By Karen Singer
The door opening and someone coming out through it snapped her awake. She had almost fallen asleep. Janice watched the woman carefully. She was young and beautiful. Sexy! Just the kind that Joseph Halifax liked. The kind of woman that Leila Rivers had been. As she watched, the woman walked up to a car parked along the street not far from the door and got in. She drove away shortly afterwards.
The sun hadn’t been up long now, but Janice had been sitting in her car, down the block and across the street from Halifax’s loft apartment, for almost an hour. The woman coming out had been the first sign of life that she had seen. This was only a fact finding trip… her first chance to get a look at the lay of the land. She would make several more trips before she even attempted to make contact with Halifax. But before that could happen, she had to find and eliminate as many… complications… as possible.
It was almost an hour later when she saw his red corvette suddenly pop out of the small driveway from between buildings. As she expected, it turned right and drove down the street. She quickly started her car and followed him. She only slowed down when he turned into a parking lot. The sign over the building indicated that it was where his office was. She kept going.
She spent several hours driving all over the city of Augusta, Georgia. She had several maps of the city in the car with her, but she rarely consulted them. Among the details in the file that Susan Wu had given her, was a list of all his properties. She drove to every single one that was in the area. None of them appeared suitable for the purpose she would need. But then she didn’t expect any of them to fit the bill.
Over and over again, she drove past his office, or parked a short distance away for a while. But his car never left the parking space where he had left it. There was always a chance he could go somewhere in someone else’s car, but she wasn’t really concerned about that today.
Shortly before noon, she caught him leaving his office building and getting into his car. Once again she followed him… this time to a nice upper-scale restaurant. She saw him meet and shake hands with two men who were waiting for him as he approached the door to the restaurant. Business lunch, she figured. She drove a short distance up the street to a fast-food restaurant and got some lunch for herself… which she ate in her car as she continued to watch Halifax’s car sitting waiting for him to come back out.
His lunch was long. Almost forty-five minutes. When he came back out again, she saw him shake hands with the men again and then get back into his car. She followed him back to his office again. A typical day, she guessed. But was it really? Only time would tell.
She drove around some, retracing many of the places she had already driven to… just to make sure she was familiar with the area. She even took the chance to drive into his driveway to check that out. It went to a small parking area behind his building with several large garage doors along the building’s wall. Another normal door was set off to the side. She drove out again, back to the street. She went back to his office… where his car was missing. She had missed him leaving. But no matter, that was unimportant. She drove back to his apartment where she again parked down the street and across the block.
And she waited. And waited. And waited. She had to leave to go to the bathroom and get herself a fast-food dinner, but she returned again as soon as she was able… where she waited some more. It was dark when she saw his car finally drive up and enter the driveway between buildings. A few minutes later she saw the lights on his third floor loft apartment come on. And still she waited. An hour later, another car parked at the sidewalk in front of the building and she watched as another woman got out. The woman walked up to the door and pushed the buzzer. A moment later, Janice watched as the woman entered. Half an hour after that, the lights in the apartment mostly went out.
Janice started her car and turned it in the direction of home. It would be a long drive back, but she had accomplished a lot today.
Agent Jacobs had noticed early that morning that the car Janice Stokley drove was still in the same place in Gainesville. And now it was still there, unmoved, late in the day. What was she doing there? He wanted to go find out, but he didn’t have time. Their present case load was keeping him far too busy. But since the car wasn’t all that far from where she was living, he wasn’t that concerned about it. He picked up his phone and started making more inquiries about one of his newer cases instead.
“Do those boots bother you at all?” Rebecca Adkins asked.
Roger turned his head toward her. “Not really,” he replied. But as he said it, his thoughts immediately turned toward the other “shoes” he had worn all too much the week before – the very high heels that he hadn’t been permitted to remove. Compared to those, the heels on these boots seemed practically flat!
“It’s an awfully strange thing you’re doing,” the frail woman noted as she watched him running a sharp razor edged blade along the seam in the window.
“I know,” Roger replied, unable to turn his head away from the job just then.
“And Elaine didn’t mention you wearing a bra either. Especially one that’s so obviously padded.”
“I don’t think she noticed it under my jacket when she saw me,” Roger replied, still concentrating on his task.
“So… this is not the first time?”
“Nope!” Roger replied with a bit of a grunt as he finished scoring the old paint along the seam.
“And I guess it’s not the last either?”
Now Roger could look back at her. “No, not the last,” he confirmed with a hint of sadness. He really wished that the old woman would just leave him alone and let him work. But she had sat right where she could see him perfectly, since he had started working… as he had figured she would do.
“So you wear the boots and the bra all the time?” Rebecca asked.
“When I’m on the job, anyway.” He didn’t add that it was only while he was teaching school that he didn’t have to wear the bra… now.
“Anything else?” she asked.
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Any other… women’s clothes… that you wear?”
“Uh… no,” he replied. He only thought about the panties he was wearing after it was too late to reply. But she didn’t need to know about those.
“How about at other times?”
Yeah, Roger figured he was definitely going to charge her every bit of that inflated estimate he had given her! “Um… not really.” He purposely didn’t tell her that very shortly he would be. But she didn’t need to know that either.
“So… if you don’t wear women’s clothes at other times… then why are you doing it now?”
This time Roger looked at her and smiled. “Isn’t that the real reason you asked me to come fix this window?” He was rewarded to see her face light up in a smile.
“Touché, Mr. Brinkley!”
Roger nodded and went back to work. He didn’t have to do everything he was doing to the window. In fact, much of what he did he made an extra effort to make it look like it was difficult and he was having a hard time with it. And in fact, some of it was. Scraping the old paint wasn’t exactly fun or easy! But Rebecca Adkins sat in her chair the entire time and watched him carefully as he worked... all too often, asking questions… mostly about why he was wearing the women’s clothes to work in.
In truth, it took Roger all of the three hours he had estimated that the job would require to finish working on the window and get much of it repainted. But a lot of that extra time was due to the time he took answering Mrs. Adkins’ questions. It was almost as if she was hounding him about what he was wearing! He had been very self-conscious and embarrassed about his boots when he had arrived – even though she had already seen his boots. And when he had removed his jacket and displayed his padded chest, he was twice as embarrassed. But he figured he needed to get displaying it all, over with. And it hadn’t taken neither Mrs. nor Mr. Adkins long to see the protuberances sticking out of his chest! And then the questions had begun – by Mrs. Adkins. After a few minutes, Mr. Adkins had simply looked disgusted with him and had left. Unfortunately, Mrs. Adkins had stayed. But then, he never had a doubt in the world that she wouldn’t.
But the constant attention and questioning by her had left him not only no longer as embarrassed by his “condition,” but her questions were starting to make him more than a bit resentful. He always stayed as carefully polite as possible with her, and even paused often in his work to speak with her… which made the job take so much longer.
He had eventually become so resentful of her questions that by the time he started cleaning and packing up his tools, he was wishing he had some of that new makeup he had bought the day before with him. He wondered what she would think if he stood there right in front of her and applied a coat of lipstick while looking in a small compact mirror… just before presenting her with a bill. Would it shock her? He honestly wasn’t sure if it would. But it would certainly shock him! Rebecca Adkins had really only hired him to fix her window for the show! He figured that something like applying the lipstick right in front of her – for spite – would certainly amount to a good show. Probably a memorable one! He wondered though if maybe it might not be a good idea to try in the future. Maybe not! He really wasn’t that brave!
He wrote out the bill as soon as he was done packing things up. It was only written up on a piece of notebook paper, but he carefully listed every single item that needed to be listed. And the total amount did indeed come fully up to his estimated price. He made sure of that! He presented the bill to Mrs. Adkins and asked if she wanted to pay it all now or just mail him the check. He was surprised when she asked him to wait while she got the checkbook. A few minutes later, he walked out with his first bit of profit for his new business.
Surprisingly, he felt totally good about it. In fact, he no longer even cared that he had to display himself wearing women’s boots and a stuffed bra through the entire ordeal. Yes, it had been embarrassing. Very! But Mrs. Adkins had been such a pain about it all with her constant questions that he no longer cared! Would he be embarrassed by his attire in the future? Absolutely!
He purposely spent almost an hour that night applying lipstick with only the aid of a tiny round mirror in the face powder compact he had bought. He did it somewhat angrily as he remembered Mrs. Adkins hounding him with the questions about why he was wearing the women’s clothes. And just as she had asked the very same questions over and over again, he applied the lipstick, then wiped it off – over and over again. For a while there, he had thought that perhaps she was so old that she may not have fully remembered asking him some of those questions the first time. But he didn’t really believe that. She seemed to be too mentally sharp otherwise.
He hadn’t seen Janet all day long, not even when Carol had woken him up that morning… for which he was eternally grateful. If only she would just stay away – permanently! He had no such luck though as she came dragging in shortly before he went to bed.
“Ah,” she said after she had hugged her daughter, “playing with your makeup again. Very good, Mr. Brinkley.” She looked at him closer and a slightly puzzled expression crossed her face. “But why are you only working with your lipstick?”
“Mrs. Adkins made me a bit upset tonight with her constant hounding questions about what I was wearing – the entire time I was there. I was tempted to stand there and put the lipstick on right in front of her – just for spite!”
Janice smiled. “Now that might be a very interesting idea. Why didn’t you?”
“I didn’t have any with me.”
Janice let out a short snort of a laugh. “I hope you weren’t rude to Mrs. Adkins.”
“No worries there. I was polite as hell! Too polite!”
“Please watch your language, Mr. Brinkley. It’s not ladylike to talk like that.”
Roger didn’t care one bit!
“Did you get paid for the job?” she asked.
Roger fished the check out of his wallet and handed it to her. “I charged her every single bit of the inflated estimate I gave her. She paid without batting an eye!”
“Excellent, Mr. Brinkley. Excellent! I think your little business is off to a very good start now.”
Roger only nodded. “Can I sleep outside the cage tonight?” he asked.
“Let me see you in full makeup first,” Janice told him. “And I think that tomorrow I should have some time available to go shopping with you. You do need a new outfit for church… if you’ll remember.”
A new outfit for church? He now remembered that Janice had already mentioned that once. He still couldn’t imagine himself wearing a dress to church on Sunday. But then he also couldn’t imagine himself buying a damn dress! Not to mention that he never would have imagined himself playing with makeup either! But here he was… playing with makeup like a stupid little girl. And he supposed that tomorrow he was going to be faced with going shopping with her… to buy himself a silly dress!