By Karen Singer
Chapter 14 (Part 2 of 2)
For Janice, the hard part was lugging the big box into the house. Not the box from the boots, the box from the darn printer. Even the box the new laptop came in wasn’t nearly as big as the printer box. And the printer itself wasn’t all that big… but the box certainly was!
Getting everything hooked up and setup wasn’t all that difficult, but the irritating part was waiting for the computer to go through all of its update processes. While it was doing that, she carried the box with his new boots and the little can of shoe polish she had bought him into the room where all his things were stacked in the middle of the floor… the room where he hadn’t been working yesterday. At least this room was somewhat clean. She opened the lid of the box to reveal the new boots and set it on the floor where he would easily see it. Then, she carefully reached down and picked up his old boots. They were surprisingly heavy. They were also horribly filthy. Not just from old paint and dirt, but they were still mostly covered in white powder from where he had been sanding on the walls last night. Holding the heavy boots as far away from her as possible, she carried them straight outside and dumped them into the trash can. Whew! Darn those things were heavy! He might not exactly like the style of the new boots she had gotten him, but she was sure he was going to appreciate how much lighter they would be.
Once the computer had finally finished all of its setup and update processes. She got down to work. She downloaded some of the pictures from her cell phone into the computer and selected several that she thought would be the most appropriate. She printed them and carried them into the room where Roger’s clothes were. By the time she left the room, all the pictures were tacked prominently up on the wall where he could see and “appreciate” them.
The only thing that bothered her now, was that she still hadn’t heard from Mr. Wu. She really wished he’d get back to her.
Roger noticed that Carol was staying awfully quiet as he drove the two of them home after school. He was glad. His mind was still preoccupied by his visit from the FBI. They were watching her! As far as he was concerned, they should have been watching her closer… her daughter too! Of course, now he had to worry about anything that they might notice affecting him too… and consequently sending him to jail… for things he didn’t do! It was maddening! But there was no way out… as far as he could see.
To get his mind off of his problems, he glanced quickly over at Carol. “You did well on that test. You should be proud of yourself.”
“I didn’t get an ‘A’” Carol replied a bit sullenly. “Momma was hoping I would do better.”
“But you almost got one,” Roger replied as he pulled into his driveway. If she had scored just one point higher, she would have gotten the grade she wanted.
“Almost isn’t good enough!” she said rather flatly. “I wanted to do better for Momma.” A moment later, she was out of the car and heading into the house. Roger let her go. There was no doubting the way Carol nearly worshiped her mother. He, on the other hand, felt nothing but revulsion… for both of them.
As he got out of the car, he thought briefly about the FBI visit again. There had been nothing in Janice’s instructions to him about notifying her if anyone asked about her. So unless she forced the issue, that little visit was going to remain his secret. He went into the house to get changed so he could work on the bedrooms again.
“I’m sorry, Momma, I tried. I really did! But I didn’t make it,” Carol apologized as she showed her mother the test grade she had gotten.
“Well, you almost made it,” Janice consoled her daughter. “And at least you tried, and you obviously tried very hard. Isn’t that the best grade you’ve gotten yet this year?”
“Yeah,” Carol replied. “But like you always say, close isn’t always good enough.”
Janice pursed her lips at that. “That’s all too true, I’m afraid. In the world we live in, there’s all too many times when nothing less than perfect will do. It’s something we have to keep striving for dear… all the time.”
“Why couldn’t he have just given me a better grade?” Carol complained.
“You didn’t earn it,” Janice replied kindly.
“But you’d think he would still have given me some extra credit or something. Something that would have been enough to just give me the ‘A’. You don’t know how frustrating it is to try so hard and then not make it. I’d like to take him and… and… I don’t know what!”
Janice smiled. “Tell you what, dear, unless I miss my guess, I think we’re going to be hearing from Mr. Brinkley any moment now.”
Roger walked into the bedroom where all his things were piled on the floor. His eyes were immediately drawn to the open box prominently displaying the pair of women’s boots. “What the heck?” He walked closer and stared directly down at them. There was a can of shoe polish on the floor next to them but no note or anything else to explain why they were there. Was she trying to tell him something?
As his eyes quickly glanced around the floor, he almost missed it… or more accurately, his eyes did miss something. They missed seeing his work boots. He looked around the room further for his boots. A little panic as well as anger filled him as he didn’t see them anywhere in the room. His eyes did notice the pictures now hung on the wall though. He walked closer to inspect them better… and wished he hadn’t. He saw several of the pictures that Carol had taken of him naked and playing with himself in his classroom. And there was one other picture as well, a picture of a small glass jar with what looked like some milky liquid in it. The outside of the jar was labeled, “Brinkley.” She did indeed have all that semen of his stored away somewhere… but where?
The message of the pictures was clear. They were nothing but a warning of what would happen to him if he didn’t do what she wanted. But that didn’t explain the women’s boots. And where were his work boots?
He picked up the box of boots and carried it out to the kitchen where Janice and Carol were. “What’s this?” he asked as soon as he got there.
Janice smiled. “New boots, Mr. Brinkley.”
Roger shook his head. “Where are my old boots?”
“Gone, Mr. Brinkley, gone. I want you to wear these new ones instead.”
Carol started giggling as Roger stared at Janice incredulously. “But these are women’s boots!” he argued. “I can’t wear them.”
“Of course you can, Mr. Brinkley. And you will!”
Roger’s voice held more than a bit of anger. “I’m not a woman!”
Janice’s voice gained a stern edge. “Much to my dismay, Mr. Brinkley.”
“Even so, I’m not a woman, so stop forcing women’s stupid… things at me!”
“I’ll do what I like, Mr. Brinkley! And you will do what I like as well! If I want you to do something, then you’ll do it! I don’t have to remind you what’s in store for you if you don’t. And I can see that once again we’re going to need another session with the collar.”
That backed Roger down fast. The last thing he wanted was another session with her miserable collar. “Please… no…”
“If you don’t want to spend the rest of the evening in training again, then I suggest you sit down right there and put those boots on now!”
Wanting to scream, Roger stared at her for a moment, before he slowly sank down to the floor.
“Put them on, Mr. Brinkley,” Janice said in a no-nonsense tone of voice when he didn’t move fast enough.
Roger’s brain was at war with itself. Part of him was reacting because she had ordered him to do it, part it was overly fearful of her “training” sessions, while another part of his brain was cursing vehemently. But despite hating it, his hand reached out and pulled one of the boots out of the box. The leather… if it was leather… felt very soft to his touch. The boot itself felt surprisingly lightweight. He kicked off the shoes that were on his feet. The boots had a long zipper that ran down the inseam. He unzipped it and found some packing material in the bottom of the boot. He pulled it out. With his mind silently cursing up a storm, he flung the boot down toward his left foot and jammed his foot into it. He had to wiggle things around a bit and then pull hard on the boot to get his foot all the way into it. “It’s pretty tight,” he noted sullenly as his foot finally got fully into the boot. He pulled his pants leg up out of the way before trying pull up the zipper – which went up, but he had trouble getting over his calf.
“You said they’re tight, Mr. Brinkley?” Janice asked. “I’m a little surprised at that since you said you wear a size nine and a half and they are a size ten. How bad are they?”
“How bad?” Roger wanted to tell her the boots were nothing but stupid and miserable. But he knew she was referring to how tight they were. “They’re pretty tight, but I think I can manage,” he replied sullenly.
“A good decision, Mr. Brinkley.” Janice watched as he prepared to pull the second boot on. “Wait a moment, Mr. Brinkley.”
Roger stopped and looked up. He dared not think that he could get out of this somehow.
“You were wearing your socks with the first boot. Perhaps if you tried it without those heavy socks.”
It actually made sense to Roger. He pulled the sock off of the foot he was about to slip the boot on. He was about to try to pull the boot onto his foot, when Janice stopped him again.
“One moment, Mr. Brinkley. I may know a way to help this situation a little more. Please wait here.”
Roger watched as Janice got up from her seat at the table and walked out through the living room. He knew it was useless, but he was praying she would never come back. But she did come back a few minutes later and dumped something very lightweight and fine down into his lap.
“Here, Mr. Brinkley, try these instead. I think they should help.”
Roger took the thin bits of material and quickly figured out that they were a pair of women’s knee-high stockings. Feeling even more stupid, he took one of them and managed to get it onto his bare foot. Then he pulled the boot over it. The boot went on easily.
“It looks like that’s going to be a perfect solution, Mr. Brinkley,” Janice declared happily. “I suggest that tomorrow, before you come home from school, you stop and buy yourself a large package of them.”
Roger said nothing as Carol giggled again. It took some effort to finally pull the first boot off of his foot again, then swap out his sock for the remaining knee-high stocking. But this time the boot went back on with very little effort. Darn the woman. She had indeed found a way to make the stupid things fit! And he wasn’t exactly happy about it.
Having little choice now, he climbed to his feet and tentatively stood up in the new boots. The tall heels felt weird. His pants legs which were bunched up above the boots felt uncomfortable. He took a careful turning step toward the living room. No, the boots were definitely not as easy to walk in as his old boots were. And while they weren’t exactly comfortable, he knew they were at least manageable. He took a few more slow tentative steps, the heels making an oddly loud clopping sound against the hardwood floor. But it was the sound of Janice’s voice that stopped him again.
Janice smiled. “I like them on you. They’re a vast improvement over those ugly old boots you used to wear. Definitely a huge improvement!”
Under normal circumstances, Roger would have said, “Thanks,” but this wasn’t any kind of normal circumstance, so he said nothing. He turned to continue walking, and her voice stopped him again.
And again he turned.
“I put some shoe polish in your room for you. I won’t have those new boots getting messed up in any way like your old ones. From now on, I expect you to polish them carefully every single evening before you go to sleep. Otherwise, I’m sure I can find far worse footwear for you to wear instead. Do I make myself clear?”
Roger nodded. “Yeah,” he replied sullenly before continuing back toward the bedroom. Once again, his life had gotten worse than before. What would be next, a dress? The damn woman!
“Feel better now, dear?” Janice said to Carol.
Carol giggled. “Yeah, some.”
But as Carol got up from the table to go watch TV for a little while, Janice’s thoughts were again on Roger… and they were troubling thoughts. He had tried to argue with her again. There was no doubt that she was going to have to give him another treatment with the collar. And it would have to be soon. Maybe not tonight, but soon. His mind was simply too strong for the easy methods.
The bra was bad enough. The bra with the socks stuffed in it was worse. The frilly panties he was wearing were just plain silly! But now adding the stupid women’s boots with the high heels was just beyond dumb! Not to mention what a nuisance they were. How was he going to work in them? How was he going to climb a ladder in them? How was he going to do anything in them? He did notice though as he examined where he had sanded the walls, that he was taller now… he was looking at a slightly higher part of the wall with no problem. But that was the only good thing that he could see about the boots. And he wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
They weren’t sturdy enough for construction work. They were too lightweight. What kind of protection would they be for his feet? None at all! That was for sure. His old boots had steel toes to protect him. These had… nothing. Well, he supposed that the high heel might protect the heel of his foot from something, but he certainly wasn’t sure about that at all. As far as he could see, the stupid boots weren’t safe for working in at all! But what choice did he have? She had threatened to put him through another training session with her collar. And he feared that almost more than going to jail. Or maybe he did fear it more. Both situations were nothing but frightening.
He thought again about the little interview he had been through earlier with the FBI. If only he had been able to tell them the truth. If only he had dared to tell them the truth. But he knew with a certainty that doing so would have been impossible. And because of that, the FBI could no longer help him. He would have to find some way to help himself.
When dinner time came, Janice and Carol were treated to the sound of Roger’s heels walking precariously through the house all the way into the kitchen. Carol stared at him and giggled once again. He was wearing his work clothes now, with the pants pulled over the tops of his boots, but you could still tell what kind of shoes he was wearing the moment you looked below his pants. And somehow, Carol thought the new boots went well with the tiny breast that now stuck out from his chest.
Roger entered the kitchen and stood there looking down toward the purple dog bowl in the corner… already filled with his dinner. His heart sank even more. “Again?” he asked.
“Of course, Mr. Brinkley,” Janice replied as if she was surprised at the question.
“How much longer?” he asked, not just his heart, but his soul sinking at the prospect of continued humiliation.
Janice actually had to think about that question for a moment before she could answer it properly. “Let’s just say, Mr. Brinkley, that you will continue to eat that way… until I no longer have to worry about seeing a man at the table across from me.”
Her answer irritated him. He wanted to ask what she meant by that, but he dared not. Maybe she did intend to make him wear dresses while he worked. He hoped not, but the way things were going, it now seemed entirely possible. The very idea still rang nothing but major stupid in his mind, but obviously whatever he thought about things didn’t matter in the least. He resigned himself to the fact that he would be eating like a dog from the floor for a very long time. Ugh!
It was getting close to time to take Carol back to the foster home again when Janice walked back through the hallway to find Roger. To get there, she had to carefully step around much of his belongings that were now piled along one side of the hallway. She heard sanding sounds from the room with the closed door and carefully opened it, well remembering the mess she had found the evening before. She wasn’t surprised to find the air in the room filled with the same white powder from the walls that had assaulted her before. “Mr. Brinkley!” she called.
Roger stopped sanding, and turned.
“I was just wondering if you had any idea how much longer it would be until these rooms are finished?”
Roger turned and moved closer to her so he could talk easier. She retreated as far back from the mess as the new obstacles in the hallway would permit. He considered her question. “We’re getting there,” he finally said.
“Mr. Brinkley, this weekend is Easter. It would be nice if there was some way Carol could be living here by then. Is there any chance at all?”
Roger had to think about that one. “Well,” he said as he thought about what needed to be done, “When I’m done with the sanding, I still need to install all the trim and baseboards before I can start painting. I figure the trim will take me most of tomorrow night, then I can start painting on Friday. Of course, we still have to find some carpet and arrange for that to be installed. Then there’s light fixtures we still have to buy and the closets that have to be set up and the closet doors installed. But overall, we’re getting there.”
“So you think we can move Carol in before Sunday?” Janice asked.
Roger shook his head. “It’s going to be pretty close. Of course, since there’s no school on Friday, that should help me a lot. I think it’s really going to depend on how long it takes to pick out some carpet and arrange for it to be installed.”
“Suppose you let me worry about finding the carpet and arranging for the installation,” Janice suggested.
“That would help a lot,” Roger admitted.
“And while I’m at it, I’m sure I can find you some lights for the ceilings as well,” Janice added.
“Anything you can do to help will make the job go faster.”
Janice smiled. “Then you let me take care of those things, Mr. Brinkley, and I’ll call Child Services and arrange to have Carol moved permanently to my custody either Friday or Saturday.”
Roger thought about that, but his only reply toward finishing the rooms was to nod and say, “I’ll try.”
“Very good, Mr. Brinkley. And how about the things we discussed last night. Did you put in your resignation as a teacher?”
A small wave of anger over that subject swept through Roger… as did another remembrance of his talk with the FBI. “Yeah, I took care of it this afternoon.”
“Excellent, Mr. Brinkley. I’m sure that in the long run you will make far more money helping people with their repair problems than with teaching. It may take a little while. But I’m sure we can make it happen.”
Roger didn’t share her optimism.
“And how about the woman who needs her deck rebuilt… did you contact her?”
Roger shook his head. “I tried once this afternoon and couldn’t reach her. I haven’t tried again. I can try right now if you like.”
“That’s a little disappointing, Mr. Brinkley.” She was about to tell him to call her immediately, when she glanced over the way he looked once again. “Tell you what, Mr. Brinkley, give me her phone number and I’ll call her for you tomorrow. I’m sure you have a lot of other things on your mind right now that you need to concentrate on instead.”
Roger thought about that and shrugged. “Sure,” he replied. “I’ll find her name and number for you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Brinkley. I’m just trying to help any way I can.”
Roger wasn’t exactly sure about that at all!
Before she left him, Janice glanced down at his new boots, noticing how dusty they were… very much like the rest of him. “And please don’t forget to clean those new boots tonight, Mr. Brinkley. I may have to deal with cleaning the rest of your filthy clothes, but I see no reason why you can’t deal with your new boots yourself. And I will insist that they stay… perfect!”