Tragedy in Burgundy

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Tragedy in Burgundy

by James Hannaham

Dear Darnell:


I am writing to you because my friend LaKeisha’s lying has to stop. It’s been
more than a year since she started

carousing around clubs like some shameless
Jezebel, duping straight mens into thinking she was a woman. I can’t handle
the dishonesty. I mighta left the Baptist church and never looked back the day
after some deacon who made a pass at me at a barbecue on Saturday gave a
sermon against homosexuality on Sunday, but I can’t help thinking in the back
of my mind that me an LaKeisha is gonna be bunkmates in flames if we continue
to perpetrate this lie. God will punish the wicked. I seen it too many times
to doubt that.


This is what’s really working me. Last week she went on a date with some
brother — one tall, fine brother. We’re talking Nubian Prince of Egypt fine,
jaw drop to the knees fine, capital F-Y-N-E fine, like “I never knew Adonis had
a cuter younger brother” fine. This man is so hot that he
could fry bacon in his hand. He could fry my bacon in his hand, that’s for
sure. Brother used to be a linebacker in school, now he a lawyer. And she
ain’t told him the truth yet. This is a man who could crush her behind with
his eyelid. What if some queen sees her in the street with this brother and
runs up going, “Ronald! Ronald!” ’cause not everyone be calling her by her drag
name all the time like I do. How dead would her ass be then?


Darnell, I am so scared something is gonna to happen to her. She is my
best friend in the world, like family, I’ve known her since kindergarten. She’s my
twin sister, practically. If something happen to her, I’d be all alone in the
world, ’cause I don’t got no family around here. And Sheba (that’s LaKeisha’s
cat) just had eight kittens three weeks ago. Who’s gonna give a home to these
poor innocent creatures if — oh shit, I’m starting to cry again.


It’s one week later. I’m sorry it’s taking me so long to write this. But
do you see what it’s come to, Darnell? I cannot live like this. Every weekend
it’s another club with pastel neon lining the outside edges of the building
and fake palm trees and women with big ol’ hair-weaves, so much makeup they
look like Jason and nine layers of pantyhose on — there’s so much fakeness on
top of these ‘ho’s that if you took it all off they’d look like a upside-down

mop. And LaKeisha’s no different, playing her little game of straight chicken.
Have you heard of gay chicken, Darnell? You should do a show on it, it’s a
good topic. Straight men will pick up a gay man and go through a whole date
with them until they “get sick.” Ain’t that some shit? Buncha closet cases if
you axe me. I heard about this study
they done, where they found out that if you attach a electrode to the dick of
a homophobe and make him watch gay porno, that they dicks gets harder than
straight men who ain’t homophobic watching the same pornos. It’s like, tell me
some shit I don’t know. But what I do wanna know is, how they get them
homophobes to tape a electrode to they dick? I was a homophobe, I wouldn’t let
nobody with no gay porno and no electrodes within a mile of my ass.


Unlike them closet cases, though, LaKeisha don’t wanna hurt nobody, she
just having a good time. My girl loves to kiki. She the kikingest bitch around. And
I don’t wanna be no party pooper or nothing, but I feel like she putting her
life in danger (and mines) the way she be carrying on with every Tom, Denzel
and Hakim that come up to her with a pup tent in they pants.


Anyways, I still haven’t gotten to the A1 tip-top reason that Kiki
Keisha’s lying has got to stop, that just happened a couple of days ago. So this guy
that LaKeisha went on that date with, you know, Super Fly, he’s really into
her. I mean really into her. But she don’t know that, ’cause he ain’t called
her or nothing. But here’s how I know. The other day, I’m at Fremont and
Tamika’s House of Beauty getting my finger waves redone, right. And I’m just
chatting with Tamika, you know, it ain’t too many other people around, talkin’
’bout this and that, whatever. Just chillin’ and whatnot. Tamika is very drag-queen friendly, the only one in Boston like that. I love her. And the front
part of the House of Beauty is where Tamika husband Fremont got his li’l
barbershop. So who walks in but Super Fly, and Fremont starts giving the
brother a fade. So on my way out, I’m like, “Hi,” and Super Fly look at me
like he seen a overseer’s ghost. He get up out the chair so fast that,
Fremont, gives him a bald spot. A ton of kinky hair go spilling all over the

floor. So I’m really charmed, I think the brother maybe like me a little too.
But then he goes, “You LaKeisha’s friend, right?” And I go, “Yeah,” even
though my li’l ego’s feeling ’bout as big as Emmanuel Lewis’ ho-ho.


Then he like, “You gotta give me her phone number ’cause I left it in my
pants and took them to the cleaners the next day and they washed it. I been
thinking about her constantly. I been back to Ruby’s every night looking for
her.” He start talking about how she’s the most beautiful woman, pitcher of
femininity, gorgeous, womanly, etc., etc. I’m feeling a little cunty, plus
he don’t know nearway how wrong he is, so I’m like, “I’d give you her
phone number but I ain’t got it on me, sorry.” Like I ain’t had the shit
memorized for ninety million motherfucking years. So he give me his business
card. And at first I was gonna give it to her. But then I was like, I can’t
let this continue. I’m gonna call the brother and tell him the real deal. So
the next day I try like all day to dial Prince Charming’s number. I’d been
dialing six numbers and then hanging back up so many times that my index
finger be getting a big blister in the middle. So finally at nine last night
I call him, hoping I’m gonna get his answering machine, ’cause I have this
li’l prepared speech about how LaKeisha has put one over on him and he
shouldn’t be mad because she was just having fun, whatever. So the phone rings
three times, and I’m like, “I’m in the clear.” Then I hear Super Fly’s voice
come on the line and the shit sound like a fucking black velvet couch come to
life. Good God almighty, my knees starts shaking, my blood gets hotter than
the Happyland Social Club — she’s about to have a conniption, honey. So I’m
like, “Hi, it’s LaKeisha’s friend,” and he get all excited again — I can tell
he’s like, drooling all over the phone — and he start talking about her. The
phone keep slipping out my hand because of all the sweat in my palms. I can’t
bring myself to shatter his little world, you know. And I don’t wanna be the
Grinch that stole LaKeisha’s Christmas. So finally I’m like, “There’s
something I gotta esplain to you ’bout LaKeisha, but I can’t do it over the
phone. Let’s have dinner, I’ll tell you all about it.” Part of me is thinking
he’s clocked us as drag queens from the git-go, and he doing some kinda serious denial trip. But
some of them straight guys — you could show them Yaphet Kotto in a dress with no makeup and
they’d think it was a real woman. Or attach a electrode to they dick without them knowing.


He a little shy at first, so I go, “Okay, you have dinner wit me, I’ll
tell you this thing, then I’ll give you her number so’s you could make your own
decision, aight?” So he’s like, “Tomorrow night at Tiny’s.” That’s a rib


So the next day I’m hanging with LaKeisha and we start talking about guys

and whatnot, and she gets to the subject of Super Fly. Like how he ain’t called
her in a week, and how upset this shit makes her and how much she liked him,
and she ain’t never gonna find nobody to love her and take care of her. She’s
a mess in a dress, a tragedy in burgundy. So I do the tough love routine, very
calmly, like I was her mama. I go, “LaKeisha, he thinks you a woman, like with
a pussy. Hello? He gonna be really disappointed to find that shit out, honey.
Imagine you went home with a guy and found out he had equipment down there you
wasn’t especting and had no interest in, like, he had a catcher’s mitt instead
of a dick.” I was trying to make her laugh behind that comment, but instead
the bitch lost it. I mean, really lost it. Got my new velour halter top all
soaking wet with tears, honey. Going on about how she felt like he was
definitely the one, love at first sight and that he’d assept her as she was
even when he found out she had a ho-ho instead of a ring ding. I really
doubted that, but at the same time, here’s my best girlfriend in my arms,
bawling her eyes out over this man she had been on one — let’s count that
again, one — date with. She’s not normally like that. Wait, yes she is.


So that’s the dilemma I got on my hands. Right now I’m almost due to meet
Super Fly for dinner, but I can’t go through with it. I picked up this letter
again as a excuse to procrastinate. I’ll admit it. It’s like I want the
brother, but if I go and make a play for him and she find out, she’d feel
like stabbing me enough times to make me into some paper dollies. I’d be
walking down the street and people be pointing at me like, “There go Save the
Children.” But maybe I should go and give him her phone number. Maybe the
bitch is right, that his mind is open enough, or he already figured her out or
some shit. But maybe I should try to protect her from getting hurt so bad. I
don’t know what to do. That’s where you come in, Darnell. I thought if we appeared on
your upcoming show, “Your Lying Has Got to Stop!” we could all work
this thing out with your guidance and the panel of experts. Maybe LaKeisha
would find her dream lover and we could all still be friends and kiki
together. But right now everything’s such a big mess and I’m concerned that my
best friend might do something stupid and get hurt — oh shit, I’m starting to
cry again.


Please help us, Darnell. We watch your show every morning. We love you,
love you, love you. Seriously.


    Tony Adamson

    (also known as Almonetta Rosé)

Dear Darnell:


Thank you so much for giving me and LaKeisha the opportunity to appear on The
Darnell Show.
You have to admit that there was not a dull moment on the
show. And please believe me, Darnell, if it was within my

budget or LaKeisha’s to pay for all the damage, I would be enclosing a check
with the $20,000 your lawyer asked for in his very nice letter. Hell, I’d give
you a extra $20,000 ’cause you so handsome.


But it really ain’t our fault, you know? First of all, we had to be up at
six in order to get to the studio. Our friend Mazda Miata was doing a gig at
this club the night before so we was out until like four. So naturally, when we
got to your studio, we was totally out of it, ’cause two hours sleep is just not worth it,
so we didn’t bother. You shouldn’t be doing no show at eight in the morning,
’cause that way your guests gotta get up real early to get there by like,
seven, am I wrong? I’m surprised that any of them guests could put a sentence
together, now that I know how early you be taping that shit.


Plus you know you shouldn’ta had LaKeisha in the same room backstage with
all them mens who’s just a buncha dogs. You know she was just her usual self
behind that. I was like, we came here to stop this ‘ho from doing this kinda
thing and it’s exactly what she’s doing. That’s like saying, “I’ma take you to
France to make you stop drinking wine,” or “I’ma take you to Thailand so
you’ll stop having all that sex.” I’m not trying to say it was a dumb idea or
nothing, but Darnell, what the hell were you thinking? She was carrying on
like never before, dancing around the room even when it wasn’t no music. And I
know I didn’t see that tight plastic jumpsuit and say it was okay to wear on
the show. I just sat there and read my book and I was like, “Never again.”


But out the corner of my eye, I was looking at Super Fly sittin’ in back
of this whole group of brothers, just as nice as nice could be. Mmm-mmm. And
still as fine as fine could be too. I felt so sorry for this poor man, about
to have his whole world shattered in public, put to shame on national TV by
the fact that he was dry humping a tranny in some club. He’d just gotten
himself a skin fade with a oil sheen that looked tres fierce, even though he
still had that big bald spot. He had himself a beautiful grey suit on, and
these little gold-frame glasses. You could tell he was brought up real well,
’cause them others, with them big sneakers and crinkly jogging pants and baggy
shirts and gold teeth and shit — they was tackier than clowns at a funeral.
Super Fly had himself a laptop computer, he was making up some laws or
whatever lawyers do, just clicking away. Then he put it away and decided he
wanted to talk to me. He was like, “Hi,” in that deep sexy voice. I got a

sweet rush like I’d just gulped a mug full of Bailey’s. I was like, “H . . . Hi!”
So he sit down next to me an go, “I like your dress.”


But as soon as he said that, he turnt his head and start looking at
LaKeisha, trying to tell me how pretty he think she is. He can’t even see her
for all the dogs sniffing around her li’l fire hydrant, and he trying to get
me all worked up about that girl.


Well, Almonetta wasn’t having it. I got so mad I almost told him
everything right then and there. It was all I could do when he axed me at one point what
was the topic we was gonna be discussing. My skin felt all flushed when I lied
and told him, “It’s a show about, um, girls who party too much.” After that I
couldn’t really say much. I put my nose back in my book.


Darnell, I don’t like your li’l policy of not telling people who gonna be
on the show what they gonna be talking about on the show until they get onstage,
’cause you never know how they gonna react. You put them in a embarrassing
situation like that, who knows, one them gun-toting thugs could be a stone
psycho motherfucker and take the whole audience out while you taping. I’m sure
it would improve your ratings, honey, but please — think of the grief.


And you shouldn’ta axed me to esplain what was going on. I thought you was
gonna step to those brothers like, “Yo, LaKeisha’s a man, y’all.” Why couldn’t
you do that? Instead, I had to take me a deep deep breath and break it to ’em
gentle, like, “LaKeisha has been keeping a secret from y’all. It’s inportant
for y’all to know that the person you just been doing all that nasty fly girl
dancing with is not no biological female.” I thought I’s being all rational
and whatnot, but I think if they’da heard it from a guy like you, Darnell,
they wouldn’ta taken it upon theyself to start tearing shit up, ripping chairs
out the floor, knocking them potted plants over and breaking them framed
pitchers on the walls. And no one was more shocked than me when them
bodyguards started joining in. Where’d you find those brutal motherfuckers
anyway? Did you thaw them out a million-year-old block of ice?


And I think we all know that the final straw was brought on by Miss
LaKeisha herself. All I was trying to do was speak the truth. She had no right to get
all up in my face and start pointing. She did it on purpose too. She knows I
hate it when people be sticking they fingers in my face. And how many times
did I warn her? Four times, that’s right, Darnell. Once when she pulled my wig
out of place. Another time when she said I was doing this because I was
jealous. The third when she called me ugly. All that shit I let roll off my
back. But when she ripped the straps off my dress — my eight-hundred -dollar dress — and my falsies popped out in front of the nation, it was like

every embarrassing thing I’ve ever suffered from that bitch had all happened at
once. I just lost control, Darnell, I couldn’t help it. Suddenly her face was
the ugliest thing I’d ever seen in my life and I had to beat the crap outta


Anyways, Darnell, the reason I’m writing you back at all is so’s we could
compare our losses. You have lost $20,000 worth of camera equipment,
carpeting, Steuben vases, tacky paintings and the services of a perky li’l
assistant who out for a few days ’cause of a broken arm and a concussion. If
you ain’t had all that insured, you a fool.


Almonetta Rosé, on the other hand, has lost her dignity, her pride, a pair
of shoulder pads that was essential to her persona, any potential dates that
mighta been watching, a dress worth more than three times her life savings,
and the once-priceless friendship and love of her former best girlfriend,
LaKeisha Lorraine, also known as Ronald Knight.


My very handsome lawyer friend, who just happened to be present during the
event that brought on your li’l lawsuit in the first place, told me over
dinner last night that should you choose to prosecute, you should bear in mind
that the only assets of the defendant is a dirty pile of women’s panties. And
you don’t gotta sue me for that, Darnell. All you gotta do is axe.


    Tony Adamson

    (a.k.a. Almonetta Rosé)

James Hannaham