Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The McComber Switch - Chapter 9 Part 1 of 2 – Family Meeting



The McComber Switch
By Karen Singer

Chapter 9 Part 1 of 2 – Family Meeting
November 30th


“I see Val’s here,” Susan said as they drove up to her father-in-law’s house. 
“Jed’s truck is over by the garage too,” Clint noted.
A few minutes later, they entered the kitchen to find Jed and Valerie there, along with their daughter Ashley.  After the greetings were done, Jacob pulled Jed, Clint and Susan into his office, with orders to the others to keep the kids away from the door until they were called.  No sense in them listening in until they figured out what to do with them.
Jacob didn’t sit behind his desk this time.  Since it was only the four of them, he sat in his favorite cushioned chair instead, while Clint and Susan sat together on one of the two small leather couches in the room and Jed sat in another of the single chairs.   Jacob turned to Clint first.  “We’ve got to figure out what to do about that girl of yours,” he said.  “Actually, about both those kids, I guess.”
Clint’s frustration over the issues involving both his kids was evident.  “I don’t know what to do with either of them, Dad.  I’m at my wit’s end.”
“No doubt,” Jacob replied.  “One of them won’t shoot anything when he should, and the other one goes out of her way to shoot something when she shouldn’t.” 
Clint could only nod his agreement.
“Now understand me,” Jacob said.  “I don’t blame you.  I don’t blame either of you at all.  I think the problem is the fact that they’re twins.  From what I’ve heard, twins are usually closer to each other than other kids.  But I also think that sometimes with twins, one of them can wind up with a little something that should have gone to the other, and vice versa.”
There was a small knock on the door.
“Come in!” Jacob called.
A moment later, Brian walked in.  “Sorry I’m late,” he explained.  “I had a bit of an emergency at the hospital.”
Clint was surprised to see that Brian had been called in too.  For that matter, he had been surprised that Jed was there as well.  Two of his three brothers.  But he said nothing about it.
“So what’s going on?” Brian asked as he took another seat.
“You know of course,” Jacob said, “that Jasmine went duck hunting on Thanksgiving and killed some ducks.”
“Of course.  I was there.  And what you put Jimmy through during dinner was more than a bit surprising.”
Jacob nodded.  “We’ll get into that in a few minutes.  But now that girl has gone and gotten herself into the middle of our deer hunt this morning too, and guess who walked off with the best deer in the last couple of years.”
“Jasmine?” Brian asked, completely surprised.  “Why did you let her go hunting?”
“She stowed away in my truck this morning,” Clint explained.  “We didn’t know she was there until we got there.”
“And then she manipulated the situation so that we finally allowed her to hunt,” Jacob added.
“And she got a trophy deer?  Why didn’t one of you shoot it?”
“Huh!” Clint grunted.  “None of us saw it.  We managed to sneak up on a big heard.  I saw the deer she was supposed to shoot, but at the last second, just before Jed told us to all fire, I saw her turn her gun in a different direction.  She shot at the same time we all did.  She shouldn’t have even had time to aim it properly before she pulled the trigger. But she shot the thing practically right in the heart.”
“Lucky shot, or is she good?” Brian asked.
Clint shrugged.  “She’s always been pretty good shooting at targets in the backyard.”
“I wonder if she’s gonna be like Elliot,” Jed wondered.  “He just barely looks at something and he can hit it.”
“My daddy was like that,” Jacob said.  “Runs in the family sometimes.  But the point is, she’s a girl.  I made a big mistake letting her shoot those ducks.  Big mistake!  And now she’s manipulated things again and gone and killed a deer.  And we don’t know what to do about it.  Personally, I think a good beating wouldn’t be out of order at all!”
Clint shook his head as he remembered strapping her all too recently.  “I did that already.  It was the one and only time I’ve ever taken my belt to her, but I beat her bad Dad.  Real bad.  As bad as Jimmy…maybe worse.  But the thing is, it didn’t do one bit of good.”  He looked at everyone in the room before continuing.  “Whenever I’ve had to punish Tommy or Jimmy that way, they always wound up crying.  But not Jasmine.  Not at all!”  He shook his head.  “She was too determined, too proud of what she had done to cry.  She even told me before I started that she wasn’t sorry in the least for what she had done.  And so when I started hitting her, and she still seemed so damn proud of herself, and she absolutely refused to cry, well, I guess it made me hit her all that much longer.  But she never cried.  Not much past a few tears in her eyes at least.  Not really at all.  And today, when I told her she was going to get punished again, she said she didn’t care.  She expected it!”  He looked back and forth between his two brothers and his father again.  “She expected it…and she didn’t care!”  He shook his head again.  “Punishing her like that, isn’t going to do any good.  Not at all.”
It was a moment before any of them spoke.  “She’s still got to be punished somehow,” Jacob said.  “Jimmy too.”
Before anyone could say anything else, Brian spoke up.  “Dad, don’t get me wrong, you know how much I like hunting.  Heck, since I’m a doctor and I meet so many other doctors and professionals, I probably lead more hunting trips than anyone else.  A lot of those people love hunting.  But you’ve all got to understand this, the fact that Jimmy doesn’t want to kill anything isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, in most places, that kind of attitude is not just common, it’s the way people want everyone else to think.  It’s just not the normal thing in this part of the country, and especially not in this family.”
“But that boy does live in this part of the country, and he is a part of this family,” Jacob replied.  “And he’s got to understand his place not only in this family, but in this world.  The fact that he doesn’t necessarily like to kill anything isn’t the point.  He’s got to understand the whole process.  He’s got to understand how it feels.  Without that, he’ll never be able to relate to anyone around him.  Not to mention, he’ll probably feel the shame of it his entire life.”
Brian nodded.  “There is that of course.  So what do we do?”
“Not a clue,” Jacob replied.
“At least there wasn’t any note like she cooked up last time,” Brian noted.  He shook his head.  “I still can’t believe you put Jimmy through that.”
Susan hadn’t planned on saying anything. The words just slipped out of her mouth before she knew it.  “Actually, she did leave a note.”  She saw all the men looking at her.  She was sorry she had mentioned it.  “I…didn’t want to tell you because it’s such total nonsense.”
Clint just sat there for a moment with his jaw open.  “She left another note?  Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because it’s all just more of the same stupid stuff she put in the last one.”
“Stuff they both put in the last one,” Clint replied.  “Because Jimmy signed the damn thing.”
“Jimmy did the same with this one too,” Susan told him.  “Just like the last time.”
“Where is it?” Clint asked, closing his eyes to the headache now threatening to hit him.
“In my purse.  I wasn’t going to bring it, but…”
“Just get it,” Clint said in no uncertain terms.  “I seem to remember Jasmine saying something this morning about Jimmy already being her.”
“I found Jimmy this morning, just like I found him last time,” Susan admitted.  “She had him in her bed, in her nightgown, and he was all safety pinned together so he couldn’t get the thing off if he tried.”
Clint shook his head.  “Where’s the note?”
Susan went out to the kitchen where her purse was and pulled the folded paper out. 
“How’s it going?” Rose asked before her daughter left the kitchen. 
“Not so good,” Susan replied.  She carried the note back into the room and closed the door behind her again.  She tried to hand the folded paper to her husband. 
“You read it,” Clint told her, not wanting to touch the thing.
Susan sat again and opened the note slowly, and started reading what she had only read once.


Dear Mom and Dad,

Jasmine wants to go hunting again, and again she’s convinced me that I have to agree to all her demands and to also be totally honest about myself. 

The first thing I have to do is to admit something you already know.  I missed that deer on purpose.  I’ve always missed on purpose.  It bothers me too much to even consider killing another living creature.  I constantly worry that somehow they’re going to haunt me and get back at me for it.  I know it’s silly, but Jasmine has demanded that I admit I’m simply too much of a wimp to go hunting anymore or even think about doing anything like that.  Jasmine though is much braver than I am.  She’s not afraid of anything.

Since Jasmine has decided to go hunting as me again, then she has demanded that I agree to be her again, and I’ve agreed to do that.  I’ve agreed that from now on, any time she goes hunting, I will be her for not just that day, but now for two full days. 

For those two days, I have agreed that I will try to act only like a girl and will do everything possible to not act like a boy at all.

I have agreed to help Mom as much as I possibly can for those two days. 

I have also agreed that I will continue to wear mostly skirts and dresses since I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to be anything but a sissy girl.

I have also agreed that since I may have to be Jasmine more often now, that I will not get my hair cut so it can grow as long as her hair or longer.

I’m sorry that I have turned out to be such a disappointment.  But Jasmine and I agree that this will be for the best – for everyone.  This way, none of the family rules are being broken.  Jasmine gets to go hunting, but she goes hunting as me.  So anything she kills, she kills as Jimmy.  And in return, I will stay home and be the girl of the family.

Your loving son – and sometimes daughter,
Jimmy / Jasmine


There were more than a few grunts around the room when she had finished.
“Why does she have it in for her brother so much?” Jed asked.
“I don’t know,” Susan replied. “They’re twins, but since he’s a boy and she’s a girl, they’ve never really been that close.  But there’s never been a problem between them.”
“It’s a shame,” Brian added thoughtfully.
“What’s that?” Clint asked.
“It’s a shame Jasmine has turned out to be such a tomboy, not into the usual feminine things at all.  And Jimmy, I don’t know what he’s into, except evidently, it’s not hunting.”
“He loves mechanical stuff,” Clint told him.  “Anything at all to do with machinery.  Lately, he’s been really interested in figuring out how to fix one of our ATVs.  He’s got the manual for it in his room.  I bought some new parts for it and we’re planning on working on it together, first free chance I can get.  I figured I’d let him have at it by himself while I watched in case he needed help, but I have no doubt he can probably fix the thing almost as well as I can.  And last month I took him with me when I had to go up to the old saw mill to fix an electrical problem.  While I was working, that boy went over every belt, every gear, everything – just to see how it all worked.  I have no doubt that if the thing broke down now, you could send Jimmy up to fix it, and he would!”
“And Jasmine isn’t a tomboy either,” Susan added.  “At least not that much.  In fact, she’s not like that at all.  She’s always been very much into her dolls.  She’s got a huge collection of them.  And now, for the last few months, she’s been absolutely obsessed with fashion.  She was even talking yesterday about starting her own blog about the tights she wears.”
“What’s a blog?” Jacob asked.
“It’s…an internet website,” Brian explained, trying to be as simplistic about it as possible.  His father only nodded.
“And that’s not all,” Susan continued.  “Don’t ever get her started talking about her fascination with fashion models.  She idolizes them.  I think that’s what’s driving her sudden interest in this fashion show the school is putting on next spring.  She’s designing and sewing all the clothes herself.  Well, she’s just starting to.  I’m afraid sewing like that is something new for her.  But she’s adamant about doing it.  And that dress that Jimmy wore to Thanksgiving dinner, she picked that out specially.  We even shopped for the matching bow to go in her hair.  She was really looking forward to wearing it.  And the odd thing is, she was actually jealous when she saw her brother in that dress instead of her.  Jealous!  Her only problem with all the fashion and modeling is herself.  She’s only eleven years old, but she wants breasts like…an eighteen year old.  It’s driving her crazy.”
There was no sound in the room for a few moments as everyone took that information in.  And then Brian grunted.  “And there,” he said as he continued to think, “may be the only possible solution to this whole problem.”
It was a moment before anyone could reply.  “What do you mean?” Clint asked.
But Brian continued to stare off into space as he tried to think through the idea further. 
“Brian?” Clint prompted.
Brian finally shook his head.  “It’s a bad idea,” he said.  “Bad.  But it’s the only solution that I can see that might work at all right now.”
“What is it?” Jacob asked.
Instead of answering that, Brian asked his father, “What is it you really want here, for Jasmine to not hunt anymore?”
“Of course,” Jacob replied.  “But the girl just doesn’t seem to want to get that through that thick skull of hers.  She’s snuck off to do it twice now, and I have no doubt that she’ll continue to try to do it again.”
“What if…” Brian continued as he tried to think through what he wanted to say.  “What if we could get her to swear that she’d never hunt again?  Isn’t that what you want?”
“Pretty much,” Jacob agreed.
Brian looked at Clint.  “Is that the way you see it too?”
Clint nodded.  “I guess.  But if you bring her in here right now and tell her to do that, I don’t think it’s going to work.  She can be more than a bit stubborn about some things.”
“She can be stubborn,” Susan echoed.  “Very stubborn!”
Brian nodded.  “I guess then it’s all going to depend on how stubborn she is about wanting to keep hunting.”
“She seems to be awfully determined,” Clint replied.  “I mean, she even stowed away in my truck last night, without me knowing it.”
“And don’t forget what she said in that note too,” Jed added.  “Something about her going hunting more often now.”
“There’s that too,” Brian replied.  “But the question is, would she rather hunt, or have breasts?”
Everyone in the room was taken aback by the unexpected question.  “What are you talking about?” Susan asked, clearly confused.
“What would Jasmine rather do, go hunting or have breasts?” Brian reiterated.  “Would she be willing to swear off hunting, to have breasts like any other girl?”
“I’m sure she would,” Susan replied.  “But she’s a girl, and while her breasts are just now starting to grow, they are growing.”
“But they haven’t grown much,” Brian stated, more than asked.
“Uh…not really,” Susan agreed.  “She’s only eleven.”
“Then we keep her breasts from growing.” Brian stated.  “And this could work for Jimmy too.  What if we gave those breasts to Jimmy instead, until Jasmine swears to not hunt anymore, and maybe until Jimmy goes hunting, and actually kills something again.”
Everyone’s head was spinning, but it was Clint who uttered a simple, “Huh?”
“You can’t keep her breasts from growing,” Susan said.  “She’s a girl.  And what are you going to do to Jimmy, make him wear a bra all the time and put stuffing in it?”
“Not really,” Brian replied.  “Not that at all.  And I can keep Jasmine’s breasts from growing.  Look,” he said as he got to his feet.  “The answer to this whole thing is right in front of us.  Right there in that note that they wrote.”
“This?” Susan asked incredulously.  “This is trash!”
“Of course it is,” Brian agreed.  “But what if it wasn’t?”
“What are you talking about?” Clint asked.
“Look,” he said.  “One of the areas in medicine that’s had a lot of major changes in the last twenty years has been in the field of transgendered people.  Changing one sex to the other.”
“But Jimmy and Jasmine aren’t that way,” Susan countered.
“Of course not.  But what if we forced them to be that way?  At least to a point.  Isn’t that what Jasmine herself demanded in that note?  And isn’t that what Jimmy agreed to when he wrote it?  She was to become Jimmy when she went hunting, and he was to become Jasmine.”
It was a moment before Susan could reply.  “Maybe,” she conceded. 
“Then we use that note against her,” Brian suggested.  “What do you think would happen if Jasmine saw her brother developing breasts like she wants, and wearing all the clothes like she wants, and doing all those things she wants to do so much...while her breasts don’t develop at all and she isn’t allowed to play with the clothes or makeup or anything else she likes so much.  And while her brother is doing all the things she really wants to do, she’ll start looking less and less feminine?  Don’t you think she’d reverse her course about the hunting then?”
“Of course,” Susan replied.  “But…”
“Then that’s what we do,” Brian suggested.  “We go along with every one of Jasmine’s demands.  When Jasmine goes hunting, then she goes hunting as Jimmy, and Jimmy stays home and becomes the pretty little daughter instead.”
“But what about the breast thing?” Susan asked.
Brian smiled.  “I’m not an expert in this, but I do know something about it.  I’d have to check with some of my contacts as to the best way to go about it, but I do know that I can put them both on a low dose of hormones that will take care of everything for us.  They’ll stop Jasmine’s breasts from growing any further…and eventually give her a few more masculine features as well.”
“Like what?” Susan demanded.
“Like eventually, a more masculine musculature and body.  If this goes on too long, she could also develop a bit of a beard she might have to shave as well.  Other boys her age would be starting to have some facial hair.  So she could very well have to deal with that too.”
“And Jimmy?” Clint asked.
“The hormone changes would probably show up faster in him,” Brian told them.  “His skin would soften, he’d lose muscle mass.  And with enough time, his breasts would grow like any other girl.”
“And what happens when Jasmine swears off hunting?  Are they going to be stuck that way?” Susan asked.
Brian shook his head.  “We just stop the hormones, or reverse them for a short time.  Jasmine would have no problems at all.  Her body would revert to a more feminine form, probably rather quickly, and her breasts of course would grow as well, possibly faster than they are now.  Jimmy though, depending on how long it went on and how much breast growth there is, he might have to deal with a bit of surgery to get them back to normal.  But in all other ways, he would revert quickly too.  I would think at least.”
“This is nuts!” Clint exclaimed.
“Thank you,” Susan added, echoing her husband’s opinion.
“Yeah, it is nuts,” Brian agreed.  “But it could work.  And right now, I really don’t see any other way.”
“I think this would be punishing Jimmy more than Jasmine,” Jed noted.
“Maybe,” Brian conceded.  “But if Jasmine really does want to be all grown up, with breasts like any other woman…and maybe even look further into all this fashion business that Susan says she’s so focused on lately, then it’s even more likely that in the long run it would be worse for her than it would be for Jimmy.  To deny her the body she seems to want so much…  It could be devastating for her.” 
He looked around at the others in the room as he saw a few heads nod in agreement.  “And maybe it will be punishing Jimmy more,” he continued, “but don’t forget, Jimmy agreed to everything in that note.  He’s just as much a party to this thing as well.  And maybe him seeing his sister doing everything that he’d rather be doing, while he’s stuck sewing and doing women’s work around the house will be the catalyst he needs to get his life back on track too.”
Nobody said anything for a few moments while they all considered things.
“I still think its nuts,” Clint said, although with a lot less certainty this time.
Susan heard it all.  She agreed with her husband.  She didn’t even want to contemplate the thought, but…  “But…it…could work,” she hesitantly admitted.  “Jasmine did say she wanted to be Jimmy.  And Jimmy, heaven only knows why, agreed to all her demands and agreed to be Jasmine.”  She looked up at Brian.  “But it was only for the times when she goes hunting.  Not any other time.”
“But she did say that Jimmy would have to be her for two full days now instead of one,” Brian pointed out.  “And by her own logic, that would mean that she too would be forced to be Jimmy for that extra time when she wasn’t hunting.  She wouldn’t be able to do any of the things she really loves.  She’d have to watch Jimmy doing it all instead of her.”
“I wonder if she even thought about that.” Jed threw out.
“Probably not,” Susan replied with a shake of her head.
“Two days isn’t going to matter much to that girl,” Jacob noted.
“No, of course not, Dad,” Brian replied.  “That’s where the hormones come in…and perhaps a few little tweaks of our own that we impose on this grand scheme that she cooked up.”
“Tweaks?” Clint asked suspiciously.
“Look,” Brian said, “Let’s try to take this process from the beginning.  We bring Jasmine in here tonight and tell her she’s got a choice, she either swears to us that she won’t ask to go hunting anymore, or we impose the very scheme she came up with on her and her brother.”
“But that’s what she wants,” Susan replied.
“Exactly!” Brian pointed out.  “Then we remind her that whenever Jimmy is being the girl, then she’s still going to have to be him.”
“Okay,” Susan agreed, “but that doesn’t get us anywhere.”
Brian nodded.  “Then we tell her that if that’s the way she wants it, then she’s going to have no choice at all in when or if she goes hunting…and it will be a lot more often.”
“Except that most of the time, when any of us goes off into the woods, were not out there to hunt for ourselves,” Jed noted.  “Most of the time we’re guiding groups or working the land.  But if you’re looking for suggestions, I guess we could have her do other things than just hunt.”  He noticed the looks of interest on all their faces.  “I’ve been taking Justin out with me, just like I did his brother Ethan, to learn about the land and how to do the job,” he told them.  “I could start bringing her with me once in a while too.  Its man’s work for sure out there.  And a lot of it is hard tiring work!  So since it would be man’s work she would be learning, then I would think that would probably work just as well as hunting.  Wouldn’t you think?”  He saw nods of agreement all around.
“So basically,” Brian continued, “we start sending her out more and more often as Jimmy, and in the meantime, those hormones in their systems are changing them more and more.  We could even go so far as altering things a bit.  Say for the first entire month, they’ve only got to be each other for two days, whenever she goes hunting.  Then if she still hasn’t agreed by the next month, we make it three full days.  After that, four.”
“But what about school?” Susan interjected quickly.  “Even three days would mean we’d have to send them to school that way…unless we delay everything to just weekends.”
“It’s a problem,” Brian conceded.  “Something we’d have to work out.”
“Why don’t we ask John about it?” Jed suggested.  “He’s the school principal.  Let’s get him over here and get his take on all this.”
“Hold on a moment,” Jacob said, stopping everything.  “I’m starting to think this here is too big a deal to just decide between the few of us.  This could have some major consequences throughout the entire family.  I think we should bring all the parents in.  Not the kids of course.  I’d rather none of them get even a whisper of this outrageous idea.  But I think something like this should get the approval of all the family.”
“I think it’s a good idea, Dad,” Brian conceded.  He looked over at Clint.
Clint looked at his wife.  “Do we really want to look further into this?”
It was a moment before she could reply.  “Not really,” she replied, “But we’ve got to do something, and right now I don’t see where we have much choice.  Especially in light of that note they left us.”
Clint nodded.  “I guess,” he said to his father, “call them in.  And while we’re waiting, can you pass around something strong to drink?  I think I’m going to need it.”

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Friday, August 28, 2015

The McComber Switch - Chapter 8 – The Note



The McComber Switch
By Karen Singer

Chapter 8 – The Note
November 30th


Susan got out of bed half an hour later than usual.  There was still no sound from either of her kids who were still home so she saw no need to get up any earlier.  Heading for the kitchen, she noted that both Jimmy and Jasmine’s doors were still closed. Let them sleep. They didn’t have to worry about school until tomorrow.  There was no reason for either of them to be up yet.
Going into the kitchen, she made herself a pot of coffee.  She leaned against the island and paged through a magazine while the coffee brewed.  When it was ready, she grabbed a mug and filled it.  She pulled the sugar bowl over toward her cup, but there was no spoon set out it to use.  She opened the silverware drawer to grab one, and stared.  There was piece of paper covering all the silverware again.  Her nerves immediately went on edge as she reached to pull it out. 
The paper was folded in half so she couldn’t read it without opening it first.  Not daring yet, she set the paper, just as it was, on the counter.  She grabbed a spoon and added a spoonful of sugar to her coffee.  The sugar wasn’t exactly good for her never ending diets, but she didn’t care.  Especially not then.  With her coffee ready, she grabbed the mug in one hand and the folded note in her other and carried them to the kitchen table where she sat down with them.  She took several sips of her coffee while she just sat looking at the folded piece of paper she had set on the table.  She was worried about what might be in it – especially after the last note she had found in that exact same place just a few days earlier. 
With her coffee half gone, she finally found the courage to unfold the paper and look at it.  She noticed Jimmy’s writing again and her nerves went even more on edge.  She didn’t want to read it, but her eyes were already starting at the top.


Dear Mom and Dad,

Jasmine wants to go hunting again, and again she’s convinced me that I have to agree to all her demands and to also be totally honest about myself. 

The first thing I have to do is to admit something you already know.  I missed that deer on purpose.  I’ve always missed on purpose.  It bothers me too much to even consider killing another living creature.  I constantly worry that somehow they’re going to haunt me and get back at me for it.  I know it’s silly, but Jasmine has demanded that I admit I’m simply too much of a wimp to go hunting anymore or even think about doing anything like that.  Jasmine though is much braver than I am.  She’s not afraid of anything.

Since Jasmine has decided to go hunting as me again, then she has demanded that I agree to be her again, and I’ve agreed to do that.  I’ve agreed that from now on, any time she goes hunting, I will be her for not just that day, but now for two full days. 

For those two days, I have agreed that I will try to act only like a girl and will do everything possible to not act like a boy at all.

I have agreed to help Mom as much as I possibly can for those two days. 

I have also agreed that I will continue to wear mostly skirts and dresses since I don’t want anyone to think I’m trying to be anything but a sissy girl.

I have also agreed that since I may have to be Jasmine more often now, that I will not get my hair cut so it can grow as long as her hair or longer.

I’m sorry that I have turned out to be such a disappointment.  But Jasmine and I agree that this will be for the best – for everyone.  This way, none of the family rules are being broken.  Jasmine gets to go hunting, but she goes hunting as me.  So anything she kills, she kills as Jimmy.  And in return, I will stay home and be the girl of the family.

Your loving son – and sometimes daughter,
Jimmy / Jasmine


Susan finished the note, and folded it in half again.  With two fingers she tossed it, not even caring where it was going.  She didn’t even bother to look and see.  She picked up her coffee cup and took another sip.  It was nonsense.  Pure nonsense.  She wondered if Jimmy was really her only child in the house.  She also wondered if Jasmine had somehow convinced Clint to take her hunting too.  That seemed very unlikely.  So based on that, she was fairly sure that both her twins were still at home. The note hadn’t actually said that Jasmine had gone hunting, only that she wanted to go.  Trying to grab a little sense of relief from that thought, she finished her coffee before she dared check on her twins. 
She finally walked down the hallway toward their rooms.  Both doors were closed as she expected them to be when they were sleeping.  Tommy’s door of course was open.  She knew he was gone.  She stood in the hallway between their rooms, trying to decide which door to open first, Jasmine’s room on her left, or Jimmy’s room on her right.  It was a moment before she found the courage to open either one.  But when she did, she turned the knob on Jimmy’s door, and pushed it in.  The room was only dimly lit from the light coming through the blinds on the window, but there was plenty of light for her to see that Jimmy’s bed was empty.  It was a mess, but it was empty.  Her stomach lurched with fear at seeing it. 
She turned around, and actually closed the door to Jimmy’s empty room before she put her hand on Jasmines door knob.  Very slowly, she turned the knob because she was afraid of what she might see.  Very slowly she pushed the door open.  There was someone sleeping in the bed – still sound asleep.  But closer inspection showed not Jasmine’s head, but Jimmy’s.  Trying to calm her nerves, she backed quietly out of the room and just as silently closed the door again. 
She went back to the kitchen where she poured herself a second mug of coffee.  What had her daughter gone and done now?  Was she indeed out hunting with her brother and father?  It still sounded all too unlikely, yet her daughter wasn’t in her room…and Jimmy was in there instead.  Was it possible that Jasmine was somewhere else, sleeping somewhere else?  She actually got up from the kitchen table and went into the family room to check the sofa.  No Jasmine.  No anybody.  She went back to her coffee in the kitchen again. 
The more she thought about the way things looked, the more it looked like her daughter had indeed convinced her husband to take her hunting – as unbelievable as it sounded.  But what else was she supposed to think?  She was betting that Clint didn’t know about the note Jasmine had left though.  She was betting that he didn’t know that Jimmy was asleep in Jasmine’s bed too. 
She remembered the last time she had found Jimmy asleep in Jasmine’s bed.  He had been wearing her nightgown – all safety pinned so he could barely move let alone get the darn thing off.  A bad thought suddenly hit her.  She quickly got up to look at their sewing supplies on the small table in the corner of the kitchen.  She searched for the box of safety pins, and couldn’t find it.  “Damn!” she muttered. 
She completely forgot about her coffee and purposely strode toward Jasmine’s room…and Jimmy sleeping in Jasmine’s bed.  She made no pretense of being quiet this time as she opened the door.  “Jimmy!  Wake up!” she called loudly as she headed into the room, and directly for her son. 
“Huh?”  Jimmy opened his eyes and blinked at the light.  His mother was heading straight for him.  Before he could say another word, she grabbed the covers over top of him and pulled them all down to the foot of the bed. 
Susan stared down at her son.  Once again he was wearing his sister’s nightgown and once again she had pinned his arms to his sides.  “Jimmy, why did you let your sister do that to you?  Why?”
“Uh…hi Mom?”
“Forget being nice,” Susan told him.  “Just tell me why you’re wearing Jasmine’s nightgown again.”
Jimmy tried to brace himself up on his elbows, but it wasn’t working too well, he let himself fall back down flat on the bed again.
“Jimmy, tell me this instant why you’re in your sister’s bed again!”
Jimmy tried to find a good way to answer.  “Um…she wanted to go hunting again.”
Susan waved her hand.  “I know that part.  I found her note already in the kitchen drawer.”
“You did?”  Jimmy figured he was totally screwed now, like it or not. 
“Yes I did!  Now why are you in her bed again?”
“Well, like I said, she wanted to go hunting, and…she woke me up in the middle of the night – just when I was sleeping good.  Anyway, she grabbed me and pulled me into her room and demanded that I put her clothes on again and write that note, or else…”  But he didn’t want to continue with the or else part.
“Or else what?” Susan demanded.
“Um…or else she was going to make up a bunch of lies about me and tell all the kids at school that I really wanted to wear her dress the other day and…”  He tried to stop there, but he had said one word too much.  And now his mother was waiting for the rest of it.  “And…and she said she would tell them all that I wanted to wear her dress because I really wanted to be a girl and not a boy.”
Susan shook her head.  It was nonsense.  Pure nonsense.  “And you went along with all this?”
“She threatened to make my life as miserable as possible until I started doing what she wanted.  She wanted to go hunting real bad and she told me that she wouldn’t stop making me miserable until I did whatever she said.  And you know how she can be about some things.”
Susan did know.  She knew all too well.  Once started, her daughter could be all too obsessive about some things.  Case in point was right in front of her.  Once again, her daughter had gone overboard.  Way overboard.  “Get up from there,” she said.  “Let me get those pins off you.”
Jimmy awkwardly got off the bed and gratefully let his mother start removing the pins.  She found the note pinned to his back again, telling her that there was another note in the silverware drawer.  She removed the note with the pins and threw it aside.  One by one, she returned all the pins to the box, including the pins that held Jasmine’s bra locked onto her brother.  “Go get a shower and get cleaned up.  Then get dressed – in your own clothes!  I’ll go make us some breakfast.”
She left him to do as she said.  What had Jasmine been thinking?  She turned around before she got fully out of the room.  “How did your sister convince your father to take her hunting?”
Jimmy shrugged.  “I don’t know.  She told me before she left that Dad didn’t know she wanted to go yet.”
Susan nodded and left him, wondering how Jasmine had managed it.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

All morning, Jimmy worried about what his mother might make him do, or what she might do to him.  But she never brought the subject up again.  After breakfast though, she sent him back to his room to stay…just as his Dad had told him to do the day before when they got back from hunting.  So basically, he was still grounded.  He was just glad that his mother wasn’t really going along with that note that he wrote! 

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Susan was in the kitchen getting ready to make some lunch for Jimmy and herself when the hunting dogs in the pen behind Pete and Marcy’s house next door started barking, signaling someone was driving up.  She looked through the window and saw her husband’s truck pull into the driveway.  Her husband was back earlier than she expected. Obviously, Jasmine’s presence had caused them to come back sooner rather than later.  She was surprised then to see Clint’s truck continue on from the driveway toward the very back of the yard where he had a hanging rack for his kills set up next to the big metal garage-workshop where they kept all their four-wheeler ATVs. Clint used the rack whenever he had animals that needed to be hung and bled to prepare them for processing.  Able to see the back of the truck now, she was surprised to see it filled with dead deer.
From the kitchen window, she watched as Tommy, her husband, and finally Jasmine got out of the truck.  Jasmine looked just fine as far as she could see, and like the last time she had gone hunting, her daughter looked all too excited.  Susan could tell that much, even from as far away as she was.  From the distance though, it looked like the entire front of Jasmine’s clothes were dark with dirt…or something. 
Susan watched as Tommy and his father hung the first deer to the pole by its back legs, then they heaved the rest of the body off so that the deer was hanging upside-down.  She watched as Clint attached the second deer to the pole, very close to the first one.  He had to pull the truck away to get the deer off the back of it before it too was hanging like the first.  She was surprised to see there was yet a third deer in the truck.  Once again, Clint pulled the back end of the truck under the pole and the hind legs of that deer were attached, and once again, the truck was pulled away, leaving the deer hanging.  She looked at all three deer hanging there, especially the last one.  She grabbed her coat and headed outside to see them.
“Mom!” Jasmine called excitedly.  “Look what we got!”
“Yeah, I see,” Susan called back as she walked across the cold backyard.  Her eyes were glued to her daughter’s clothes.  She could now see that what she had hoped was just dirt, was blood instead.  But fortunately, her daughter appeared to be just fine.  She walked up to her husband and accepted a small hug and kiss.  “Three of them,” she noted, looking at the now hanging deer.  “That should get us through till next year.”  Her eyes went to the big one.  The one with the huge set of antlers.  “Who shot that one?”
Clint looked over at Jasmine.  He wasn’t sure if he was disappointed, or disgusted, or what.  He only knew he wasn’t happy about the fact that Jasmine had wormed her way into the hunt when she shouldn’t have.  But his daughter had shot the deer.  “Three guesses,” he told his wife.

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Jacob McComber poured three fingers of very expensive whisky into a glass and carried it back to one of the soft cushioned seats in his office.  That damn girl!  Clint’s daughter.  First he had allowed her to go duck hunting, and now she had managed to manipulate herself into an all too successful deer hunt.  And then she had walked off with the trophy of the year to boot!  It was bad business.  Bad! 
What if all the other females got it into their heads that they had to be permitted to hunt too?  So many generations of family tradition would be tossed out the window.  It was all Jed could do to manage the size of the herds now to make sure the hunting business stayed the best in the state.  The best in probably five states!  But if the women all wanted to go out and shoot their animals too, then too many would be killed.  Too much of the kills would be for nothing more than sport.  Too much of the meat would simply be wasted.  Jacob didn’t like that thought.  It was bad business.  Bad, bad business.
All because of that one overly bold and manipulative girl!  “Moxy!” his father had termed it for women like that.  Women with guts.  Well, Jasmine had guts alright.  Too much for a girl.  And her twin brother didn’t have any it seemed.  He didn’t blame his son Clint for that, he had a different theory as to what had happened there. 
“Jacob?” his wife Rose asked from the open doorway.  “Are you alright?  You seem awfully moody.”
He nodded.  “Yeah.  It’s just Clint’s kid Jasmine.  She somehow managed to manipulate things again and took advantage of the situation to worm her way into the hunt.  And then she walks off with the best deer that’s been shot this year.  This year, and probably last year too!  My father used to say women like that had ‘moxy.’  I think she’s just plain insolent and overly manipulative!  She’s bad business Rose. Bad business.”
Rose listened to it all.  She knew Jasmine well.  Yeah, there was no doubt Jasmine could be manipulative.  No doubt at all.  But then all her grandkids were to some degree or another.  Especially the girls.  Jasmine just happened to be…a little worse than any of the others.  Maybe, a lot worse.  But other than that, Jasmine was a total delight.  Actually, Jasmine was one of her favorite granddaughters.  “So what are you going to do?” she asked.
Jacob shook his head.  “I don’t know, but something has to be done.”
“She’s Clint’s daughter, Jacob, not yours.”
He nodded and sighed.  “Yeah, I know.”
“And Jacob, you may be the head of the family, but whatever gets done has to come from her parents and not you.”
“Yeah,” he replied.  “I know that too.”  He took a small sip of his drink.  “I guess I better get them all up here and have a little talk.”
Rose nodded.  “You be fair when you talk.  Jasmine is just a girl…a small girl at that.”
“Huh!” Jacob grunted.  “She may be a small girl, but she’s got balls as big as a bull!”
Rose rolled her eyes.  “You know what I mean, Jacob!”
He nodded.  “Yeah, I know.”  He thought for a moment.  “Maybe I’ll ask Jed in as well.  He has a lot of insight sometimes.  His kids are more grown than Clint’s.  And besides, he knows the land and the animals here better than anyone.”
Rose wasn’t sure what Jed’s knowledge of the land had to do with anything.  But a cool, less biased opinion wouldn’t hurt the situation.  “It probably couldn’t hurt,” she replied.  She had another thought too.  “Why don’t you invite Brian when you talk too?”
“Brian?  Why him?”
“He’s a doctor, Jacob.  And he’s had a lot of psychological training.  He may have some ideas as to why the kids act that way.  He may have some suggestions that may help too.”
Jacob thought about that for a moment, then nodded.  “I’ll give him a call.”

--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---

Clint hung up the phone and set it carefully on the table.  He and his wife had eaten lunch after the kids because he had started the bleeding process on the deer hung out back.  Tommy was now taking a shower, Jimmy was back in his room, and Jasmine had been banished to the laundry room to get every bit of the blood stains out of Jimmy’s hunting clothes, or else!  His wife had been furious when she had seen all that blood.  “We’ve been summoned,” he said to his wife.  “All of us.  Dad wants us up there to talk.”
“About what?”
“What do you think?”
Susan nodded.  She really had no doubt.  “How soon?”
“About an hour,” Clint told her. 
Susan nodded again.  She hadn’t told Clint about the note that Jasmine and Jimmy had written.  She had picked it up from the floor and hidden it away.  She toyed with the idea of telling him now, but the note would only make matters worse.  And besides, the note was pure nonsense anyway.  “I’ll tell the kids to change their clothes.” 
“What for?”
“The least they can do is to look decent when we go up there.  Maybe it will take some of the edge off of everyone.”