Friday, January 28, 2011

The Bet - Chapter 33 (Wednesday – week 5 Part 5 of 8)

The Bet
by Karen Singer

Chapter 33 (Wednesday – week 5 Part 5 of 8)

Tom Robinson walked slowly down the hallway. Since the last time he had seen Chad, he had purposely gone out of his way to avoid seeing him again. However, the rumors flying around the company about him were many and wild! Everyone was calling him “Sissy” now? Was he supposed to call him that too? Not unless Chad himself purposely requested him to do it!
This was the first project where he had requested that Chad and Robin work together. And the results, as far as he could see, were spectacular. But other things that needed to be done were backing up. Things that couldn’t be ignored anymore. Besides, from all indications, this project was almost finished. Hence, his reason for meeting with them… both of them!
Dreading seeing Chad again he braced himself more and more with each step he took.
Chad and Robin’s cubicles were just ahead. Chad’s first. He stopped just before the entrance for a brief moment, then collecting his courage, stepped into the entrance. Chad was working… at least he figured it was Chad. From the back, it looked like a woman. “Chad.”
Chad was startled by someone calling his name from right behind him. He turned quickly and was surprised to see his boss. He hadn’t seen him in quite a while now, a situation that surprised him. “Tom! How are you?”
Tom ignored Chad’s greeting and just stared at what he saw. And what he saw looked – mostly – like a woman. He had heard the rumors, but seeing him in the flesh, up close…
Chad was very much aware of the awkward silence between them as his boss continued to scrutinize him. But he remained silent. Tom would speak when he was ready.
“You look… surprising,” Tom finally got out.
Chad didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not. “Thanks,” he replied.
In the next cubicle over, Robin heard the voices and recognized Tom’s. She stopped working and listened intently. Tom hadn’t been down here in quite a while now. What did he want?
“I heard the rumors of course… lots of rumors… about how much more you were dressing… and acting… but, well, I haven’t been able to get down here in a while.”
Chad didn’t know how to respond. Was he about to lose his job?
“Anyway,” Tom continued, “I need to talk about a few things with you.” He looked up into the air. “Robin! I know you’re probably listening. I need to see you too.”
Robin was quick to get up and go over to see what was going on. “Hi Tom,” she said the moment she got into Chad’s cubicle.
Tom ignored her greeting too. “From everything I can tell, and from what Robin has sent me on your progress, you’re both about done with this latest thing, aren’t you?”
Chad nodded. “Yeah. Another day or two at the most.”
“That’s how I see it,” Robin agreed.
“Then as soon as you’re done, we need to get caught back up on some other things that I’ve held off on.”
“Other things?” Robin asked.
Tom turned to her. “You’ve got some updates to take care of and Chad, we need you to make some major changes to our own site. I’ll forward the specs to you later.”
Chad shrugged. “No problem. I can handle them now if you like.”
“When this thing is finished. It can wait till then.” He looked at both of them for a moment before he continued. “Since you’re about done, then I want to set up a meeting with the client and I need one of you there. I’d rather have both of you, but… well…” He turned to Chad. “No offense, but I think it would be better if you didn’t attend.”
Chad couldn’t agree more. “No offense taken. I agree completely!”
Tom was relieved that Chad felt that way. Not that it really mattered. He was the boss. His decision would stand.
“Hey,” Robin spoke up. “If Chad’s not going to be there, what if any questions come up that I can’t answer? He did a lot of work on this thing too and his areas of expertise are different than mine.”
Tom’s face creased with worry. “That’s why I’d rather have both of you there, but under the circumstances, I’d much rather have only you.”
“You could always phone me,” Chad suggested.
Robin’s face brightened a bit. “Yeah, that would work. That’s a great idea.”
Tom was relieved. “Good. I’ll try to set this meeting up for Monday then. I’ll let you know what time.” He took one more long look at Chad, studying carefully the way he looked, then nodded goodbye. “Chad… Robin…” And he walked off, relieved to have it over with.
As Tom walked back up the hallway, he mused about Chad. He definitely looked more like a woman now than ever. Obviously all the rumors he had heard were true – very true. But at least he still sounded like the old Chad. The quality of his work certainly hadn’t suffered either. Did he dare check on him and Robin more often now? Something inside of him hesitated at that. It was rather unnerving seeing Chad this way now. But he decided that he had better force himself to at least make his presence a little more known once in a while. Once in a while anyway… no need to push it too much!
Robin stared at Chad for a moment. “I hope you don’t mind not being there.”
“Are you kidding? I’m much happier staying out of sight!”
“Why? I’m sure you wouldn’t be dressing the way you are, everywhere – all the time – unless you had a bit of exhibitionist in you.”
“Let’s just say that I’m not that comfortable, or proud, of the way I look.”
Robin smiled, “Not yet, but you’re certainly getting there! Enough that you’re making me go to the gym now!”
“I’m not making you go. That’s your idea. Besides, I don’t think you need it at all.” He knew it was a vain attempt to make her give up the idea, but he tried anyway.
Robin smiled. “You’re sweet. But I do need it. I have for a long time.” She turned to walk out, then stopped. “Hey, if I’m going to phone you, then I need your number. Let me get my phone so I can program it in.”
Chad watched her run out. He was a bit jealous that she was going to get to meet with the clients and he wasn’t, but not that jealous. He would feel much better being left out – and out of sight!
Robin hurried back in with her phone in her hand. “Okay, give it to me.” Chad gave her his number. “Great,” she said as soon as she finished punching it in. “Hey, do you want mine too?”
“Sure,” he replied. “Why not.” Robin gave him her number as well and waited till he had programmed it into his phone. “Good. Back to work then. We’ve got a deadline on this thing now.”
“Back to work!” Chad agreed as she left. He stuffed his phone back into his purse, closed the drawer again, and turned back to what he had been working on. Two minutes later, he heard his phone ringing. As quickly as he could, he dug it out of his purse again. He was careful to check to see who was calling this time – Robin! “What do you want?” he asked into the phone.
He heard her giggle. “I wear girl’s panties!” she said.
“Huh? Um… Of course you do… I guess.”
“No! Is that what it says on your T-shirt?”
Chad rolled his eyes. She was still trying to guess the nonexistent slogan on his nonexistent t-shirt! “Nope,” he replied. “That’s not it.”
“Am I getting close?”
“I’m not telling!”
“Oh pooh!”
Chad was suddenly holding a disconnected phone. He put it back into his purse and closed the drawer again. Robin! Women in general for that matter!
Robin set her phone down and went back to work, but only briefly. A minute later, she reopened an internet site she had visited earlier. She had done a web search on sissy t-shirts and was amazed at how many she had found. The only thing she really knew for sure about Sissy’s t-shirt was that he considered the slogan to be embarrassing. So she had gone with the first embarrassing one she found. And some of the slogans on the shirts were truly embarrassing – for anyone, let alone a guy – or a sissy, as in Chad’s case.
Okay, her first choice hadn’t been correct, but there were still a lot of possibilities. She opened up a new spreadsheet and began copying the slogans from the website into it. She was going to get it if it was the last thing she did. And if the slogan wasn’t on this list, well, there were a lot of other sites with a lot of sissy t-shirts too.
She thought about possibly getting into his car and opening his gym bag to find out. Could she? Without a doubt, if she got the chance she would definitely try it! That way, she would know for sure. She wondered if he usually locked his car.

Chad stared at the colorful bouquet of flowers on his desk. It wasn’t looking so good anymore. The flowers were definitely dying. He pulled a few of the worst ones out and threw them away. The bouquet looked smaller, thinner. It made him feel sad in a way.
He sat back and stared at what was left of it. The flowers made his cubicle more colorful, more interesting. He thought again of the blank walls in his apartment, not colorful, not interesting. But his apartment could look great… would look great, as soon as this bet was over with – and he won of course.
He spent a few moments again thinking about the things he wanted and the way he thought it all should look. And again he realized that to make it really look good he needed some outside help. But who? And again, only Sandy’s name came to mind. But did he dare call her? She would undoubtedly tell Mel. Did it matter? And would she be willing to help in the first place? One thing was for sure, if he didn’t ask, then he’d never know.
He didn’t have Sandy’s phone number, he didn’t have Cassie’s either. But he could look up the number for the gym where Cassie worked. He was sure he could get Sandy’s number that way. He found the phone book that he rarely ever used in the bottom of one of his desk drawers and found the number for the gym. A moment later, he recognized the receptionist’s voice on the other end. “Hi,” he replied. “This is… uh… Sissy.”
“Sissy!” the receptionist’s voice squealed excitedly. “I really missed talking to you earlier today.”
“Yeah. I’m sure,” he replied sarcastically.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to have fun again tomorrow.”
Fun? Not what he really wanted. At least not the kind of fun she had in mind. “Uh… listen, will you please leave a message for Cassie to call me back. Tell her I’m looking for Sandy’s phone number. Got that?”
There was a slight pause. “Okay, I got it. You want Sandy’s number. I’ll tell her.”
“Great! Thanks.”
The minute he set his phone down, he noticed an email notification pop up on his screen. He opened it and was very surprised to see it was from Robin. The email was short. “I am a sissy gurl!” He couldn’t believe it! Now she was trying to guess the t-shirt by email! He quickly typed back, “Nope!”
His phone rang again a few minutes later. He carefully checked who was calling and saw that there was no name and the number wasn’t one he was familiar with. Hopefully, it would be Cassie. “Hello?” he answered.
“Sissy? You want Sandy’s number?”
Chad breathed a sigh of relief. It was Cassie. “Yes, please,” he replied.
“No problem. Ready?”
“Yeah.” He took down her number and thanked her. Did he dare call Sandy now? Throwing caution to the wind, he punched her number into the phone. She answered it quickly. “Hi Sandy. It’s Sissy.”
“Sissy? What do you want? I’m working right now.”
“Uh… Sorry to bother you, but I’m looking for a favor. A professional favor… and I’m willing to pay you for it.”
“You want my professional services? For what?”
“To design my apartment.”
“You mean for if you win?”
“Yeah. Exactly.”
“And you really think you’re going to win this thing?”
“I’m sure of it.”
“What does Mel say about this?”
“I haven’t mentioned it to her yet.”
There was a slight pause. “Tell you what. Before I say yes or no, I’ll talk to her and see what she says. Then if it’s alright with her, we’ll get together and discuss it. How’s that?”
“Perfect,” Chad replied.
“Okay. I got to go. We’ll talk later.”
Chad set his phone down again. Sandy would talk to Mel. He had no doubt he would hear about it from Mel later. But hopefully everything would work out just fine.

Mel ended a meeting with one of her clients and found a message asking her to call Sandy. That surprised her. What did Sandy want now? Probably another chance to babysit with Sissy. She picked up her phone and called.
“Hi Mel,” Sandy’s voice returned a moment later. “Hey, I wanted to check with you on something. Sissy called me a little while ago. He wants me to design his apartment for him for after he wins your bet!”
Mel was shocked. “You’re kidding?”
“No! He really called. He offered to pay me and everything. I just wanted to check with you first before I told him yes or no.”
Mel considered it for a moment. Was he really that sure that he could win? Or was he looking for inspiration to help him win? Either way, two could play at that game. “Okay, Sandy. Here’s what I want you to do. Go ahead and do it for him. Whatever he wants – and the sky’s the limit! But before you show him anything, I want you to do something else. Here’s what I need…”

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