By Karen Singer
Chapter 42 Part 3 of 4
The forecast called for more thundershowers later in the afternoon. But in the meantime, the skies were sunny and the temperatures were fairly warm, and Roger was trying to take advantage of the good weather to continue working on the deck behind his house. But he wasn’t the only one who was enjoying the good weather for a change. Carol had found his old aluminum folding lounge chair in his shop and had dragged it out and set it up on the part of the deck where he had already finished installing the floor boards. She was currently sunning herself happily.
Roger was enjoying the sunny warm weather and he was enjoying the work he was doing. But there were things that he was not enjoying – his new boots seemed to top that list admirably. The long hair of his wig wasn’t exactly a lot of fun either, but at least the wind wasn’t blowing and it wasn’t getting in his way… too much. As he worked, he just couldn’t figure out how Janice expected him to do this kind of construction work in boots with the kind of heel he was wearing now. He had too much heavy lifting to do and the boots didn’t offer him the kind of support he really needed to do that kind of work. But since he had no choice in the matter, he persevered. There was no doubt about the difference in the height of the heels on his new boots compared to the brown boots he had been wearing. Just then, he’d give anything to be able to continue wearing the old boots instead of these new ones… especially since the ground he was walking on was so soft from all the rain. The narrower heels of his boots kept sinking in!
A faint sound caught his attention and he looked up towards the back door of his house. A moment later, the sound came again. The garage door opening and closing. “I think your mother’s home,” he said to Carol.
“’Bout time,” Carol replied without even opening her eyes.
Janice entered the kitchen. The house seemed quiet… too quiet. Roger’s truck was parked out front, but where was he and Carol? A small noise from out back made her smile. Outside, of course. She went through the laundry room and opened the back door, careful not to go through the doorway so she wouldn’t fall through the deck that Roger was still building. But when she opened the door, she was pleasantly surprised to see a deck floor she could walk right out onto… and her daughter was lounging in a chair on the finished portion. She stepped out on the new deck. It certainly felt nice and firm to stand on. “Hi everyone she greeted them.”
“Momma!” Carol exclaimed as she got up from her chair and gave her mother a hug. “How did everything go?”
“Just fine dear,” Janice told her. “Just fine.” But she was careful to not offer any other details. “I must say,” she said as she looked around at the deck, this is looking wonderful! The steps are nice and wide too. That will be a big help.”
Roger looked up from the other side of the deck where he was on his knees installing yet another board, extending the finished floor length. “It’s still got a little ways to go,” he told her, “but it is getting there.”
“What do you still have to do?” she asked.
“After I finish with this part,” he said, indicating the floor boards he was installing, “I’ve still got to install the railings. That will take a bit of time, but it shouldn’t take too long. I should have it finished up sometime this coming week.”
“That will be wonderful!” Janice exclaimed happily. She took a moment to notice the silver buckles on his new black boots. “Your new boots look very nice,” she told him. “Stand up so I can see them better.”
Roger hated it, but he stood.
“Turn around,” Janice requested.
Roger turned slowly around. “The heels are too high and too narrow for construction work,” he told her, hoping to get some relief.
“Nonsense!” Janice exclaimed. “It looks like you’re managing just fine in them. And if you have any problems, well, I’m sure you’ll be able to handle things one way or another. But I must say, they are exactly what I was hoping for you. They look splendid!”
Roger had a far different opinion of the boots. Far different! He moved closer to talk to her. “Um…” he said as he got near her.
“Um… I was wondering if there’s any chance that I can go fishing again next week. The deck here should be done before then and I’d really like to go again.
Janice considered that for a moment. “I think that we can allow it again. I’m very pleased with the work you’ve done here so far. I look forward to seeing it finished.”
Roger was very glad. Almost ecstatic! “Thanks!” he said gladly.
“Candy is going to a hen party the week after that,” Carol told her mother.
“A hen party?”
Roger rolled his eyes. Nothing else was said though because they were interrupted by the ringing of his phone. He hurried to grab it from the finished part of the deck where he had put it so it would be out of the way. “Hello?” A few minutes later, he set his phone down again. “Another job,” he told Janice. “More storm damage to repair.”
“Wonderful, Candy. You’re new business is moving right along!”
Actually, Roger was glad for the call – despite having to wear the new boots to work in. More calls meant that he was still working… and with his teaching career coming to an end, he was going to need that income!
On Monday morning, while the house was quiet, Janice sat with her computer and consulted her notebook very carefully as she typed away at something she had never had to work on before. She spent several hours creating a document for Susan that told her all about what Ben-ben would be thinking and feeling and how the “dog” should behave. It detailed all the commands he would understand as well as the special commands, such as the ones that would allow him to temporarily understand human speech. She even included the special command to turn him back into a human again – although with no knowledge of being a dog at all. She left nothing out. Susan had asked for him, so Janice figured it was only right that she know everything about the dumb… beast.
Carol was fuming as she worked diligently on the test questions in front of her. Damn! Roger could have at least warned her that the quiz was coming. But then, he loved giving tests! He probably enjoyed it even more when nobody knew they were coming… like this one. The jerk!
Surprisingly, she finished the thing easily before the period was over. She looked up from her seat at the back of the room to glare angrily at him, but he was working hard at grading the tests from his earlier classes. She finally saw him finish with the paper he was working on and move it to another pile. She watched as he looked up at the class where most of the kids were still working on the stupid test. She watched him lean back in his chair to rest for a minute. She saw him stretch his legs under the desk. She knew that he had stretched his legs out because she could just see his one foot extending out from under the back of the bottom of the desk. She hadn’t been able to see his feet earlier. Something about seeing his foot there held her attention as she stared at it.
He enjoyed making the kids miserable by giving them tests. She was looking for a way to make him miserable when he gave them. She stared at his still visible foot… and smiled. What if….
Late Tuesday morning, there was a small knock at the door. Janice wasn’t surprised to find the same Chinese messenger standing at the door with another file for her. “Thank you,” she said and watched as the man bowed slightly to her. “Can you get something to Susan for me?” she asked.
The man bowed again and uttered a single word, “Yes.”
“One moment please,” Janice told him. She found the envelope containing the paper she had made detailing the “dog” that Susan was soon going to get and gave it to the messenger… who bowed yet again before he went back to his car. Janice planned on calling Susan tomorrow to set up where to get Ben-ben. She wasn’t sure if Susan would have the document by then, but that wouldn’t matter. The Halifax business was nearly at an end. And by next Friday night, she would have ten thousand dollars more to spend on… furniture and equipment for her new charity business
Picking up the new file that had just been delivered, she carried it into the living room and sat down to study it. It was, of course, everything else she needed to know about Doctor Jessica Parker – Endocrinologist… and gambler! The only really important information in the file, was the markers that Susan had paid for… and had now given to Janice. As of now, Doctor Parker owed all that money to Janice instead of her usual loan sharks. Her cooperation with Roger’s little transformation was all but assured.
She was about to pick up the phone to make an appointment with the doctor, when the sound of a noisy vehicle entering the driveway caught her attention. Looking out the window, she noticed a brown UPS delivery truck coming to a stop. She went to the door, and a minute later signed for a package, then watched as the truck drove off again. She carried the package into the kitchen and opened it… and smiled.
She wasn’t too sure how much Roger was going to like his new corset. But she had no doubt that she was going to absolutely love seeing him in it!
She finally picked up the phone and called Doctor Parker’s office. Since she didn’t have a referral from another doctor, the process took a little longer, but she finally got an appointment for late the following Wednesday afternoon for a consultation for Roger. Yes, Roger’s life was about to undergo many more changes now. And she was looking forward to having a front row seat to witness all of it.
Susan had not been expecting to get something back from Janice, but when she saw what the paper was about, she read it through with great interest. Then she read it again, much more carefully.
There was much in it that she liked, and a few things she wasn’t as sure of. She really liked the fact that Halifax would forever be feeling remorse over what he had done to Leila. The part she wasn’t so sure about was that basically he would have the mind and intelligence of a dog. He would remember that he had once been human, but that was about it. His memories of his human life would be limited mostly to things that would feed his remorse… namely, what he had done with, and to, Leila. Susan had to wonder if his punishment to live the rest of his life as a dog would be more painful to him if he had more of his old memories to draw upon. She decided that she would have to content herself with the fact that he would always be focused on what he had done to Leila.
As she read the details carefully, she realized that Janice was being as complete as possible with Halifax. For all intents and purposes, he would possess the brain of a dog and nothing more. The only things he would be capable of doing were things that a dog would do. And… he would be capable of learning new things… but he would be limited in his ability to learn them the same way any other dog would.
She wasn’t very interested in the command that would turn him back into a human again. She not only had no interest in using it, but eventually, when she got tired of having him around, she had plans to ship him off to somewhere where he would never hear the English language spoken again.
Overall though, she was now more curious than ever about what kind of… creature Janice would be delivering to her.