By Karen Singer
Roger arrived at Rebecca Adkins’ daughter’s house extra early… as he had pre-arranged the day before. He was hoping to completely finish the job for her today. But that was only one of the major things on his mind as he knocked on her door. The other major thing was his new boots. He was glad when the door was opened quickly and he was able to slip inside. But getting inside put his new boots on direct display to both her and her husband. And he was barely through the door before they were noticed.
“New boots, Mr. Brinkley?” she asked the moment he got through the door.
Roger looked down at his feet. “Yeah,” he replied.
“They’re… very… nice,” she finally finished. “Interesting, but very nice.”
Roger wasn’t sure how to reply to that so he just said, “Thanks,” and changed the subject. “Hopefully, I should be able to finish up today.”
“That would be so good!” she exclaimed. “Then I can get on with finishing the decorating. It’s been awfully tiresome having my house in such a mess for so long.”
“I’m sure it has,” Roger agreed. “If I wasn’t still teaching school, it would have been done a long time ago. But… well, right now, finishing with my classes has to come first.”
Fifteen minutes later, Roger’s clothes were covered by his painter’s coveralls and his boots were covered by the plastic bags. It was hot and a bit cumbersome to work in, but he felt the trade-off was worth the effort – no clean up to his clothes, and especially to his boots. And there was no way that any of it even came close to how uncomfortable that damn corset was that Carol was tying him into every night. That thing was simply a nightmare!
Agent Ted Jacobs stared at his personal copy of the Janice Stokley file. He was stuck. Badly stuck. But this wasn’t the first time he had been in this situation on this case. He needed way to get more information. He needed a lead! But from where? All of Brinkley’s friends had turned out to be no help at all… and from what they had told him, Brinkley himself was a total flake! He wasn’t sure if he was surprised by that bit of news or not. But no matter, flake or not, he had no doubt that Brinkley knew more than he was telling… or had told when they had met with him at the high school.
Maybe it was time to visit with Brinkley again. Push him a bit harder. Yeah, as far as he could see, that might be his best bet for now.
With nothing better to do, he opened the file folder and started at the beginning, carefully going through every scrap of paper and every note he had ever made. The answer was in there somewhere – it had to be! She was connected to all three banks that had been robbed. The first had been robbed by her own husband! If that wasn’t a big red flag then he didn’t know what was. But her husband was now lying flat in a special hospital from a brain aneurism. All but dead. No use to anyone at all.
The second bank had been in Mobile. They were pretty sure that the bank had been robbed by one of the managers, but right afterwards, the guy had gone off the deep end and had been in a mental institute ever since. Totally non-communicative. Almost as if he didn’t understand what was being said to him anymore. Jacobs remembered visiting with him a couple of times. It had been creepy the way the guy had looked at him… and didn’t appear to even see him.
And then there was the bank president from Birmingham. And he was another nut case now. Jacobs remembered visiting the mental institute that he was in too. And while the first guy had been creepy, this one was even worse! Jacobs would never forget the way the guy had just kind of crouched on top of his bed, never moving a muscle… except for his eyes… his eyes that would dart from spot to spot around the room as if watching for something. His arms had been bent up at the elbows and his wrists bent down, his fingers all closed together as if his hands were giant pincers. And as far as anyone could tell, he never noticed anyone speaking to him – ever! And he certainly never said anything at all. But just before he walked out, he had seen those weird pincer-like hands suddenly dart out at lightning speed as if catching something in midair. He had watched in horror as he had quickly brought a fly up to his mouth and ate it! No, there was no way that guy was connected with the real world anymore! And to tell the truth, the guy had reminded Jacobs of nothing but a giant praying mantis! It had to be the ultimate in creepy!
Three bank robberies, three mental institutes, and the last two perpetrators were so far off the deep end that they couldn’t even be totally connected with humanity anymore! He had no doubt that there was a pattern there, but it was impossible to prove anything. As far as he knew, neither one had said a single word to anyone since the banks had been robbed. Guilty… but no way to convict them or get a confession out of them.
And either way, how was Janice involved in the second two cases? She had worked for both banks, but that was the extent of her connection to both cases. As far as they were able to discern, she wasn’t strongly connected to either guy. Yet she had been there, working at the banks, just as she had when her husband had robbed his bank… and in all three cases, the perpetrators were now unable to communicate – anything at all! Totally maddening!
There wasn’t one shred of proof against Janice Stokley at all! But Jacob’s gut told him that Janice was at the bottom of all of it. He just hadn’t been able to prove it yet. But he would! That was one thing he knew for sure, someday he would! It was only a matter of time… and finding all that damn money of course! It was all out there somewhere. But where? Millions and millions of dollars… just sitting there unused! Oh how he’d like to get his hands on that money! It would change everything!
He looked again at the information on the two nutso guys. It had been a while now since he had called either of the looney bins where they were now permanent residents. It couldn’t hurt to make a few more follow-up calls… just to see if there had been any improvements since the last time. He made a note for himself to phone the institutes first thing Monday morning… and also to figure out when he could go out to talk with Roger Brinkley again! The damn guy was nutso too… just in a different way. But he had no doubt at all that Roger Brinkley knew more than what he had told them last time.
Roger stood in the doorway and carefully looked over the room he had just finished painting. It looked good and he felt nothing but satisfied – and ready to get out of the extra protective clothing he was wearing. With the weather starting to turn warmer, yet still with too much rain, it was becoming hot and humid and he had been sweating for the last few hours. His new boots had his feet hurting more than a bit as well, but pressing on as he had done was worth it. He was done now… except for moving some of the furniture back into place. He pulled the plastic coverings off of his boots and gratefully peeled out of the coveralls he was wearing. The cooler air felt good, even though his new boots with their higher heels were now fully on display.
Most of the furniture and decorations that had been in the bedroom had been moved out of it. Roger wasn’t going to worry about moving any of that back in again. But there were also a few of the bigger pieces that had been set in the middle of the room where he had draped a protective tarp over them while he had been painting. Since he had moved those pieces to where they were before he started painting, he decided he should at least get them somewhat back into place.
Bracing himself as best he could in his new boots, he started shoving at the bottom of one of the dressers. It was very heavy – even with much of the clothing that had been in it removed. His old boots had been bad enough to do that kind of work in, but his new boots were making the job all that much more difficult. He had even less traction in them to push with… and that didn’t even take into consideration the fact that after standing and working in the boots all day, his toes were totally killing him! It was only through sheer perseverance that he managed to move the heavy dresser, somewhat back to where it belonged.
He noticed right away after moving it, that his back ached a little bit. For that kind of work, he knew he should have been wearing his back brace – that he all too often did without. But that thought reminded him all too well of his “new” back brace that Janice had said he would be wearing to work in all too soon – his stupid corset! Right now, he was more than glad to put up with the little bit of aching in his back from the heavy lifting. His corset would be ten times worse! And of course, he knew that as soon as he got home in a little while, Carol would be lacing him into it right away. The damn thing was just simply – uncomfortable! Not to mention, a nuisance too!
Bracing what little of his feet that he could, he put his back to work on moving the other dresser. He needed to get the job done and get out of there before Janice made him eat his dinner from his dog bowl on the floor again!
While Janice ate, she did her best to look Roger over while they all sat at the dinner table together, without it being obvious as to what she was doing. As usual now, he was dressed completely as Candy… even though it was in some rather plain looking work jeans. His top that he had been working in all day wasn’t too bad, although it looked like he had been sweating in it a bit. But she was sure that the kind of work that he did would cause him to sweat somewhat… even though summer wasn’t even here yet.
As soon as he had gotten home today, he had hurried to his room where he had donned his wig and done his makeup. Sometime during that period, Carol had evidently been in to see him too since she could tell that his corset was once again in place. The corset seemed to improve his figure… some, but it would look much better if Roger had bothered to change the small bra he had been wearing all day for the larger ones he wore at all other times now.
But that thought made her pause. Why did he need those smaller bras anymore? As far as she was concerned – he didn’t! “Candy,” she said, “I’d like you to do me a favor after dinner please.”
Roger looked up. Warily he asked, “What’s that?”
“Please remove that too-small brazier that you are wearing and put one of your normal ones on instead.”
Roger looked at her for only a moment before nodding his head. “No problem,” he replied.
Janice turned to her daughter next. “Carol dear, as soon as Candy here had changed his bra, would you be so kind as to get it from him… along with all the other ones that he has with the smaller cup size. I can’t see where he needs them anymore. They can all go into the trash now.”
Carol only laughed. “Glad to, Momma!”
Roger felt like dying!
Susan heard that same faint whimper coming out of Ben-ben again that she had heard from him many times on the way home in the car. It seemed like every time the “dog” fell asleep, or every time he was ignored for a while, he went into that whimper mode. And Susan had no doubt what the “dog’s” problem was. Janice had made him feel nothing but remorse over what Halifax had done to Leila. So except for the times when someone was actively paying attention to the now dumb animal, he would always feel that remorse. Obviously, that was another bit of conditioning that Janice had put into him that seemed to be working perfectly. She was still totally amazed at how much like a real dog the former “man” now behaved.
Ben-ben had caused something of minor disturbance among the estate staff the moment they arrived. Susan had explained to several of them exactly what was going on – to the huge amazement of all of them. And at the same time, she had explained that from now on, Ben-ben was nothing but a dog and therefore would be treated as nothing but a dog – from now on! And she didn’t want to catch anyone acting any differently towards the… animal!
Watching the “dog” sniffing the tire of the car right after they had gotten home… and then peeing on it while she was still explaining about him to the first batch of the staff, had pretty much cemented his status into their minds. From what she could see, the staff was now looking on Ben-ben with more than a bit of humor. All the better!
Since then, Ben-ben had spent most of the remainder of the day in her office with her. She had taken him out on his leash once to walk him… and had one of her staff walk him two other times, as well as feed him his dinner – that she specified would be nothing but dog food for the former… “man.” She had no doubt that the staff was getting quite a kick out of Ben-ben.
She heard that soft whimper again. She pushed her desk chair back away from her desk a bit and leaned back. It was getting late and she’d had a very long day. Janice’s insistence on the early morning hour hadn’t helped matters any at all. But thinking about Janice and when they had met that morning caused her to also remember that one phone call from Janice the week before. Janice had called her – while in the middle of multiple orgasms!
Her eyes fell on Ben-ben who was curled up on the rug right in front of her sofa. He was sound asleep and whimpering – as usual. Curious, she called, “Ben-ben.” She watched as the “dog” immediately lifted his head and looked around. “Ben-ben… come!” she commanded. She was still amazed at the way Halifax… now Ben-ben… acted so much like a real dog. She pushed her chair back further as he came around the side of her desk to see her… his tongue out slightly and panting happily since he was getting attention again. She petted his head as he sat down in front of her. So amazingly like a real dog!
But her curiosity about that something else was all too much on her mind. She got up from her seat and removed her slacks and her panties… and pulled her blouse up out of the way. She sat down again as the dog seemed to watch her very intently. All it took was a single command from her and Ben-ben’s tongue was hard at work in the very place that she wanted it to be. And all she could think was that Janice had been right – Ben-ben had a very remarkable tongue!