It would never have worked back home, of course; not for long, not for real. Everyone knew the O'Connells back in Dillimore. Charlie O'Connell had lived there his whole life, the only son of a one-time mayor, and when he came home from a stint in the army with a Puerto Rican wife, he'd stirred up probably three years' worth of talk amongst the whitebread community. They'd raised up five kids in that heartland-of-America town, and if any of those kids wasn't one hundred percent normal? Why, that'd make the gossip rounds too. Whispered comments whenever Mama went by; cheap jokes at Dad's expense. Hell, the younger kids would never see the end of it from the playground bullies, and they wouldn't even have any idea why.
So Maria Inez waited until she was good and shut of that town before she started living as Alex.
Thing about Fort Carson was, it wasn't much bigger than Dillimore. But the army base and the highway between San Fierro and Las Venturas meant that a lot of people passed through, for a few hours or days or even weeks; and it was close enough to Greenglass College for the commute to not be too painful. So a short-haired woman with a penchant for wearing men's clothes left Dillimore, and a small, somewhat delicate guy showed up the next day in Fort Carson. Simple enough. And no one in Carson had ever known Maria Inez, so she just... went away. There was only Alex here. He'd let a couple of friends in on the secret over the last three years, but for the most part it was easier to just let Maria die.
Of course, now Maria's mom -- Alex's mom, even if she wasn't aware that her second-born had been a son underneath all those pesky double-X chromosomes -- had run through Alex's entire stock of excuses, and was finally coming up for a long-overdue visit.
"So you're gonna tell her, right?" his friend Richie had asked. Alex had replied in the affirmative then, but now that he could see Mama's car pulling up in the parking lot outside his apartment building, he was wondering how quickly he could work up a disguise. He had to have an old blouse or bra or something at the back of his closet, didn't he? Or maybe he could just escape through the bathroom window or something, there was always that option.
The doorbell rang, and Alex opened the door, and exclamations and hugs were exchanged as Mama stepped inside. The disguise option was out, then, and the bathroom window even moreso. Which left...
"Um. Mama? There's something I should probably tell you..."
Frickin' continuity. I couldn't even come up with something particularly good for this one, but it was pretty much required, given the groundwork I'd already laid.