A week or so ago they were showing “The Magnificent Seven” in Stevens Square Park, but the real show was before hand while they held a karaoke contest. The singers were, uh, well, let’s just say that the small amount of gin and tonic that Alex and I were splitting was not quite enough to dull the caterwauling howl of a man covering Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” It was bad to the point of surrealism: a practical joke gone horribly awry. At any moment I honestly expected flash pots to go off while the man pulled off a mask to reveal actual Cher underneath, at which point we would be treated to a spectacular, if unexpected and truly unasked-for rendition of the collected works of Cher.
Now, at this point you might say to yourself that I have entered a fairly amusing description of bad karaoke. Everyone has experienced bad karaoke, so, uh, so what? Well, I’ll tell you so what: trannies what.
I realize that I am using the pejorative there, so persons who might be offended will have to take my word for it that I have at least a surface understanding of the complexity involved in issues of gender identity, but sometimes you have to call them like you see them, and these ladies were of a special breed. The suspiciously large handed group of women had a couple of toughs circling them, flashing their grills and strutting in a slow motion bob and weave. The sharks swam in baggy pants, sliding through the school as if expectant of imminent blood in the water. Then: a sudden motion, and the school swerved to one side, leaving just two in the open.
One staggered a bit and shook her braids back from her face before drawing up her fists. Her opponent was bouncing on the balls of her feet and grinning like Muhammed Ali.
“Oh no she dit ent,” I said under my breath. The butchering of Cher continued, but I was suddenly almost unaware of it.
“Look!” I said to Sarah and Alex, nodding my head towards the corner.
Braids jabbed a fist wildly towards Ali, nearly falling forward until she was caught with an uppercut. Ali grabbed a fistful of hair with her left hand and pulled while missing a punch with her right.
“Holy shit!” said Sarah, agape. Even she seemed almost to no longer register the wholesale slaughter of “Turn Back Time.”
Ali wrapped a wiry arm around Braids’s neck and tucked her into a headlock before throwing underhand punches into Braids’s ribs. Braids exploded upwards, picking up Ali and breaking free. They both fell to the ground behind a parked car.
Did I mention that they were fighting in the middle of the street?
The singer was no longer content cutting the song into bloody pieces. He was wearing its skin and dancing in a circle of its entrails while screaming the unhearable language of the Elder Gods and summoning unknowable evil. Darkness gathered in the sky overhead and the ground began to shake. I braced myself for the arrival of madness made flesh.
The song ended. The street fight ended. The entirety of the park applauded. Braids clapped. Ali clapped. Their friends clapped. The toughs clapped.
“What the fuck just happened?” Alex asked. I shook my head in disbelief.