By Karen Singer
Chapter 31 Part 2 of 3
Despite the desperate work he had done, Roger was still forced to eat his light dinner from his dog bowl on the floor. And afterwards, he went back to his room where laid down on his carpet and stared at the ceiling for a while. His life was in shambles. He was losing his identity as Roger… and was being forced to see more and more of Candy instead. He was losing… himself. Majorly depressed and not meaning to, he fell asleep.
“Mr. Brinkley!” Janice’s voice cut through the room. “What are you doing?”
“Huh?” Roger woke with a start.
“I was just doing some thinking,” Roger managed to reply as he rolled over and got to his feet.
“The dog cage for you tonight, Mr. Brinkley. You’ve been in here all evening and I see no evidence at all that you’ve done anything toward your goal of becoming a woman! The dog cage!”
Oh hell! “But…”
“No Buts!” Janice said angrily. “Now get undressed… now!”
Five minutes later, Roger watched – from inside the cage – as Janice closed the lock… locking him in. He wanted to cry. There was no way he could stretch out at all. He hated the cage. He hated having to eat his meals from a dog bowl on the floor. And mostly, he hated Janice Stokley!
He pushed vainly with his back and legs against the bars of the cage to try to break it… but all he got was pain for his effort. Even more frustrated, he did his best to curl up into a ball and try to go to sleep. He didn’t vow it… he didn’t even fully think about it… but in the back of his mind, he knew he was going to have to make an even bigger effort… a constant effort… to avoid sleeping in the cage again. Not to mention being allowed to eat like a real person at the table. And the only way he could do that, was to turn himself into Candy even faster.
He was losing himself. He was losing who he was… Roger. And there was nothing he could do about it. He rolled over in the cage and again tried to push with his feet to stretch his muscles a bit. And again he was denied. He hated the cage! He hated being caged like… an animal.
“Roger dodger,” Stan said as he set his tray down across the table from where Roger was eating.
Roger looked up to see not only Stan, but also Jennifer now setting her tray down next to him. Yeah, he was just betting those two were sleeping together! He did his best to ignore them… particularly Jennifer… and eat his lunch.
“You have gotten to be the most unfriendly person around!” Jennifer complained after a few moments.
Roger glanced up at her, then back down toward his lunch.
“Roger!” Stan said sharply to get his attention.
Roger looked up.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Just leave me alone.” Roger replied before looking back down at this lunch again.
“Hell no!” Stan replied angrily. “Not till I know what’s been eating at you!”
“Roger,” Jennifer’s voice added, “yesterday you told me to leave you alone… for my own good! What did you mean by that?”
Roger looked up at her… and Stan. He wasn’t happy that she had asked that question. They wouldn’t leave him alone. It was dangerous for them to keep prying into his life. And now they were starting to get into even more dangerous territory.
“Yeah,” Stan said. What did you mean by that? Roger, are you into something dangerous?”
Before they could make matters any worse, Roger again got up from the table. But he stopped before walking out on them. “Just… leave me alone!” he said one more time. “Don’t ask any more questions! For your own good – both of you… just drop it and leave me alone!” He hurried out, knowing he might have done more damage just then than he should have.
“What the hell?” Stan exclaimed as he watched Roger walking out. “Roger!” he called. “Roger!” But Roger didn’t turn around, and a moment later, he was gone.
“He’s afraid for both of us!” Jennifer noted as she still watched the door where Roger had disappeared.
Stan nodded. “Why? What’s he gotten into that’s so dangerous?”
“And what does that have to do with the weird way he’s been behaving lately?” Jennifer added.
Roger fumed all the way back to his classroom. His friends just wouldn’t leave him alone. Obviously they were better friends than he had ever thought. Friends who seemed to care about him more than he ever thought. But for this… caring about him could get them hurt. And because they were his friends, he had to protect them. Even if it meant driving them totally away, which is just what he knew he needed to do.
The rain had stopped falling… for now… as Roger stood in his backyard and surveyed the job ahead of him. The tree had fallen at a slight angle so it had just barely grazed the back of the house. He had cut some of it away yesterday, but that was only a tiny portion of the job ahead of him now. The entire tree needed to be removed before he could properly get to work fixing the damage to his house. He briefly thought about hiring a tree service to handle the job for him, but this was work that he was fully capable of doing himself, so he never gave that option another thought.
He went into his workshop and gassed up his chainsaw. Then, because he would be working with very heavy branches, he tightly strapped his back brace around his waist. Slipping a pair of work gloves onto his hands, he went out to work on the tree. His chain saw roared to life, and he went to work.
Jennifer saw the fallen tree as soon as she turned into Roger’s driveway. She heard the sound of his chainsaw as she got out of her car. But the ground was so wet she was reluctant to walk all the way around to the back of the house. Roger had a housekeeper, she quickly decided to see if the housekeeper would let her go through the house so she could go down the back steps to where Roger was working instead. She went up to the front door and rang the bell.
Janice was in the kitchen working on dinner when she heard the doorbell – a strange thing since nobody ever came to the house – fortunately! “Carol… she yelled to her daughter watching TV in the living room. “Will you get that please? I have my hands full here.”
Carol immediately got up and opened the door. “Miss White!” she exclaimed, shocked to see her art teacher at the door.
Jennifer was equally surprised to see Carol open the door, even though she knew that Carol’s mother was Roger’s new housekeeper. “Hi Carol,” she said. “I just stopped by to see Mr. Brinkley for a few minutes. Would you mind if I came through the house? It’s a bit muddy out there.”
“Who is it?” Carol heard her mother calling from the kitchen.
“Miss White, my art teacher, Carol yelled back.” She turned her attention back to her teacher. “Uh… going through the house isn’t going to help you,” she started to explain.
“Your art teacher?” Janice interrupted as she walked quickly from the kitchen toward the front door. She was still wiping her hands with a dishtowel. “I’m Carol’s mother, Janice Stokley,” Janice introduced herself as she walked up. “Is there a problem with any of Carol’s work?”
Jennifer shook her head. “No, I just stopped in to see Roger. I can hear him working out back, but it’s a bit muddy out there and I thought I’d try going through the house instead.”
“Oh!” Janice replied, forcing a smile to her face, but she was anything but pleased. Her mind instantly reviewed the way that Roger was currently dressed… just as she always insisted that he dress for his construction jobs now. But this was someone that he worked with at school. “Um… I’m afraid that the back door is completely unusable right now. We had a tree fall on the house yesterday.”
“It hit the house?” Jennifer asked incredulously.
“Yes. Carol and I were in the kitchen when it happened. I can’t tell you how frightened we were!”
“I don’t doubt it!” Jennifer replied, her voice still shocked by what had happened.
“And the mess!” Janice continued. “The rain just wouldn’t stop coming in. I mopped and mopped just to keep it from continually getting worse! It was hours before Mr. Brinkley managed to put a cover over it and keep the rain out.”
“God!” Jennifer exclaimed, completely wide-eyed. “Was there much damage?”
“Evidently the back deck is completely destroyed as is the back door. And Mr. Brinkley told me that there is some roof damage as well. But he hasn’t been able to assess things fully yet. He needs to remove the downed tree before he can do much more. And as you can imagine, he’s quite busy with that.” Janice was hoping that telling her how busy Roger was would convince this woman to just go away! But she didn’t get any such luck.
“Sounds like Roger has a lot of work on his hands. I’ll just go around and see him then.”
That was the last thing that Janice wanted, but she wasn’t going to have much of a choice in the matter. She was, “technically,” only the housekeeper. It seemed that Roger’s friends were about to see his new boots… and perhaps his pert little breasts as well. She only wished she could see out into the back yard to watch what happened, but that darn tree had taken that possibility completely away!
Jennifer walked carefully around the garage side of the house… stepping cautiously across the soft, overly soaked ground. She was glad she had bothered to go home and change… and had worn flats today. The sound of the chainsaw grew louder with each step. She came to the fallen tree itself. The thing was huge. She had no choice but to struggle a bit to climb over the thing. She heard the chainsaw stop. And now she saw him dragging some overly large branches out of the way toward the back of the yard. And… she saw the boots he was wearing. Not overly fancy boots, but without a doubt women’s boots.
She walked closer and stopped as she watched him drop the branches in a pile with many others.
“Damn!” Roger grunted. Even the small branches were heavy! He did his best to throw the branches on top of others in the pile, but it was all he could do to just get the waterlogged branches up against the others he had already put there.
He turned around, and was totally shocked to see Jennifer standing by where he had been working. He was totally shocked… and panicked! “What are you doing here?” he asked as he hurried toward her.
“I came to try to talk to you,” Jennifer replied as he got closer. She smiled… mischievously. “Nice boots by the way.”
“What are you doing here?” Roger asked again.
“Like I said, I came to talk.”
Roger shook his head. “I don’t want to talk,” he told her. “You really need to just leave… just go home. Forget about me. Okay?”
Jennifer shook her head. “Not on your life!” she replied stubbornly. “Are you wearing a bra today too?” she asked. “Stan said you were wearing one the other day when he saw you.”
Roger didn’t want to answer that. “Look, please just leave me alone,” he pleaded.
“No Roger! I want to get to the bottom of this! I want to know why I need to stay away from you… for my own good! Stan too for that matter.”
Roger shook his head. “Look Jennifer…”
“You are wearing a bra!” Jennifer suddenly exclaimed. “I can see your little breasts quite plainly now. Of course, that belt you’re wearing makes them a bit more obvious.”
Roger wanted to scream. “Yes! Okay? Yes, I’m wearing a damn bra. Now just leave it be! Leave me alone.”
“Why? Both Stan and I get the impression that you think that being around you is dangerous. Why Roger? Why?”
“Why? Both Stan and I get the impression that you think that being around you is dangerous. Why Roger? Why?”
“I didn’t say that,” Roger replied, trying to cover up the truth. He realized that Janice might be inside listening to everything… not that his mental conditioning would let him say anything out of place anyway.
“Then what the hell is going on?” Jennifer asked yet again.
Roger was so frustrated he couldn’t speak. Why wouldn’t she just go away? “Look, I’ve got work to do!” he said as he turned his back to her.
Jennifer watched him pick up his chainsaw. “I’m not leaving!” she called. His reply was the roar of the saw.
Inside the house, Janice had been doing her best to hear what was happening on the other side of the tarp. The two had been arguing about something. But she couldn’t make out enough to tell what was going on. Neither of them had sounded happy about it though. Hearing the sound of the saw again, she decided on another plan.
Jennifer stood near the front of Roger’s workshop as she watched him working. The boots he was wearing didn’t have all that high a heel, so she wasn’t that surprised that he didn’t appear to be having any problem working in them. The boots were actually, somewhat practical… for a woman. But certainly not for a man. And certainly not for the kind of work he was doing just then. And, he was wearing them today… when he wasn’t working for a client. So it was looking to her like there was more to this boots thing than just a gimmick to get customers. The bra too since she had seen the small breasts sticking out under his jacket. And because of all that, she was more determined than ever to not leave… and to get to the bottom of it all.
She was surprised to see his housekeeper, Carol’s mother, coming around the far side of the house. She was carrying coffee mugs in each hand. She left her spot and headed toward her.
“I thought you and Mr. Brinkley might need some coffee,” Janice said as Jennifer got near enough to hear over the sound of Roger’s saw.
“Oh, that sounds great! Thank you.” Jennifer replied as she took one of the hot mugs. She took a small sip from it immediately, then warmed her hands on the hot mug. She turned as the sound of the chainsaw ended again.
“Mr. Brinkley, coffee!” Janice called as she headed toward him.
Roger was surprised by the offer. He saw Jennifer drinking and got immediately frightened for her. Janice wouldn’t have poisoned Jennifer’s drink, would she? He certainly hoped not. He gratefully took the hot cup from Janice.
Janice’s attention though was more focused on the odd very wide belt strapped tightly around Roger’s waist… that forced his tiny breasts to be a bit more noticeable. “What are you wearing?” she asked. “I’ve never seen a belt like that before.”
Roger looked down at the belt. “It’s a back brace. This is heavy work. I don’t want to hurt my back.”
“Do you wear that often?” Janice asked.
“Do you wear that often?” Janice asked.
“Not as much as I probably should,” Roger admitted. “Mostly just when I know I’m going to be doing a lot of heavy lifting.”
“I see,” Janice replied thoughtfully. But now she suddenly remembered her real reason for being out there in the first place. “I just came out to see if your friend, Miss White, would like to stay for dinner.” She turned toward her daughter’s teacher. “I’ve cooked a large roast so there’s plenty for everyone.”
Jennifer immediately remembered tasting the chicken soup that Roger had brought to work last week. She glanced briefly at Roger who had a somewhat horrified look on his face. Why? “Sure. If you don’t mind that is,” she replied.
“Oh, it’s no trouble at all,” Janice told her. “No trouble at all.”
Roger wanted to scream! Totally frustrated, he turned his back on them and headed back to his chain saw. He took another sip of his coffee, then set the mug on the ground. A moment later, he was angrily cutting branches again.
Since Roger was working… and also doing his best to ignore her, Jennifer decided try something else. “Mrs. Stokley,” she said, “since Roger is a bit busy right now, is there any chance you might be willing to give me your recipe for that chicken soup he had last week?”
“My chicken soup?” Janice asked, somewhat surprised.
“Roger let me have a tiny taste of it at school one day. It was heavenly!”
Janice was pleased by the compliment. “Of course,” she said as she turned to head back around toward the front of the house. “I don’t have an actual recipe for it, but if you want to write it down while I finish preparing dinner, I’ll be glad to tell you how I make it.”
“That sounds perfect!” Jennifer replied.
Roger turned his head and saw Jennifer walking all too chummily next to the biggest nightmare he had ever met. He feared for his friend just then, but he didn’t know what he could do about it. Janice wouldn’t really hurt her, would she? She wouldn’t poison her during dinner, would she? But Janice had claimed that she had never killed anyone in her life. And Roger now suspected that was true. She didn’t actually kill her victims. What she did was far, far worse! Yes, he feared for Jennifer just then, but he was hoping that Janice wouldn’t do anything to her tonight. At least, he didn’t think she would.