The McComber Switch
By Karen Singer
Chapter 13 Part 2 of 4 - The Workshop
December 10 - 14
Clint managed to get home early from work Thursday afternoon. Since Susan was still down at the business office, he went in to check on Tommy, and didn’t find him. He didn’t find anyone in the house. Which told him that more than likely, Tommy was off with Elliot somewhere, Jasmine was off with her friends, and Jimmy was most likely out in the workshop. He had already noticed that the door to the workshop was open.
Not worrying about his other kids since it was all family around, he headed for the workshop in the backyard. Jimmy was indeed in there, his elbows deep inside the ATV engine changing the sparkplugs. “Hey Jimmy,” he called as he walked into the big garage.
“Dad!” Jimmy greeted him excitedly. “I’m almost done.”
Clint stood back and watched his eleven-year-old son working. He tried to see what he could of the carburetor he had rebuilt, but getting a close look at it while Jimmy was changing the plugs was impossible.
Jimmy stood up. His arms were more than a bit covered in grease. “That’s it,” he said as if changing plugs was something he did day in and day out.
Clint moved in for a closer look at everything Jimmy had done. As far as he could tell, the carburetor was installed and hooked up properly. He stood back. “Ready to crank it up?”
“Sure,” Jimmy replied. Then he stood back waiting.
“Well do it!” Clint said with a hint of a smile.
Jimmy hit the starter button and the engine came to life almost immediately, unlike the evening before when it had taken a few minutes. Jimmy smiled broadly at his father.
Clint wasn’t sure if he should be surprised or not that Jimmy had managed to rebuild things so well. Jimmy had told him at dinner last night that he had managed to get the thing running. He listened carefully to the engine. “It does sound a bit rough,” he told his son. “Get me a screwdriver.” It took him a few minutes, but eventually he had the small engine running like it was new. When he was satisfied, he had Jimmy turn the machine off. “That’s it,” he said to his son. “Great job, Jimmy. I’m proud of you for figuring all that out and actually managing to do it.”
Jimmy beamed at the compliment. “Thanks, Dad. But it really wasn’t that hard.”
“It was hard enough for someone who never did it before. And especially someone your age.” He lowered his voice just a bit. “But this is why when I came out here with your sister last weekend, I decided not to work on this. She didn’t have a clue, and you’re…well, let’s just say that I enjoy doing this stuff a whole lot more with you than her. Okay?”
Jimmy was in heaven. “Thanks, Dad,” he said again. But since he and his father were talking, and since his father had kind of brought the subject up. “Um…Dad,” he said.
“Do I have to be Jasmine all weekend again?”
Clint looked sadly down at his son. “I’m afraid so, Jimmy.”
“But it’s not fair that I don’t even have a say in when this all ends!”
“No it’s not,” Clint agreed. “But at the same time, you did write down that you were agreeing to every one of those demands that your sister concocted. Every last one. And the way everyone is looking at it is that it binds you to her and whatever it is that she’s doing. Because of the way you both went about it, what affects her, affects you as well. So like it or not Jimmy, I’m afraid you’re stuck – until she decides to quit hunting…or…you can find some way to make her change her mind.”
Clint nodded. “Why not? You’re mother and I are at our wits end trying to find ways to change her mind. And so far, no matter what we’ve done, she’s remained as stubborn as a mule. So if you can come up with any ideas, have at it.”
“But I don’t have any ideas.”
“Neither do we,” his father admitted sadly. “So I’m afraid we’re going to have to keep on in the direction we’re going and see what changes happen. And I have no doubt that some changes will happen.”
But Clint didn’t want to go into that with his son. They had decided to not go into the details of what the hormone shots would do to them. “We’ll just have to see,” he replied. “In the meantime, I’m afraid you’re still stuck.”
Jimmy nodded sadly.
“Did you want to go hunting?” Clint asked, hoping that maybe Jimmy had changed his thinking on that matter. “There’s still plenty of daylight, and I know the family would really like to see that you killed something. Even something really small. And we can even take this ATV that you just fixed for a spin while we go back into the woods to find something to shoot at.”
Jimmy thought about that for a few moments. “No. It wouldn’t do me any good anyway,” he said sadly. “Besides, I still don’t think I could actually kill anything.” He dropped his gaze to the ground. “Sorry, Dad.” He lifted his head again with a smile on his face. “But I would like to take this thing for a ride!”
Clint laughed. “Go for it. Make sure it runs like it’s supposed to.”
Jimmy gave a whoop of delight. It took him no time to get the covers back on over the engine and locked down. He jumped on the machine again and started the now smooth running engine.
“Hold on! Wait a minute!” Clint yelled quickly.
“Jimmy looked to him to see what he wanted.”
“Don’t forget your helmet. You know the rules!”
--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---
After school on Friday afternoon, Jimmy stopped into his sister’s room. She was at her desk, but he didn’t care what she was doing. “Hey Sis,” he said.
“Yeah,” Jasmine asked as she looked up from the fashion website she had been looking through.
“I’m guessing that they’re going to switch us around again tonight,” Jimmy said.
“Probably,” Jasmine replied as her eyes went back to her computer screen. “What of it?”
“Can you please try to get your homework done before that this time?” Jimmy asked. “It’s not right that I have to finish it for you, especially when I don’t have a clue about any of it.”
Jasmine smiled up at him mischievously. She had thought it was funny last week when he had to finish her homework for her. And he had even done a pretty decent job of it – with Mom’s help of course. “Why?” she asked. “You did a great job – for me!” She laughed. “I hope you’re having fun learning all about being a sissy girl,” she teased.
Jimmy didn’t appreciate her attitude at all. “Mom says there’s no such thing as a sissy girl. Only some girls that are girlier than others.”
“Well your wrong!” she told him. “Just look it up in the dictionary. You’ll find it easy enough because there’s a picture of you right there.” She laughed and watched as her stupid pansy brother left the room. She might not like some of this switching around business, but tormenting her wuss of a brother was definitely one of the highlights.
That night the two twins were indeed switched around again, but this time Susan did it by herself. All she did was to hand each of them identical tan robes to put on – after removing every stitch of their clothing. Then she simply sent each of them across the hall to the other bedroom. Jimmy, now becoming Jasmine, put his sister’s nightgown on, and Jasmine, now Jimmy, studied her naked reflection in the mirror, just as she did every night. And just as she did every night, she rubbed and massaged her breasts, trying to get them to grow bigger. But to her they looked just as small as ever. Not much more than a puffiness on that part of her chest. With a disappointed sigh, she put her brother’s pajamas on and became him.
--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---
“Okay, take it slow and easy this time,” Jed called up to Justin on the small backhoe.
“Jimmy” had never been so miserable in her entire life! What she was doing was bad enough, totally miserable in fact, but why, today of all days, did it have to rain? And it was a cold miserable rain that drenched everything! She was wet and cold and miserable – and covered in mud. And when she suggested to her Uncle Jed that maybe they should go home, he had just laughed and told her a little rain wasn’t going to hurt her. Besides, the rain was making the ground softer and easier for them to work. Easier? That was a laugh. All it did was to make the mud she was shoveling heavier. And as to the rain not hurting her? How about catching cold, or pneumonia, or picking up a virus, or any one of a hundred different things. But no, both her Uncle Jed and her cousin Justin acted like they barely knew it was raining.
She had been surprised when Uncle Jed picked her up that morning and he had the big backhoe, as he called it, on the trailer behind his truck. When she asked Justin what they needed such a big thing for, he had laughed and said they had brought the smallest one they had. He had actually called the thing cute! Cute didn’t look like that. Cute was a little puppy or a bunny rabbit or something. But cute wasn’t a big metal behemoth that looked like it could be the monster in some horror movie on TV.
She watched as Justin again lowered the big bucket on it to start digging a trench across the road. Evidently, this was Justin’s first time driving the thing. She had asked why she couldn’t drive it instead of having to work with a shovel. Her Uncle Jed had answered that one quick enough by tell her she wasn’t old enough. So now she was working with a big shovel in her hands, trying to dig dirt out in a big deep trench across the road so they could bury a pipe there to keep the water from washing the road away. Ugh! At least Uncle Jed had a shovel in his hands and was using it too.
She was tired. She was covered in mud from her boots to her head. The mud she tried to pick up with her shovel was so heavy she could barely lift it. And she was wet, wet, wet. Miserable! Miserable! Miserable!
--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---
“Jasmine” had watched his sister going out to Jed’s truck earlier that morning. It had been raining a bit, but his sister had been wearing his waterproof hunting parka. So basically, she would get to enjoy the rain all day without fear of getting soaked. But the one thing that had interested him the most, was the small backhoe that Uncle Jed was taking out with them. He would have loved to see that thing in operation. It would have been so cool to see how it worked!
And now, here he was again, dressed in a pair of white tights, his sister’s brown skirt, and her cream colored sweater. The exact same outfit he had picked out last week.
“You’re going to have to pin that straighter,” his mother told him, “or the waistband is going to be all crooked and lumpy.”
Ugh! He heard the phone ring as he was pulling the pins back out so he could straighten what he was doing. He let his mother answer it. The call wasn’t going to be for him anyway.
“Jasmine,” Susan said as she hung up the phone and walked back to her daughter. “Go ahead and put that away now. That was Nichole on the phone. All the girls are meeting at her house again. You might as well get out of here for a while and go enjoy yourself.”
Enjoy himself? Not likely. But the stern look on his mother’s face told him he wasn’t going to have a choice in the matter. The rainy day had let him hope that he would be able to stay home and in the house all day where no one would see him. She had just ripped that hope out from under him.
As Susan watched Jasmine putting his sewing things away, she was relieved that he was going without putting up any argument. Nichole had asked to speak to Jasmine, but she had taken the call herself, only because she figured the girls were getting together as they usually did, and she wanted Jasmine to get out of the house and have some fun…or at least some companionship with other kids his own age. As Jimmy, that was something he rarely ever got. And Nichole had flat out asked her on the phone which Jasmine was home today. “Wear your rubber boots over there,” she suggested. “It’s muddy outside and I don’t want you getting your shoes all messed up walking across the backyards.”
Like so many other things his sister owned, her rain boots were a kaleidoscope of bright colors. He had to remove the school shoes he was wearing and slip his tights covered feet into the bright rubber boots. Despite the fact that he was basically wearing her school clothes, he selected her bright purple jacket that had a hood attached instead of the warmer coat she usually wore to school. The purple jacket was waterproof and he wasn’t that worried about the cold since he was only running next door.
The ground certainly wasn’t that muddy as he crossed the wide backyards. But he was glad to note that even though it was chilly, especially on his legs, it wasn’t nearly as cold as it had been. As he walked, he clearly remembered meeting his “friends” last week. They had all been shocked to see him instead of his sister. And then they had spent most of the day trying to “help” him have fun. Now he was bracing himself for another round of useless girl stuff. The Four Musketeers. How dumb!
He knocked on Nichole’s door and Nichole answered it almost immediately. He went quickly into their kitchen – where he found Olivia and Allison as well. He felt a bit out of place as all three girls greeted him so warmly. He got the impression that they all expected that he would show up instead of his sister. He removed his wet purple jacket and Nichole told him to just hang it on one of the pegs near the door where it wouldn’t do any harm if it dripped. He slipped his rain boots off next, leaving him in just his stocking feet.
“Come on, let’s go play with the puppies,” Nichole suggested excitedly. All three of the girls ran off toward the laundry room. Jasmine followed much slower. Yeah, it was going to be a long day.
At least the week-old puppies didn’t look like rats anymore. That was at least something. And this time Nichole removed the fence they used to keep all the dogs in place. Before he knew it, Jasmine was sitting on the floor like the other girls, with a week old puppy in his lap. Nichole and Olivia each held two while Jezebel quickly sniffed each of the girls out briefly, before laying back down for a much needed rest.
“Oh…they’re so cute!” Olivia exclaimed.
Jasmine wasn’t exactly sure what cute really was, but he had to admit, now that they were a bit older, the puppies did look kind of…better, he supposed. At least he didn’t mind looking at them anymore. And actually holding one now wasn’t so bad either.
“How come you’re wearing the same thing again?” Nichole asked him.
“The same thing?”
“That’s the same outfit you wore last week,” Allison told him.
Jasmine shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just what I picked out.”
“It’s boring!” Olivia said and then laughed.
Jasmine didn’t really care. “It was the best thing I could think of to wear.”
“You really need help, girl!” Allison exclaimed.
“And…I’m guessing you’re all planning on giving me that help?” Jasmine asked, already knowing the answer and bracing himself for another round of useless girl stuff.
“You got that right!” Allison declared excitedly.
“And this time,” Olivia added, “we’ve found a way that we know you can enjoy yourself and have fun!”
Jasmine shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. I’m okay.”
“No you’re not!” Nichole exclaimed sadly.
“It’s not right that you can’t enjoy yourself,” Olivia added. “Even if…you don’t like being a girl.”
“You just don’t know how to enjoy being a girl yet,” Allison added more brightly.
Jasmine looked around dubiously at all of them, but made no reply. Yeah, he was in for another round of stupid stuff.
It was only a few more minutes until they put the puppies away and Nichole closed them all inside the fence again. Olivia literally grabbed Jasmine by the arm as all the girls ran giggling toward Nichole’s room…all the girls giggled that is, except Jasmine who was bracing himself for the worst. By the time Jasmine got into Nichole’s bedroom, Nichole was already at her desk fiddling with something. A moment later, loud country music filled the room. When Nichole turned around with a rather happy look on her face, Jasmine saw what he recognized as a Karaoke machine…and then he saw her picking up a microphone. “Oh no!” he said with a shake of his head and holding his hands up as if to ward off trouble.
“Oh yes!” Olivia exclaimed excitedly as the music background filled the room. “We know how much you like to sing. So today we’re going to sing!”
“Uh-uh,” Jasmine said with another shake of his head, but that was when Nichole herself started singing into the microphone. A moment later, Allison leaned in and joined her. And then Olivia did too. The three girls sang at Jasmine for a minute, then Allison stopped singing long enough to grab Jasmine by the arm and pull him into the group with them. Like it or not, Jasmine found himself singing country songs with the girls. He was quick to note though that it was a female country song they were singing. Naturally.
The song ended, and all the girls laughed – except Jasmine who was still too stunned by it all to know quite what to do. And then the next song started…followed by another, then another, then another. But with each song, the girls got more and more animated as they started dancing, each separately, then more and more together, as if they were all doing some pre-choreographed routines. And then Olivia and Allison both started urging Jasmine to dance the same movements they were all doing – along with them.
“You gotta thrust your hips out more,” Olivia told him.
“And harder,” Allison added from his other side as all three of the other “girls” shook their hips back and forth.
“Come on!” Olivia said as the others kept singing. “More than that…and harder,” she encouraged him. She watched him trying harder for a moment. “That’s better. Keep doing it!” she yelled before launching right back into singing along with the other girls.
Jasmine knew most of the words, but not nearly as well as the other girls. The songs they were singing weren’t exactly the ones he would normally sing since he wasn’t a girl. But he did know them well enough. And before he knew it, he was doing his best to not just sing with the other girls, but do the same dance steps they were all doing together too. With everything going on all at once, he never realized when he passed the point to where he was actually enjoying himself. He never even realized it when he started to have – fun. And when that song ended, he couldn’t help himself, he laughed right along with the other girls. But the break between songs wasn’t long, and he soon found himself singing and dancing to another song – right along with everyone else, and then laughing again with all the girls at the end.
--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---
Marcy peeked around the door frame into her daughter’s room where the girls were all having a great time – and making more noise than she’d really like. But she had no intention of stopping them or even slowing them down any. In her hand, she held her phone – held out so that it could pick up all the sound in the room. After a quick look to see what was happening, she pulled her head back again and waited until the song ended, and the laughter and excitement came from the four “girls.” When the next song started, she turned and headed back to the kitchen where she could talk and hear on the phone better.
“Did you hear that Susan?” she asked. “They’re all singing…and dancing too! All of them!”
“I don’t believe it!” Susan replied, hoping it would really be true, yet finding it hard to believe.
“Susan,” Marcy said, “Listen. He really doesn’t look exactly like a girl. He certainly doesn’t act at all like a girl. He sure doesn’t sound like a girl. And he absolutely doesn’t laugh like a girl. But…he is singing and laughing right along with them, and he’s having a great time!”
As hard as it was to believe, Susan breathed a sigh of relief. Her son didn’t have the friends like Jasmine did. He was alone way too much. Hearing him laugh was a very rare occurrence. Finding him truly happy about something amounted to an event to be remembered. So now, hearing that he was laughing and having fun, made her feel good. In the middle of all the problems and embarrassment her son now faced, this tiny bit of sunshine was the best thing that could possibly happen. She was happy for her son just then. She wanted the whole switching around thing to end – immediately! She hated that part. But to hear that he was having a good time for once, was…wonderful!
--- §§§§§§§§§§ ---