Bad Medicine struggled to remove her heel from the man’s head. After a final yank, her foot broke free followed by a bone cracking noise. She had spent an entire year saving her tips to buy a pair of Jimmy Choo, and now they were covered in brains.
The man lying on the floor –with hungry blank eyes and a mouth full of blood—was Marco. He was the cleaning guy at Locker Room, the club where Bad Medicine worked. She didn’t know him. He was a quiet boy who never said more that hello, excuse me and pinche cabrones, when he found a used condom on the floor.
“He was kind of cute,” she said catching her breath. “A little bit too skinny for my taste, but cute.”
The noises of a city falling to pieces slipped through the cracks in the old brick building. Screams and car crashes, windows breaking and horns honking with desperate madness rose from the avenues of New York City.
The six feet tall drag queen walked to her vanity and grabbed her phone. With the graceful dexterity of those used to deal with long nails, her fingers moved across the shiny screen. The name Aphro Theosis popped up.
“Bitch, I just killed a zombie,” Bad Medicine said flatly. She paused, interrupted by Aphro’s piercing chuckles mixed with a barely understandable sentence. “No gurl, I did not kill Amy Litia. I’m serious, a fucking brain eating zombie,” Bad added, but Aphro’s laughter continued on the other side of the phone,
A bang on the back door made her jump. She always forgot to lock the door. Today was not an exception. Not today Satan, she thought gathering the courage she had left and headed toward the door.
Bad Medicine held the phone in her ear, half listening to her friend’s rant. Her back was hunched; her ears were alert and her movements unsure. Her footsteps echoed in the hallway as she sped up. The pounding against the door became deafening and constant forcing the drag queen to run. The few light bulbs spread through the ceiling flickered every time her heels hit the floor as if they were following the rhythm of her anxious steps.
She was about to reach the door when something lying on the floor stopped her in her tracks and sent her, face-first, to the floor. She landed hard on her hands with her knees on top of the object that had cut her sprint short. The ripping noise coming from her dress made her cursed her luck.
One quick jump and she was back balancing on her pumps. She looked at her phone’s cracked screen and kicked the lump on the floor so hard it hurt.
“Marco, you lazy, zombie asshole!” she yelled frustrated.
It took a couple of seconds for her eyes to realize she had just kicked Miss Rose, the owner of the club. The old woman was dead, and her guts were sitting right next to her, half-eaten. Bad Medicine’s wide eyes moved to her blood stained palms. A loud gagged erupted from her throat. Against her better judgment, she wiped her hands on her dress until her skin burned.
“You deserved better than being eaten by a zombie, Miss Rose,” Bad said, then crossed herself and continued running until she reached the door.
Her trembling hands struggled to slide the latch. With obstinate determination, the rusty piece of metal refused to move. The hinges were screeching, and her heart was pounding so hard she heard it like a drum inside of her ears.
Bad Medicine closed her eyes, took a deep breath and shook her hands in front of her face.
“Ommmmmm. Ommmmmm. Find your inner peace bitch and lock the door.”
After a long exhale she grabbed the small nob and slid it all the way until the door was secured. The grunting and kicking didn’t stop.
Let’s hope these things are not crazy strong. She covered her entire face with her palm and massaged her temples with her thumb and her middle finger.
Aphro’s voice coming through the phone startled her. She had forgotten her friend was there bitching about something that, an hour ago, may have been relevant.
“Aphro, girl, get to safety. I’m not kidding. I just wrestled with a zombie. If it weren’t for the extra padding in my ass, I would be dead.”
“Bad are you doing tina again? We talked about this…”
“I’m not high, gurl. It sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true.”
The phone went quiet. Bad Medicine called her friend’s name three times, but there was no answer. Then it came the wave of screams full of terror and confusion on the other side of the line. Bad Medicine heard her sister in drag’s phone hit the floor. She knew what had happened. Aphro Theosis was dead.
Allan Hendrix left his Brooklyn apartment at 6 PM carrying a backpack full of makeup and white gown bag. Inside the bag, there was a Tina Turner-Thunderdome inspired silver dress, designed by the one and only Gigi Pride. The trendy fashion diva had chosen him –or his alter ego Bad Medicine-to represent her brand; as a drag queen, that was winning in life.
Tonight is the night; he thought standing at the top of the stairs of Botanic Garden station and feeling like that was the perfect moment for a musical number. No flash mob burst around him, so he kept going.
The subway was crowded with people heading back to Manhattan. Allan felt the stares of dozens of curious eyes as he made his way through the platform. People were accustomed to seeing all sort of extravagant looks in New York but, apparently, a tall man with long purple nails was rare enough to amaze folks.
That Saturday had started like every other Saturday in the past ten years. Allan woke up late and with a mild hangover. He popped two ibuprofen from the bottle he kept in his nightstand, cracked his knuckles and got out of bed.
In the kitchen, his roommate Theo was leaning against the stove wearing sweatpants, a floral tank top, and white, strappy high heels. His eyes were locked on his phone while his fingers jumped from one corner of the screen to another. He seemed unaware of the smoke and the burned smell coming from the toaster oven.
Allan squinted and rubbed his eyes. “You own sweatpants? How butch of you Mr. Theodore Davis.”
“They are not mine and don’t use my boy-name you know I hate it.” He answered lifting his eyes from the device and walking toward the toaster.
Theo was short enough to make you wonder if he could be considered a dwarf. He had a round face, big brown eyes and full lips that always seem ready to speak a brutal truth. His skin was dark and smooth. “Like Naomi Campbell,” he would say when people complimented his flawless skin.
“You are sleeping with a guy who wears sweatpants? Classy.” Allan’s smile was as wide as his facial muscles allowed him. “Is he here?” he whispered.
Theo shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Make yourself a coffee, gurl. You are unbearable before you drink coffee.”
“Love you, Aphro.”
“Love you too, bitch. That’s why I don’t kick you out.” Theo answered carrying a small plate with his burned toast to the couch.
The two friends had shared the same apartment for over five years. Hunger, alcohol, drugs, boyfriends and many wig styles had come and go through the doors of their home. They remained. Theo and Allan. Aphro Theosis and Bad Medicine were a constant, an indivisible equation. It had been that way since the beginning of time, which is what they called the day they arrived in New York.
They were watching their eight Golden Girls’ re-run episode when Miss Rose called to deliver heel-breaking news.
“A talent scout is stopping by the club tonight, Bad,” she said in a solemn tone. “I can’t share details, kid. But it is a big fucking deal.”
“OMG, OMG,” Allan kept repeating after every of Miss Rose’s sentences.
“Be ready Bad Medicine,” the club owner advised. “Get to the club early and make sure you are serving your best angry-gorgeous-whore-fish realness.”
Allan hated when drag queens used “fish” as a synonym for woman, but it had become a thing, and there was no stopping it. You would hear the word more at a gay club than at an actual seafood market.
He spent the rest of the day practicing his routine and taking pointers from Theo who, besides his sister in drag was his choreographer and his stylist.
“Shake that ass like Idris Elba is offering you dick, and he doesn’t know you’re a white girl!” Theo instructed. “Drop to the floor like James Seton just asked you to give him a bath.” James Seton was Allan’s favorite television vampire and an all-around unhealthy obsession.
Around five thirty Theo declared him ready to face the world, so Allan grabbed his things and headed to Locker Room.
Allan got off on First Avenue station and walked down fourteen. The breeze was cool, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful summer evening, a perfect setting to take that final step into stardom.
The streets were packed with tourist wearing flip flops and carrying oversized cups filled with ice, coffee and all sorts of syrups. Allan smiled at the scene and greeted every person who made eye contact with him. I return he mostly got an expression of confusion and terror.
As he turned the corner into the alleyway where the club’s back entrance was located, a homeless guy bumped into him sending him stumbling several steps back. The man looked at Allan with bloodshot, angry eyes.
“I have nails, and I know how to use them beau,” said Allan waving his claws in the air. “Your face is already a mess, let’s not make it worse,” he continued as he took small steps around the guy.
The homeless man seemed confused. His eyes showed the rage of someone ready to rip Allan to pieces, but he was not moving. He kept just switching his weight from one leg to another as if he was preventing himself from tipping over.
Allan kept walking backward toward the door. His eyes fixated on the raggedy man.
“You stay there Mister Homeless. Believe me; I know life is rough. Don’t take it on me though.” Allan’s hand searched for the door handle behind him. A sigh of relief escaped him when his fingers grabbed the nob.
A dark red substance started oozing from the man’s mouth, making him choke and grunt like a wounded animal. As the guy bent in pain and puked a mix of several substances in the high end of the gross spectrum. Allan took the opportunity to open the door and get into the safety of the club.
Once inside he rushed to his dressing room.
“Every time you think you have seen it all, the city surprises you with a new flavor of messed up.” He said as he walked to the dressing room.
The dressing room’s floor was covered with empty bottles, tissues, and squashed cigarettes. It wasn’t a surprise. The famous Slayer Stone had shown up at the club right before closing.
“And whatever that slut goes, debauchery follows.”
Allan grabbed the broom standing by the door and swept the floor until all the dust, trash and condom wrappers were piled on a corner. Then he crinkled his nose and put the broom back where he found it.
Becoming Bad Medicine took at least two hours. The process was meticulous and laborious. She was the it girl in drag because she knew details matter; a busted fake eyelash was the difference between a professional drag queen and a boy on a dress.
The process started with a generous coating of moisturizer followed by a first layer of light foundation. Contouring was an art Allan had learned watching YouTube
Bon Jovi started singing through his phone. Allan put it on speakerphone.
“I’m getting ready Aphro,” he said while applying a darker foundation on his cheekbones.
“I’m thinking about doing Jennifer Aniston for my audition tape,” Aphro Theosis said referring to her fifth attempt to get into Drag Race.
“Hun you’re black, round and short. How are you planning to pull off Jennifer Aniston? Do someone black.”
“Bad, that is racist!”
“I’m just looking out for you bitch. You do what you want. I say do Sherri Shephard. That shit would be funny.”
“I don’t even know why I bother asking you,” Aphro said. She puffed, took a deep breath and then continued. “I have to go. Love ya. Get laid; you need it.” Then she hung up.
Allan gave the phone a pointed look as if it was the device’s fault her friend had hit a nerve.
Two hours went by, and finally, Allan saw Bad Medicine staring him back. Alabaster skin, angry red lips and soft eyebrow that curved in a perfect arch over her black, gray and smoky blue eyes. She applied a casual brush of blush over her cheekbones and declared her masterpiece done.
“Bad Medicine, you are a goddess!”
At the beginning of his career Allan was disciplined about separating himself and his drag persona; these days, Bad Medicine had become more real than Allan Hendrix. Nobody but his sister called him Allan, and they call each other so little that if it wasn’t for the guy at Starbucks, months could pass without him hearing his boy-name.
The sound of something being dragged on the floor surprised Bad Medicine. “Marco.” She mumbled while struggling to tuck her penis between her butt cheeks.
The sound became louder and distracting. “What is this boy doing? Dragging a body out of the building?” The drag queen rolled her eyes as she grabbed her dress from the hanger and put it on.
It was an amazing dress, and it fitted her perfectly. Bad Medicine put on her blond wig and her best heels just to see the entire effect. She looked like the star she was meant to be.
A something that sounded like a long moan echoed in the hallway outside her dressing room. She tapped the floor impatient and then stomped to the door, opened it with one big push and planted herself in the hallway with her hands on her waist. The few lightbulbs in the ceiling flickered.
She saw Marco’s skinny silhouette hunched over what looked like a large trash bag on the floor. He was scooping something from it and, apparently, eating it.
“Fucking weirdo,” she whispered. “Probably, one of those freegans.”
The young man lifted his head and looked straight at her.
“Marco!” Bad Medicine yelled. “Stop fucking around and start cleaning this pigsty. Miss Rose will have your scrawny ass if she sees you bringing trash into the building.”
Marco got up and started walking toward her. He moved as if he was injured slowly at first, but then faster until he was awkwardly running and limping at the same time. Before she could understand what was happening the man fell on top of her like a rabid dog. They hit the floor with back breaking force and started struggling.
It was like a Halloween version of Marco. His eyes were bloodshot. The skin on his face had ulcers that looked infected and dripped some yellowish matter. His mouth was exhaling the smell of roadkill and dripping with a mix of slobber and blood.
Marco was trying to bite her. His neck kept pulling forward, and his blood stained teeth kept snapping. The boy was skinny, but he was strong, and Bad Medicine’s arms were getting weaker with every second. His mouth was getting closer and closer.
“What the fuck, Marco!”
He grunted in response, a pool of blood sitting in his mouth and spilling into her neck every time he tried to bite her.
Bad tensed her muscles and pushed him away with all her might. Adrenaline and fear gave her power she didn’t know she possessed. Marco fell backward, she turned in one quick move and crawled back into her dressing room. The man crawled behind her and before she reached the door sunk his jaw into her ass.
She felt the pull and look backward where his jaw was attached to her padded bottom, chewing his way straight to her skin.
“Asshole that was a good pad!” she yelled.
Bad Medicine kicked back until his mouth was off her ass. She freed herself from his hold with a quick spin, turned around with athletic grace and without thinking twice stroke him with the entire bottom of her heel. Marco fell backward.
She sprung to her feet grabbed the broom standing next to the door and slammed the stick against her leg breaking it in half.
“This is so Buffy.”
Before the monster could get up, she charged forward and impaled him, pushing him all the way to the floor.
The broom went right through Marcos’ chest and moved smoothly until something hard stopped it. The thing struggled and reached for her legs with his hands and teeth.
Bad Medicine kept her hands on the stick and started hitting his face with her shoe. She hit and hit until the six inches heel went through his eye all the way through his skull. Blood and brain matter splashed the bottom of her Gigi Pride dress. She continued stomping his head until his face was gone and his skull was shattered.
When Marco stopped moving, she also stopped. Her Jimmy Choo was ruined.
She heard screams outside of the club. Shit was hitting the proverbial fan.
“I never liked The Walking Dead,” she said as she walked to her vanity.