Friday, June 27, 2014

The Housekeeper - Chapter 52

The Housekeeper
By Karen Singer

Chapter 52

Janice wiped her dusting cloth over the new sewing table that had just been delivered and set up.  She sprayed a little more furniture polish on it and rubbed it in.  The surface had been gleaming to start with, but she was sure that the wax she had just added made it gleam brighter.  She ran her hand over the large sewing machine that sat on the table.  The manual for the machine was placed right next to it.  She hadn’t tried the machine yet.  She hadn’t even turned it on.  She would get to it soon enough.  She had other things to do first. 
She needed to make a trip.  She needed to leave as soon as possible.  She had only been waiting on her new sewing machine and table to arrive.  And now they were there occupying the space she had left vacant in the living room for them.
Carol and Candy had been warned that she would be gone until sometime tomorrow – most likely late tomorrow.  The beds had all been made, the dishes were done, and she had spent most of her morning designing and ordering the new business cards for Candy.  She had really enjoyed that little task. She had created a precious new logo for Candy.  She was sure he… she… would appreciate it when “she” saw it.
With nothing to hold her back, she began gathering the things she would need for her trip.  Some things she would have to buy along the way, but some things she already had.  She was heading for southern Alabama… not far from Mobile where she had once lived.  Mobile was where Agent Jacobs had first started really hounding her.  He had been there in Jackson, Mississippi, but it was in Mobile that he had really started to become a pain. 

The minute she got into the car, she checked for electronic bugs very carefully.  Fortunately, there were none.  Two minutes later, she was pulling out of the driveway.  She had a long drive ahead of her… and just as long a drive back tomorrow.

Miserable couldn’t even begin to describe how Halifax felt.  The monstrous tubs of... whatever was in them and was now stuck to his folded up legs were so big and bulky he could barely move at all.  Since they had dragged him back into his tiny cell, he had only been able to lay on his stomach and that was it.  He couldn’t even roll over because the tubs were so big.  When he had to pee, he had dragged himself as far to the side as he could, raised his body as much as possible, and let it out.  Then he had been forced to drag his body away from the puddle… although doing that without getting wet from it had proved impossible. 
He had another problem too.  He was hungry.  One of the workers had again brought him food, dumping what had to be leftovers scraped off of someone’s plate right onto the floor.  He had been so hungry he had grabbed at it and ate it as quickly as he could.  But it hadn’t been nearly enough to satisfy his hunger.  The water from the bucket that he scooped out with his hands and sipped helped some, but not all that much.
The lights in the main room came on again, and he noticed some commotion as workers carried things in and left again.  This time, he didn’t make a sound.  His pleading for help always went unanswered. 
He saw the four large guards come in again, but this time they stood around waiting.  That same man who had stuck his legs into the tubs came back and talked with them.  They spoke Chinese so he had no idea what they were saying, but the fact that they were there again didn’t seem to bode well for him.  They had already deprived him of his legs.  Attached some kind of heavy blocks to them so that he was forced to crawl around on his belly.  What more could they do to him?  But he knew they would do something, and he wasn’t anxious to find out what.
The woman and that evil man suddenly appeared and his apprehension grew worse.  The guards headed for his cell.  He would have retreated to the back wall, but moving was too difficult.  He watched as they opened his cell door… and he started crying in earnest as they dragged him out to the center of the main room where he was dumped unceremoniously in front of the woman.
Susan looked down at the pitiful creature in front of her.  She had no pity for him at all.  She spoke English, but the words she said were not what he would have expected her to say.  It’s time for Ben-ben the dog.”
Once again Halifax had a brief vision of filing cabinet drawers closing, and one single drawer opening.  He was already naked and on the floor, but his hands clenched themselves into paws that he would never think of opening or using as hands.  Part way through the transformation, Ben-ben realized that there was something wrong with his legs.  He yelped as he twisted and tried to get to his feet, but there was something stopping him.  He yelped several times as his front legs tried to raise his body off the ground.  He couldn’t understand what had happened.
Xiang quickly moved in and grabbed one of the “dog’s” paws, holding it firmly and ignoring the struggles from the “animal.”  He nodded to one of his helpers who came over with a jar that was opened.  A small brush was produced and dipped into the jar, and every inch of the exposed skin on Ben-ben’s paw was painted with the surgical marking solution.  When that “paw” had dried, they did Ben-ben’s other paw the same way. 
Xiang got up from the floor and nodded to Susan.  “It’s time for Ben-Ben to be human.” She said.
Once again, Halifax made the odd transition from dog to human.  Once again he didn’t know what had happened, other than that this time he saw an orange colored dye covering most of his hands.  “What… are you doing,” he breathlessly asked.  He was becoming used to not getting any answers. 
Xiang grabbed another small bottle and loosened the cap on it.  The cap had a brush built into it.  He nodded to the guards and they grabbed one of Halifax’s hands and held it out so that Xiang could get to it.  Xiang dipped the brush into the bottle again and pulled it out. Then he started brushing the derma bond glue onto every inch of Halifax’s hand that wasn’t dyed orange – all of the skin that had been hidden when his hand had been closed into a paw.  He quickly did the other hand the same way.
It’s time for Ben-ben the dog,” Susan said quickly. And again Halifax went through the transformation.  And again Ben-ben found himself horribly hampered by whatever it was that was attached to his legs as he yelped in distress. 
They watched Ben-ben struggling for a few minutes before Xiang decided enough time had passed for the glue to be firmly set.  At his direction, the dye was then washed off of Ben-ben’s front paws.  It was the cleanest his paws had been in a while.  Xiang turned to the man who had mixed the rubber compound the day before.  “We’re ready,” he said in Chinese. 
The man went to work mixing the urethane rubber again.  The industrial strength of the compound would render it almost as durable as tire rubber when it dried.  Just before he added the final ingredient, he nodded toward Xiang and Susan.
“It’s time for Ben-Ben to be human,” Susan commanded, and once again Halifax underwent the transition from dog to human.  But this time, as he became more aware of things, he discovered that he couldn’t open his hands.  “What have you done?” he yelled… even as all four guards picked up his body and held him securely. 
Xiang grabbed Halifax’s arm, paying most of his attention to the closed and glued hand.  The man with the rubber came over with an empty container as well as the compound he had just mixed. 
“No!  No!  No, no, no, no, no!” screamed Halifax to no avail as he struggled uselessly against the much stronger men.
Halifax’s hand was inserted into the container as the guards and Xiang held him firmly.  The container was much smaller than the ones used on his legs, but it was still more than big enough.  The industrial strength urethane rubber was poured into the container, filling it completely and covering Halifax’s hand and arm, stopping just short of his elbow.  They continued to hold him firmly like that, totally unable to move his arm, until the rubber expert declared that it was safe to release him.  Halifax was set down on the floor, but they didn’t let him go anywhere… not that he would have been able to anyway. 
Halifax had no doubt what fate awaited his other hand.  All too soon he was picked up again and his other hand was sealed in a container of the rubber.  And when they were done, they set him down on the floor again. 
“Turn him over,” Susan commanded. 
It took two guards to rotate Halifax from his stomach onto his back.  The large tubs on his legs made moving him that way very difficult.  The weight of the rubber and tubs on his arms caused them to flop out uselessly on the floor to either side of him. 
Susan looked down at the miserable man.  This time, she spoke English so he would understand her.  Just as I’ve deprived you of the use of your legs, now I’ve deprived you of the use of your hands as well.  But I’m afraid we’re not done with you yet.  Not by a long shot.  There is one more part of your body that you will be permitted to retain… but will never have the use of again.”
With that she nodded to the men around her and moved away from him.
Xiang approached Halifax with a thin metal tube in his hand.  He knelt down of top of Halifax as the guards made sure his rubber covered arms stayed out of the way. 
“Ow!  Ow! Ow!” Halifax screamed as he felt Xiang grab his penis and start sticking the tube right into the tip of it.  “Ow!” he yelled again… to no avail.
With the tube stuck several inches into him, Xiang got off of him.  The end of the tube still protruded almost four more inches out the end.  At his direction, the guards picked Halifax up again and turned him back onto his stomach.  A few minutes later a worker who had quickly left, came back with a bowl of ice and water.  Halifax was lifted from the floor, and set down again, carefully lowering his penis into the container of ice and water.  Halifax screamed!  Again.  But the guards held him fast so he couldn’t escape the icy cold that now invaded his cock and balls… shrinking them down smaller than they would ever be without the ice. 
The rubber expert went back to work.  As soon as he was ready, the guards lifted Halifax straight into the air, and eventually set him down so that his now tiny penis with the steel tube sticking out of it went straight into another container.  A much smaller container.  And this container was already filled with the rubber compound.  As usual, all the pleading from Halifax went completely unheeded. 
They held him like that for a few extra minutes before the rubber expert decided they could move him.  But all the guards did was to put Halifax down on the concrete floor and turn him over on his back.  The rubber expert briefly checked the container again that now covered Halifax’s private parts.  He was sure it would be fine, and as expected, everything looked perfect.  He nodded toward Susan and stepped out of the way. 
Susan merely said one word, “Good!” before she and Xiang left.  Halifax was left right where he was, helpless and on his back as the workers cleaned everything up and they too finally departed.  The main lights were turned off, leaving only the single dim bulb burning.  And Halifax was left wondering why they didn’t just kill him and get it over with.

The rain was driving down as hard as she had ever seen it when Janice finally arrived at the start of the hiking trail not far from Mobile.  There were no other cars in sight, but with that much rain coming down, she didn’t expect to see anyone.  The rain would be a major nuisance, but there was nothing she could do about that.  She would have to manage anyway.  With the engine off, she turned around and just managed to grab her rain poncho from the back seat.  Slipping the darn thing on in the car was difficult.  She finally got out of the car into the driving rain, pushing the button to raise the rear hatch of the car just before she got out.  The rain was so thick it was like getting out into a swimming pool.
She hurried around to the back of the car and grabbed her rubber boots.  By the time she got them on her feet, her legs were mostly wet… including her feet inside the boots.  She grabbed the extra-large backpack she had purchased on the way there and shoved the camping shovel inside of it.  She hesitated at grabbing the photo album.  She was very worried about what the rain might do to it.  It had been a long time now since she had been there and she was worried she might forget where she needed to go.  Just to be cautious, she slipped the book into an outer pocket of her pack.  Hopefully she wouldn’t need to refer to it. 
Despite her rain poncho, she felt drenched to the skin as she closed and locked her car and set out along the hiking path.  The rain and the mud… and her wet feet inside her boots… made the hiking difficult and miserable, and somewhat painful.  But she had no choice but to persevere.
One mile… Two miles… And another half mile.  She finally saw the rock formation she had been searching for and turned off of the path at the spot she hoped was where she needed to go.  She kept going up and over a small hill, then down the other side.  She looked around.  Was this the place?  It was hard to tell.  But something in the sight of several fallen trees caught her eye.  Yes, she was sure this was the place.  She turned and faced… another tree!  Darn!  If this was the right place, then that tree had only been a small bush the last time she was here.  It had certainly grown!  If this was the right place.  Pulling her shovel out of her pack, she put it to work in the wet mud a short distance from the tree where she hoped she had buried the money. 
She dug mud, and the rain washed more mud back into the hole, but she did make progress.  She was grateful when the rain seemed to let up somewhat, but she knew the weather forecast called for hard heavy rain for most of day.  Her shovel hit something hard.  She paused for only a moment before attacking the hole with renewed vigor.  It wasn’t long before she had uncovered the red top to the box she was looking for.  It took her another half hour to dig the box out enough that she could open it.  The roots from that damn tree were her biggest problem.  She didn’t even try to remove the box from the hole.  She knew she didn’t have the strength. 
It took some doing to get the lid off of the thing, but when she did, she was faced with the glad sight of money.  Lots of money.  Tons of money.  It was all the money she had stolen from the bank while she lived in Mobile.  The one bank where she had worked… and the one job Agent Jacobs had kept hounding her about the most after the robbery. 
She began stuffing the money into her backpack.  Millions of dollars!  Before she was finished, she was very worried about having enough room in the pack to hold it all.  She did get it all in, but the top of the pack wasn’t closed as tightly as she would really like and every pocket in the pack bulged to the maximum.  The shovel she had brought with her she threw into the box.  She didn’t have room in the pack to bring it back with her.  She put the lid back on the box and kicked a little of the mud back on top of it.  She wasn’t worried much about any of it.  She had her money now and she would never be back to this spot again.
She attempted to lift the pack… and couldn’t!  Damn!  But there was no way she was ever going to leave any of it behind.  Having no other choice, she literally dragged the thing back to the hiking path… then dragged it the entire two and a half miles back to the car.  Lifting the stupid thing into the back of the car was another little exercise that she didn’t find fun.  Especially since the rain was again driving down as hard as it had been before. 
She was soaked to the bone.  She was as miserable as could be.  But she had her money.  She stopped at the first hotel she could find and rented a room.  The hot shower felt good.  The hot bath she took afterwards felt even better.  By the time she had dressed again, three hours after she had gotten to the hotel, she felt like her old self.  She got back into the car, a bit annoyed by the damp seat she had to sit in, and started her journey home.  She was still hopeful she could make it back before Carol went to bed so she could wish her goodnight.

Completely helpless, there was little Halifax could do but lie there and sleep.  The voices of two workers talking pulled him out of that slumber as they walked into the room and switched the lights on.  “Help me,” he moaned.  But he could tell, that while he was the center of their attention, they paid no attention to what he had said.  It was the heavy buckets that they each set down next to him that concerned him the most now. 
The two workers, a man and a woman, talked a lot, but since they only spoke Chinese, Halifax had no idea in the world what they were saying, and they certainly weren’t talking to him.  They were obviously friends though because they seemed to be laughing and joking about something… that Halifax got the impression was over something that had nothing at all to do with him.  But he cared less about what they were saying when the man pulled a tool out of his bucket, and with a flick of the man’s finger, Halifax saw a heavy razor blade extend out the end of it.
The man sat down right on top of Halifax’s stomach facing his folded and bound up legs so he couldn’t see what the man was doing, but he could certainly feel him grabbing and pulling at the mass that was now covering his penis and balls.  He could feel the pulling and manipulating… but he could feel nothing else there at all.  A few minutes later, he saw the two workers look almost jubilant as they threw something off to the side.  Halifax realized it was the plastic container that they had poured their mixture into. 
The man got off of him, but from his position on his back, Halifax could see little.  But when the man pulled a small reciprocating saw out of his tool bucket next he decided he didn’t want to see what was going to happen.  The woman ran an extension cord from the wall for him to plug the saw in, and the sound of it coming to life was the most frightening thing Halifax had heard in his life.  Instead of sitting on him, the man bent down with the saw while the woman got between his legs.  Halifax could feel more of the pulling.  He could feel the vibration of the saw.  But again, that was all he could feel. 
The saw stopped and Halifax drew a breath of relief.  There was more Chinese spoken and more manipulation down there, and then the man moved away and put his saw down.  He reached into the bucket and pulled out his knife again and handed it to the woman.  More pulling, more manipulation, but still no real feeling there. 
The man and woman suddenly became excited about something.  Halifax saw the woman grab something from her bucket… a ruler?  He felt them doing something before he saw the man pull another tool out of his bucket… a pair of pliers.  The man got down between Halifax’s legs and Halifax felt more pulling… worse pulling… and then suddenly a quick monstrous pain that fortunately was gone a moment later.  But Halifax could see the man jubilantly holding up the thin tube that had been stuck inside his penis before the stuff had been molded to him. 
The workers put their tools back into the buckets and moved them further away.  The man went into Halifax’s little cell and brought out the bucket of water.  Standing over Halifax, he slowly dumped a little of it over Halifax’s mouth.  Halifax did his best to drink it in greedily.  He choked on the flowing liquid almost as much as he consumed, but just getting some water into him was a major relief. 
And then the bucket of water was put down and the two workers departed again, switching off all but the one single dim bulb that was his only light.  Helpless, Halifax could still do nothing but lie there on his back and wait.  After the bit of water he had consumed, he felt the slight urge to pee.  He let it out, feeling the wetness running down to pool between his legs at his backside. 
He closed his eyes, searching for the only bit of peace he had now – sleep. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Housekeeper - Chapter 51 Part 3 of 3

The Housekeeper
By Karen Singer

Chapter 51 Part 3 of 3

Jessica parked her car in the lot at the Italian restaurant and breathed a sigh of relief.  So far, so good.  But she was already dreading taking the stupid pacifier out of her mouth.  She had called her sister to warn her of what she was trying to do.  Her sister still thought she was faking most of it.  She couldn’t help that.  But her sister had also said to let her know again when she was on her way home so she could be there for her… eventually.  She did have her husband as well as Jessica’s and her own kids to take care of. 
As she turned her car engine off, she saw Candy Brinkley’s pickup truck pulling in right next to her.  The fact that he drove a pickup only made Candy seem… more masculine to her.  She tried to put that notion out of her head.  It would do neither of them any good.  She had chosen this restaurant because she knew it would be dark and she could hide a bit better in the booths.  Before leaving her office, she and Candy had worked out what they would do if… if… if she didn’t make it.  Basically, he would drive her home and take care of her until her sister could get there.  She prayed it wouldn’t be necessary.
Plucking up her courage, she pulled the pacifier out of her mouth and got out of the car.  Candy was already waiting for her.  She could see how nervous he looked.  She couldn’t blame him one bit.  Instead of the blind leading the blind, tonight it was going to be the humiliated leading the humiliated.  They would try to lean on each other.  “Ready?” she asked, trying to sound cheerful.
“I’m doing my best,” Roger replied.  “I can’t tell you how embarrassed I feel right now, but I know I have to get used to it.”
“You do,” Jessica replied as they walked. “But it also means you have to get better at… blending.”
“Don’t I know it!”
Entering the restaurant, Jessica’s mind dredged up haunting memories of the many times she had been there in the past – with her ex-husband… many years ago.  Back before things went bad with their marriage.  Now she was here again with another man.  Except, she had to stop thinking of Candy as another man.  That was one of the reasons she was doing her best to only think of him as Candy and not… Roger. 
She sensed Candy holding back, trying to stay behind her as they approached the receptionist’s desk.  With the need for her pacifier already growing more firmly on her mind, she stepped forward to take the lead and ask for a quiet table where they could be alone… to talk.  She saw the receptionist stare a bit too long at Candy, before she picked up two menus and led the way.
Jessica slid into the booth first, while Candy, acting like a man, politely waited before heading to the other side of the booth.  But before he sat down, she said, “Wait!  Sit over here next to me.”  Her hands were already desperately opening her purse to find her pacifier as Candy moved into her side of the booth as well… hiding her a bit more from anyone who might look their way.  Jessica’s hand was firmly locked around her pacifier… out of sight in her purse, as the receptionist took way too long telling them who their server would be and about the new appetizers the restaurant offered.  She thanked the receptionist, but her pacifier was in her mouth the moment her back was turned.  She felt totally relieved the moment she started sucking on it.  And totally embarrassed too.  With her hand shyly covering what was in her mouth, she turned toward Candy.
Roger smiled and pulled her hand away, exposing the pacifier.  “Don’t worry about it,” he said softly.  “But what I want to know is, what’s everybody going to think?”
She didn’t say anything, but her eyes told him she didn’t understand what he was talking about. 
“About two women sitting next to each other like this?” he finished.
If it wasn’t for the pacifier in her mouth, Jessica would have laughed for all too many reasons.  “I don’t care!” she replied softly but firmly.  And then she felt her crotch growing wet again.  Ugh!  And she had changed her diaper just before they left her office.  Now she would have to sit through the entire dinner in a wet diaper!
A waitress suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere and Jessica quickly pulled the pacifier out of her mouth and hid it in her closed hand.  But she couldn’t miss the surprised stare of the waitress.  She had seen!  And then Jessica saw the waitress turn her eyes on Candy… and there was no doubt that the waitress was bothered by Candy’s… appearance.
“Should we leave?” Roger asked the waitress, speaking very softly. 
“Oh!  No!  Not at all,” the waitress replied quickly, trying to compose herself.  “You’re fine.  It’s just…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Roger replied with a small shake of his head.  “Can I get some coffee?”
“Yeah, sure!” the waitress replied. She looked to Jessica.  “And for you?”
“Iced tea?” Jessica requested.
“Any appetizers?”
Roger looked to Jessica as he shook his head, signifying that he didn’t want any for himself.  “No thank you,” Jessica replied for both of them.  She had noticed that Candy was still trying to use his “female” voice when he spoke.  She silently applauded his effort to keep at it.  Or did he talk that way all the time now because… that woman – Janice, had something to do with it?  The moment the waitress was gone, her pacifier was back in her mouth.  Relief… again.  This time she kept her hand somewhat in front of her mouth again to further hide her embarrassment.
“The appetizers sound good,” Roger commented, “but I can’t seem to eat as much with this corset on.”
Jessica smiled, not sure if it was an attempt at light humor or not.  “I’m not surprised she replied.
“What happened to you last week?” Roger asked.
She wanted badly to reply.  She wanted badly to tell him exactly what she had endured at the hands of… his housekeeper.  But she had sudden visions of that weird grey wall that separated out what she could and couldn’t do.  But still, it seemed that there were things she was able to say to him.  She guessed she should be grateful for that.  “Um… I’m afraid I can’t… talk about most of it,” she managed to get out.  “But I have managed to talk about the results so far.”
“I think I understand the part you can’t talk about,” Roger told her.  “Some of it anyway.  I can’t talk about a lot of things too.”  He stared at her for a moment before asking, “Can I tell you a story though?  Something I… overheard recently.”
Instead of replying around the pacifier she was still sucking on, she only nodded.
“I’ve been hounded lately by two FBI men,” Roger told her.
“The FBI!” she blurted out, suddenly not caring about anything that was currently embarrassing her.  Would she be in trouble now with the FBI too?
Roger nodded.  “Yeah.  It seems they’ve been watching Janice fairly closely for… something.”  And then his voice just seemed to blurt out, “But she didn’t do it!  I’ve been nothing but completely happy with her since she came to work for me.  I love having her in my house and she does a darn good job cooking and cleaning and a lot of other things.  And I love having her daughter in the house with me too.  They’ve both been really great!”  He was almost breathless by the time he got it all out.
Jessica just stared at him in shock.  If she wasn’t stuck sucking so hard on her pacifier it would have probably dropped out of her mouth.  And somehow, she didn’t believe a single word that he had just said.  Were those things something else that she had done to him?  She wanted badly to believe that.  “Is there more to the story?” she finally asked.
Roger looked at her a bit sheepishly.  “Sorry,” he said.  “Yeah, there’s more.  The FBI guys met with me in the school principal’s office again.”
“Yeah, they had been there once before.  They’ve been kind of hounding some of my friends too.”
She was suddenly feeling more hope than she had all day.  The FBI were on to her!  They would catch that woman and put a stop to all of this… and maybe in the process, they would help her too!  “Okay,” she said, “so what happened at this meeting?”
“Well, one of them had a phone call while they were questioning me.  The call was from a doctor in a mental institute somewhere.” 
The words ‘mental institute’ grabbed Jessica’s full attention.
“Anyway,” Roger continued, “his partner wanted to hear what was said too so they put the phone on speaker.  I asked if they wanted me to leave, but they told me to stay instead and I overheard everything that was said.”
“So… what did you hear?” Jessica asked, her hand still covering the bottom of her face. 
But before Roger could reply, the waitress was back again with their drinks.  Jessica desperately pulled her pacifier out again with her hand, but she knew that the waitress had seen her doing it. 
“Did you decide what you want to order?” the waitress asked brightly, doing her best to ignore what she had seen the customer doing.
Roger looked to Jessica, then back to the waitress.  “Can you give us a few more minutes,” he replied, “we forgot to look at the menu.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“So what happened?” Jessica asked as soon as she was gone and her pacifier was back where it belonged. 
“As I said, the call was from a doctor in a mental institute.  He told them about one of the patients there that evidently they had checked on some time ago.  The doctor referred to the patient as ‘the bug man’ because everybody seemed to think he acted like a bug of some kind.”
“A bug!” Jessica exclaimed.  The woman’s words about most of her victims not getting the honor of being human suddenly became more clear.
Roger nodded.  “A bug.  Anyway, the doctor said that they had been kind of at their wits end with him, and they finally subjected him to a few rounds of electroshock therapy.”
“What happened?” Jessica asked anxiously.
“Evidently,” Roger replied, “he woke up out of his nightmare and suddenly started screaming about how bad the walls were.”  Roger looked at her more intently.  “But the minute they sat him up, he went right back into his non-communicative, bug-like state.”
Jessica’s face suddenly clouded over at hearing that.  “He shouted about the walls?” she asked.
“I think… he was shouting about ‘the wall’ instead.  One wall.”
Jessica’s eyes quickly searched out his.  “The wall,” she said breathlessly and watched as he nodded.  “Stand up,” she breathed, her mind’s eye focusing on her own personal wall.  And every time I…”
“Sit down,” Roger finished for her.  Somehow, he felt a tiny sense of relief at being able to say that.  And he was certain she understood.
Jessica stared at him.  She knew it!  He saw that same horrible wall every time he stood up or sat down too.  The wall that locked away all her ability to not do what the woman wanted.  Her own wall was impossibly thick.  How much worse was his wall now?  She couldn’t even imagine it.  Knowing there was nothing she could do about it, she picked up her menu.  “We better figure out what we want to eat,” she said, forcing herself to look at the menu and not him. 
Roger picked up his menu and stared at it too.
“Thank you for telling me that,” she said softly, still staring at her menu.
“I figured you might be interested,” Roger replied, also staring at the items on the pages in front of him. 
The waitress came back with their drinks and they finally ordered their food.  Jessica pulled an empty baby bottle out of her purse and filled it from her glass as furtively as possible.  She couldn’t help but feel Candy’s gaze as she did it.  She took a quick sip from the bottle, then hid it down on the seat between them where nobody else could see it.  When she was done, Roger half turned back toward her again.  He wanted to know more about what she was going through.  But he didn’t get the chance to ask because she beat him to it.  “Tell me about yourself,” she said.
Roger shrugged.  “Not much to tell.  And honestly, I don’t know what to say.”
Was he ducking around more things that the woman wouldn’t let him talk about?  “Then tell me about Candy,” she suggested instead.  “I can’t help you, if I don’t know anything about you and what you’re trying to do.”
Roger would have rather talked about her, but it seemed she wasn’t giving him the opportunity.  “I don’t know what to tell you.  You know why I’m… changing.  And I guess you know that I’m doing it as fast as possible.”
“In every way that modern medicine can make you,” she replied.
He looked at her for a moment.  “Exactly.”
“So… what have you been… doing lately?” she asked.
He took a big breath and let it out.  “Trying to cope.”  It was a moment more before he spoke again.  “I seem to be… Candy… all the time now, except for when I’m in school teaching.”
“You mentioned school before.  What do you teach?”
“High school math.”
“Do you like it?”
“I love it.  But… well… as of the end of the school year, I’m going to be a full time handyman… or handygirl… or something like that.  ‘Candy girl, the handy girl,’ he quoted mockingly.
She smiled.  “Catchy.  So at least you’ll have a way to make a living.”
He nodded.  “But the question is, how do I live with myself?  How do I learn to be comfortable with myself as a woman, when…”  But he found that he couldn’t tell her that he didn’t want to be a woman.  He couldn’t say those words.
“When you don’t know how?” she suggested.
“That’s a lot of it,” he agreed.
“What don’t you know?” she asked.
“Everything!” he replied.  “Clothes, shopping, how am I supposed to behave?  How am I supposed to act?  What am I supposed to think?  Life!” he exclaimed.  “How do I do any of it?”
She smiled.  “It’s not going to be easy for you… and it’s going to take time.   But I’m going to try to help you all I can.  Those pills I gave you earlier will help some too… eventually.  And as for clothes and shopping…”  She stopped and smiled.  “I guess I could take you shopping sometime and help you all I can.  Shopping is something I’ve always been good at.”
“Can we go tonight?” Roger asked, anxious to take her up on that offer. 
“Sorry,” she replied.  “But even now I’m starting to feel more and more worried about what will happen to me.  Maybe we better wait a few weeks until I’m… not so helpless anymore.”
“I may hold you to that!”
“That’s fine,” she replied. 
They talked lightly through dinner.  Despite their situation, they both seemed to enjoy each other’s company.  Roger was desperate for someone to be kind to him and to help him, and Jessica not only found herself forced to do all she could for him, she found she really wanted to help him.  She actually liked him.  And by the time they had finished eating, she was wondering how he would be in bed – as a man!” 
When the waitress brought the check after dinner, Roger reached up and took it.
“I’ll take that,” Jessica told him. 
“It’s okay.  I’ve got it,” Roger replied.
She looked at him.  “I make way more money than you do Candy.  And there’s something else too.”
“You’re acting like a man.  You need to learn to stop that.”
“I don’t think I know how.”
She reached over and plucked the check out of his hand.  “This is the first part,” she replied.
Roger relented, but again he had that feeling he had lost a tiny piece of his old life.  After she had paid with her credit card, he grabbed his purse and started to slide out of the booth.  “This is something else I’m having a hard time getting used to,” he said.
“What’s that?” she asked as she slid across the seat, her wet diaper making the effort feel all too strange.
“Having to carry this!” he replied.
“Your purse?” she asked.
“Yeah.  It’s… weird.  I hate it!”
“I love purses,” she told him as she got to her feet.  “They’re so… feminine!”  She looked at him thoughtfully.  “But you don’t understand feminine yet, do you?”
He shook his head.  “Right now, this thing is just a… necessary nuisance!”

“Momma,” Carol said, “next week is finals.  Don’t forget we still need to find something for Mr. Brinkley.”
“Oh dear, I did forget,” Janice told her.  “Thank you for reminding me.  We’ll try to go shopping sometime this week, or perhaps this weekend.”  Headlights from Roger’s truck suddenly poured through the living room window.  “I think he’s finally home.  That took longer than I expected.”
Roger came through the front door, to find both Janice and Carol staring at him.  He looked around uncertainly.  “What?” he asked.  “Is something wrong?”
Janice shook her head.  “No, it just took a bit longer than I thought it would.  Did the doctor see you right away?”
“Oh yeah!” Roger replied.  “I didn’t have to wait at all!”
“Good!” Janice exclaimed.  “I want you to have perfect service from her from now on.”
Roger chanced telling her.  “I had dinner with her too.”
Janice was surprised.  “You did?”
“She’s… trying to help me as much as possible,” he told her.  “Since I don’t have a psychologist that I can see.”
Janice considered that.  “That’s actually… very helpful,” she decided.  “And how… did your meeting go?”
Roger looked at her for a moment before saying, “It was… very interesting,” he replied.  “Especially considering some of her… rather peculiar habits that she seems to have acquired recently.  And the air was very thick with things neither of us could say.”
Janice only smiled.
The next morning, Roger took his first dose of hormones.  And three days later, the depression set in.