Two Years Later
Clyde delayed his decision to go on tour with the organization he’d mentioned, which was called Queens for Kids, until his sister had graduated high school and had secured herself a place in a college dorm. In the meantime, he trained Gallian in the ways of the Books and Bobs conservatory and, in turn, Gallian taught Celeste some of the nuances involved in book conservation.
Ultimately, though, Gallian had done more than that for Celeste. Just as Clyde had told her, he knew people who worked for publishing houses. With his help, Celeste had managed to make her dream of becoming a published author come true. Additionally, Celeste found she had a thing for handsome book conservators and fell for Gallian just as hard as she’d fallen for Clyde. Unlike Clyde, however, Gallian was neither a drag queen nor a person with D.I.D.
Still, he was a person with complex feelings and emotions. He’d also harbored a secret about his past, though he’d told Celeste about it during their second date, during which he’d been adorably nervous. It had been about six months in when he’d made his confession.
The two of them were dining at Angelo’s on the beach, where the December weather had transformed it into a winter wonderland. Gallian was unusually quiet, staring out the window and watching the flakes flutter to the ground. There was a mixture of hesitancy and concern brewing on his face.
“Something wrong?” Celeste asked. She could see the reflection of the snowfall in his glasses.
“Clyde never told you, did he?” Gallian said.
His response initially stirred worry. Was there another fact about Clyde she didn’t know? You’ve got to be kidding me, she thought.
“Out with it,” she demanded. Whatever truth Gallian had to tell her she could handle it.
“All right then,” he said. He anxiously fiddled with the wrist band of his watch before stating, “Clyde and I used to be more than just friends… well, actually, Clyde, Quindelia, and I used to be more than just friends.”
Celeste chuckled in response to this news. A part of her had already determined this based on hints she’d received from Quindelia.
“It was a long time ago,” he added, “and we’ve long since moved past it. We ended on good terms.” He stopped when he noticed Celeste laughing. Looking at her incredulously he said, “what’s so funny?”
Brief as they were, she explained the romantic encounters she’d shared with Clyde and Quindelia while she’d been in the process of proving their innocence.
Relieved, Gallian said, “I still can’t believe anyone would think those two would be responsible for a murder.”
Celeste shrugged, “I think you’ll find I explain it all very well in the book I wrote based on those events.”
“Could this be the book called Murder at the Library that is soon to be published?” he replied in jest.
Gallian had read Celeste’s work. Despite her misgivings about sharing, she’d allowed him to read it, with one exception: he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone he’d reviewed it. Thanks to him, the wheels were set in motion for it to be published. Soon, the entire world would have access to its content.
Now, Celeste was a New York Times bestselling author. She no longer lived in the apartment within Books and Bobs, and instead rented it out as her grandmother once had. Gallian continued to do conservation work there, while she wrote from their quaint house near the beach. There was nothing more inspiring than walking along the sand and listening to the sound of the water crashing against the rocks.
For the most part, Derek was in charge of the day-to-day business of the store, providing extraneous updates for Celeste. She wasn’t at the store as much as she had been due to her work as a full-time author, though it remained under her ownership.
Delores remained in charge of the book club, though she’d reduced its meetings to once a week as opposed to twice a week for the sake of new members who had kids and lives outside of the fictional worlds inked within paperbacks. It had been pointed out to her that having a book club meet twice a week was a tad unrealistic. Not everyone read with the speed and dedication that the consistent members did. Since reducing the meetings, the club had exploded from having eleven people show up every week, to having closer to twenty show up.
“I hope people don’t expect me to make that many scones for every session!” she’d complained one week. Despite her griping, Delores somehow did manage to make that many scones every week. She wasn’t the only one, either; other members had started bringing their baked creations.
“I can’t believe the custodial staff put up with this!” a new member had said during their first session. Where there were baked goods, there were sure to be crumbs.
“Oh, trust me, they don’t,” Delores had responded. “Why do you think they leave the vacuum cleaner out?” She went on to inform the new members that newbies always did the cleaning. She was, of course, joking… mostly.
“Gallian, come watch this with me,” Celeste said. It was the evening and her now fiancé was home. He joined her on the couch, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
Since touring the country and meeting people like himself, Clyde’s fear of rejection had dissipated. There were drag queens and people with D.I.D alike whom he could relate to. Celeste felt honored to have had the pleasure of watching him come into his own.
The goal of the Queens for Kids organization was to crush gender stereotypes and teach children that it was okay to be themselves. Clyde had always struggled to be open about his craft as a man who wore makeup and feminine clothing for fear of being rejected. Now, he did that every day without a problem.
While he was away, Celeste would still keep in contact with him via social media. She’d once asked him if he was always Quindelia when he read to kids. Quindelia was the alter who was comfortable being herself. She could sing, dance, and riff without any hesitance, but Clyde hadn’t been like that. He’d responded that they took turns. Quindelia was the performer and enjoyed teaching kids about drag and self-expression, but ultimately, Clyde was the drag queen.
With the gradual increase of his self-acceptance and confidence, Clyde had agreed to appear on an online talk show that spoke about commonly misunderstood topics to help people understand what was misconception and what was the truth.
He’d met the host during a presentation he’d done at a bookstore in Los Angeles, where he’d shared his history with a group of people. At the time, the host had been following drag events to educate the world about drag and what it entailed. After learning about Clyde’s D.I.D and all of the stigma surrounding it, he’d decided to do an episode shedding light on the condition and what it was like for people living with it.
Clyde wasn’t the only person with D.I.D who’d agreed to be on the show. There were two others the host would be sitting down with as well.
Celeste and Gallian watched with pride as the man they knew to be tormented boldly opened up about his experience with D.I.D, explaining what it was, how it had affected him, and warning people about all of the dangerous, misleading information out there.
At one point the host asked Clyde if he was happy to have D.I.D, to which he responded, “It was because of D.I.D that I didn’t have to experience the dangerously traumatic parts of my childhood,” he explained. “Quindelia came into being to deal with the things that I couldn’t deal with. If she hadn’t shown up, I don’t know that I would still be here. So, yes, I’m thankful I have D.I.D.”
If only my grandmother could see this, Celeste thought. She knew her grandmother had in part played a role in Clyde’s self-acceptance. Gwen had always been open-minded, accepting, and unashamedly herself. Her tenacity had been contagious.
Rejection was imminent. There was no point in trying to avoid it. You experienced it, you suffered, and you continued to fight for what you wanted in life.