You know, when you're a kid, all you want is to quickly become an adult. What you don't realize, of course, is that becoming an adult means assuming some responsibilities. I tell you, kids everywhere would stop daydreaming of adulthood if they only realized! But, I digress. I had just finished my senior year of high school not even an entire month ago. The June heat was stifling, but I had been basking in the gloriousness of freedom until that fateful day when the letter arrived. "You've got mail, little brother," Reno announced as he opened the door of our shared apartment and tossed the other envelopes on the desk before throwing a single envelope at me like it was a throwing star. The projectile hit the middle of my forehead. I growled and picked up the offending object. Shaw University –Office of the Bursar, it read in a legible cursive script. I sighed and opened the envelope quickly, careful not to tear the letter in the process. There were two tables on the statement: one of charges and one of anticipated payments. By three items on the anticipated payments list, there were little asterisks that denoted something or other. So I glanced down at the footnotes. And swore. Loudly. Vulgarly. With enough ferocity that Reno was distracted from his ramen long enough to ask, "What's wrong, Axel?" "Fuckers! I have to maintain 15 credit hours and a steady job, just to get all of the grants and the scholarships!" I growled loudly, wanting to light something on fire –like maybe the letter, or the people who made the stupid rule. May it never be said that my elder brother wasn't perceptive. He obviously recognized that pyromaniac glint in my eyes. Reno grimaced and pulled out his pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his dress-shirt. He drew out two, placed them both between his lips, and lit them before offering me the one he'd lit first. "What are you going to do?" I sighed and took a long pull off the cigarette. "I don't know. Know anyone that's hiring?" He shook his head an exhaled a cloud of blue-gray smoke. "I'll keep my ears out for anything, though." I nodded, believing him. Reno tended to come off as clueless and lazy to most people, but he was actually very alert and attentive, not to mention an avid runner. His promises were commitments to him, especially when he promised thing to me, since all we really had was each other.
I spent what remained of June and all of July looking for a job that would provide enough funds for me to buy my texts –the one thing the government hadn't fuckin' factored in– and yet still have the hours to accommodate my class schedule. After more than five weeks of searching, I still had nothing that could cover both bases. Either I couldn't make enough money or I couldn't get hours that worked around my class-load, although there was yet another stack of jobs filed under "Too Little Cash and No Way to Schedule". That was my favorite pile. By the first week of August, I was ready to throw in the towel, but I diligently went through the motions: checking the want ads in the paper and at least twenty separate listings online. I was sitting on the couch, feeling sorry for myself but still looking through the online listings when my brother came home from work at 3 am. "I have the solution to all of your problems," Reno announced, stretching his lanky form before shutting the door. I looked up at him and stared. "What?" "I have the solution to all of your problems," he repeated slowly. "I got that part. What's the solution?" He cocked his hip and smirked at me. "How do you feel about doing a long shift in drag?" "Depends on how good it pays," I returned evenly. "Eight an hour, plus tips." "Bring it on." And so began my life as a cross-dressing lounge singer known as Lola Sinclair.