By Karen Singer
Chapter 21 (Part 1 of 2)
Just how much money could she steal from Joseph Halifax? That was the question that woke Janice up the next morning. He was a millionaire several times over, that much had been clear in the documents that Susan had given her, but while she’d like to take everything he had, she would have to do it in such a way that wouldn’t arouse the suspicions of anyone else. And that was her biggest challenge.
Unable to sleep any longer, she forced herself out of bed, her mind not only preoccupied with the problem of stealing money, but also with the concept of now having a “dog” in the house. And a dog that most likely had to be taken care of more than she had anticipated. Her daughter had been right, she could have done a few things differently to Roger to make life easier on both of them… but her primary motivation in what she had done with him was to remove as much of his humanity as possible, leaving him with only a vague memory of that humanity. Evidently, she had succeeded more than she thought. Her notebook already had a few more notes in it for the next time she might have to do such a thing. No doubt, her notes on the subject would continue to expand over the next few days.
Quickly throwing some clothes on, she left her room and quietly opened the door to Roger’s bedroom… where Boots now resided instead. She saw the “dog” quickly look up at her as she opened the door. “Come Boots,” she said softly, so as not to wake her daughter in the next room. She was rewarded to see Boots immediately get to his feet and head towards her.
Boots had jerked awake at the sound of the door opening and the sight of one of the tall things looking in at him. He hadn’t liked being closed into this place… all alone. Especially when all the light had suddenly gone away and he could no longer see. After yelping to complain a few times… followed by barking for a little while… he had been forced to give up and just lay down on the soft ground that seemed to cover the entire area. He didn’t like being closed in this place alone… but he did like the soft ground to sleep on. With the command to “come” quickly registering in his brain, he followed the tall thing out of the place and back through other places that he had spent a lot of time in yesterday. He didn’t see the smaller tall thing anywhere around. Where was it?
He followed the tall thing out to the area where he remembered the food had been. He immediately went over toward the bowl where he had eaten from before, but there was nothing in it. He took a quick drink of water from the other bowl instead.
“Boots!” Janice called from the entrance to the laundry room. “Come!”
Understanding the command to “come,” Boots headed for the tall thing again, but he stopped when he saw the tall thing holding the thin thing that had been attached to whatever was around his neck last night. He didn’t like the thin thing at all!
“Boots!” Janice said more forcefully. “Come!”
Slowly, Boots made his way over to the tall thing, where he quickly found himself being held firmly while the thin thing was again attached to him. And then the tall thing did something and the way to get into the big open area was there again… and he was being pulled through to that big area again. He went more willingly this time, but as he got out into that new area, he found that he could hardly see. Everything was a misty white and the air itself seemed to be almost wet. He shivered as he sniffed around… before allowing the tall thing to pull him down to the ground below… where the ground too was somewhat wet.
Boots let himself be led back out to the same tree he had peed against last night. He sniffed all around carefully, and even more carefully at the tree itself. He could still smell where he had marked the tree before. Once again, he lifted his leg and peed against the tree… only to hear the tall thing making noises that made him feel somewhat good about it. When he was done, he was more than glad to let the tall thing lead him quickly back to where they had been before… to the place where the food had been. The air wasn’t so cold here… and the ground wasn’t wet either. He had to wait for the tall thing to remove the thin thing from whatever was around his neck before he could again head over to look into the food bowl across the room. Empty!
Janice had no intention of allowing Roger… as Boots… to find too much to enjoy about living the life of a dog. And the first thing she tackled was to have Carol attach the heavy chain around the tree in the backyard where they had taken him out to pee against several times already. A length of rope was added to the end of the chain to both extend it and as a way to attach it to Boots’ collar. And once it was ready, Boots was promptly left outside in the backyard… in the semi-rainy weather... for the rest of the day. Hearing him barking in complaint as she and Carol went back into the house after leaving him attached to the tree, was both irritating and gratifying at the same time. From inside the house, she continued to hear his barking for a while… before he mercifully gave up! But by that time, both she and Carol were ready to leave the house to run a bunch of errands… that would most likely take a major portion of the day.
Boots stared at the place where the tall things had disappeared. He had no way to follow them. The thing that was now attached to his neck wouldn’t let him go more than a short distance from the tree. It was a major irritation that he hated. He sat down on the wet ground, still staring at where they had gone… back into the nice warm place where there was sometimes food. All he had gotten to eat today had been a few small scraps that they had stuck into his bowl after they had eaten. But they were very good scraps!
He shivered in the damp cold… and barked again. But it did no good. He felt trapped and defeated… not wanted. Having little choice, he laid down on the cold damp ground and continued to stare at where they had gone… hoping that they would come back for him soon.
As soon as Janice started the car, she pulled the little anti-surveillance device out of her purse and turned it on. As she had expected, it showed no tracking devices of any kind. Only then did she pull the car out of the garage so that she and Carol could spend the day taking care of business, much of which involved shopping.
Their first stop of the day was at the building supply store to pay off Roger’s account. While they were in there, Janice took a good look at the business cards that were attached to the bulletin board inside. Yes, her idea of “Candy Girl the Handy Girl” was going to work out quite well! She could just see the card prominently displayed on the board already. Unfortunately, she still had to get Roger into the position where she could officially start calling him Candy first… and before that could happen, school had to finish. But it was all just little things that would simply take time. And things were rolling there toward that end already.
After the building supply store, they stopped to drop off the estimate for the Whittaker’s, then it was on to do some clothing shopping for Carol and some furniture shopping for the house… including looking for one particular item in several pet shop stores.
Their errands did indeed take up most of the day, and by the time they got home to check on Boots, he had been officially rained on several times… and was shivering horribly! Carol held onto his collar as she led the way back to the house, but she could have let him loose completely since he was trying to make a bee-line to get inside as fast as he could.
Boots was overjoyed to be back inside again… where one of the tall things promptly dried him off with a towel before finally letting him go. He headed straight for the water bowl and drank deeply… before sneezing once… and drinking again. He was still cold from being outside in the rain, but the feeling of being cold didn’t last too long as he suddenly heard that odd sound that the soft thing he had played with last night made. He quickly went to investigate, only to see one of the tall things throwing the soft thing. He chased it! Yes, it was great to be out of the cold and wet… and even better to be playing again and not be left alone!
It wasn’t until after dinner when Janice and Carol together tackled their final project of the day. With Roger sniffing all around all too curiously, they began assembling the large dog cage they had bought for him to sleep in. The irony of the situation was, that Roger… in his normal state… would have been a great help in the endeavor. And Boots… as a dog… had no idea in the world what they were really doing. But between Carol and herself, they finally managed to get the huge thing put together correctly… at least they hoped it was together correctly. And to finish the job, they placed a large dog bed into the bottom of the cage for Boots to sleep on.
That night, it took a little shoving, and a rather nasty swat to Boots’ backside to get the dumb dog into the cage and close the door behind him. And with the door firmly closed and latched, there was no way he could get out to roam around… not that Janice had any intention of opening the bedroom door either. But she found the dog cage to be somewhat… fitting for the situation.
With Boots yelping his dislike, Carol turned off the bedroom light and Janice closed the bedroom door behind them. Several times, both Janice and Carol had to go back into the room to yell at Boots to try to get him to stop all his noise… which only seemed to set him off more. Finally, they had to both go back out to watch TV, purposely ignoring him and his noise for another hour, before the sounds of Boots’ anger finally dissipated. And when they walked down the hallway later to go to bed, they did so quietly so as not to disturb him. Dumb dog! Janice was now seriously considering making some changes to Roger’s programming as Boots… just to make their life a bit easier!
Boots had no concept of numbers, so he had no idea how long he had been a dog now… not that his brain even contemplated thinking about that. He was what he was and that was all there was too it. He could simply remember small things about being one of the tall things before. But after spending so much time stuck outside yesterday, and now being stuck in this new thing they had put him in, he was spending more time than ever trying to dredge up those memories from when he had been a tall thing too. And he wasn’t liking much of what he remembered.
When he had been a tall thing, he remembered walking around without a long thin thing attached to his neck, preventing him from going where he wanted to go. He remembered being able to go in out of the rain and be warm when he needed to. And he remembered being able to get the food he wanted… when he wanted it. The horrible things that had happened to him since Janice and Carol had come into his life, never entered what was left of the tiny human corner of his mind. There was simply no room for miserable memories like that.