By Karen Singer
Chapter 26 Part 3 of 3
“Roger dodger!” Stan’s voice called over the phone line. “Where were you? I stopped by your house this morning to see if you wanted to go fishing, but you weren’t there. Nobody was there!”
“Hey Stan,” Roger replied. “Yeah, we went to church this morning, then out for lunch.”
“You went to church? Since when did you start going to church?”
“Uh… since just recently,” Roger replied.
“And you’re taking your housekeeper and her daughter too?” Stan asked.
“Uh… yeah. We’re all going together.”
“Roger… what the heck do you think you’re doing? It sounds like you’re totally playing house with that new family of yours! And Roger, they’re not your family… unless you married her and didn’t bother telling anyone. Is that the case?”
“No Stan! Of course I didn’t marry her. And I have no intention of marrying her – believe me!”
“So what the heck are you doing?”
“What’s wrong with me going to church with them?” Roger asked testily.
“Nothing, I guess. Except it’s not you!”
“Well… maybe it is me now.”
“Shit, Roger. It’s like I hardly know you anymore! What the heck is going on with you? Huh?”
“Don’t even go there, Stan. Just don’t go there!”
“Don’t go there? Look… whether you think so or not, you need help. At least I think you do. Jennifer too for that matter.”
“How would you know what she thinks?” Roger asked angrily.
“Because she told me, asshole!”
“Sorry,” Roger replied a little less testily. “Look, just stay out of it, okay? I’m fine! Just… stay out of it!”
But Stan knew perfectly well that Roger was anything but fine. And Roger, no matter how he was behaving now, had been his best friend for several years now. And a really good friend at that. “Roger,” he finally said, trying to sound as nice as he could, “the weatherman says that we’ve still got a few hours until the rain moves in again. What say we go toss some lines in the water? As far as I know, you haven’t been fishing even once yet this year.”
Roger appreciated what his friend was trying to do for him. And he really did want to go fishing – badly. But there was no way that Stan could help him in his present situation. And knowing Janice, Stan’s interference would most likely be very dangerous to him… and Roger absolutely couldn’t allow his friend to get hurt. He needed to keep Stan away from the situation – and far away from Janice Stokley. “Look Stan, I really appreciate it,” he replied. “And I’d really love to go fishing today, but I’ve got to go back to the Whittaker’s place as soon as I can this afternoon and lay out the foundation for that deck I’m building. I’ve got to keep working on it whenever can find a few extra minutes.”
“And I suppose you don’t want any help there either,” Stan replied.
“No, sorry. I can manage it just fine by myself.”
Stan was frustrated. His friend was doing everything possible to prevent him from helping. “Sorry to hear that, Roger,” he finally replied. “You told us at school who you were building the deck for, but I don’t remember who that was.”
“The Whittakers,” Roger replied. “They’re my first really big client.”
“Never heard of them,” Stan replied. But in the back of his mind, he was making serious mental notes.
“I’m not surprised,” Roger said. “I met them when I did some odd jobs for them a few years ago.”
“Well look Roger, if you change your mind, call me – please! In fact, anytime you just want to talk, I’m here for you. You know that.”
“Yeah, sure, Stan. I appreciate it. But really, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
But as Stan hung up his phone, he was very sure that Roger was anything but fine.
“You handled that very nicely,” Janice said from the other side of the room where she had been listening.
Roger turned, surprised to see her there.
“Normally, I wouldn’t have you go out and work on a Sunday, but since you told your friend that you would be working, then maybe you better… just in case he takes it upon himself to show up here unexpectedly. I take it you really do have things you need to accomplish for that job?”
“Yeah. Absolutely! The sooner I can get the foundation laid out and the footings poured, the better. As soon as they’re ready, I can actually start building the deck itself.”
Janice nodded. “Then I suggest you change your clothes and get to work… Candy. You have a business to attend to.”
Roger looked down at the dress he was still wearing. It was all he could do to not smile so Janice could see. She had told him as soon as they got home that it would probably be good for him to spend the rest of the day in his dress – to start getting used to it. But now he finally had a way out of it. Now if he could just find a way out of the stupid boots and stuffed bra he had to wear as well! That would be much better!
“The Whittakers?” Jennifer asked.
“That’s what he said,” Stan replied.
“Sorry, I don’t know them at all,” Jennifer told him. “And I have no idea who even might.”
“Okay,” Stan replied. “It was worth a shot.”
“So what are you going to do?”
Stan paused for only a moment before answering. “Find him! We know he’s working for someone named Whittaker. And in school he said they live somewhere on the way down to Gainesville. How many Whittaker’s can there be?”
Eight! That was the number of addresses that Stan copied off of the bit of internet research he did. People used to go to phone books for that kind of information, but since this would involve more than just one city to look through, he went to the major phone company websites instead where they offered their directories on-line. Eight different addresses to check – all between where he lived and the city of Gainesville.
He got lucky – very lucky he realized – when he spotted Roger’s new truck at Whittaker residence number three. Roger’s truck was parked off to the side of the house, right in front of a large dumpster. He pulled in and parked directly behind Roger’s truck.
The sound of a vehicle door closing caught Roger’s attention. The fact that it sounded so close worried him a bit. But it wasn’t until he saw Stan coming around the corner of the house that he became really concerned. “Stan! What are you doing here?”
“Trying to help out a friend!” Stan replied as he approached. His eyes immediately noticed the boots Roger was wearing. They still looked just as new and shiny as they had the last time he had seen them. And… they still looked just as out of place on Roger.
“But I told you, I don’t need any help!”
“Roger, whether you admit it or not, I think you do. So here I am. Talk to me!”
“Stan… please… just forget it. I don’t need help!”
“I’m not leaving,” Stan replied. “So whether you talk to me or not, I’m not going anywhere!”
Roger shook his head. Part of him wanted badly to tell Stan all about his problems, but the phrase, “protect Janice and Carol” was currently coursing round and round through his head… as was the fact that he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about what was really going on. And unbidden, he had a sudden image in his mind of that impossible steel wall that locked away all his ability to override Janice’s mental programming. “Stan… please… you can’t help me. There’s nothing to help me with!”
“Like I said, I’m not going anywhere, whether you like it or not. So get used to it.”
But now Roger’s mind was becoming worried about what could possibly happen if Janice found out that Stan was being all too inquisitive. He literally feared for his friend’s life… or at least his mental sanity! “Please Stan… just leave me alone. You can’t help me!”
“Tough, buddy! I’m here, and I’m staying. Like I said, like it or not!” He looked around at the job site where Roger had already marked the ground in several places. “So if you won’t talk to me, then at least put me to work, because like I said, I’m not going anywhere!”
Roger sighed. Most of him appreciated what a good friend Stan was trying to do. It was just that Stan was now treading in very troubled waters. “It’s not a good idea Stan,” he said again with a shake of his head.
“Like I said, tough! Now what are you doing?”
It took a moment for Roger to get past his trepidation over the situation and calm himself enough to think. “I’ve just finished laying out where the footers need to go. Now comes the hard part – digging. And you know what the ground in this part of the state is like.”
Stan smiled. “All rock!”
Roger just nodded.
As far as Stan was concerned, this was without a doubt a two-man job… in fact, a few more than two would have been appreciated. It was very hard work digging holes two feet straight down into the ground – and trying to pull out or find a way to break through so many small pieces of rock that the ground seemed to be composed of. And Roger had laid out where he needed seven of the footers to go. Mission impossible, as far as Stan was concerned. How could Roger have possibly thought he could do this by himself?
Just as Roger had done, Stan had arrived wearing a jacket to protect him from the cool temperatures earlier and possibly the rain as well if it was needed. But shortly after the two of them started working, he was forced to remove his jacket as the hard work made him feel much warmer. It was then that he noticed that the front of Roger’s jacket didn’t look right. He stared at it more than a few times trying to puzzle out why it looked like Roger had breasts underneath. “Damn this is hard work,” Stan said as he took a short breather while working on the hole next to Roger’s. “How can you keep that jacket on and continue to work like this?”
As much as Roger would have liked to remove his jacket just then, with Stan working next to him, it was the last thing he was willing to do. “I’m fine,” he replied as he attacked the hole in front of him again with his shovel.
But Stan just stood there and watched his friend. And as he watched he found he could no longer refrain from asking. “Roger… what the hell do you have under your jacket?”
Panic immediately set in for Roger. “What do you mean?”
“What the hell do you have under your jacket?” Stan asked again. “From here, it looks like you’ve got tits sticking out under there.”
Roger’s panic immediately went up… and his face immediately grew red. He turned to work in a position where his back was to Stan instead. “I’m fine!” he replied.
“I didn’t ask if you were fine,” Stan said as he strode over toward Roger. “I asked what you’ve got under your jacket!”
“Nothing!” Roger replied as he turned away from his friend again.
“Bullshit!” Stan replied as he physically grabbed Roger and turned him around.
“Don’t!” Roger exclaimed angrily, but by the time that single word left his mouth, Stan was already reaching out and his hand fell right on top of the breasts Roger was sporting underneath the loose jacket he had worn.
Stan just nodded. “Thought so!”
“Don’t!” Roger said again as he pulled away.
“Roger, what the hell is going on?”
“Nothing!” Roger replied angrily as he turned his back to his friend again. “Just leave me alone.”
“Roger… first the boots… and now breasts? What’s happening?”
But Roger was to the point now where he couldn’t deal with Stan’s questions anymore. “Nothing!” he angrily replied again. “Just leave me alone!” he shouted. Then in a fit of frustration, he dropped his shovel… and leaving everything right where it was where the rain would most likely ruin it, he quickly stalked off toward his truck.
“Roger… stop!” Stan called. But Roger wasn’t stopping. Stan hurried after him. “Talk to me!” he pleaded to Roger’s retreating back.
Roger hurried to his truck, and climbed in. He started the engine, but he couldn’t go anywhere. There was a very large dumpster right in front of him… and Stan’s truck had him blocked in the back. He was stuck!
Stan walked up to the side of Roger’s truck. His friend was just sitting inside staring straight ahead… not even acknowledging his presence just outside the truck door. He finally knocked on the window.
Roger turned his head, then rolled down his window slightly. “Move your truck,” he said.
“No,” Stan replied… as calmly as he could.
“I can’t get out of here with you blocking me in.”
“Move it!” Roger said again, much more forcefully.
“No,” Stan replied again. “What’s going on?” he asked one more time. And don’t tell me it’s nothing, because I can see perfectly well that something is going on… and whatever it is, it’s major!”
“Stan,” Roger said, then he paused. He looked back at the dumpster in front of him… then back at his friend. “You can’t help. So don’t ask. Please… don’t ask! Just leave me alone!”
“So what is it that I can’t help with?” Stan asked.
“Nothing!” Roger replied with more than a hint of anger in his voice. “Nothing at all! Now please… move your truck... and just leave me be.” He rolled up his window again and turned his head away to look at the dumpster instead… and just stared at it, purposely ignoring his friend.
Stan shook his head and gave up. He climbed into his truck and backed it out of the driveway. Something was going on with Roger, and whatever it was, it was far, far worse than he thought it might be. Whatever it was that was wrong.
In a fit of worry, Roger drove toward home. Stan was going to be trouble! He had no doubts in the world about that. And if Janice ever got wind of what Stan was doing… He suddenly slowed down at that thought. There was a street where he could turn off of the road just ahead. He took it and a few moments later, pulled over to the side of the road to think. If Janice ever got wind that Stan was trying so hard to help him, then he simply feared for what Janice might do to his friend. And there was no doubt at all that Stan was a very good friend. He hated treating him as he just had, but the situation meant that he couldn’t do much else.
Another thought piggy-backed its way onto the first one. If he came home too early, then Janice would want to know why. And he dared not let Janice know that Stan was getting in the way of things! Forcing himself to calm down, he turned his truck around and drove back to the Whittaker’s house again. He went straight back into the backyard where he again picked up his shovel and began digging. Stan had only dug part of one hole… in the time it had taken him to dig not just one, but almost finish another one as well. But with a total of seven holes to dig, that left an awful lot of work still to do.
This time, with no one else around, other than the Whittakers, to see the breasts sticking out of his chest, he removed his jacket that was starting to get in his way. The digging was hard work, but it had to be done. And Janice had to be kept in the dark about Stan wanting to help.