Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bet - Chapter 34 (Thursday – week 5 Part 4 of 6)

The Bet
by Karen Singer

Chapter 34 (Thursday – week 5 Part 4 of 6)

For Chad, the afternoon seemed to wear on interminably. He couldn’t quite get Cassie’s question out of his mind, and it bothered him. Was sex – if he could call it that – better the way that he got it now as opposed to the normal way? The way he was used to? It was a troubling question. One he would rather put out of his mind completely, but as usual, that kind of question always seems to linger and haunt you when you don’t want it to. Curiously, the only relief he got from thinking about it was the few phone calls he got from the women around the company, still trying to guess the slogan on his nonexistent t-shirt. And each guess proved to be a rather interesting relief.
“Break time, Sissy,” Robin’s voice called cheerfully from his cubicle entrance.
Chad turned around and leaned back in his chair. He had been checking his work on the project carefully all afternoon, searching for any problems. It was grueling work. That coupled with Cassie’s question weighing on his mind was starting to get to him. He took a deep breath for relief. “I think I need a break,” he declared as he turned back around and closed the programs he had been working with.
“I know what you mean,” Robin replied. “This part of the job is not much fun.”
“You can say that again!” Chad agreed as he followed her out of his cubicle.
“So has anybody come close yet?” Robin asked as they walked up the hallway.
Chad considered the question carefully. How could anybody come close if there wasn’t any slogan? “Not really,” he replied.
But Robin noticed how long he had taken to answer. “I’m betting that somebody got close! You just don’t want me to know it!”
Chad only grunted. “I’m not telling,” he replied teasingly.
But Robin seemed more excited than ever. “Oh come on! You’ve got to! It’s only fair.”
“No I don’t have to,” he teased back. “And it’s perfectly fair!”
The two of them had to stand in a short line to get coffee again. As they stood there, Chad wondered why he was even getting the coffee. He certainly didn’t want any more liquids in his system. He was still having more trouble holding back than ever. But not getting the coffee might look suspicious, so he followed right behind Robin and got himself a cup.
As he turned back around to follow her toward the women’s table again, he locked eyes with Derek who had been standing only two people behind him. He stopped at the unexpected meeting. “Sissy,” Derek greeted him in the way that guys usually do.
“Hey Derek,” he replied. “How are you?”
Derek nodded, “Doing fine.”
Chad felt awkward talking to him. He looked down at his coffee and then at the table of women. He was about to say that he had to go, but Derek spoke first.
“Do you want to join me for a change?”
Chad was somewhat flabbergasted at his offer. Join him? Was he serious? He looked quickly back at the table full of women again. Many of them now were watching him intently. He had no doubt that they were all waiting with more ridiculous guesses as to what was on his nonexistent t-shirt. Would Derek be a better alternative? Against his better judgment, he said, “Okay.”
He turned his back on the women and waited till Derek got his coffee. Then he followed his former friend to a table where the two of them sat by themselves. Derek lounged back into one of the chairs with his arm resting on another chair. Chad sat somewhat more demurely across from him. The two of them sat for a moment and sipped their coffee without saying anything. They both felt the awkwardness of the situation.
“So you’re in the office today?” Chad asked. He knew it was a lame question. Derek worked on network systems. If he wasn’t out somewhere working, then he was here.
“For now,” Derek replied. “You know how that goes.”
“Yeah, I do.”
Derek looked like he was about to say something else when Chad noticed his head turning to look at something. Chad turned to see what he was looking at. George, another old friend from the company was heading straight for their table.
“Derek!” George greeted him before he had even gotten to the table. Derek motioned for George to take a chair, but George declined. “Sorry, I can’t stay.” He looked over at Chad and nodded. “I’d ask how you’ve been, but I’m not sure what to say.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Chad assured him.
George just nodded and turned back to Derek. “Hey, the wife’s going to be away again next week and I’m trying to set up another poker game. You in?”
“When is it?” Derek asked.
“Tuesday night.”
Derek seemed to consider it for a moment. “Yeah, I’ll be there. Who else did you get?”
“Just you so far.” He turned toward Chad, looking a bit uncomfortable. “I’d ask you again, but…”
Chad waved his hand. “It’s okay. I’m busy anyway.”
George looked relieved. “Yeah, good.” He turned back to Derek. “So Tuesday then?”
“Yeah,” Derek replied. “Tuesday.”
Chad and Derek watched as George walked away. Chad breathed a small sigh of relief. He would have enjoyed the poker game – under different circumstances. But not now… not the way he was currently living. But when he won this bet… when he won he would have a place that would be perfect for the guys to hang out. He would hold his own poker games. And he was looking forward to it. All he had to do was make it through one more month!
“It’s a shame that you can’t play anymore,” Derek said, “I like having someone there that I can always beat.”
Chad knew that he was mostly joking. “What do you mean, always?” Then he stopped to think for a moment. “Well, okay, you win more often than I do.”
Derek laughed a bit. “Okay, so let’s say I ‘usually’ win! Do you miss doing things with the guys anymore?”
For Chad, this was turning into a day full of tough, and disturbing, questions. “Sometimes,” he admitted quietly. “Of course I didn’t get to do too much before since I was married.”
“But you’re still gung-ho over all this sex-change stuff?”
“I’m not getting a sex change!”
“No. It just looks like it!”
Chad was fairly exasperated, but what could he say? To all appearances it probably did look exactly like that. “I’m not getting a sex change,” he repeated, more softly this time.
“At least not yet.”
Chad only looked at him. His friend didn’t understand. How could he? Chad barely understood it all himself. They each sipped their coffee for a few minutes while Derek studied Chad. Chad only stared at the coffee cup in front of him, unable to meet Derek’s eyes.
“So are you planning on dating guys now?” he asked.
Chad was aghast. “No! Not at all.”
“But you’re still dressing and acting like a woman? What the heck for?”
Chad stared into his coffee again. “It’s complicated!” It was the only answer he could truthfully give. He suddenly swigged the rest of his coffee to finish it and stood up. “I’ve got to go,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
He didn’t stop at the table full of women on his way out. He barely looked over at them. They were all watching him. He strode purposely out of the room, trying not to look like he was hurrying at all, but his mood made him more aware than usual of the heals on his feet.
“Sissy! Wait up?” Robin’s voice called behind him.
He stopped, although he wasn’t really sure why, and turned back towards her. She was running to catch up.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing,” Chad replied as he continued walking again.
“Well, something must be wrong for you to leave like that!”
Chad just shook his head. “It really is nothing. I was just a bit… uncomfortable with him. That’s all.”
“Uncomfortable? What did he say?”
Trust a woman to want to know all the details. “Nothing much really. He still thinks I’m doing this as part of a sex change.”
“Well, you’ve got to admit, it does sort of look like it.”
“Yeah, I know. But it’s more complicated than that.”
“Stop that! It’s not that complicated!”
Chad didn’t say anything. Robin really had no idea at all.
“So what else did he say?”
“Not much. He asked if I was planning on dating men now.”
Robin was surprised. It was something she hadn’t even thought of before. “Well, are you?” she asked tentatively.
Chad looked over at her as they walked. “No! Not at all.”
They walked in silence for a few moments. “I wonder if he wants a date with you.” Robin mused.

Chad stood in front of his desk and stared at the flowers that were left from the bouquet he had gotten last week. It was looking fairly sick now, but then it only matched the way he was feeling since the suppository that Cassie had stuck up inside of him earlier was once again doing its work. Having no control of what was happening behind him at all, he forced himself to reach out and remove one of the withered stems from the bouquet. As the miserable mess filled his bottom and forced its way around his backside under the tight confines of his girdle, he removed a few more of the now dead flowers, trying to act as normal as possible under impossible circumstances.
The bouquet didn’t look so good anymore. It looked sparse and dull. Most of the bright colors were now gone. All that was left were flowers now on their last gasp of life. It somehow made him feel disappointed. He had rather enjoyed the colorful display. It added a lot of interest to his dull cubicle. He knew it was worthless to keep the bouquet much longer, but he was reluctant to part with all of it just yet.
He threw the now dead stems that he had removed into the trash. The suppositories seemed to be about done with their work now. He thought about sitting back down again, but somehow couldn’t bring himself to do it. It got that way sometimes.
He knew he really couldn’t blame Derek for asking the questions he had – and he didn’t blame him. Not at all! It was just that the questions were once again, uncomfortable – in an uncomfortable situation. He almost laughed. Just like the uncomfortable situation inhabiting his bottom just then. He knew he should call Derek and apologize for his behavior, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to do it… kind of like he couldn’t quite bring himself to sit down yet either.
He realized he was stalling. He had work to do and he had to sit down sometime. Gingerly, he forced himself back into his seat. Yuck! But he got quickly used to it. He got quickly used to it because it was something that he lived with every day now. Just another part of his new “normal” life. Realizing that he had now conquered one problem he was procrastinating over, he again thought of Derek. Derek had been trying to be his friend – still. He guessed he owed Derek something for that. He picked up the phone and tried to grab his courage. Apologies were so difficult.
“Hey Derek,” he said into the phone. “I just wanted to apologize for my behavior earlier. It was really uncalled for.”
“That’s okay, Cha… Sissy. I’m sure there are things that must be hard to handle.”
“Yeah, you really have no idea. It’s just that… well… it’s hard to explain some of these things to people who were… are my closer friends.”
“Well, if need be, I guess I can buy you a beer sometime and we can talk about it if you like.”
“No thanks. Besides, I don’t really drink beer.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right. Well, whatever you drink, if you need me, just ask.”
“Yeah. Thanks, Derek. I appreciate it. And like I said earlier, sorry about earlier.”
Chad hung up his phone and almost jumped out of his skin when Robin asked from the entrance to his cubicle, “Did I hear you say that Derek asked to buy you a beer?”
Chad hadn’t heard her there so he was still trying to recover from the shock of her question. “Uh… no. Not really… well, he did… but it was…”
“He is trying to ask you out! Wow! And I thought it was just this weird funny thought that I had.”
“No he’s not! And I wouldn’t! He’s just trying to be a friend – in case I want to talk about anything. That’s all!”
“Sounds like a date to me,” Robin replied excitedly – or teasingly. Chad really couldn’t tell which. “So, are you going to go?”
Robin had a gleam in her eye as she headed back to her cubicle. “We’ll see, Sissy. We’ll see.”
Ugh! Women!

As soon as work was over, Robin happily grabbed her things, along with her new gym bag, and headed for the gym. She proudly walked in with her colorful new bag and showed her temporary membership card. She had only ten minutes to change before the aerobics class she was interested in started, but she wanted to check on something first. The receptionist behind the desk was one she didn’t recognize, but that didn’t mean anything. “Is Cassie still here?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, you just missed her,” the current receptionist replied. “She went home just a few minutes ago.”
Oh well, it didn’t really matter. It just would have been nice to see a familiar face before she got started. She thanked the receptionist and hurried to the locker room to change.
She felt good in her new exercise outfit as she walked from the locker room to the room where the class would be. Most of the other women were already there ahead of her and a few of them greeted her kindly, sounding like they were genuinely glad that she was joining their group.
It was about time to start, but she didn’t see an instructor yet. It wasn’t really her purpose in being there, but… well… she figured she might as well ask. What could it hurt? “Hey,” she said to a few of the women near her. “Have you heard about the guy who comes here at lunch time?”
“I think I heard something about that,” one of the women confirmed.
“Me too,” another one added. “And I think someone mentioned that something funny happened with him… or to him. I’m not sure which. But I don’t really know anything.”
Robin was immediately interested and wanted to press the woman harder for details, but just then the instructor came in and called the class to order. By the time class was over, Robin was in no condition to think about anything other than getting home and soaking in a nice warm relaxing tub!

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