongst these successful females. And being given feminine titles didn't exactly stroke his male ego either.
He followed the ladies into a dining room with exquisitely crafted furniture. Everything gleamed with care. Uniformed maids stood ready to serve them from hostess trollies.
The diners sat down and were treated to three course menu that a five star restaurant would have been proud to have coming out of its kitchen. Ray had never eaten so well in his life. He had to suppress the urge to belch.
The women around the table talked amongst themselves. They asked Heather how her studies were going, Mother and Emma talked shop and Aunt Joan, who Ray remembered had been a housewife just like his own Mother had been before he and Dad had been sent down, had gone back to college and re-trained as an accountant. She was the company accountant for Al La Mode, and did the books for several other large companies too.
Ray felt isolated and inadequate. He found himself lost for any conversation. What could he have to say to these highly successful women that they would be interested in?
He was also troubled by the maids. There was something not quite right about them, he decided. They looked like maids and acted like maids, but little gestures and movements weren’t quite right. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it.
Once the meal was over, Mother, seated at the head of the table said “Ladies, shall we withdraw to the drawing room ?” The other women present nodded their assent. Ray wondered if the invitation included him again.
“Ray” said his Mother “Wait here and Higgins will show you to your bedroom shortly”.
Ray was thinking, hang on a moment, in those old movies he watched endlessly in prison, wasn’t it the men who retreated to the drawing room and left the ladies alone?
He was sensing something was very wrong with this household. Still, this was where he would be living, for the time being at least, and so he was not in much position to object to anything he thought was wrong.
The women departed without sparing him another glance. They were too engrossed in their conversations about their wonderful, successful world to give him more than a polite wave goodbye.
Ray waited, whilst all around him, the maids cleared away the debris of the meal. Ray poured himself another glass of wine and gulped it down. It was a fine wine they served here, he had to admit.
Presently, Higgins, the woman butler, materialized behind him and gave him a light tap on the shoulder. Ray almost jumped out of his skin as the woman had entered the room so quietly that he hadn’t even noticed her.
Higgins was an older woman. Not much younger than his own mother, but Ray had to admit that she looked and acted the part of a butler to perfection.
“Would sir like to be taken to his room?” Higgins asked him in a deferential tone.
“Yes” Ray answered simply. He was unused to having servants around him and he was not sure how to deal with them.
“Very good, sir. If you would follow me, please”.
Ray got up and followed the butler up a flight of stairs. The cream walls were studded with family portraits. Not photographs, but actual painted portraits. One showed a picture of his mother seated at her desk at Al La Mode, in complete command and control. Another showed Heather accepting a school prize and shaking the hand of the headmistress.
Ray noted that none of the portraits featured either his father or his brother. The portraits celebrated the successes of the women of the family.
Ray suddenly felt depressed, realizing that he had done absolutely nothing noteworthy in his life. He had been lazy at school and had dropped out and went straight into a life of crime. Then he had gone to prison and that, Ray had to conclude, was a fair summing up of his twenty eight years on this planet.
Higgins escorted Ray down a corridor featuring more portraits of the ladies of the household and stopped outside an oak paneled door. She opened the door and let it swing open before ushering Ray inside.
Ray found himself in a large room. It had a double bed, a dresser, a table and a small sofa. Bathroom facilities were ensuite and there was a large screen television fixed to a wall. It was more than adequate for Ray’s needs, but he was troubled by a few of its features.
The décor was a light shade of pink and the furniture was white. The bed had a lace canopy, with lacy curtains and white satin sheets and pillows. Most disturbing of all was the presence of a little white vanity table with a heart shaped mirror.
This was a woman’s bedroom! A boudoir!
Ray felt like asking to be put in another room, but stopped himself. He had just dined like a king and was being put up at no expense into a room that was, for all of its feminine trappings, far better than a prison cell. Hell, it was far better than his old bedroom! He would look and feel rude to raise any objections.
Higgins took him through the features. There was a telephone he could use to request maid service or order meals should he wish to dine in his room. Higgins showed him to use the remote control for the television. It had hundreds of channels. Higgins showed him the bathroom facilities. A heart shaped whirlpool bath, a bidet, a toilet and a large sink. The walls were mirrors. There was a fluffy white dressing gown that Ray could use and several towels. If he ran out, all he had to do was pick up the phone and a maid would bring him more.
Higgins opened up the dresser to reveal some satin pyjamas and suggested that sir might wish to wear them until he went shopping once he had settled in. Ray nodded but was determined not to wear satin PJ’s in shades of pink and purple. They were clearly ladies’ pyjamas!
Higgins left him alone, but bade him to pick up the phone if he needed anything at all. Anything. It would be no trouble at all, she assured him.
Ray put on a sports channel and flicked through the many channels. Frowning, he noted that nearly all of the channels were devoted to women’s sports. It took him almost an hour of channel hopping until he came to “Men’s Football”. He watched a match between Manchester United and Liverpool.
He was startled by what he saw. The players looked scruffy and were wearing average kit. There was very little advertising hoardings, as one would expect from a premiership side. And the stands were virtually empty. When he had gone inside, the two teams he was watching now were the top football teams in the UK, in the world even. Now they looked like a Sunday pub side.
He turned the TV off. It was too painful to watch. Two former giants so reduced in status. He washed and stripped to his underwear and went to bed.
Something was not right here. Not just with his family, but with the world in general.
When he got up the next day, at just after ten am, it was to find that his mother, Emma and Aunt Joan had already breakfasted and left for work. Heather had also had her breakfast, Higgins informed him, and headed off into town to meet up with some of her friends from university to work on a project.
Ray dined alone. When he had finished, Higgins approached him and handed him an envelope.
“The mistress asked me to give this to you, sir. It contains a door key for this house, a mobile phone for your personal use, a store card for Jessica’s Department Store and some spending money”.
Ray thanked her and opened the envelope. As Higgins had said it contained a shiny gold key and a mobile phone in a light shade of pink. Must be one of Emma’s or Heather’s castoffs, he guessed. He also found one hundred pounds in notes. There was a handwritten note from his mother inside which read “Ray, here is some spending money and a store card for the city’s biggest department store. Why not go out and buy some new clothes? See you later, Love Mum”.
Ray warmed to the suggestion. It was better than hanging around in his room or the house. In truth, he was still uncomfortable with having servants around. It was like having no privacy. He was also disturbed by the overly feminine boudoir he had to occupy.
When he told Higgins he was going out, Higgins told him about the bus and tram routes and timetables and asked if he would be back in time for lunch. Ray shook his head. He intended to spend the day in the city, away from this strange house and its weird set up, to normality.
He ventured out of the house and went to the tram stop. He struggled to use the ticket machine and a young woman, dressed in a trouser suit similar to the ones worn by the women in his own family and carrying a smart briefcase, who was waiting behind him, became so exasperated by the wait that she gestured for him to give her the money. Dumbly, Ray handed it over and the woman proceeded to show him how to use the machine. She spoke to him slowly and in a loud tone as if he was a small child or mentally retarded. She handed him his ticket and his change and then , with brisk efficiently purchased her own ticket and marched off, swinging her briefcase as she walked and muttering under her breath. Ray guessed it was about him and that it was not complimentary.
He had an urge to chase after the woman and put her in her place. He could duff her up easily. For all her confidence and swagger, she was a tiny thing. He suppressed the urge. The last he needed to have the police sniffing around after him.
The tram arrived and Ray climbed aboard and managed to find a seat next to two young women similar to the one who had bought his ticket for him. They were reading magazines. Women’s glossies, Ray assumed. But he was wrong. One of the women was reading a sports magazine that featured only female athletes and the other was reading a magazine about computers and other technology entitled “Girls’ Gadgets Weekly”. Yet another woman sitting opposite him was reading a current affairs magazine which was running a feature called “Men: Do we really need them anymore?”
Ray glanced around the carriage. Some of the women present were dressed in the trouser suits and the rest were dressed in skirts, dresses and high heels. There seemed to be a division between one set of women and another set. As far as Ray could see, he was the only man in the carriage.Then he spotted a woman halfway down the carriage, holding the hand of another woman. Then she bent her head forward to kiss her. At first Ray assumed they were lesbian lovers , but the more he studied the figure who was wearing a blue frock, matching high heels and whose face was made up, the realization sunk in. The figure in feminine clothes was a man! He could see that now.
There was a faint trace of beard growth underneath the foundation. His legs and arms were too large and muscular and there were no curves in his body. He was also flat chested. Ray stared at him in disbelief. He looked at the other “women” who were wearing skirts and frocks and could see that they too were no ladies, but men in drag!
And, he realized, those maids who had served him, were also males! He had known that there had been something about their mannerisms and the way they moved which didn’t quite add up and had been pondering it all day. Now he knew!
Ray had to stop himself from throwing up. Shaking, he tried to get his head around what he had found out.
He noticed that nobody thought that the men in drag were unusual or out of place. If anything, he was the one who was drawing stares and attention. He was the only male present who was wearing traditional garb for a male. The women around him sneered and sniffed in disapproval at him and his clothes. He felt isolated and uncomfortable at the hostile stares he was receiving.
Ray was grateful when the tram arrived in the city centre and he could depart.
His first action was to find the nearest pub. He needed a drink. Luckily, a suitable hostelry was nearby and he went in and ordered a large whiskey, which he downed in one. He ordered another, then realized that the “bar maid”, who was wearing a micro-skirt, a skimpy top and a pair of stilettos, and very little else, was another guy. Ray could even see that the barman wore a pink glittery thong under his skirt.
He retreated to the mens’ toilets and threw up. He sat in the cubicle for a few minutes before leaving. The urge for a drink had suddenly evaporated.
He wandered in a kind of trance through the main thoroughfare of the city. Everywhere he looked he saw women in those trouser suit things that seemed to be a uniform for the adults of that gender, girls in jeans and T-shirts and trainers. Every male he saw was wearing a frock or a skirt and top combo, with high heels and all of the traditional accoutrements of femininity.
Even the billboards and hoardings showed cross-dressed males advertising cosmetics, perfumes, lingerie and even bras for the male of the species. There was one hoarding showing a bikini clad boy, his hair styled in corkscrew curls and his delicate features fully made up, pouting as he lay across the bonnet of a sports car. The advertising was clearly using feminized male sexuality to sell products to women!
Ray had to find a place and sit down. This was a fricking nightmare! In the ten years since he had been shut away from the world, women had taken over and feminized their men! And he, Ray, once a force to be feared and respected, was now a member of the weaker, prettier, more feminine sex!
He had to pull himself together, for a pair of policewomen could be seen in the distance, slowly walking in his direction. Ray had done nothing wrong (not yet anyway!), but he knew that, dressed as he was, he was getting more attention than he needed.
He got up and walked a short distance, trying to remain inconspicuous, until he saw the impressive façade of Jessica’s, the department store. He looked back to see that the two police officers had quickened their stride. They seemed to be tailing him. In what he was wearing now, he stood out like a giant neon sign.
He dived through the revolving doors that led into the city’s most exclusive department store.
It was a world of gleaming glass counters displaying the most expensive commodities that the world had to offer. Ray walked through the cosmetics and perfumery department and was approached by elegantly dressed young males (skirted and made up of course) inviting him to try a lipstick or a scent. Ray waved off all comers angrily. What do they think I am, a poofter? Startled, the prettified young men backed off.
He got the lift and pressing the button for the second floor for Menswear. Ray noticed that the floor also held the store’s range of lingerie and he guessed that this department, once exclusive to women, was now for men!
He was not alone in the lift. There was a gaggle of young men dressed in mini-skirts, heels and tops that showed large expanses of flesh. Their faces were plastered with make up and they carried handbags. They even behaved just like girls, making fluttery movements with their hands and simpering. They must have been in their late teens, Ray thought. Looking at the feminized creatures, he thought, these creatures represent the future of masculinity!
He walked out of the lift, ignoring the boys behind him, into Menswear.
Menswear it might have been, but it was like no male attire that Ray had ever seen before. There were racks of dresses, blouses, tops and skirts. Male dummies were dotted throughout the floor and wore frocks or skirts.
A young man in a smart tailored skirt and a silk blouse approached him. His make up was tasteful and he wore his long blonde hair in a bob. He actually looked quite pretty!
“How may I help you today, sir?” the assistant asked.
Ray had to wrench his mind away from the man’s pretty features. With shock, he realized that he had been checking the young man out, like he was a woman.
Ray said “I need some new clothes”.
The assistant simpered and smiled “Of course, sir. What did you have in mind?”
“Trousers. Let me see some of those”.
The young man looked to be at a loss and shook his head “I’m very sorry, sir, but our store no longer stocks trousers for men. It’s company policy”.
Ray began to get angry “Are you telling me that in this whole store you don’t have a single pair of trousers? What am I supposed to wear then?”
The assistant trembled “Well, sir, as you can see, our range of clothing for men includes dresses, skirts and elegant tops. You have a fine figure, so I think a size fourteen dress would suit you very well! Why not try one on?”
Ray exploded “What do you think I am? A flaming transvestite? You’re looking for a smack, pal!”
He was about to raise his fist when a female voice broke in “Is there a problem here, Matthew?”
A young woman wearing the uniform of a member of the store’s security force had appeared, seemingly from nowhere.
Matthew was trembling “Oh, thank goodness, Melissa! This customer is threatening me!” Matthew positioned himself behind the diminutive security officer, seeking her protection.
Melissa’s eyes narrowed as she took in Ray’s appearance and she frowned “You will have to leave, sir. I’ll escort you to the exit”.
Ray decided to back off. He could probably take out both the tiny guard and the pretty boy with a single punch, but then he’d be in big trouble. “There’s no need, I’m going!”
“I insist”. To Ray’s surprise, she seized his arm. She was a lot stronger than she looked, Ray discovered. Good thing he had not tried anything. The girl steered him to the escalators, took him to the exit and gave him a gentle push “Our store takes a very dim view of customers who are threatening towards our staff, sir. I would suggest that you do not return. We don’t want your kind here!”
The girl followed Ray out of the store and watched him for several minutes as he walked away, to make sure he didn’t try to double back. Ray, upset at his ejection by a mere girl, thought angrily I don’t want to shop there anyway. Jessica’s: a store that turns men into faggots!
But Ray’s quest to find traditional male clothing was no more successful anywhere else. He tried a smaller department store, a mainstream men’s outfitters and a bargain basement store. He even considered the possibility of wearing women’s trousers but, after looking at the cut of them, he worked out that he would look odd in them.
Defeated in his quest to find suitable clothes for himself, Ray walked into one of the seamier districts of the city. Ray hadn’t had sex in over ten years and he felt the sudden urge to seek out female company. A real woman in a skirt and heels, not the man-women who had taken over.
He entered a street full of shabby buildings. From his past, he recalled that there were strip clubs and that some prostitutes hung around looking for clients. The strip clubs and prostitutes were still there, but things were not the same as they had been before.
The punters for the strip clubs were now women and the talent was pretty young men. The prostitutes were likewise young men in micro skirts and stiletto heels, heavily made up. Ray felt the urge to be sick again at the sight of boys acting out the roles of strippers and prostitutes. This was the ultimate degradation of his gender. Ray fled.
By now, it was starting to get late. Ray didn’t feel like returning home. He went to a pub and began drinking. He downed several pints. He returned to his table with another and began gulping some of it down when two lovely women came into his vision.
They were dressed in those trouser suit things and had short hair, but they were still attractive to a red blooded male like Ray.
“May we join you?” one of the girls asked.
“Be my guest” said Ray. The girls put their drinks in the table and took off their coats. They were well dressed and the coats looked quite expensive.
“Thanks!” said the girl. She offered a hand “I’m Debs and this is my mate, Charlie”. Ray shook both of their hands. “Pleased to meet you, ladies, my name’s Ray”.
“What’s a nice boy like you doing here all on your own?”
Ray explained that he had been shopping.
Debs frowned “I don’t see any bags. Didn’t you find anything you liked?”
“You could say that, yes”.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, honey, but you could do with some better clothes”.
“He’d look cute in a dress!” said Charlie.
“I don’t wear dresses!” Ray said sharply “I’m not a sissy”.
“That’s us told, I guess! Look, what you wear is up to you of course”.
Ray relaxed. The two girls were very easy going and they had a good conversation. Debs and Charlie were accounts assistants for a firm of lawyers and shared a flat together. They were suggesting that Ray might want to come back to their place for some fun.
Ray couldn’t believe his good fortune. These two birds were actually chasing after him! They drank up and left. The flat was only a ten minute walk and Ray soon found himself in a small, but well furnished flat, with two women who seemed eager to couple with him.
Charlie poured the three of them glasses of white wine and the girls cuddled up to Ray on the sofa, one on either side of him. Their soft, warm bodies felt heavenly!
Debs whispered seductively in his ear “We girls were thinking…..a basque, some fishnet stockings and some high heels….how does that sound to you”.
Ray smiled. At last, some real women, who knew what turned a man on! “Sounds fantastic” he murmured.
Debs kissed him, got up and disappeared into her bedroom, taking Charlie with her. Ray couldn’t wait to see her all dressed up for him.
Debs and Charlie returned. Expecting to see them in sexy lingerie and heels, he was disappointed to see that they were still wearing their work clothes. They were holding in their hands a pink basque, a matching set of silk knickers, a pair of fishnets and a pair of pink stilettos.
Thoroughly confused, Ray said “Aren’t you gonna get changed into them then?”
The two girls looked at each other in bewilderment. Debs said “Wear these, us? Oh, dear, I see you HAVE misunderstood….we want you to wear them for us! Not the other way around, silly!"
Ray leapt up “I’m not wearing that lot. I told you before, I am NOT a sissy!”
Debs said “Don’t get your knickers in a twist, dear. I’m sure if you’ll just be a good boy and dress up for us… and maybe put on a little strip show for us….we can find a way to make us all happy”. Debs proferred the basque.
Ray took it from her and threw it on the floor. The girls jumped back, alarmed, and clutched each other.
“You bitches!” Ray shouted “What do you take me for, some kind of sissy? I am not dressing up like some drag queen just to amuse you!”
“Then get out!” Debs shouted back “Charlie, phone the police and tell them we’ve got a man threatening us!’. Charlie whipped a mobile phone out of her pocket.
“There’s no need, I’m going” said Ray, in anger and bitterness. He slammed the door behind him and left the building.
Debs and Charlie looked at each other. Men!