“Daddy’s little Pumpkin”
by Sassafras Lowrey
Travis woke with a start – they hadn’t gotten to bed until just a few hours before . The benefit at the bar had ran late, Daddy had given them permission to stay up past bedtime but they were feeling it this morning. Travis remembered when they were younger when staying up all night flogging cuties and flirting in the dungeon would leave them waking up exhilarated, reaching for the phone to see if anyone from the night before had texted. But now, Travis was exhausted, neck stiff, back sore. Yet they couldn’t help a bouncy sort of excitement pushing through their exhaustion. Today was a day that they had been looking forward to for weeks. Daddy had told them to make sure that they had the day off of work, and not to make any plans, that they were going to have a full date day, but then Daddy wouldn’t tell them anything about what they were going to do.
Travis rolled over and saw that Daddy was still asleep and hadn’t even stirred when the alarm started beeeeeeeeeeeeeep
Travis padded to the kitchen, bare feet on the hardwood floors. Fall had drifted in overnight, taking both Travis and Daddy by surprise when they left the bar shivering in the early morning. “I’ll race you to the car!” Travis had giggled running down the dark sidewalk, Daddy’s boots thudding against the pavement behind them.
“Wake Up Daddy!!!!” Travis bounced onto the bed, coffee nearly sloshing out of the mug. They had been extra careful to be quiet in the kitchen to keep it a surprise. Daddy sat up, took a sip and smiled then tenderly growled: “You better get dressed boy”.
When Daddy and Travis got to the car, Daddy pulled the black hanky out of Travis’ right pocket with a smirk and a swat to Travis’s now empty denim cheek.
“In,” Daddy said.
Travis climbed into the passenger seat feeling the warmth of the denim against his elbows. Daddy closed his door, walked around the car. Then just when Travis thought he was going to turn the key in the ignition Daddy reached over and blindfolded Travis with their own hanky! Travis squirmed in his seat, as Daddy gave his hand a squeeze Travis wasn’t sure where they were. They knew Daddy had turned right at the end of the driveway then left but soon Travis lost track of the turns and could no longer even guestimate where they were against the map in their mind. Everything was dark. Daddy was playing a disc of modern show tunes and happily singing along.
They drove for a long time. Travis was getting antsy but waited without complaint, enjoying the feeling of the car seat pressing against the bruises that bloomed across their back and thighs last night at the club. Part of being Daddy’s boy was mastering patience. Travis wasn’t very good at that, but they tried. Finally, after what felt like forever, Daddy parked the car. He leaned over Travis, they could feel the weight of him hovering above them, and the bitter scent of coffee still on his breath as he lifted the bandanna, face smirking. Travis’s eyes struggled to adjust to the sudden brightness. They were parked next to a some kind of farm festival.
“I wanted to take my little pumpkin to the pumpkin patch!”
Travis blushed awkwardly at their outburst, feeling nervous that they sounded like the “girl” everyone used to think that they were. Daddy only chuckled and smiled.
Travis’ eyes were wide trying to take everything in. They had never been to a place like this before, their childhood hadn’t been one that came with fun outings. Some of the normies stared at their boots, leather jackets and steel pushed through their faces, pulling their children away from Travis and Daddy as they stood in line for their admission wristband. Daddy bought the deluxe day pass that got them into the corn maze, the petting zoo and, the part that Travis found himself most excited about – the pumpkin patch. Daddy said they were saving that for last and led them toward the corn maze. As they entered the maze Travis and Daddy were side by side. They wandered through the corn stalks rustling with the wind. Travis was scouting out ahead, caught a dead end, turned and went back the way they thought was where they had left Daddy but he wasn’t there. They turned around, realizing they had gone the wrong way.
Found another dead end.
Turned left again.
Travis realized they were lost in the corn. There were some normies walking by and they thought about asking if they had seen Daddy but really didn’t know how to do that “hey have you seen a big Leather Daddy? Boots, Beard, Leather Jacket?” Travis sucked up the tears that were threatening to spill. They wanted to keep walking, they wanted to keep trying to find Daddy, but remembered the lesson from being a little kid.
If you get lost. Stay put.
Staying put when lost was not at all what came naturally to Travis. They weren’t used to letting anyone take care of them. They didn’t know how to let someone save them. Travis wanted to take off running through the maze, but they forced themself to stop. They pulled out their phone, no reception. Travis forced themself to wait, to trust, to believe that Daddy was coming. They bit at the ragged edges of their fingernails, kicked at dirt clods and rocks. Travis thought about following some of the people to try to find their way out, but they waited. Trusting.
Finally, after a long time, Daddy appeared and Travis fell against his chest. Travis was shocked at how fast Daddy’s heart was beating, they could feel it pounding through the flannel of his shirt. Travis let his eyes close, and the tears leaked out. Daddy held him so tight and leaned down to whisper
“I will always find you, I will always care for you “
Travis had heard Daddy say similar things in the past, and they always wanted to believe him, and it’s not like they wanted to set up tests to make Daddy prove himself. They knew that was fucked, but this, it was like the universe created this situation that proved so much about Daddy and now, Travis had to surrender, had to trust in a way that pushed all of their buttons, and hit all of their triggers. After a long time hand in hand Travis and Daddy were able to find their way out of the maze. Travis was exhausted and while in the bathroom (where a cis dude looked at him real weird – like he didn’t know what bathroom to go into as Travis was walking out) Daddy got them hot cider and apple cider doughnuts. They sat together on a little bench and ate the treats; the sugar and being with Daddy helped Travis to calm themself before they visited the petting zoo.
It was the first time that Travis had been around livestock since they were a little kid, since they ran away. Travis loved the animals “I want a pig” Travis said. “hmmm….. “ Daddy smirked “You’re my dirty little pig.” Travis blushed thinking about the mischief he’d gotten into in the back room of the bar with the other bois last night, how Daddy had stood by with the other Daddies watching and egged them on as the bois wrestled in jello raising money for the local queer youth shelter. It made Travis proud to be able to give back, especially because their giving back had been something that made Daddy so proud.
Finally Daddy said it was time to go and look at the pumpkins.
“I want a real big one”.
“Size queen” Daddy teased.
“Duh” Travis replied before running off to look at more pumpkins, picking up different ones to test the weight and roundness. Travis was picking through a pile in a back corner of the patch, away from the children and their judgmental parents.
“We are going to carve them … later, when we get home,” Daddy whispered in Travis’ ear having come up behind them catching them by surprise as Travis leaned down to inspect a perfectly round pumpkin. Daddy pressed up against Travis and they could feel the hardness of the knife in the front pocket of his jeans. It was the same knife that Daddy had used to carve Travis’s back, the night he locked the chain collar around Travis’s neck.
Sassafras Lowrey is a straight-edge queer punk who grew up to become the 2013 winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award. Hir books—Lost Boi, A Little Queermas Carol, Roving Pack, Kicked Out, and Leather Ever After—have been honored by organizations ranging from the National Leather Association to the American Library Association. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with hir partner, and their menagerie of dogs and cats. www.SassafrasLowrey.com