Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bet - Chapter 43 (Saturday – week 6 Part 6 of 8)

The Bet
by Karen Singer

Chapter 43 (Saturday – week 6 Part 6 of 8)

Robin turned into the apartment project where she knew Sissy lived. It was really out of the way from the grocery store but there was no way she was going to turn down a chance to find out a bit more about what was really going on with Sissy. She easily found the apartment Mel had told her – which turned out to be the exact apartment she had seen Sissy entering when she had followed him home a few weeks ago. That figured. She parked in a visitor’s parking space, but as soon as she turned her engine off, the baby woke up and started crying. Oh great! He had fallen asleep the minute she started driving – which he often did. The only problem was, he usually woke up like this the moment she stopped.
She got out of the car and opened the back door. His pacifier was on the floor. She picked it up, wiped it off and stuck it in his mouth. Fortunately, that was all he needed and he stopped crying. She unbuckled him from his baby seat and grabbing him and her purse, closed the car and headed up the stairs. Why did everyone who lived in an apartment have to live upstairs? She went directly to Mel’s apartment and rang her bell.
Mel was stirring yet another batch of tea when her doorbell chimed. This time she turned the heat off of the stove before it was finished. She approached her door and took a big breath. Her goal now was to stay calm and relaxed. Professional. That was it. She could handle the stupid tart if she just stayed… professional. She opened the door and got a big shock. There was a woman out there with a baby on her hip. “Yes?” she asked, because clearly it wasn’t the Robin woman she was expecting.
“Mel?” Robin asked.
“Yes, that’s me. What can I do for you?”
Robin was confused. “You called me. I’m Robin. We’re supposed to talk about Sissy…”
Mel’s jaw dropped wide open. She stared at Robin with disbelief. “You’re Robin?”
Mel just shook her head. Robin wasn’t the least bit what she expected. She wasn’t blonde. Instead, her hair was kind of a mousy brown. She wasn’t well built – in fact, she was kind of… dumpy. And she had a baby! “Is that… your baby?” she asked.
Robin was so confused. What was going on? “Uh… yeah,” she replied.
“So… you’re married?”
“Married? Of course! What the heck is going on? You called me!”
Mel forced herself to gather her wits quickly. “Oh! I’m so sorry. I just thought you were… someone else.” She stood back from the doorway. “Won’t you please come in?” This was Robin? As soon as Robin got inside, Mel stepped out onto the balcony and looked back and forth. Nobody else was out there. It must be Robin! She closed the door and led her into the living room.
“How old is your baby?” Mel asked, trying to keep the conversation light.
“Just a year,” Robin replied as she pulled him down from her hip to her lap as she sat on the couch.
“He’s beautiful,” Mel complimented.
“Thanks,” Robin replied, clearly pleased. “He is, isn’t he.” But she was ready to get down to business. “So what can you tell me about Sissy? Where is he… I mean… she?”
Mel didn’t know what to do. This was clearly not the woman she had imagined her to be. And she was married! And she had a baby! “Um… She’s over at a friend’s apartment right now.”
“So I guess you’re free to answer a few questions about… her… then?”
Mel shook her head. That was the problem. Was she free? Not really. But she had called the woman and asked her to come over for that very reason. “A few things… maybe.”
“Great! Anything!” Robin replied. “Like… Can you tell my why he’s doing this in the first place? I mean, that’s the one big thing. Nobody really knows. I get that he likes dressing that way but… well… He keeps saying that’s not the real reason. And every time I try to get him to explain anything, all he ever says is – it’s complicated! He’s driving me nuts!”
Mel actually smiled. “I have no doubt that he is.”
“So what’s really going on?”
Mel got up from her seat. Yeah. What’s really going on? The ten-thousand dollar question. And Chad’s biggest secret. Could she really tell this woman? She absolutely shouldn’t. Not at all! Still, she had made the mistake of inviting Robin here – to tell her just that! Like it or not, Operation Robin was about to start – well, maybe a toned down version of it anyway. Instead of replying, she went to her desk and retrieved her framed copy of the bet. She held it against her chest as she sat back down again. “I want you to know that I’m betraying a trust sharing this with you. I only say that because this is his one big secret. Because of that, I’m hesitant to really show it to you.”
“That? What is it?”
“You know how he said it’s complicated? Well, he wasn’t kidding. It really is complicated. More so than you can possibly imagine.”
Robin was taken aback a bit. Clearly this had to be something serious. “Okay. But I can’t help him if I don’t know what’s going on.”
Mel sighed. She really hated doing this. “You’re sure you want to know?”
Robin was getting frustrated. “That’s why I’m here!”
Mel nodded. She pulled the frame away from her chest and looked at it for a moment. “Please try to keep an open mind about this. Please!” she pleaded.
Robin just nodded. “Of course I will.” What was going on here?
Mel held out the framed contract toward Robin – the front side down where she couldn’t see it. “Can I hold your baby?” she asked as Robin took the picture.
Robin handed over her son and Mel held him in front of her, looking straight into his pretty little face. So cute. This was a real baby. She hugged him. He felt so soft, so tender. Not like Sissy. Not at all. This baby was totally helpless. Not like Sissy. She squeezed him again. So wonderful. Could Sissy ever feel like that? No. Never. Sissy wasn’t a real baby. This was a real baby. How could she ever think otherwise? But of course, she hadn’t ever thought that Sissy was a real baby. Sissy was her… plaything. Nothing more.
Robin slowly turned the frame over, actually afraid to look at what was on the other side. What she saw surprised her since she was expecting a picture, not a lengthy document with print so tiny she could hardly read it. She looked at the title, then up at Mel. “The Bet?”
Mel just nodded. “Read it. Because that’s what this is really all about.”
To say that Robin was surprised and shocked would be an understatement. A bet? It couldn’t be! She started to read the first few sentences and quickly got frustrated. “What’s with all these ‘where as’s’ and ‘party of the first part’ and “party of the second part’ junk? Why can’t you just put something down clearly where anyone can understand it?”
“I’m a lawyer,” Mel explained. Writing legal documents like that is what I do.
Robin looked up at her. “So this thing is legal?”
Mel shrugged. “Sort of.”

As Chad climbed up into his highchair, he was very much aware of his sore stinging bottom as he slid back into the seat. But he had sat on his stinging bottom many times before so he did his best to ignore it as Sandy buckled him in place and then put the tray on top. He hated being buckled into the chair. Mel never did it, only Sandy. If anything happened, there was no way he could possibly get out of the chair.
Eating baby food for lunch was a given. He expected nothing less. What he hadn’t expected though was for Sandy to pile more of the colorful semi-liquid mush on his plastic plate than usual. At least it would be more to eat. He waited for her to bring him one of the tiny baby spoons to eat with, but she brought him another bottle to drink instead – by his count, number eleven for the day. He still waited for her to bring him a spoon, but she didn’t. Did she forget? And being confined to using just baby sounds, he couldn’t even ask her about it!
Sandy saw him just sitting in his chair staring back and forth between her and his plate of food. She knew what he was looking for and giggled. “Babies don’t always use utensils. Most of the time they use their fingers. Try it.”
Try it? Chad was aghast. Where did she keep coming up with these things? But he knew that he wasn’t getting out of his chair till the food was gone, and she wasn’t going to give him a chance to do anything else. Cautiously, he touched the food with his middle finger of his left hand. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cool. Room temperature. He stuck his fingers further into the pile of mush and tried to pick some of it up. His fingers were coated with it, but there was no way he could actually grab a bunch of it. This wasn’t going to be easy! He stuck his fingers into his mouth to lick them off. As he did so, he could feel the colorful food rubbing off of his fingers onto the outside of his mouth. Yuck! And there was going to be no way to avoid it.
“Try it with both hands,” Sandy coaxed.
Both hands? Ugh!

The more Robin read of the document, the less she believed it. “This can’t be for real!” she exclaimed before she got very far at all.
“Trust me, it is!”
“But…” She kept reading in total disbelief, getting more and more upset as she went on. “This isn’t real!” she muttered to herself over and over again. “This isn’t real!”
“I’m afraid it is real,” Mel replied softly while Robin was still reading.
“Incontinent? That’s so… stupid! And this… this… this bet thing… it says that he gets no rights at all. Basically, he becomes like your… your… slave!
Mel nodded. “Basically… yes.”
“But that’s… sick!” She was getting angry now. This was all wrong! It couldn’t be! It couldn’t be! She finally got to the bottom of the paper and stared closely. It was hard to see inside of the frame, but… was that a raised seal over top of the signatures? “What’s this at the bottom,” she asked, “where it looks like somebody stamped something on top of them?”
“We had it notarized when we signed it to show that we were serious.”
Robin looked at her with disbelief. “I don’t believe it! I don’t believe any of this! This is all wrong! This is so wrong!”
“But that’s what we’re doing. As you can see, both of us wanted it, both of us agreed.”
“It’s still all wrong! You can’t do something like this!”
“But we are doing it. And we’re both serious about it.” She pointed at the document. Actually, that contract is what it all started out as, but somewhere along the way it became something more. Something much more. For me at least. I’m pretty sure for him too.”
Robin shook her head and threw the framed document to the far end of the couch where it would be further away from her. She got up angrily and grabbed her baby, pulling him firmly out of Mel’s hands. “This is disgusting! It’s sick! You’re sick lady!”
Mel couldn’t fault the way that Robin felt, it was only what most people would think. Robin didn’t really understand. But this wasn’t the Robin that she thought would show up. It was time to do some damage control. “I know you think that and I can’t blame you, but I hope you’ll try to be at least somewhat understanding about this. This was Chad’s one big secret that he didn’t want anybody to know.”
“I can see why,” Robin replied haughtily. “And I wish to God you had never told me!”
Mel didn’t say so, but she was thinking the same thing.
Robin turned angrily and started toward the door, muttering “Sick, sick, sick!” But she suddenly stopped and turned. “Where is he? You said he was at a friend’s apartment. Where is he? I want to see him!”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea right now,” Mel replied shaking her head.
“I don’t care what you think lady! I want to see him. I want to ask him myself if this is real or if you’re just a… just a… a sick bitch! I’m not going anywhere till I talk to him… personally! Now where is he?”
Mel was shocked that Robin would call her that. Unfortunately, she could see that Robin wasn’t going to leave till she actually got to talk to him. Shaking her head, she said, “There’s something else about him that you should know then.” She proceeded to tell an incredulous Robin all about his baby side and his relationship with Sandy – including all of the restrictions she placed on him when he was there.
“Sick! Sick! Sick!” Robin spat. “Now where the hell is he? I want to ask him about this myself!”
Mel knew that it wasn’t a good idea to take her to him. Unfortunately, there was now no way out of it. With grave misgivings, she grabbed her keys and led the way outside, past his apartment and up to Sandy and Cassie’s apartment. She paused before she knocked. But there was no backing out now.

Chad’s face was a total mess. As were his hands, his baby bottle, his bib, his highchair – everything! Once the baby food touched something, it seemed to magically transfer itself to everything else. He wasn’t getting much nourishment from what little found its way into his mouth, and he certainly wasn’t getting very full on it either. But the strange thing was that… he was kind of having fun. Playing with his food – like a baby! The thought sent chills down his spine. And so did the sound of someone at the door. Damn!
“I’ll get it,” Cassie offered as she left the kitchen. She opened the door and was shocked. “Oh!”
Robin too was shocked. She hadn’t expected Cassie to open the door. But she quickly realized that she shouldn’t have been surprised at all. “Where is he?” Robin demanded as she pushed her way past Cassie and into the apartment. She was minimally aware that it was a nicely decorated place. But her quest for Chad didn’t let her pay as much attention to that as she would have liked. She found the kitchen quickly. And she didn’t have to go any further. What she saw nearly buckled her knees. She gasped audibly. Chad! Or rather Sissy! It was hard to think of the idiot that she was looking at as the Chad she used to know.
Chad was shocked! More than shocked! The one person he never wanted to see him this way was standing right in front of him. “Robin!” he shouted. “What are you doing here?” He didn’t even think about using baby words or even sissy talk.
Robin ignored his question as she tried her best to take him in. He was covered in colorful… baby food! What a mess! There was a prominent pink bow on top of his head and it looked like he was wearing some kind of silly dress. She couldn’t see much of it though because of the messy bib tied around his neck and the highchair he was sitting in. Ankle socks with pink lace adorned his feet. And under the tray… she bent down so she could see better… under the tray... she could see that he was wearing… diapers! And obviously wet diapers at that! She had seen enough of them on her own baby to know the difference at a glance.
Chad turned to Mel horrified. “How could you?” he screamed angrily. But Mel didn’t reply. He started fighting with the highchair, trying to get himself out of it. But even with his arms free, the task was difficult. More so because he was so upset.
“Don’t bother getting up,” Robin said angrily, “I know you’re not supposed to talk or do anything a baby wouldn’t. And quite frankly, I don’t want to hear anything that would come out of your stupid mouth anyway! You disgust me! You pervert! You stupid… idiotic… pervert! Disgusting! How could you do such a stupid thing?” She turned quickly towards the door but stopped only long enough to look back at Mel. “I’m taking my baby, my ‘real’ baby, out of this place. You’re all sick, disgusting, twisted… perverts! Sick! Sick! Sick!” With that, she hurried out, not even bothering to close the door behind her.
Chad’s anguished angry scream rent the air as he fought with the tray on his highchair to get loose. “Let me out!” he shouted angrily. His chair was rocking back and forth as he fought to get loose.
“I’ll get it,” Sandy cried as she ran to him. “Calm down before you tip it over and hurt yourself!”
“I thought you weren’t going to do this?” Cassie asked Mel.
“I wasn’t,” Mel replied apologetically. “I just wanted to meet her.”
Together they watched Sandy trying to release a struggling angry Chad from his highchair. He was crying hysterically now and was clearly very agitated. He looked up at Mel as Sandy was removing his messy bib, a tiny bit of sanity seemed to return to his face. “How could you do this?” he demanded.
“I just wanted to meet her,” Mel explained again.
Chad felt Sandy loosening the belt holding him in place and he squirmed quickly out of the chair the moment he was free. He turned toward Sandy, but he didn’t know what to say. He turned towards Mel and Cassie, but he still didn’t know what to say… or do. He screamed his anguished frustrated scream again as the tears rolled down his face and his sobs filled the apartment. Mel ran to hold him, but he shrugged her off and ran for the still open door. He went straight through it to his own apartment. But he didn’t have a key. He couldn’t get in. Frustrated, he started pounding on his door with the palm of his hand as he sobbed uncontrollably.
Mel ran after him with Cassie and Sandy right on her heels. “Stop, you’ll hurt yourself!” she cried. She tried to hold him, but all he did was to stand there and sob and pound on his door, wanting to get in. Mel found the key to his apartment and pushed him aside far enough to unlock his door. She opened it and he almost stumbled as the door gave way in front of him. Still sobbing miserably, he ran straight to his blowup mattress and dropped down on top of it, burying his head in his pillow.
Mel waved Cassie and Sandy off and followed him inside. She closed the door behind her. She went into his room and sat down on the floor next to him. He was crying miserably. She felt so bad about what she had done, but there was little she could do about that now. Her main concern right then was him. She had done something she never should have done. She had hurt him badly and she had to fix it. But how? She leaned over and hugged his back, not knowing what else to do. “It will be alright,” she said soothingly. “It will be alright.”
It was a few minutes till he responded. “Why did you do it?” he asked again, his voice muffled by the pillow.
Her answer was the same, though she wished it wasn’t. “I just wanted to meet her,” she explained softly.
“And you had to bring her there?”
How could she answer? “Things went… too far. I went too far. I’m sorry.”
“She was a friend! ‘Was’ a friend!”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, sure!”
She didn’t know what to say. He was still crying with his head buried in his pillow. And the worst part was that she couldn’t blame him. She should never have done it. But what was done now couldn’t be undone. And the worst part was… that Robin had reacted like she thought she would… No! Not like she thought she would – worse! Her fault! Her fault! Her fault! She should never have done it.
She continued to hold him as he laid there, listening to him crying. Knowing that she was the cause of his anguish was killing her. He seemed to cry and ignore her for the longest time. But finally, his crying started to subside. But he didn’t roll over and he didn’t take his head out of his pillow for a very long time. And when he did move his head far enough to speak to her, it was like a momentous event. There wasn’t even a pretense of using his sissy voice when he spoke, and she wasn’t expecting him to.
“Why did you do it?” he asked yet again.
“I’m sorry,” she replied. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to meet her.”
“Because…” She was going to say that she just wanted to see what she was like. But that wasn’t the real answer. The real answer was hard to admit, let alone tell him. “Because… I was jealous.”
“Huh? Jealous? Of what?”
Of what was a good question. And the answer was just as hard to admit. “I was jealous of all the time she gets to spend with you that I can’t. I was jealous of all the things she does with you that I can’t. I was jealous… No, not ‘was’ jealous, I ‘am’ jealous of… everything! You share so much with her every day. You’re with her every day. And I can’t do that.”
“She works with me,” Chad replied a bit more firmly than he intended.
She nodded. “I know. That’s the problem. She’s there, and I’m not. It seems like every day you’re telling me that Robin did this with you and Robin did that. And… I was jealous. I began to think the worst possible things about her. Terrible things.”
“Terrible things? What do you mean – terrible things?”
Mel sat up and ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. “I don’t know! She was with you all the time and… I didn’t know what you thought about her and… I started to picture her as this… blond bimbo who was after you!” She had said it. She had actually said it. Admitted it to him!
“She just works with me!” he replied angrily. “That’s all there is to it! Besides, she’s married. She has a kid for heaven’s sake!”
“I know! But I didn’t know then! I didn’t find any of that out till today.”
“You could have asked me.”
“Asked you what? Besides, it’s just… I probably wouldn’t have believed you anyway.”
He grunted and turned his head away again.
“Women tend to do things like that sometimes.” No reaction, no movement. And she couldn’t blame him. She sat there next to him with her head in her hands, wishing over and over again that she had never done it. The seconds turned to minutes… a lot of minutes.
Chad finally turned back to her again. He was no longer crying but he felt just as miserable. “You know of course I probably won’t have a job come Monday.”
She looked up, glad to see that he was at least talking to her. “Yes you will. And if you don’t… then I’ll take care of you.” Which was exactly what she intended in her long-range plans anyway.
He grunted and turned away again for a minute, then turned back again. “A job is an important thing to a guy. Very important!”
She wanted to talk to him about what she intended for him for after she won the bet, but this clearly wasn’t the time. “I know. There are other jobs though. Other things you can do. Besides, she probably won’t tell anybody anyway.”
Chad stared at her in disbelief. “Robin? The biggest blabbermouth in the company? You’ve got to be kidding! I expect everybody will know an hour after she gets to work – if they don’t all know sooner! I’m finished there! I’m amazed that I haven’t been fired already for dressing the way I do.”
She could have told him that she had fixed things with the owner of the company, but she didn’t. “You’re still doing the work they need done, aren’t you?”
“Of course!”
“Then they have no reason to fire you.”
He shook his head. This time it would be different. This time, everybody would know all his stupid pathetic little habits. Habits that none of them would understand – let alone condone. “I’ll be fired by noon,” was all he said as he turned to burry his face in his pillow again.
“Then I’ll help you,” she told him. “I promise!”
He pulled his head back up again. “How?”
“I promise,” she repeated, though she herself wasn’t sure what she could do.
Chad felt nothing but self-pity for himself. Horrible self-pity. Why did he have to be the way he was? That was the real problem – himself, not Mel. Yes she had told his most intimate secret – to the biggest blabbermouth in the world! But if he hadn’t been the way he was in the first place, then it never would have happened. Period! His fault! All because of the way he was. Ugh!
The two of them stared at each other for a long time, neither of them knowing what to say next. But staring doesn’t last forever. It was Chad who bowed his head first. “So what do we do now?” he asked.
A good question. Mel had no other answer other than… “Just what we’ve been doing I guess. What’s the difference? We’ve still got this bet between us, and one way or another, I’m going to look after you. Job or no job, we still have to live. We still can live. And who knows, maybe it won’t be so bad after all. Maybe Robin won’t tell anybody.
Chad just rolled his eyes. “You don’t know her.”
“So what do we do?”
It was time to get him out of his present state of mind for a while. Time to get back to business. She tried her best to smile. “We get back to business!” She punched him playfully on the arm. “We have a date tomorrow night with a couple of hunks, and you need a new dress for it! Come on, that will make you feel much better. I’ll buy you a new dress for your date. In fact, I’ll buy myself one too.”
The date. Ugh! She would have to remind him about that. From one bad thing to another. And now she wanted to go… dress shopping. But something about that concept stirred something within him. Something that touched his innermost desires. It was all wrong – especially considering how depressed and angry he felt, but he actually smiled a bit despite that. It was all wrong to feel that way about going shopping for a dress, but he couldn’t help it. “You’re buying?”
The brief slight smile on his face brightened her heart. “You bet!”
He shook his head. Get back to business? Get back to doing everything they had been doing? Now? Now that she had ruined his life? No, now that his own little eccentricities had ruined his life – with her help. Could he do it? He wasn’t sure he felt like it… but what other option was there? She had said she would help him. She had said that no matter what she would take care of him – whatever that meant. Could he continue? His brain searched for alternatives. Other options. But it came up blank. There weren’t any. Business as usual? What choice did he have? Finally, he nodded his agreement. “I guess,” he replied flatly.
Mel was glad that he agreed, but she caught the tone of his voice – and she really couldn’t blame him. But if they were to get back to business as usual… and she was going to find any way to bring him out of his present mood, then she had to start moving things back in the right direction. “Good!” she replied as she started climbing to her feet. Now let’s get you another bottle to drink because you’re still not getting away from your deadline.”
Chad’s already sunken heart sunk even further. She just never gave up!
“And I’ve heard way more than enough of that horrid old male voice of yours! Sissy voice from now on. Sissy voice!”
Chad was too depressed to even smile – let alone respond in his sissy voice.

There were tears in Robin’s eyes as she pulled into her driveway, although she barely realized it. The baby had caught her mood and had cried all the way home – and she ignored him. All pretense of going grocery shopping had quickly gone out the window. She didn’t even want to contemplate trying to do anything “normal” right now. She was just too… angry! And bewildered! And… upset!
The pervert! The damn pervert! And she never knew! She never had a clue! Oh, okay, yes, she had gotten a kick out of his dressing like a woman thing – till now! She had actually enjoyed it. It was… interesting! And kind of funny. She even tried to help the stupid jerk!
Complicated? Damn right it was complicated!
All the way home, all she could see in front of her was him! Sitting in a stupid overgrown highchair! Covered in messy baby food! Dressed in silly clothes! And wet diapers! And all she could think about was that he had willingly… no not just willingly, it was more than that… he wanted things to be that way. He wanted that crazy bitch to rule his life and ruin him. How could he? Did he have any idea how wrong that was? Did he have any idea how… perverted he was?
For a bet! It was all for a stupid… idiotic… bet! How ridiculous! Totally ridiculous! And he liked doing those things? Stuff like that turned him on? Ridiculous! The damn demented pervert!
Ignoring the cries of her baby, she pulled him out of his seat and hurried into her house. The baby she simply handed over to her questioning husband without saying a word. Then she locked herself in their bedroom so she could figure things out. And the only explanation she gave to her worried husband… “Go away!”

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