By Karen Singer
Chicken soup! That was what the situation called for! Janice was a firm believer in the power of chicken soup to help cure colds and flus. Of course, a good dose of cold medicine went along with the soup. But she was convinced that the soup probably did at least as much good as the medicine… if not more. While Roger was in the shower cleaning his body, she got into the car to get the ingredients she needed for her homemade chicken soup… and a couple of different cold medicines as well.
Before she started the car, she momentarily fought with herself over checking for any bugs that might have been planted in the car since she had just gotten out of it a short time ago. But she was trying to “train” herself to get into the habit of always checking now before she went anywhere, so she opened the garage door and started the car. She quickly took the anti-surveillance device from her purse and just turned it on to quickly check it. She was about to turn it right back off again, when the darn thing let out a soft faint beep. Startled, she looked at the thing more closely and saw a small faint dot of light on the screen as the machine beeped again. Now what? Was the thing working correctly? Concerned, she turned the engine off and got out of the car.
With the device held carefully in her hands, she began slowly walking around her car. The beeping grew a bit louder and faster as she neared the back of the car, but not by much. As she got to the very front of the car, the faint little light and the beeping almost disappeared altogether. She moved toward the back of the car again where it was the strongest. She couldn’t see anything on the back of her car, but then bugs were usually planted where they couldn’t be seen. She carefully got down on the ground to peer under the back of the car. She saw nothing there either, and holding the device under the car didn’t cause any change in what it was detecting.
As she was getting back to her feet, she momentarily held the device further away from the car toward the outside, and she noticed that it beeped a bit faster. Startled, she looked in that direction, but all she noticed was Roger’s old car sitting in the front yard. But her eyes didn’t leave that car for a few moments as she stared at it intently. She headed back toward the kitchen watching the device carefully. The moment she closed the garage door behind her, all signs of any bugs left her device.
“Momma?” Carol asked as Janice entered the kitchen. “Did you forget something?”
“Not exactly,” Janice replied. Slowly and methodically, she began working her way around the entire house. She had done this once before when she had first gotten the device, but she hadn’t really checked it closely. And at that time, she wasn’t even sure if the device worked or not. But this time, after seeing the reaction on the device, she checked everywhere very carefully.
The device didn’t beep again until she got near the front door, and then it was only faintly. She continued on all around the house. She went down the hallway. Nothing in any of the bedrooms, including hers. She heard the shower water starting to run in the bathroom. Not bothering to knock, she simply barged in. Roger’s shaving things and toothbrush were still out on the counter. Her eyes never left the device as Roger quickly turned the water off. Nothing in the bathroom.
“Do you need something?” Roger asked cautiously.
“Not now,” Janice replied, turning to leave. She stopped momentarily before going out the door and looked at him. “When you’re done there, I’ll have Carol get you a blanket. Wrap yourself up in it to stay warm. You can lay down in your room if you like. We’ll talk later.” She left the bathroom, her concentration fully on the device in her hands again.
She walked all the way back to the living room, where the device once again faintly beeped as she got near the front door. She looked out through the living room window, but all she saw was Roger’s battered old car. She stared just as hard at that car now as she had earlier.
“Momma?” Carol asked, fully concerned that something was wrong.
“Carol dear, please do me a favor.”
“Sure, Momma, anything.”
“Put your raincoat on dear, and then I’d like you to please check all around outside, especially near the trees. Let me know if you see anyone… or any sign that anyone has been here.”
“Sure, Momma,” Carol replied. She was very concerned… not to mention a bit frightened by the prospect that someone could be out there right now that might… get her.
“Take your cell phone dear,” Janice called. “Let’s stay in touch.”
Carol felt a bit better about that. “Sure Momma.”
A few minutes later, Carol was outside checking everything carefully, while Janice guided her by cell phone from the inside. Glancing all around, she didn’t see any sign of anyone at all. She found nobody in Roger’s workshop… for which she was very relieved. Under her mother’s direction, she started walking slowly and carefully all around the tree line that bordered the property. Fortunately, she sighted nobody.
Before coming back into the house though, Janice sent her to have a close look at Roger’s car. It took her a few minutes, to find it, but the clean round disk sticking out from the bottom of the gas tank was in stark contrast to the dirty metal all around it was hard to miss. And she couldn’t miss the additional signs where it looked like someone had scratched at some of that dirt before attaching the disk.
“Don’t touch it, dear,” Janice told her quickly as she listened to her daughter describing what she had found. Just leave it alone!”
“What does it mean, Momma?” Carol asked over the phone as she got back to her feet after crawling under Roger’s car.
“I’m afraid it means that Agent Jacobs is up to his old tricks again,” Janice replied with more than a bit of frustration.
While Carol returned to the house, Janice sat and considered the situation. And foremost on her mind was Roger. Had Jacobs seen Roger outside… chained to the tree… acting like a dog? If he had planted the bug on Roger’s car, then she couldn’t see how he could have missed the “dog” in the backyard. And if he did see Roger, then why didn’t he do anything about it? She found it very strange that he would just leave Roger in the position he had been in. So… did he see him? Or not? That was her primary worry.
A series of sneezes from the bathroom, brought her back to reality. She had to get Roger some medicine… and for now, she could only hope that Agent Jacobs hadn’t seen Roger chained to the tree out back… something she still found difficult to believe.
“What do we do?” Carol asked as she came back into the living room.
Janice smiled at her daughter. “We do nothing… for now. We leave that little bug right where it is.”
“You’re sure, Momma?” Carol asked.
“You’re sure, Momma?” Carol asked.
“Yes! Very sure!” Janice replied. “Now please put a blanket in Mr. Brinkley’s bedroom for him while I go to the store. She hugged and kissed her daughter. “I’ll be right back.”
This time when Janice left the house, she took Roger’s car to the store. If Jacobs was keeping track of her, then he might as well see her running the kind of errands he would expect to see.
Roger felt miserable. He was very grateful for the blanket Carol had brought him. He was also grateful for the box of tissues she brought him a few minutes later. As he lay wrapped up in the blanket on the carpeted floor, his mind couldn’t leave the nightmare he had just lived. A nightmare that he hadn’t even been aware was a nightmare. As Boots the dog, he had simply… and totally… thought he was a dog. End of story. He had remembered small parts of being human, but there had never once been any kind of thought of again becoming human. A total nightmare! And the fact that Janice could do that to him by just speaking a few words was nothing but frightening! What else was the woman capable of?
And now she wanted him to become a woman? With the kind of power over him that she had just exhibited, he had no doubt that very soon that nightmare would become a complete reality. But even as he realized how much he didn’t want to become a woman, he also realized that there was absolutely nothing in him that had the will-power to fight back. If it was her will, then it was also his will. Except… that it wasn’t really his will. Not deep down. In reality, it was only what he knew he had to do… and would do. There was simply nothing in him to not do whatever she wanted.
The hot homemade soup burned his tongue a bit as he sipped carefully at it. It was very hot… and very, very good. The woman may be his worst nightmare, but she could still cook awfully well! There was something about the soup that was absolutely… comforting, despite how tired he was. Tired… and drugged. The dose of nighttime cold medicine she had given him a while ago was making him feel that way. At least his nose wasn’t running so bad right now. He just felt… drugged and sleepy.
He was sitting at the kitchen table, his body still wrapped up in the blanket. The bowl of hot soup sitting in front of him was not only good, but a few spoonfuls later, he decided that it was also quite comforting. That was, until Janice sat down at the table across from him.
“Mr. Brinkley,” Janice began, “how much do you remember about your time as Boots the dog?”
It was a subject that Roger would rather not think about… yet it was also a subject he still couldn’t get off of his mind. “Everything!” he replied.
Janice nodded. “Good. I hope you don’t forget that little episode in your life.”
The only thing that Roger could think about that, was that it was something he would never forget… even though he wanted to spend the rest of his life trying to forget it! “You didn’t have to do that to me,” he said. “You already had me in a position where I knew I would have no choice but to… become a woman as you wanted.”
“True,” Janice replied. “But it… amused me to put you through it. Of course, I’m afraid you may have had the last laugh though since your eternal barking and complaining pretty much drove us insane!”
A small smile nearly came to Roger’s lips, but before he could say anything, he remembered a small episode from his time as a dog. “I remember… there was one time when you talked to me and I could suddenly understand everything you were saying. You mentioned the barking.” That hint of a smile did touch his lips momentarily. “I’m afraid that as a dog, I simply didn’t have the intelligence to fully comprehend what you were talking about. As a dog, I thought the barking was totally justified.”
“Rest assured, Mr. Brinkley, should I ever have to resort to turning you into a dog in the future, then that little problem will be accounted for beforehand!”
Roger had no doubt about that, but he still smiled a bit as he spooned some more soup into his mouth. “So how’s this going to work?” he asked after another spoonful of soup. “Am I supposed to go out and buy a bunch of dresses now?”
“You can if you like, Mr. Brinkley. You certainly can if you like. In fact, I think getting something nice to wear to church next week would be a very good gesture on your part toward this endeavor.”
A good gesture? He tried desperately to picture himself wearing a dress to church… and the resulting picture was so ludicrous that he simply couldn’t conceive it. “You’ll excuse me if I’m having a hard time fully picturing myself wearing a dress to church… or anywhere else for that matter.”
Janice smiled. “Of that I have no doubt.” She leaned forward toward him a bit. “So here’s how this is going to work. Eventually… hopefully fairly soon, I’ll be taking you to a doctor to get… treatments started.”
“Yes, Mr. Brinkley. You will become a woman in every way that modern science can make you… like it or not! And to tell the truth, I’m actually quite happy that this is something that you don’t actually want. But never-the-less, I’m not stupid enough to think that just putting on a dress and some makeup will make you a woman. No, we’re going to change your body physically as well. And for that, we need to work with a doctor.”
“A doctor? I have to find one that will do this to me? I thought that took a lot of different consultations with a psychiatrist or something first.”
“It most likely does, Mr. Brinkley. But in this case, we’re going to find a doctor who will help us out… and bypass all that unnecessary garbage.”
Unnecessary garbage? Roger had tons of comments he’d like to make about that, but none of them would do him any good. “So where do I find this doctor?” he asked.
“I’ll let you know,” Mr. Brinkley. “Just as soon as I have it all worked out.” She watched as he carefully looked away from her and silently ate several more spoonfuls of soup. “Listen to me carefully, Mr. Brinkley, because this is how it’s going to work. Like it or not, you will continue to eat your meals from your dog bowl… and like it or not, you will continue to sleep in that dog cage every night. Tonight, you may sleep on the floor instead since you are sick, but starting tomorrow, you will be back to sleeping in the cage. The more I see you backsliding on this… or the more I see you dragging your feet and not making progress, the more your life will be that of a dog… and nothing but a dog… in every way that I can arrange and still permit you to do your construction work. But every bit of progress I see towards you becoming a woman, will result in rewards. Some things will allow you to spend a night or two outside of the dog cage… some things will permit you to eat at the table. Eventually, when you progress far enough, you will be permitted to have a regular bed to sleep in like everyone else… and a completely human lifestyle to go with it. A female lifestyle… but it will be completely human. The faster you attain that goal, the sooner you can leave your life as a dog behind you… totally. But screw up… and you will find you can do nothing but bark whenever you open your mouth. And you will become very, very familiar with that tree out back that you will be chained to. Do I make myself clear?”
Roger’s head was spinning… and not just from the medicine or his cold. But as far gone as his mind was, it wasn’t totally gone. “I understand,” he replied after a moment. He paused a moment before adding. “You could have warped my brain to want this badly… and to go after it much faster… yet you didn’t.”
“No, Mr. Brinkley, I didn’t. Purposely! And for two very good reasons. First of all, an endeavor such as this is going to require that you spend a lot of time talking with doctors. I can’t afford the slightest chance that they might notice something more than the fact that you’re not doing this totally by choice. I’ve already come frighteningly close to damaging your mind more than I’d like already. I don’t want to chance doing further damage… unless it is necessary.”
She had damaged his brain? Somehow, he could believe it. He wondered if the slight fogginess in his head was more than just the cold medicine at work.
“And secondly, Mr. Brinkley, I find it highly amusing that you… as a man… will have to subject yourself to this course of treatment… despite the fact that you don’t want it.”
“Another words, you’re simply being cruel,” Roger chanced.
“Yes, Mr. Brinkley, I am. And I will make no bones about that fact. You’re a man, and as far as any man goes, I have no problems with whatever level of cruelty I feel is necessary. No problem with it at all!”
Of that, Roger already had no doubt!
Janice leaned back in her seat. It was time to move on to another subject. “Tell me, Mr. Brinkley, earlier today, while Carol and I were out at church, did you see anyone else around here?”
Roger raised his eyebrows at the question. Anyone else around? He thought hard. “Not that I remember,” he replied. “Of course, I think I spent most of the time trying to sleep since I couldn’t do much else. Besides, it was freezing cold out there and staying as huddled up as I could seemed to help.”
Janice considered his words. He hadn’t seen anyone, but then, he also hadn’t been looking. Still, it seemed unlikely that if Jacobs had seen him chained to the tree like he was, then the FBI would have stepped in and done at least something. But then this was Agent Jacobs she was dealing with… and she already knew he would go to any ends to make life as difficult as possible for her. She would just have to keep a much more careful watch on everything from now on. It was all she could do… for now.
Janice got up from her seat and poured herself a cup of coffee while Roger continued to eat his soup. “The Whittakers have accepted your job estimate,” she said as she was still pouring the coffee. “I told her you would get started as soon as humanly possible.”
Roger nodded. “I thought they would take the estimate. It was a fair price… plus, they know me from my past work.”
“Indeed,” Janice replied. “And, it seems that she’s told some of her friends about you as well. While you were otherwise indisposed, you received a call from a Mrs. Adkins who wants to know if you can fix a broken window for her. Evidently, she’s a good friend of Mrs. Whittaker. I do hope you can fix a simple broken window!”
Roger shrugged. “Shouldn’t be any problem,” he replied.
“Good!” Janice replied. “So that just leaves us with one more piece of business to discuss today. You claim you need a truck to handle your new business affairs. Do you not?”
Roger nodded. “Yes. I really don’t see any way I can do much of anything without one.”
“Very well then, Mr. Brinkley. Under the circumstances, I think that you have a very reasonable request. So tell me, Mr. Brinkley, exactly what requirements do you have for such a vehicle?”